Mac Musings

The June 2009 17" MacBook Pro Value Equation

Dan Knight - 2009.06.11 - Tip Jar

Apple made some significant changes to the 17" MacBook Pro design when it announced the new model with unibody construction in January. The June 2009 revision is a bit faster and has a larger hard drive - and it retails for a bit less.

17" Unibody MacBook Pro
17" Unibody MacBook Pro

We have the same 4 GB of RAM (8 GB maximum), same dual graphics processors, and a faster version of the same CPU.

In terms of raw processing power, 2.8 GHz isn't a big step up from 2.66 GHz - everything else being equal, it's only 5.25% faster. That won't have a big impact on productivity, but it will help a bit. (For productivity mavens, there's a 3.06 GHz option. That's 9.3% more speed than the stock CPU at a $300 premium.)

And for serious designers, the 17" Unibody MacBook Pro is Apple's only notebook with an anti-glare option. It's probably worth the extra $50.

The most controversial feature of the 17" Unibody MacBook Pro is the battery. It packs a stunning 8 hour charge, enough to get through an entire workday. But to stuff that much power into the computer, Apple chose to build the battery into the computer; it's not user replaceable - a feature all MacBook Pro models now share.

Close-out Pricing on the Old

Apple dealers need to clear out old inventory to make room for the new model. Here are today's best deals:

  • 2.66 GHz Unibody, $2,200 shipped
  • 2.8 GHz Unibody, $2,249 shipped

You're paying about 2.5% more for over 5% more speed - pretty much a no-brainer.

Comparing that with refurbished pricing ($1,949 from Apple), the value equation goes the other way with a 15% difference in price for a 5% faster machine. While they last, get your refurbs!

New vs. Used

Used 17" MBP machines are fairly rare, but they are priced to sell. From the 17" MacBook Pro price tracker, updated today, the best deals are:

  • 2.16 GHz Core Duo, $1,190 shipped
  • 2.5 GHz Core 2, $1,350

Granted, these are slower and have a lower screen resolution than the latest 17-inchers, but these prices are in the same ballpart as used 15-inchers. If you want the big screen on a budget, these are two hot deals.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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