MacBook Pro 17"

Started Oct 13, 2012 | Discussions
Oly E10
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MacBook Pro 17"
Oct 13, 2012

I'm considering replacing my desktop PC with a decent laptop.

General use CS6: Lightroom:

Considering the discontinued MacBook Pro 17" Apple refurbished. Late 2011 early 2012 version.

I would upgrade the memory.

I like the extra real-estate that a 17" affords. It would also be powering a Dell 24" monitor.

Question: Is the 17" although discontinued, still worth my consideration?

Are the 5400 rpm drives a bottle neck in the system?

I have no interest in the new 15" Retina Mac as next to nothing on it can be upgraded.

Peter in Canada.

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Howard Moftich
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 13, 2012

I always thought the 17" too large but that's up to you.  You could always exchange the 5400 drive (or even supplement it) w/ an SSD for better performance.

There is still the non-Retina 15" MBP available.

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Oly E10
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Howard Moftich, Oct 13, 2012

Thank you for your input Howard.

Yes I agree the non Retina 15" is an option, but I've spent so long using larger screens

I feel that 15" is just a tad small for me. Yes swapping out the 5400rpm drive is an option

but not knowing anything about Macs I'm just wondering if the 17" is still viable?

Peter in Canada.

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Jrs22
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 13, 2012

My suggestion would be to compare the chipset and graphics chip on the 17" to what's available on the newer models, since that's what you can't upgrade.  You can max out the ram and either replace the HDD or the DVD drive with an SSD, either now or when the prices drop some more, but you're stuck with the processors.

I think I read something on MacRumors forum about people removing one of the existing drives and putting them in an enclosure that converted them to an external drive.

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Tom_N
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 13, 2012

Oly E10 wrote:

I have no interest in the new 15" Retina Mac as next to nothing on it can be upgraded.

The 15-inch Retina MBP can take just as much RAM (16 GB) as the late 2011 17-inch MBP.  You just need to custom-order the RAM up-front.

The 15-inch Retina MBP has two Thunderbolt ports and a HDMI port, to the 17-inch MBP's single Thunderbolt port.  So the 15-inch Retina MBP can drive two 2560 x 1600 (30") DisplayPort monitors and a 1900 x 1200 (24") HDMI monitor.  The 17-inch MBP's limit is one 30" DisplayPort monitor (or, perhaps two daisy-chained 27-inch Thunderbolt Displays.  The rules for attaching monitors sometimes allow attaching more of them.)

The 15-inch Retina MBP has built-in USB 3.0 ports.  The 17-inch MBP does not.

So "upgradability" is not entirely lop-sided in favor of the 17-inch MBP.

On the 17-inch MBP's side, it does have a built-in optical drive, a HD bay that could take either a HD or a SSD, built-in Gigabit Ethernet, built-in Firewire 800, and an ExpressCard 34 slot.  There might be USB 3.0 adapters that you could plug into the ExpressCard 34 slot (in much the same way that Apple now has Gigabit Ethernet and Firewire 800 adapters for Thunderbolt ports).

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BA baracus
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 14, 2012

I've got an early 2011 17" with the 2.2GHz microprocessor. I pulled the DVD drive and put the stock drive in its place. I have a Samsung 830 ssd in the hole where the hard drive was. The ssd is partitioned into three, a snow leopard system, a mountain lion system and some spare space for Lightroom library and other things I want loading fast. The home folders are on the slow hard drive with aliases between them for documents movies music and photos.

This machine flies. Perhaps the latest greatest is a hair faster but its not a considerable difference. Ips screen and usb3 would be nice though.

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Tom_N
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to BA baracus, Oct 14, 2012

BA baracus wrote:

I've got an early 2011 17" … The ssd is partitioned into three, a snow leopard system, a mountain lion system and some spare space

Looks like the early 2011 17" machines can run Snow Leopard, while the late 2011 ones can't.  The late 2011 machines are a bit faster, but if a person had any Mac OS X/PowerPC binaries they wanted to run, or liked Snow Leopard better than (Mountain) Lion, that might favor the early 2011 machine.

