It’s official: MacBook Pros pack Sandy Bridge, Light Peak

That story we posted this morning kind of spoiled it, but nevertheless, this warrants some attention. Apple has refreshed its line of MacBook Pro laptops, including Sandy Bridge processors and its new Thunderbolt port across the board. I’m not seeing external design changes, and prices are largely similar, too—although Apple has removed the $1,999 option for the 15" MacBook Pro, and the 17" system has gone up from $2,299 to $2,499.

Glancing over the specs reveals other, less notable changes, like the increase in hard drive capacity from 250-500GB to 320-750GB depending on the model, the switch to Mobility Radeon HD 6000 discrete graphics on the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros, and the decrease in claimed battery life from 8-9 hours to seven hours for all units. I suspect Apple might be using the same, updated battery testing methodology it introduced with the latest MacBook Airs, which would explain the smaller number. (Based on what we saw in our testing, it seems unlikely that the jump to Sandy Bridge would impact battery life negatively.)

As rumored, the Thunderbolt port is none other than the first consumer implementation of Intel’s Light Peak interconnect, at least in its electrical form. Both Apple and Intel have put up explanatory pages describing the technology with a decent amount of precision.

The gist is that the new Thunderbolt port has the same form factor as a Mini DisplayPort output, but it can carry both DisplayPort and PCI Express signals, and it offers maximum bandwidth of 10 Gbps per channel. The connector on the new MacBook Pros has two channels, so Apple says you can "daisy-chain multiple high-speed devices and a display, without using a hub — and without reducing performance." As icing on the cake, the Thunderbolt port also delivers up to 10W of power, so devices don’t necessarily need their own power adapters. Now, all we have to do is wait for Thunderbolt devices to start hitting stores… and for PC makers to make the jump, as well.

Comments closed
    • TaBoVilla
    • 9 years ago

    omg innovation from apple people? color me impressed, I always th … ..no wait!

    • eitje
    • 9 years ago

    Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!

      • eitje
      • 9 years ago

      For the meme-challenged – [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ekugPKqFw[/url<]

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    So, is the Thunderbolt thing just to be trendy and different? They could use USB 3.0 and have similar bandwidth plus a swath of devices that would support it well as USB 2.0. I suppose they’re pretty much the only ones that supported Firewire as well…

      • pedro
      • 9 years ago

      As I understand it, you can just plug in USB/FireWire/eSATA/etc. adapters. If this is truly the case it’s fantastic, not least because it means my rather expensive FireWire sound card has just bought itself at least another 10 years…

        • shank15217
        • 9 years ago

        What makes you think that? Its a different standard altogether, its the usual Intel, shoving things down people’s throats.

          • Skrying
          • 9 years ago

          Because part of the reason for its existence is consolidation of USB/FireWire/eSATA/DisplayPort/etc/etc into one truly universal port. Light Peak, at least in some form, will be finding its way to the PC arena. Personally I am looking forward to it, I want to see what creative products come from it. A super duper universal laptop docking station is the first one I want.

            • Bensam123
            • 9 years ago

            I’m pretty sure USB is more universal then this. You know, with the whole Universal Serial Bus thing… This just looks like another iteration of mini-PCIe.

          • pedro
          • 9 years ago

          Both Intel & Apple’s websites make mention of such connectivity options. I could be misunderstanding this however. I hope not tho’ as if it truly is the case then in my eyes at least it’s a massive win.

      • StuffMaster
      • 9 years ago

      USB may have gotten fast, but it’s CPU intensive. It’s very non-ideal for many types of devices.

    • jalex3
    • 9 years ago

    stop calling it lightpeak, its not optical and is only one 1/10 of what light peaks was…… i bet even when proper lightpeak comes out it still will not be 100gb

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      A rose by any other name is still that stupid rose.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      And even then 100Gb/s on a single wire would be overkill

        • jalex3
        • 9 years ago

        i can see it having uses, also it would not be outdated quick. but i guess intel want to milk it and i next version will still only be 20gb

    • cynan
    • 9 years ago

    Sleek and shiny as ever, but…

    Is nobody else disappointed by the anemic graphics in these things? I mean, the HD 6750 in the high end 15″ and 17″ offerings are all well and good, but the HD 6490 is certainly something to sneeze at when you’re charging that much for a notebook. And certainly not much good for most newer games (or for much else that the new Intel graphics can’t do…)

    And what about the fact that no discrete GPUs are offered at all in the 13″ model. Didn’t the previous 13″ macbook pros offer a 330m option for the 13″ models?

