Someone offered to buy my year-old Core Duo MacBook Pro 15″ notebook, so I took the opportunity to upgrade to a Core 2 Duo 17″. I know a lot of folks pondering the Core Duo -> Core 2 Duo jump as well as whether to do 15″ or 17″, so I thought I’d share some observations:

– I had considered the MBP 17″ too big in the past, but now I think it’s perfect size. It doesn’t fit in many of my bags, but the bigger screen is very nice — and bonus, the resolution is the same as my Apple 20″ LCD, so no more jumpy windows when switching from external to internal display. And, maybe ’cause I’m a big guy, I’ve enjoyed the increased lap footprint.

– The new cooling system on the Core 2 Duo MBP units is wonderful. I can now start calling my MBP a “laptop” instead of a “notebook”.

– I haven’t noticed much of a speed bump between the Core Duo 2 GHz and the Core 2 Duo 2.33 GHz, but I didn’t compare them head-to-head. I did notice that Parallels seems to run much smoother; no more dragging the entire system to its knees while the VM spins up.

– I switched from the 100 GB 7200 RPM drive to the 160 GB 5400 RPM model. I regret it. There was some talk about increased drive densities mitigating the effect of RPM, but my boot-up time has slowed and several disk-intensive tasks are noticeably slower. I may upgrade the drive myself to resolve this issue.

– I used to always have trouble getting a speaker jack into the laptop: I had to insert it exactly straight, otherwise it wouldn’t go in. This problem has gone away with the new model.

– In the first couple of days using the unit, it feel asleep once abruptly while closed but connected to an external display and power. I’ve never had this happen before. It woke back up right away when I touched a key. In the first week or so, of the ten or so times I put it to sleep, it didn’t wake up twice. Uggggh. Can’t you get this right yet Apple?

– My old MBP occasionally emitted a buzzing noise when the LCD was displaying at less than full brightness. This has gone away.

My take is the upgrade from 15″ Core Duo to 15″ Core 2 Duo ain’t worth it, but if you want to make the leap from 15″ to 17″, there are enough misc. value-adds (including 802.11n) to make it worth-while for some. If I had it to do over again, I’d skip the upgrade and wait for something more dramatic — especially with all this talk of LCD back-lights, new processors, and storage devices.

2 thoughts on “Upgrading The MacBook Pro

  1. I’m on one of 15″, and i’m interested getting some speakers for it. do you know if i need to install a new port or anything, or what? thanks so much

  2. You want external speakers? You have two choices. If you’re not an audiophile, just get some speakers that plug in to the headphone jack. If you are into high-quality sound reproduction, get speakers with a digital in and get a digital adapter for the MBP’s headphone jack.

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