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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

MacBook Pro 17" mid 2009 to MacBook Pro 17" late 2011 (and why no MBP 15" Retina)


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JenBell

 
Member Since: Dec 01, 2007
Posts: 24
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Hello Peoples,

I bought a MacBook Pro 17" mid 2009 Core 2 Duo 2.8Ghz 4GB RAM, 500GB 5400RPM, Anti-Glare as soon as it came out in 2009. Been using it ever since.
History: Upgraded the HDD to 500GB 7200RMP, upgraded RAM to 8GB, upgraded HDD to 500GB MomentusXT, then recently to 750GB MomentusXT HDD.

(Buy a Mac for all my employees, they mostly prefer iMAC 27" - huge Apple fan)

I have been waiting patiently for the new MBPs to come out and when they did, I was hugely disappointed there was no MBP17. I then seriously spent my time doing my homework on MBP15 Retina - went down to the Apple Store and spent a good 2 hours looking and using it. Came away even more disappointed than before. The new Retina MBP is pretty sweet but I need the screen size not so much the resolution. I got a closer look at the Retina laptop when a hired a new employee last Friday 15th and decided to get them the new Retina laptop, 500GB, 8GB RAM. Came back to the office and then started getting it all setup, dongle for Ethernet (seriously...fail), Firewire dongle (another fail). To stop the whole dongle wire mess that was starting to happen on the table I connected the Mac to my Mac 27" display and used that for Ethernet and FW. We use large files and WiFi is not going to cut it and looking my new team members face when it hit her that she was going to have to use the dongle all the time, we almost started crying because the Mac is some beautiful and clean. Personally, I'd go nutty if I had to use a screen with soooo much glare (she loves the laptop by the way and like all MBP owners became extremely protective of it very quickly).

I placed an order on Apple shortly afterwards for a Refurb: MBP 17" late October, 2.5Ghz, 4GB RAM, 500GB 5400RPM HDD (with AppleCare), AntiGlare. Also ordered: 16GB Corsair RAM SODIMMs (8GB x2), Samsung 830 SSD 512GB and Speck transparent case.
I can live without USB 3.0 but need my Express34 slot. CPU, RAM and GPU is good enough (Adobe heavy users and some FM12 when I get depressed (telling men what to do always feels good;-) and more recently started using After Effects alot more than before).

Point of this message. Going to keep a small thread here and update it with my progress. For the first time I am not buying the latest Apple gear but slightly older hardware for the simple reason that the MBP15 Retina has a lot of drawbacks for simply a slimer design and better CPU, GPU.

My to-do list of things for my late 2011 MBP17:
1. Check for dead pixels on arrival
2. Ensure system is updated fully using combo standalone update (never use Apple Software update, caused far too many issues for me in the past)
3. Benchmark using Cine and Geek tools (RAM/CPU testing only)
4. Samsang 830 512GB SSD (notebook kit). Connect to Windows using provided USB cable. Update firmware (no benchmarking on SDD).
5. Install 830 SSD
6. Install 16GB RAM
7. Boot off SuperDuper HDD copy of old MBP install and run cine/geek benchmarks to make sure hardware works fine (RAM testing more than anything)
8. Install Lion on 830 SSD. First time in 3 years I'll be re-installing my Mac OS itself
9. Setup/Install the apps and tweaks I use
10. Install SMC fan controller and iStats and ensure my fan speeds remain normal (kext issue conflict can cause some issues)
11. Final benchmark testing before giving it the all clear to use.
12. Copy all my data over (extremely messy dev folders all over the place so should be interesting)
13. Optimise install for SSD (few tweaks that I will be doing, will document everything here, RAM disk tweak though, too risky when working on large files)

On a side note, my work setup is: MBP17", 1x WD Firewire 2TB (SuperDuper daily backup), 1x TimeCapsule 1TB (timemachine backups), 1x WD 1TB USB HDD (weekly backups - every Sunday), 23" Dell Monitor via DVI (monitoring email accounts), iPAD Retina 32GB (FileMaker Pro DB access). PCI Express 34= Gig Ethernet Adapter, iPAD and my iPhone are always connected for charging via USB.

I hope people will chime in with any tips / tricks and comments.

