I got my automated notice last night that the Apple Store was unavailable and thought – oh this could be something good !

And, yes it was,  the much anticipated refresh of the MacBook notebooks.

The 15″ and 17″ Pro models now use the i5 and i7 Intel dual-core processors (at 2.4, 2.53GHz or 2.66Ghz, respectively). This is obviously a significant performance boost and these Intel CPUs allow for hyperthreading (dependent on application support of course).

They also include the GeForce GT 330M graphics chip, and the NVIDIA-driven Optimus technology to switch from the high-end video subsystem to integrated graphics on the fly to improve power management.

The improved power handling lets the 15″ and 17″ models go up to 8-9 hours on one battery charge. All MBPs now include 4GB of RAM standard.

The 15″ model adds new display options: the normal, glossy 1440×900 screen, or a denser 1680×1050 panel with either glossy or matte coatings. The 17″ display is all about the glossy 1920×1200.

The 13″ keeps the Core 2 Duo chip but bumps up maximum speed to 2.66GHz, and adds the GeForce 320M graphics card. Battery life is up to 10 hours.

The 13″ low-end unit price is $1199; the top-end 17″ model now goes for $2299 but does not include the i7 chip, which is only available as a preconfigured option on the highest-end 15″ ($2199). You can get the i7 as a BTO option on the 17″ model.