Apple’s New 17-inch MacBook Pro Thinner, Lighter, With More Awesomeness Than Ever

January 07, 2009 | Chris Maxcer | Comments 0

By Chris Maxcer

Apple’s new aluminum unibody MacBook line is now complete — the company announced it’s 17-inch MacBook Pro (MBP) at Macworld this week. It will ship at the end of January.

17mbp-300x250In the meantime, the 17-inch MBP now shares the same aluminum design, larger glass Multi-Touch trackpad, and LED-backlit screens that are found in its smaller siblings. It also uses the same graphics processors that are found in the 15-inch MBP — the new Apple and NVIDIA graphics architecture that lets users switch between the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics processor (for better battery life) and the more powerful NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT discrete graphics processor (for higher performance).

According to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing — and the guy who introduced the 17-inch MBP during the Apple keynote address at Macworld, the 17-inch MBP is both the lightest and thinnest 17-inch notebook in the world. It weighs a scant 6.6 pounds and is .98 inches thick.

There’s More To This Pro Than Meets the Eye

While the 17-inch MBP retains the relatively steep $2,799 entry price as its predecessor, it comes with the latest generation of Intel Core 2 Duo mobile processors — the base model uses a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 6 MB of shared L2 cache, upgradable to 2.93 GHz. The 320 GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor, is upgradeable to a 7200 rpm model — or to a 128 GB or 256 GB solid state drive.

And what about that glossy display? Apple wisely added an anti-glare option — though it will set you back an extra $50.17mbptop300x179

Still, Schiller noted that the 1920 x 1200 17-inch display is “the best display that we’ve ever shipped in a notebook.” It features a 140-degree horizontal and 120-degree vertical viewing angle with a 700:1 contrast ratio. More importantly, though, especially for pro users is the 60 percent greater color gamut.

No Removable Battery?

So the late-breaking rumors were true — in designing the new 17-inch MBP, Apple ditched removable batteries, opting for a bigger, denser integrated battery pack. Apple has gone to great lengths to explain why this move is cool, including posting a video that focuses solely on the new battery system. Basically, Apple says its advanced chemistry, intelligent monitoring, and adaptive charging result in a battery that delivers up to eight hours of use — and up to 1,000 recharges, which is about three times as many recharges that you get out of industry standard notebook batteries. Apple predicts the average battery will last about five years before it’ll need to be replaced. The replacement cost is $179, which includes installation and disposal of the old battery.

It Looks Silver, But Really It’s Green

Apple’s been working hard to rework not only the public image of its environmental impact, but to actually reduce it, too. Now every model in the new MacBook family meets EPEAT Gold status. The aluminum unibodies are, of course, recyclable, but Apple’s new battery strategy in the 17-inch MBP also means that at least one less battery might end up in a landfill (or need replaced and recycled) in the lifespan of the new MBP.

The LED-backlit display uses 30 percent less energy and eliminates the mercury found in industry standard fluorescent tube backlights, plus it is mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. And there’s still more: the MacBook family meets Energy Star 4.0 requirements, contains no brominated flame retardants and uses internal cables and components that are PVC-free.

Here’s the basic specs:

  • 17-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1920 x 1200, glossy display (upgradable to an anti-glare option);
  • 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 6MB shared L2 cache (upgradeable to 2.93 GHZ);
  • 1066 MHz front-side bus;
  • 4GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (upgradeable to 8GB);
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics;
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT discrete graphics with 512MB GDDR3 video memory;
  • 320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor (upgradeable to 7200 rpm or up to a 256 GB solid state drive);
  • a slot-load 8X SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
  • Mini DisplayPort for video output (adapters sold separately);
  • built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
  • Gigabit Ethernet port;
  • built-in iSight video camera;
  • three USB 2.0 ports;
  • one FireWire 800 port (FireWire 400 compatible);
  • ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot;
  • one audio line in and one audio line out port, each supporting both optical digital and analog;
  • glass Multi-Touch trackpad and illuminated keyboard;
  • built-in, 95WHr lithium polymer battery; and
  • 85 Watt MagSafe Power Adapter.

17mbp-24-300x210It is also, as you might have guessed, compatible with the jaw-dropping new 24-inch LED-backlit Apple Cinema Display.

Filed Under: Apple ActionFeaturedMac


About the Author: Chris Maxcer is editor and publisher of He's been writing about the tech industry for years. While he enjoys wicked cool gear and design, there's something to be said for turning it all off — or most of it — to go outside. To contact him, take a firstname.lastname guess at

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