Apple MacBook Pro 17in Thunderbolt review

The latest 17in MacBook Pro is Apple's most powerful laptop yet thanks to its quad-core Sandy Bridge processor and new Thunderbolt port. But are these enough to justify its high price?

MacOS X can automatically switch between the two depending on what applications you're using so, theoretically, you should be able to get the best of both worlds fast 3D performance and long battery life. Oddly, some apparently mundane, undemanding applications, such as a Twitter program, can trigger the AMD chip so we wish Apple had included a way to forcibly activate the Intel chip to prolong battery life as much as possible. Third-party apps that let you do this don't yet support the new AMD chip.

The battery lasted surprisingly long for such a large and heavy laptop. It managed just under eight hours in our light usage web browsing test which puts many lighter laptops to shame. However, at 3kg we can't see many people taking the 17in MacBook Pro out and about that regularly, but if you do then at least the battery is less likely to run out at an inconvenient moment.

We were impressed by the bright, sharp-looking display. The high resolution of 1,920x1,200 pixels is large enough for working on 1080p video or for editing two Word documents side-by-side. Colours look vibrant and accurate and they don't shift in appearance if you adjust your seating position. The glossy finish does reflect light from overhead lighting very easily though the resulting glare looks very distracting. An optional anti-glare matt finish can be requested if you order from Apple, but this costs an extra 40 which is a bit rich for a laptop that already costs more than 2,000 inc VAT.

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