back to article Apple 17in MacBook Pro

When Apple overhauled its laptop range towards the end of 2008, the 17in version of the MacBook Pro got the short end of the stick. While both the consumer-oriented 13in MacBook and the more expensive 15in MacBook Pro were revamped with Apple’s new ‘unibody’ aluminium design, the 17in model was left with the same ‘titanium’ …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    typical overpriced pos

  2. Giles Jones Gold badge


    While they kept firewire 800 they could have at least provided two ports.

  3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    How much!!!

    Proof if needed, that some folks will pay anything to look cool.

  4. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo

    Ah, the sealed battery

    I await dozens of scornful comments from people who would never have bought a Mac laptop in the first place to swear that the lack of replaceable battery means they'll never get one of these. They'll back up their stance with some obscure edge cases and the trolls will pile in.

    I'll never get a 17" because they're just too big, but this beast does look mighty fine.

  5. Dave Gregory
    Jobs Horns


    You are having a laugh, aren't you?

    Jared, I've never bought a Mac, and never will. Not because of the sealed battery, simply because the things cost considerably more money than (I think) they are actually worth. You're right, it does look mighty fine, but not 2000 quid's worth of mighty fine.

  6. Mick F
    Thumb Down


    I won't be upgrading. Sealed battery and too expensive.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Dodgy batteries of future?

    I've had batteries go bad on my old PowerBookG4 and current MacBook 17". To be fair Apple did replace the latter in a couple of days by courier- but I only had to unlatch the battery not return the whole machine. So I would keep the #00 and torx bits handy should I buy one of the new models.

  8. jason

    Buy the 15"...

    ...and use the saving to buy a 22" screen to plug it into on your desk?

    Either that or just pay the mortgage for a couple more months.

    The next 12 months will be very interesting for Apple.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Giles Jones

    Why bother with two ports for FireWire? Unlike USB you don't suffer any drawbacks from daisy chaining FW devices so an extra port is mostly unnecessary.

  10. Big Bear


    Jared, not trolling so apologies if you take it that way, but reading your comment can lead to this (for the record, I don’t buy Mac as I think they are overpriced and I don’t like their company attitude, though I do like their kit. But I also like freedom of choice and having the ability to do what I want with something I have spent my oodles of hard earned cash on…):

    “I await dozens of scornful comments from people who would never have bought a Mac laptop in the first place to swear that the 17” size means they'll never get one of these. They'll back up their stance with some obscure edge cases and the trolls will pile in.

    I'll never get one because their batteries are non-replaceable, but this beast does look mighty fine.”

    My point? Each to their own… respect other people’s ideas and needs… though I think in this respect the Mac articles have been overtaken by the netbook articles, especially the rabid NC10 gang…

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    RE: @ Giles Jones

    Unless there's a controller for each port?

  12. Dave


    Give me two, please.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns



    Yes, an external blu-ray will let you play Bu-ray discs, but will still not play encrypted Blu-Ray movies; OS X is still waaaaaaaaay behind PC's on that front.


    Evil Jobs for making my HD Media Server/player a PC, and not a MAC. You B******rd.

  14. Dru Richman

    More Expensive than What?

    Overpriced compared to what? It’s that same old, tired rant that Macs are too expensive. I know, lets compare the MacBook Pro to a Toshiba X305-Q706 (catchy name) -

    Newegg has the Toshiba for $1999. It’s has very similar specifications to the MacBook Pro. But we’ll have to add an addition $309 to upgrade the Windows software to Windows Ultimate 64 Bit from Windows Home Premium to make it comparable to Mac OS X 10.5.6.

    This software is included with the MacBook Pro - Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard (includes iTunes, Time Machine, Quick Look, Spaces, Spotlight, Dashboard, Mail, iChat, Safari, Address Book, QuickTime, iCal, DVD Player, Photo Booth, Front Row, Xcode Developer Tools); iLife ’09 (includes iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, GarageBand) - The retail price of iLife is $80. I don’t know if the Toshiba comes with any software and I’m doubtful if you could get this amount of software, of similar quality, for $80 in the Windows environment, but I’ll assume someone can for the same $80.

