Apple quietly upgraded its line-up of MacBook Pro laptops Monday, fashioning them with powerful new processors and graphics chips, even though the prices for each computer will remain the same. The pricing may reflect that Apple is the world's biggest chip buyer and semiconductor pricing has eased lately.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro received the biggest improvements. The original model's 320 GB capacity has been replaced with a 500 GB hard drive, and the old model's Intel i5 2.3 GHz dual-core processor now operates at 2.4 GHz. For an extra $300, a souped-up 13-inch MacBook Pro features 750 GB of storage and a quad-core i7 processor running at 2.8 GHz.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro upgraded its i7 quad-core processor from 2 GHz to 2.2 GHz, but did not expand the hard drive options. Graphics, however, got a boost from AMD's Radeon HD 6750 card and 512 MB of RAM. The high-end model, for an additional $400, runs on a 2.4 GHz i7 processor with an AMD Radeon HD 6770 card with 1 GB of RAM.
Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple will only sell one version of the 17-inch MacBook Pro, which features the i7 2.4 GHz quad-core processor, as well as an AMD Radeon HD 6770 graphics card with 1 GB of RAM. The largest and highest-end laptop features 750 GB of storage.
While Apple's changes to the MacBook Pro are minor, should users upgrade anyway?
The answer is simple: Don't bother, unless you were going to upgrade anyway. Current MacBook Pro owners will barely notice the slight increase in data and graphics speed; this is an upgrade meant for first-timers looking for a reliable laptop that can handle all of the data a desktop can.
The new MacBook Pro has the iMac's power fitted into the shell of a MacBook Air, but it is heavier than the Air and slower than the iMac. However, the upgraded processors provide certain advantages over other computers. Consider upgrading to the MacBook Pro for editing movies, playing games, or extreme multi-tasking.
Apple introduced the MacBook Pro in 2006, but its current unibody aluminum design debuted in 2008. The new MacBook Pro laptops, like the last iterations, feature the Thunderbolt port, which supports high-performance peripherals and high-resolution displays with data speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps.
Prices for the 13-inch MacBook Pro begin at $1,199, the 15-inch model starts at $1,799 and the 17-inch model starts at $2,499. The stock MacBook Pros are available in Apple Stores now, but all models can be completely customized and ordered through the online Apple Store.