It’s that time of the year when OEMs upgrade to the latest Intel processors and Apple is making its second move, and takes the opportunity to improve further by adding things like PCIe based SSD drives, and other goodies. Apple had previously updated its consumer line up (Macbook Air and iMac), but during today’s event, the “Pro” line was the center of the attention.
The industrial design of the Macbook Pro 13 has been slightly updated and is now thinner at 0.71”. The weight has been reduced a bit down to 3.46lbs, but overall, the look and feel remains nearly identical to the previous unibody design that has proven to be a blockbuster. The retina display remains identical and most of the changes are internal, including a trip back to 4GB of RAM.
Of course, these new Macbook Pro laptops come with Intel’s 4th Generation Core processor and Intel’s Integrated graphics. The 13” version gets an Intel GPU that is unchanged from the older model and I wouldn’t consider that to be decent for “gaming”, so just set your expectations properly. One of the more interesting aspects the new Macbook Pro computers is that they use the PCIe bus to connect the SSD rather than a SATA port. The net result is higher disk speed, and storage performance is one of the more important metric in terms of computer responsiveness.
Beyond that, Apple says that its WiFi-AC can be 3X as fast as WiFi-N under the same conditions, and they have also switched to a Thunderbolt 2 port which is faster. Both are very interesting, but it’s hard to get excited by WiFi performance (I’m much more interested by the range!) and the only Thunderbolt device that I have is an Ethernet adapter. Clearly, other users will benefit much more from these changes than I will and since the improvements come at about the same price as before, it’s hard to complain.
As usual, the Macbook Pro 15 gets more powerful components, including Intel’s newer integrated graphics (Iris Pro) that is much faster than the previous one, while staying within a relatively low-power thermal envelope. For those who want a discrete GPU, an NVIDA GT-750M is available and should provide decent speed in relation to the laptop size and battery life (Apple claims 8hrs in “normal use” – under Mac OS). The base version has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, but power users can opt for 16GB/512GB if they want to.
Both version will ship today with Mac OS X Mavericks (10.9) which was also made available today, for free. Apple has lowered the prices of the new Macbook Pro laptops to $1299 and $1999 respectively. The Macbook Air is available for $999 (11”) and $1099 (13”).
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