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MacBook Pro laptops upgraded with Core 2 Duo

Apple says the new Intel dual-core chips improve laptop performance by up to 39 percent over the previous version. Photos: Dual-core Mac notebooks

Apple Computer has revved up its MacBook Pro notebooks with Intel Core 2 Duo processors, double the memory and a faster FireWire peripheral connection.

Unlike some of Apple's computer announcements--like last month's

But inside, Apple has made some changes. Now equipped with Core 2 Duo processors, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is available in 2.16GHz and 2.33GHz varieties. The 17-incher comes with a 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo.

MacBook Pro

With the souped-up chips, Apple estimates that the 2.33GHz dual-core model is up to 39 percent speedier than the previous MacBook Pro with a 2.16GHz Intel Duo processor--and seven times faster than the older PowerBook G4 laptop with a 1.67GHz IBM PowerPC processor.

In addition, a new FireWire 800 port now complements the existing FireWire 400 port so that MacBook Pro users can connect to higher-end peripheral devices.

With the improved processors, Apple hopes that its MacBook Pro laptops will be more appealing to customers who run memory-heavy applications like its own Aperture photo-editing software.

Ever since Apple's mid-2005 announcement that it would switch to Intel processors, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has been gradually releasing machines with the new chips. Apple's transition to Intel was complete with the unveiling of the Mac Pro desktop in August.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops, which Apple said are available Tuesday, cost $1,999 for the 2.16GHz model and $2,499 for the 2.33GHz version. The 17-inch MacBook Pro is set for release next week at $2,799.