      • Skrying
      • 9 years ago

      The 320M which is in the previous MBP 13 is not discrete, it uses system memory. I wouldn’t be shocked if the HD3000 that comes integrated with the CPU has higher performance in games.

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Nobody cares about gaming on Macs. That’s what iPhones are for. Angry Birds FTW.

      πŸ˜‰

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        Tell that to all the players of WoW and Valve games.

          • UberGerbil
          • 9 years ago

          Your computer just strips emoticons out everything, doesn’t it?

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Not necessarily, but your comment was out of this world, completely regardless of the emoticon at hand.

            • eitje
            • 9 years ago

            What does a half-alien girl have to do with his comment?

      • tcunning1
      • 9 years ago

      I can’t believe the 13″ is still running at 1280×800, not even 720p 1366×768.

        • FuturePastNow
        • 9 years ago

        You know that 720p is 1280×720, right? Both of those resolutions exceed 720p. I’d wager that most TR readers would prefer the 16:10 1280×800.

          • RobbyBob
          • 9 years ago

          [quote<]I'd wager that most TR readers would prefer the 16:10 1280x800.[/quote<] You'd win. Seriously, this is why I'll never by a Mac; they're way too behind the curve. Sure, they look slick as hell, and have gotten some things right that nobody else seems to (e.g., touch-pads), but they're way too damn expensive for what you get.

          • UberGerbil
          • 9 years ago

          Vertical pixels are more valuable to [u<]me[/u<] than horizontal pixels (beyond a minimum threshold), that's true.

      • Firestarter
      • 9 years ago

      How about you plug in a thunderbolt graphics card?

        • cynan
        • 9 years ago

        Sure. I’ll buy one of these bad boys now and just wait for a few months for some 3rd party company to drop NVIDIA or AMD graphics into an external enclosure supporting the thunderbolt port that needs to be powered by a power brick about the size of the one required to power the entire macbook. There goes the mobility factor – if it ever even happens.

        And since they’d be geared for macbook pros only, these external cards would cost about 2x what they should… Especially if you had to buy them at the Apple store.

        I suppose it would be more likely for a 3rd party company to come up with a PCI to thunderbolt adapter or graphics card enclosure – to which you’d just add your own mid range graphics of choice. But then if you weren’t careful about choosing the right card, this might introduce all sorts of driver incompatibility issues with OSX..

        The thunderbolt port in concept is intriguing, but in reality, at least for graphics, an altogether a loose-loose situation – at least for the foreseeable future.

    • crazybus
    • 9 years ago

    If one were to build a theoretical Thunderbolt flash drive, what would it be?

    NAND -> flash controller -> USB or SATA to PCIe controller -> Thunderbolt controller

    That’s a lot of chips. It would be nice if Light Peak supported tunneling of other protocols from the outset, such as SATA, USB or Ethernet.

    • allston232
    • 9 years ago

    “but nevertheless?” redundant! you can use either “but” or “nevertheless,” but not at the same sentence, much less next to each other.

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      But nevertheless he did.

        • Bensam123
        • 9 years ago

        I believe if you use commas and make it a interrupt you can use it like that “But, nevertheless, he did.”.

          • Meadows
          • 9 years ago

          I believe it shouldn’t matter either way.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          But nevertheless nobody really cares.

            • TaBoVilla
            • 9 years ago

            nevertheless I do differently from others who think differently on matters related and such occasionally here on the tech report website which deals with hardware news and such for our amusement wait what are punctuations again?

    • provoko
    • 9 years ago

    Saw $2,299 and stopped reading….

      • Mourmain
      • 9 years ago

      Aw, you shouldn’t have. It says $2,499 right after.

        • Sunburn74
        • 9 years ago

        Haha… its effectively about as expensive as my first car.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          Probably nicer than your first car, too. :p

          edit: I bought a minivan from my parents as my first car for about $2300. It was a turd but I thought I was cool.

        • provoko
        • 9 years ago

        Haha.

    • PenGun
    • 9 years ago

    Lightpeak is exclusive for Apple till 2012. ROTFLMAO.

