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4/13/2010
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Apple Refreshes MacBook Pro Line

The update gives Apple's top-selling computers faster processors, higher performing graphics, and longer battery life.

MacBook Pro
(click image for larger view)
MacBook Pro

Apple on Tuesday refreshed its MacBook Pro line, giving its top-selling computers faster processors, higher-performing graphics, and longer battery life.

The MacBook Pro 15- and 17-inch models got the biggest performance boosts with Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. In addition, the systems include an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M discrete graphics processor and an Intel HD integrated graphics chip.

With the 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple switched to a built-in battery, which is likely to make some potential buyers unhappy, since replacing the battery would require paying Apple or an authorized dealer $129. The tradeoff is a power supply that delivers up to 10 hours of battery life, according to Apple.

The smallest model in the MacBook Pro line runs on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and has Nvidia's new GeForce 320M graphics processor, which Apple claims delivers up to 80% faster graphics than the previous 13-inch model.

The 15- and 17-inch models are up to 50% faster than their predecessors, primarily due to the Core i5 and i7 processors, which are built using Intel's latest 32-nanometer manufacturing process. The dual-core chips have an integrated memory controller and Level 3 cache for faster access to system memory than processors in the previous systems. In addition, the latest processors have Intel's Turbo Boost technology that runs the chips at 3.06 GHz in handling tasks requiring both cores, and then ups the clock speed to 3.33 GHz for single-core tasks.

The graphics processors in the 15- and 17-inch models are for energy efficiency. When graphics-intensive applications are in use, the systems automatically switch to the GeForce GT 330M. For average computing tasks, the systems use the Intel HD chip, which uses far less power. Apple claims the systems can achieve up to nine hours of battery life.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro comes in three configurations. The least expensive costs $1,799 and includes a 2.4-GHz Core i5 and a 320-GB hard drive. The middle configuration includes a 2.53-GHz Core i5 and 500-GB hard drive and costs $1,999, and the highest end system includes a 2.66-GHz Core i7 and a 500-GB hard drive for $2,199. All three configurations come with a 1440 x 900 glossy display and 4 GB of system memory.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro comes in one configuration that costs $2,299 and includes a 1920 x 1200 glossy display, a 2.53 GHz Core i5, a 500-GB hard drive, and 4 GB of system memory. Adding a 2.66-GHz Core i7 ups the price by $200.

The 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros are available with build-to-order options, such as up to 8 GB of system memory and solid-state drives, that can increase the price considerably.

The 13-inch model is available in two configurations. The least expensive costs $1,199 and includes a 2.4-GHz Core 2 Duo and 250-GB hard drive. For $300 more, buyers can get a 2.66-GHz Core 2 Duo and 320-GB hard drive. The systems come with 4 GB of memory, with the option of 8 GB for an additional $400. Other build-to-order options include a 500-GB hard drive or solid-state drive.

Apple's last refresh of the MacBook Pro line was launched in June 2009 at the company's World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco. The latest refresh does not include price cuts, while the previous update saw prices fall by up to $300.

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