Apple refreshes MacBook Pro line – ditches 17-inch model; adds Thunderbolt, FireWire and Ivy Bridge

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The MacBook Pro got a revamp that saw Apple ditching the 17-inch model, and adding Ivy Bridge chips, Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 and the return of FireWire 800 port to the 13-inch and 15-inch models, something that was removed in the major refresh that saw the unibody and only available in the now-dead 17-inch model.

The 17-inch model’s demise means that the new high-end is the 15-inch model, with that model getting all the new Ivy Bridge Core i7 chips while the Core i5 will be found on the lower 13-inch model. Processor speeds are up to 2.9GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz.

For the 15-inch model, now being the high-end, it also comes with NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 650M with 512MB or 1GB GDDR5 memory – allowing it to play video and games such as Diablo 3 in incredible detail and with little problems. All models also come with Intel HD 4000 Integrated Graphics.

The refreshed line will also see new storage configurations of up to 1TB via a standard hard drive, or up to 512GB in solid state drive. There are also a wide variety of ports – including two USB 3.0 ports (that will also support USB 2.0 rather than separate USB 2.0 and USB 3.0), the aforementioned Firewire 800 port and a Thunderbolt port. It also has audio line in and out ports and, for Stewart, an ethernet port.

The base model – 13-inch model with 2.5GHz Core i5 processor and 500GB of storage – is priced at $1349, while the 2.9GHz Core i5 processor with 750GB of storage is priced at $1689. The 15-inch 2.3GHz Core i7 processor with 500GB of storage is priced at $1999, while the 15-inch 2.6GHz Core i7 processor with 750GB of storage is priced at $2499.

These start shipping today.