Yes, Apple’s last MacBook Pro update wasn’t particularly exciting, but the new MacBook Pros ($1,200-$2,500) pack a lot more awesome into otherwise familiar enclosures. On the outside is the same body we’ve seen since the October 2008 overhaul, but new graphics chips and Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors offer huge performance jumps over earlier, same-priced models, and a new Thunderbolt port promises faster I/O with future peripherals. Available in the standard 13”, 15”, and 17” sizes, these workhorses live up to the Pro name.
Speed is the key here: even the base model 13” MacBook Pro has a 2.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 that’s faster than most of the current iMacs. Going up from there, you can choose up to a 2.3 GHz quad-core i7. All in all, the new machines are roughly two times faster than the previous generation for most graphics heavy tasks. Combine that with faster AMD Radeon graphics chips and the MacBook Pro becomes a more than respectable portable gaming machine. Then there’s Thunderbolt, Intel and Apple’s collaboration on a new data transfer standard that’s 12 times faster than FireWire 800. Toss in a 720p camera for FaceTime and bigger hard drives, and the question becomes: what more could you really want?