No, Apple’s surprise MacBook Pro updates this weekend don’t involve a MacBook Air-like tapered chassis or major graphics manufacturer rethink, in which, say, Nvidia reclaims its spot from rival AMD. Instead, Apple’s simply nipped and tucked its pro-grade laptop lineup, tweaking speed, video and storage prowess across its 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch models. What’s more, the updates magically appeared on Apple’s website this weekend—no pomp, no circumstance.
Let’s do this highest to lowest end: That’s right, they still sell a 17-inch model for $2,499. I’d almost forgotten about that. Crazier still: It weighs just 6.6 pounds (the lightest 11-inch MacBook Air still weighs nearly 2.4 pounds). The Intel i7 processor maximum’s been modestly bumped from 2.2 GHz to 2.4 GHz, with a maximum turbo frequency of 2.93 GHz, but the video’s been upgraded from the AMD Radeon HD 6750M to a Radeon HD 6770M, the same chip with core, shader and memory speeds notably up-clocked, assuming Apple’s running at AMD’s guidelines speeds.
Step down to the mid-grade $1,799 15-inch MacBook Pro and you’ll enjoy a slightly faster 2.2 GHz i7 processor, up from 2 GHz. The graphics processor’s likewise been upgraded from an AMD Radeon HD 6490M with 256 MB to a Radeon HD 6750M with 512 MB. That’s a pretty radical upgrade, compared to the 17-inch model, moving from an “entry level” graphics card to a “fast middle class” part, according to Notebook Check.
Last up, the $1,199 13-inch entry-level MacBook Pro, whose i5 processor’s gone up a tick from 2.3 GHz to 2.4 GHz. It’s also enjoyed a storage upgrade from 320 GB to 500 GB. If you’d rather have a 2.8 GHz i5 processor and 750 GB hard drive, there’s the $1,499 13-inch MacBook Pro, up from 2.7 GHz and 500 GB specs respectively.
If you’d prefer to tweak those specs, Apple’s offering the usual modest custom options. The 15- and 17-inch models support down-stepping to 200 MHz slower processors, as well as an optional higher-end 2.5 GHz quad-core i7 processor with an extra 2 MB of L3 cache. You can also boost the memory in any of the Pro models from the default 4 GB to 8 GB total.
No guesses about when—or whether—Apple’s going to re-imagine the MacBook Pro, whether as a larger version of the MacBook Air or a folded-in merger, with the “Pro” simply being the highest end version. The last MacBook Pro update in February 2011, eight months ago, was more significant, with Apple shifting from Core 2 Duo to i-series processors and tossing in Thunderbolt ports for good measure. Eight months out from today puts us somewhere in June—place your bets.