15″ MacBook Pro (Mid 2009)

For the first time in a long time, the 15″ MacBook Pro has become more affordable while adding an SD Card slot. The entry-level 2.53 GHz model doesn’t have the GeForce 9600GT M graphics chip found in the previous generation of 15″ MacBook Pros – and in the faster models in the current generation. Prices start at US$1,699.

15" Unibody MacBook ProFollowing the example set by the Early 2009 17″ Unibody MacBook Pro, the entire MacBook Pro line now has built-in batteries. In the case of the 15″ MacBook Pro, that battery is rated at 7 hours.

The 15″ MBP design puts all the ports (and a battery indicator) on the left side, leaving the right side for the SATA SuperDrive. The ExpressCard slot, present in every MacBook Pro until now, has been replaced with an SD Card slot.

The 2.66 GHz and faster versions include two graphics processors – the GeForce 9600M GT and the GeForce 9400M, which combines a graphics processor (with 16 or 32 cores!) and its supporting chipset on a single die. There’s also a Mini DisplayPort. The 9600M has its own dedicated video memory (256 MB on the 2.66 GHz MBP, 512 MB on the 2.8 GHz 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 glass trackpad is the same one found in the previous generation of MacBook Pro models. It supports 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-finger gestures. The entire trackpad 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. The 15″ MacBook Pro only comes with a glossy screen.

The new model comes in 2.53, 2.66, and 2.8 GHz versions, along with a 3.06 GHz build-to-order option. 250, 320, and 500 GB hard drives are standard. 4 GB of RAM is standard, and 8 GB is the maximum the new 15″ MBP supports.

Although it is not officially supported, the Mid 2009 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.

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.

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


  • introduced 2009.06.08 at US$1,699 (2.53 GHz, 250 GB hard drive), US$1,999 (2.66 GHz, 320 GB hard drive), and US$2,299 (2.8 GHz, 500 GB hard drive); add $300 to upgrade the 2.8 GHz model to 3.06 GHz; anti-glare screen added as $50 build-to-order option 2009.08.11; replaced by Intel Core “i” model 2010.04.13.
  • requires Mac OS X 10.5.7 Leopard through 10.11 El Capitan, macOS Sierra via patch tool – see macOS Sierra on Low End Macs. macOS 10.14 Mojave and later are not supported.
  • 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 not supported.
    • AirDrop is supported.
    • Power Nap is not supported.
  • CPU: 2.53/2.66/2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, soldered in place, no upgrade options
  • Bus: 1066 MHz
  • RAM: 4 GB, expandable to 8 GB using DDR3 SO-DIMMs
  • Level 2 cache: 3 MB shared cache on 2.53/2.66 GHz models, 6 MB on 2.8/3.06 GHz
  • Performance, Geekbench 3:
    • 32-bit single core: 1367 (2.53 GHz), 1435 (2.66 GHz), 1505 (2.8 GHz), 1630 (3.06 GHz)
    • 32-bit multicore: 2414 (2.53 GHz), 2540 (2.66 GHz), 2674 (2.8 GHz), 2907 (3.06 GHz)
    • 64-bit single core: 1492 (2.53 GHz), 1564 (2.66 GHz), 1621 (2.8 GHz), 1783 (3.06 GHz)
    • 64-bit multicore: 2654 (2.53 GHz), 2783 (2.66 GHz), 2910 (2.8 GHz), 3190 (3.06 GHz)
  • Video: Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT and 9400M (only 9400M on 2.53 GHz model)
    • VRAM, 9600M: 256 MB on 2.66 GHz model, 512 MB on 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
  • Hard drive: 250/320/500 GB 5400 rpm SATA standard, 7200 rpm and solid state drives (SSD) optional (128 GB or 256 GB)
  • 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
  • USB: 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • FireWire 400: none
  • FireWire 800: 1 port, backward compatible with FireWire 400
  • drive bus: SATA 1 (1.5 Mbps)
  • IR port: none
  • Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
  • Modem: No longer offered by Apple
  • WiFi: 802.11n AirPort Extreme built in
  • Bluetooth: BT 2.1 built in
  • ExpressCard/34: none
  • SD Card Slot: 1
  • size: 9.82 x 14.35 x 0.95″ (249 x 364 x 24.1 mm)
  • Weight: 5.5 pounds (2.49 kg)
  • Part no.: MC118 (2.53 GHz), MB985 (2.66 GHz), MB986 (2.8 GHz)

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