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What are the differences between the 15-Inch "Late 2008/Unibody" MacBook Pro models?
Please note that all Macs mentioned in this Q&A have been discontinued. The "Late 2008/Unibody" MacBook Pro systems were replaced by the "Mid-2009" MacBook Pro line on June 8, 2009.
The 15-Inch "Late 2008/Unibody" MacBook Pro systems -- the MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.4 15" (Unibody) and MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.53 15" (Unibody) -- are quite similar to one another, but are quite a bit different than the earlier MacBook Pro models that they replaced.
On March 3, 2009, Apple quietly replaced the MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.53 15" (Unibody) with the MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.66 15" (Unibody), which is officially identical apart from a faster 2.66 GHz processor (however it also unofficially supports an additional 2 GB of memory, 8 GB up from 6 GB).
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.
All "Unibody" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (Late 2008/Aluminum) models have an all new Aluminum iMac-esq black and silver case design milled from a single block of aluminum providing greater strength and a superior finish than previous systems.
All models also include backlit keyboards, a new "no button" glass "multi-touch" trackpad with support for new "four finger" gestures and programmable "zones", and have LED-backlit 15.4" widescreen TFT active-matrix "glossy" displays. For the first time, the 15-Inch "Pro" models do not offer "matte" or "anti-glare" displays, even as an option, much to the disappointment of some users (the 17-Inch model does have an "anti-glare" option for an additional US$50).
Connectivity of each includes an ExpressCard/34 slot, AirPort Extreme (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire "800" port, optical digital/analog audio in/out, and a new "Mini DisplayPort" that supports an external display at 2560x1600.
Internally, the models are quite similar as well, with the same logic board design and 45 nm "Penryn" Intel "Core 2 Duo" processors of different speeds with two independent processor "cores" on a single silicon chip, a 1066 MHz frontside bus, support for 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (PC3-8500), support for Serial ATA hard drives, an 8X DL "SuperDrive", and dual graphics processors -- a NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT with dedicated GDDR3 SDRAM and a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256 MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory.
The modest differences between the "Late 2008/Unibody" models -- configuration, capabilities, and price -- are summarized in this handy chart:
|MacBook Pro "Unibody"||2.4||2.53†|
|Processor Speed:||2.4 GHz||2.53 GHz*†|
|Level 2 Cache:||3 MB||6 MB|
|Hard Drive Size:||250 GB||320 GB|
|Standard RAM:||2 GB||4 GB|
|Dedicated GDDR3 VRAM:||256 MB||512 MB|
|Optical Capabilities:||8X DL "SuperDrive"||8X DL "SuperDrive"|
|Apple Part No:||MB470LL/A||MB471LL/A†|
*This model also was available via custom-configuration with a 2.8 GHz "T9600" processor for an extra US$300.
† On March 3, 2009, Apple quietly replaced the MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.53 15" (Unibody) with the MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.66 15" (Unibody), which is officially identical apart from a faster 2.66 GHz processor (T9550) and a new order number of MC026LL/A, however it also unofficially supports an additional 2 GB of memory (8 GB up from 6 GB). It additionally could be upgraded to a 2.93 GHz processor (T9800) for an additional US$300.
Please refer to the Ultimate Mac Comparison feature to dynamically compare any MacBook Pro model to any other G3 or later Mac.