15″ MacBook Pro (Late 2008)

The era of formed aluminum Apple notebooks has come to an end. The new 15″ MacBook Pro (MBP) is carved from a 2.5 lb. block of solid aluminum. The result is a quarter-pound enclosure – and 2.25 lb. of aluminum that’s recycled to make more enclosures. It’s even thinner, the first time Apple has built a pro notebook less than one inch thick. Despite that, it has a slightly larger footprint and weighs a bit more than the model it replaces.

15" Unibody MacBook ProThe new design puts all the ports (and a battery indicator) on the left side, leaving the right side for the SATA SuperDrive (this is the first time Apple has used a SATA optical drive in a MacBook).

The MBP is Apple’s first notebook computer with two graphics processors – the GeForce 9600M GT and the brand new GeForce 9400M, which combines a graphics processor (with 16 or 32 cores!) and its supporting chipset on a single die. There’s a Mini DisplayPort, which is a new industry standard. The 9600M has its own dedicated video memory (256 MB on the 2.0 GHz MBP, 512 MB on the faster model), while the 9400M uses 256 MB of system memory (add 16 MB when used with an external display). Apple does not allow the two GPUs to be used concurrently, and you have to log out to switch between them.

The new glass trackpad is 39% bigger than the old one and supports 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-finger gestures. The entire trackpad also functions as the mouse button.

The new MBP uses the same keyboard as the MacBook Air, complete with backlighting. The black keys look sharp with the aluminum enclosure.

Apple has discontinued matte displays; the new MacBook Pro only comes with a glossy screen.

The new model comes in 2.4 GHz and 2.53 GHz versions, along with a 2.8 GHz build-to-order option. 250 and 320 GB hard drives are standard. 2 GB of RAM is standard on the 2.4 GHz model, 4 GB on the faster configurations (6 GB* is the maximum the MBP supports). Memory and the hard drive are easily accessed from the bottom of the computer.

This was the last 15″ MacBook Pro to include an ExpressCard/34 expansion slot.

Although it is not officially supported, the Late 2008 MacBook Pro can run macOS Sierra using Colin Mistr’s Sierra Patch Tool. See our macOS Sierra page for more details and a link.

Editor’s note: The next two paragraphs are from the profile of the previous version of the MacBook Pro. At this time we do not know if they apply to the new Unibody model.

Note that the built-in display is only capable of 18-bit color, not the full 24-bit color you might expect.

Unlike early MacBooks, where every USB port could provide 500 mA of power, only one USB port provides full power – the port closer to the front.

The Apple Remote is a US$20 option.

Battery life is claimed to be 5 hours of wireless productivity.

Closed Lid Mode: All Intel ‘Books support “lid closed” (or clamshell) mode, which leaves the built-in display off and dedicates all video RAM to an external display. To used closed lid mode, your ‘Book must be plugged into the AC adapter and connected to an external display and a USB or Bluetooth mouse and keyboard (you might also want to consider external speakers). Power up your ‘Book until the desktop appears on the external display and then close the lid. Your ‘Book will go to sleep, but you can wake it by moving the mouse or using the keyboard. The built-in display will remain off, and the external monitor will become your only display.

To resume use of the internal display, you need to disconnect the external display, put the computer to sleep, and then open the lid. This will wake up your ‘Book and restore use of the built-in display.

Intel-based Macs use a partitioning scheme known as GPT. Only Macintel models can boot from GPT hard drives. Both PowerPC and Intel Macs can boot from APM (Apple’s old partitioning scheme) hard drives, which is the format you must use to create a universal boot drive in Leopard. Power PC Macs running any version of the Mac OS prior to 10.4.2 cannot mount GPT volumes. PowerPC Macs won’t let you install OS X to a USB drive or choose it as your startup volume, although there is a work around for that.

Details

  • introduced 2008.10.14 at US$1,999 (2.4 GHz, 250 GB hard drive, 2 GB RAM) and US$2,499 (2.53 GHz, 320 GB hard drive, 4 GB RAM); add $300 to upgrade the 2.53 GHz model to 2.8 GHz; revised 2009.03.03 with 2.66 GHz at US$2,499 and 2.93 GHz build-to-order option; replaced by faster model 2009.06.08.
  • Part no.: MB133 (2.4 GHz), MB134 (2.5 GHz)

Mac OS

Core System

  • CPU: 2.4/2.53/2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, soldered in place, no upgrade options
  • Bus: 1066 MHz
  • performance, Xbench 1.3 (2.53 GHz)
    • overall: 130.82
    • CPU: 143.82
    • memory: 183.20
    • Quartz graphics: 188.31
    • OpenGL graphics: 172.20
    • Hard drive: 42.16
  • RAM: 2/4 GB, expandable to 6 GB* using DDR3 SO-DIMMs
  • Level 2 cache: 3 MB shared cache on 2.4 GHz CPU, 6 MB on 2.53/2.8 GHz

Video

  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT and 9400M
    • VRAM, 9600M: 256 MB on 2.4 GHz model, 512 MB on 2.53/2.8 GHz model
    • VRAM, 9400M: uses 256 MB of system RAM (add 16 GB when used with an external display)
  • Video out: Mini DisplayPort (VGA and DVI video supported with optional adapters)
  • display: 15.4″ (38 cm) 16-bit 1440 x 900 110 ppi color active matrix
  • supports 1440 x 900, 1280 x 800, 1152 x 720, 1024 x 640, 800 x 600, 720 x 480, and 640 x 480 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 x 768, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 x 480 at 3:2 aspect ratio
  • allows mirroring to external display or extended desktop mode

Drives

  • Hard drive: 250/320 GB 5400 rpm Serial ATA standard, 7200 rpm and 128 GB solid state drive (SSD) optional
  • optical drive: 8x dual-layer SuperDrive writes DVD±R and DVD+R at up to 8x, DVD-RW at up to 4x; dual-layer DVD±RW at up to 4x; reads DVDs at 8x (double-layer at 6x), dual-layer and DVD-ROM at 6x; writes CD-R at 24x, writes CD-RW at 16x, reads CDs at 24x
  • expansion bays: none

Expansion

  • USB 2.0 ports: two
  • FireWire 400: none
  • FireWire 800: 1 port, backward compatible with FireWire 400
  • IR port: none
  • Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
  • Modem: optional v.92 56k external USB modem
  • WiFi: 802.11n AirPort Extreme built in
  • Bluetooth: BT 2.1 built in
  • ExpressCard/34: 1 slot

Physical

  • size: 9.82 x 14.35 x 0.95″ (241 x 364 x 24.9 mm)
  • Weight: 5.5 pounds (2.49 kg)

* Although Apple officially supports 4 GB of RAM, users early on discovered that 6 GB worked reliably without issues, and while 8 GB could be installed, if any app used more than 6 GB, there were significant slowdowns. The Late 2008 MacBook Pro will reliably support 8 GB only with the later version of EFI Firmware Update 1.8 (or newer) installed and Mac OS X 10.6.6. or newer. See Firmware Update Supports 8 GB in Unibody MacBook and Late 2008 15″ MacBook Pro for more information.

Online Resources

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