    So the differential as of now is a mere $411. Let’s continue -

    The MacBook Pro size and weight:

    Height: 0.98 inch (2.50 cm)

    Width: 15.47 inches (39.3 cm)

    Depth: 10.51 inches (26.7 cm)

    Weight: 6.6 pounds (2.99 kg)

    The Toshiba X305-Q706 size and weight:

    Height: 1.7 - 2.5 inches (4.31 cm - 6.35cm)

    Width: 16.2 inches (41.14 cm)

    Depth: 12 inches (30.48 cm)

    Weight: 9.3 pounds (but 12.2 including power brick!) (4.21 kg/5.53 kg)

    They both have 17″ displays, but the Toshiba’s maximum resolution is 1680 x 1050. The Mac’s maximum resolution is 1920 x 1200.

    MacBook Pro RAM memory is expandable to 8GB. Toshiba’s is maxed out at 4 GB.

    The Toshiba is made of plastic. The Mac is made of aluminum and glass.

    I could go on, but I think anyone with the IQ of a plant would realize that the cost between the Toshiba 17″ laptop and the MacBook Pro is minimal. That is, of course, unless you don’t object to carrying a 12.2 pound, low-resolution display, unexpandable behemoth (bedecked with flames no less) like the Toshiba.

  15. Mad Hacker
    Thumb Up

    @AC @Giles Jones

    My guess is he wants two ports to power two devices. Once you start chaining FireWire devices (with hubs or ports built into the FireWire device itself) you undoubtedly need to plug the hub and devices into the wall.

    With two FireWire ports, you could power two FireWire devices off of the laptop. (Not all FireWire devices can be bus powered, but many can be.)

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Is that £2k...

    ...including the £800 to upgrade the memory? Or is that on top...?

  17. RichyS
    Paris Hilton


    Well, I've never carried a spare laptop for my personal MacBook Pro (15" non-unibody), nor do I carry one for my work Thinkpad. I'm never that far away from a power point (even taking into account the hopeless battery in an X61 Thinkpad).

    If people really need more power than the sealed battery in the 17" MPB, then I'm sure some enterprising 3rd party will come up with an external battery pack that plugs into the MBP's MagSafe power port. That way you'll be able to charge both your batteries at the same time, and the external pack won't take up any more space than carrying a spare. And you get a primary battery that lasts 6-7 hours.

    What's there to complain about?

    Paris, 'cos she likes battery powered stuff.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Dell is $400 USD cheaper, AlienWare is $200 more. Apple's price seems average.

    I just configured a Dell XPS as close as I could. It only offered a 1920x1080 screen (so it has 230,400 less pixels) and it had a 180GB more hard drive. It doesn't offer FireWire 800 or powered FireWire although it does offer 4 pin FireWire 400. I have several FireWire 800 devices so that's important to me, although I don't care if the port is powered. It also doesn't offer the battery stamina of the Apple laptop and without batteries it weighs the same as the Apple with its battery. Is all that worth $400? I dunno, but you people saying the Apple laptop is overpriced don't seem to shop for laptops much.

    I also configured an AlienWare laptop. I was able to configure it closer to the Apple with a 1920x1200 display, however, it appears to have a better graphics card. It should, because it came in at $200 more then the Apple. It was also a lot larger and heavier then the Apple, and aside from the graphics card, was the same spec performance wise.

    Apple seems right on the money with a cost/spec. analysis.

  19. Bad Beaver


    No display cables convertors included? Excuse me? And where is the external battery with a Magsafe-cable?

  20. Nathan Boal
    IT Angle

    Oh ffs...

    "upgrading the memory on this model is extremely difficult"

    No it's not! I'm tying on mine right now - you remove a total of 10 easily accessible screws and the bottom panel of the computer comes right off, exposing the internals of the computer, where you can easily replace the HDD, Memory etc.

    If TheReg consider this to be difficult, I suggest they stop calling themselves an IT site...

  21. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    The British love of junk

    Not too many MicroShaft paid hacks around here -- yet. Otherwise it's the usual British love of junkshop "value". My brother for instance has never bought anything full-price in his life. My dad's favourite read was Exchange & Mart. My ex-sister-in-law did all her Christmas shopping for 2010 (say) at the 2009 New Year sales. What the hell can you do with punters like that? Go the fuck to Morgan's and buy 5-year-old seconds for Chrissake. If you're broke - fine, you can always build your own from a kit and save a quid or two and get better gear. But if you've got a bit to spare, why the hell whinge about good gear at reasonable (more or less) price for what you get? It's not a bleeding Rolls Royce!!

