17″ MacBook Pro (Early 2009)

A lot of features in the Early 2009 17″ MacBook Pro were anticipated based on the Early 2008 17″ model and the Late 2008 15″ Unibody MacBook Pro: Unibody construction, dual GPUs, glass trackpad, glossy display standard, and 1920 x 1200 resolution – and losing the FireWire 400 port wasn’t unexpected.

Unibody 17" MacBook ProThe first unknown was processing power: Would the new MBP have a quad-core CPU? How fast would it run? The answer: 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo is standard, with a 2.93 GHz build-to-order option. 4 GB of RAM is standard, and this is the first Mac notebook to officially support 8 GB of RAM.

Probably the biggest surprise was the battery, which isn’t removable. By using squared off cells instead of cylindrical ones and eliminating the space needed to house a removable battery, Apple was able to increase battery capacity and battery life by up to 60%. That translates to 8 hours with the GeForce 9400M GPU or 7 hours with the 9600M, which has 512 MB of dedicated video memory.

Although a glossy screen is standard, Apple does offer a $50 anti-glare option. The new model has a slightly bigger footprint – a small price to pay for a thinner, lighter, faster machine.

Although it is not officially supported, the Early 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.

For the first time, Apple is using a true 24-bit display on one of its notebook computers. Until now, the only laptop screens available had only supported 18-bit color.

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 earlier models, 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.

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 2009.01.06 at US$2,799; 2.93 GHz build-to-order option $300 additional; add $50 for anti-glare option; replaced by faster model 2009.06.08.
  • Part no.: MB604

Mac OS

Core System

  • CPU: 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, soldered in place, no upgrade options
  • Bus: 1066 MHz
  • Performance: unknown
  • RAM: 4 GB, expandable to 8 GB using DDR3 SO-DIMMs
  • Level 2 cache: 6 MB shared cache on CPU


  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT and 9400M
    • VRAM, 9600M: 512 MB
    • VRAM, 9400M: uses 256 MB of system RAM (add 16 GB when used with an external display)
  • VRAM: 512 MB
  • Video out: Mini DisplayPort (VGA and DVI video 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: 320 GB 5400 rpm SATA standard; 7200 rpm SATA drive and 128 GB and 256 GB SSDs optional
  • 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
  • expansions bays: none


  • USB: 3 USB 2.0 ports, only 1 high-powered device device allowed
  • FireWire: 1 FW800 port (no FW400 port)
  • drive bus: SATA 2 (3.0 Mbps)
  • IR port: none
  • IR receiver: supports Apple Remote
  • Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
  • Modem: optional v.92 56k external USB modem
  • WiFi: 802.11n AirPort Extreme built in
  • Bluetooth: BT 2.1 built in
  • ExpressCard/34: 1 slot


  • size: 10.51 x 15.47 x 0.98″ (267 x 393 x 25 mm)
  • Weight: 6.6 pounds (2.99 kg)

Online Resources

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