The macbook Pros have finally been updated. The 15 and 17 inch MacBooks have been given a speed boost with Intel Core iX processors. The GPU’s have been updated across the range.

The 13″ Macbook pro appears to have taken the short straw, with only a minor Core 2 Duo update and a new Nvidia Geforce 320m GFX card. The 320m is a capable GPU, with 48 pipelines built on a 40nm process. It shares its video memory with the main DDR3 ram.  When we say capable, we mean it is capable of playing HD video seamlessly, It is capable of taking video encoding off of the CPU. It is not a capable gaming GPU. It will play games, but not in the quality or at the frame rates the latest games deserve. However the 320m “should” be an improvement on the 9400GT.

There are three 15″ machines to choose from,

Entry-Level

Intel Core i5 @ 2.4Ghz
4GB DDR3 Ram
320GB HDD
Nvidia Geforce GT 330m with 256mb Ram

Mid Range

Intel Core i5 @ 2.53Ghz
4GB DDR3 Ram
500GB HDD
Nvidia Geforce GT 330m with 256mb Ram

Top end

Intel Core i7 @ 2.66Ghz
4GB DDR3 Ram
500GB HDD
Nvidia Geforce GT 330m with 512mb Ram

For the money your paying the specs are not amazing, the top of the range commands a price of £1799.

The 17″ model is given an i5 with the option to upgrade to an i7 for more of your hard earned cash., it does however come with 512MB of video ram.

The GT 330m is a DirectX 10.1 card,  and with v11 now running on most windows PCs the card is already on its way out.  The Video ram is DDR3 not DDR5 as the 330m is not compatible with the DDR5. The GPU contains 48 shader cores, which is about half of the cores of Nvidias top end mobile graphics solutions. According to Notebookcheck.net the 330m is capable of playing modern games in medium detail, with advanced shader effects disabled.  It is a shame Apple are not currently paired with ATI, as their current GPUs are dominating the mobile gaming world.

That said for a refresh with no press or keynote the upgrades are very welcome. The iX chips in the 15″ models will bring the Macbook Pros into 2010, even if the choice of GFX cards leave room for improvement.

Apple have been very clever with the refresh, leaving consumers wanting more, and already looking forward to the next refresh. The 13″ macbooks have been Apples biggest seller in the MacBook range, it would seem by not upgrading the Core 2 Duos they are forcing their customers to be to look at the 15″ models.  By not offering top end GPUs they give themselves room to add an upgrade option in the future, as seen with the iMacs in the past. Apple are, at the end of the day, a business. A business that manages to extend the life cycles of their products beyond anyone else in the industry.  As technology moves on and gets old, Windows PCs end up in the clearance shelves.. Apple computers remain at the same price as the day they were released even 12 months on.

In or just after this summer I would expect to see another refresh with the 13″ MacBooks moving up to either i3s or i5, and an additional GFX option for the top of the range 15 and 17″ Macs.

So what do you think of Apples latest release? The comments are open!