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New 2011 MacBook Pro Coming, Possible Specifications Leaked

New 2011 MacBook Pro Coming, Possible Specifications Leaked

Feb 24, 2011

2011 MacBook Pro Rumor Roundup

Apple is expected to unveil the new 2011 MacBook Pro models tomorrow, Feb. 23. With the new line of laptops, Apple is rumored to be transitioning all three models to the latest Intel “Sandy Bridge” Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. With last year’s 2010 MacBook Pro models, Apple opted to retain the Core 2 Duo in the 13-inch model, along with an NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics chipset. The 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros got the Core i processors.

The 15-inch and 17-inch 2010 MacBook Pro models included integrated Intel HD graphics, which is a part of the processor package. However, they also included the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics chipset, and had the capability to switch on the fly between the Intel and NVIDIA graphics for battery life or performance. When asked why the 13-inch MacBook Pro didn’t have this ability, Steve Jobs reportedly responded that “far faster graphics and 10 hour battery life trump 10-20% faster CPU.”

Apparently, this is no longer the case for the 13-inch 2011 MacBook Pro, which will reportedly have an Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.3 GHz and integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics — without the ability to switch to a discrete NVIDIA graphics chipset. If this is the case, it will be interesting to see how the 2011 MacBook Pro performs as a gaming machine compared to the 2010 model. Benchmarks by AnandTech suggest that Intel HD 3000 graphics could provide approximately double the performance of the original Intel HD graphics.

When Apple released the new MacBook Air in 2010, we were told that it represented the MacBook of the future. Although no one is entirely sure what that means, there have been two suggestions. One suggestion is that the hot-selling 11-inch MacBook Air, priced the same as the $999 white MacBook, will essentially become the new MacBook while the white plastic model is dropped. We think this is unlikely, as the white MacBook is still a better fit for some users.

The second suggestion is a far more exciting one; BGR reports that the 2011 MacBook Pro could include a small SSD — similar to the one in the MacBook Air — that it would use as a high-speed boot drive. The 2011 MacBook Pro would also include a hard disk for mass storage. The SSD would greatly increase the speed of the MacBook Pro, and would give it the same instant-on capability that the MacBook Air already has. Leaked new product SKUs from Best Buy suggest that this new feature will not raise the price of the 2011 MacBook Pro. The 13-inch model is expected to have a starting price of $1,199.

Other rumors suggest that the 2011 MacBook Pro will have a larger glass trackpad than the previous year’s model, perhaps to support the expected multi-touch gestures of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. For removable storage, the new MacBook Pro is expected to have an SDXC slot, supporting future SD cards at capacities up to 2 TB.

Lastly, the 2011 MacBook Pro is expected to include a brand new I/O port: Intel’s fiber optic Light Peak. According to rumors, Apple will codename the port “Thunderbolt.” Whether you call it Light Peak or Thunderbolt, it supports transfer speeds up to 10 gigabits per second, making it more than twice as fast as USB 3.0. Although the speed of Light Peak might be overkill for a simple external hard drive, it creates many other interesting possibilities. Robert X Cringely suggests that Apple will use Light Peak/Thunderbolt to eventually become a major force in the server computer segment; rather than buying expensive (and discontinued) XServe computers, companies could buy many inexpensive Mac Minis and link them together with Light Peak, effectively creating a cheap supercomputer.

So, here is what we know (through rumors) so far about the 2011 MacBook Pro, and how it compares versus the 2010 MacBook Pro:

2011 MacBook Pro 13″ Specs vs. 2010 MacBook Pro

Processor

2010 MacBook Pro: Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.4 or 2.6 GHz

2011 MacBook Pro: Intel Core i5 at 2.3 GHz

Graphics

2010 MacBook Pro: NVIDIA GeForce 320M

2011 MacBook Pro: Intel HD 3000 Graphics

Internal Storage

2010 MacBook Pro: Single hard disk or solid state drive

2011 MacBook Pro: SSD for operating system data, hard disk for mass storage

Removable Storage

2010 MacBook Pro: DVD SuperDrive and SDHC card reader

2011 MacBook Pro: DVD SuperDrive and SDXC card reader

Camera

2010 MacBook Pro: iSight, 640×480 resolution

2011 MacBook Pro: FaceTime, “high definition”

Trackpad

2010 MacBook Pro: Large glass trackpad

2011 MacBook Pro: Larger glass trackpad to support new multi-touch gestures

Input/Output

2010 MacBook Pro: Ethernet, FireWire 800, Mini DisplayPort, USB 2.0, Audio

2011 MacBook Pro: Ethernet, Light Peak/Thunderbolt, Mini DisplayPort, USB 2.0, Audio