The MacBook Pro's Tools - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

In effect, the MacBook Pro builds on the basic equipment provided with an entry-level MacBook Air, providing serious users with faster performance and storage capacity. The MacBook Pro is meant for those using processor-intensive behemoths such as Photoshop and Final Cut Pro X (think digital media professionals), as well as computer users who want to play the latest games or run the most demanding applications.

To support the faster processors in the MacBook Pro, Apple also provides 4GB of RAM as a standard; the laptop can accept a maximum of 8GB. The MacBook Pro also sports a backlit keyboard, which glows in a darkened room or airplane to allow you to continue working while everyone around you snoozes (lucky you!).

Currently, your MacBook Pro can be ordered with three different LED screen sizes: 13.3 inches, 15.4 inches, and the super-glorious 17-inch display (all in widescreen format). Storage capacity maxes out at 750GB for the traditional magnetic Serial ATA hard drive, or you can opt for up to 512GB of solid-state storage.

A SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme 802.11n, and Bluetooth wireless networking are all on board. The MacBook’s FaceTime HD camera, built-in microphone, and stereo speakers are also included. (Check this out: The speakers on all MacBook Pro models include built-in subwoofers. Score!)

The MacBook Pro naturally offers a wider range of ports and connectors than a MacBook. The ports include:

  • Gigabit Ethernet: MacBook Pro owners can enjoy the superfast speed of a wired Ethernet network.

  • Thunderbolt: Use this “superport” to connect to a larger monitor or an outrageously fast external storage device (such as a RAID drive array).

  • FireWire 800: At double the speed of the older FireWire 400 ports, your FireWire 800 port is a great choice for connecting external devices. (Note, however, that you’ll need an adapter to use an older FireWire 400 device with this FireWire 800 port.)

  • USB 2.0: The 17-inch MacBook Pro carries three ports rather than the two offered on the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models.

  • SDXC card slot: The 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models have a built-in SDXC memory card slot (a great choice for digital photographers).

  • ExpressCard/34 slot: If you opt for the 17-inch model, this slot allows you to add peripheral cards that provide additional functions for your MacBook Pro, such as an eSATA connection. (In the Windows world, these are called PC cards.)

  • Audio In and Out

The least-expensive 13.3-inch MacBook Pro runs $1,199, which is a steal for the computing professional who needs a laptop on the road with the same processing power as a desktop Mac.