13-inch MacBook Pro determined as “best performing Windows laptop” according to PC services company Soluto

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Date: Thursday, April 25th, 2013, 07:44
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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You’re gonna either love or hate this.

Per CNET, Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro is the “best performing” Windows laptop.

The MacBook Pro won out over established PC makers like Dell, Acer, and Lenovo, according to Soluto, which was quick to explain its finding.

A main factor in this machine’s metrics is the fact that every Windows installation on it is clean. With PC manufacturers loading so much crapware on new laptops, this is a bit of an unfair competition. But, on the other hand, PC makers should look at this data and aspire to ship PCs that perform just as well as a cleanly installed MacBook Pro.

The report went on to admit that it might be more fair to compare a cleanly installed MacBook Pro with a cleanly-installed PC from Acer or Dell.

The company’s metrics included crashes per week, hangs per week, Blue Screens (of Death) per week, and average boot time.

Soluto did list the disadvantages of running Windows on a Mac, including that it’s more work to set up Windows on a Mac and there may be driver issues.

Acer’s Aspire E1-571 came in second and Dell’s XPS 13 received the third-highest ranking.

Apple’s OS X 10.8.3 prompts use of discrete GPU in mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 08:42
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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There’s sort of a love/hate relationship with operating system updates, especially given the fact that you never quite know what’s going to change with your Apple hardware and how it performs after the fact.

To that end, the mighty Topher Kessler has written a terrific piece over on CNET as to Apple’s latest OS update for its mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks.

To this end, a number of the notebook’s owners noticed that after upgrading to OS X 10.8.3, their systems with dual graphics cards would automatically switch to using the more powerful discrete graphics chip regularly, even when using non-graphics intensive applications like Google Chrome, Dropbox, and Growl. This does not result in crashes or other interruptions in workflow, but it does increase the drain on the systems’ battery and result in a shorter working time when not connected to AC power.

The article then moves on to discuss how to ration battery power, how to drop back to OS X 10.7 if necessary and the new challenges for developers under these conditions.

It’s there, it’s good, so take a gander and let us know if you’ve seen anything like this with your mid-2010 MacBook Pro on your end.

Class action lawsuit launched over alleged LG display flaws in 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display notebook

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Date: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 07:13
Category: Hardware, Legal, MacBook Pro, News

If you feel like the 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro has let you down, you’re not along.

Per 9to5Mac and Law360, since Apple unveiled its first Retina MacBook Pro with the 15.4-inch model in June, there have been a growing number of complaints from customers experiencing issues with the product. By far the most reported problem is one that causes a burn-in or ghosting problem on the device’s display. This has resulted in a support thread boasting over 364,769 views.

Apple presently uses two display suppliers for the device, LG and Samsung, and it wasn’t until months later that many started speculating the source of the issue was with LG. Today, MacBook Pro user Beau Hodges has decided to launch a class-action lawsuit against Apple in a federal court in California alleging MacBook Pro customers have no way of telling which MacBooks have an LG display at the time of purchase. Hodges is apparently seeking unspecified damages for Retina MacBook Pro customers nationwide:

The electronics giant must know about the differences between the two versions because it spent a considerable amount of time testing the products during research and development and has been inundated with complaints from customers about the LG screen’s problems, according to the suit.

“The performance disparity between the LG version and the Samsung version is particularly troubling given that Apple represents the MacBook Pro with retina display as a single, unitary product, described as the highest quality notebook display on the market,” the complaint said. “None of Apple’s advertisements or representations discloses that it produces the computers with display screens that exhibit different levels of performance and quality.”

Many users report Apple replacing their LG displays with a Samsung-made display following the issues, but Apple has yet to confirm the problem publicly and some users with Samsung-made displays continue to experience graphic-related issues. Some reports indicated that Apple might have addressed issues with the Retina MacBook Pro in a minor refresh to the device last month, but many of the major problems still exist according to some consumers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update 1.1 for 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro users

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Date: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 07:53
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

Never doubt a good firmware update.

Late Thursday, Apple released its MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update 1.1 firmware update for its 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebook. The update, a 504 kilobyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
– Resolves a rare issue where users may experience slow frame rates when playing graphics-intensive games.

