Apple MacBook Pro 17in (2011) review

3 Mar 2011

Powerful, long-lasting and with a wonderful 1,920 x 1,200 screen, but the price remains unpalatable

Price when reviewed: 
2,099(£1749 exc VAT)

We’ve already reviewed the new Apple MacBook Pro 15in, and the 17in model shares much of the same DNA. There’s just one pre-configured specification available, with the same Sandy Bridge processor and AMD graphics as its smaller sibling, and it also gets the new Intel Thunderbolt port ready for ultra-fast peripherals to arrive.

The biggest difference is the screen, and what a screen it is. It’s one of the few laptops we’ve seen recently with a traditional 1,920 x 1,200 resolution, and it positively beams with quality. Measuring our sample with a colorimeter, we found a huge maximum luminance of 342cd/m[sup]2[/sup] and a contrast ratio of 760:1. As for colour accuracy, a Delta E score of 5.6 is good for a laptop, although slightly less accurate than the screen on the 15in model.

Apple MacBook Pro 17in (2011)

That display is powered by both an Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated chip and AMD’s Radeon HD 6750M graphics, and it’s suitably fast for such a big machine. It handled Crysis with ease, managing 52fps in our 1,600 x 900 test at Medium settings; upping that to native resolution saw the frame rate stay playable at 35fps, so you should be able to play the latest games in most of their glory. The GPU helps hugely with photo and video editing, too.

That’s shown by the MacBook Pro 17in’s performance in our all-new Real World Benchmarks. A 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2720QM and 4GB of DDR3 RAM combined for an overall score of 0.84, with a higher 0.88 in the Media segment, which uses Photoshop CS5, Sony Vegas and iTunes. It’s no faster than the 15in version, unsurprising given the identical core components, but the extra screen size makes it a very enticing prospect.

Physical specifications

Dimensions 393 x 267 x 25mm (WDH)
Weight 2.990kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-2720QM
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 17.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,200
Resolution 1920 x 1200
Graphics chipset AMD Radeon HD 6750M
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1


Capacity 750GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0


Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 1
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader no
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Multitouch touchpad
Speaker location Either side of keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 59min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 116fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Apple Mac OS X
OS family Mac OS X
Software supplied iLife