First look: unibody 17" MacBook Pro (with photos and video)

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
It was no surprise to see a unibody refresh of the 17" MacBook Pro; many wondered why the model wasn't included with the 13" MacBook and 15" MacBook Pro released last fall. Apple's belated high end notebook refresh did give Phil Schiller "one more thing" to introduce in his keynote however.



Apart from the new full sized notebook, Schiller's presentation was entirely about software, mainly the new iLife 09 and iWork 09 suites, and changes related to the iTunes Store, including variable pricing, DRM-free music, and 3G mobile downloads for the iPhone.



After talking at great length about the new software titles, Schiller noted "one more thing," a refresh that clothed the existing 17" "Al-Book" model in the new unibody industrial dress first appeared on the MacBook Air at last year's Macworld Expo, and which was adapted to the full size 13" MacBook and 15" MacBook Pro last fall.















While very similar in appearance and features to the 15" Pro model, the new 17" notebook boasts a new high density, integrated (non-removable) battery and unique options for a matte finish screen and a 256GB flash RAM SDD alternative to its conventional 320GB hard drive.















Apple only had two 17" models on display on the Macworld Expo show floor, next to a series of 15" MacBook Pros, 13" MacBooks, and MacBook Airs. As depicted in this video, the new 17" model is so similar to the 15" that it is difficult to distinguish between them unless they are right next to each other.







The 15" MacBook Pro was slightly larger than previous 15" models, but the new 17" isn't really; it's only slightly more than an inch wider overall; 15.47 inches (39.3 cm) wide compared to the 14.35 inches (36.4 cm) of the 15" model. It also weights just over a pound more: 6.6 pounds (2.99 kg) rather than 5.5 pounds (2.49 kg). It's also only slightly thicker: 0.98 inch (2.50 cm) versus 0.95 inch (2.41 cm).



Part of the compact outline of the 17" model relates to its built-in, 95 watt-hour lithium polymer battery, which Phil Schiller noted in his Macworld keynote address as being more compact due to a manufacturing process proprietary to Apple that results in a battery pack that not only consumes less space but also lasts three times longer and provides up to 8 hours of battery use on a charge. The removable battery pack used in the unibody 15" model is only rated for a maximum of 5 hours.











Lacking a battery latching mechanism and any provision for a removable cover for battery access allows Apple to pack the internals tighter, as it did with the MacBook Air. The new 17" MacBook Pro has no access covers on the back at all, so opening the machine to swap out its hard drive, RAM or battery module requires removing screws on the back plate. Having FW800 helps to alleviate the need to access the hard drive for most purposes outside of hardware problems.







The only difference in available ports compared to the 15" model is the addition of an extra, third USB 2.0 jack, afforded by the 17" model's extra two centimeters of depth: 10.51 inches (26.7 cm) compared to 9.82 inches (24.9 cm) of side real estate on the 15" Pro.









The larger model supports 8GB of RAM, compared to the 4GB limit on the 15" Pro, although both ship in the standard configuration with 4GB. It also uses the same 320GB hard drive, but is slightly faster at 2.66GHz versus the 15" model's standard 2.53GHz Intel Core Duo processor. There is also an option for a 2.93GHz processor.



The larger notebook also uses the same NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT graphics processor with 512MB of dedicated GDDR3 memory as the 15" model, with the same option of using the lower powered, integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor, which shares 256MB of the unit's installed DDR3 SDRAM system memory.







With the arrival of the top of the line, refreshed 17" MacBook Pro, Apple has converted its entire line of notebooks to the unibody design, apart from the low end white plastic MacBook the company continues to sell in order to have a model under $1000. Other hardware, including the expected new Mac mini and iMac, will undoubtedly be unveiled shortly at a separate Apple Event.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 88
    Has Apple officially indicated whether or not the internal hard drive can be upgraded by an end-user without violating their warranty?
  • Reply 2 of 88
    tacojohntacojohn Posts: 980member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by heaven or las vegas View Post


    Has Apple officially indicated whether or not the internal hard drive can be upgraded by an end-user without violating their warranty?



    I was wondering the same thing? also upgrading the ram?
  • Reply 3 of 88
    wheelhotwheelhot Posts: 465member
    Quote:

    I was wondering the same thing– also upgrading the ram?



