Top-end MacBook Pros to get AMD graphics

Apple's upcoming refresh of the MacBook Pro range will include AMD GPUs on the 15 and 17-inch models according to the latest round of rumours.

The flagship laptops, which currently feature Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics with 256 or 512 MB of RAM depending on the model, will switch to an AMD graphics chip-set when they are released either today or next Tuesday depending on which bit of tattle you believe.

Apple has had a tempestuous relationship with Nvidia in the past with melting mobile GPUs doing little to cement the two companies. Having said that, the Mac maker's relationship with AMD (neé ATi) hasn't been without unfortunate incident, as a recent extension of the warranty terms on some pre-installed and after-market cards made by the outfit attests.

Unfortunately for Apple, and until it starts designing its own GPUs, the graphics market is a two-horse race and, for this season at least, AMD would seem to be the least lame of the two ponies in the paddock.

As we reported yesterday, leaked pack-shots of the 13-inch MacBook Pro suggest that the baby of the family will be relying on the Sandy Bridge architecture's on-board Intel HD3000 graphics.

The 15 and 17-inch variants will have the same on-board GPU for lowly tasks like rattling off a few e-mails or browsing simple web pages but will fire up the discrete AMD silicon once things start getting a bit complex, saving on battery life and dissipated heat.

Of course, the rumour, which was started by 'an industry source' at Cnet and perpetuated by just about every other tech site on the planet, is exactly that until Apple makes everything official.