MacBook Pro 17-inch [2008] full review


NEXT: 17-inch MacBook Pro speedmark testing

The 17-inch MacBook Pro that we reviewed was loaned to us from Apple and came with the optional 7,200 rpm hard drive. This faster drive helped our test system post a Speedmark score of 249, 18 points higher than the new 15-inch 2.53GHz MacBook Pro (£1,729) and 10 points lower than a build-to-order 15-inch MacBook Pro with the optional 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo processor (£1,918). For more in-depth analysis of the benchmark results, check out our From the Lab post that covers our 17-inch MacBook Pro benchmarks.

One piece of the performance puzzle not mentioned in the benchmark article is battery life. In our worst case scenario testing (looping a QuickTime movie from the hard drive at full screen with brightness set to highest, illuminated keypad dimmed, AirPort off, and all other energy setting set to highest performance options), we found that our 17-inch model was able to loop the video for 2 hours and 52 minutes. That’s about 16 minutes longer than the new unibody MacBook Pros using the lower-powered Nvidia 9400M graphics. The new 17-inch MacBook Pro’s battery life was right in line with a 2.4Ghz 15-inch MacBook Pro from the previous generation, but with its faster spinning hard drive, we found the battery dying 43 minutes earlier than the 2.5Ghz 17-inch MacBook Pro with a 5,400 rpm hard drive.

  Speedmark 5 Adobe Photoshop CS3 Cinema 4D XL10.5 Compressor 3.0.4 iMovie HD iTunes 7.7 Quake 4 Finder Finder
  OVERALL SCORE SUITE RENDER MPEG ENCODE AGED EFFECT MP3 ENCODE FRAME RATE ZIP ARCHIVE UNZIP ARCHIVE
17-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/2.5GHz (Oct. 2008: 4GB RAM, 7,200-rpm 320GB drive)* 249 00:50 00:51 01:42 00:43 00:59 68.9 04:18 00:57
17-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/2.5GHz (Feb. 2008: 4GB RAM, 5,400-rpm 250GB drive) 220 00:58 00:52 01:44 00:45 01:00 66.1 04:36 01:28
15-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/2.53GHz (Oct. 2008: 4GB RAM, 5,400-rpm 320GB drive) 231 00:56 00:53 01:41 00:44 01:00 65.7 04:37 01:15
15-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/ 2.8GHz (4GB RAM, Unibody, CTO, 7200RPM HD) 259 00:49 00:45 01:31 00:41 00:56 73.9 03:52 01:00
20-inch iMac Core 2 Duo/2.6GHz 249 00:50 00:48 01:41 00:43 00:57 67.6 04:06 01:10
8-core Mac Pro Xeon/2.8GHz 308 00:49 00:15 00:51 00:32 00:48 74.2 03:53 01:11
PowerBook G4/1.67GHz 91 03:02 03:57 07:47 01:59 02:26 19.9 07:14 02:21
  >Better >Better

Speedmark 5 scores are relative to those of a 1.5GHz Core Solo Mac mini, which is assigned a score of 100. Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D XL, iMovie, iTunes, and Finder scores are in minutes:seconds. All systems were running Mac OS X 10.5.5 with 2GB of RAM unless specified. The Photoshop Suite test is a set of 14 scripted tasks using a 50MB file. Photoshop’s memory was set to 70 percent and History was set to Minimum. We recorded how long it took to render a scene in Cinema 4D XL. We used Compressor to encode a 6minute:26second DV file using the DVD: Fastest Encode 120 minutes - 4:3 setting. In iMovie, we applied the Aged Film Effect from the Video FX. menu to a one minute movie. We converted 45 minutes of AAC audio files to MP3 using iTunes’ High Quality setting. We used Quake’s average-frames-per-second score; we tested at a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels at the Maximum setting with both audio and graphics enabled. We duplicated a 1GB folder, created a Zip archive in the Finder from the two 1GB files and then Unzipped it. To compare Speedmark 5 scores for various Mac systems, visit our Apple Hardware Guide.—MACWORLD LAB TESTING BY JAMES GALBRAITH, CHRIS HOLT, AND JERRY JUNG

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