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What are the differences between the "Mid-2009" 17-Inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo and the "Early 2009" MacBook Pro notebook that it replaced?
Please note that all Macs mentioned in this Q&A have been discontinued. The "Mid-2009" MacBook Pro models were replaced by the "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro line on April 13, 2010.
Unlike the 13-Inch and 15-Inch "Mid-2009" models -- which have significant changes compared to the models each replaced -- the MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.8 17" (Mid-2009) is quite similar to the MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.66 17-Inch (Early 2009/Unibody) that preceded it.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc (Mid-2009 17-Inch MacBook Pro)
Both models have a black and silver "Unibody" case -- milled from a single block of aluminum -- and include a backlit keyboard, a "no button" glass "multi-touch" trackpad with support for "four finger" gestures and programmable "zones", and 17.0" widescreen (1920x1200) LED-backlit "glossy" displays of similar quality. By default, each has a "glossy" display, but either could be configured with an anti-glare display (with a silver "frame") for an additional US$50.
Both also have a built-in non-swappable battery design that provides an estimated 8 hours of runtime and this battery was not created to be removed or serviced by end users.
Connectivity is the same as well. Both models include AirPort Extreme (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Gigabit Ethernet, three USB 2.0 ports, optical digital/analog audio in/out, a "Mini DisplayPort" that supports an external display at 2560x1600, and an ExpressCard/34 expansion slot.
Even internally these models are practically the same. Both use a similar (if not identical) logic board design and 45 nm "Penryn" Intel "Core 2 Duo" processors with two independent processor "cores" on a single silicon chip and a shared 6 MB of "on chip" level 2 cache. Both have a 1066 MHz frontside bus, support 8 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (PC3-8500), support Serial ATA hard drives, have dual graphics processors -- a NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT with 512 MB of dedicated GDDR3 SDRAM and an "integrated graphics" NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256 MB of memory shared with the system, as well as an 8X DL "SuperDrive".
Ultimately, the "Mid-2009" MacBook Pro model is different only in that it has a faster processor, a larger hard drive, and a lower price. These differences are summarized below:
|MacBook Pro 17"||2.66 (Early 2009)||2.8 (Mid-2009)|
|Processor Speed:||2.66 GHz*||2.8 GHz*|
|Level 2 Cache:||6 MB||6 MB|
|Frontside Bus:||1066 MHz||1066 MHz|
|Hard Drive Size:||320 GB||500 GB|
|Standard RAM:||4 GB||4 GB|
|Maximum RAM:||8 GB||8 GB|
|Video Type:||NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
|NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
|Video Memory:||512 MB/256 MB (Shared)||512 MB/256 MB (Shared)|
|SuperDrive:||8X DL||8X DL|
|Est. Battery Life:||8 Hours||8 Hours|
|Apple Order No:||MB604LL/A||MC226LL/A|
* By custom configuration, the "Early 2009" model also was offered with a 2.93 GHz "Core 2 Duo" (T9800) processor for an additional US$300 and the "Mid-2009" model can be configured with a 3.06 GHz "Core 2 Duo" (T9900) for an additional US$300.
† Both models also can be configured with an "anti-glare" configuration for an additional US$50.
Site sponsor PowerMax has new and used configurations of the MacBook and MacBook Pro models available free of sales tax. OWC sells memory upgrades for the "Mid-2009" MacBook Pro models (and other Macs) at affordable prices.
Please refer to the Ultimate Mac Comparison feature to dynamically compare any MacBook Pro model to any other G3 or later Mac.