    • esterhasz
    • 9 years ago

    The real problem with the MBP is not so much the price as such but such a reduced lineup that most people either end up paying for stuff they don’t need or not being able to get the configuration they want. Myself, I had hoped for a lighter 15 model, I want the pixels but do not need discrete graphics or a quad core CPU. I need high single core performance for my software though, so the MBA is out of question. I most certainly don’t need Thunderbolt for my work scenarios. Other people’s desires/needs may vary but I cannot help thinking that with just a little more variety Apple could make a lot more people happy than they currently do. Many had hoped for a 14×9 antiglare option and discrete graphics on the 13″ model.

    If I could, I would go PC again but I need a piece of software that only exists on Mac and does not have a PC equivalent.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    This is the MBP series I’ve been waiting for.

    • passive
    • 9 years ago

    I really like the design of these, and I’m partial to OS X (though I haven’t really used windows 7), but it sure seems like the Apple Tax is still in effect.

    I priced a MBP 15″ versus a Dell XPS 15, and (in CAD), it came out to $1099 vs $2049.
    Same CPU
    Same RAM
    Same HD
    Equivalent graphics, as far as I can determine
    Bigger battery in the XPS (though I’m sure OS X will allow MPB to last longer, but it shouldn’t be too much)
    Same Webcam
    Better screen in the XPS (I’m assuming these screens are the same as on earlier MBPs)
    USB 3.0 on XPS, Thunderbolt on MBP
    (No backlit keyboard on the XPS, because they have removed the option in Canada for some reason)
    XPS weighs half a pound more, and is thicker
    HDMI on XPS
    WiDi on XPS (though still need the $100 adapter)
    Blu-ray option on XPS ($100)
    Much better speakers on the XPS
    Much nicer body on MBP
    MagSafe on MBP

    So the MBP is a real hard sell. With the bodies of the new HP EliteBooks, that’s another tempting option, though we will see how options drive the price up.

    Finally, right now I would pay more for USB3 than Thunderbolt. It can be used immediately, and will probably be much more widely supported in the near term. Thunderbolt is cool, but doesn’t solve any problem I now have, or have ever had in the past.

    UPDATE: I forgot about the speakers in the XPS.
    UPDATE 2: I forgot about Blu-ray as an option on the XPS.

      • jstern
      • 9 years ago

      I sold my Macbook, to get a new computer. And the Vaio that I bought, not counting tax, cost me around $1,000 less than if I would have gotten a similar Mac with a much weaker GPU. Something not right with that difference in price.

      By the way your comment of “though I’m sure OS X will allow MPB to last longer, but it shouldn’t be too much” just screamed of Apple fanboy brain washing. Though I recognize you’re not a fanboy.

        • SNM
        • 9 years ago

        OS X is recognized as being more power-efficient than Windows when running on the same hardware; AnandTech especially has done some tests on this. πŸ™‚
        I imagine it’s a combination of
        1) Apple’s laptop business being more important to it than Microsoft’s laptop performance, and
        2) the ongoing power management work in the *nix world, some of which Apple can take advantage of due to OS X’s BSD roots.

        • passive
        • 9 years ago

        I understand. I’m not sure how Apple manages, but both anecdotal experience and reputable benchmarks show they do a better job of battery life with the same hardware. πŸ™‚

        I can appreciate that as an advantage, but where I’m in the market for a 15″ laptop, it’s still worth nowhere near the price difference.

          • BlackStar
          • 9 years ago

          There is no secret sauce: Apple disables power management features on Windows/Bootcamp either due to laziness or just to make Mac OS X look better in comparison.

          To be more specific, Bootcamp falls back to BIOS, whereas Mac OS X uses EFI. The former disables a number of power management features, plus Apple’s Windows drivers are really not very good. (Note: Windows 7 and Linux can boot on EFI just fine).

          Finally, the new ThinkPads advertize 15hours battery life vs 7hours on MacBooks…

            • Deanjo
            • 9 years ago

            Ummm “Bootcamp falls back to BIOS” no it doesn’t as there is no BIOS in the Macbook. EFI supports “BIOS Emulation” for 32-bit OS’s and when running the MB on a 64-bit version of Windows or linux it utilizes EFI.

      • crazybus
      • 9 years ago

      The graphics on the Dell should be quite a bit slower, if wikipedia is accurate regarding the clockspeeds and memory types of those GPUs. The GDDR5 equipped Radeon has twice the memory bandwidth.

        • passive
        • 9 years ago

        I was looking at notebookcheck.net, and they suggest the 6490 will be above the 5470. Looking at the specs, seems like it could be up to double the performance of the 5470, assuming perfect scaling. Which just happens to line up with the 525M.
        On the other hand, the 525M comes with 1GB of memory, vs 256 in 6490. So that could sway some things in the Dells favour.
        Of course, move up to the 6750, and it’s a bit of a different story. Unlike the 540M in the XPS, the 6750 might actually be a decent gaming card. But I don’t really do much of that.

