New MacBooks have aluminum enclosures, Nvidia graphics

Today, Apple finally put an end to weeks of speculation by unleashing its refreshed MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops. First of all, two of the rumors were right: Apple has indeed chosen Nvidia’s integrated graphics chipsets over Intel’s 4-series core-logic offerings, and it has used a new manufacturing process that effectively involves carving the new notebooks out of solid aluminum slabs.

After going over those two points during the launch event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed the updated MacBook Pro. Apple’s new baby looks like a cross between the MacBook Air and the latest iMac, inheriting the former’s keyboard design and mixing in the latter’s 1970s-style display frame.

Apple is offering two models, both with 15.4″ LED-backlit displays: the priciest one costs $2,499 and packs a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 320GB mechanical hard drive. That notebook has both an Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated chipset and a discrete GeForce 9600M GT graphics module with 512MB of memory. Other features include a button-free glass trackpad, DisplayPort connectivity, a backlit keyboard, and a sudden-motion sensor. For $1,799, the cheaper MacBook Pro variant delivers a slower 2.4GHz processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and a GeForce 9600M GT graphics module with only 256MB of memory.

Left: the new MacBook. Right: the new MacBook Pro. Source: Apple.

Many folks will be looking for something a little cheaper, though. To cater to those people, Apple has dropped the price of its previous-gen MacBook to $999, and it’s introduced a pair of next-gen MacBook models that look like smaller versions of the updated MacBook Pros (down to the black display frame and aluminum body). Priced at $1,299, the cheapest of the aluminum MacBooks features a 13.3″ LED-backlit display, a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, GeForce 9400M integrated graphics, 2GB of DDR3 memory, and a 160GB hard drive. For an extra $300, you can get the pricier model with a 2.4GHz processor, 250GB hard drive, and keyboard backlighting. Oh, and an extra $700 will let you upgrade to a 128GB solid-state drive, as well.

Apple had two more surprises. For one, the MacBook Air is getting an upgrade to Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics, and Apple has tossed in a mini-DisplayPort connector for good measure. Also, the Mac maker has launched an iMac-style 24″ desktop monitor with LED backlighting, a 1920×1200 resolution, built-in stereo speakers, DisplayPort connectivity, and a MagSafe power connector (for charging your MacBook). Those perks don’t come cheap, though: Apple charges $899 for the display.

You should be able to order these new goodies from the Apple Store right now. Both Engadget and Ars Technica have detailed coverage (and photos) of the launch event, too.

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