Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: 1531 . 2076

  • Pros: Excellent screen. Powerful. Small & light. Innovative features.

  • Cons: Single button trackpad.

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This model is based on Intel’s relatively new Santa Rosa platform. Its Core 2 Duo chip speed has gone up from 2.33GHz to 2.4GHz but the real story is the laptop’s underlying infrastructure, which gives a surprisingly large performance leap.

This is also the first Apple model to offer a high-definition screen; our review unit featured a 1,920-x-1,200 screen that looks stunning.

Impressively, Apple also offers a choice of gloss or matte screens. We prefer gloss, because of its wider colour gamut.
Higher-resolution screens can reduce performance, especially in video and 3D applications, yet in our tests the 17-inch MacBook Pro performed well, being 9 per cent faster than the 2.2GHz 15-inch model in our pure-CPU Cinebench rendering test, and 7 per cent speedier than HP’s Compaq 8710w 17-inch workstation, which also had a 2.2GHz chip.

This MacBook Pro was also 21 per cent faster than the 8710w in Photoshop CS3 – surprising, because Photoshop is more reliant on RAM and hard-drive speed than processor performance, and both models feature 4GB RAM and 7,200rpm hard drives. It was also 28 per cent faster than its 2.2GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro brother.

In After Effects, however, this MacBook Pro model was slower than the 8710w, probably due to the HP machine’s 64-bit version of Vista. Mac owners will have to wait until October for the fully 64-bit Mac OS X 10.5 for a similar performance boost.

The nVidia GeForce 8600GT provided excellent real-time 3D performance in Cinebench, though it was way behind the 8710w in our more strenuous Maya 8.5 test.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro is a wonder of engineering; it’s marvellously small and light, and innovations such as the magnetic power cable and backlit keyboard are unique – though the lack of a two-button trackpad is still annoying.

Test results

The 15-inch MacBook Pro has a 2.2GHz Intel T7500 processor, 2GB of RAM and an nVidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics chip. The 17-inch MacBook Pro has a 2.4GHz Intel T7700 processor, 4GB of RAM and an nVidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics chip. The Compaq 8710w has a 2.2GHz Intel T7500 processor, 4GB of RAM and an nVidia Quadro FX 1600M graphics chip. For Photoshop, After Effects and Maya tests, shorter bars are better. For Cinebench and battery life tests, longer bars are better.

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