Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 07/31/07 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.4GHz notebook computer

By Heath McKnight

Apple does it again with its MacBook Pro, professional laptop computers, offering ultra-bright LED displays (light emitting diodes), faster processors, a 1920 x 1200 17-inch display option for those working in high definition aspect ratios, and much more.  If youre looking for a workhorse laptop, this is it!

First off, I want to touch upon the LED displays, which are already bright and ready-to-go once you power up the system.  Its also mercury-free, so if it gets cracked, youll be all right.  Right now, it's available in the 15-inch display.
I also want to talk about the 1920 x 1200 display on the 17-inch model, which makes for working with HD resolutions much easier.  Its a great asset to have, after years of knowing PC users had this option. 

The only real downside?  Font sizes are much smaller on this 17-inch, native 1680 x 1050-resolution model, so youll be making font sizes bigger on your Internet and Email options, if youre eyes are like mine, even corrected.  A small thing when youre working with HD file sizes or large-format photos and graphics.  However, Apple has stated the new OS X 10.5 Leopard will support higher-res screens like the 17-inch, 1920 x 1200 display.


The computers are very fast, and can handle pretty much what you throw at them, however double-check your softwares minimum system requirements to ensure you have the proper system for what youre doing.  In some cases, a Mac Pro with its four- and eight-processor options are probably your best bet.  You can check out my review of the Mac Pro 3.0Ghz Quad here.    Here are some speed tests done with the MacBook Pro 2.4 Ghz, 17-inch model with 4 GB RAM, a 160GB drive and the glossy, high-resolution 1920 x 1200 display (configured for around $3,799):

  Results in minutes: seconds
Version of After Effects used: CS3
17-inch Apple MacBook Pro, 4GB RAM, 160GB hard disk drive 
Animation:   2 seconds 
Video project:  23
Data project:    52
Gambler:   17
Source Shapes:  1 minute 17 seconds 
Virtual Set:  1 minute 13 seconds 
CineBench 9.5   
CineBench 9.5 Single CPU      400 CB-CPU
CineBench 9.5 multiple CPU:      746 CB CPU
Multiprocessor speedup:   1.87
C4D Graphics Benchmark    
 C4D Shading   482 CB GFX 
1871 CB-GFX 
4056 CB GFX 
OpenGL Speedup      8.41X


MacBook Pro options include:

  • 15.4-inch (1440 x 900, native) or 17-inch (1680 x 1050, native) displays with Intel Core 2 Duo dual-core processors, with the 15.4-inch supporting speeds of both 2.2 Ghz and 2.4 Ghz, while the 17-inch display has only the 2.4 Ghz speed option.
  • For no extra cost, you can select glossy or non-glossy displays.  Glossy can help with graphics, animation, color correction/finishing and more.
  • The 17-inch model comes with the option of a high-resolution screen for $100 more, giving you 1920 x 1200 resolution.  The keyboard illuminates when a room youre in is dark.  If the ultra-bright display is too much with the keyboard illumination, you can turn down both easily on the keyboard.
  • The graphics card in all three models include an NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT, though the standard 15-inch 2.2 Ghz model has 128 Mb of SDRAM, the 2.4 Ghz models have 256 Mb of SDRAM.
  • You can select a hard drive thats up to 200GB on the 15-inch model and 250GB on the 17-inch model.  You can pack up to 4GB of RAM on all three models.  I highly recommend getting as large a drive as possible and as much RAM as you can afford.  These are workhorse laptops, so Im sure youll be doing a lot of work and putting the systems through their paces.
  • I/O (in/out) ports: on the 15-inch model, you have two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire 400 and one FW 800 port.  On the 17-inch model, you have three USB 2.0 ports and, again, one FireWire 400 and one FW 800 port.  You also have an ExpressCard/34 slot (if youre a Panasonic P2 camera user, slide the P2 card in here to capture footage). 
  • Lastly, theres a DVI port to plug in a monitor (like the excellent Apple 23-inch LCD plus an included VGA-to-DVI adaptor) and a gigabit Ethernet port for Internet.  Youll need to buy a USB Modem if youre on dial up still.
  • Theres the super-fast built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n card, 8x SuperDrive (DVD/CD-R/RW), MagSafe Power Adaptor (which is magnetic and can easily pop off when youre done charging), Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, built-in iSight camera and much more.  Visit for complete specs.

The newest MacBook Pros are perhaps the best workhorse laptops Apple has put out yet, packing in new features including an LED display thats automatically bright when you hit the power button.  More RAM off the bat, faster speeds and bigger hard drives make this a must-have system. 

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

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