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ClearGlass
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Tom_N, Oct 14, 2012

I have a 17" that I bought in April, 2012. It's a 2.4 ghz. I upgraded the RAM to 16gbs (from Crucial.com) and I put in a Corsair Force Series GT solid state drive (SSD) to run the operating system, lightroom, and a few other commonly used programs. I then put in a 7,200 rpm, 750 gb hard-drive where the disc drive was.

To answer your question- yes a 5,400 rpm hard drive is a major bottleneck. You don't need to go with a solid state drive, but at least go with a 7,200 rpm drive. Though, while you have it open, you might as well just go with a solid state drive.

With the RAM upgrades and the SSD the computer is easily twice as fast as my brand new Macbook Air. Programs open instantly (literally). I can open MS Word in less than 2-seconds. The computer will boot from being completely shut-off to the start screen in under 7-seconds. As you can tell, I highly recommend the 17". There are also plenty of backpacks and briefcases that are made for the 17" (if that is a concern for you).

I've thought about getting a macbook pro w/retina display, but it's really not worth it. The 17-inch's DPI are not that far off to the naked eye.

In summary, I've never owned a better notebook and I've typically purchased 2-macbook pros, per year, on average, for the last decade. You will certainly not be let down by going this route.

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Oly E10
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to ClearGlass, Oct 14, 2012

Thank you all for your insight re the 17".

Looks very much as if I'll go the 17" and upgrade as needed.

As a point of interest is there any rhyme or reason as to why Apple are still putting 5400rpm

drives in their non Retina MacBooks?

Can cost be the only reason?

Peter i Canada.

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Jen Yates
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 14, 2012

Oly E10 wrote:

As a point of interest is there any rhyme or reason as to why Apple are still putting 5400rpm

drives in their non Retina MacBooks?

A 5400rpm drive will run OSX and 'most' applications just as well as a 7200rpm drive but will use less power, generate less heat, make less noise and be cheaper.

The performance difference between a 5400 and 7200 is tiny compared to the difference between the fastest 7200 and the SSDs used in the 2012 machines.

The fastest 2012 macbook pros will be 'about' 20% faster than the fastest 2011 machines but when you take into account the native SSD speed (very fast) and USB 3.0 speed vs USB 2.0 the actual 'real world' difference between 2011 and 2012 machines could be quite big depending on what you're doing and how you do it.

For example I upgraded a dual core 2009 13" to a quad core 2012 retina and while my benchmark score quadrupled the real world improvements I've seen are in the region of 1500% (Yes that's key tasks being fifteen times quicker). This is of course on a specific task but it's the task I need to do hundreds of times a day and is heavily reliant on speed of SSD, CPU speed, multi-threading capacity and speed of RAM - all of which are dramatically improved on the retina.

Note: It's actually x20 the speed but as the accuracy of timing at sub 1second levels compared to 20seconds on the old machines means I just say x15 when in reality I know it's AT LEAST x20.

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Oly E10
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Jen Yates, Oct 14, 2012

Thanks for taking the time to reply Jen, and for your insight/experiences.

Peter in Canada.

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CarlC
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 14, 2012

I purchased the MBP 17" last year so I did not have to process photos on my desktop.

Best thing I have done for a long time... Love it...

I use Aperture most recently and still have many pics under my LR which I also like.

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CarlC
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to CarlC, Oct 14, 2012

I wanted the 17 vs 15 for the extra landscape for processing photos.

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Oly E10
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to CarlC, Oct 15, 2012

Thanks for taking the time to reply, CarlC.

Peter in Canada

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Alaska Jer
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 15, 2012

Love my 17 inchers! I've got a 2010 and 2011 17" MBP...the 2010, I switched out the Disc Drive for the opti-bay from OWC...moved the HDD over to it and put a 256GB SSD Samsung 830.  All Adobe apps, FCP, and Aperture...as well as word processing and other applications are housed on the SSD. Essentially, the HDD acts as an internal scratch drive/media storage compartment.