    Upgrading the ram shouldn't be a problem, but upgrading the internal hard drive need to be asked, maybe if its done by people at the Apple Store it should be okay?
  • Reply 4 of 88
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    It's an expensive little monkey! Inflation in action. But very fully featured for those who need it.
  • Reply 5 of 88
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    It's an expensive little monkey! Inflation in action. But very fully featured for those who need it.



    Hasn't the 17" model been around that price all along?
  • Reply 6 of 88
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    This is what the internals look like:









    It looks like access to the HD will be easy once you get past the bottom panel.
  • Reply 7 of 88
    duecesdueces Posts: 89member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Having FW800 helps to alleviate the need to access the hard drive for most purposes outside of hardware problems.



    WTF ???



    What on earth does having a FW800 port have ANYTHING to do with the need to access your hard drive?



    I'll tell you what. NOTHING.



    On a side not, they are making a frickin MINT on these things. They have a license to print money. Money from dumb people.
  • Reply 8 of 88
    meelashmeelash Posts: 1,045member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Outsider View Post


    This is what the internals look like:









    It looks like access to the HD will be easy once you get past the bottom panel.



    If you ask me, these are a vast improvement over the older laptops like the PBG4. Sure the battery was easy to get out and the RAM only took 4 screws, but anything past that was a HUGE PIA, requiring tens of screws and complicated disassembly procedure. These just have a few screws on the bottom panel and you can access battery, harddrive, RAM, optical drive and even motherboard components. Sure it's harder to access the battery, but given the extended life and easy access to everything after removing just the bottom panel, I call that a win.



    Of course a comparison with the old Macbooks, w/ easy removal of RAM and harddrive from the battery compartment might be less favorable, but I still think its competitive and a reasonable compromise.
  • Reply 9 of 88
    meelashmeelash Posts: 1,045member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dueces View Post


    WTF ???



    What on earth does having a FW800 port have ANYTHING to do with the need to access your hard drive?



    I'll tell you what. NOTHING.



    On a side not, they are making a frickin MINT on these things. They have a license to print money. Money from dumb people.



    You and the commenter above are making yourselves look stupid by making comments without knowing what you're talking about. These are exactly the same price as the previous 17" base model, and that price hasn't changed for years.
  • Reply 10 of 88
    ivladivlad Posts: 740member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Outsider View Post


    This is what the internals look like:









    It looks like access to the HD will be easy once you get past the bottom panel.



    This is when all other computer companies throw up a little, then cry for an hour. =) Great shot. Amazing work from Apple.
  • Reply 11 of 88
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dueces View Post


    On a side not, they are making a frickin MINT on these things. They have a license to print money. Money from dumb people.



    Damn, those frickin' dumb people get all the nice toys.
  • Reply 12 of 88
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,787member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Outsider View Post


    This is what the internals look like:









    It looks like access to the HD will be easy once you get past the bottom panel.



    Yes it does so servicing the machine should in general be a lot easier.



    Also does anybody know if the CD drive is SATA? I could see many people replacing that quickly with another disk drive. Right at the moment I'm trying to figure out if it is the right thing to do on my old MBP. It certainly will be harder to get into the old machine.



    Much as I would like to buy this 17" machine I just don't see it happening this year.





    Dave
  • Reply 13 of 88
    meelashmeelash Posts: 1,045member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iVlad View Post


    This is when all other computer companies throw up a little, then cry for an hour. =) Great shot. Amazing work from Apple.



    Exactly! As someone who's worked in product design and prototyping of electro-mechanical systems, the beauty of this design almost makes me choke up a little. I think these latest notebooks have increased overall accessibility of Apple notebooks a lot, even if its at the expense of access to some components and when you consider the overall size of these machines, it's pretty incredible.



    Of course you can find POS Dells and Acers with little doors on the back to access everything in the machine. That's nice, but it comes at the expense of a monster of a laptop, compared to these beauties, so no dice.



    Alright, I'm going to stop waxing poetic about Apples design now
  • Reply 14 of 88
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,787member
    The battery has me puzzled. But first let me say I'm not at all opposed to it's "internal" nature. In fact the pic above that shows the internal is a revelation.