    (Paris, cos her idea of junkshopping is a diamond collar for her poodle, whoever that may be for the moment...And she's probably never even heard of Exchange & Mart or been inside a real ethnic Lunnen junk shop...)

  22. Simon Langley
    Thumb Up

    Glossy screens FTW

    It's interesting that they have stopped offering the anti-glare display as an option. In the last 18m I have bought a MacBook and a MacBook Pro and I chose the glossy screen both times and I'm glad I did.

    The colours on my photographs in Aperture look great, far better than anything I have ever seen with an anti-glare screen. Perhaps having the sun reflecting off the screen is a problem in California, but I can tell you, it doesn't bother me too much here in Yorkshire.

    This is a very nice machine, and for the specs, fairly priced. However, it is very expensive and I shall be hanging onto my current MBP for a while yet I think.

  23. Peter Kay

    @Richys 'hopeless X61 battery'

    Since when? With the extended use battery it'll give you six hours or so, and it's hot swappable (hint hint Apple..).

  24. Duke DV Vim

    I bought one of the first 17in powerbooks

    It is still running well, the 17 inch screen looks good and it's perfect for leaving on the desk at home, browsing the web, itunes, downloading etc...

    Seems like pretty good value, probably the new one will last just as long, at least two years as a production machine, and four years as a useful second. Sounds not too shabby.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's okay

    But I wont buy another apple, my MBP will run till it dies. There is nothing better about the OS and the hardware fails just as quick.

    Apple seem only interested in locking the user in now. No thanks.

  26. Kevin Bailey

    Well worth it

    My other half works as a graphic designer and has had her 17" Macbook Pro for about two years.

    She runs Photoshop, Flash, InDesign, Illustrator, Text wrangler, FTP clients, Multiple browsers, email client etc etc simultaneously. The machine is never shutdown - she simply closes the lid when finishing working - and opens it up again to carry on the next day.

    And this goes on for months at a time. Maybe a reboot if I nag her to install the latest updates.

    Admittedly, we have supplied a cooler pad for the work desk - and at home she props up the rear with a book to help air flow. But this machine is hammered 10-12 hours a day most days of the week.

    And it is working as perfectly today two years later (touch wood!) as it was on day one. And as it is used for work it has proved an excellent return on investment. More importantly, I expect it will still be working the same way in 5-6 years time. After all, her last Mac (G4 powermac) was still working perfectly after about seven years. We only upgraded to get a portable machine and to replace the mish-mash of 'student' software installed.

    Let me think of a Windows based machine that -- hmm hmm hmm - could run as fast and reliably ..... ---- haa haaa haa - and as long without... heee heee - and could run as many...... BWHHAAA HHHAAAWW HAHAAA!!!!!

    You'd be on about your 7th complete reinstall and about your 500th reboot by now.

    In this case - you simply get what you pay for.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Apple spends on form as well as function on their MacBooks. I'm a windows programmer and got an iMac 24". I really loved the "differentness" of the look and feel compared to Windows, which I've used since Windows 3.1. I wound up getting a MacBook Pro 17" a few months later. I'm torn about it because I dislike programming in VMWare, but most of my complaints are just annoyances (no right mouse button, command and control have to swap). When I bought a cheapo Toshiba for laptop programming, I remembered how crappy PC laptops are. Plastic, fat, and the keyboard positioning felt very awkward with the numeric keypad there. It's been collecting dust ever since.

    The products Apple provide are not unlike a luxury car. It's more expensive than the regular car and does essentially (if not exactly) the same thing, but damn I like riding in it every day.

    If VMWare allowed fast swapping of the command and control keys and Apple added a right mouse button option, I'd be in nerd heaven.

  28. Hombre sin nombre
    Jobs Horns

    Why exactly

    Does it have two graphics cards? Why not simply have one better one with a variable clockspeed? If they had to cut out the removable battery to save space, why would they then cram a bad graphics card and a slightly less bad graphics card in?

    Also @ Dru

    Your comparison fails to touch on things that actually matter, like CPU, GPU, HDD, and so on. Provide more detail please. You also appear to have stuffed up your currency, as £1949 is $2,680.46, and upgrading from Vista Home Premium to Ultimate does not cost $300. I'd say the Toshiba is a good deal for $600 less. Tool.

