This model is worth the 500 difference between the entry level. The screen is beautiful, the new LED Displays are great, better color depth, more color, the laptop doesn't get as hot as previous versions. Everything works, it is very fast, and this laptop replaced 2 high end workstations + 2 high end laptops (A dell with workstation class graphics card, and 17 inch macbook pro). I can edit 1080p high def video in real time with no slow down, edit my 12mp raw files in real time with no slow down. I can play the latest games like Call of Duty 4 maxed out on windows vista at native resolution with no slow down online.
With the beefy 250gb HD, ability to upgrade to 4gb of ram, the 512 graphics card, and 6mb cache, this machine is a complete replacement for me, and revolutionizes my life, work style, and workflow.
It is worth buying, and definitely better than the 2k version, by leaps, read my longer review for more.
Longer Fuller Review.
The new macbook pros are fantastic! I had a 17 inch core 2 duo before, it was nice, but it didn't do everything I wanted or needed. I was forced to keep my mac pro, and my custom built windows PC for running the applications I need, and the ability to play games (I do some freelance game design, as well as photography and animation work)
I grew tired of having so many workstations, but what can you do when you need the power? Apples new macbook pro has answered my needs. I have wanted a laptop with a 512mb graphics card for years, it has never happened until now.
Previous to this laptop, my laptops have been "toys" the only close workstation I had was a dell that cost close to 3k, and would break your back to carry it (but it had a 512 workstation class graphics card!)
With this laptop, I have sold my other machines, it is all I need, or want. If it meets my needs and expectations, it should be able to meet yours easily.
The reason you buy this model, is because of the graphics card, and the increase in l2 cache on the processor. The 2k model has less cache than last years santa rosa model (3mb compared to last years 4mb) this model and the 17 inch has 6mb, as well as the 512mb graphics card, dual core processor, and the ability to use 4gb of ram.
After getting the laptop, I use bootcamp to repartition the harddrive (did not need to reinstall OS X, was able to do this on the fly to install windows) I split it up to give me 165gb for OS X, and the rest for windows.
I need to use specialized software that requires windows, and these programs also require very high end workstations. The life of someone in 3d is not easy. This workstation takes care of all my needs. I'm running the 32 bit version of vista ultimate (the 64 bit is horrible, do not run it) I use windows to run the programs I need (mainly zbrush, unreal engine, and 3ds max) I can and do have maya, and can use it on this partition as well as os x thanks to the dongle, but I cannot use my creative suite software on windows, because of adobes licensees. (though oddly enough, I can run Lightroom on both platforms)
On my OS X side, I run maya, photoshop, after effects, and final cut studio (with shake 4.1, yes I need 2 compositing programs) I have no problems running these programs on this system. I can render out quickly, everything is snappy. With the 8600 geforce (opposed to ATI) maya is very responsive, and I get very few render errors. Dynamics are able to be rendered on this machine, and I can run simulations with ease.Read full review