Apple updates Macbook Pro line with Sandy Bridge, AMD GPUs

Published on February 24th, 2011 | by sylv3rblade

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Apple has just unveiled the updated line of MacBook Pro notebooks ahead of the upcoming iPad 2 launch event on March 2. 

These new MBPs sport Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors on all models and the option of quad-core CPUs and AMD GPUs on their 15″ and 17″.  Surprised at seeing AMD there instead of Nvidia?  So am I but it does seem that the legal wranglings between Intel and Nvidia have cost the green team their partnership with Apple for it’s Macbook Pro line.  If you remember past MBP updates, Apple was using Nvidia’s GPU (and lately Nvidia’s Optimus graphics switching technology) for it’s higher-end line Macbook Pros.

In addition to using Sandy Bridge processors, the new MacBook Pros will also be shipping with Intel’s Light Peak high-speed interface, codenamed Thunderbolt. Apple’s new notebooks are the first products to ever ship with this new, proprietary optical cable interface boasts of a high 10 Gbit/s bi-directional bandwidth. The Thunderbolt port on the new Macs doubles as a DisplayPort connector and will also work with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays.

For the GPU part, the 2011 Macbook Pro line up sees another first, AMD branded GPUs.  Discrete AMD GPUs are available on 15-inch and 17-inch models with switchable graphics, reminiscent of Nvidia’s Optimus technology. The higher-end models will carry 1GB of dedicated graphics memory, while the baseline 15-inch MacBook Pro will use a more modest AMD 6490M 256MB configuration. Sadly, the 13-inch versions seem to have been stuck with the budget line as Apple has axed it’s plain old macbook and will be stuck with Sandy Bridge’s built-in HD 3000 graphics.

Features of MacBook Pro (MBP) 2011 Refresh:

  • Next-generation Intel Sandy Bridge quad-core and dual-core CPU processors.
  • Integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with switchable graphics to AMD Radeon graphics processor on the 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro.
  • Thunderbolt port for plug-and-play performance with up to size Thunderbolt peripherals or devices, as well as with the Apple LED Cinema Display and other Mini DisplayPort peripherals. Adapters are available for HDMI, VGA, DVI, and DisplayPort compatible devices.
  • FaceTime HD camera for 720p HD video calls from one new MacBook Pro to another, or to other Intel-based Mac computers,4 iPhone 4, or the new iPod touch.
  • Multi-Touch trackpad.
  • Longer lasting battery.
  • 802.11n wireless and Bluetooth support.
  • 8x SuperDrive DVD writer.
  • New SDXC card slot on the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models supports up to 64GB cards.
  • ExpressCard/34 slot on the 17-inch MacBook Pro for an eSATA adapter or a 3G wireless card.
  • Two USB 2.0 ports (three on the 17-inch MacBook Pro) and a FireWire 800 port let you connect your iPad, iPod, iPhone, digital cameras, and external hard drives.

Here’s the base configuration specifications and listed prices for the MacBook Pro 2011 models.

13-inch MacBook Pro

  • 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 or 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7
  • 4GB 1333MHz RAM
  • 320GB 5400-rpm or 500GB 5400-rpm hard disk drive
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • Built-in battery (7 hours)

15-inch MacBook Pro

  • 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 or 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
  • 4GB 1333MHz RAM
  • 500GB 5400-rpm or 750GB 5400-rpm hard disk drive
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics card
  • AMD Radeon HD 6490M with 256MB GDDR5 or AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB GDDR5 dedicated GPU
  • Built-in battery (7 hours)

17-inch MacBook Pro

  • 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
  • 4GB 1333MHz RAM
  • 750GB 5400-rpm hard disk drive
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics card
  • AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB GDDR5 dedicated GPU
  • Built-in battery (7 hours)

The main configurations and pricing for the new MacBook Pros are as follows:

  • 17″ 1920×1200 Display. 2.2Ghz Quad i7. 4GB RAM. 750GB HD. AMD 6750M 1GB — $2499
  • 15″ 1440×900 (1680 option) Display. 2.2GHz Quad i7. 750GB HD. AMD 6750M 1GB — $2199
  • 15″ 1440×900 (1680 option) Display. 2.0GHz Quad i7. 4GB RAM. 500GB HD. AMD 6490M 256MB — $1799
  • 13″ 1280×800 Display. 2.7GHz Dual i7. 4GB RAM. 500GB HD. Intel HD Graphics — $1499
  • 13″ 1280×800 Display. 2.3GHz Dual i5. 4GB RAM. 320GB HD. Intel HD Graphics — $1199

Aside from bumped hardware specs, Apple has also equipped the new macbooks with a new FaceTime HD camera capable of 720p video recording and communication along with a new software that will ease calls between FaceTime-equipped Macs and iOS devices

These new MacBooks are available now.

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