The New MacBook Pros

As expected, the long awaited MacBook Pro refresh has finally hit the Apple Online Store (Models should be available in retail shops by tomorrow) – so let’s take a look at what’s new!

13″ MacBook Pro
They finally justified the huge (though now reduced) price difference between the MacBook and the 13″ MacBook Pro. Just recently, customers had to fork out an additional S$400 if they wanted the IR port, unibody aluminum casing, SD card slot, FireWire, the ambient light sensor and the backlit keyboard that is offered by the base 13″ MBP model and not by the MacBook. And that’s after giving up a 250GB hard disk for a 160GB hard disk. Now, the base model starts at S$1788 (previously S$1988) and it comes with a 250GB hard disk.

In addition, you get faster processors, 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo for the base model compared to the previous base model which shipped with a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo chip, a more powerful – though still shared – graphics card, the NVIDIA GeForce 320M, as well as a 10 hour battery (compared to the previous 7 hours). All in all, the 13″ MacBook Pro has now become an economically competitive model for those considering between the MacBook and the MacBook Pros.

15″ MacBook Pro
The first thing I noticed (and was really happy about) was that Apple has finally removed the base model that does not come with the dedicated graphics card. Instead, all 15″ MacBook Pros now come with a discrete card, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M, and a shared Intel HD Graphics chip. Also, the new MacBook Pros are able to dynamically switch between the discrete and the shared graphics cards, eliminating the need to log out and log in again when switching graphics cards as required by previous generation models.

Aanother pleasant surprise was the fact that all 15″ models ship with quad-cores, the i5 in the lower end models and the i7 in the highest end model. Of course, the processors feature the Turbo Boost technology first introduced with the quad-core iMacs, which allows the processor to have a faster clock speed when the applications are using only one core, as well as Hyper-Threading (even for the i5s, unlike the iMacs, where Hyper-Threading was only available on the i7s).

The 15″ MacBook Pros also offer a Build-to-order option where you can order a high resolution screen that boosts the resolution from the standard 1440×900 to 1680×1050. An antiglare version of the high resolution screen is also available. Other build to order options include 7200RPM hard disks (FINALLY!) as well a 512GB SSD (still ridiculously expensive).

And the best part is that the price has become even more competitive. S$2688 (compared to S$2788 previously) for the base model – which comes with a 2.4GHz i5 processor, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with 256MB of VRAM/Intel HD Graphics and 320GB of hard disk space and goes up to S$3188 (compared to S$3688 previously) for a 2.66GHz i7 processor, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with 512MB of VRAM/Intel HD Graphics and 500GB of storage space. Of course, these are the pricing for standard in-store configurations – you can always custom order from the online store.

17″ MacBook Pro
Curiously, the standard 17″ MacBook Pro features a 2.66GHz i5 processor instead of a i7 processor, though the latter is offered as an option on the online store. Otherwise, it is largely similar to the highest end 15″ MacBook Pro – just that instead of the SD card slot, it has an ExpressCard slot (contrary again to my previous belief that the 17″ MBP will sport an SD card slot alongside the ExpressCard slot.) The price has also dropped, from S$4088 for the standard in-store configuration to just S$3398.

In conclusion, Apple has lived up to its promise of delivering a strong line of products this year so far. Sure, nothing was really unexpected about the MacBook Pro refresh, but the price drops and the boost in specifications definitely place Apple in a very advantageous position.

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