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View Full Version : First Mac ever...head spinning...help needed!




Saberon
Dec 11, 2010, 02:11 PM
Hi Folks,

I've been a long time iPod classic/Nano/Shuffle/Touch/iPhone/iPad user but have never in my life owned an Apple built computer.

I just sold my iPad this morning because I made a bit of an impulse buy on it and a notebook is much much more suited to my needs.

Now, I can't for the life of me decide with Macbook to get and I was hoping to get some insight from those who know a lot more than I do!

Here's my initial thoughts/feelings

Macbook: Feels a little cheap to me, don't like the looks of it. My friend has one and it just seems "OK" to me.

Macbook Pro: Nice looking, but a Core 2 Duo for $1249 (CDN) seems a little weird to me. I know a refresh is coming in the next 1-3 months but I'm kind of an impatient guy...lol

Macbook Air (11.6): Extremely nice look to it, fullsize keyboard for a small notebook is awesome. I don't care about lack of DVD drive. Is 2GB memory enough for OSX? I wouldn't dare run less than 2GB on windows 7 but I don't know how OSX compares.

I don't do anything real intense on the computer to be honest. Web surfing/emailing/watching videos, playing a few simple games on Steam (thank you Steam Play!),Skype etc. No video editing/producing/rendering/major gaming etc.

Which do you think is best? I know it's a decision I have to make in the end but any pointers in the right direction would be extremely helpful.

Thanks so much!


edit: Hard drive space is not very important, i have but a ~10GB itunes library and that's about it)

edit 2: Absolute MAX budget is $1349 CDN MAX....not a penny more or else I'll be homeless lol



ThinIce
Dec 11, 2010, 02:47 PM
The 11.6 MBA is nice and I am very tempted to pick one up in the near future but I have a host of other Mac's available if I need more. If I were to get a 11.6 MBA, I would definitely order it with 4GB of ram. It may not be necessary, but I rather have too much than not enough. I recently purchased a 13MBP to add to my arsenal and I really like it. However I have until Jan 31 to return it and I will if Apple comes out with an update. Happy Hunting!

Mike84
Dec 11, 2010, 02:50 PM
It really depends what you want.

You are mentioning the 11 inch macbook air so i am assuming you are going for something small.

First, I think you should go with the MBA unless you can wait for the MBP refresh. The 1280 X 800 is simply very old in the Apple line and they are definitely going to update it on the new MBPs. So, if you get a current MBP 13 inch (assuming you would since you mentioned the 11 inch MBA), then you will not be happy.

If you can get the 13 inch, which I recommend,then I would definitely do that.

If you get the 11 inch, I think 2gb should be fine, but considering that most people have said that it is impossible to change the ram on it, I would probably opt to purchase the 4gb from Apple and get it that way.

ECUpirate44
Dec 11, 2010, 02:54 PM
Macbook- I agree. It feels, and looks cheap. No backlit keyboard and its made of plastic :eek:

MBP- Your right. 1000+ for a C2D is a little strange. With that said, unless you are doing heavy photoshop or video editing you are not going to notice a big difference between a c2d, arrandale, or sandy bridge. The 13 inch is great though great weight and size +blacklit keyboard and aluminum that MB doesnt have

MBA- I would get 4GB RAM just to be safe. The air is nice but its way too thin for me. I also would need more HDD space. and you may too with your itunes collection.

I would go for the 13 inch MBP. If you really are not happy with a C2D then I would just wait till 2011 and see what happens.

Saberon
Dec 11, 2010, 03:22 PM
After doing a lot of research in a small amount of time I've come down to this


13MBA and 13 MBP

MBP Pro:

Cheaper
2x Memory
Faster

MBP Con:
$1249 is a lot for a C2D (however I'd be paying $1349 for MBA 1.86GHZ...)
Non SSD


Is the C2D sufficient for the MBP? Does anyone find it lacking and wishing it was faster? I think it really sucks that the 13 MBA has 2GB of ram

KPOM
Dec 11, 2010, 03:49 PM
How about the 11" MacBook Air with 4GB? It would be the same as the 13" with 2GB RAM, although it would only have a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo. If there is any way to stretch to CAD 1449, or if you have a reseller who undersells Apple, then I'd also consider the 13" Air with 4GB.

Most people here say 2GB is fine for their system, since the SSD makes page outs a lot quicker. While it isn't the fastest SSD on the market, it is pretty quick, and much quicker than the hard drive used on the 13" Pro. An SSD is available on the Pro, but that pushes the price beyond that of the most expensive Air. I used a 2GB previous generation MacBook Air for 2 years myself, and it was fine in OS X, but fairly slow when I tried to run Windows in a virtual machine. I went with the 4GB version this time, primarily because I figure that it will help "future proof" the system a bit. Unfortunately, it is not possible to add RAM later. Whatever RAM you order on day 1 is soldered on and there is no free RAM slot.

