Hardware updates to Apple's MacBook Pro line of laptops have been long overdue, but Apple remedied the problem today with a new line of MacBook Pros that incorporate Intel's latest processors.
The Core i5 and i7 processor chips have been available for quite some time, but Apple has only now introduced the chips into the 15-inch and 17-inch versions of the MacBook Pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro, however, still uses the older generation of the Intel processors, the Core 2 Duo.
Apple has said the new Intel chips make the MacBook Pros 50 percent faster, on average, for common tasks.
All the MacBook Pros will come with 4GB of memory, which can be upgraded to 8GB, and are differentiated by the speed of the processor.
The two 13-inch models will retain the same pricing: $1,199 for a 2.4 GHz processor and 250GB hard drive, and $1,499 for 2.66GHz processor and 320GB hard drive.
In the 15-inch size, Apple has three models: $1,799 for 2.4GHz Core i5 processor and 320GB hard drive, $1,999 for 2.53GHz Core i5 processor and 500GB hard drive, and $2,199 for 2.66GHz Core i7 processor with 500GB hard drive.
The 17-inch size only comes in one default configuration: $2,299 for 2.53GHz Core i5 with a 500GB hard drive, but it can be upgraded to 2.66GHz Core i7 processor for an additional $200.
The default 17-inch model is $200 cheaper than the previous generation, but the cheapest 15-inch configuration is $100 more expensive than its predecessor.
Apple also put added emphasis on graphics performance in this new line of MacBook Pros. The 13-inch MacBooks get an NVIDIA 320M discrete graphics processor, while the rest get the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M.
Even more important than the model of the graphics processor is the new technology Apple included that lets the MacBook Pro shift processing power back and forth between the NVIDIA processor and the graphics chip embedded in the main Intel processor.
For light graphics processing, the MacBook can use the Intel on-board graphics option, but when the user needs to run something more graphically intensive, such as a video editing program or high-definition movie playback, the laptop can switch to the higher-powered NVIDIA processor. Only using the NVIDIA graphics processor when it's needed most helps Apple lengthen the battery life of the MacBook Pro considerably.
While the last generation of MacBook Pros has had the ability to switch, users had to "log out" and then log back in to enable the new settings. Now Apple has made it possible for the MacBook Pros to switch seamlessly between graphics processors on the fly, making the process much faster and simpler.