Apple updates the MacBook Pro line-up, includes Sandy Bridge and new AMD graphics

It’s been a long time coming, but now there’s a point of difference between Apple’s 13 inch MacBook and MacBook Pro computers, with Intel’s new high speed Sandy Bridge processors making their way to the new aluminium-clad computers.

Starting at $1399, Apple’s new MacBook Pro 13 will come with 4GB memory, Intel HD graphics, FaceTime HD camera for 720p video calling, SDXC compatible card slot, 7 hour battery, and either a dual-core 2.3GHz Core i5 or 2.7GHz Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor.

It’s not just the very portable 13 inch that sees an upgrade, though. Apple’s 15 and 17 inch models also get sizeable upgrades, with some pretty high-speed improvements.

Apple’s new range of MacBook Pro computers.

From $2,099, you can grab a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with at least a 500GB hard drive, 4GB memory, FaceTime HD, either a SDXC card slot (15 inch) or ExpressCard slot (17 inch), and two video chipsets enabling you to get the best battery and graphic performance based on what you’re doing.

Unlike the last MacBooks, Apple has moved to AMD’s Radeon line of graphic processors on the new models, automatically switching between the low-power Intel HD 3000 graphics and game-ready Radeon HD 6490 and 6750 chipsets.

Looking to do some real gaming or video editing on your computer? That last line should have you licking your lips.

But if you thought the upgrades were just based on what’s under the hood, think again.

Intel is launching its new high-speed interface “Thunderbolt” on the new line of MacBook Pros. Expected to be used in hard drives, sound cards, and possibly even future video cameras, the new technology (above) provides a connection that is up to twenty times faster than the commonly used USB 2.0 interface.

Look familiar?

To users of Apple’s hardware, the connection is that of the Mini DisplayPort technology previously found on iMac and MacBook computers. From this point on, Thunderbolt is the new name for Mini DisplayPort, acting as both a display and high-speed data based connection.

The laptops are available from today, with Thunderbolt-equipped devices making their way to store shelves shortly.