The Bottom Line
Overall, the new 17-inch MacBook Pro looks like a substantial replacement for the previous generation. With more efficient processors and graphics systems, it should have longer battery life, and do so with higher performance. In an interesting twist, Apple chose to replace the SD card slot with an ExpressCard/34 slot. We think Pro users will like the versatility of the ExpressCard slot, but bemoan the loss of the SD card slot.
- Intel Core i5 or i7 processors
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics processor
- Two display options
- Longer battery life
- 4 GB standard RAM (supports up to 8 GB)
- Only 2 RAM slots
- No SD card slot
- $50 extra for anti-glare option
- $2,299 (2.53 GHz i5) or $2,499 (2.66 GHz i7)
- 4 GB RAM
- Intel HD Graphics + NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M
- 5200 rpm, 7200 rpm, and solid state hard drive options
- Two display options (glossy or anti-glare), both 1920x1200 resolution
- Three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, ExpressCard/34 slot
- Mini DisplayPort
- Built-in iSight camera and microphone
- 8x SuperDrive
- AirPort Extreme (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, 10/100/1000 Gigibit Ethernet port
Guide Review - Review of the 17-inch MacBook Pro 2010 With Core i5 or Core i7 Processor
We've been anticipating the release of new MacBook Pros with Intel Core i5 and i7 processors ever since Apple updated its iMac line with these speedy CPUs in the fall of 2009. It's been a bit of a wait, but at first blush, it seems the wait was well worth it.
Intel Core i5 and Core i7 Processors
The new 17-inch MacBook Pro is available with your choice of i5 or i7 processor. Both processors are dual-core devices, but they offer substantial performance and energy use improvements over Intel Core 2 Duo chips used in previous models.
Both the i5 and i7 processors offer Turbo Boost, which means that when running a processor-intensive application, the CPU can boost the processor's speed, in some cases up to 3.33 GHz. The processor performs the Turbo Boost trick by shutting down one of its two cores and boosting the remaining core to the higher clock rate, which results in a performance boost for the application.
The second feature that sets the i5 and i7 apart from earlier Intel dual-core processors is their ability to support Hyper-Threading, which allows two threads to run simultaneously on a single core. This makes the i5 and i7 dual-core processors look like a quad-core processor to OS X and many applications that are designed to run multiple threads simultaneously. Hyper-Threading boosts performance, but unlike Turbo Boost, it's available full time, regardless of the processor load or number of threads actively running.
The new MacBook Pros use 1066 MHz DDR3 RAM. They will come equipped with 4 GB of RAM stock, and can be increased to 8 GB. The MacBook Pro has two SO-DIMM slots, both of which will be populated by 2 GB RAM modules, so to get to 8 GB will require tossing the 2 GB modules and replacing them with 4 GB versions.
Two display options are available for the 17-inch MacBook Pro: the standard 17-inch glossy or a 17-inch anti-glare model. Both displays have a 1920x1200 resolution. The anti-glare display isn't the same as the older matte finish display; it appears to be a somewhat glossy display with anti-glare properties.
Two graphics processors are present in the 17-inch MacBook Pro: a built-in Intel HD Graphics that uses 256 MB of shared RAM, and a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics processor. The GT 330M comes equipped with 512 MB of dedicated RAM, and uses NVIDIA's Optimus technology, which manages the 48 graphics processors within the 330M to control performance vs. energy efficiency. The result is one of the most efficient graphics processors and extended battery life.
The 17-inch MacBook Pro replaces the SD card slot seen on other models with an ExpressCard/34 slot.
Apple claims battery life for the MacBook Pro to be in the 8 to 9 hour range. That's a pretty good improvement over previous generations of the MacBook Pro. Of course, battery life will depend on how you use your MacBook Pro, and which of the two graphics processors you use.