I'll be doing the same with my 'early' 2011/2.3 core i7 @ some point this winter.  I may keep the disc drive in this one...as I'm still burning discs for clients and it's handy to have on site. Now that we are a buck or even less...per GB on the SSD side of the tracks, the updates are more and more compelling. I'm looking to put a 512GB in my 2011...again, housing all applications on the SSD and using an external USB 3 or FW800 drive (I bought the PCMICA USB3.0 adaptor from OWC and works well), BUT...as Thunderbolt becomes more attractive (Lacie just announced a 1TB Thunderbolt SSD setup for an attractive $999), I'll house my media and scratch externally...and keep the internal 'burner' for clients that still like their shiny discs (We do both video and audio production primarily--photography is secondary for us)...but we've gotten more and more into design with the excellent 'rental' deals for the Adobe Creative suite!

There isn't a better time to buy a 17". Check out Apple's refurb section...and if you're not concerned about Rosetta apps (or any 'vintage' applications usable with Snow Leopard and previous builds to 10.6.x)...buy in to the later 2011 versions of the MBP. They've got the faster 2.4/2.5GB procs and I believe a bit of a boost in the GPU department as well. Compatible (the 2011 model's GPUs) with Adobe's rendering engine is a very, VERY nice bonus.  I'm editing, transcoding, and finalizing just as fast or faster on my 2011 17" MBP as I am on our 2009 Mac Pro!  
I do, however, lust for the rMBP. I'm going to give it another generation though---with Haswell (Intel's next follow up to Ivy Bridge) and the Intel '5000' or whatever the onboard GPU will be --- as well as a bit stronger nVidia graphics card in conjunction with the latest refinement of these high rez IPS panels...AND, maybe even more importantly....for my software choices to 'catch up' to the higher rez options, I'll buy one next spring. For now. And for Half the price...I'll update the internals on my 2 existing 2010/2011 MBPs.

Again---Apple's refurb section is an excellent place to shop right NOW for a perfectly new 17" MBP!
Good Luck

Jeremy

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justinrphillips
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 15, 2012

The 17" is a great machine I just found that it gets really painful to be mobile with, even if you are just sitting on the couch.  I do think 15" is a better option but I settled on a 2011 13" with i7.  A couple things to note, you can pick up a Samsung 128gb SSD for $79 or less which makes a great OS disk, and then you can remove the DVD player and add another one.

I ended up with an i7 13" with a 500gb and 256gb SSD and 16gb of ram.  If I would have gotten I 15" I could have had the quad core i7 but the 13" for me is the ultimate in mobility and has the ability to last a long time on battery.  If you dont think you need that then 17" is great, but you dont need the Retina display to have a great 15" MBP and still have an awesome machine.

Also if you are an ipad user the app called Air Display becomes an amazing 2nd monitor for photoshop tools, however that does not really mean anything for what size MBP but I found when I am mobile the 13" and iPad make a great combo and then I move to my big 27" monitor when I am home.

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Oly E10
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to justinrphillips, Oct 15, 2012

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my question Justin.

I am looking at making this Apple purchase a desktop replacement, so portability

is not uppermost in my mind, at present.

Thanks again.

Peter in Canada.

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Oly E10
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Alaska Jer, Oct 15, 2012

Jeremy, I very much appreciate you taking the time to give me your views and technical insight.

There is very little choice, at present on the Canadian Apple site re refurbished 17 inchers

only one in fact and that has that what I don't really want, a glossy screen.

I'll just keep checking their stock on a daily basis.

Thanks again, your post has been book-marked.

Peter in Canada.

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CarlC
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 16, 2012

I did go for the antiglare screen as well.

I have never used a glossy but very satisfied with the antiglare.   I use it all day for work where the lighting reflections are very poor.

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justinrphillips
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Re: MacBook Pro 17"
In reply to Oly E10, Oct 16, 2012

Well if that is the case, you cant go wrong with the 17", that thing is a powerhouse and the 1900x1200 resolution is nice!  Either way I love my macbook!

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