Apple 17-inch MacBook Pro: The Ultimate Guide

April 13, 2010 | | Comments 9

17-inch MacBook Pro

Apple announced updates to its professional line of MacBook Pro laptops. In a series of four articles, I’m introducing the overall changes and providing detailed information on each of the three main laptops in the MacBook Pro lineup. Click the links below to skip to a specific article:

Apple 17-inch MacBook Pro Review

The 17-inch MacBook Pro is a great desktop replacement. When I see a 17-inch model after staring for hours at my 15-inch Mac, I feel like I’m watching a movie in a theatre! I kid, of course, but the 17-inch display is strikingly large for a laptop. That large display comes at a price, of course. Weight. A full pound (0.45 kg) heavier than the 15-inch MacBook Pro, the 17-inch model also calls for a non-standard carrying case in most circumstances.

It’s a bit much for me to carry around. If you’re up to the task, however, I’ll still give you the thumbs up when I see you in Starbucks.

Technical Specifications

Size and Weight

17-inch MacBook Pro Dimensions

0.98 inch (2.50 cm)
15.47 inches (39.3 cm)
10.51 inches (26.7 cm)
6.6 pounds (2.99 kg)

Connections and Expansion

  • MagSafe power port
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • One FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps)
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Three USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
  • Audio line in
  • Audio line out
  • ExpressCard/34 slot
  • Kensington lock slot
17-inch MacBook Pro Connections and Expansion

17-inch MacBook Pro Connections and Expansion - Click for larger image.


  • AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking2 (based on IEEE 802.11n specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) wireless technology
  • 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)


  • Stereo speakers with subwoofers
  • Omnidirectional microphone (located under left speaker grille)
  • Audio line in minijack (digital/analog)
  • Audio line out/headphone minijack (digital/analog)
  • Support for Apple iPhone headset with microphone


  • 17-inch (diagonal) high-resolution LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors
  • Supported resolutions: 1920 by 1200 (native), 1680 by 1050, 1280 by 800, 1152 by 720, 1024 by 640, and 800 by 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1280 by 1024 pixels at 5:4 aspect ratio; 1280 by 1024 pixels at 5:4 aspect ratio stretched; 1600 by 1200, 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 1600 by 1200, 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio stretched; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio stretched
17-inch MacBook Pro with glossy widescreen display

17-inch MacBook Pro with glossy widescreen display - Click for larger image.

Graphics and Video Support

  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR3 memory
  • Intel HD Graphics with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
  • Automatic graphics switching
  • Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors
  • iSight camera
  • Mini DisplayPort


  • Full-size backlit keyboard with 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted “T” arrangement)
  • Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports inertial scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities
17-inch MacBook Pro Keyboard and Trackpad

17-inch MacBook Pro Keyboard and Trackpad - Click for larger image.

Processor and Memory

  • 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 processor with 3MB shared L3 cache; or optional 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 processor with 4MB shared L3 cache
  • 4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 memory; two SO-DIMM slots support up to 8GB


  • 500GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard drive; optional 500GB 7200-rpm hard drive, or 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB solid-state drive
  • 8x slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    • Maximum write: 8x DVD-R, DVD+R; 4x DVD-R DL (double layer), DVD+R DL (double layer), DVD-RW, DVD+RW; 24x CD-R; 10x CD-RW
    • Maximum read: 8x DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-ROM; 6x DVD-ROM (double layer DVD-9), DVD-R DL (double layer), DVD+R DL (double layer), DVD-RW, DVD+RW; 24x CD
17-inch MacBook Pro SuperDrive

17-inch MacBook Pro SuperDrive - Click for larger image.

Battery and Power

  • Up to 8-9 hours of battery run time
  • Built-in 95-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • 85W MagSafe Power Adapter with cable management system
  • MagSafe power port

17-inch MacBook Pro Configuration Options

The 17-inch MacBook Pro comes in one standard base configuration:

This model comes standard with 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM (2 x 2GB modules) but all MacBook Pro models support up to 8GB of RAM.

Upgradable hardware options for the 17-inch MacBook Pro include:

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 [Add $200.00]
  • 500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm [Add $50.00] *In my opinion, this is well worth the upgrade price. This is the drive you want.
  • 128GB Solid State Drive [Add $200.00]
  • 256GB Solid State Drive [Add $650.00]
  • 512GB Solid State Drive [Add $1,300.00]

Build your ultimate Mac. Customize it to your specs, only at the Apple Online Store. Free Shipping. Shop Now.

Follow the links below to read other MacBook Pro reviews:


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About the Author: Scott Rouse is an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE), photographer, teacher, and graphic- and web-designer in Missoula, MT. His photography focuses on wildlife and adventure sports and can be viewed at His design and consulting work can be seen at