– Includes bug fixes for Power Nap, wake from sleep and fan control.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via OS X’s Software Update features and requires a 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Some 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina users report fan issues, SanDisk SSDs could be part of problem

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Date: Monday, March 11th, 2013, 07:29
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

Well, God invented firmware fixes for situations like these…

Per Geek.com, a number of complaints has emanated from owners of Apple’s 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro regarding overactive fans. The issue has been noted in our forums and is the subject of a lengthy thread in Apple’s discussion forums. From one report:

“My first instance of runaway fans was under the lightest of conditions, having only one browser open only a few tabs and a cool computer. The fact it was cold is what is so alarming. Out of nowhere the fans spun up to a roar, stayed there for a few minutes, then decelerated back down to idle. Every so often this happens, usually daily, and it’s horribly annoying on a high quality well engineered computer.
From the list of reports flowing in, users suspect that Apple’s recent shift to using SanDisk solid-state drives in the Retina MacBook Pro may have something to do with the issue, although it is likely a software issue rather than a hardware one.”

Apple support staff have offered mixed responses to the issue, with some customers receiving replacement machines while others have been assured that the behavior is normal. If the issue is indeed a software one as is suspected, Apple should be able to fix it relatively easily with an update pushed out to owners of the affected machines, but it is unclear whether Apple is working on a fix at this time.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Primate Labs testing shows 3-5% performance bump for updated Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Monday, February 25th, 2013, 07:07
Category: News

If you waited a bit for the newer Retina display MacBook Pros, then you get to feel somewhat wise at this moment in time.

Per the cool cats at Primate Labs, a series of cross-platform Geekbench 2 tests founds slight jumps in performance for the new models.

The 13-inch model, which got a 100MHz bump in processor speed, saw a three to five percent jump in performance on the Geekbench 2 test. Likewise, the 15-inch model, which also got a 100MHz spec bump, saw performance improve between three and five percent. Primate Labs attributes the jump entirely to the new processors.

The new Retina models are available now and were announced along with a price reduction in the line. The 13-inch model now starts at US$1,499 for a model with a 128GB SSD, while the model with a 2.6GHz processor and 256GB SS sells for US$1,699.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new Retina MacBook Pros and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple posts updated specs, reduced prices for Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, February 13th, 2013, 07:45
Category: MacBook Pro, News

It never hurts to wait a bit.

Per AppleInsider, Apple said Wednesday that it’s making the MacBook Pro with Retina display faster and more affordable with updated processors and lower starting prices, starting at US$1,499 rather than US$1,699.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now starts at US$1,499 for 128GB of flash, and $1,699 for a new 2.6 GHz processor and 256GB of flash. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now also features a faster 2.4 GHz quad-core processor, while the top-of-the-line 15-inch notebook comes with a new 2.7 GHz quad-core processor and 16GB of memory.

Apple today also announced that the 13-inch MacBook Air with 256GB of flash has a new lower price of US$1,399.

The revised units are available over on the Apple Store and immediately available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel licensing/certification restrictions holding up Thunderbolt adoption rate

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Date: Wednesday, January 16th, 2013, 07:15
Category: Hardware, News

lightningadapter

If you wondered why Lightning and Thunderbolt accessories were being adopted at a slow rate, there might just be an answer.

Per Ars Technica, a number of factors have played a part in the small selection of available Thunderbolt accessories, but the most significant may be Intel’s lengthy licensing and certification process.

A rundown on the state of Thunderbolt was published on Tuesday which acknowledged that accessories designed for the high-speed port remain a “niche.” It noted that more Thunderbolt-compatible devices are coming, but the initial selection has been limited thanks, in part, to Intel’s licensing requirements.

A number of vendors who spoke with author Chris Foresman claimed that Intel has been “cherry picking which vendors it worked with.” The chipmaker has apparently opted to work closely with a select number of vendors to ensure products would meet its stringent certification requirements.

Intel has denied that characterization, but did reportedly admit that it has had limited resources to approve new products. But Jason Ziller, director of Thunderbolt marketing and planning with Intel, also suggested licensing will expand to a greater number of vendors this year.

Another sign of potential improvement in Thunderbolt availability came last week, when Apple quietly released a shorter cable measuring half a meter in length, and also shaved US$10 off the price of the original 2-meter cable that debuted in 2011. Corning also showed off new Thunderbolt optical cables at CES that can transfer data over hundreds of feet.

