17in MacBook Sees Aluminium Unibody Update

Seems well worth the wait!

If you read my review of the 15.4in MacBook Pro, you’ll know my conclusion was, basically, “either wait for the 17in or get the 13.3in version.” Now available for pre-order on Apple’s store, I feel pretty vindicated because, intimidating price aside, the updated 17in Macbook Pro looks every bit as good as I expected it would.

Unsurprisingly, the 17in MacBook Pro is based around the same nVidia GeForce 9400M platform as the rest of the Unibody MacBook range, with switchable dedicated 9600M GT in addition to the integrated offering and sports a predictable 1,920 x 1,200 resolution. An LED-backlit panel is, of course boasted. At 25mm thick and weighing in at 3Kg, the 17in MacBook Pro is, says Apple, the thinnest and lightest 17in laptop going.

The battery in the Unibody 17in MacBook Pro has seen an update too. Thanks to a funky new manufacturing process, Apple claims it can get eight hours of battery life per charge cycle from a cell that will last 1,000 discharge cycles. That latter figure matching the one recently announced by HP, although whether the technology is the same is unclear. It’s worth noting that the ‘eight hours’ figure drops to seven using dedicated graphics.

Even assuming Apple is over-estimating likely real-world performance ever so slightly, a 17in laptop offering even two thirds of that claimed battery life is an incredibly interesting proposition! As a downside, the battery isn’t removable as per the MacBook Air, so systems will have to be sent back to Apple if a replacement is required.

The basic system costs £1,949 and comes with a 2.66GHz Intel core 2 Duo CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 320GB hard drive. Upgrading to a 2.93GHz CPU is a £210 option, with 8GB of RAM costing an astonishing £839.99 and 128GB and 256GB SSDs available at £350 and £630 respectively. There’s also the option to have an anti-glare, rather than glossy, screen for £34.99 and while the option is appreciated, charging for it seems a bit miserly.

Connectivity comprises three USB ports, a Firewire 800 port, a gigabit Ethernet connector, an ExpressCard slot, and a mini DisplayPort connector. Given the chassis’ dimensions it’s frankly ridiculous Apple hasn’t used a full sized video output, but the opportunity to charge £35 for an adaptor is clearly too tempting to pass up.

All considered, the 17in MacBook Pro looks to pack a pretty compelling spec into a high, but not too extravagant price. Certainly, it’s not a system for everyone but, I think, for anyone lucky enough to get hold of one, it’s definitely going to be a happy New Year.

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