MacBook Pro update sneaks in under radar


 

MacBook Pro at the desktop.

Apple has quietly sneaked in some updates to its MacBook range of laptops. Processors were update by miniscule amounts; just 0.1 and 0.2 GHz (yes, I’m afraid its not 1 and 2 GHz!). Hard drives were updated by 180GB and 250GB and the graphic cards have also been given a boost.

Here are the details:

  • 13″ MacBook Pro base model has a 2.4 GHz processor and 500 GB hard drive, boosted from 2.3 GHz and 320 GB.
  • 13″ MacBook Pro model has a 2.8 GHz processor and 750 GB hard drive, boosted from 2.7 GHz and 500 GB.
  • 15″ MacBook Pro base model has a 2.2 GHz processor, up from 2.0 GHz. The 500 GB hard drive remains unchanged. The AMD GPU is now a 6750M with 512MB VRAM (up from a 6490M/256).
  • 15″ MacBook Pro high-end model has a 2.4 GHz processor, up from 2.2 2.3 GHz. The 750 GB hard drive remains unchanged. The AMD GPU is now a 6770M with 1GB of VRAM.
  • 17″ MacBook Pro model has a 2.4 GHz processor, up from 2.2 GHz. The 750 GB hard drive has not changed. Its AMD GPU is also a 6770M with 1 GB VRAM (up from the 6750M).

Prices remain unchanged s although this isn’t a major update its nevertheless a welcome one.

New iMacs arrive!


New iMacsAs predicted, Apple has announced a refresh of its iMac range of all-in-one desktop computers. As predicted in my earlier post, Apple has indeed gone with the AMD Radeon 6000 series GPU, only it has gone for a higher spec than I expected; 6750M or AMD Radeon HD 6770M in the entry-level models and HD 6770M or AMD Radeon HD 6970M in the 27″ models.

As expected, they have gone for the new Intel Sandy Bridge Quad Core i5 processors, only this time they have gone for slower clock speeds than I thought; 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 or 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 in the entry-level 21.5″ models (I thought they would go for 31.GHz and 3.3GHz respectively). They also went for 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 or 3.1 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 in the 27″ models, compared to 2.8GHz and 3.4GHz respectively as I suggested.

However, all models come with Thunderbolt as expected (single port in the 21.5″ models and two in the 27″ models), along with HD backlit LED screens (1920×1080 in the 21.5″ models and 2560×1440  in the 27″ models – a 78% more pixels compared to the 21.5″ models).

More detailed specifications:

  • Storage: 500GB or 1TB in 21.5″ models; 1TB in 27″ models. Configurable with 2TB or 256GB SSD in all but entry model.
  • Video & Canera:
    • FaceTime HD camera
    • Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to a 30-inch display (2560×1600 pixels) on an external display
    • Support for extended desktop and video mirroring modes

Audio:

  • Built-in stereo speakers
  • Two internal 17-watt high-efficiency amplifiers
  • Headphone / optical digital audio output (mini-jack)
  • Audio line in / optical digital audio input (mini-jack)
  • Built-in microphone
  • Support for Apple iPhone headset with microphone

Expansion ports:

  • One Thunderbolt port on 21.5-inch iMac
  • Two Thunderbolt ports on 27-inch iMac
  • Mini DisplayPort output with support for DVI, VGA and dual-link DVI (adapters sold separately)
  • One FireWire 800 port; 7 watts
  • Four USB 2.0 ports
  • SDXC card slot
  • Slot-loading 8x SuperDrive with 4x double-layer burning (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
  • Audio in/out
  • 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)
  • IR receiver

Wireless & Networking:

  • 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking;2 IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) wireless technology
UK Prices:
  • 21.5″ 2.5GHz – £999 inc. VAT & free delivery
  • 21.5″ 2.7GHz – £1249 inc. VAT & free delivery
  • 27″ 2.7GHz – £1,399 inc. VAT & free delivery
  • 27″ 3.1GHz – £1,649 inc. VAT & free delivery

Sandy Bridge iMacs this week?


Rumours are rife that we will see new iMacs with the Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs released as early as 4 May. With desktops now making up around only a quarter of Apple shipments (compared to more than half just 5 years ago), it has seemed to many that Apple has been neglecting this sector of its business in favour of the iPhone, iPad and Macbook Pro devices.

Certainly, a refresh is about due (9 months is a long time in this business) and with the new processor range recently featuring in Macbook Pros, it was expected that the desktop range would do so too.

Apple's iMac computersI have already posted my thoughts on what the new models may contain in terms of features and specification, so we are only days away from knowing how right (or wrong) I was. certainly, as well as the new CPU we should see the introduction of Thunderbolt and it would be strange not to see faster graphics, so expect AMD Radeon 6000 series GPUs. Whether of not we will also see changes to the screen size is uncertain and I am not expecting this with any degree of certainty.

Versions of the company’s hot-selling MacBook Airs are mooted as due to receive Thunderbolt while adopting Intel’s latest low-voltage Core i chips. So, there is plenty to keep the Apple fan happy over the next few months. What with the iPhone 5 and iOS 5 due later this year, the rumoured iCloud replacement service for MobileMe and the arrival of an updated Final Cut Pro its turning into a bumper year for Apple and its customers.

Expect the new iMacs to be available by June, though some are indicating they may well be available as early as 3rd May.