Thunderbolt was developed in cooperation between Apple and Intel, and first launched on Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup in March of 2011. Since then, Thunderbolt ports have also begun to appear in some Windows-based PCs, though the number of available accessories has not yet taken off.

Thunderbolt pairs the high-speed PCI Express serial interface with the Apple-developed Mini DisplayPort to provide both data and video through a single port with I/O performance of up to 10Gbps. Originally codenamed ‘Light Peak,’ Intel had planned to use optical cabling but switched to copper wire because of cost constraints.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel shows off fourth-gen Core processor lineup at CES

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Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013, 08:48
Category: Hardware, Intel, News, Processors

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The cool stuff’s en route for this year.

Per AppleInsider, Intel on Monday demoed a number of upcoming processors set to hit market later this year, including low power versions of the company’s “Haswell” fourth-generation Core series CPUs slated to roll out in Apple’s inevitable 2013 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air refreshes.

While Apple wasn’t specifically mentioned in Intel’s keynote, which focused mainly on the chip maker’s push into smartphones and Ultrabooks, the processors outlined on Monday will likely be powering the MacBook lineup later this year.

According to the head of Intel’s PC client group, Kirk Skaugen, the fourth-gen Core family of processors are the first to be designed specifically for the Ultrabook initiative. The new silicon is said to bring the most significant battery life improvement in Intel history, with laptops using the CPUs boasting 9 to 13 hours of continuous on-the-go use.

“The 4th generation Core processors are the first Intel chips built from the ground up with the Ultrabook in mind,” Skaugen said. “We expect the tremendous advancements in lower-power Core processors, and the significant ramp of touch-based systems will lead to a significant new wave of convertible Ultrabooks and tablets that are thinner, lighter and, at the same time, have the performance required for more human-like interaction such as touch, voice and gesture controls.”

Intel is making a strong push for touch capabilities in this year’s thin-and-light lineup, requiring OEMs to include the functionality in return for “Ultrabook” branding. The company is also mandating that Ultrabook manufacturers incorporate Intel Wireless Display technology into 2013 machines, allowing users to view digital content on an HDTV.

As Apple does not participate in the Ultrabook initiative, a category believed to be a response to the MacBook Air, the Cupertino, Calif., company is not required to incorporate touchscreen tech into its laptop products. There have been no reports pointing toward multitouch capable MacBooks and industry sources claim Apple will merely debut refreshed units in June with existing designs.

Stay tuned for additional details

Workaround discovered for poor graphics performance/frame rates on 15-inch MacBook Pro

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Date: Friday, January 4th, 2013, 08:54
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

In as much as you love your 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebook, there are times where things aren’t always perfect. Per CNET, some Mac users are finding that some of the latest MacBook systems from Apple are sometimes showing drastic drops in graphics performance, which are particularly notable when playing graphically intensive applications like video games.

The issue seems to be that while at first launching the game will show the expected smooth performance, it may suddenly drop to a very low frame rate and be essentially unplayable. Usually when systems drop to low frame rates it suggests they are being overworked for some reason and are struggling to make the computations necessary for smooth gameplay, and as a result will usually be relatively hot as the graphics card is taxed; however, in these systems this is not the case and in testing some users have noticed that various monitoring tools show the system at a relatively idle state, suggesting the system is not being taxed much and instead is just not performing the computations at hand.

Apple’s 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro systems ship with two graphics cards (a discrete Nvidia Geforce GT 650M for graphics intensive operations and an on-board Intel HD 4000 GPU for standard everyday tasks), which it switches between dynamically to get optimal energy savings and increase battery life. However, it appears that the problem at hand is with how the system is handling this switching behavior, where it will switch back to using the lower power Intel graphics and therefore not be able to manage the demands of fancier games.

The mighty Topher Kessler has listed how to reset the SMC and thus regain some of your graphics frame rate via the following steps:

– Shut down the computer.

– Plug in the MagSafe power adapter to a power source, connecting it to the Mac if its not already connected.

– On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time.

– Release all the keys and the power button at the same time.

– Press the power button to turn on the computer.

After these steps have been performed, the system should perform as expected with graphics-intensive applications.

If you’ve tried this fix with your 15-inch MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.