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2011 Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch Desktop Replacement Laptop PC

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Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch Desktop Replacement Laptop PC

Apple MacBook Pro 17

©Apple

The Bottom Line

Jul 5 2011 - Apple's MacBook Pro 17 remains an extremely expensive investment with a base price of $2500. Thankfully, the 2011 version has increased the overall performance and features with a new quad core processor, larger hard drive and AMD graphics. It remains one of the sleekest and longest running laptops in its class. While the Thunderbolt port has some great potential, it really just functions like a DisplayPort for now. There are still a few minor annoyances with Apple's choices including just 4GB of memory, three USB ports and no Blu-ray compatibility but many people looking for a serious high performance but compact systems will probably overlook these.
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Pros

  • Thinnest And Lightest 17-inch Laptop
  • Excellent Performance
  • Very Long Battery Life

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Fewer USB Ports And No Flash Card Slot
  • Could Really Use More Than 4GB RAM At This Price Point

Description

  • Intel Core i7-2720QM Quad Core Mobile Processor
  • 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
  • 750GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • 9x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
  • 17" WUXGA (1920x1200) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • ATI Radeon HD 6750M Graphics With 1GB Memory And Intel HD 3000 Graphics
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Three USB 2.0, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt, ExpressCard/34
  • 15.5" x 10.5" x 1" @ 6.6 lbs.
  • Max OS X 10.6, iLife

Guide Review - 2011 Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch Desktop Replacement Laptop PC

Jul 5 2011 - Apple's latest revision to the MacBook Pro lineup doesn't really bring any external changes to their durable and stylish design. The only real external difference is the shift from the DisplayPort logo to the Thunderbolt logo. The port itself functions just like the previous mini-DisplayPort but also has new capabilities thanks to its upgrade to Light Peak. This essentially lets the port also double as an extreme high speed external interface that can be used for a wide range of theoretical peripherals although right now it pretty much is just for external storage.

Along with the new interface, Apple has done a major performance update to the processor. Now the MacBook Pro series uses the new 2nd generation Intel Core i series processors. For the 17-inch model, this means a move from a previous dual-core i5 model to the Core i7-2720QM that features four cores. This gives the system a significant increase in performance. This is especially beneficial to those that were using a laptop for desktop video work or heavy multitasking. It would be nice to see Apple ship such an expensive system with more than 4GB of DDR3 memory but Mac OS X seems to be much more efficient with its memory usage that Windows.

Storage space has also increased with the latest MacBook Pro 17. Past models came with a base 500GB drive that was sizable for the time. Now it packs in 50% more space with a spacious 750GB drive that provides plenty of space for applications, data and media files. The drive does spin at 5400rpm which gives it modest performance but those looking to get a custom built model can always got with a very expensive SSD drive that will hold much less data. Apple continues to shun the use of Blu-ray compatible drives leaving users with the standard dual-layer DVD burner for recording or playing CD and DVD media. Unlike the smaller MacBook Pros, the 17-inch does not include an SDXC flash memory slot and instead provides an ExpressCard/34. This is a bit disappointing but it is relatively easy to find ExpressCard adapters.

The display remains the same with its standard glossy coating and high 1920x1200 resolution. This means it is still difficult to use outdoors unless you opt to get the special order anti-glare version. The graphics system has undergone a major change with Apple switching away from NVIDIA graphics to the AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor that works in a hybrid system with Intel's new HD Graphics 3000 integrated onto the processor. For the most part this system works well and definitely gives it a performance boost over the previous GeForce GT 330M graphics. Of course, most people will probably not be using a MacBook Pro for gaming but it is capable albeit probably at less than native resolutions.

Apple's has pushed down the battery life claim from eight hours in the past version to just seven in this new release. This is still well beyond most manufacturers because of the large internal lithium polymer battery pack. In DVD playback tests, the laptop easily exceeds over five hours of running time before standby modes. This puts it far beyond most of the competition especially given the svelte 1-inch profile. It is very conceivable that more traditional web usage could yield upwards of seven hours as Apple claims.

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