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Apple Unveils Metal Nvidia MacBooks/Pros

By , Tuan Nguyen - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 19 comments

Apple events always have even the most jaded computer user somewhat curious as to what the Cupertino company could be coming out with next, and today’s MacBook event delivers on nearly all from the rumor mill.

Steve Jobs took the stage, but eventually handed it off to Jonathan Ive, senior VP of design, to discuss the new chassis of the new MacBooks. Although it wasn’t conveyed as dramatically as early rumors put it, Ive basically said that Apple has went back to the drawing board to come up with a new way to make its MacBook casings.

Click here for the in-depth new MacBook/MacBook Pro gallery!

“We discovered if we started with a thick piece of aluminum we could make a lighter and stronger part… So we make it from a solid piece of aluminum,” said Ive, confirming the early reports of the ‘Brick’ process. “We started with a 2.5 lbs piece of metal and end up with a piece that weighs a quarter of a pound.”

The new unibody construction now makes the new MacBooks the most environmentally friendly Apple notebooks to date, while making the chassis stronger with only half the major structural parts.

The floor is passed back to Jobs to introduce the silicon technology that will power this new generation of MacBooks. The new MacBook Pro for example, comes with integrated graphics, powered by an Nvidia GeForce 9400M with 256MB of DDR3 memory, shared with system memory. The kicker here is that the new laptops also come with a discrete graphics solution in the form of a GeForce 9600M GT with up to 512MB of discrete GDDR3 memory — two GPUs in one unit for the MacBook Pro, and the MacBook comes only with the GeForce 9400M.

Users will be able to switch between GPUs dynamically, depending on what they want to do.

Both the new MacBook and MacBook Pro are decked out with glass. The track pad is now completely glass, which is said to allow for “silky-smooth travel.” Perhaps even more interesting is that there is no button to be found next to the track pad. Instead, the entire pad is the button, with multi-button via software. The removal of the button has allowed for a 39 percent larger tracking area, also paving the way for support of multi-finger gestures, now supporting up to four digits.

Also glass is the display, which features a black border that now matches the look of the iMac. With the display surfaces made of glass, being the glossy surface it is, now does away with the matte screen option – probably much to the dismay of those working in less controllable lighting conditions. Apple’s answer to this is that the LED backlighting now helps to mitigate any lighting problems. Apple also gave a slightly less satisfactory answer that notebooks aren’t stationary and may be repositioned for less glare.

The new chassis and LED displays means that the new MacBooks are thinner than ever, with both the regular and Pro being 0.95-inches thick. This is slightly thinner than the previous MacBook Pro’s 1-inch, and the MacBook’s 1.08-inch.

The new MacBook also gets a weight savings of half a pound, with the new one at 4.5 lbs. The new MacBook Pro, however, has a small gain going from 5.4 lbs to the new 5.5, likely due to the addition of glass.

For the first time, Apple is ditching the venerable DVI display connector in favor of the new DisplayPort industry standard. DisplayPort not only comes in the form of a much smaller connector, but the standard also supports much higher resolutions beyond dual-link DVI of 2560x1600. While some may scoff at the fact that the new MacBook and MacBook Pros don’t include HDMI, DisplayPort does nearly everything HDMI does, except audio. However, both the MacBook and MacBook Pros have digital optical audio output.

In terms of smaller, but still appreciable changes, the keyboard is now backlit and black like on the MacBook Air. The old mechanical latch is now magnetic as well.

Speaking of the MacBook Air, it also gets an upgrade to its internals. The refreshed Air will gain the Nvidia 9400M, Mini DisplayPort, as well as an option for 128 GB SSD.

Apple today also introduced a brand new 24 inch Cinema display. Powered by brand new LED backlighting — this is the first LED Cinema display that Apple has made. The new 24 inch display is a DisplayPort LCD, which is clearly meant to coexist with the new laptops. The display also has a built in MagSafe power cable, so that MacBook owners can leave their AC power bricks inside their bags while still keeping their units powered.

With all the improvements in hardware, most of which was developed internally at Apple, it’s clear that Mac products will continue to command a premium price.

The MacBook Pro will start at $1,999, with a $2,499 option that will buy a faster CPU, more system and video RAM and extra hard drive space. The new MacBook Pro is shipping today and hitting stores tomorrow.

Contrary to some wishful thinking, the new MacBook will start at $1,299 – far away from early rumors of the $800 MacBook. $1,599 will buy a faster CPU, more hard drive space and a backlit keyboard. It also ships today.

The refreshed MacBook Air will hit in early November at $1,799 and $2,499. Interestingly enough, the old 13-inch MacBook in white will continue to live on in stores as the entry-level notebook at $999.

Could this finally be the MacBook hardware that manages to impress the PC crowd? Only time, and sales, will tell.

Display 19 Comments.
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  • 0 Hide
    wymer100 , October 15, 2008 1:27 AM
    I'm looking forward to seeing and working with them at my local Apple store. One reason Apple probably moved away from Intel to nvidia GPUs is OpenCL that's part of MacOSX 10.6 Snow Leopard.
  • -1 Hide
    hungryghost , October 15, 2008 3:06 AM
    Uh, is TH slacking a bit here? This article is about 10 hours late.
  • 0 Hide
    waffle911 , October 15, 2008 3:19 AM
    10 hours late? What? try 2. The earliest article elsewhere regarding this was posted little more than an hour and a half before this was.
  • -2 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , October 15, 2008 3:54 AM
    Quote:
    Could this finally be the MacBook hardware that manages to impress the PC crowd? Only time, and sales, will tell.


