Apple's unibody 17-inch MacBook Pro review

  • Price When Reviewed: 1695

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The MacBook Pro’s chip is a little more powerful than the 8730w‘s – in the Cinebench rendering test, which is based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D suite, the Mac had an average score of 5,818. This is slightly better than the 8730’s 5,790. However, it was Mac OS X 10.5’s better use of RAM than the 32-bit version of Windows Vista Business used by the 8730w that allowed the Mac to complete our Photoshop CS4 test on a 200MB image in 7 minutes 1 second, 17 per cent faster than the 8730’s 8 minutes 26’s.

In After Effects though, the 8730’s 7,200rpm drive made its 18 per cent faster (32mins 33s to the MacBook Pro’s 39mins 36s). You can upgrade the MacBook Pro to a 7,200rpm drive for £30 or an even faster and reliable solid state drive for £210 (128GB) or £521 (256GB). If the solid state drives are too pricey -- or don’t give you enough storage space -- then the 7,200rpm upgrade is well worth it, despite the extra battery power drain.

Using the relatively powerful nVidia 9600M graphics chip, which most Photoshop, After Effects and 3D suite users will want to, also saps the battery a lot more than the 9400M chip that the MacBook Pro has also got built-in to lengthen its battery life. The eight-hour battery life claim is based on little more than Web surfing on a half-lit screen using the 9400M screen. We got 6.5 hours out of our test MacBook Pro using these settings -- the longest we’ve seen from one charge.

Actually try to do some creative work though and this drops dramatically, so you’ll still wish you had a removable battery.

Apple has made a great overhaul to the 17-inch MacBook Pro, providing a powerful, fully-featured laptop at a great price. Only the shiny screen, slow hard drive and fixed battery let it down – tho we’d expect that a version with the anti-glare screen would be a Best Buy winner. We’ll let you know when Apple send us one for review.

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