Apple MacBook Pro 17in

Apple has finally updated its flagship 17in model with its unibody design. It’s a looker alright but how does it fare for performance and value?

The Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile T9550 processor runs at 2.66GHz and delivered a benchmark result of 1.34, which is excellent. It's more than enough to motor through OS X and demanding design and creative applications.

Like the 15.4in MacBook Pro, the 17in version has two GPUs: an Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT and an lower-power Nvidia 9400M chip for prolonged battery life. The latter isn't up to it but if you want to kick back with some after hours gaming, in our medium-quality 'Crysis' benchmark the 9600M GT scored 22fps; dropping the settings to Low resulted in an eminently-playable 76fps.

The rest of the MacBook's specification, compared to rival machines, seems rather meagre. Comparing with a alternative option a Dell Studio XPS 16 - both offer 4GB of RAM, but the Dell has a 500GB hard disk versus the MacBook Pro's 320GB Fujitsu unit. The Dell also features Blu-ray drives and a memory card reader. The lack of a TPM chip and ISV certification on the Apple may also prove a deal breaker for professionals intending to use the system as a dual-OS workstation laptop.

Battery life is a mixed bag under Vista. Apple's Boot Camp application currently offers no support for the MacBook Pro's twin GPUs, and consequently uses only the higher-power GeForce 9600M GT. The MacBook ran out of steam after a reasonable 4hr 22m, but this figure plummeted to just an hour in our heavy use benchmark.

The results were far more encouraging when we simulated a light use test in Mac OS X, in which the MacBook Pro lasted a minute shy of seven hours, just 61 minutes off Apple's impressive-sounding claim of eight hours battery life. The final, much-discussed caveat is that the battery isn't removable, so the entire system has to be sent back to Apple should any problems crop up.

The latest MacBook Pro comes with a considerable list of pros and cons. The stunning, high-resolution screen, powerful hardware and superb build quality will endear the 17in Apple to those keen on image and video editing, or simply those just looking for a luxurious desktop replacement. Conversely, the keyboard and trackpad are a mite disappointing and the specification isn't as versatile as rival machines. The most prominent challenger is from a Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B. Not only does it offer a larger (if lower-resolution) 18.4in TFT, you also get twice the hard disk capacity, a Blu-ray writer and very similar performance, all for 600 less.

If you're happy spending the best part of 1,700 before VAT on a machine that places style and design ahead of more practical considerations, are a professional user who demands a near-perfect screen with plenty of desktop space, or just have to have MacOS X, the 17in MacBook Pro is a great choice. Be warned, though: your money could go an awful lot further elsewhere if you contemplate life without the iconic logo.

Verdict

There’s no doubting it’s a impressive laptop and for many it may be a dream machine, but the MacBook Pro 17in suffers the usual Apple caveats of offering less hardware for more cash than Windows based rivals.

Processor: 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile T9550

Memory: 4GB 1,066MHz DDR2 RAM

Storage:320GB hard disk, DVD+/-RW

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT and GeForce 9400M

Display: 1,900 x 1,200 17in TFT

Ports: 3 x USB, mini-DisplayPort, ExpressCard/34, FireWire 800

Networking: 802.11a/b/g + draft-n WLAN, Gigabit Ethernet

OS: Apple OS X 10.5 Leopard

Warranty: 1yr warranty

Dimensions: 394 x 268 x 24mm (WDH)

Weight: 2.95kg

Featured Resources

Unlocking collaboration: Making software work better together

How to improve collaboration and agility with the right tech

Download now

Four steps to field service excellence

How to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Six things a developer should know about Postgres

Why enterprises are choosing PostgreSQL

Download now

The path to CX excellence for B2B services

The four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
University of Hertfordshire's entire IT system offline after cyber attack
cyber attacks

University of Hertfordshire's entire IT system offline after cyber attack

15 Apr 2021
NSA uncovers new "critical" flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server
servers

NSA uncovers new "critical" flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server

14 Apr 2021