Apple Unveils 17-Inch MacBook Pro

Today’s Macworld keynote is significant not only because it’ll be Apple’s last, but also for Steve Jobs’ decision to sit on the sidelines. Like any Apple presentation, there are always rumors of fancy new products.

While a new Mac Mini or Time Capsule weren’t a part of this morning’s keynote, a 17-inch MacBook Pro is upon us. That shouldn’t be the least bit surprising, of course, as the 13- and 15-inch Apple notebooks were revamped last October.

The new 17-inch MacBook Pro isn’t sporting the new Intel Q9000 quad-core chip (at least not yet), instead sticking with a Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz with a 6 MB L2 cache. Like the 15-inch MacBook Pro already on the market, the new 17-inch uses the Nvidia-based 9400M chipset with a 9600M GT 512 MB discrete GPU on tap.

The $2799 price tag will also include 4 GB of DDR3 (expandable to 8 GB), a 320 GB 5,400 rpm hard drive and a slot-loading SuperDrive.

A 1920 x 1200 LED backlit, super glossy glass display is standard, but totally new and likely welcomed is the option for an “anti-glare” matte screen. Unfortunately, the option does run an extra $50, but it’ll be money well spent for those who like looking at the screen rather than themselves.

The most notable, and possibly controversial, innovation to the 17-inch MacBook Pro is the built-in, non-removable battery. The lack of a removable battery has long been a criticism of Apple products iPods and iPhones. Now the non-removable battery is headed to the MacBook.

Apple justified the use of a built-in battery as it allowing for a superior design. "We've developed new battery technology that is better for the user and better for the environment," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Apple's advanced chemistry and innovative technology deliver up to eight hours of use on a full charge cycle and up to 1,000 recharges."

While its claims are untested, the company says the new built-in design allows for a more efficient design and arrangement of lithium polymer cells (which compared to lithium ion, allows for more flexible shapes). The end result is a battery that will last for seven hours on the 9600M GT and eight hours on the 9400M.

Apple also boasts that the new power system is smarter, allowing for a more accurate cell-by-cell charge. The new battery will withstand up to 1,000 charge cycles, which in theory should last for the notebook’s relevancy.

Certainly, the new built-in battery will be a point of debate for many. While there is no denying that an eight hour run on a 17-inch notebook is nothing short of incredible, especially in a form factor being 0.98-inches thick and weighing 6.6 lbs – making it the thinnest and lightest 17-inch in the world – users could still feel uneasy at being unable to add more power.

Apple designs products that are innovative and divisive, with consumers either loving it or leaving it, and the 17-inch MacBook Pro will be no exception. Look for the new Apple notebook in stores late January.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • Darkness Flame
    I have to admit ... as much as I dislike Apple, that looks to be a very nice laptop. Expensive, yes, but well equiped nonetheless. In all honesty, though ... if I ever got one, I'd wait until Windows 7 came out, and then install that, so I could use the multi-touch trackpad more. No offense to all those Apple fans that read my comment here, but I just don't like how OS X works.
  • frozenlead
    Still doesn't beat Sager offerings at that price point. I doubt it ever will.
  • So, the world's lightest 17" notebook, 1080P display, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 7-8hour battery life is a fail??
    In my work where I need to support OSX and Windows, this looks like an optimal machine for me, and the graphics and CPU are fast enough to do 3DSMAX work as well as Final Cut Pro and Shake. All that in a slim and light notebook is a winner for me.
  • trevorvdw
    Got to love how they just remove comments they don't like :)
  • nukemaster
    I do wish they would put a number pad on those things, there is still plenty of room for speakers elsewhere

    8 hour battery life would be pretty sweet tho as long as you can still get at least some intensive work done while keeping above 5 hours.

  • smalltime0
    nukemasterI do wish they would put a number pad on those things, there is still plenty of room for speakers elsewhere8 hour battery life would be pretty sweet tho as long as you can still get at least some intensive work done while keeping above 5 hours.Thats the problem, we dont know under what conditions you can get the 8 hours...
    I'll reserve my judgement until it comes out, but unfortunately I just bought a notebook :(
  • Darkness Flame
    According to Apple's site, it's 8-hours wireless. I think they mean wireless from an outlet, though, as I'm pretty sure Wi-Fi would drop it some. But like nukemaster said, I also kinda wish there was a keypad ... I mean, if the thing had some amazing speakers to fill in that space, that's one thing. While the speakers on past Macbook Pros aren't bad ... they've never justified the lack of a number pad ...
  • seboj
    So, the world's lightest 17" notebook, 1080P display, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 7-8hour battery life is a fail??
    If you don't mind paying $5,000 for all that, having a non-removable battery (8 hours if it's sitting idle doing nothing at all), and the ruggedness of a 3 year old's plastic toy, then yes, it's a win.

    Oh, and don't forget: you'll be paying Apple anytime you want to upgrade the RAM, HDD, disk drive, wireless, etc.
  • Anthony20022

    First, since when does $2799 equal $5000? Are you rounding to the nearest $5000 or something? And also, since when is a solid aluminum enclosure weaker than the vast majority of cheap plastic PCs? Have you ever actually used (or broken) one before? I've been using Macs for a very long time, and never had one break, even after being dropped.

    However long the battery actually lasts, its still a great improvement over the previous model. Combine that with the fact the most people don't even know where the battery is on their computer, and I think this will not be much of an issue in real life.

    Finally, I don't know about this new 17", but the almost identical 15" has very easily accessible RAM and HDD.

    Why would you ever have to upgrade the wireless for the life of this machine? Its already using 802.11n, and at the IEEE's current rate, this computer will be far obsolete before there is a new spec.
  • Anthony20022
    Ohh, by the way, about price: I just configured a slightly slower Dell XPS 17" system and it was only $300 cheaper. Not to mention the many features / included software it lacks vs. the macbook pro.