The Late 2011 MacBook Pros represent a small step forward from the Early 2011 models introduced 8 months earlier. The 17″ model goes from 2.3 GHz to 2.4 GHz, a 9% improvement. This was also the last 17″ MacBook Pro.
In addition to slightly faster CPUs, the Late 2011 model comes with 50% more spacious hard drives – 750 GB instead of 500 GB in the case of the 17″ machine. The graphics processor (GPU) has been upgraded to Radeon HD 6770M with the same 1 GB of dedicated video memory as in the Early 2011 model.
There had been some speculation that the next MacBook Pro revision would include the same Bluetooth 4.0 built into the iPhone 4S, but no such luck – we’re still living with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.
The best news of all is that with faster CPUs, larger hard drives, and improved graphics, there’s no change in price.
This is the second MacBook Pro generation with Thunderbolt, a 10 Gbps data connection that uses the same connection as Mini DisplayPort. Thunderbolt is 12 times as fast as FireWire 800, over 20 times as fast as USB 2.0, and twice as fast as USB 3.0, which Apple seems in no hurry to adopt. Thunderbolt can be used for video, hard drives, and networking, and adapters let you connect FireWire and USB devices.
Apple has improved AirPort performance by building three WiFi antennas into the 2011 MacBook Pros, allowing three channels with 150 Mbps bandwidth for a maximum bandwidth of 450 Mbps.
The new models are rated at 7 hours of battery power, down from 8-9 for last year’s models, due to changes in the way Apple measures battery life. In testing, the 2011 models generally match or outperform the 2010 models.
These are the first Macs to use Intel HD 3000 Graphics, and for the first time it’s coupled with AMD Radeon HD graphics. As before, it automatically switches between GPUs on the fly. The Intel GPU uses 384 MB of system memory, while the Radeon GPU has 1 GB of dedicated video memory.
4 GB of RAM is standard, and it can be upgraded to 16 GB, although Apple officially says 8 GB is the maximum. 128, 256, and 512 GB SSDs are extra cost options. This is the only current Mac notebook with ExpressCard/34.
Apple uses a true 24-bit display on all 17″ Unibody MBP models.
Editor’s note: The next paragraph is from the profile of the previous version of the MacBook Pro. At this time we do not know if it applies to the new model.
Unlike pre-2007 models, where every USB port could provide 500 mA of power, only a single high-powered device can be attached to the USB ports, and software will enable one of its downstream ports to supply 500 mA of power. If a second high-powered device is attached, it will behave like a normal bus-powered hub and only provide 100 mA per downstream port.
The Apple Remote is a US$20 option.
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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. Since all video RAM is now dedicated to the external monitor, you may have more colors available at higher resolutions.
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.
- introduced 2011.10.24 at US$2,499; add $250 for 2.5 GHz i7 build-to-order option; add $50 for anti-glare option
- Part no.: MD311
- ships with Mac OS X 10.7.2, does work with Mac OS X 10.6.6 and later
- Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard compatibility
- Grand Central Dispatch is supported.
- 64-bit operation is supported.
- OpenCL is supported.
- OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion compatibility
- AirPlay Mirroring is supported.
- AirDrop is supported.
- Power Nap is not supported.
