Something very exciting happened Tuesday morning for Aperture users looking to buy a new laptop–Apple introduced new MacBook Pros (MBPs). As you’d probably expect, the new machines are faster (they’re available with up to a 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo chip). In fact, Apple states that the new machines are 28% faster than the original 2.16 Ghz MBP for processing RAW images in Aperture.
However, there are some great non-obvious improvements for Aperture users. For one, the graphics card has been upgraded to a NVIDIA GeForce 8600M. This card is faster and supports more complicated operations than the card in the previous generation of MacBook Pros. Given how heavily Aperture (and Mac OS X itself) uses the graphics card, this is a welcome upgrade! Secondly, build to order options now include up to 4GB of RAM instead of 3GB (perfect for running Aperture and Photoshop at the same time), and the low-end model comes standard with 2GB of RAM instead of 1GB. Plus, the 17″ MBP now has an option for a 250GB hard drive (the 15″ still tops out at 200GB).
Yet the best part of this revision is what Apple’s done to the screens. On the 17″, there’s now an option for a high-resolution, 1920 x 1200 pixel screen. That’s the same resolution as the 23″ cinema display, perfect for viewing your images on the go.
Saving the best for last, we come to the 15″ MBP–its LCD screen now uses an LED backlight instead of CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent). Aside from being more environmentally-friendly, Apple states that these new screens add an extra 30 minutes - 1 hour of battery life, bringing the total estimated battery life to 6 hours. They also allowed Apple to shave 0.2 pounds from the 15″ MBP’s weight, dropping from 5.6 to 5.4 lbs. If that’s still not enough for you, the LED backlight starts up at full brightness as soon as the machine is turned on–there’s no warmup time anymore. Despite all of these changes, Apple says that the screens look exactly the same as the previous generation’s screen (i.e. same brightness, same viewing angle, etc.), but the word on the web is that the backlight is more even and the contrast ratio appears higher (with blacker blacks) on the LED screens. Both changes are very important for photo viewing and editing!
For photo work, I’d recommend the matte screen and not the glossy one, even though both screens are top-notch. Glossy screens tend to give a more saturated and contrasty appearance by default (which is fine for things like watching DVDs on an uncalibrated screen), but that appearance can affect what changes you feel you need to make to an image.
Overall, this revision really made a great machine even better, and if you end up buying one, feel free to share your impressions of how Aperture runs on it!