25 February 2011

Early 2011 MacBook Pro notes

[This is just some random thoughts/reactions to Apple's latest updates. Thanks to the excellent MacRumors community for some of these points!]
  • First off, LightPeak! Or should I say Thunderbolt! Sure, it's overkill for the average consumer, but without such innovations, technology would not evolve at the rapid pace at which it is evolving today.
    • Note that in order for computers to have support for Thunderbolt, a controller chip must have direct access to the graphics subsystem and PCIe channels, i.e. be on the motherboard. Therefore, old, non-Thunderbolt computers cannot be upgraded via an expansion card to support Thunderbolt.
      • Can we make Thunderbolt PCIe x4 expansion cards that just have a data connection?
      • People were fussing about high security privileges that Thunderbolt devices have. I would like to see this clarified, even though I'm not a security person.
    • Apple has not clarified whether the new laptops support triple displays (two externals + internal). I'd wager yes: one 2560x1600 and one 1920x1200 for the 13" and dual 2560x1600 on the 15" and 17".
  • Quad cores in 15" and 17" units! I'm ecstatic to see this, but I'm not sure how Apple can manage the increased 10W TDP. The 13" got a decent upgrade, starting with an i5 on the low end and an i7 on the high end. (yay, no i3!) Hopefully these units will not get as warm as the first generation MacBook Pros. 
  • The low-end 15" unit sees a graphics downgrade to an AMD Radeon HD 6490 and the high-end 15" unit sees an upgrade to an AMD Radeon HD 6750. I'm also surprised and delighted by this move, but not as much as with the 13", which now uses the on-die Intel graphics.
  • The MacBook Pro 13" did not get a higher-resolution panel. I suspect the integrated Intel 3000 graphics did not deliver high enough framerates at the higher resolution for Apple to think it is worthwhile. Sure, people who plug in an external display will discover this flaw, but considering that much of the 13" consumers would be fine with a white MacBook, we can ignore this issue. In addition, the 13" still does not have an optional matte screen.
  • Mac OS X Lion has been and is still advertised on a MacBook Air. Previously, with Snow Leopard, the poster Mac was always a MacBook Pro. I (and many others) believe that Apple is pushing the MacBook Air, instead of the [13"] MacBook Pro, as the mainstream Mac, relegating the MacBook Pro to its upscale position.
  • The battery ratings reflect the results from the new battery testing methodology used by Apple first seen on the MacBook Airs. I'm iffy on the 15" and 17" ratings since the chips have a higher TDP.

1 comment:

  1. I really really hope apple starts supporting (at least) 2 external displays on the MacBook Pros. I have an early 2010, high-res matte 15", i7 2.66ghz, Macbook Pro and it is extremely annoying how I can only hook up one external display to it.

    Regarding Lion - Apple is definitely pushing Lion towards the MacBook Air and not towards the MacBook Pros. Lion is stealing features from iOS - a feature that will impact the general public in a good way, but not as much towards the target audience for the MacBook Pros.