    What I'm puzzled by is the claim that the battery is propritary to Apple and is a Lithium chemistery. The first thing is that I didn't know that Apple was in the battery business or for that matter had chemist on the pay roll. The obvious question is this, who is really behind the battery and how long is the deal with Apple. I'm also wondering about the batteries safety, lithium chemisteries don't have a good history and increasing the power density would seem to be an issue. Hopefully one of the big news organizations will be able to pump Apple for info.



    On another note this looks like one heck of an evolution of the MBP. Everything indicates a nicely done machine.





    Dave
  • Reply 15 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Hasn't the 17" model been around that price all along?



    Exactly. Mindboggling how so many people here can complain about the price when they suddenly get a siginificantly improved MBP 17 today than they did for the same money yesterday.



    All the bitching about the new MBP seem to be by people who can't afford one anyway. Luckily for you Apple has a broad consumer grade product line that fits perfectly with smaller budgets.





    BTW, when could the second rev's of the MBP 17" be expected?
  • Reply 16 of 88
    nuttsnutts Posts: 25member
    Awesome. I've had my 17" MBP for just over 2 years and have never had a need to touch the battery. I updated the RAM to 3gb no problem but I do wish I could update the hard disk without having to take the whole thing apart!



    So despite being non-removable, the fact the battery is larger and has a longer life is great!



    It's been decided now that my next machine will be rev.B of this with the largest SSD and matte screen. That will hopefully be Q4 before my AppleCare runs out.
  • Reply 17 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    The battery has me puzzled. But first let me say I'm not at all opposed to it's "internal" nature. In fact the pic above that shows the internal is a revelation.



    What I'm puzzled by is the claim that the battery is propritary to Apple and is a Lithium chemistery. The first thing is that I didn't know that Apple was in the battery business or for that matter had chemist on the pay roll. The obvious question is this, who is really behind the battery and how long is the deal with Apple. I'm also wondering about the batteries safety, lithium chemisteries don't have a good history and increasing the power density would seem to be an issue. Hopefully one of the big news organizations will be able to pump Apple for info.



    On another note this looks like one heck of an evolution of the MBP. Everything indicates a nicely done machine.





    Dave



    <this part deleted> I'm not a big fan of internal batteries myself but that's just me, when I don't need battery power, I usually leave the battery out of the laptop to conserve the life the battery and plop 'er in when I need battery power.
  • Reply 18 of 88
    I really wish Apple had used the extra space in the 17" to put a USB port on the right/optical drive side of the case. The USB ports clumbed all on the left side are sometimes too close together for things like thumb drives.
  • Reply 19 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    The battery has me puzzled. But first let me say I'm not at all opposed to it's "internal" nature. In fact the pic above that shows the internal is a revelation.



    What I'm puzzled by is the claim that the battery is propritary to Apple and is a Lithium chemistery. The first thing is that I didn't know that Apple was in the battery business or for that matter had chemist on the pay roll. The obvious question is this, who is really behind the battery and how long is the deal with Apple. I'm also wondering about the batteries safety, lithium chemisteries don't have a good history and increasing the power density would seem to be an issue. Hopefully one of the big news organizations will be able to pump Apple for info.



    On another note this looks like one heck of an evolution of the MBP. Everything indicates a nicely done machine.





    Dave



    What they claim is proprietary is how they manufacture the battery unit. That is what allow Apple to make "bigger capacity" batteries in more compact size and form.
  • Reply 20 of 88
    rainrain Posts: 538member
    Looks hot.

    Too bad it's a disposable piece of crap.

    They need to tout "green" because it will be in the landfill pretty fast.

    These types of 'built in obsolescence' practices sure worked wonders for the big 3 didn't they... reduced to beggars pleading for corporate welfare.



    This business plan will not work.

    They are building fringe products for a boutique market, lacking the innovation to stand above the competition. This trend had better end with this latest failure.



    The question is... can OSX carry the follies of Apple's hardware practices?



    I have already sent out a 'do not buy' to my clients.



    My advise to investors

    Sell Sell Sell...



    Glad I did at $183.20, so are my clients.
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