          • cynan
          • 9 years ago

          The HD 6750 should be quite a decent notebook graphics option. It is basically an HD 6650 with GDDR5 (instead of GDDR3). These chips have 480 stream processors, clocked north of 600 mhz.

          The notebook I have currently has a HD 6550, which is an HD 6650 with only 400 stream processors (instead of 480). (For reference the HD 6490 only has 160 stream processors). With the HD 6550, I can play newer games at 720p with medium to high settings (depending on the game). The 20% increase in stream processors on the HD 6750, along with the GDDR5 might even allow a decent gaming experience with newer games at 1080p

          Again, for reference, with my HD 6550, I get about 7,700-7,800 scores in 3DMARK06. I would think that the HD6750 should easily exceed 10,000 – a solid 25% to 35% increase in performance, depending on the game and resolutions.

          And yes, the HD 6750, should be perceptibly quicker than the 540m – which would be closer to the HD 6550 (or possibly between the HD 6550 and the HD 6650)

          Come to think of it, I wonder if I could upgrade my current graphics to an HD 6750…

      • blastdoor
      • 9 years ago

      I might be misreading something somewhere, but are you sure that the Dell isn’t a full pound heavier? It looks to me like the Dell is about 6.5 pounds and the MBP is 5.5 pounds.

      Weight is kind of an important factor in laptops…

      edit — I’m also having a hard time figuring out if the dell core i7 laptops are dual core or quad core. Sheesh, their website is a mess.

        • thecoldanddarkone
        • 9 years ago

        The new models shed a half pound.

        Edit: Also the quads are denoted as qm next to them, while the dual is set as m.

          • blastdoor
          • 9 years ago

          ok, thanks — I think I’ve deciphered Dell’s website now and understand the comparison being made.

          Yup, looks like you do pay a healthy premium on the MBP in order to get a thinner enclosure, half a pound less in weight, Mac OS X, and thunderbolt. I would guess that approximately 90% of the world’s laptop buyers will not buy the Mac, but that the number who do buy the Mac will be about 20% higher than last year πŸ™‚

        • ChunΒ’
        • 9 years ago

        Mobile i7’s are all quads IIRC

      • Neutronbeam
      • 9 years ago

      You’re not factoring in software as large part of the cost. IMHO, most PCs come with crapware/trialware, while Apple provides a broad range of fair to very good applications are standard on its machines that on a PC would have to be either purchased separately or freeware versions would have to be downloaded and installed.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 9 years ago

    Disappointing that the 13″ didn’t get the nice 1440×900 screen from the Macbook Air.

      • Hattig
      • 9 years ago

      I would have liked the 1440×900 screen from the MacBook Air, but otherwise I think it is a reasonable upgrade. I think ThunderBolt will become a very interesting technology – it’s essentially tunnelling PCIe over a cable – and I can see multifunction ThunderBolt ‘docking stations’ becoming popular (with USB3, internal SATA, firewire, sound card, etc built-in, just connect your laptop to it when working on your desk. The biggest thing is that it proves 10W over the cable too – finally fixing the main flaw of USB.

      Firewire port is gone from next years Macs for certain, hopefully replaced by another ThunderBolt port.

      • Ushio01
      • 9 years ago

      The MBA’s screen has a lower colour gamut than the MBP’s since there targeted at graphic professionals I guess they decided not to make that sacrifice.

        • demani
        • 9 years ago

        The 13in. MBP has a pretty low gamut (77% I believe), so that isn’t it.

          • crazybus
          • 9 years ago

          The MBP’s roughly sRGB colour gamut is ideal for most people. The MBA’s higher resolution screen is noticeably less capable of displaying saturated colours. Of course there’s no reason why they couldn’t have sourced a screen with both a higher resolution and larger colour gamut.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]The gist is that the new Thunderbolt port has the same form factor as a Mini DisplayPort output, but it can carry both DisplayPort and PCI Express signals, and it offers maximum bandwidth of 10 Gbps per channel.[/quote<] External graphics cards, finally?

      • Game_boy
      • 9 years ago

      They’ve always been technically possible; AMD did some in the last few years.

      When this port is widespread it will make it economically feasible too.

