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MacBook Pro updated: Faster CPUs, Radeon HD, Thunderbolt, and more

As expected, Apple has updated the MacBook Pro and given the lineup some significant upgrades. In brief, the lineup has seen significant processor updates, with Intel's new "Sandy Bridge" processors standard throughout the lineup, including 13.3 model. AMD's Radeon HD GPU has replaced the NVIDIA GeForce GT GPUs that powered the last-gen MacBook Pros; it will be interesting to see how this affects graphics performance once benchmarks come out.

The MacBook Pro does not have the rumored 16 GB SSD "boot drive" as a standard option. All models come with a traditional HDD in 320 or 500 GB size for the 13.3-inch model, 500 or 750 GB for the 15.4-inch and 750 GB for the 17-inch model. All HDDs are 5400 RPM drives. SSD drives are available as an option.

Thunderbolt, a new connection technology based on Intel's "Light Peak," has debuted in the MacBook Pro, the first notebook to feature this next-generation technology. Thunderbolt is a multi-purpose connector designed to produce transfer speeds well in excess of those offered by either FireWire or USB; Thunderbolt will transfer data at up to 10 Gbps, more than 12 times faster than FireWire 800.

In addition to these major updates, the MacBook Pro has seen some minor enhancements, too: the entire lineup has dropped in weight, and all models feature a slightly larger trackpad than before, and they include a 'FaceTime HD' camera versus the iSight of previous models. In all, the MacBook Pro's updates have turned it into even more of a powerhouse than it was before. If you've been waiting for an update before pulling the trigger on your credit card, wait no longer. Pricing and tech specs are in the second half of this post.

Update: We were initially under the impression that the new MacBook Pros had dropped in weight and had larger trackpads, but this turned out to not be the case.

13" MacBook Pro:

  • CPU: 2.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with a 3 MB shared L3 cache or 2.7 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 processor with 4MB shared L3 cache
  • Display: 13.3-inch LED-Backlit with 1280x800 resolution; Glossy only
  • RAM: 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM clocked at 1333 MHz (2x2 GB), supports up to 8 GB
  • HDD: 320 or 500 GB, 5400 RPM Serial ATA hard drive; optional 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB solid-state drive
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384 MB DDR3 SDRAM shared memory
  • Other features: FaceTime HD camera, 8X slot-loading SuperDrive, Thunderbolt High-Speed E/A and Mini-DisplayPort, 802.11N WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, SDXC, FireWire 800, USB 2.0.
  • Price: Starting at $1199

15" MacBook Pro:

  • CPU: 2.0 or 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor with 6 MB L3 Cache; optional 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with 8MB shared L3 cache
  • Display: 15.4-inch LED-Backlit with 1440 x 900 resolution; Glossy or Anti-Glare
  • RAM: 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM clocked at 1333 MHz (2x2 GB), supports up to 8 GB
  • HDD: 500 or 750 GB, 5400 RPM Serial ATA hard drive; optional 750GB 5400-rpm hard drive, 500GB 7200-rpm hard drive, or 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB solid-state drive
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6490M with 256 MB GDDR5 RAM or AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1 GB GDDR5 RAM, Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • Other features: FaceTime HD camera, 8X slot-loading SuperDrive, Thunderbolt High-Speed E/A and Mini-DisplayPort, 802.11N WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, SDXC, FireWire 800, USB 2.0.
  • Price: Starting at $1,799

17" MacBook Pro:

  • CPU: 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor with 6 MB L3 Cache; optional 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with 8MB shared L3 cache
  • Display: 17-inch LED-Backlit with 1920 x 1200 resolution; Glossy or Anti-Glare
  • RAM: 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM clocked at 1333 MHz (2x2 GB), supports up to 8 GB
  • HDD: 750 GB, 5400 RPM Serial ATA hard drive; optional 500GB 7200-rpm hard drive or 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB solid-state drive
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1 GB GDDR5 RAM, Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • Other features: FaceTime HD camera, 8X slot-loading SuperDrive, Thunderbolt High-Speed E/A and Mini-DisplayPort, 802.11N WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, ExpressCard/34 slot, FireWire 800, USB 2.0.
  • Price: Starting at $2,499

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