The Bottom Line
- Thinnest And Lightest 17-inch Laptop
- Unibody Aluminum Case Very Durable And Stylish
- Very Long Battery Life
- No Access To Change Battery Or Hard Drive
- Auto-Switching Hybrid Graphics Sometimes Uses More Battery Than It Should
- Intel Core i5-540M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 17" WUXGA (1920x1200) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M Graphics Processors With 512MB Memory And Intel GMA 4500MHD Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 2.0, FireWire 800, Mini DisplayPort, ExpressCard/34
- 15.5" x 10.5" x 1" @ 6.6 lbs.
- Mac OSX 10.6, iLife
Guide Review - Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch Desktop Replacement Laptop PC
Jul 6 2010 - Apple's MacBook Pro 17 update for 2010 looks no different on the outside. It continues to use the same unibody aluminum chassis that provides a very solid system with some outstanding style design. Unlike the 13 and 15-inch models, the MacBook Pro 17 retains the ExpressCard/34 slot but does not receive the SD card slot.
Internally, the big change to the MacBook Pro 17 is the new Intel Core 2010 mobile processors. The base MacBook Pro 17 unit reviewed ships with the Core i5-540M dual core processor that provides a significant boost to performance over the previous Core 2 Duo. Unlike many Windows based systems, Apple does not offer the quad core mobile processors even on the upgraded Core i7 based version. Because of this, there isn't much reason to spend the extra cash for the slight upgrade in performance.
Unlike the smaller MacBook Pros, Apple does provide a very sizable 500GB hard drive allowing for a large number of applications, data and media files. Performance is impacted slightly by a slower 5400rpm spin rate on the drive but this won't be much of an issue for many people. Apple's unibody design prevents users from replacing the hard drive which is a big disappointment. They still do not support the Blu-ray format in their computers thus leaving the unit with a dual layer DVD burner.
The 17-inch display on the Apple MacBook Pro 17 is one of the most impressive on the market. It features an extremely high 1920x1200 resolution that fully supports 1080p HD video playback and provides excellent color. The base design uses a glossy display that can cause lots of reflections and glare but Apple does offer a $50 upgrade on special orders for an anti-glare option. The graphics system has changed dramatically with a new NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics processor that is autoswitched by the operating system with an Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics when the dedicated graphics are not required. For the most part this works well but there are some applications that will cause the dedicated graphics to be used when they aren't really needed thus putting more of a drain on the battery.
Battery life with the MacBook Pro 17 is still one of the best on the market thanks to the internal lithium-polymer battery pack. In my DVD playback tests, the unit is able to last almost seven hours before going into standby mode. This is very impressive as this puts it in the same class as low power ultraportables designed all day computing. Apple claims up to nine hours of battery life and that is very likely to be achieved with less strenuous computing tasks.
The biggest issue with the MacBook Pro continues to be its very high $2300 base price tag. This is much more expensive than similarly equipped Windows based laptops but they lack much of the same level of durability and style that Apple provides.