- CPU: 2.4 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
- Level 2 cache: 6 MB shared cache
- bus: 1066 MHz
- RAM: 4 GB, expandable to 8 GB using DDR3 SO-DIMMs
- Performance (2.4/2.5 GHz)
- 64-bit Geekbench: 10419/10735
- Speedmark 6.5: 210/
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics 3000 and AMD Radeon HD 6750M with automatic graphics switching
- VRAM, Intel HD: used 384 MB of system memory
- VRAM, HD 6750M: 1 GB
- Video out: Thunderbolt port, which is backward compatible with Mini DisplayPort (VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort supported with optional adapters)
- display: 17″ (43 cm) 1920 x 1200 133 ppi color active matrix
- supports 1920 x 1200 (native), 1680 x 1050, 1280 x 800, 1152 x 720, 1024 x 640, and 800 x 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1280 x 1024 pixels at 5:4 aspect ratio; 1280 x 1024 pixels at 5:4 aspect ratio stretched; 1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio stretched; 720 x 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio; 720 x 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio stretched; allows mirroring to external display or extended desktop mode
- hard drive: 750 GB 5400 rpm Serial ATA standard; 7200 rpm SATA drive and 128 GB and 256 GB SSDs optional on 6 Gbps SATA bus
- optical drive: 8x dual-layer SuperDrive writes DVD±R at up to 8x, DVD±RW at up to 4x; reads DVDs at 8x (double-layer at 6x), writes CD-R at 24x, writes CD-RW at 10x, reads CDs at 24x on 3 Gbps SATA bus
- drive bus: SATA 2 (3.0 Mbps)
- Thunderbolt: 1 port
- USB: 3 USB 2.0 ports, only 1 high-powered device device allowed
- FireWire 400: none
- FireWire 800: 1 port, backward compatible with FireWire 400
- ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
- WiFi: 802.11n AirPort Extreme built in, three antennas support up to 450 Mbps bandwidth
- Modem: No longer offered by Apple
- Bluetooth: BT 2.1 built in
- ExpressCard/34: 1 slot
- SD Card Slot: 1
- expansions bays: none
- IR receiver: supports Apple Remote
- battery: 95 Watt-hour, 7 hours of wireless productivity
- AC adapter: 85W MagSafe
- size: 10.51 x 15.47 x 0.98″ (267 x 393 x 25 mm)
- weight: 6.6 pounds (2.99 kg)
- Low End Mac’s Compleat Guide to the 17″ MacBook Pro, Dan Bahur, 2014.02.16
- The Late 2011 MacBook Pro value equation, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2011.10.25. Faster CPUs, bigger hard drives, improved graphics – but how do they compare to close-out pricing of Early 2011 models?
- Best online 17″ MacBook Pro deals.
- Best Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6 deals. Best online prices for Leopard and Snow Leopard.
- Finding the best values in Apple’s MacBook matrix, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.07.21. With prices ranging from $999 to $2,499, speeds from 1.86 to 2.8 GHz, and sized from 13 to 17 inches, what’s right for you?
- Protect your notebook against loss, theft, data loss, and security breaches, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.08.25. 10 percent of laptops are lost or stolen every year. Tips on preventing theft, securing your data, and recovering from a lost, stolen, or broken notebook.
- The 64-bitness of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.08.19. Although Apple is promoting Snow Leopard as a fully 64-bit operating system, it defaults to running in 32-bit mode.
- The road ahead: 64-bit computing, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.08.19. Personal computers started with 8-bit CPUs, Macs started out with a 24-bit operating system, and 32-bit computing is starting to give way to 64 bits.
- OS X 10.6 requirements, why Apple owns the high end, when to upgrade your Mac, and more, Mac News Review, 2009.08.14. Also Microsoft Word patent infringement, BackPack shelf for iMac and Cinema Displays, two updated Bible study programs, and more.
- OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard for $29, run Windows on your Mac for Free, Update Breaks Office 2008, and more, Mac News Review, 2009.08.07. Also getting your Mac ready for Snow Leopard, Time Capsule doubles capacity, Picasa 3 for Mac, Bodega Mac app store, and more.
- Optical drives on way out, MacBooks can’t display millions of colors, MacBook Air doomed, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2009.07.17. Also problems with 7200 rpm drives, more iTablet speculation, the subsidized netbook rip-off, bargain ‘Books from $179 to $2,144, and more.
- New ‘Books have better displays, digital vs. analog audio I/O, Craigslist restrictions, and more, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2009.07.15. Also three browsers – Opera, Stainless, and Cruz – compared, and installing Mac OS X from DVD on a Mac that can’t mount DVDs.
- Optimized software builds bring out the best in your Mac, Dan Knight, Low End Mac’s Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.30. Applications compiled for your Mac’s CPU can load more quickly and run faster than ones compiled for universal use.
- Intel’s promise fulfilled: More processing power per processor cycle, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.06.30. Apple promised improved CPU efficiencies when it announced the move to Intel in 2005. Three years of MacBooks show the progress.
