The design remains the same, but under the hood Apple's MacBook Pro laptops received a jolt by way of faster processors, a new chipset, and--depending on the screen size--either new screen technology or the option for a higher resolution. Those pining for a 12-inch MacBook Pro will need to continuing waiting, but there's nothing to complain about for the updated 15- and 17-inch models, which offer improved specs at the same starting prices.
Following on the heels of last month's update to the lower-end MacBook line, Apple freshened up its MacBook Pro series with faster Intel Core 2 Duo processors, a faster 800MHz front-side bus courtesy of Intel's latest Centrino (aka Santa Rosa) chipset, and a switch from ATI to Nvidia graphics. The lineup still comprises two 15.4-inch models, priced at $1,999 and $2,499, and a 17-inch model, priced at $2,799, which may be somewhat of a disappointment to those hoping this update would mark the return of a 12-inch Apple laptop.
The 15-inch models also introduce an LED-backlit display that Apple claims results in a brighter image and longer battery life (we found this LED-backlit Sony VAIO TXN17P/B to be bright and long-running). The larger, 17-inch MacBook Pro doesn't include LED backlighting, but it now offers you a choice of a higher-resolution display with a native resolution of 1,920x1,200 (up from the standard 1,680x1,050 display). Powering the screen is Nvidia's GeForce 8600M GT graphics chip; the low-end MacBook Pro features the 128MB version while the two higher-end models use the 256MB version.
The new Core 2 Duo processors added to the line are a 2.2GHz chip in the lower-end 15-inch MacBook Pro and a 2.4GHz chip in the higher-end 15-inch model and the 17-inch model. All three ship with a standard 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 memory, which can now be upgraded to 4GB (the previous limit was 3GB). The two 15-inch models can be upgraded with a 200GB hard drive, while the 17-inch model gives you the option for a 250GB drive. Unfortunately, the largest hard-drive option for each model spins at a poky 4,200rpm. All models ship with the wireless 802.11n (aka Draft N) chip enabled, a feature that cost $2 to turn on with previous MacBook Pros.
For more information, please see our full review from earlier this year of the previous 17-inch MacBook Pro model.