I would not be surprised if both the MacBook Pro 13" and MacBook Air 13" get the Core i3 or i5 processor next year, especially if the reports are true that Apple is satisfied with the GPU performance in the upcoming new versions of those processors (called "Sandy Bridge"). The Pro will likely get it first, since it's due for an upgrade very soon and is seriously outgunned by just about all of its Windows competitors at the same price and form factor segment of the market. That said, for the kind of uses you describe, the Core 2 Duo is just fine for now, and for light gaming might even be better than the current generation Core i3 would be because the current i3 has a very slow integrated graphics processor and for legal reasons Apple can't pair it with a faster NVIDIA integrated graphics processor. Apple solves that issue in the 15" MacBook Pro by using a second graphics processor but there isn't enough room in the 13" Pro or Air to do so.

Saberon
Dec 11, 2010, 04:01 PM
I guess I read a bunch of reports saying the CPU in the 11" was a little slow even for simple tasks. I do appreciate your input though!

ECUpirate44
Dec 11, 2010, 04:11 PM
I guess I read a bunch of reports saying the CPU in the 11" was a little slow even for simple tasks. I do appreciate your input though!

I doubt it. That computer should have no problem on youtube, safari, itunes, word processing, or any other apple apps for that matter.

gdeputy
Dec 11, 2010, 06:41 PM
Its only 100 more for 4gb ram. it's really a must IMHO.

I've seen videos of a 2gb 13" running things like WoW fine though.

fswmacguy
Dec 11, 2010, 06:45 PM
Its only 100 more for 4gb ram. it's really a must I've seen videos of a 2gb 13" running things like WoW fine though.

Most users will find that 2GB is more than enough. Anyone using over 2GB at one time is doing some heavy lifting on their system.

silverblack
Dec 11, 2010, 07:59 PM
I guess I read a bunch of reports saying the CPU in the 11" was a little slow even for simple tasks. I do appreciate your input though!

It sounds like what you really want is the next generation of MBP. You are only thinking about the MBA because the new MBP is not yet available. You really should not get the MBA, otherwise you'll regret it when the new MBP is release is a few months.

Alvesang
Dec 11, 2010, 08:29 PM
Is the C2D sufficient for the MBP? Does anyone find it lacking and wishing it was faster? I think it really sucks that the 13 MBA has 2GB of ram

I'm using a C2D MBP while my wife is using her 27" iMac i5. My MBP is definitely faster at most tasks because it is equipped with an SSD (while wifey runs the standard HDD), just when it comes down to decoding files the iMac seems to fly by comparison.

Having said that, when I'm working with the MBP I never have the feeling of using "aged" hardware. On the contrary, I find it to be a very convenient experience.

You wrote that you're not into "intense" computing. You should really consider the MBA. Fast, small (both measure and weight), well built... it's a fantastic machine for normal use. My guess is you wouldn't regret it.

Pballer110
Dec 11, 2010, 10:56 PM
Can you pick up a macbook air with 4gb ram at the apple store or is the upgrade available online only?

gdeputy
Dec 11, 2010, 11:01 PM
Most users will find that 2GB is more than enough. Anyone using over 2GB at one time is doing some heavy lifting on their system.

Yeah.. I don't agree with that at all. Right now all I have open is Safari and I've got 2.48gb free ram. If I was at 2 GB i'de have 1/2 a gig free.. I'm going to restart and reply again.

gdeputy
Dec 11, 2010, 11:07 PM
K brand new restart and i'm at 1GB used. Meaning 1/2 would be used at DEFAULT with nothing opened but 1 window of safari. Just opened Word, and 2 more safari tabs and im at 1.22gb used. None of the sites are anything but message boards with no flash.

I do think 2gb can be fine, but if you leave alot of programs open it adds up quicker.

I guess 2gb is suffice, but you can never upgrade, it's only one hundred more for the extra 2 to max it at 4.

wordoflife
Dec 11, 2010, 11:26 PM
For those same exact thing you said you would be using your computer for, that is the same exact thing on my MacBook Pro. I love it.

Personally, I would go for the Macbook Pro 13 over the Air, but that is just me.

iPhysicist
Dec 11, 2010, 11:44 PM
I do some research with my mbp (late 09 2.53GHz) and just for that its fine. If you do not do any heavy computing at all C2D will be sufficient for the next 3 to 5 years.

SandynJosh
Dec 12, 2010, 12:03 AM
Is the C2D sufficient for the MBP? Does anyone find it lacking and wishing it was faster? I think it really sucks that the 13 MBA has 2GB of ram

I really don't understand why you are being encouraged to feel like 4 GB of RAM is necessary since you already said you weren't going to edit video etc.