        • Sunburn74
        • 9 years ago

        hold on a sec. you’d still need to power the external graphics card.

          • Kurotetsu
          • 9 years ago

          Power brick.

          • UberGerbil
          • 9 years ago

          Well, the “right” way to do it would be as a docking station, with power (for charging the MB as well as running the external graphics), additional ports, etc. But I don’t know why LP would be the necessary gateway tech for this; there’s been a spec for external PCIe for some time now, and nobody has taken it up (even though external PCIe x16 would offer much more bandwidth than the lightning bolt).

          Though I certainly could see a future bolt-enabled iPhone and dock doing this, so that you could use your iPhone as a PC (much as the [url=http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/09/motorola-atrix-another-look-video/<]Motorola Altrix[/url<] is already doing, though of course when Jobs introduces it for the iPhone it will be revolutionary and unprecedented and minblowingly original)

      • jwb
      • 9 years ago

      This is not anywhere near fast enough for a decent external GPU. The link speed is not even as fast as PCI-Express 2.0 x4.

        • PixelArmy
        • 9 years ago

        [url<]http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/AMD/HD_5870_PCI-Express_Scaling/25.html[/url<] It depends on your expectations... At 10 Gbps, this would be like 5 lanes PCIe 1.x or 2.5 lanes PCIe 2.x. Which on those charts places it somewhere between 75% and 95% scaling on an 5870 on average. I don't know what that equates to... roughly a GTX 460 768MB? IMO, certainly decent.

          • Firestarter
          • 9 years ago

          even at 1 lane PCIe 2.x, you’re looking at pretty decent performance, especially considering that the highest detail levels and resolutions suffer the least performance loss

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    I have to think they’re going to need to do something with upgrade pricing. Going from 4GB to 8GB is $200 – more than 2x retail price for 2x4GB SO-DIMMs. And $250 for an extra 100MHz – is this 1999 again?

    Otherwise, these things are pretty slick.

      • ltcommander.data
      • 9 years ago

      Well the 2.2GHz 2720QM has a $378 MSRP while the 2.3GHz 2820QM has a MSRP of $568, which is a $190 difference. Adding a bit of profit margin and accounting for the lower volumes increasing costs associated with the 2.3GHz BTO, $250 isn’t totally out there.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 9 years ago

        hmm, i guess so. The RAM is what really just blew my mind, though.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 9 years ago

          I’m pretty sure that when DDR2 was down as low as DDR3 is now, it was like $300 to go from 2GB to 4GB. OEMs will start piling it on stock as the prices drop, but as an upgrade option, they always kill people on RAM, and with Apple being Apple, they just crank it up even higher.

          It would appear that people are actually paying it. It’s probably the, “Wow, twice as much!” factor that makes it stand out. You don’t really get that with any other component upgrades.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            Well, if you’re configuring cheap laptops on HP’s site you can go from 250 to 500GB hard drives, and they’re not dinging you MUCH more than the cost of a 500GB drive at Newegg. I guess the “TWICE AS MUCH RAMS” thing may be true, but people that need 8GB probably already know that they can buy RAM elsewhere and upgrade on the cheap. It’s just very jarring, even for apple.

            • demani
            • 9 years ago

            True. Plus if you upgrade yourself you can sell old, busted 4GB that to someone who just bought an iMac and they can use it in the extra slots. So you can get the 8GB for like $50.

          • SomeOtherGeek
          • 9 years ago

          So, speaking of which, can the laptop be manually upgraded? Can we do the Damage mode on the MBP?

            • FuturePastNow
            • 9 years ago

            Upgrading a Macbook is a far cry from the Powerbooks of the past, which required major surgery to work on. Now the whole bottom pops off, giving you access to everything.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            Isn’t the CPU soldered on the last couple generations of Macbooks though? That’d make at least one upgrade kinda tough.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            Lol upgrade an Intel CPU?!? :p

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            The Core 2 and 2010 Core ix CPUs are available on eWiz and Newegg, sooooo…yeah? I expect that eventually these 2011 Sandy Bridge mobile parts will show up there too.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            I’m pretty sure those are for barebones kits. You can’t, for example, stick a Core 2 Quad in a laptop that came with a Pentium dual-core, and CPUs won’t change that much anymore, anyways.

