2011 MacBook Pro 17" - 72 Hours Later.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by revelated, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. revelated, Feb 26, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011

    revelated macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    Plan to do a video review tomorrow, but for now....

    Reason it took 72 hours is because of whatever Apple changed between the 2010 and the 2011 that basically required me to reinstall Snow Leopard in order to get my SSD to boot. Not pleased with that at all - I already had 10.6.6 on the old Big Apple, this "custom build" totally screwed things up that worked fine.

    Anyway, I'll try to keep it brief.

    The Positives
    • The web browsing experience is improved. Pages load with more snap than before and scrolling is not delayed, even briefly.
    • VMWare is even faster than it was when I put the SSD in. I can cold boot a Windows 7 VM in 5 seconds.

    May not seem like a lot, but I depend on VMWare for work, so it's huge for me. As noted elsewhere this was not a major change to the hardware; rather, an "upgrade" to its internals. There are other frilly things like the FaceTime camera and other junk that I don't care about.

    The Negatives
    • Boot speed is actually worse. I got it down to a 15 second boot time, but coming from the old Big Apple where I could cold boot in 12 seconds, it is a little disconcerting. It may improve over time, I'll keep watching it. Guess I expected more than what I got.
    • Issues with a straight SSD swap which has worked on the past three MacBook Pros without incident - all of a sudden this one doesn't like it and forces you to reinstall Snow Leopard, even if it has the same version of Snow Leopard. Smells of a blatant attempt to get people to buy the SSD from Apple, but I only buy Intel SSD which they don't use. I couldn't even boot from CD to check the disk. I had to put the original disk back in, slave the SSD using USB-SATA, then do an install. That worked, but I still had issues with some pieces, so I had to do a clean format and reinstall, and even then VZAccess still doesn't work. Too much futzing for what is effectively the same OS.
    • The GPU will get HOT. I've pinned it down to the GPU based on the iFixIt teardown and the component locations; it's not the processor. My heat gets generated directly center and below the screen which according to the teardown can only be that RADEON. Seems to be when the switching tech activates the RADEON and you push it, even slightly, the heat generated is rather surprising. The nVidia 320M in the previous gen didn't get nearly that hot under more taxing conditions. Just a 720P video seems to skyrocket the level of heat in the AMD chip.
    • Ambiguous battery. I'm just not sure anymore. I mean, if I didn't know better, I would swear Apple adjusted the numbers at a firmware level. The capacity is 30% lower according to System Information, but it DOES seem to be around 8 hours I get under light usage, even on max brightness and keyboard backlight. If I'm running heavy apps such as VMWare I get around 4 which is the same as what I got on the 2010 model. What's weird is the time estimate though - if I set the battery indicator to Percentage, when it gets down to 75%, it claims I have 2:30 hours remaining. Obviously that can't be right - and evident by my calibration, it's been 6 hours since I started. But what concerns me is, how can a battery that is (according to Snow Leopard's System Information on both systems) 30% lower capacity end up roughly the same or better on the battery life? Also, the charge capacity fluctuates up and down - once it's 8850, then it's 8900, then it's 8750. It's like Snow Leopard doesn't know what the real capacity is. It had zero charge cycles when I turned it first on, but now it shows 4, even though I've only ever done two total charges - once when installing Snow Leopard, once during calibration. It will also be at 96% according to Power Savings, but 100% according to Watts. Very, VERY odd.
    • The keyboard backlighting is uneven. The 5 key is almost twice as bright as the rest of the keys and the 6 key might as well not be lit at all for as dim as it is. All of the keys look generally dimmer than what the 2010 put out.
    • VZAccess Manager does NOT work with the 2011 model. No idea why not; it just doesn't work. When I got the SSD up and booted I noticed - but didn't clue in until later - that Snow Leopard had deleted all of the VZAccess Manager Extension files, likely due to some incompatibility somewhere. Problem is not even a reinstall has corrected the problem, so I'm basically without 4G until it's fixed which may be never. All other apps, and I do have a lot of them, appear to be working fine.
    • If you keep the HDD, even though it's only 5400, you can hear it when running. That's odd, because they are generally quiet. Doesn't impact me as I kept my SSD, but just noting it for others.

