The June 2007 MacBook Pro Value Equation: Some Surprises

If you only took a quick glance at CPU speed, you might wonder why Apple even bothered to introduced new MacBook Pro models yesterday. Going from 2.16 GHz to 2.2 GHz is a 2% speed gain, and jumping from 2.33 GHz to 2.4 GHz isn’t much better – a gain of 3%.



But there’s a lot more to the Mid 2007 MacBook Pro models than meets the eye (yes, they still look the same). The new speed comes about because Apple has adopted Intel’s latest notebook Core 2 CPU, part of the Santa Rosa platform (a.k.a. Centrino Pro in the Windows world). This second generation Merom CPU runs on an 800 MHz bus, up from 667 MHz for earlier MacBook Pro models. That means the CPU can receive data from system memory more quickly. Better yet, to save energy, the CPU can dynamically slow down the system bus, providing better battery life. There’s also an Enhanced Deep Sleep mode.

The Santa Rosa chipset integrates 802.11n WiFi, which means less chips inside the MacBook Pro – and less power draw. The Santa Rosa platform also supports flash memory, although there is no indication Apple is using it in the new MacBooks.

New Displays

The 15″ MacBook Pro is especially notable as the first “green” notebook computer. The display is mercury-free and uses LED backlighting. Dell is expected to follow with its own 13.3″ LED-backlit model.

The 17″ MacBook Pro uses tried-and-true fluorescent backlighting, but it gains a higher resolution option. Those who want more than 1680 x 1050 on the screen can pay US$100 more for a 1920 x 1200 display.

Other Changes

Driving these screens you’ll find an Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor with 256 MB of memory (128 MB on the low-end 15″ model). You’ll also find an 8x dual-layer SuperDrive as a standard feature, along with 2 GB of RAM (the old 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro had 1 GB). And Apple has raised the memory ceiling from 3 GB to 4 GB.

The base 15″ MacBook Pro has a 120 GB hard drive, and the 2.4 GHz models each have 160 GB drives. 200 GB and 250 GB drives are build-to-order options.


With all of these changes, the new MacBook Pro models retail for exactly the same price as the old models they replace, which are being blown out at reduced prices. Here are prices at Club Mac and MacMall:

  • 15″ 2.16 GHz, 1 GB/120, $1,649 after mail-in rebate
  • 15″ 2.2 GHz, 2 GB/120, $1,844 a/r
  • 15″ 2.33 GHz, 2 GB/120, $2,149 a/r
  • 15″ 2.4 GHz, 2 GB/160, $2,344 a/r
  • 17″ 2.33 GHz, 2 GB/160, $2,549 a/r
  • 17″ 2.4 GHz, 2 GB, 160, $2,644 a/r

What do you get for the extra money?

2.2 GHz 15″ MacBook Pro

You get 1 GB additional memory (worth $40), a bigger hard drive (worth about $50), and a faster SuperDrive (unknown value). You gain 2% more speed, which may be worth $40 (2% of retail), and you get 802.11n WiFi with higher speed and greater reach (unknown value). I’d peg all of that as worth $150-175.

Harder to quantify are the value of better battery life from the LED backlight and the ability to dynamically reduce bus speed. Also the value of the Nvidia GPU, which should matter mostly to gamers.

With the discontinued 2.16 GHz Core 2 model selling for $195 less, it’s the better value for most users.

2.4 GHz 15″ MacBook Pro

There’s a bit more of a speed gain with the 2.4 GHz model, and 3% of retail is $75 – a rough approximation of what the additional CPU speed could be worth. You once again have a bigger hard drive, which we’ll also value at $40. Overall, I’m estimating the added value at $125-150 not counting intangibles like increased battery life.

At $195 less, most users should find the 2.33 GHz model a better value.

2.4 GHz 17″ MacBook Pro

The differences between the new 17″ MacBook Pro and the old one are a better graphics processor, 802.11n WiFi, and a 3% faster CPU on a faster system bus. All relatively intangible, but we could ballpark the value of the addition CPU speed at $85 (3% of retail).

With the old 2.33 GHz model selling for $95 less, I think we’ve found one case where the new model is a better value than the close-out one. Better WiFi, Nvidia graphics, a bit more CPU speed, and a faster bus make it worth the difference.

What About Refurbished?

We’re huge fans of refurbished Macs here at Low End Mac. I’ve only bought one new Mac that wasn’t refurbished in the past decade. Refurbs are returned to the factory, verified as up to spec, and sold with the same one-year warranty as new Macs.

Apple is clearing out the 15″ 2.16 GHz Core 2 refurbs for $1,599 including ground shipping – and no rebates necessary. Unless you absolutely have to have a new-in-box computer, this is the way to go on the low end.

The 2.33 GHz 15″ MacBook Pro is selling for $1,999 – $150 less than the “after rebate” price of a new one. That makes it a very hot value. In fact, it’s the same price as the new 2.2 GHz model – you gain 6% in CPU speed but lose the Nvidia graphics and LED-backlit display. All in all, a very tempting alternative at $1,999 to the new 2.2 GHz MacBook Pro.

And at the top, the old 17″ Core 2 model is being cleared out at $2,299 refurbished. That’s $250 less than the post-rebate price – and $350 less than the post-rebate price on the new 2.4 GHz model. The value is unmistakable.

Wrapping Up

In brief, the refurbished Core 2 MacBook Pro models are the best deals going. For those who insist on buying new rather than refurb, close-out prices on the 15″ models make them a slightly better value than the new 15″ ones, but at 17″, the new model has enough small advantages to justify the small difference in price.

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