- Avoiding dead and stuck pixels on your LCD screen, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.06.22. While CRT monitors would sometimes develop burn-in, LCD monitors may ship with or develop bad pixels.
- Low-end MacBook Pros: SD Card and FireWire in, ExpressCard out, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.06.16. The new 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro have FireWire 800 and SD Card slots, but ExpressCard is gone, left for the 17″ MacBook Pro.
- Low End Mac’s Safe Sleep FAQ, Dan Knight, Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.15. What is Safe Sleep mode? Which Macs support it? How can you enable or disable it? And more.
- The ‘Safe Sleep’ mailbag, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2009.06.15. Safe Sleep mode is enabled by default on modern MacBooks. How it works, and how to change how it works.
- MacBook White updated, DIY Mac tablet, danger of ‘Safe Sleep’, $350 80 GB SSD kit, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2009.05.29. Also Apple tablet ‘confirmed’, 3G and lower cost MacBook Air models rumored, 500 GB bus powered hard drive, Mini DisplayPort adapters, bargain ‘Books from $179 to $2,299, and more.
- Mac ‘Book power management adventures, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.05.19. If your ‘Book won’t power up, shuts down while your working, or has other power issues, resetting its internal power manager may clear things up.
- Making the switch from a G4 PowerBook to a Unibody MacBook, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.03.17. The transition to an Intel-based Mac hasn’t been without its problems – slow dialup performance, incompatibility with Eudora, and no real gain in speed with standby apps.
- Apple netbook rumors, two Hackintosh netbooks, 17″ MacBook Pro reviewed, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2009.03.13. Also why Apple needs an $800 MacBook, graphics issues, OLED coming to touchscreen Mac netbook?, bargain ‘Books from $170 to $2,999, and more.
- 17″ MacBook Pro reviews, Battery Update improves battery life, matte screen for MacBooks, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2009.03.06. Also 17″ Unibody problems, MBA hinge defect, netbooks and notebooks merging, SSD upgrade service for MacBooks, bargain ‘Books from $170 to $2,999, and more.
- 8 hour battery changes everything, Apple sweeps InfoWorld tech awards, tiny OQO handheld, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2009.01.16. Also SSD prices vary a lot, Macs in politics, OLPC cuts staff, antiglare film for glossy ‘Books, bargain ‘Books from $170 to $2,299, and more.
- 2 compact portable USB 2.0 hubs, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.01.12. Compact hubs from Targus and Proporta make a great complement to your notebook computer. Each accepts a third-party AC adapter to provide bus power.
- MacBook keyboard among best ever, glass trackpad less than intuitive, TiBook desktop mod, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2009.01.09. Also $179 to change battery in 17in MacBook Pro, argument for an Apple netbook, MacBook Air SuperDrive hacked for any Mac, bargain ‘Books from $170 to $2,299, and more.
- Waterfield first with SleeveCase for new 17″ Unibody MacBook Pro, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.01.08. Waterfield has a reputation for top quality bags at appropriate prices, and it’s already designed a sleeve for the new 17″ Unibody MacBook Pro.
- Ubuntu Linux and Boot camp make it easy to create a triple boot Mac, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.12.24. Boot Camp makes it easy to install Windows on Intel Macs, and Ubuntu now makes it easy to install Linux to a virtual Windows drive.
- Notebooks and blackouts, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.12.23. When the power goes out, a notebook computer with long-lasting batteries lets you keep working for hours and hours.
- The ‘better safe than sorry’ guide to installing Mac OS X updates, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.12.16. Most users encounter no problems using Software Update, but some preflight work and using the Combo updater means far less chance of trouble.
- Why you should partition your Mac’s hard drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ‘emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Software to keep your MacBook cool, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.11.25. Heat is the enemy of long hardware life. Two programs to keep your MacBook running cooler.
- Virtualization shootout: VMWare Fusion 2 vs. Parallels Desktop 4, Kev Kitchens, Kitchens Sync, 2008.11.20. Both programs do the same thing, but one runs Windows XP smoothly alongside Mac apps, while the other bogs down everything but Windows.
