Thunderbolt

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.

Conclusions

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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  • tipoo - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - link

    I don't think the 15 is a step back in base GPU, its about even. And the HD3000 trades blows with the old 13 inch 320M, at least in Windows. I look forward to some Anandtech testing to see if its better or worse. Reply
  • Matt Campbell - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I was quite glad to see the addition of the HD Facetime camera, this is great for frequent Skype users where the existing camera is pretty lackluster compared to the standalone options from e.g. Logitech. The 5400 rpm HDD has slightly less power consumption/battery draw, heat, and likely higher reliability than the 7200 rpm drives - not arguing that it impacts performance, but it's not that surprising Apple didn't go with it as a default. Hopefully the SSDs will continue to fall in price and increase in capacity.

    I would have liked to see a higher resolution screen on the 13" model and a discrete graphics option in the upgraded model.
    Reply
  • seapeople - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    Don't forget the 5400 rpm drive will be quieter.

    For a company that doesn't even like to use cooling fans due to the noise they create it's not mystery why they stuck with a 5400 rpm drive.
    Reply
  • Jumangi - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    1280 x 800 screen still...really? In 2011? Apple demands premium prices for their laptops yet in 2011 still sticks in a slow ass 5400 rpm HD and a low res screen like that? For a minimum of $1200?

    Apple users are suchs fools, seriously you guy are...
    Reply
  • seapeople - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    I find it amazing how many people will buy something like a new $35,000 Ford F150 for their suburban trek to work, or otherwise spend a minimum of $20,000 on a new car just because it looks nicer than the three-year old used version that sells for $10,000 and nobody gives a d@@m when people do this, and yet the moment someone drops an extra couple hundred bucks to get a nice-looking Apple laptop then the loonies pour out of the funny farm and start screaming bloody murder and claiming that Apple fan bois are the most wasteful scum of the earth etc...

    You could use some perspective here.
    Reply
  • Spazweasel - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    Seriously, yes. Green-eyed monsters, anyone?

    Apple buyers get their equipment to get things done, not to brag about. Fools? Yeah, the fools who are sufficiently grounded in the real world to be able to afford Apple products. The fools who think that you buy a computer is for computing with, not for filling with cold cathode tubes and LED-illuminated fans. The fools who think that Photoshop and Illustrator (purchased, not pirated) will get them farther in life than downloading a Crysis aim-bot. I have never seen a Mac owner dick-wagging about their computer, but come to a site like this and the e-peening about their PC's equipment list (or what they wish they could afford) is never-ending. I've lived in Silicon Valley since I finished college, some twenty-five years ago, and I've yet to see this mythical "Apple fanboi".

    And, before some 17-year-old who has yet to hold a job or pay for a computer with money they got from somewhere other than their parents goes off on "you're an Apple fanboi!", I don't currently own any Macs, but I do own several PCs and an iPhone 3G. It's just hardware, and no matter how cool someone may think bashing someone else's choice of computer is, the fact is that pretty women, studly guys (whatever you're into) and just about anyone worth respecting don't give a shit what someone thinks about nVidia vs. AMD.

    Until someone has actually worked at Intel, AMD, Apple, nVidia, or some similar company in a design or engineering position (i.e. actually contributed meaningfully to the products at hand), anything they have to say about how they themselves are cooler for choosing whatever is just being a poseur. Just like someone thinking a Harley t-shirt makes them into a big, bad biker that you'd better not mess with... yeah, sure, tough guy. Calling someone out for buying an Apple product doesn't make the fingerpointer's dick bigger. It just makes them a bigger dick.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    To pick up on your car analogy - that may only be the case in the US. Everywhere else in the world, people laugh at you for this nonsense.

    Though, I'm not saying there arent wealthy clowns in, lets say cramped european cities, who will buy BMW, Audi, Porsche or Mercedes SUVs to drive from their villa to the downtown office.

    However, my point would be that there are obviously alot more people buying apple computers with often sub-par components for alot of money and nobody gives a damn than there are sane people who will buy oversized, gas guzzling trucks for no good reason. At least in the real world, outside forums.

    Its all a matter of common sense really.
    Reply
  • seapeople - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    I don't think there are more people buying Apple computers than there are buying pick-up trucks. Though even if there were, it only takes one unnecessary purchase of a truck to waste more money than ~50 people buying macbooks.

    And of course "wasting" money on a macbook is debatable, considering there are few other options that give you better performance, features, AND battery life. Of course a lot of this is due to Apple's optimization of OSX, but it's true all the same.
    Reply
  • NICOXIS - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    even my 2007 Dell Latitude D430 has a 12" 1280x800 display !!

    I really don't understand how Apple is screaming around about it's retina thing and it capable of "updating" its lineup with such a crappy display.
    Reply
  • seapeople - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    My new 15" thinkpad for work has a 1366x768 display with a definitely terrible contrast ratio and viewing angles. It's not like this should be surprising anymore, though it is definitely sad. Reply

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