17″ MacBook Pro (Early 2008)

Multitouch. Introduced with the iPhone, brought to the Mac with the MacBook Air, it now makes its debut on the MacBook Pro. Surprisingly, Apple is doing it using the same trackpad, not a larger one like the MBA has.

17" MacBook ProAlthough nominally faster at 2.5 GHz, the new Penryn CPU used in the new MacBook Pro has a larger Level 2 (L2) cache – 6 MB vs. 4 MB in the previous generation – plus an enhanced SSE4 vector engine. A 2.6 GHz build-to-order option adds $250 to the price.

The standard hard drive is an impressive 250 GB, way more than the 160 GB that was the norm last year, and Apple offers two options: more storage with a 4200 rpm 300 GB hard drive or more speed with a 7200 rpm 200 GB drive.

Apple has also updated its notebook keyboards, which no longer have an embedded numeric keypad and have an Option key on the right side, replacing the old Enter key.

This model includes 512 MB of video memory for the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor. It has 3 USB 2.0 ports, one more than the 15″ MBP offers.

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

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, which had been included with previous models, is now a US$20 option.

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

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 2008.02.26 at US$2,799; 2.6 GHz build-to-order option $250 additional; refreshed with 4 GB RAM, 320 GB hard drive, and 1920 x 1200 display standard 2008.10.14; replaced by faster Unibody model 2009.01.06.
  • Part no.: MB166 (original), MB766 (Oct. 2008)

Mac OS

Core System

  • CPU: 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, soldered in place, no upgrade options
  • Level 2 cache: 6 MB shared cache on CPU
  • Bus: 800 MHz
  • RAM: 2/4 GB, expandable to 6 GB using PC2-5300 DDR2 RAM
  • Performance: Geekbench 2 (Leopard): 3228 (2.5 GHz), 3047 (2.4 GHz)


  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT on PCI Express with dual-link DVI support, faster GPU speed than Core Duo model
  • VRAM: 512 MB
  • Video out: DVI connector (VGA supported with included adapter; S-video and composite video supported with optional adapters)
  • display: 17″ (43 cm) 18-bit 1680 x 1050 117 ppi color active matrix
  • optional display: 17″ (43 cm) 18-bit 1920 x 1200 color active matrix
  • supports 1680 x 1050, 1280 x 800, 1152 x 720, 1024 x 768, 1024 x 640, 800 x 600, 720 x 480, and 640 x 480 pixels at 5:4 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


  • Hard drive: 250/320 GB 5400 rpm SATA; optional 200 GB 7200 rpm, 300 GB 4200 rpm, and 320 GB 7200 rpm drives
  • 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
  • floppy drive: external USB only


  • USB: 3 USB 2.0 ports, only one high-powered device device allowed
  • FireWire 400: 1 port
  • FireWire 800: 1 port
  • Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
  • WiFi: 802.11n AirPort Extreme built in
  • Modem: optional v.92 56k external USB modem
  • Bluetooth: BT 2.1 built in
  • IR receiver: supports Apple Remote
  • ExpressCard/34: 1 slot
  • expansions bays: none


  • size: 10.4 x 15.4 x 1.0″ (265 x 392 x 25.9 mm)
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds (3.08 kg)

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