Life with Windows & Boot Camp on the MacBook Pro…
The performance is quite amazing.
World of Warcraft runs nicely under Windows giving an acceptable 20 fps at 1440×900 24-bit colour 24-bit depth 1xmultisample with everything turned up high or on. Dropping down the anisotropic to mid-point and turning off the full-screen glow effect and smooth shading bumps that up to 30 fps.
Unplugging the power means ATI’s PowerPlay kicks in which can results in a 50% speed reduction as the X1600 GPU cuts it’s clock from 310MHz down to 128MHz and a similar drop for it’s 256MB GDDR3 RAM. You can turn this off by unchecking the PowerPlay option in the ATI driver settings.
Everest provides a few interesting details including some synthetic benchmarks that show memory performance to be near a Pentium D 820 with Dual DDR400 – a little disappointing given that the laptop is equipped with DDR2-667 SO-DIMM’s.
Memory was a single Micron 1GB module with 5-5-5-15 timings. I added another 1GB of Kingston – a more patient me would have picked up 1GB from Crucial for half Apple’s asking price. Installing the memory isn’t as easy as flipping up the keyboard on the TiBook but only required a couple of minutes and a small Philips screwdriver.
The CPU benchmarks are where it shines with it out performing the P4 530HT, P4EE HT and Althlon64 3200+. Only the Athlon64 X2 3800+ beat it in two of the three tests. FPU performance placed it directly below the desktop chips I’ve mentioned but comfortable margin above a P4 2.8GHz again on two of the three test. On FPU SinJulia it came second only to a 8 way P3 Xeon 550MHz…
Running Everest also shed some light on the internals. Worryingly it identified the Core Duo T2500 CPU as being an “Engineering Sample” but I’m putting this down to Everest warning at start-up that the current version doesn’t know much about Core Duo (Yonah).
The motherboard is identified as an Apple design equipped with the Intel Calistoga-G i945GM north bridge and Intel 82801GBM ICH7-M south bridge. These are part of the Centrino 3 (Napa) platform but having gone with the Atheros AR5006X Wireless instead of Intel’s own 3945ABG they’ve missed out on compliancy. They’ve gained 108 MBit and extended range though.
The south bridge is home to Intel’s high definition sound using the SigmalTel STAC9220 and provides the two PCI-E x1 links to the wireless and Marvell Yukon 88E8053 gigabit Ethernet.
Everest was unable, sadly, to report any sensor information such as fan speed and CPU temperature. Hopefully this is possible in a future update. The hard drive was running at 42°c and is a Seagate Momentus ST9100824AS as I went with the stock 100GB 5400RPM.
First up is the clock… as far as I can tell Windows uses the BIOS to set/determine local time while Mac OS X uses it to store GMT and adds the appropriate time zone offset. For me here in the UK this just means a one hour shift either way but obviously the problem gets worse the further away from GMT you are.
Next is the keyboard.. While eject is mapped the various volume controls and brightness etc are not. Also get used to the Mac keyboard being slightly different to Windows – alt and Apple/Win are in each others places and various symbols are where they would be on a Windows keyboard – not where they are on your Mac’s.
One oddity is the SPDIF laser is on by default, shining it’s red rays out from the left of your laptop onto whatever might be nearby. Head into the SigmaTel Control Panel and disable Digital Output before somebody looses an eye.
One worrying thing is the battery life – something which Apple have been very quiet about indeed. Unpluging the power at 100% battery charge in Windows with all the default power saving stuff turned on reports a lifetime of around 2 hours with a few apps loaded but idle.
While this is on par with other T2500 based systems such as the ASUS A6J it falls a bit short of the 3-hour expectancy set by the Pentium M and significantly short of the PowerBook G4’s 5 hour. No wonder they didn’t want to mention it.
I’d hope that Intel will release updated chipset drivers that better underclock the system on demand but I won’t hold my breath.