updated 08:50 am EST, Thu February 24, 2011
Apple intros 2011 MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt
Apple today launched its rumored new MacBook Pro. The new systems all use Intel's new Sandy Bridge architecture with Core i5 and i7 processors but also revolve around the promised new Thunderbolt technology: the Intel Light Peak technology supplies both Mini DisplayPort as well as high-speed interfaces. Along with direct connections, it's fast enough to not only support FireWire and USB over the connection but gigabit Ethernet and even PCI Express, allowing for multi-drive RAID arrays that work at full speed on a notebook.
Also new is the rumored FaceTime HD camera, which outputs three times higher in resolution than before and can do widescreen calls to other similarly equipped Macs and HD-capable Windows PCs with appropriate apps. FaceTime is now 1.0 for the Mac and costs 99 cents in the Mac App Store, but will only do standard definition when talking to an iPhone 4, iPod touch or earlier Mac.
The lineup's biggest leap in performance comes for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,199 for the previously confirmed 2.3GHz dual Core i5, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive and Intel's much improved HD 3000 graphics driving a 1280x800 display; battery life is only quoted at seven hours, but is now using the tougher "real" standards. A $1,499 configuration boosts it to a 2.7Ghz Core i7 and a 500GB hard drive.
The 15- and 17-inch models are the first-ever quad-core mobile Macs and start at $1,799 for a unique-to-Apple 2GHz quad Core i7, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, a 1440x900 display and an AMD Radeon HD 6490M with live graphics switching, all while maintaining the seven hours of battery. A $2,199 version of the 15-inch system goes to an official 2.2GHz quad Core i7, a 750GB hard drive and a Radeon HD 6750M. The 17-inch flagship at $2,499 has a 1920x1200 display and the same performance as the 15-inch edition aside from the usual third USB port and an ExpressCard/34 slot instead of the SDXC reader.
All of the systems are available today through the online Apple Store and at retail shops.