Apple Boosts MacBook Graphics, Lowers Entry-Level Price

The latest Mac laptops will include Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics cards, instant-on LED-backlit displays, and large multitouch track pads.

Apple's MacBook Family
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Apple's MacBook Family
Apple's latest MacBook Pro.

Apple on Tuesday unveiled lighter aluminum MacBooks with faster graphics and a better display, and lowered the entry-level price of the white plastic MacBook to just under $1,000.

Chief executive Steve Jobs introduced the product upgrades, which also included a less-dramatic update to the MacBook Air, during a media gathering at the company's Cupertino, Calif., campus. Among the major enhancements to the product line was a switch from Intel's integrated graphics chipset to the Nvidia 9400M chipset, an LED-backlit display with a glass front, and a larger, multitouch track pad. Apple also lowered the entry-level price of the white MacBook to $999.

Apple has made the latest notebooks lighter and thinner by adopting a new manufacturing process that carves a notebook from a single piece of aluminum. Jobs claimed the process also builds a stronger chassis.

The Nvidia chipset runs five times faster than the Intel product used in previous MacBooks, according to Apple. In addition, the Nvidia product has three to eight times better performance than the previous generations of Nvidia processors in the MacBook Pro. The new MacBook Pro also includes a 9600M GT graphics card that enables users to switch to "turbo mode" when high graphics performance in needed. The better graphics, however, reduces the notebook's five hours of battery life by about an hour.

The MacBook's LED backlit display shows more vivid colors and higher contrast than LCD screens in previous MacBook models. In addition, the new notebooks have a 39% larger multitouch track pad with a "silky smooth" glass front. The latest MacBooks come with a 13-inch display and start at $1,299, and the latest MacBook Pro has a 15-inch display and starts at $1,999.

The MacBook is powered by a 2.0-GHz or 2.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, weighs 4.5 pounds, is 0.95 of an inch thick, and is available with up to a 250-GB hard drive. The MacBook Pro is available with a 2.4-GHz, 2.53-GHz, or 2.8-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; weighs 5.5 pounds; is the same thickness as the MacBook; and is available with up to a 320-GB hard drive. The professional notebooks also have a FireWire 800 port. The 13-inch white MacBook features a 2.1-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a 120-GB hard drive.

The new MacBook Air has been given a performance boost with a 1.6-GHz or 1.86-GHz Core 2 Duo and the Nvidia GeForce 9400M chipset. The size of the notebook is the same as the older model, starting at three-quarters of an inch and tapering to 0.16 of an inch. The system weights 3 pounds and is available with either a 120-GB hard drive or 128-GB solid-state drive. Prices start at $1,799.

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