New MacBooks Get Faster Graphics

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Faster graphics with Nvidea chips, new aluminum cases and improved trackpads are some of the features Apple will offer with its new line of notebooks, announced at a press event today.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced changes to the MacBook Pro, MacBook and MacBook Air at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. All will use a common core graphics chipset, the Nvidia GeForce 9400M. Some of the other changes, like the aluminum cases and upgraded touchpads, won't be featured on all the notebook models.

MacBook: LED-Backlight Display

Apple MacBook
Like the MacBook Pro, the MacBook features a unibody enclosure. It also comes with an LED backlight display, multi-touch glass trackpad, Mini Display Port connector and new graphics.

With five hours of battery life, the MacBook comes in two models. For $1,299 you get a 13.3-inch display, 2GHz Core 2 Duo with 3MB L2 cache, 2GB 1066MHz DDR 3 memory, GeForce 9400M, a 160GB hard drive, and a slot-loading SuperDrive. The second model costs $1,599 and comes with a 2.4GHz processor, 250GB hard drive, and a backlit keyboard.

Apple will continue to make the white plastic MacBook with a 2.1 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors, a 120GB 5400 rpm hard drive and a slot-load 8X SuperDrive and sell it for $999.

MacBook Pro: Two Graphic Chipsets

The new MacBook Pro will feature two graphic chipsets, the Nvidia GeForce 9400M embedded on the motherboard and the Nvidia GeForce 9600M as a discreet part. The graphics deliver 32 parallel graphics cores and 125 gigaflops of graphics performance. Jobs said that using the 9400M you get five hours of battery life and four hours with the 9600M.

Apple tests indicate the new graphics are five times faster than the integrated graphics of the current designs.

The MacBook Pro will also come with a newly designed trackpad. The multitouch glass trackpad has a 39 percent larger tracking area than before, according to Jobs. The entire trackpad will act as button, rather than having a separate button like the previous notebooks. Apple has also added to its arsenal of multitouch gestures, adding four-finger gestures with the latest release.

All of the connectors are on the left side of the MacBook Pro, which features a unibody enclosure. Apple designer Jonathan Ive explained that Apple learned a lot when making the MacBook Air and used that knowledge to design the new MacBook Pro.

Of course, the MacBook Pro will have all the features you've come to expect from an Apple notebook like like backlit keyboards, magnetic latch, motion sensor, speakers, iSight and microphone. Apple is also adding a mini display port on the new models.

A slot-loading SuperDrive will be on the right-hand side of the MacBook Pro.

At less than an inch thick, the new MacBook Pro will come in two models. For $1999 you get a 15.4-inch 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 3MB L2cache, an LED-backlit display and 2GB 1066 MGhz DDR 3 memory, both Nvidia cards, a 250GB hard drive and the slot-loading SuperDrive.

The other model costs $2499 and comes with 2.53GHz processor, 6MB L2, 4GB of memory, 512MB on the Nvidia 9600M GT, 320GB hard drive.

The MacBook Pros are shipping today.

MacBook Air: Same Prices, More Storage

Apple on Tuesday introduced a new MacBook Air model - its smallest, thinnest notebook - with faster graphics and more storage capacity. The price remains the same: two models are available for $1,799 and $2,499. Apple anticipates the new MacBook Air to be available in early November.

The MacBook Air uses the same core graphics chipset as Apple's newly introduced MacBook Pro and MacBook system - the Nvidia GeForce 9400M, which is embedded on the motherboard. Despite the fact that it's integrated with the motherboard, as Intel's GMA X3100 was on the last generation of MacBook Air, this new graphics architecture promises 4 times the speed, according to Apple.

The new MacBook Air also replaces its Mini DVI video connector with a new "mini display port" that provides the same functionality using less space.

The MacBook Air's $1,799 configuration still incorporates a 1.6GHz Intel Core2Duo microprocessor, but includes a 120GB hard drive (up from 80MB for the previous generation MacBook Air) and 2GB of 1066MHz RAM - the same amount, but faster.

The $2,499 MacBook Air features a 1.86GHz processor and replaces the hard disk drive with a 128GB Solid State Disk (SSD), up from 64MB.

New 24-inch LED Cinema Display

Apple didn't just unveil remodeled laptops at Tuesday's press event on its Cupertino, Calif., campus. The company also added a 24-inch LED monitor to its Cinema Display offerings, though the new display seems geared specifically for Apple's revamped MacBook and MacBook Pro lines.

The 24-inch LED Cinema Display offers 1,920-by-1,200-pixel resolution, along with a built-in iSight camera and microphone, stereo speakers, and three-port USB 2.0 hub. It features an aluminum and glass enclosure, giving the LCD monitor a striking resemblance to Apple's current iMac design.

"It's gorgeous," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said as he unveiled the new LED Cinema Display. "Really, really nice. Thin."

But Apple is touting this monitor for laptop users-specifically for its redesigned MacBook offerings. The LED Cinema Display features an integrated MagSafe charger that allows laptop users to plug in and power their notebooks. MacBook users can also connect to the monitor via its Mini DisplayPort, which Apple says is 10 percent the size of a full DVI connector.

In keeping with Apple's push to release more environmentally friendly products, the 24-inch Cinema Display is an LED-backlit monitor. LED backlights improve upon the cold-cathode florescent lamp technology common in older displays by consuming less power, lasting longer, and containing no mercury. Apple says the glass on the display is arsenic free and that the monitor contains no brominated flame retardents. Apple also said that all internal cables and components are PVC-free.

This story, "New MacBooks Get Faster Graphics" was originally published by Macworld.

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At a Glance
  • In October 2008, Apple introduced a new MacBook design that housed the company's consumer-friendly laptop into a MacBook Pro-like aluminum enclosure with a large glass trackpad. Graphics have improved with the addition of an Nvidia GeForce 9400m chip. While the integrated graphics continue to share memory with the system RAM, there's more shared (256MB as opposed to 144MB) and it's the faster DDR3 SDRAM. Like the MacBook Air, the MacBook no longer ships with FireWire ports -- just two USB 2.0 ports.


    • Greatly improved graphics power
    • Sleek new design
    • Bright LED display
    • Multi-Touch glass trackpad


    • No video adapters or Apple Remote in the box
    • No FireWire port
    • Battery life shorter than previous MacBook model
    • Entry price higher than before
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