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Old Feb 27, 2013, 05:14 AM   #1
Gibbsy
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Buying a MBP for Uni and need help

Hi good folk of MacRumors! I posted this question on another site but figured I'd ask here as you guys seem to have the best advice as a whole.

I'm on the search for a new laptop, specifically a MacBook Pro. I'm totally familiar with the interface considering that my high school only had Mac computer labs so there is no worries about learning curves and the like. I'll be replacing a big, clunky, cumbersome Compaq Presario CQ62 that I bought on a budget nearly 2 years ago. The battery conked out after 12 months and it's now slow as a wet week and sounds like a jet engine taking off.

Now that I'm less confined to a budget, I've been looking around at the various MBP options. I've already wiped out the idea of an Air (although some of you may be able to sway me) simply because of the small hard drive space and lack of ports/disk drive. I also think it'll cost a lot more to upgrade it to the specifications I want and need for the work I'm doing.

PLEASE NOTE: I'm not looking at recent Retina-display models simply because I can't justify the price hike for a student.

Typically there's going to be a lot of web browsing and word processing, often 10-15 tabs open at once, a fair bit of YouTube, and also a fair bit of Photoshop. I'm often working on Photoshop and browsing a heap of tabs while listening to music in iTunes at the same time. I'm not a gamer at all (only on PS3) so I won't be into any of that. I may run a virtual disk of Windows 7 on the odd occasion to run particular programs.

I need some reviews from people in the know to help me make an informed decision, so I figure there's no better place than here. I have narrowed it down to two options (although this isn't set in stone):

MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.9ghz, Dual Core Intel i7, 8GB RAM, 750GB hard drive
Macbook Pro 15-inch 2.3ghz, Quad Core Intel i7, 8GB RAM, 500GB hard drive
Now I know that the second of those two, the 15-inch, comes by default with 4 GB of RAM. Is it necessary for me to upgrade that to 8GB? Or does the fact that it's Quad Core make it faster already? The 2.3ghz vs 2.9ghz is throwing me off (I mean it is a smaller number!)

Will the 13-inch 2.9ghz be enough for my needs? If I don't have to spend an extra $400 to get the 15-inch then I'll be very happy. Finally is there a noticeable weight difference when carrying around a 15-inch as compared to a 13-inch?

Remember I'm not ruling out the Air but I would rather a Pro.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Gibbsy
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 09:17 AM   #2
phoenixsan
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Because....

you are multitasking, opening groups of tabs and so on, seems to me you will need the maximum screen real state you can afford. For this same reason (multitasking) and future proofing your buying, I will go with the 8 GB of RAM. So, IMHO, the 15 inch MacBook with the 8 GB of RAM will suffice you

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Old Feb 27, 2013, 09:21 AM   #3
Efrem
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If you have that many things going on at once, the extra screen real estate (both resolution and physical size) of the 15" model will be important. Get it.

RAM and processor speed are unrelated issues. If you're short of RAM, you'll spend a lot of time paging. A faster processor won't help that. More RAM will make a big difference with Photoshop unless you work with very small images, which ain't too likely. I know 8GB sounds like a lot, but I'd go for it. Compare Apple's price with Crucial, Kingston, etc.

I don't usually find processor speed to be a bottleneck, but you might. Also, check out what graphics processor comes with each model. A faster GPU will probably pay off more for what you do than a faster CPU, but I don't think you can spec the GPU separately.

You're the best judge of how important the weight issue is. Given all the other stuff you'll probably carry along with the computer, it's probably not too significant, but that's just my opinion. I don't mind a heavy computer, but I'm one of those people who loads 30 pounds on my back and walks up big hills for fun.

750GB vs. 500GB depends on what you'll store. If you don't have a video library, 500GB is probably enough. That's a lot of photos and music. (WP files are relatively tiny.) Either way, get an external backup device.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 11:41 AM   #4
xShane
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibbsy View Post
Hi good folk of MacRumors! I posted this question on another site but figured I'd ask here as you guys seem to have the best advice as a whole.

I'm on the search for a new laptop, specifically a MacBook Pro. I'm totally familiar with the interface considering that my high school only had Mac computer labs so there is no worries about learning curves and the like. I'll be replacing a big, clunky, cumbersome Compaq Presario CQ62 that I bought on a budget nearly 2 years ago. The battery conked out after 12 months and it's now slow as a wet week and sounds like a jet engine taking off.

Now that I'm less confined to a budget, I've been looking around at the various MBP options. I've already wiped out the idea of an Air (although some of you may be able to sway me) simply because of the small hard drive space and lack of ports/disk drive. I also think it'll cost a lot more to upgrade it to the specifications I want and need for the work I'm doing.

PLEASE NOTE: I'm not looking at recent Retina-display models simply because I can't justify the price hike for a student.