- Just right: Papa bear, mama bear, and baby bear MacBooks, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.11.20. Some people like small and light notebooks, others prefer huge desktop replacements, but the best value tends to be in the middle.
- Kensington Ci95m Wireless Mouse: Great battery life, smooth performance, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.11.13. Kensington’s slim wireless mouse is well built, works smoothly, has great battery life, and avoids Bluetooth pairing and wake-up issues.
- How to clone Mac OS X to a new hard drive, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.10.07. Whether you want to put a bigger, faster drive in your Mac or clone OS X for use in another Mac, here’s the simple process.
- Apple trumps Microsoft in making the 64-bit transition transparent to users, Frank Fox, Stop the Noiz, 2008.09.18. To use more than 4 GB of RAM under Windows, you need a 64-bit PC and the 64-bit version of Windows. On the Mac, OS X 10.4 and later already support it.
- Portable Mac as primary vs. secondary computer, looking at ThinkPad design, and more, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.09.17. Also learning from the Mac Portable, upgrading a PowerBook 5300, another free app to assure maintenance routines are run, and more.
- Bring back the Macintosh Portable, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.09.09. Not to fault today’s MacBooks, but there’s something to be said for a no compromise, very expandable, portable Macintosh as well.
- SATA, SATA II, SATA 600, and Product Confusion Fatigue, Frank Fox, Stop the Noiz, 2008.09.08. In addition to the original SATA specification and the current 3 Gb/s specification, SATA revision 3.0 is just around the corner.
- Does running OS X system maintenance routines really do any good?, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.08.26. Mac OS X is designed to run certain maintenance routines daily, weekly, and monthly – but can’t if your Mac is off or asleep.
- MagSafe out of warranty replacement, Nvidia Flaw Affecting Macs, MacBook Air revision soon, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2008.08.22. Also 160 GB microdrive from Intel, MacBooks on grocer’s shelves, Intel future CPU plans, a checkpoint friendly notebook case, bargain ‘Books from $220 to $2,699, and more.
- Simple Mac security in the age of malware, Kev Kitchens, Kitchens Sync, 2008.08.13. Unlike Windows PCs, at this point Macs can’t become infected simply from being on the Internet, but you still need to be careful about your downloads.
- Tricking out your notebook for superior desktop duty, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.07.29. For desktop use, you don’t need to be limited by the built-in trackpad, keyboard, and display or a notebook’s compromised ergonomics.
- Kensington Portable Power Outlet a great accessory for the road warrior, Charles Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.07.22. With three AC outlets and two USB charging ports, this compact device is a great way to have extra power outlets when you’re on the go.
- Free VirtualBox for Mac now a virtual contender, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.07.21. A year ago, the Mac version of VirtualBox lacked some essential features. Over the past year, it’s grown into a very useful tool.
- 5 business essentials for ‘The Switch’, Jason Packer, Macs in the Enterprise, 2008.06.06. If you’re planning a migration from Windows to Macs, these five steps will help you succeed in making the switch.
- Fast drives mean fast Macs, 256 MB SSD, 16:9 ratio notebook screens the new norm, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2008.05.30. Also Centrino 2 delayed, traveling with a MacBook Air, time for notebooks to drop internal optical drives, how to right click with a trackpad, bargain ‘Books from $279 to $2,699, and more.
- SheepShaver brings Classic Mac OS to Intel Macs and Leopard, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.05.20. Mac OS X 10.5 doesn’t support Classic Mode. Neither does Leopard. But SheepShaver lets you emulate a PowerPC Mac and run the Classic Mac OS.
- Limited USB bus power in Santa Rosa Macs, 1 TB in your ‘Book, MacBook cooler, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2008.05.16. Also Hitachi first to market with 320 GB 7200 rpm notebook drive, Apple to refund for sparking power adapters, interoffice style sleevecases, 10 hour external MacBook Air battery, bargain ‘Books from $150 to $2,699, and more.
- Windows on Macs: Three paths for integration, Jason Packer, Macs in the Enterprise, 2008.05.14. Mac users have three routes for running Windows apps: Run Windows using Boot Camp or virtualization, or use a compatibility layer such as WINE.