I have a 4 year-old MBP with 2 GB of RAM and I've never ran into a limit. I usually have Word, Excel, Acrobat, and FireFox open and running with over a dozen tabs. I often am also running Preview, Mail, and iTunes too with all of the above at the same time...on 2 GB of RAM.

Previous to the MBP I was doing much the same on a white plastic MB with even LESS RAM. That computer had only a 10" screen and while I got by fine, I really enjoyed upgrading to a 15" screen with my MBP. My little plastic MB really was well built and I used it for years before giving it to a high school student to use for most of her high school life.

I know that it's better to overbuy because as time passes the programs get bloated, but still 4GB is really a boatload of RAM on any non-media intensive Mac. Furthermore, Apple is encouraging much smaller apps as iOS gains more and more traction. That could spill over to Mac programs soon. Apple is really in the business perfecting mobile devices for longer breaks away from the power source and cutting back on the horsepower needed for apps is part of that plan.

SandynJosh
Dec 12, 2010, 12:16 AM
One more thing...

Consider how much portability means to you.

My little 10" plastic MB was really a pleasure to tote around. Moving to the 15" MBP was nice and felt like heaven to use, but not so much fun to tote around.

If I were to replace my 4 year-old MBP today, I'd seriously consider the 13" MBA for portability since I have a 27" iMac for opening several docs side by side, and I'm planning on doing a lot more Photoshop work in 2011.

The one thing you might also consider is how much do you like to listen to music while you use your laptop? The MBP has a boatload more volume than the 11" MBA when playing mp3s and (while I can't say it is so with the 13" MBP or MBA) the 15" MBP has stereo speakers mounted on both sides of the keyboard which I totally LOVE!

FuNGi
Dec 12, 2010, 08:24 AM
I think you should go for the standard base configuration 13" MBA since your budget is tight and your needs are small (e.g. very little itunes library, no video encoding).

The extra 2GB of ram would be most useful if you are the type of person that likes everything open all the time. By that I mean 4 word documents, 3 excel files, 9 web browser tabs, a stats program, powerpoint, itunes, and steam. That is where Ram is used. Otherwise if you close out programs as you finish them then 2GB should be fine.

Yes, the C2D is old tech but it works fine! Read the many, many threads on hear about how so few people actually use more than 5-10% of their processor speeds. Just five years ago the standard powerbook shipped with the same processor speeds as the base 11" Air.

Saberon
Dec 12, 2010, 12:36 PM
I really appreciate all help so far, it's been invaluable!

I thought of it like this. What if right now, an i3 4GB 320-500GB HDD MBP was available for the same $1249 price vs $1349(1449/4GB) MBA. Which would I choose? Well, for what I need the computer for, both would be sufficient as far as speeds. To be honest I really like the slim profile and the design of the MBA. I have a SSD in my Windows 7 PC here and it absolutely screams over a standard (7200RPM) hard drive. I think that alone would be a huge benefit over the MBP. I'm a bit of an impatient guy, I'll admit it. I don't know if waiting till April is the best idea, I probably would see the new MBP and still decide on the MBA.

I guess the real question is down to the 2GB vs 4GB of memory. I can wait till boxing day in Canada (26th Dec...sort of like a Canadian version of black friday with big sales) and might be able to get the 4GB version for close to what the 2GB is now.

Thanks for helping so far, I'm glad there is a community that is willing to help out a Mac "noob"

ECUpirate44
Dec 12, 2010, 12:46 PM
I really appreciate all help so far, it's been invaluable!

I thought of it like this. What if right now, an i3 4GB 320-500GB HDD MBP was available for the same $1249 price vs $1349(1449/4GB) MBA. Which would I choose? Well, for what I need the computer for, both would be sufficient as far as speeds. To be honest I really like the slim profile and the design of the MBA. I have a SSD in my Windows 7 PC here and it absolutely screams over a standard (7200RPM) hard drive. I think that alone would be a huge benefit over the MBP. I'm a bit of an impatient guy, I'll admit it. I don't know if waiting till April is the best idea, I probably would see the new MBP and still decide on the MBA.

I guess the real question is down to the 2GB vs 4GB of memory. I can wait till boxing day in Canada (26th Dec...sort of like a Canadian version of black friday with big sales) and might be able to get the 4GB version for close to what the 2GB is now.

Thanks for helping so far, I'm glad there is a community that is willing to help out a Mac "noob"

I would upgrade the Ram to 4GB. I think you could get away with 2GB, but to be on the safe side, 4GB is your best bet.

cleric
Dec 12, 2010, 02:28 PM
OS X will run fine for most applications on 1gb of ram however for $100 more I would get the 4gb since you don't have the option to do it later.