    Since Apple Inc.'s marketing and product folio is based on their design, let me put it straight:

    Many, including me, regards Apple Inc.'s design style simply as GAY. Besides, we PC crowds are more into price/performance, not fashion or suggestive life style that Apple Inc.'s brand-centric marketing tried so hard to build.

    Besides, Compiz-Fusion looks infinitely better than the banal OSX interface.
  • 0 Hide
    seboj , October 15, 2008 4:07 AM
    Quote:
    Could this finally be the MacBook hardware that manages to impress the PC crowd?


    Nope, still fails.

    Quote:
    Besides, Compiz-Fusion looks infinitely better than the banal OSX interface.


    O' Lordie, QFT.
  • 0 Hide
    zerapio , October 15, 2008 4:39 AM
    wymer100I'm looking forward to seeing and working with them at my local Apple store. One reason Apple probably moved away from Intel to nvidia GPUs is OpenCL that's part of MacOSX 10.6 Snow Leopard.


    That makes no sense. The OpenCL isn't out and much less drivers that support it.
  • 3 Hide
    Airrax , October 15, 2008 4:46 AM
    Environmentally friendly my rear! Taking a 2.5 lb brick of aluminum and machining it down to .25 lb is Incredibly wasteful. Not only do you have 2.25 lb of waste (that needs to be shipped back to a recycling plant to be remelted to another brick of aluminum), but machining a brick of aluminum takes a lot of time. In that time you require a lot of power to run the Mill, a lot of coolant (oil) to keep the drill bit cool, and a lot of NOT environmentally friendly cleansers to get the oil off of the finished part!

    You can get the same part (or nearly so) by punching out a thin sheet of aluminum the desired thickness. The punch would not only give you the desired shape (with all mounting holes), but it would also reduce time, effort, and waste by a great deal.
  • 0 Hide
    frozenlead , October 15, 2008 5:14 AM
    Does anyone else fail to see the design changes? I swear, every macbook looks the same. All of them. Black, white, silver and shiny or matte. That's all the choice you get.
    And it still has 2 USB ports.

    Not impressed.
  • 1 Hide
    zodiacfml , October 15, 2008 6:54 AM
    too expensive.
  • 1 Hide
    tim851 , October 15, 2008 6:59 AM
    chaohsiangchenMany, including me, regards Apple Inc.'s design style simply as GAY


    You'll grow out of that.

    chaohsiangchenBesides, we PC crowds are more into price/performance, not fashion or suggestive life style that Apple Inc.'s brand-centric marketing tried so hard to build.


    Yeah, that's why the PC crowd spends cumulative years of their lifespan in Intel vs. AMD and nVidia vs. ATI flamewars. So superior!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 15, 2008 9:57 AM
    2 tim851> Better then spending a lifetime in Mac vs. Mac' FLAME WARS(TM). :-)

    Mac' = PC - Mac

    P.S. - my AS400 is zilion times superior!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 15, 2008 10:52 AM
    Too bad it doesn't run Vista... 80)
  • 0 Hide
    Pei-chen , October 15, 2008 12:27 PM
    The funny thing is, Apple has no low end or high end products, only a mid-range line up that impress the uninformed. I would take the $6,000 ThinkPad quad core over the Mac Pro any day.
  • -2 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , October 15, 2008 12:39 PM
    tim851You'll grow out of that.


    Funny that every gay man I know thinks everybody is living in a closet waiting to "grow out."

  • 1 Hide
    wymer100 , October 15, 2008 1:10 PM
    zerapio

    That's true, but OpenCL will be out next year. Apple wants to sell computers now that are able to run it. Otherwise, there would be less incentives to upgrade when MacOS 10.6 is released.
  • 1 Hide
    joebob2000 , October 15, 2008 1:34 PM
    Quote:
    paving the way for support of multi-finger gestures, now supporting up to four digits.

    I only need a one fingered gesture to tell Steve what he can do with his 'glassed out' macbooks. What happens when the thing gets pinched in my backpack and the chassis bends like its made of foil (o, wait) and the screen shatters like a windshield? Composite bodies, plastic displays, these were all developed specifically to improve durability and reduce failure. Going back to all metal and all glass is a step backwards, IMO.
  • 1 Hide
    ckthecerealkiller , October 15, 2008 4:01 PM
    Airrax In that time you require a lot of power to run the Mill, a lot of coolant (oil) to keep the drill bit cool, and a lot of NOT environmentally friendly cleansers to get the oil off of the finished part!


    A previous TH articles states "Apple’s new technique involves the use of 3D laser technology and water jets to carve out precise structures from a brick of aluminum" so no oil or material cooling required. I do agree that there is plenty of waste though. But only time will tell for sure on whether or not this will be less wasteful. I have yet to read anything about the new machines for these Mac's.

    The idea is to make it stronger (glass although structurally stronger has far less flexibility). My plan hit them with a hammer harder and they will still break. :) 

    Custom built PC's FTW!
  • 0 Hide
    miltoxbeyond , October 15, 2008 7:04 PM
    Only the real pro desktop solutions really are worth the price (only sort-of though, cuz they're still too expensive). Those are the ones with RAID, good graphics cards, real powerful cpu's/dual cpu's... I work with several companies that have these, and they definitely are nice to work on, especially with the Cinema Displays...

    but Macbook's are really just not that great...
  • 0 Hide
    KITH , October 16, 2008 5:43 PM
    i like the idea of the aluminum chassis. the plastic top case on my macbook likes to crack repeatedly. stupid cheap plastic.