The new MacBook Pros offer the array of ports we're used to, plus something a bit different.

A new port called Thunderbolt replaces the Mini DisplayPort found in earlier models. Formerly codenamed Light Peak, the new Intel standard promises up to 10 Gbps bi-directional data transfer speeds and connectivity for an array of devices, from displays to hard drives. The standard also supports 8-channel audio, which should make for easy connection to HDMI devices with the right adapter, and up to six different Thunderbolt devices can be daisy chained together according to the Intel specs. 

Most of the given use scenarios for Thunderbolt focus on external hard drives, displays, and HD video hardware, and adapters for existing standards like eSATA and Firewire. If Thunderbolt ports become more widespread, we'll probably see additional applications of the standard.

Finally, it's worth noting that if you've already spent money on Mini DisplayPort adapters, dongles and cables for your existing Mac, those accessories will continue to work with the new Thunderbolt port.

Look for more from us on Thunderbolt shortly.


Thunderbolt aside, there's not much that surprises about the new MacBook Pro lineup - as usual, new, faster hardware is being sold to us in the same attractive unibody case to which we've become accustomed.

Most of the additions are welcome, though the value proposition continues to be a struggle. As usual, to save money, you're better off buying the base model and adding RAM or a new hard drive yourself than paying Apple's price for upgrades.

The move to Sandy Bridge is interesting but the lack of any mention of Quick Sync is a bit bothersome. We’re working on our review of the new platforms, expect to see results in the coming days.

The Facts


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  • kmmatney - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I used something similar in my Dell laptop, with an SSD boot drive, and a 320GB drive in the CD-ROM bay. The idea worked great - the only problem was my adapter was a little flaky, and sometimes I'd have to reboot several times to see the drive. I bought my adapter for $15 on Ebay, though. The general idea of doing this is great, IMO. Reply
  • ViperV990 - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Would I be able to hook up more than one external display to this? Reply
  • Penti - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    HD6000 series support daisy-chaining. If it works as advertised and in the mobile series I have no idea. It should.

    Which might even be one of the reasons for it being chosen for the Mac, nVidias gpus don't support daisy-chaining DP yet.

    You can't daisy-chain two dp 1.1a displays though. But there's really no reason why there shouldn't come converters so you can connect multiple dual-link dvi displays. Apple provides none though.
  • relentlessfocus - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    I've read that the graphics card only supports 2 monitors, one being the built in display so, no, I don't believe so. Reply
  • Rasterman - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Since this is a standard feature in sandy systems its like they went out of their way to not include it. Reply
  • Cat - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    This is almost a deal breaker for me. Reply
  • nikclev - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    USB 3.0 is only standard because motherboard/laptop OEM's chose to add a discrete USB 3.0 controller. There is no USB 3.0 support in any of the sandybridge chipsets.

    That having been said, I don't see why Apple didn't do the same and add in a 3.0 controller. USB 3.0 is backwards compatible, so it doesn't even require any additional ports, they could still advertise two USB ports, with one being 3.0 and one being 2.0. I don't believe the cost is very much, and no apple product is "low margin" where a dollar or two makes or breaks profitability.

    There isn't a lot of devices for USB 3.0 yet, but that will come with time.

    But, Apple is big on deciding what to offer based on something other than what people like us think is nice to have.
  • solipsism - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I don’t expect Apple to use the Toshiba controller for USB3.0, but they could have just made multiple Thunderbolt ports with 2 of 3 being internal USB ports so it could have USB3.0 on new MBPs. Probably the fastest USB3.0 out there due to the Thunderbolt advantages.

    However, this does go against Apple’s desire to push Thunderbolt as the next generation high-speed tech when they are making USB on their Macs run at 3.0 speeds.
  • Penti - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Don't really know what your writing, Thunderbolt is daisy-chainable, but there is nothing stopping a third party releasing a Thunderbolt to USB 3.0 converter that uses the NEC controller, or whatever connected to one x1 lanes (pci-express). It's what it's for. Macs will get native USB3.0 with Intels 7-series chipset with Ivy Bridge. Reply
  • seapeople - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Maybe it seems like they went out of their way to exclude it because... they did? Apple doesn't like USB, it's no secret. It's why their 15" laptop only has 2 USB ports and the 17" only has 3. It's why they are the first to move to this new light peak type interface. Reply

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