    Fortunately I'll be selling my old Big Apple to recoup the majority of what I paid for this ($2800), and I'm sure it'll be a solid replacement for Big Apple, which has served me extremely well since I bought it. But there are things about this upgraded model which irk me; not because they're issues, but because there's no sense for the majority of them to be issues.
  2. Jason S. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2007
    If you swapped the SDD from your old Mac to the new one, that is why. The version of 10.6.6 on your old Mac, while the "latest version" number, actually is not the same OS build as the one on the new MacBook Pros. The new build has the necessary drivers, kernel extensions, updates to the OS for the new computer. You can check build numbers in "About This Mac" and clicking on the "Version XX.X.X" text under "Mac OS X". The build of 10.6.6 I have is 10J567. The new MacBook Pros run build number 10J3210.
  3. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    Again, this has NEVER been a problem. Not even going from the 2009 13" to the 2010 15" and that was a major shift in builds. Snow Leopard has always just installed the proper drivers it needed and ran without a hitch. Something else changed. Something hardware side.
  4. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006

    You can't do that. You have got to install from the disks and then migrate.

    Just because you haven't had problems before (amazing), doesn't mean your not going run into them sooner or later

    Everyone knows this here dude :D (just kidding)
  5. Benjamins macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2010
    You got lucky before.

    Usually the os that ships with a brand new system has a few extra drivers specifically for the new hardware. It will be rolled into the next os upgrade for other systems.
  6. Jiten macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2008
    Hmm I'm planning to get the same model as you to replace my 27 iMac. I was hoping the AMD GPU would be much cooler, I guess not. What temperatures are you getting on the GPU?
  7. T-bag Guest

    Jan 20, 2011
    Of course the new more powerful gpu will generate more heat.

    Does the heat mean that the fans kick in frequently? What temps are you having? I've ordered 1 17" too. Is it the the hot aluminum/fan noise that bothers you, or are you afraid the heat might reduce the lifespan of the machine?
  8. iPadThai macrumors 6502a

    Apr 25, 2010
    I have the 2.2 i7 17" and it's been two straight days almost.

    I have tried a restore with the stock 5400rpm 500GB drive which worked perfectly. Then I swapped the stock drive for a WD Scorpio Black 750GB 7200rpm drive and used my retail snow leopard install dvd. I ended up with a Kernal panic so I used the install dvd that came with the new 2011 17".

    It worked flawlessly. I then restored and then I did another reinstall of OS X with the disc and did not restore my data (which made the machine run faster for some reason).

    I have an even lit keyboard and the overall quality of my macbook pro 17" is as expected: flawless. The laptop runs COOL when I surf the web, watch some videos and in fact, my old 2009 17" 2.8Ghz runs way hotter than this new one.

    I ran prime95 with the torture test using 8K fft and the laptop's fan turned on fast. But then it went back down to quieter levels.

    Perhaps I'm lucky but overall the 2011 17" 2.2GHz laptop is nothing but a dream come true for me being able to use this laptop to truly replace my desktop. All this without using the new thunderbolt port either. When the thunderbolt drives come out I can replace my ESATA setups and I expect nothing but awesome performance even more!
  9. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    Ha!...perfect. :)

    I've got the exact same setup (WD black and all). Except I may want to stuff in a SSD in place of the DVD.
  10. T-bag Guest

    Jan 20, 2011
    Thanks for reporting ;). The majority of '11 buyers have a machine like you, but usually we only hear about the few unlucky ones. At least that's what I'm thinking.

    Can't wait to get mine!
  11. iPadThai macrumors 6502a

    Apr 25, 2010
    Well, I don't really have anything wrong with my 2011 17" 2.2 except I did post a new post about the wireless connection dropping out - I will monitor it for a few days to see if it does it again must be that 4 connection wireless card thing iFixit.com showed in their teardown...

