GAH! I stripped the head of one of the logic board screws!I'm removing the logic board of my early '09 MBP 17' so I can remove the heatsink to replace the thermal grease with some bet...
Answer to: Does the MacBook Pro 17'' Unibody use SATA2?It shouldn't really matter, as SATA II drives are fully backwards compatible with SATA I interfaces, and vice-versa. If what you're looking at is a mechanical HDD, then what type of SATA interface won't matter because even a 10k rpm HDD can't saturate a SATA I connection; mechanical drives just aren't fast enough to need that much throughput. You'd only notice a difference with really really fast SSD's. That said, the MBP 17" has SATA II, as do the unibody MB and MBP 15" from before the June update. From June on, the MBP 13" and 15" use SATA I for some odd reason.
Answer to: Improving graphics performance?Since this is a 17" Unibody MacBook Pro, it has an Nvidia GPU; so unfortunately, Asle's suggestion to use ATi software would likely be useless here. That said, there isn't a whole lot of room for performance gains here, as under full load with fans blaring at full speed (6k rpm) your GPU will likely be running in the neighborhood of 75˚C (conservative estimate). That is, if you manually set your fans with SMC Fan Control at or close to max speed under OS X before rebooting into Windows, which you always should do if you plan on stressing the system with games. The Boot Camp drivers for Windows have very poor (read: almost nonexistent) thermal management, so they will happily let your hardware get up to a toasty 100+˚C before intervening. Actually, OS X will do this as well. But it's worse under Windows. If you haven't done that already, then that's probably causing hardware throttling issues that would limit performance. What David Iwanicki said doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, as from what I can tell...