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Steve Jobs' Smoke and Mirrors on 13'' MBP's CPU

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 70 comments

Steve Jobs Explains Why the 13-inch MacBook Pro doesn't have any Nehalem sweetness.

The new MacBook Pros, released earlier this week, which help boost Apple's 'professional' line of laptops up to the modern Intel Nehalem-based Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs… except for the 13-inch version. While the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros were updated with the latest from Intel, the 13-inch MacBook Pro got refreshed with a brand new chipset that included a custom integrated GPU from Nvidia and got stuck with the same sort of Core 2 Duo that it had the previous two generations.

So what's up with that? That's what 'DJ' wanted to know why the 13-inch MacBook Pro didn't get the same Core i5 treatment, so he emailed Steve Jobs about it – and guess what, the Apple CEO responded.

"Far faster graphics and 10 hour battery trump 10-20% faster CPU," Jobs responded.

Another report notes that Steve Jobs gave the following response: "We chose killer graphics plus 10 hour battery life over a very small CPU speed increase. Users will see far more performance boost from the speedy graphics."

While we do recognize that having a fast GPU is critical, especially with the GPGPU thing coming into fruition, there are a few inconsistencies in Apple's messages to consumers.

First of all, Steve Jobs says that keeping the 13-inch MacBook Pro on a Core 2 Duo instead of a Core i3/i5/i7 is only a loss of a CPU that's between 10 to 20 percent faster, which Steve Jobs characterized as "a very small CPU speed increase." But in Apple's own press release, it wrote, "The new 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models are up to 50 percent faster than the previous systems," which have been confirmed in early benchmark comparisons. Those previous systems were running Core 2 Duo chips too, not clocked at around the same speeds that the latest MacBook Pro 13.

Of course, Jobs in his mind could be comparing the new MacBook Pro's Core 2 Duo with a Core i3 -- and in some benchmarks the Core i3 may outpace the Core 2 Duo by only 20 percent or less -- but he's still using a different sort of metric where he downplays the need for a new CPU in the 13-inch model as the company line lauds the massive gains in the 15- and 17-inchers.

Another inconsistency, though it could just be misinterpretation or the enthusiasm for his own products, is when Steve Jobs characterizes the graphics as "killer" and "far faster." While the new 320M is indeed up to 80 percent faster than the old 9400M, it's no more killer or faster than the superior 330M that's inside the 15- and 17-inch laptops.

There is one thing that's better and improved on the 13-inch over its bigger brothers, and that's the highly impressive 10-hour battery life, which is no doubt helped by the 320M being more 40 percent more energy efficient over the previous IGP.

There's the possibility that Apple and Nvidia wouldn't have been able to fit the discrete graphics inside the 13-inch MacBook Pro, leading Jobs to say that it's one-or-the-other, but we're inclined to believe that it comes down to a cost/profit margin issue and keeping the $1199 price.

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Top Comments
  • 31 Hide
    godwhomismike , April 15, 2010 12:36 PM
    Hey Steve, I got 2007 on the phone. They said they want their Core 2 Duo processors back.
  • 31 Hide
    Hilarion , April 15, 2010 12:22 PM
    Smoke, mirrors and infinite BS that's what Apple Almighty does the best.
  • 28 Hide
    cscott_it , April 15, 2010 12:30 PM
    Apple using smoke and mirrors?
    What kind of bull is this.
    The next thing you are going to be telling me is that the media industry doesn't care about the consumer at all and would file suite against a 12 year old girl!

    Oh wait....
Other Comments
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  • 18 Hide
    TemjinGold , April 15, 2010 12:18 PM
    I think what he's getting at is that, for Apple to keep it at a certain price point, the tradeoff was worth it. The 15 and 17 inch ones have higher prices and thus they can better justify using both.

    I'm not defending Apple's prices in any way, just trying to put reason to why they might have done it that way (THEIR logic, not mine.)
  • 31 Hide
    Hilarion , April 15, 2010 12:22 PM
    Smoke, mirrors and infinite BS that's what Apple Almighty does the best.
  • 28 Hide
    cscott_it , April 15, 2010 12:30 PM
    Apple using smoke and mirrors?
    What kind of bull is this.
    The next thing you are going to be telling me is that the media industry doesn't care about the consumer at all and would file suite against a 12 year old girl!