            You might get a 10% clock speed bump, since you’re going to have to stick to the same power level, and that’s if there is both socket compatibility and a BIOS update. Those are two pretty big ifs for something that’s not made to be messed with.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            there are people in these forums who upgrade a whole lot less in their desktops. πŸ˜‰

          • sjl
          • 9 years ago

          Rule #1 of buying an Apple: buy the stock configuration, and buy the upgrades from somebody else. Apple Australia wanted $AU500 for a 4GB stick of RAM – ONE stick – for my Mac Pro. I got three sticks from OWC for less than half that ($US220 for the set, IIRC.)

          Apple are notorious for gouging on RAM in particular.

          • demani
          • 9 years ago

          Yeah I noticed that upgrade cost too. But there is an additional 2MB of cache, so maybe its a different chip line? Maybe higher than +100MHz in the turbo mode?

    • tviceman
    • 9 years ago

    I question Apple’s decision to go with AMD GPU’s over Nvidia. AMD’s desktop drivers have come a long way and are essentially on parity with Nvidia, but despite their talk in the past year of bringing up their mobility drivers, they still lag considerably.

    Also, unless AMD has implemented a solution similar to Nvidia’s optimus, that is another detraction.

      • sirsoffrito
      • 9 years ago

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the point of Apple was that they had control over the hardware /and/ software. I’m pretty sure they write their own video drivers. As such, they may even have swappable graphics.

        • glynor
        • 9 years ago

        Correct.

        Firstly, complaining about AMD’s drivers is based on such old information (I’ve had far more trouble with Nvidia’s drivers lately than AMD’s, especially on the mobile side).

        But more importantly… Nvidia and AMD [i<]do not[/i<] write the drivers for Mac OSX. It isn't like you're downloading and installing anything from the manufacturers at all on these things. I'm sure AMD and Nvidia [i<]assist[/i<] Apple in writing the drivers, but that's a very different thing, and Apple controls the entire UI (which is all done through the normal System Preferences panes like anything else on a Mac).

          • Rza79
          • 9 years ago

          Apple doesn’t write any video drivers!!
          They come straight from their respective vendors.
          Just because Apple bundles them with the OS, doesn’t mean Apple writes them.

            • glynor
            • 9 years ago

            Fair enough… You’re right, I dramatically oversimplified. But Apple is much more deeply involved in the driver creation process (and how they work) for their OS than any other PC or component vendor. They get the “core” of the reference drivers from the OEMs… True. But they also do a lot more than skin the UI before they build them into their OS. They are building them from a reference implementation and writing a ton of in-house code, in deep cooperation with the OEM of the GPU.

            Either way, my point was that inferring the quality of the built-by-Apple drivers in OSX directly from the quality of the directly build-by-AMD drivers on Windows is a fools game. They aren’t the same thing at all, and they don’t use the same hooks, and they aren’t built by the same process (or the same teams). OSX doesn’t even [i<]have[/i<] Direct3D of any kind, for example!

        • derFunkenstein
        • 9 years ago

        Yes and no – I mean, they have to work with the hardware vendor to get to the proprietary bits, and nVidia has released retail drivers for the Quadro 4000 series to work with the Mac. The vendor still has its hand in driver development, but Apple has more to do with a driver than, say, Microsoft does with Windows drivers.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 9 years ago

      [quote=”tviceman”<]Also, unless AMD has implemented a solution similar to Nvidia's optimus, that is another detraction.[/quote<] Apple implemented their own dynamic GPU switching tech some time ago (which isn't Optimus): [url<]http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/04/inside-apples-automatic-gpu-switching.ars[/url<] There's no indication that its limited to Nvidia GPUs.

        • tviceman
        • 9 years ago

        I was not aware of this. Thank you!

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      I don’t know how, for a tech site, you friggin guys can seriously be SO uninformed. It seems NOBODY around here knows about this. AMD has announced that their “optimus tech” will become available – “Power Express Switchable Graphics requires discrete graphics, planned to be available in May 2011.” Too be far though, there’s not a lot of info kicking around about it though. I still expected at least one of you guys to know about it.

      [url<]http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2011/110223a.html[/url<] Anandtech commented on it VERY briefly in [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4190/hps-business-notebook-hat-trick/3[/url<] Of course, like optimus, it only works on windows 7. As apple does they're own drives, as they did for their nvidia gpu's, i'm sure they'll do something similar for the AMD ones.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Bump. Gate.

    • Da_Boss
    • 9 years ago

    Well it’s about time. I’ve been waiting for a reason to retire my C2D MBP 15′ for months now. And Quad-cores in a MBP finally? Count me in.

