updated 07:51 pm EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
Processor score essentially unchanged; difference is in battery, graphics
Following after reports of a 13-inch MacBook Pro with an Intel "Haswell" processor showing up at the Geekbench testing site last month, a 15-inch model with a quad-core Haswell chip was seen earlier today. However, other than potentially confirming the existence of such machines and increasing the likelihood that they will be released in the near future, the processor scores will not impress owners of the current-generation models -- as they are nearly identical from that measurement. The benefit of the Haswell chip lies mainly in its significantly better battery performance and enhanced graphics chipset.
The new machine was identified as "AAPLJ45,1" -- a previously unknown model number, and running an advanced build of OS X Mavericks (10.9) called build 13A2052 (the current developer seed, just released yesterday, is 13A510D). It scored an overall 12,497, comparable to current-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro processors. The new model, however, may be the first to sport Iris 5200 graphics from Intel, a new premium GPU chipset that is said to be on par with the discrete GPU from Nvidia currently found in the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the GeForce GT 650M.
While not as good as advanced, gaming-oriented GPU cards, the Iris 5200 chipset may be of sufficiently high quality (even over the Intel HD 5000 graphics used in the latest MacBook Air) that Apple may opt to leave out the switchable discrete graphics card in the new models, allowing them to be even thinner and lighter than the current generation. The MacBook Air's remarkable weight and thinness (and durability) have been major selling points against similar-looking Windows- and Google Chrome-based competitors, which usually use cheaper materials. If the company could achieve thinner and lighter in a professional-level notebook, it would certainly broaden the base of potential buyers.
The processor used in the benchmarked 15-inch MacBook Pro was a quad-core Intel i7-4950HQ. The earlier pre-release 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Haswell chip was using a Core i5-4258U, and both were clocked at 2.4GHz according to AppleInsider. Once the models are officially released, tests on the graphics and in particular battery life should show significant improvements over the present generation of MBPs. In addition to the battery-life improvements seen in the recently-released MacBook Air thanks to the Haswell chip, the currently-in-beta OS X Mavericks (10.9) should also provide a battery boost through the use of greater software efficiencies, though the amount of improvement will vary depending on what the user is doing.