    Oh wait....
  • 21 Hide
    godwhomismike , April 15, 2010 12:35 PM
    And..... I will not be buying a 13" Macbook Pro. Thanks Steve, you made that decision easy for me. I will not spend $1200-$1500 for outdated technology technology.
  • 31 Hide
    godwhomismike , April 15, 2010 12:36 PM
    Hey Steve, I got 2007 on the phone. They said they want their Core 2 Duo processors back.
  • 20 Hide
    N.Broekhuijsen , April 15, 2010 12:41 PM
    somebody should take steve's money, position, and everything tying him to apple away. then, place him in the real world, so he can get some "REAL" perspective.

    then he might see what we want, and not what a rich, famous person wants.
  • 5 Hide
    siman , April 15, 2010 12:46 PM
    Its an approch that AMD has been useing and one intel has yet come to grips. You have a cheap but adicuate CPU to feed a nice GPU in truth if you look at it you really dont need an i5 or an i7. Would you rather have a 1200 USD laptop or a 2500 USD laptop. Also the i3/i5/i7 arnt the best on power consumption or thermal output... Dont get me wrong its nice to have the firepower but its like you brought a cannon to a gun fight.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 15, 2010 12:57 PM
    I was actually thinking of buying a new 13" but now the only way I'll do that is if I get a "killer" deal on one of the old models. If no deals are "killer" than I'll probably just stick to my well known PC. Such a bummer, I would have already ordered it regardless of the price.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , April 15, 2010 12:58 PM
    Asus, Sony, Lenova, everyone is touting i-core in 13 inch models. This is just an Apple letdown, no less.
  • 20 Hide
    ZEPd3Z , April 15, 2010 1:01 PM
    shouldn't the i3's and i5's have less power consumption than previous cpu generation? just thinkin...
  • 5 Hide
    micky_lund , April 15, 2010 1:04 PM
    ahhh apple
    you've done it again
  • 17 Hide
    tinmann , April 15, 2010 1:08 PM
    The thing is there are laptops that bring more to the table than just a Core 2 Duo these days at or below the $1200 USD price point. In the article Tom's did, "5 Laptops that Destroy the New MacBook Pros", All the Laptops previewed had Intel Core i7-720QM @ 2.8 GHz processors and the most expensive was the Alienware at $1,600 USD.

    As far as bringing a canon to a gunfight. If I'm going to a gunfight I'm bring the entire 9th Armored Division with me.
  • 19 Hide
    del35 , April 15, 2010 1:11 PM
    Quote:
    Smoke, mirrors and infinite BS that's what Apple Almighty does the best.


    Sadly, most Americans are too dumbed-down to see con-artists like Steve Jobs for what they really are. Yesterday, I walked into a local coffee shop and was received by a bunch of technologically illiterate kiddies, some clad clothing with colors to match the color of their laptop cases, proudly flashing what has become the insignia of their enslavement to mass marketing agendas and consumer hoodwinking, a laptop flashing the Apple logo. There were only two people in the room using non Apple logoed hardware; they were also the ones who looked stereotypically smarter.
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , April 15, 2010 1:13 PM
    considering that culv based laptops, the only others who have battery lives on the same order of magnitude cost around 800 bucks, and are generally made of plastic,I would argue that it is not so much of a rip off.
  • 13 Hide
    thackstonns , April 15, 2010 1:29 PM
    zheminTHE PERSON who wrote the above article is a RETART, when JOB say the system is up to 50% faster IT DOSNT JUST MEAN graphic wise it means the whole system, including GPU AND CPU performance. + the difference between core 2 duo and i3 (since i5 make no sense in the 13incher), is 10-20% faster is more then a resonsible statement, + having 330M in 13incher is + but apple need to make a clear margin between the 13inch and 15inch.


    I think you are a "RETART" whatever that is? Steve is just lying to everyone. 10 to 20 percent faster is what he said when trying to sell a 13inch. 50 percent faster than the previous generation is what he said when trying to sell the 15 and 17inch models. A gpu isnt going to make your system 30 to 40percent faster day to day. And it definatly wont on a system like a mac that cant game.
  • 16 Hide
    proxy711 , April 15, 2010 1:31 PM
    Seeing as a I3 cpu is 10 bucks cheaper,faster then a core 2 duo, uses less power then a core 2 duo, motherboards are priced about the same. so trying to keep prices down is just bullshit...err i mean typical apple business practices..they just want to force the power user to hit up the more expensive 15 and 17inchers. because for the price and performance the 13inch laptops aren't crazy over priced like most apple products.

    However the battery life of the 13 inch is impressive(with an i3 it would be even more so).
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 15, 2010 1:43 PM
    They couldn't fit a 330M in the MBP 13?? Couldn't they hire someone from Sony?? Look at the Vaio Z with a 13.1" screen, core i5/i7 and GT 330M in a smaller form factor than the 13" MBP. Looks like Apple should try to recruit someone from Sony!
  • 5 Hide
    babybeluga , April 15, 2010 1:57 PM
    zheminTHE PERSON who wrote the above article is a RETART


    Absolutely astonishing that people do this. I swear, Tom's readers are the worst spellers on the internet.

    Edit: I'm going to think that zhemin got banned for his horrific spelling. Keep up the good work, admin.
  • 3 Hide
    nukemaster , April 15, 2010 2:01 PM
    business as usual....
  • 7 Hide
    insider3 , April 15, 2010 2:09 PM
    Can't blame Steve Jobs. He's not forcing anyone to buy his products. People are just dumb. And unfortunately there are plenty of them out there to keep his company rich. If I can sell tapped water in recycled plastic bottles and get rich, I would.
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