New MacBook Pros arrive. Happy Birthday Steve!

Sandy Bridge MacBook ProsAs expected, Apple has released news of its new MacBook Pro range of laptops, featuring Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPU and it’s Light Peak technology (renamed ‘Thunderbolt” in the new range). Today is Steve Jobs birthday so its perhaps a fitting birthday present for him. Let’s hope he is well enough to enjoy his birthday and we wish him all the best.

Next-generation quad-core and dual-core Intel processors.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro now features a 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor or the fastest dual-core processor available — the 2.7GHz Intel Core i7. With Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.4GHz, these processors allow the 13-inch MacBook Pro to perform up to twice as fast as the previous generation.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro come with a 2.0GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core or a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core processor. Graphics wise, you get the option of either a AMD Radeon HD 64900M with  256MB GDDR5 memory or a AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB DDR5 memory. Both versions come with Intel HD 3000 graphics built-in as well. 4GB 1333MHz RAM is standard in both versions of the 15-inch model too.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro comes with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad Core  processor and the AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics card (plus the Intel HD Graphics 3000 chip). So, for the extra money over and above the better-specified 15-inch model, you get the larger screen and that’s it. Currently you will pay $300 in the US or £248 here in the UK fort he privilege of the larger screen. Battery-wise, you will get about 7 hours usage out of both models, indeed across the whole range.

So what is Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt is Apple’s implementation of Intel’s Light peak Technology. It offers two 10-Gbps data channels and effectively sounds the death knell for USB, at least as far as Apple is concerned and probably Intel. Apple has kept faith with Firewire but the new laptops only come with USB 2.0 ports. This will disappoint some manufacturers who have invested in USB 3.0 hardware (such as external hard drive) but for users it’s a big plus, offering better speeds and convenience.

Both Apple and Intel are crowing about how their co-operation has brought about this development and the benefits it offers. The performance of Thunderbolt is twice that of USB 3.0, at 10 Gbps (USB 2.0 peaks at 480 Mbps and Firewire 800 at 800 Mbps, whilst ExpressCard manages 2.5 Gbps). Also, as Thunderbolt is based on DisplayPort Technology, you can plug any Mini DisplayPort display straight in to the Thunderbolt port. Of course, you will need to buy yet another adaptor if you want to plug in a DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI or VGA display in.

Thunderbolt I/O technology allows you to daisy-chain up to six new peripherals, such as the Promise Pegasus RAID* or LaCie Little Big Disk,* or five peripherals and an Apple LED Cinema Display. This will be attractive to the likes of video editors and 3D Animation professionals.

What else?

The integrated video encoder (courtesy of the HD Graphics 3000 chip) will allow HD Video calls with FaceTime whilst prolonging battery life when watching DVDs or iTunes movies on your laptop.

In terms of storage space, you get the choice of anything from a 320GB 5400-rpm hard drive in the base 13-nch model to a 750GB 5400-rpm hard drive in the top two models (15-inch or 17-inch).

Only the 15-inch and 17-inch models come with the option of an anti-glare option for the LED-backlit screens.

All models come with the following features:

• Two USB 2.0 ports (3 in 17-inch model)

• FireWire 800 port

• SDXC Card Slot

• FaceTime HD camera

• Multi-Touch Trackpad

• 8x SuperDrive (so no BlueRay!)

Prices: 13-inch models start at £999 inc. VAT, 15-inch models at £1,549 inc. VAT and the 17-inch starts at £2,099 inc. VAT


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