  29. Nikolaus Heger
    Thumb Up

    I have it

    I have one of these. All the people who complain about price - well if you can't or don't want to afford it, please don't. It's your choice. I am using this for business so the cost is a non-issue if we are talking about a few hundred bucks. Not even worth thinking about. For private use, and if I only emailed and watched some movies, I'd probably get a unibody MacBook (which also looks mighty fine).

    It's impossible to compare this to any PC offerings. That's because no PC 17" laptop only weighs 3Kg and lasts 7 hours (real life) on battery. Both are features that are crucial to me. The laptop is - to my surprise - not much bigger or heavier than the old MBP - it's the same weight or even less than some 15" PC laptops! Backpack weight is actually less because I don't need to take the power adapter with me.

    Other things PCs just don't have: Multi-gesture glass trackpad. Glass screen. Unibody design which makes this thing seem incredibly sturdy - I said seem, I know Apple has a pretty mixed record with quality so I got the 3 year we'll-do-anything-for-you warranty.

  30. Ted

    5 Year Battery is Easily Replaceable.

    Seems Apple is providing quite a bit of value for the price with this new 17" model... but wanted to point out Apple revolutionized batteries starting with the MacBook Air and it continues on with this machine. A whopping 5 years on a single battery is a breakthrough! And to see how they did it is truly amazing!

    Great Apple Video on how these batteries work is here:

    And other info on the new 17" is here:


  31. TeeCee Gold badge

    @Nathan Boal

    Consider that the vast majority of laptops have a memory upgrade process that goes something like: Remove one screw, remove little placcy cover, stick in module, replace cover, replace screw.

    By comparison, therefore, dismantling the entire base of the machine is "extremely difficult" and would certainly put off a large number of people.

    I'd be willing to take a small bet that there are also no instructions on how to do this in the supplied manual, merely a short note to the effect that doing this in any way other than getting Apple to do it for you* will invalidate the warranty.

    *Using their own hideously overpriced memory modules of course.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    God bless the aussie tax rules!

    I pay only 60% for a new MBP 17", $2690 which is £1264.

    Rubs it in. Enjoy your British Dell :-)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Dodgy batteries of future?

    Well to follow up my own post:: the power cable on my MBP 17" just melted and died. So you're on the road with your 5-7 hour battery but a dead PSU. For £2000 I'd want strain gauges on the power supply cables, and for them to last more than 18-24 months.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    @God bless the aussie tax rules!

    Ahhh… but would you give that extra 40% to be able to watch some good, God-honest smut from the internet like the rest of the world* can do?!

    * outside of other totalitarian states like China and Iran, of course…

  35. Nathan Boal
    Jobs Halo


    Thing is, what's the real difference between one screw and a placcy cover, and ten screws and one big metal plate? Effectively nothing for all intents and purposes.

    Also, Apple provide clear instructions in the manual telling you how to do it, plus the warranty remains in tact. The only time Apple won't cover you is if you damage something while you're upgrading it, and they'll still cover you for unrelated areas.

    It really isn't anywhere near as bad as people make out...

  36. Brian Whittle

    good but

    Apples upgrades are always ridiculously priced and tarnish what are quality products

  37. Monkey

    Lets face it

    People fall into many categories...

    Those who buy Apple religiously because they are hooked on the styling

    Those who will NEVER buy Apple because of an illogical, blinding hate of everything Apple

    Those who have bought Apple and had enough bad experiences to not want to ever again

    Those who will never buy Apple because they can't afford to and are bitter about it

    Those who will never buy Apple because they can't afford it and are happy with what they do buy as an alternative.

    Those who simply buy what is best for them for the job they need the device to do, regardless of brand.

    And it is the later that are the people who's opinion would actually be worth hearing.

    Then you hold a mirror up these people and you simply replace the word 'Apple' with Microsoft, Dell, Sony etc etc etc.

  38. Rod

    2 grand you have to be kidding

    I was in the market for a laptop with a long battery life. I was seriously considering, a mac because they look cool are well built and have the desired battory life. Having never used a mac before I had no idea how much they cost, so I went in to the local Mac shop and enquired. The lowest price I could get was 900 quid _with_ a educational discount. I was truly shocked (and spent the rest of the day wondering why anybody would get one). Out of interest, I enquired how much it would cost with a two gig ram upgrade, a bag and a copy of word. The answer was well over a grand. I then went in to and asked if they had a laptop with a 4+ hour battery and they laughed and said "only when they are switched off". So then I read the registers review of netbooks, and realised that I do not need to do video editing or 3d graphics rendering and alike I only write word documents and surf the web. So I plumpted for a netbook. Which is over three times cheaper than the mac, does not have a bloated copy of windows on it does just what I want. I seriously think MS and Apple have to get there act together, bigger and faster is no longer better.