JenBell
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JenBell

 
Member Since: Dec 01, 2007
Posts: 24
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JenBell is offline
Got the following delivered today 18th June 2012:

1x Refurbed MBP 17" 2.5Ghz late 2011 (October). 4GB RAM. It came with 750GB 7200RPM HDD, was expecting 500GB 5400RPM (bonus I guess).
Physical Condition of MBP:

Outside:
Vertical scratches/scrapes on left side of laptop corner base. 1x Horizontal scratch 9mm from the IR sensor. IR sensor is fine, scratch is near it. Top of case has a minor small scratch. Outside Summary = fine. Nothing major. Speck case will protect and hide these anyway.

Inside: No dead pixels (AWESOME!!!!)
Main HDD Bay: SATA 6Gbps. HDD is SATA speed is set to 1.5Gbps (hardware limitation of the drive).
Optical Bay: SATA 6Gbps. Could use data doubler but only to SATA 2 speed drives.

Tackpad. Aligned is slightly off. Top if level but is in an incline so your finger rubs against the bottom, left and right side of the trackpad barrier. I plan to remove the battery and see if loosening the main click screw will make it align level and still keep the click on the trackpad.

Speck Case. Transparent. Not opened this yet.
Apple Care. Not registered it yet.

Samsung 830 SSD 512GB.
Plan to connect to Windows laptop and upgrade to latest firmware.

My USB stick just died, failed burning ESD lion image using toast. Will be using disk utility and give it a go.

More updates to follow.
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CanuckBoater

 
Member Since: Sep 16, 2007
Posts: 221
CanuckBoater will become famous soon enough

CanuckBoater is offline
Apple cut its teeth with users like you.

Users like you made the product what it is today.

Bravo.
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JenBell

 
Member Since: Dec 01, 2007
Posts: 24
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First issue. Samsung SSD 830 Notebook kit USB connection dongle. Connected it to my Windows Lenovo x120e laptop (x64) and it detects the drive, formatted and enabled. The drive is not being recognized as Samsung drive in Win7. This means the magician software, likewise, cannot see the drive. AHCI mode is enabled on BIOS but that only has effect if its connected via SATA. I'll need to connect this to a Windows machine properly and then update. Will be taking the SSD home with me and connecting to my home PC.

Creating a USB Lion install failed on 2x USB keys. Downloaded Lion install again from AppStore. Bought some blank DVDs...will give them a go.

Seriously...this SSD better be worth it or I am going to punish myself by using the Lenovo for a week for work-_-

(Canuck...er...not sure if what you said is a good thing or not...er...thank you?)

Update:
MBP has been installed with Samsung 830 512GB SSD. Corsair 2x 8GB (16GB) RAM also installed.
I decided against touching the trackpad. I am going to see how it goes for a few days before I decide to look into it.
Decided that I am also going to buy the OWC data doubler. The HDD that came with the MBP (750GB 7200RPM Sata2 1.5Gbps) is a perfect fit. I'd honestly prefer to use my old Seagate MomentusXT 750GB but its a Sata3 drive and not reliable enough (OWC has articles on this). Keep changing my mind on the whole doubler thing.

Issues during build:
1. SSD already had latest firmware
2. The reason for my failed USB Lion install was simple, install is has issues with me (friend did the same thing as I did on my laptop and made a key fine)
3. Reason for failed DVD Lion install burns - laptop DVDROM is dying...well almost dead
4. I almost drool-killed the SSD (its so smooth and shiny;-)

Lion is installed to version 10.7.4. No firmware updates, just some itunes, safari and minor updates to apply. Will do this in the morning.

Benchmark test came out fine. It's stable RAM wise. CPU is cool. No idea what the temps were. No installed anything yet.

So next stage. Not so fun part. Installing all the apps and tweaks, etc and then getting my photoshop setup back.

SSD Optimisations:

1. Disabled writing RAM to HDD when closing lid / enter hibernate mode
2. Disabled the failing sensor setting
3. Enabled TRIM support via Trim tweak app. (I enabled TRIM even though the driver has an internal idle garbage collection timer, the garbage timer at the SSD level would still re-arrange the any data on the SSD, whereas enabled TRIM would ensure the SSD level GC would not move the data deleted in the OS, which will reduce writes. One thing to bear in mind, if you are using SandForce controllers and they have active GC, then dont enable TRIM as in this instance OS TRIM will actually work against it and reduce performance).
4. Disabled putting HDD to sleep in energy saving settings for both battery/power profiles.

Got a few more SDD tweaks I am looking at, last access time is something I need to look into more detail to understand exactly what the effects are all round.

