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Apple MacBook Pro (Core 2 Duo 2.33GHz, 17-inch) review: Apple MacBook Pro (Core 2 Duo 2.33GHz, 17-inch)

Also included is Apple's excellent suite of proprietary software, iLife '06, which includes intuitive tools for building Web sites, creating DVDs, composing music, and working with photos.

There are only a few configurable options on the MacBook Pro. The 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU is set in stone, but the RAM and the hard drive are both upgradable. Going from 2GB of RAM to 3GB (which our review unit had) adds AU$930 to the cost, because it requires one expensive 2GB RAM module plus a regular 1GB module. The standard 2GB configuration uses two 1GB modules.

While the Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro significantly outperforms the older Core Duo version, the performance of the 15- and 17-inch Core 2 Duo models was essentially identical -- which is to be expected, as they share identical processors, RAM, and hard drives (although the default configurations call for a smaller hard drive in the 15-inch model). We did see a significant boost over the non-Pro version of the MacBook, which includes a slower 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, in both the Photoshop CS2 and the iTunes encoding tests. As with any current Core 2 Duo laptop, the MacBook Pro is more than powerful enough for running productivity and multimedia applications and tackling basic photo and video editing, as well.

The ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 GPU, the same one found in the previous generation of Core Duo MacBook Pros, isn't going to make this a blazingly fast gaming laptop, but in Quake 4 running at a resolution of 1,280x1,024, we got a very playable frame rate of 32.8fps. Gaming is not the first thing that springs to mind when one thinks of Macs, but thanks to Boot Camp, the utility that allows users to run a partitioned installation of Windows XP on their Intel Macs, you'll be able to play many popular PC games on this hardware.

In our DVD battery-drain test, we got 3 hours, 2 minutes of battery life from the MacBook Pro. Three hours for a laptop with a 17-inch screen is excellent, especially since the battery is not an extended model that sticks out from the back of the system. The battery is larger, however, than the 15-inch MacBook Pro's, which explains why both systems had nearly identical battery life even though the 17-inch model has a larger display to power.

The default warranty for the MacBook Pro is one year of coverage for parts and labour, but toll-free telephone support is limited to a mere 90 days -- well short of what you'd typically find on the PC side. You can purchase the AU$579 AppleCare Protection Plan to extend phone support and repair coverage to three years.

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