Conclusion: So, with a refresh of the MacBook Pro coming so soon after the last update, is this model worth a trade-in? If you're rocking an early-2011 15-inch MacBook Pro, probably not. Sure, it's a slight bump in processor power, and a bigger jump in graphics, but mostly, it's just a better deal. If you needed the kind of power that is now packed into this entry-level model, you could have gotten it earlier this year with the more souped-up, higher-end 15-inch model.
Pros: Awesome performance, Excellent battery life, Multi-touch gestures on touch pad work flawlessly with OS
Cons: Only a minor upgrade from previous version, Still lacks a Blu-ray drive and an HDMI port, Battery is not user-replaceable
Conclusion: With Intel's new CPU, AMD's fast GPU, and Apple's extra-long battery life, you get the best of everything with this 15-inch MacBook Pro. In our testing, it blew well past all of the competition, and when you look at the price, you're getting a very good deal. You'd have to pay $3,000 or more on a gaming rig for this kind of performance (so far, anyway, until the other Sandy Bridge notebooks come out), but you still wouldn't get the battery life. Apple has outdone itself.
Pros: Impressive performance, Phenomenal battery life, Excellent internal upgrades from previous model
Cons: No Blu-ray drive, Glossy screen is prone to glare, Non-user-replaceable battery
Conclusion: The Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Mid 2012) is still one of the best laptops around, with solid performance and a superb user experience, but after five-years with no change, the overall design is getting old.
Pros: Quad-core Ivy Bridge processor. Switchable Nvidia graphics technology. Long battery life. OS X Mountain Lion improves on an already great user experience.
Cons: Multimedia performance lags. No 1080p display.
Conclusion: The Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch gets new hardware and software, including a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, AMD Radeon GPU, and OS X Lion, while keeping everything that works well, like the thin and stylish unibody design.
Pros: Updated quad-core Core i7 processor. Powerful AMD GPU with more dedicated memory. OS X Lion is superb. Improved battery life.
Cons: Competitors offer lower prices and larger feature sets.
Conclusion: The MacBook Pro 15-inch (SD Slot) shows improved battery life over the previous version, while lowering its base price to $1,699. Though that's enticing enough for newcomers, some current MacBook Pro owners might not be ready to give up the ExpressCard slot yet.
Pros: Lower starting price. Superior design engineering. Bigger battery and over 5 hours of battery life on tests. Earns our GreenTech Approved seal. Illuminated keyboard. Versatile touchpad.
Cons: Deep-sixes the ExpressCard slot. Base configuration uses integrated graphics only.
Conclusion: The Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Thunderbolt) is the fastest, most technologically advanced laptop to grace our Labs benches.
Pros: Quad-core Core i7 processor is a first. AMD Radeon HD 6750M is a powerful GPU and works with Apple's Automatic Graphics Switching technology. Gorgeous unibody enclosure. Thunderbolt is in its early stages, but it looks promising. Webcam now streams in HD and works with Facetime app. Backlit keyboard. Multiple screen options. Glass Clickpad has no equals.
Cons: Pricey. Lack of Thunderbolt devices to take advantage of the new interface.
Conclusion: The MacBook Pro is a design marvel like no other, but you can find better features elsewhere.
Pros: Now less than one inch thick. Design has no equal. Switchable graphics. Gesture and clickable touchpad. Still the lightest 15-inch laptop. Gorgeous glass screen. Illuminated keyboard. Excellent typing experience.
Cons: Lacks a built-in media card reader. Features aren't the strongest. Pricey.
Conclusion: Although it didn't go through any major design changes, the MacBook Pro 15-inch delivers more battery life, better performance scores, and is still the best-looking mainstream laptop in the market.
Pros: Excellent performance scores. Improved battery life. Still the sexiest in its class. Lightest 15-inch laptop on the market. LED screen.
Cons: Due for a design change. Needs more USB ports.