Apple Computer has done some serious work this year on its MacBook Pro line and the latest one that we have looked at the 17-inch MD311LL / A shows that Apple is not relying on its iPod and iPhone for its revenue. It shows that even though it uses processors built by others – Intel, in this case – it is still a serious computer company.
Interestingly, it is a computer company whose focus is on delivering some of the narrowest and lightest units on the market. Like the other MacBooks, Apple has used a single casting for the entire machine as a single unit that is less than an inch thick and while it is still 17-inches wide, it still comes in at little over five pounds which does make it a lightweight laptop that can be used for a variety of features.
There is little double that Apple knows what do to with computer components. For example, although it will only support a maximum of 8 GB of memory, the MD311LL / A 17-inch MacBook actually uses two separate video systems to deliver seamless video. For heavy duty work, it supports the AMD Radeon HDG770 video chipset with its own dedicated 1GB of GDDR5 RAM. At the same time, the Intel 3000 chipset is built into the system software so that it can rely on the Intel chipset for everyday video delivery.
The 17-inch MacBook Pro, like the others in the MacBook line, supports Thunderbolt technology which is similar to the old Applenet chain technology that allowed you to chain together Apple devices on their own dedicated high-speed network for greater throughput. In other words, if a device has the right Thunderbolt Display adapter, you can simply hook them together in a chain that can deliver up to 10 Gbps. Its Apple's proprietary network but it will also support, if the adapter is right, DVI, HDMI and other specialized devices.
Like other state-of-the-art laptops that use the quad-core I7 processor, Apple makes use of Intel's built-in multi-threading technology that allows each processor of the quad core to perform up to two tasks at the same time. In other words, you can have one device performing up to eight simultaneous tasks. Apple also makes use of Intel's direct access technology that lets each processor have full access to all available system memory on the 1333 front-side bus. The processor runs at its standard clock of 2.4 GHz and takes advantage of Intel's Turboboost mode to 3 GHz when needed.
Standard storage is handled by a 750 GB 5400-spin hard drive. This MacBook also supports an 8X CD / DVD Superdrive.
One interesting feature that all MacBooks share is the larger-than-normal glass-faced touchpad. Instead of including the extra buttons that other laptops include the MacBook's touchpad is extra large and will support functions that are similar to a more standard laptop which has the traditional left and right buttons plus a touchpad. It does not take long to learn to use this feature.
One thing to note, though, about the MacBook is that since it is made from a single aluminum case, it might run a little warm although they do have a pretty sophisticated cooling system to keep things running as cool as possible.
The MacBook also supports Bluetooth 2.1 and ultrafast WiFi 802.11 b / g / n, as well as having a standard tri-speed LAN port that supports 10/100 / 1GB speeds so it can be part of an over-the-air network, use public hotspots or be part of your home network.
It also has 3 USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire 800 port, and ExpressCard slot.
Overall, this is a fine update to a very good series and is a serious machine for users.