    As for Thunderbolt, I’m not sure that it’ll have any value at all in the short term. To be honest, my first thought was not “Oh! I can connect my external drive and my Monitor with one port”, but, “Oh! I wonder if this will provoke any advances in External GPUs?” The connection seems to have a half decent amount of bandwidth (about as much as 5 lanes of PCI-E v1) so I’m not sure what the constraints would be. Just a thought, I guess.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      I agree about the short term. Are there even any Lightpeak devices available yet? Chicken-and-egg, I know.

        • djgandy
        • 9 years ago

        Who would sell a device that has nothing to connect to? Who would buy a device that has nothing to connect to?

          • Corrado
          • 9 years ago

          There is an external raid device from Promise thats out and about.

          [url<]http://www.promise.com/storage/raid_series.aspx?region=en-US&m=574&rsn1=40&rsn3=47&statistic=pegasus[/url<]

          • glynor
          • 9 years ago

          I actually am quite impressed with this effort by Intel to speed a new port introduction. By using the backwards-compatible Mini DisplayPort connector, there are already tons of display devices out there that Light Peak “supports” out of the box with a cheap adapter ($6 for a DVI or HDMI adapter on Monoprice). HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, and VGA are all easily supported. DisplayPort can carry 8 channels of audio. That’s not Light Peak, that’s DisplayPort, so it can already do that.

          So, right now, it is no different than the existing MiniDP ports. It works. But, since it offers access to [i<]all that speed[/i<] with a cheap, existing connector, some companies are certainly chomping at the bit to support it. The data system is PCI-Express, so that is also well understood. Aja, Apogee, Avid, Blackmagic, and Universal Audio have all announced support for Light Peak. Promise is supposedly shipping something now or soon or something, and of course LaCie is supporting what Apple's doing. Intel certainly still has a lot of power to pull the strings of component makers. I don't know... If it happens, we'll have a very cool looking new interconnect technology. If not, we're no worse off than having a DisplayPort connector, which is still pretty cool. Seems like win-win. PS. Awful name though. Really, Thunderbolt?

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          As I said, chicken-and-egg.

    • zdw
    • 9 years ago

    Apple once again introduces a bunch of interesting features that likely will be great in a lot of circumstances, but go unused in many others. Hopefully “Thunderbolt” will get picked up by other vendors and become standard, like how Apple did with USB in the late 90’s.

    I can tell you that a LOT of video editors are going to be chomping at the bit for high bandwidth I/O and quad-core CPU’s in a laptop form factor.

    My biggest complaint – the 13″ MBP doesn’t come with an option for the high res 1440×900 screen like the 13″ MBA.

      • blastdoor
      • 9 years ago

      I’m a little surprised that they didn’t simultaneously announce a new docking contraption that uses LightPeak, but maybe they’ll rely on third parties to do that, or maybe they’ll get around to it the next time they update their displays.

      Too bad that the rumor of 16 GB SSDs built-in to all models as a super-fast OS drive didn’t come true. That would have been nifty.

      • raddude9
      • 9 years ago

      Thunderbolt is fine, but USB3 would have been much more useful today, and probably in the future as well. That’s my biggest complaint

        • Deanjo
        • 9 years ago

        With a firewire ports available for external storage it isn’t that big of a deal on a Mac. USB 3 failed to rid people of the need for external power supplies and only really increased the bandwidth. Plus NAS units are readily available to all now days.

          • Tumbleweed
          • 9 years ago

          There are plenty of USB 3 devices that don’t require external power. My USB 3 thumbdrives would be relegated to USB 2 speed on these new MacBook Pros. Stupid. Throwing away backward compatibility with a CURRENT standard (unlike when they got rid of floppy drives) is really dumb. There’s no available Thunderbolt/USB 3 adapter available, even. And with no Thunderbolt devices, the situation becomes even more absurd. USB 3 is forward and backward compatible; you can plug a USB 3 device into a USB 2 port and get USB 2 speeds. You can plug a USB 2 device into a USB 3 port and get USB 2 speeds. With Thunderbolt? Nada.

            • Rectal Prolapse
            • 9 years ago

            If Thunderbolt/LightPeak are like firewire, then you can connect two PCs through a single connection and get super-fast networking and file transfers. This is something you can’t really do with USB without a special USB adapter that is expensive and slow and requires special drivers on both ends.

