Many people in the market for an Apple notebook often ask “what’s the difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro?” This question usually arises after one checks out the tech specs and concludes that the 13″ MacBook Pro’s specifications are very similar to those of the MacBook, which is $300 cheaper. In this article I will outline the major differences between the MacBook and MacBook Pro with regard to what’s currently available in the Apple Store as of January, 2010.
Both notebooks have a battery life quoted at 7 hours on a single charge. The 17″ MacBook Pro advertises 8 hours of juice.
Construction and Durability
Both notebooks have a “unibody” construction meaning the case is cut from one solid piece of material. The Pro model boasts an aluminum case for increased durability.
Display & Graphics
Screen Size —The MacBook comes in just one size: 13″. The MacBook Pro starts at 13″, but there are also 15″ and 17″ models available. Photographers and videographers are good examples of customers who would probably be looking for a large screen.
Display Quality — both notebooks have a back-lit LED display.
GPU — Both notebooks have the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M. The 15″ and 17″ Pro models also have the GeForce 9600M for improved performance.
External Displays — both computers have one Mini DisplayPort for hooking up an external display, including Apple’s monster 30″ Cinema Display.
Both notebooks have a full-size keyboard and the new glass multi-touch trackpad. The MacBook Pro’s keyboard is illuminated, and has an ambient light sensor capable of adjusting display brightness to match your environment.
Both notebooks use DDR3 SDRAM, however the MacBook is expandable to 4GB while the MacBook Pro can be upgraded to 8GB of memory.
Networking & Wireless
Both notebooks feature 802.11n wireless networking and a gigabit ethernet jack.
Both notebooks have a SuperDrive capable of burning CD and DVD discs.
The MacBook Pro has an SD card slot, which the MacBook does not. These cards are commonly used in digital cameras. Both notebooks have two USB 2.0 ports. The 17″ MacBook Pro has three USB 2.0 ports. The Pro model also has a Firewire 800 port, which the MacBook does not.
The MacBook’s processor is 2.66ghz — the same as the entry-level 13″ MacBook Pro. The upgraded 13″ as well as all of the 15″ and 17″ models have faster processors.
All MacBook and MacBook Pro models have storage options up to 500 GB. In addition, the Pro models are available with solid state drives. These are hard drives without moving parts, which are more expensive but feature faster performance and increased durability.