Apple Upgrades MacBook Pro Models

The newest version of the MacBook Pro line surprisingly falls outside of those two extremes. The iconic unibody aluminum construction remains, as does its large glass multitouch trackpad (in fact, from the outside, the new MacBook Pro looks identical to its predecessor). But the revamped internal components are much more than a simple spec upgrade.

Our review sample is the highest-end 15-inch base configuration, with a 2.66GHz Core i7 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce GT330M discrete graphics. At $2,199, it’s definitely expensive, but it’s still $100 cheaper than the previous high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro configuration.

The 15- and 17-inch Pro models have moved to Intel’s newer line of Core-i CPUs, from the older Core 2 Duo models (the 13-inch Pro, unfortunately, still uses a Core 2 Duo CPU). Both mainstream Core i5 and high-end Core i7 versions are available. This requires a new chipset architecture (courtesy of Intel) and a switch from the integrated Nvidia GeForce 9400 to Intel’s built-in integrated graphics for the systems’ default GPU.

The lowest-priced 15-inch model costs $1,799, which is $100 more than the previous low-end 15-inch MacBook Pro–but that system now includes discrete graphics instead of only integrated graphics. Overall, this round of updates follows the usual Apple trajectory: keeping the price steady but adding faster, more powerful components.

Good Feature: Adds fast, efficient Intel Core i5, i7 processors, new Nvidia graphics, seamless switching between integrated, discrete GPUs…

Bad Feature : At the top end of the price scale; still no HDMI, Blu-ray, or other high-end options.

The bottom line: Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro keeps the same look and feel, but offers major internal changes, including an optional Intel Core i7 CPU, making it a very serious portable powerhouse.

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