Will keep updating this thread till I finish.
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TyVega

 
Member Since: May 26, 2012
Posts: 7
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I followed the WWDC closely watching for MBP updates as my company just bought me a fully decked, late 2011 17" MBP per my request.

We were still within the window for swapping what we just bought out with other tech.

Initially, I was psyched about the new Retina (or MBPR) and this excitement seemed to be thoroughly backed by countless blogs and articles.

I went through the whole process of arranging the swap and getting everything set for delivery when I decided to run into the Apple store and get some hands-on experience with the MBPR. I brought my current 17" along for the ride.

I ended up with a pocket full of disappointment. While the raw processing power is slightly better (hard to believe the quoted 60%), the MBPR seems very rough around the edges (metaphorically, of course. Literally, it is quite crisp around the edges).

The Apple employees seemed stunned when I demonstrated that my 17" was able to more fluidly and smoothly scroll through long websites or PDFs and move windows around the desktop without little stutters. Comparatively, The MBPR just seemed to be glitchy with staggered UI flow. Even Photoshop ran at par, if not better on my 17" than it did on the MBPR.

These subtle inconsistencies, for me, indicate potentially system-wide problems that will likely take another 3 - 4 months to become commonly-known.

And while the 2880x1800px display is gorgeous, it actually presents more than a few problems for designers, especially designers with a pixel-by-pixel narcissism creating content for non-retina users.

Ultimately, with my 17" propped open right next to the brand new MBPR, I decided to keep my 17" and forego the MBPR until the technology is further developed - or perhaps utilized on an iMac.

@ JenBell,

How difficult is it to boost a late 2011 MBP 17" to 16 GB RAM? And where do you find the components? I would be interested in pursuing something like this. Can a 17" be upgraded from Sandy to Ivy Bridge in a similar way?

Current Specs: Late 2011, 17" MBP, HiRes AntiGlare, 2.5 Ghz i7, 8GB RAM, 512 SSD, Dual Vid: Intel HD 3000 & AMD Radeon HD 6770M

Any suggestions?
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JenBell

 
Member Since: Dec 01, 2007
Posts: 24
JenBell is on a distinguished road

JenBell is offline
Hello Vega. Nice to meet you

MBPR15 is a very good laptop and while apps need to be optimized better for the display, the laptop does work very well. The smaller things like how Adobe suite works is usually noticed by previous MBP users more quickly, new MBP users will not be able to tell the different most of the time. I rely on Adobe a lot and just need it working as it does right now, nothing less and any work-arounds are out of the question.
I have had a few friends ask me the about the MBP15R vs the MBP17 they currently use, I usually try to understand how they work and most importantly what there tech skills are. For example, if the friend is a techie (can open a laptop) then I would just highlight that the new MBP15R cannot be upgraded, everything must be replaced or fixed by Apple whereas the MBP17/non-Retina's can be fixed by yourself if need be. For some people, even with AppleCare, they would prefer to buy the part themselves and fix it as the information on the laptop is sensitive and they simply cannot left anyone else have access to it in any form. (Actually had the original 500GB 5400 RPM HDD I got with the MBP17 2009 with just SL installed, in case I HAVE to take to Apple I can just swap out the HDD)

I have the same MBP model as you, upgrading the RAM is the easiest upgrade you can do. OWC/YouTube have some great videos in HD that show you the whole process. Just take your time and do it right.

RAM links below:

Crucial: 16GB kit (8GBx2), 204-pin SODIMM, DDR3 PC3-10600 upgrades for Apple MacBook Pro 2.5GHz Intel Quad-Core i7 (17-inch DDR3) Late-2011 Laptop/Notebook, CT2625476 from Crucial.com
OWC: OWC 1333DDR3S16P 16.0GB (8GBx2) PC3-10600 DDR3 1333MHz... at OWC
Corsair: Corsair Mac Memory

I bought Corsair CMSO RAM instead of the Apple specific CMSA RAM for the simple reason that the Apple version was not available when I bought it, Crucial and OWC were too expensive (this was in 2011). If you do buy the modules, I stick to these three. History wise, my old MBP17 2009 unibody RAM upgrade was Crucial and new MBP17 (same as yours) Corsair. Crucial prices have come down so I'd lean toward Crucial more than the other 2.

Just the remember the most important thing, make sure you have a good magnetized screwdriver when opening the MBP, it does help as the screw are very small.

JenBell
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