MacBook Air gets Penryn and MBP17 gets minor bump

Summary:Although they didn't get fancy glass trackpads (like Apple's other new notebooks) the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 17-inch received minor speed-bumps when Apple announced its new MacBooks yesterday.The MacBook Air went from: 1.

Although they didn't get fancy glass trackpads (like Apple's other new notebooks) the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 17-inch received minor speed-bumps when Apple announced its new MacBooks yesterday.

The MacBook Air went from:

  • 1.6 GHz Intel C2D, 800MHz Front-Side Bus, 2GB 667MHz DDR2, 80GB HDD - US$1,799
  • 1.8 GHz Intel C2D, 800MHz FSB, 2GB 667MHz DDR2, 64GB SSD - US$2,598

to:

  • 1.6 GHz Intel C2D, 1066MHz FSB, 2GB 1066MHz DDR3, 120GB HDD - US$1,799
  • 1.86 GHz Intel C2D, 1066MHz FSB, 2GB 1066MHz DDR3, 128GB SSD - US$2,499

The new 120 and 128GB capacity options are sure to be popular with potential buyers of the MacBook Air but it was the faster front side bus (up from 800 to 1066MHz) and memory (up 667 to 1066MHz DDR3) that caught my interest the most. I can't wait to see real-world benchmarks of the new MBA to see how the increased bus frequencies test out.

Update: Intel has confirmed that Apple quietly replaced the processor in the MacBook Air with the latest 45nm Penryn processor. (Apple had previously been using a custom 65-nm Merom chip.)

But new Intel processors did make a debut in the refresh of the MacBook Air. Instead of the Small-Form-Factor (SFF) 65-nanometer Merom chips, Apple has gone with with the more advanced 45-nanometer Penryn SSF processor. Penryn chips typically boast either 3MB or 6MB of cache memory versus the 2MB or 4MB that the older mobile procesors offer. (Cache memory speeds performance.)

The Penryn processor in the MBA comes with 6MB of cache memory (up from 3MB) and uses a more power-efficient design. (Tip: MacRumors).

I'm disappointed that the MBA remains stuck at 2GB though. Everyone knows that 4GB is practically the minimum amount of RAM you need these days – especially if you use virtualization.

The MacBook Pro 17-inch got even less of a speed-bump, going from:

  • 2.5 GHz Intel C2D, 2GB , 250GB HDD - US$2,799

to:

  • 2.5 GHz Intel C2D, 4GB , 320GB HDD - US$2,799

The "new" 17-inch MacBook Pro retains the same 800MHz frontside bus and 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM as its predecessor, so it's unlikely that it will be much faster overall. Apple appears to have excess 17-inch (and white MacBook) inventory on hand that its trying to sell before releasing a new 17-inch design to match the new MacBooks and MBPs that were announced yesterday.

One upside to the MBP17 is that it's still available with a matte display, which Apple now refers to as "antiglare" unlike all of its other notebooks which are now 100 percent "glossy" screens. Ugh.

Update: AppleInsider reports that the revised 17-inch MBP "missed the boat" from China and won't be arriving until early in 2009 due to issues with the optical drive and the display.

What's your take on the new MBA and MBP17?

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.