    I also notice that the battery cycle is now 2 even though I let the machine drain all the way down then charged back up just ONCE. The mAh for the batter is now at:

    Charge Information:
    Charge Remaining (mAh): 8984
    Fully Charged: Yes
    Charging: No
    Full Charge Capacity (mAh): 8984

    I recall distinctly my 2009 17" 2.8 C2D is at over 12800+ mAh. I was draining the battery on purpose tonight by secure emptying my trash can that contained 6700+ items. It took awhile and during that time I was surfing macrumors while streaming netflix content. It lasted a good 3.5+ hours tops....

    Other than the wifi issue I am having, I really do believe the machine is flawless. I have no dead pixels on screen, no chips or dents, no uneven mouse track pad, no faulty speakers, no cpu whine noise, basically I was LOOKING FOR FLAWS but found none! Just like my 2009 C2D 17"!
  12. iMacDragon macrumors 68000


    Oct 18, 2008
    It has ALWAYS been an issue, whenever a new major hardware revision comes out ( changing chipset/graphics or suchlike major thing ) only the build it ships with will boot due to the new drivers, it takes till the next point upgrade for the standard revision of the OS to install on the new hardware. In this case, 10.6.7 will bring parity back.

    Ie, anyone wanting to use an existing OS install on a new MBP, needs to wait for 10.6.7, or reinstall the OS.
  13. auero macrumors 65816

    Sep 15, 2006
    My backlight is even but that's because I opened it in the store. The last time I wanted a 17 they opened 4 of them for me and they were all bad. Te number 5 key was as bright as a star even when the keyboard light was turned on to only one bar. This only happens on te 17 too. Very weird. Not the frst time either. Happened about 2 years ago to me too.
  14. Fubar1977 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2010
    North Yorkshire, UK
  15. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2010
  16. zero85ZEN macrumors regular

    Apr 8, 2009
  17. dagamer34 macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Houston, TX
    Instructions included with your Mac clearly state not to use any other disc besides the one that came with your hardware. Unlike Windows installation discs, Apple doesn't bother creating "generic" drivers, because there's only a limited amount of hardware it has to consider.
  18. Pentad macrumors 6502a


    Nov 26, 2003
    Why would you think this would work at all? You would not have any of the new kexts needed for your new MPB (and the new hardware in it). The OS version number and the drivers installed are two entirely different things.

    Honestly, I'm not trying to give you a hard time but after that first statement I was a bit leery of the rest of your review...

  19. sydenham macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2010
  20. revelated, Feb 27, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011

    revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    I didn't get exact temperatures. I'll see about getting that one temperature widget and run one of my HD video reviews again. I know it was intolerable to the touch. Like, BAD. I have one of the Targus vented laptop dealies and I bought it originally for the 13". I have only used it twice - once when I was doing some Handbrake on the 15" that I bought later, and yesterday when I was testing 720P.

    But I couldn't touch it for very long. It was pretty darn hot. If you have the 27" i7 iMac like I do, it feels about as hot as the top of the iMac gets under load, if you've ever experienced that. So like run an HD video or something and then feel the top vent of the iMac - it's about that hot.

    Not fear. But the level of heat was unexpected. At some point something has to give, with the form factor of the machine. The location of the GPU means that there is a chance the top of the keyboard, the hinge, or the screen could get warped. Those aren't metal components, mind. The fans do come on but it's a wonder whether they will be sufficient over time. It would explain the amount of thermal paste though if Apple knew the level of heat generated, but one would think they would consider a different cooling method to supplant the fans. Remember, desktops with this type of GPU usually employ double cooling methods for that very reason.

    I work on a simple theory: Try it, if it works, assume it will continue working. Again, I have had four total MacBook Pros - 13" 2009, 15" 2010, 17" 2010 and now this one, and this is the only one that has yelled about dropping the drive directly in. For every single other MacBook Pro, Snow Leopard has reinstalled the drivers it needed. Therefore, if it worked three other times, that's not luck dude. Obviously the OS should be smart enough to install whatever it needs and lacks. Problem is, it's not expected that this one would yell at all given I went from 17" to 17", unlike going from 13" to 15" or 15" to 17".

