MacBook Pro 2011 Refresh: Specs and Detailsby Andrew Cunningham on February 24, 2011 4:40 PM EST
The new MacBook Pros offer the array of ports we're used to, plus something a bit different.
A new port called Thunderbolt replaces the Mini DisplayPort found in earlier models. Formerly codenamed Light Peak, the new Intel standard promises up to 10 Gbps bi-directional data transfer speeds and connectivity for an array of devices, from displays to hard drives. The standard also supports 8-channel audio, which should make for easy connection to HDMI devices with the right adapter, and up to six different Thunderbolt devices can be daisy chained together according to the Intel specs.
Most of the given use scenarios for Thunderbolt focus on external hard drives, displays, and HD video hardware, and adapters for existing standards like eSATA and Firewire. If Thunderbolt ports become more widespread, we'll probably see additional applications of the standard.
Finally, it's worth noting that if you've already spent money on Mini DisplayPort adapters, dongles and cables for your existing Mac, those accessories will continue to work with the new Thunderbolt port.
Look for more from us on Thunderbolt shortly.
Thunderbolt aside, there's not much that surprises about the new MacBook Pro lineup - as usual, new, faster hardware is being sold to us in the same attractive unibody case to which we've become accustomed.
Most of the additions are welcome, though the value proposition continues to be a struggle. As usual, to save money, you're better off buying the base model and adding RAM or a new hard drive yourself than paying Apple's price for upgrades.
The move to Sandy Bridge is interesting but the lack of any mention of Quick Sync is a bit bothersome. We’re working on our review of the new platforms, expect to see results in the coming days.