Apple's unibody 17-inch MacBook Pro review

  • Price When Reviewed: 1695

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It’s late but it’s worth it. The new 17-inch MacBook Pro gives Apple’s largest laptop the same ‘unibody’ makeover as the 15-inch range: updating its aesthetics and screen, invigorating its creative power with a new processor and support for 8GB of RAM, and introducing a non-removable battery that the company says gives you up to eight hours of battery life.

The new design is much more appealing than the old MacBook Pro design. Due to a psychological trick caused by the tapered and curved edges, this latest model feels smaller and lighter, even though it isn’t. The new, 1,920-x-1,200 screen boasts a wider colour gamut than its predecessor’s, and it has a black bezel to help your work stand out – and to match the design of the company’s LED Cinema Display. Unlike that monitor -- or the 15-inch MacBook Pro for that matter -- the 17-inch model’s screen is available with in anti-glare version for no extra cost, which all creative pros will want.

We compared our review unit’s glossy screen against the best laptop screen on the market -- that on HP’s EliteBook 8730w -- using a DataColor Spyder3Elite calibrator and found the Mac’s screen to have a noticeably smaller gamut. The gloss screen is great for watching movies at home -- but for working under natural light, it’s irritating. The anti-glare screen may be better though.

Like it’s 15-inch cousins, the new 17-inch MacBook Pro ditches its forerunner’s DVI output for a Mini DisplayPort – which would be great for connecting the LED Cinema Display if. Now that all of its pro-level models have these ports – including the new ‘Nehalem’ Mac Pros -- perhaps Apple will refresh its higher-end monitor line to use it, making the Mini DisplayPort more than just an irritation when you have to buy a £20 cable to connect a traditional DVI monitor.

Our model had an Intel Core 2 P9600 processor running at 2.66GHz, though you can upgrade this to a 2.93GHz P9800 for £180. It also featured 4GB RAM, which is upgradeable to 8GB for a recession-busting £695. The 8730w we looked at back in our December 2008 issue included the more power-hungry 2.8GHz T9600 chip, but the same 4GB of RAM. It currently costs £2,152 plus VAT, so the MacBook Pro is a lot less expensive. Using our new Adobe Creative Suite 4-based tests, the MacBook Pro had the edge in Photoshop, while the EliteBook was a winner in After Effects.

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