Apple has brought their popular line of MacBook Pro notebooks up to date using Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors across the board, including quad-core CPUs in the more expensive 15" and 17" models.

While it was easy to anticipate all major PC manufacturers would be unveiling their 2011 models using Intel's latest platform around this time frame, in true Apple fashion a lot of speculation surrounded the revamp of the new MacBooks, though only part of the rumors held true.

Perhaps the most significant addition is the introduction of Intel's Light Peak high-speed interface. The technology will go by the name of Thunderbolt in the consumer space and it's making a first appearance on a shipping product with the new Macs. The proprietary optical cable interface boasts of a high 10 Gbit/s bi-directional bandwidth, meaning to render USB 3.0 unnecessary. The Thunderbolt port on the new Macs doubles as a DisplayPort connector and will also work with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays.

The main configurations and pricing for the new MacBook Pros are as follows:

  • 17" 1920x1200 Display. 2.2Ghz Quad i7. 4GB RAM. 750GB HD. AMD 6750M 1GB – $2499
  • 15" 1440x900 (1680 option) Display. 2.2GHz Quad i7. 750GB HD. AMD 6750M 1GB – $2199
  • 15" 1440x900 (1680 option) Display. 2.0GHz Quad i7. 4GB RAM. 500GB HD. AMD 6490M 256MB – $1799
  • 13" 1280x800 Display. 2.7GHz Dual i7. 4GB RAM. 500GB HD. Intel HD Graphics – $1499
  • 13" 1280x800 Display. 2.3GHz Dual i5. 4GB RAM. 320GB HD. Intel HD Graphics – $1199

Another obvious addition is the use of discrete AMD GPUs with switchable graphics on 15-inch and 17-inch models. The top-tier models will carry 1GB of dedicated graphics memory, while the baseline 15-inch MacBook Pro will use a more modest AMD 6490M 256MB configuration. Both 13-inch versions will rely on Intel's built-in HD 3000 graphics.

Apple is touting a new FaceTime HD camera capable of 720p video recording and communication along with a new software that will ease calls between FaceTime-equipped Macs and iOS devices. More details on the new MacBook Pros are available on Apple's website.