    Some of you need to get over it. It worked. Apple stores will tell you that you can do it. I simply point out that something changed that requires additional unnecessary steps this time for people who are curious about it.

    I did notice that when I first swapped. It happened when I was a certain distance away from my Airport Extreme. The Airport Utility would even stop showing both my Extreme and my Time Capsule. Another time it reported no internet connection which wasn't true because my iMac was running a download and a Time Machine backup to the Capsule at the exact same time. I haven't had it happen since doing the format and reinstall, but yes, that was bizarre. It showed full signal the entire time.
  21. DHagan4755 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    I am willing to bed had you bought this computer after 10.6.7 came out and installed on your previous machine, you wouldn't be having this problem.
  22. TheHoff macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    People replied to this point because you were purposefully trying to sound contentious with:

    C'mon. That is ridiculous. The Apple store rep I bought from suggested the simple SSD swap would work, too, but I don't hold it against him for not knowing nor do I think it is a conspiracy to make me purchase the Apple SSD.

    The simple explanation is that there is a custom build of SL for the 2011s and we simply don't know the trick necessary to get it to boot without reinstalling.
  23. silentsage macrumors member

    May 13, 2008
    This latest generation of Macbook Pros is based on the Sandy Bridge chipset. Old versions of OS X don't support it. 10.6.7 will have full Sandy Bridge support.

    You need to use the version of OS X that comes on your installation disks. If you don;t, your system will be unstable and may run slower than it would if you had used the correct version of OS X.

    It is not uncommon for Apple to include new drivers in a version of nOS X without bumping the revision number. Many folks who owned iMacs learned this a few years ago when Apple warned them to use only the installation disks shipped with their machine.
  24. miabadboys macrumors member


    Jan 18, 2011
    On Top of The World
    I just got my new MBP 13' Core i7 and i notice the sound of the fan going within an hour of use. I never noticed the fan running at all on our old 2009 13" C2D 2.4 model. I started to copy 50 GB of data from my old PC while i was watchin a HD movie and the fan started howling loudly - very un-macbook like IMHO.

    Quick note - externally the wow factor is not there like the MBA. Basically a carry over from our older model, as i stated in another post, it will be interesting how to tell them apart on the coffee table.:)

    Plenty quick when using it but again nothing is really new - i dont have anything to connect using Thunderbolt. The fan noise has me concerned. All things considered i waited 5-6 months for this to come and needed a new laptop so i glad with the purchase but hoped for more.
  25. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    I know one thing from my years of working with the two major operating systems: I can drop a SSD into any Windows-based laptop and it will work regardless of what processor, RAM, GPU, etc is installed. As long as the drive has its master boot record correct and the BIOS supports the drive - which more often than not it will - Windows will boot, find the new hardware config, and install what it needs.

    Snow Leopard, to date, has done the exact same thing, which is to be expected. My point is that it's quite silly that the exact same operating system is so affected by a minor build to the point it won't boot. I would expect it to at least boot but not run optimally. I also would not expect it to prevent DVD booting - which it did. That indicates something else is going on.

    Fair enough which is why I expect the OS to download the proper drivers to make itself work like it does when connecting any hardware that it hadn't already had. If not what the hell is Software Update for?

    I did run iStat Pro and it turns up something interesting.

    If I play an HD movie locally or over my local LAN, the GPU never goes past 50% and the CPU never goes past 65%. That's acceptable. However, if I stream an HD movie from anywhere, the CPU got to a peak of 80% - which isn't terrible, but higher than the 2010 got - and the GPU got up to 60%. Idling it sits around 40% on both. So I'm wondering if it's certain software programs (i.e. Flash) that are not optimized to run on this hardware. I still need to run that benchmark - couldn't get it to run over the VM, so I need to create a Boot Camp partition after I free up some disk space.

    You mentioned file copying - I did copy one of my VMs back down from my Time Capsule around the time the case got the hottest. I wonder if that's what did it. I'll have to try a large copy operation and see if it makes a difference. My Big Apple never once got hot just copying files.

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