- Mac growth 4x PC rate, USB power famine, Montevina chips not in new iMacs, and more, Mac News Review, 2008.05.02. Also reducing energy waste from peripherals, fixing the Mac’s shortcomings, Open Computer shipping and reviewed, why Apple bought PA Semi, 5x the range for Time Capsule, Mac gaming mouse, and more.
- Restore stability to a troubled Mac with a clean system install, Keith Winston, Linux to Mac, 2008.01.15. If your Mac is misbehaving, the best fix just might be a fresh reinstallation of Mac OS X – don’t forget to backup first.
- Fast, compact, light, quiet, cool, long battery life, large screen, affordable: You can’t have it all, Andrew J Fishkin, Best Tools for the Job, 2007.12.05. Notebook design involves trade-offs. Small, light, and quiet means a smaller screen, lower capacity batteries, and a slower, cooler running CPU.
- Cross-platform computing: Better than it’s ever been, Andrew J Fishkin, Best Tools for the Job, 2007.11.13. Macs can read PC media, both Macs and Windows PCs play nice with each other on networks, and emulation makes it easy for Intel Macs to run Windows apps.
- Region free DVD viewing on Macs and Windows PCs, Andrew J Fishkin, Best Tools for the Job, 2007.09.07. There are three ways to get around region restrictions on your computer’s DVD player: software, hardware, and extraction.
- VMware Fusion beta 3 adds new features, takes a giant step toward release, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2007.04.11. Looking for a virtualization solution for your Intel Mac? The latest beta of VMWare Fusion makes several improvements and includes some unique features.
- 1 core, 2 cores, 4 cores, 8: How much difference does it make?, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2007.04.10. Geekbench scores make it possible to compare the newest 3 GHz 8-core Mac Pro with the 1.5 GHz Core Solo Mac mini – and all the models in between.
- CrossOver: Run Windows apps on Intel Macs without Windows, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2007.02.28. If you need to run Windows apps on your Intel Mac once in a while, CrossOver may be the least expensive way to do so since it eliminates the need to buy a copy of Windows.
- Simple ergonomics for the road warrior, Ed Eubanks Jr, The Efficient Mac User, 2007.01.16. The benefits of external keyboards and mice, laptop stands, typing gloves, and anti-RSI software for notebook users.
- To AppleCare or not to AppleCare?, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2006.11.20. Consumer Reports, which generally recommends against extended warranties, says AppleCare makes sense. But does it?
- Pre-2006 software: The big reason you shouldn’t buy an Intel Mac today, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.11.09. If you work with software that predates the Intel transition, you may be better off sticking with PowerPC Macs. And if you use classic apps, you definitely want to avoid Intel.
- Better laptop performance: What’s the best upgrade?, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.10.09. Memory, CPU, bus speed, and hard drives all impact performance and battery life. Which upgrades will give you the most up time in the field?
- Region free DVD viewing options for Intel and PowerPC Macs, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.09.12. Several hardware and software options that will let your view ‘wrong region’ DVDs on your PowerPC or Intel Mac.
- 7 tools for keeping your laptop (uh, notebook) cool, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2006.07.24. A quick look at the Podium CoolPad, ChillMat, ChillHubs, Laptop Desk, Xpad, iLap, and iBreeze – seven stands designed to keep you ‘Books running cooler.
- Drive matters, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.06.14. There’s more to picking the right hard drive than size, spindle speed, buffer size, and price. But how can a 5400 rpm drive ever outperform a 7200 rpm drive?
- Power strategies for using your ‘Book in the field: Batteries and AC adapters, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.05. One or two extra batteries and at least one spare AC adapter can be essential when you’re traveling and need to get hours and hours of use from your ‘Book.
- Comparing Apples to Apples: When is Macintel faster? When does PowerPC make more sense?, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.01.29. Benchmarks show the Intel Core Duo flies through native code but plods through PowerPC programs. Will PowerPC or Intel give you the more productive workflow?
- MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2011) – Technical Specifications, Apple
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