MacBook Pro laptops get new Core processors

Apple certainly took its time, but the company has finally updated its MacBook Pro family of notebooks with Intel's latest Core i5 and Core i7 processors. To be precise, the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros have gotten the new processors. The 13" models are still based on the Core 2 Duo, although Apple has bumped up clock speeds slightly.

The switch to Core i5 and i7 processors in the larger models has triggered some pricing adjustments, too. The cheapest 15" MacBook Pro now costs $1,799, up from $1,699, while the priciest one has dropped by $100. The lone 17" MacBook Pro now starts at $2,299 instead of $2,499.

Apple outfits all but the $2,199 15" system with Core i5 processors clocked at either 2.4GHz or 2.53GHz. The 15" flagship has a 2.66GHz Core i7. Don't pay too much attention to the Core i5 vs. i7 split, though: in notebooks, both feature Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading, and the main difference seems to be L3 cache sizes.

The 15" and 17" MacBook Pros have received storage, graphics, and battery life upgrades, too. Apple now rates these systems for eight to nine hours of battery life, while the older models had seven-hour ratings. One possible reason for the improvement: these MacBook Pros feature an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M 256MB graphics processor alongside Intel integrated graphics. Apple says the systems "automatically switch" between discrete and integrated graphics, a la Nvidia's Optimus hybrid graphics functionality. This ability to turn off the discrete GPU when it's not in use may contribute to the longer battery life ratings compared to the previous generation.

Interestingly, Apple appears to have ditched the GeForce 9400M chipset even in the new 13" MacBook Pros, which still have compatible Core 2 Duo processors. Instead, those laptops now have a GeForce 320M GPU. Some Googling points to Notebookcheck, which claims this part is none other than a 40-nm integrated graphics chipset meant to succeed the GeForce 9400M. In any case, the new 13" MacBook Pros have also gotten memory, storage, and battery life upgradesā€”Apple quotes a jump from seven to 10 hours.

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