  39. Another Anonymous Coward

    There is a market for this.

    Creative professionals.

    That's pretty much it, and it's a big market, ask any photographer, designer, animator, flimmaker, etc.

    A lot of the industry is freelance and people are often paid more for being able to use their own hardware, and prefer using their own rig anyway, so whatever they use needs to be powerful and portable, with firewire for camcorder input.

    Pricing in this market depends on how much money the gear will save you... I personally spend £1500 on a cintiq graphics tablet and it's genuinely saved me more than that in wages over the last year or so in terms of time saved = money earnt.

    Can't see why anyone would want to buy this for non-professional reasons or even just for showing off... the air fills that niche better.

  40. Anonymous Coward


    "The lowest price I could get was 900 quid _with_ a educational discount".

    Noticing the poor grammar all the way through your post, I suggest you try obtaining an education first.

  41. Francis Fish

    @AC - leave poor Rod alone

    People normally type straight out and then post it. It's a post to an article not a 'kin essay. Jings. Plus the youngsters weren't beaten when they got there grammar wrong like you were.

  42. Monkey

    I do believe...

    Another AC and Rod proved my point entirely.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    un-paid product developer

    One thing that many fail to consider when comparing products is the tendency of PC manufacturers to "lowball" products with a lot of "trial ware", if you will. I bought a 2006 Toshiba A205-S4587 for under $800. Of course, you couldn't find a Mac anywhere close to that price. Great deal, right?

    Well, the first thing I noticed was that it just didn't seem that fast considering the processor it had when compared to my older Compaq running XP. The newer machine runs Vista, of course. Well, that set me off on a quest to "fix" my dual core intel Toshiba. I started editing the register regarding running processes and start-up programs. And I had to re-install the OS to even get it to up-date correctly, most up-dates failed to install at first. None of the software that came on the machine works now because it was trial-ware! If I paid what Microsoft wanted, the price would then be equal to the Mac I didn't get!

    I feel I did get the Vista to perform satisfactorily, though, except for the Vista bugs that are causing Microsoft to rush out another OS because of all the richly deserved bad press it has gotten!

    I finally did buy a Macbook. It was a refurbished unit I got just to see what all the fuss was about. It's roughly comparable to the Toshiba, hardware-wise. It has 3 different office suites installed on it, though, and they all work! They all print (wirelessly) to an old (2003) HP all in one printer. Every time, not just when it feels like it!

    Never have to worry about jammed printer queues with items that won't print and won't delete (like on Vista). Never have to worry about constantly keeping up to date with the latest and greatest anti-spy, anti-virus software, either!

    I've been working with PC's since the first Pentium, before windows 95, at home and at work. Work is one thing, you get paid (hopefully). At home, it should be different because don't get paid. Unfortunately, that doesn't make any difference to Bill Gates. It seems he would like us all to work for him at home, too (as unpaid product developers)! I've seen it with all the windows products, and even now, I see no signs of change.

    In my opinion, Apple makes good hardware. The value of a 17in Macbook Pro should not, however, be limited to just a hardware comparison, it's the software it runs as well. One needs to consider the price and the utility of the applications they will be running as well.

    Oh, granted, you can put an open-source OS on that Toshiba, I had a dual-boot Linux-Vista system since the first year I bought it. Still doesn't work like Leopard, though. I'll take Safari over IE6,7,or 8, Firefox, or Opera, too.

    Microsoft Office? Expensive! You can put Sun Microsystems Open on your PC. It works a lot like Microsoft Office, and it's free. It's not as easy to use as Apple's IWork, though.

    The point is, how are you going to compare a Macbook to a Dell or a Toshiba?

    Even running the latest Linux they still won't be as "polished", as integrated as Leopard. Yeah, they'll be better than Vista, and if you want a hobby, they might be OK, but for 99% of the stuff I do on a computer, there is no comparison.

    Only if Apple releases OS X for PC's like they have Safari (not a hackintosh) would you really be able to make such a comparison.

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