            Honestly I don’t know why everyone is complaining about Thunderbolt. If you don’t like it, then don’t use it…

            • Kurotetsu
            • 9 years ago

            [quote=”Rectal Prolapse”<]Honestly I don't know why everyone is complaining about Thunderbolt. If you don't like it, then don't use it...[/quote<] Nobody's really complaining about Thunderbolt. They're complaining about the lack of USB 3.0.

            • glynor
            • 9 years ago

            I strongly suspect that there will be Thunderbolt to USB3 adapters, perhaps even built into Apple’s next Cinema Display.

            Apple is not going to add USB3 until Intel adds USB3. The current USB3 implementations are all “hacky” and all-but-one is uncertified. They just won’t do that. If you were seriously hoping for it, it was a pipe dream.

            Intel isn’t adding USB3 to their chipsets because of Light Peak (apparently now rebranded Thunderbolt, at least when there is an electrical connector).

            • jwb
            • 9 years ago

            If this is the use case, why don’t they upgrade the NIC in the MBP to a 10gbps NIC? It would be a hell of a lot more useful, because the number of 10g ethernet ports in the field exceeds the number of Thunderbolt ports in the field by a factor of +infinity.

            • Rectal Prolapse
            • 9 years ago

            That would be great, but have you seen the prices of 10gbps ethernet switches and NICs? They’re $500+!

            • UberGerbil
            • 9 years ago

            Which was what 1Gbps switches were when it was new and only used in servers.

            • Rectal Prolapse
            • 9 years ago

            Yes that’s true but 1 Gbps was pushed heavily by everyone and existing Cat5 cable could be used. 10 gbps NICs seem to have a billion different interconnects – although it seems they are finally settling on cat6a (or is it cat6b?) as the cable.

            The problem with using 10 gb ethernet would be the overhead of the protocol (and I assume it uses the same backoff algorithm of standard Ethernet which cannot guarantee timing!).

            It seems Intel would rather have a more deterministic model and decided on PCIe. Great for low-latency devices at least!

            • Deanjo
            • 9 years ago

            The only USB 3 device out there that can take advantage of the speed is external drives. Those same drives that can operate off of USB3s power will also work off USB2 without power. It did not however increase the power output enough to handle large capacity drives (3.5″) without an external power adapter. The USB 2 ports are still there on the Mac.

            • demani
            • 9 years ago

            Yeah- its odd they didn’t switch to both, but likely they decided the realestate for an external USB chip wasn’t worth it. My marketing decision would have been to include a Thunderbolt USB3 (or maybe eSATA) adapter in the box. Give people a reason to care, and reason to look at is as something other than just the funny new port.

        • blastdoor
        • 9 years ago

        the thing that’s a little unclear to me is whether there will exist adapters to connect USB3 devices to the Thunderbolt port. If such adapters exist, and if they aren’t too expensive, then owners of these machines will have the best of both worlds.

      • mcnabney
      • 9 years ago

      What video editor would use anything without an IPS screen, especially a 17″ one?

      Oh, and I’ll pass on ANOTHER propreitary connection from Intel thanks. USB3 = Open and display-port can already support multiple monitors from a single connection.

        • JumpingJack
        • 9 years ago

        Intel invented USB.
        [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFKwnHJQXsY[/url<]

      • albundy
      • 9 years ago

      “I can tell you that a LOT of video editors are going to be chomping at the bit for high bandwidth I/O and quad-core CPU’s in a laptop form factor. ”

      You’ve got to be kidding, right? maybe for amateur home video editors playing around at starbucks…otherwise, your going to need alot more than 1 quad-core cpu.

        • KoolAidMan
        • 9 years ago

        Funny, I know editors at one of the top editorial houses in the country who take their work home on a Macbook Pro, ditto numerous other independent editors who use them to edit on set…

          • demani
          • 9 years ago

          And when we send people on location a Mac Pro can be just impossible to do, but a 17in MBP and a fast RAID would do quite well. It doesn’t have to be full-time editing, but there is certainly a strong case for that usage (besides, a year ago people were using 4 core machines and saying the same thing about dual core machines- stuff still got made).

      • KoolAidMan
      • 9 years ago

      I know editors who want this in Mac Pros /[right now]/ so that they can edit multiple uncompressed HD streams using external storage without a fiber card.

      I really see why Intel decided to pass on USB 3.0 and leapfrog onto something way faster and more useful. The clip on Engadget where they play back four 1080p videos from an external RAID array to a Macbook Pro running Final Cut Pro, and from there onto a 27″ DisplayPort display from one daisy-chained cable, /[HOT SHIT]/

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