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Wednesday, February 22, 2006, 09:20 am PT (12:20 pm ET)

A closer look at Apple\'s 15-inch MacBook Pro

The first Intel-based Apple MacBook Pro professional notebook computers have begun to arrive in the United States, allowing sources and contacts to take a closer look at the system's internals.

Processor not upgradable

One of the most interesting finds so far is that the MacBook Pro's Core Duo processor is soldered to the main logic board, rather than on a socket, and therefore is not not upgradeable after purchase. The only way to upgrade a MacBook Pro to a faster processor is to select the 2.16GHz (+$300) option when ordering a 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Core Duo from Apple's online store.

No more wireless combo card

Similar to changes made to the iMac as it transitioned to Intel chips, the MacBook Pro's AirPort and Bluetooth wireless controllers are now located on two separate system boards. Apple's previous line of PowerBook G4 computers used a single "combo card" for the wireless technologies.

In what appears to be a huge step for Apple, the new AirPort card is a mini-PCI Express card that should improve bandwidth and compatibility. Mini-PCI express is a standard socket, which allows for a variety of upgrades to be done internally, however it's unclear if Apple will fully support the technology in this fashion.

Meanwhile, a closer inspection of Apple's Bluetooth implementation reveals that the antenna has been repositioned to rest in front of the MacBook Pro's hard drive, in the front left corner of the unit.

MagSafe and SuperDrives

Interestingly, sources note that the magnets used to connect the MagSafe power adapter connector are located inside the MacBook Pro unit, rather than on the MagSafe connector itself. As a result, Apple has reportedly asked some of its service partners to warn customers about placing magnetized items near the power port of the MacBook Pro.

The 85W portable power brick which ships with the notebook also appears to be somewhat larger than the brick Apple shipped with its now discontinued 15-inch PowerBook G4.

While the SuperDrive included with the MacBook Pro is incapable of burning double-layer DVD+R discs, it can read them, sources added.

System software

The first batch of MacBook Pros leaving Apple's manufacturing facilities in the Far East are shipping with Mac OS X 10.4.5 build 8G1453, Boot ROM version 0044.02, System Management Controller version 1.2f7 and Infrared Firmware v109, sources said.

The only other Mac OS X software distinction noticed with the notebooks is the addition of "Play Front Row sound effects" option under the Sound Effects tab of the Mac OS X Audio preference pane.

Apple's online store continues to list wait times of up to four weeks for new MacBook Pro orders, regardless of the configuration. Sources have recently weighed in with their assessment of the delays, which they blame on a shortage of unspecified common components that are shared between both the Intel iMac Core Duo and 15-inch MacBook Pro.