MacBook Pros get Core 2 Duo bump

Apple on Tuesday updated its professional line of notebook computers adding the new Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The MacBook Pro now also includes twice the standard RAM and higher capacity hard drives, as well as FireWire 800 ports.

The MacBook Pro with the Core 2 Duo is up to 39 percent faster than the previous generation MacBook and more than seven times faster than the 1.67GHz PowerBook, according to Apple.

Application specific tasks show vast improvements over previous generation models, as well, with DV rendering and encoding increasing by 39 percent and Aperture running 25 percent faster.

“The great thing about the performance of the Core 2 Duo is that you don’t sacrifice desktop performance to get mobility,” David Moody, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Mac Product Marketing, told Macworld. “With the MacBook you can take your studio completely mobile.”

It is these pro level customers that also led to Apple’s decision to increase the standard and build-to-order options for both RAM and hard drive capacity. Standard RAM configuration has gone from 512MB to 1GB on the low-end 15-inch model and 2GB on the high-end 15- and 17-inch models. The build-to-order option allows RAM to be further increased to 3GB.

Hard drive capacities have also seen significant upgrades with standard models on the 15-inch MacBook rising to 120GB and 160GB on the 17-inch model. Using the build-to-order option hard drive capacity can be increased to 200GB.

“There are several things driving higher capacity hard drives,” said Moody. “Digital video and audio is very important, especially as customer migrate to HD — you are talking about massive amounts of data to store and manipulate. Professional photography is also important for us — photographers are increasingly using RAW image formats and that takes up a lot of space.”

The MacBook Pro includes the ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics with up to 256MB of dedicated GDDR3 graphics memory, and a double-layer SuperDrive for burning professional-quality DVDs. Every new MacBook Pro also comes with built-in 10/100/1000 BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet, built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), a FireWire 800 and a FireWire 400 port, combination analog and optical digital audio input and output ports, an ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot and a DVI video output to connect up to a 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display.

Apple is now also selling a MagSafe Airline Adapter for $59, allowing those that travel to keep power going to the MacBook.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is shipping today — the 17-inch MacBook Pro will ship next week. Prices range from $1,999 (low-end 15-inch 2.16GHz MacBook Pro) and $2,499 (high-end 15-inch 2.33GHz MacBook Pro) to $2,799 (17-inch 2.33GHz MacBook Pro).

“We built the best notebooks in the world, no question,” said Moody.

Update: Added more detailed information about the MacBook Pro upgrades and an interview with Apple executives.

This story, "MacBook Pros get Core 2 Duo bump" was originally published by PCWorld.

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