Saturday, 11 February 2012

A Quick Review of the Apple Macbook Pro 17 (Late 2011)

Despite the many shortcomings of the Macbook Pros, I have come to a conclusion that the latest edition to the Macbook Pro (MBP) line of laptops will be suitable for many people including a person who is suffering from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) like me. I would like to stress on the point that I am not bias towards any maker as I would be as neutral as I can be in my findings.

In doing so, I would like to do a quick review on the MBP 17 instead. The MBP 17 (Late 2011) comes with a standard configuration as below:

CPU: Intel Core i7-2760QM;
Memory: 4GB DDR3-SODIMM (1333mhz) by Samsung;
Hard Drive: 750GB (5400rpm);
Graphics: 384MB  Intel HD 3000 (Integrated) + 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6770 (Automatic graphics switching under Mac OSX Only);
3X USB 2.0;
1X Thunderbolt port;
1X 3/4 Express Card slot;
1X Gigabit LAN;
1X Superdrive;
1X Broadcom BCM4331 (3X3) Wireless Card (a/b/g/n) [2.4Ghz only]; 
Backlit keyboard;
Standard 1920x1200 resolution Glossy screen;
Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR;
Stereo speakers with subwoofers and audio line in/out including a microphone;
Battery indicator on the left; and it is preloaded with...
Mac OSX Lion

You need to take note that the above standard specifications are upgradable. This includes where you could upgrade the CPU from Core i7-2760QM to a Core i7-2860QM. The benefit of the upgrade will see that there will be a speed increase of 100mhz from 2.4Ghz to 2.5Ghz. Apart from that, you would also notice that the L3 cache on the Core i7-2860QM has been increased from 6MB to 8MB. This will greately benefit CPU intensive applications like video or picture editing as it will speed up on at the production stage.

In regards to the system memory itself, you could actually increase the memory from 4GB to 8GB as specified by Apple. However, after reading through many forums which states otherwise, I have performed a test by myself. In doing so, I have made a purchase for a pair of 8GBx2 Patriot DDR3 SODIMM which is Apple MBP certified memory and installed it onto the MBP 17. I can confirm that you can install an 8GB memory on each slot despite not being endorsed by Apple. I can remember that OWC was the very first company to release an 8GB DDR3 SODIMM memory and a pair of 8GB would cost a consumer around US$870 when it was first released back in January 2011. Presently, you could choose from Samsung, Kingston, Hynix and Patroit and it will most probably cost someone around £250 for a pair of 8GB. I would prefer Patriot memory as I have been using such memory for a very long time on many of the machinese which I have tested.

Besides the issue of system memory, you can also configure the standard hard drive of 750GB (5400rpm) to be replaced by a better hard drive, i.e. 750GB (7200rpm) from Apple. You could also replace the standard hard drive with an SSD for up to 512GB. If you look at the price of such upgrade, it will be too expensive for you to upgrade. If you are a person who likes to D-I-Y and want to increase the hard drive of your MBP 17, you could replace the original hard drive from Apple with a Samsung 1TB internal hard drive which spins at 5400rpm and at a more affordable £99 on ebay; On the other hand, if you want to  get a faster hard drive but you do not want to break your bank account by getting an SSD, you might want to  consider Seagate's Momentus XT 750GB. It comes with an additional 8GB SSD apart from the 750GB. It has a 32MB cache and it spins at 7200rpm. The Seagate Momentus XT 750GB is priced at around £150. You could also choose to make a purchase for an Apple certified SSD hard drive from ebay for a cheaper price.

With the MBP 17 as compared to the MBP 15 and MBP 13, there is an additional usb 2.0 port for disposal. Apart from that, you can also use the in build 3/4 Express Card which is really useful e.g. external SoundBlaster sound card.

The MBP 17, like its MBP 15 and MBP 13 siblings will come with an integrated graphics card on the CPU. However, if you noticed, Apple have also include a discrete graphics card from AMD which is the 1GB HD 6770M. Bear that in mind that you would only experience automatic graphics switching if you run on the Mac OSX and not under Boot Camp or under any other virtual OS. This is because Apple has not provide an Intel graphics drive under Boot Camp. What shame. This means that if you were to run on Boot Camp, the graphics will run solely on the 1GB AMD HD 6770M. As a result, you will see that a single charge of the MBP 17's battery will only yield a result of 3 hours instead of the claimed 7 hours. I believe that the 7 hours is only possible if you run under the Mac OSX.

So far I have no significant worries or troubles to report apart from the annoying graphics switching which Apple has disabled under Boot Camp. Apart from that, I only have praises for the MBP 17. The funny thing is that I do not have the firewire problem under Boot Camp as I have experienced on the MBP 15. Perhaps the solution is that Apple has released the Boot Camp 4.0.1 which came with the MBP 17, unlike the Boot Camp 4.0 which came in the MBP 15.

Apart from that, I would suggest that potential buyers of the MBP 17 will upgrade the screen to anti-glare as it helps a lot. It is worth the upgrade in the end as you would never know that it helps your eye sight too. What I like most is the position of those two fans in the middle of the chasis. It helps in a way that I could easily buy a cover for the MBP 17 to protect it from being scratched.

Besides this, the HD camera is superb, same goes to the bluetooth function. I don't think I have much to complaint about the Apple MBP 17 apart from the fact that the wall socket seems to have shrunk and it takes a little bit more time for someone who has big hands like me to unplug it from the wall. With Ivy Bridge looming in the background, it might be a good idea for consumers to wait until it arrives around April 2012 or May 2012 but I think the current MBP 17 is worth every penny especially it is light weight as compared to makers like Dell, Toshiba, Sony and Acer in the same category.

Kudos to Apple!


mahasiswa teladan said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

ぜるもう said...

No problem at all. I am about to write an article about the Macbook Air (Late 2013) soon.