With Sandy Bridge levelling the playing field, competition between Mac & PC is again on a knife edge. In our new series, we compare the new MacBook Pros to equivalent PC notebooks.
The eternal war between the Mac and PC platforms entered a new phase at the end of February with the release of the revamped Apple MacBook Pro
line of notebooks. Prices fluctuated a bit, but the major change
was the introduction of extremely fast Sandy Bridge Intel Core processors, along with a sweeping increase in storage space.
A lot of people are now asking what alternatives exist to these new MacBook Pro models, and we’re onboard to answer that question. As Intel puts the Cougar Point chipset glitch
behind it and new Sandy Bridge PC notebooks
roll off the production lines, we'll be looking at each of the five Apple MacBook Pro models and lining them up beside an equivalent Windows machine. While the specs won’t always be identical, we’ll endeavour to keep the comparisons as equal as possible to help you make the right buying decision.
Apple's MacBook Pro: the 2011 refresh brings things nicely up to speed.
Starting off, we're looking to see who offers the current best Sandy Bridge ultraportable - Mac or Windows - with the following notebook head-to-head:
Apple MacBook Pro 13in vs Samsung QX412-S01AU
Among ultraportables, the new MacBook Pro 13in (MC700X/A) is an exceptionally impressive example of the category, but Samsung has responded in kind by releasing the nearly identically specced Samsung QX412-S01AU
. Both models cost $1,399, but you’re more likely to find the Samsung unit discounted if you shop around. Without further ado, let’s see what’s different given that the asking price is the same.
Samsung's QX412: similar specs to the MBP, with one or two important differences...
Portability is excellent for both. The MacBook Pro weighs 2.04kg and is 24.1mm thick, while the QX412 weighs 2.05kg and is 27mm thick. This difference can be attributed to the screens, as the Apple has a 13.3in (1,280 x 800 resolution) display and the Samsung measures 14.1in (at 1,366 x 768). Taking that difference into account, it’s clear that both are easy to carry around.
Moving onto the internals, both have the exact same processor: the Sandy Bridge Intel Core i5-2410M (2.3GHz). It’s very fast for a notebook in general, let alone an ultraportable one. RAM is also identical at 4GB, and so is storage at 320GB. For productivity applications, both the Apple and the Samsung offer the same great specs.
A major difference comes to play with the graphics rendering capacity. The Apple has the onboard Intel HD Graphics 3000, which is actually on par with a low-end graphics card. This is where it gets tricky. The QX412 has these strong onboard graphics as well, but it also has a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M graphics card. The onboard graphics can run Call of Duty: Black Ops on low settings, but the 520M can manage medium settings. Sure, the 520M is going to drain battery life faster but it’s not on all the time - only during highly graphically intensive tasks.
Otherwise, both the Apple and the Samsung have Gigabit Ethernet and DVD burners. Unexciting perhaps, but in a head-to-head race any difference is important. On that note, the MacBook Pro has one trump card: Thunderbolt ports. There aren’t many devices using the standard yet, but they’re significantly faster than the USB 3.0 ports in the QX412. For device versatility, the USB 3.0 ports are better, but as time marches on this situation is likely to change.
It's a close race, but ultimately it's the dedicated graphics card that gives the QX412 the edge over the MacBook Pro 13in. Both models look really slick and have excellent specs, but the Sandy Bridge onboard graphics in the Apple just aren't as powerful as the NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M in the Samsung. You wouldn't be disappointed with either of these ultraportables, but in the end you'd be better off opting for Samsung's offering.Check our Notebook Hunter service for good deals and Top 10 notebooks in several categories. If you want to ask questions about notebooks, go to our newly-launched Notebook Hunter Facebook page and submit one in the discussions area