Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ivy Bridge Portables: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2012) and the Samsung NP530U4C S03

Earlier we took a look at a pair of very portable 13-inch laptops, an Apple MacBook Air and Samsung Series 5. Those needing a bit more power and will to lug around a but more weight might want to consider the MacBook Pro or the 14-inch Samsung Series 5 instead.

This article is a continuation of the previous one. To read it in context, visit the previous article at this link

MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro design is getting a bit out dated. What used to be a slim and light laptop when the design was originally released is looking heavy by today's standards. The entry level 13-inch MacBook Pro sells for the same price as the 13-inch MacBook Air.

As compared to the 13-inch MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro seems to be a bad choice at first glance. The MacBook Pro has a lower resolution 1280 x 800 display as compared to the sharper 1440 x 900 resolution of the MacBook Air. At 4.5 pounds, the MacBook Pro weighs 50% more than the 3 pound MacBook Air.

Still, the entry level 13-inch MacBook Pro has some trick up it sleeve. It still has an optical drive and a LAN port. Something disappearing in many of today laptops. The MacBook Pro has a faster Intel Core i5 processor as compared to the MacBook Air (2.5 GHz versus 1.8 GHz). The RAM on a MacBook Pro can be upgraded after purchase. RAM upgrades on the MacBook Air have to be done before purchase.  

The entry level MacBook Pro also has more storage. The entry level 13-inch MacBook Pro has a 500 GB hard drive which is a lot bigger than the 128 SSD storage on the entry level 13-inch MacBook Air, but that is really a plus and a minus. One offers more space. The other one is faster and more power efficient. Cabled connectivity includes a Thunderbolt Port, and USB 3.0.

If you want a little more power than the 13-inch MacBook Air, or need an optical drive on the road, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a viable alternative. Otherwise, I would recommend the 13-inch MacBook Air. 

Samsung NP530U4C S03. Samsung though is offering another very viable alternative for mobile users needing more power than the typical Ultrabook. This a large notebook, with a 14-inch, 1366 x 768 resolution display. Still, weighing in a 4.05 pounds it is actually much lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The Samsung NP530U4C S03 is a 14-inch Intel Core i7-3157UM (1.9 GHz) powered laptop. For graphics, it has the standard Intel on board graphics plus a nVidia GeForce GT 620M with 1 GB of dedicated RAM. It also offers 6 GB of RAM, which is 2 GB more than what comes with the entry level 13-inch MacBook Air or Pro, or its own Series 5 13-inch sibling. Storage is 1 TB, with a 24 GB SSD used for sleep and hibernation. Cabled connectivity includes a HDMI Port, and USB 3.0.

All this comes in a package which costs just Php54,900 with Windows 7 Premium (64-bit) pre-installed. The price is just 3K less than the Apple MacBook Pro, but pay cash or make a straight payment through a credit card and you will get a discount on the price making the difference all of 8K.

The Core i7 on the Samsung NP530U4C S03 processor runs slower than the Core i5 on the MacBook Pro, but has a larger cache. Which of the two is faster depends on the task. Given a choice between the two, I would prefer the cooler running Core-i7 UM processor on the Samsung.

The Samsung NP530U4C S03 does not have an optical drive, and those that want one should consider the 13-inch MacBook Pro instead. Other than that, the Samsung NP530U4C S03 offers NVIDIA gaming grade graphics and double the storage of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, for less money and in a lighter package.


  1. hi, regarding the samsung NP530U4C S03, how does the battery life fare? how many hours on average?


    1. Sorry, I don't have a test unit for long term tests or even to go through one fill cycle.


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