Apple today announced a refresh of its MacBook Pro line of laptops. The highlights? New, faster processors, more powerful graphics processors, an HD camera and a new port for a technology that Apple is calling Thunderbolt.
Cosmetically, the new Pros look very similar to their predecessors. There are still 13-, 15- and 17-inch models (starting at $1,199, $1,799 and $2,499, respectively), and they still have the same aluminum unibody construction and full-width glass across the display. To look at them, you wouldn’t notice a whole lot that’s different.
One of the new features of the Intel chips is an integrated graphics processor. But in the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros, Apple doubled down on graphics by adding a discrete AMD Radeon graphics chip. Models with both chips seamlessly and automatically switch between the two processors, depending on performance needs.
There is also a new FaceTime camera, which can stream video in 720p resolution and display it in a new widescreen format.
The new Thunderbolt port on MacBook Pros.
It’s the last addition to the MacBook Pro line that is perhaps the most intriguing: the Thunderbolt port. Apple collaborated with Intel on its Light Peak project to create a new high-speed data and display port that would be adaptable to existing connection standards. The MacBook Pros are the first computers to feature the technology, but it will roll out across manufacturers in the coming year.
The performance specs of Thunderbolt are striking: At 10 Gbps, it’s twice as fast as USB 3.0, 12 times as fast as FireWire 800 and 20 times faster than USB 2.0. As Intel calculated in their press release, a Thunderbolt connection can transfer a full-length high-definition movie in 30 seconds.
Thunderbolt is also a native Mini DisplayPort, so any display with that connection can hook up easily. HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort and VGA displays can use adapters. Thunderbolt also provides up to 10 watts of power to peripherals and can be daisy-chained to up to six peripherals.
The new MacBook Pros are available now.