MacBook Pros updated with Corei5/i7 processors, 10hr battery

After an unusually long wait, Apple has finally released updated models of its MacBook Pro line of notebooks. The 15″ and 17″ models offer the latest Core i5 and i7 processors, though the 13″ model still uses a Core 2 Duo processor. But new processors aren’t the only improvement; Apple has also seen fit to increase the base RAM configuration to 4GB on all models and bump the hard drive and SSD options. And Apple claims battery life has been improved, with some models now going as long as 10 hours without plugging in.

The new 13″ MacBook Pro offers 2.4GHz or 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processors and 4GB of DDR3 RAM. The lower-end model gets a 250GB 5400RPM SATA drive, while the higher-end option comes with a 320GB 5400RPM drive. A 500GB 5400RPM hard drive is a build-to-order option, as are 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB solid state drives. Both models come with NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics, an update to the 9400M that previous MacBook Pros used. Combined with a 63.5WHr lithium polymer sealed battery, Apple claims these new 13″ MacBook Pro models can run up to 10 hours on a single charge.

The 15″ MacBook Pro is available in three variations, with 2.4GHz or 2.53GHz Core i5 processors or a 2.66GHz Core i7 processor. A 320GB or 500GB 5400RPM hard drive is standard, as is 4GB of DDR3 RAM. BTO drive options include a 500GB 7200RPM drive for higher performance or SSD of up to 512GB. A 15.4″ 1440 x 900 pixel display is standard, though a new “high-resolution” 1680 x 1050 display is a BTO option. Both displays also have an antiglare glass option.

The 17″ MacBook Pro comes standard with a 2.53GHz Core i5 processor, a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive, and a 1920 x 1200 pixel glossy display. The 2.66GHz Core i7 processor is a BTO option, as are the aforementioned drive options and antiglare glass.

All of the 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pros combine the on-package Intel HD integrated graphics with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M GPU. Apple is using NVIDIA’s Optimus technology (as expected), which switches between the integrated Intel graphics and the discrete NVIDIA GPU on the fly. Combined with high-capacity, non-replaceable lithium polymer batteries, Apple says these MacBook Pros can get from eight to nine hours of outlet-free runtime.

All other features of these updated models—ports, 8x SuperDrive, 802.11n WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, SD or ExpressCard slot, unibody aluminum enclosure—remain unchanged. Prices are still largely the same as well, with 13″ models starting at $1,199, 15″ models at $1,799, and the 17″ behemoth at $2,299.

The MacBook Pro line was last updated in June of last year, when the 13″ unibody model officially gained “Pro” status, the 13″ and 15″ models got an SD card slot, and all models gained a seven hour, sealed battery. Intel launched a 32nm process shrink of its Nehalem architecture processors, codenamed Arrandale, at CES in January. The chipmaker “mistakenly” spilled the beans on Macbooks using a Core i5 variant then, but rumors suggested that constrained supply prevented Apple from launching updates earlier this year.

Apple’s entry-level notebook, the white MacBook, was last updated in October when it gained a unibody version of its polycarbonate shell. That model may be updated in the next few months, possibly with a low-end Core i3 processor.

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