Typically there's going to be a lot of web browsing and word processing, often 10-15 tabs open at once, a fair bit of YouTube, and also a fair bit of Photoshop. I'm often working on Photoshop and browsing a heap of tabs while listening to music in iTunes at the same time. I'm not a gamer at all (only on PS3) so I won't be into any of that. I may run a virtual disk of Windows 7 on the odd occasion to run particular programs.

I need some reviews from people in the know to help me make an informed decision, so I figure there's no better place than here. I have narrowed it down to two options (although this isn't set in stone):

MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.9ghz, Dual Core Intel i7, 8GB RAM, 750GB hard drive
Macbook Pro 15-inch 2.3ghz, Quad Core Intel i7, 8GB RAM, 500GB hard drive
Now I know that the second of those two, the 15-inch, comes by default with 4 GB of RAM. Is it necessary for me to upgrade that to 8GB? Or does the fact that it's Quad Core make it faster already? The 2.3ghz vs 2.9ghz is throwing me off (I mean it is a smaller number!)

Will the 13-inch 2.9ghz be enough for my needs? If I don't have to spend an extra $400 to get the 15-inch then I'll be very happy. Finally is there a noticeable weight difference when carrying around a 15-inch as compared to a 13-inch?

Remember I'm not ruling out the Air but I would rather a Pro.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Gibbsy
I would recommend a 15" MBP. The reason being is you will get a dedicated GPU which will mostly help when running graphics-intensive processes/application. You will also get 8GB RAM which will be upgradeable to 16GB RAM for $80-$100. Even better, they have quad-core processors (great for multitasking).
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 05:24 PM   #5
designs216
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I think the 13" Pro (refurb of course) with a decent monitor would be a good compromise between portability (you're in for lots of walking) and processing muscle. Upgrade the RAM and HD yourself (16GB/7200RPM) and you've got a fast machine that fits your budget and will be easier to tote. Sell the OEM HD and RAM to help bring down the cost and please consider AppleCare, this baby will see rough usage.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 05:00 AM   #6
Gibbsy
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Thanks for the prompt responses fellas. I'm leaning towards a 13" monitor size now just for the lighter weight in carrying it around University, and I'm even now seriously considering a Retina MBP after earlier writing it off.

I got this as a response from another site, after being advised by a few others that 8GB RAM and a SSD is the way to go (and I agree).

Quote:
By the time you upgrade to an SSD and extra ram on the 13" model (if you do it through apple), you are going to be paying close to the 13" retina (2.6GHz, 8GB, 256GB) price anyway which is $1,749 with your student id. The retina model is also about 400g lighter which doesn't seem like much but is a decent amount once if it is on your back/shoulder along with some textbooks for a few hours.
This is what I'm now thinking. I've been looking around a heap, and know that I'll need 8GB of RAM (minimum) as well as an SSD for that added zippyness. I'm thinking a 256GB SSD will be enough, considering I checked the used space on my laptop last night and I'm only using 136GB with my full music library of about 4000 songs plus my (limited) movie library on the comp. Add to that I have a 1TB WD external hard drive and I think I'll be fine with the 256GB SSD.

I know people talk about screen real estate and the like while using Photoshop, but to be honest I'm not editing high-res photos, rather just editing logos, creating graphics, wallpapers and the like. Wouldn't say I'm a 'power user' by any means.

Dual core i5 sounds good enough to me for the work I'm doing; maybe I accidentally made it sound like I was doing more tasks than I really will be in the OP. Yes I browse plenty of tabs at once while listening to music, but I'm never going to be gaming or really working the CPU. So that being said, I don't believe I'm going to need to upgrade to 16GB RAM at any time during the 3 or so years I think this laptop will last me (am I being generous with that estimation?)

Reason I am leaning towards the 13" 2.6GHz Retina MBP is not only because of the slightly cheaper price once I upgrade the RAM and add a 256GB SSD on the regular MBP ($1,749 for the MBP vs. $1,779 for the RMBP, including student discount), but also because of the new fan cooling system in the RMBP. I hate burning laptops and loud fans and it seems like this new system is the go. Plus the great decrease in height and weight is super.

A few queries to the Apple experts on this board before I go through with getting a Retina MBP:

1) In regards to the new high-res screen and browsing the web/using apps, how many applications have been updated to fit the screens? (I.e. non-blurry text etc) Obviously all the native Apple apps will be fine but I read in an early review about how this could be a slight annoyance in the coming months.

2) I don't think I'm going to need an optical drive, if I'm honest. But tonight I just stumbled across a LITEON DVD player/burner in the cupboard, able to be plugged in by USB, would this be compatible with a Mac?

3) Finally this one isn't hardware related but for general productivity and ease of use, what is better Office for Mac or iWork?

Cheers guys.
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 05:33 PM   #7
glenthompson
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Other things to consider:

Don't buy added RAM from Apple except in the retina. Easy to add yourself and much cheaper.

See if the school has any deals. I know some schools offer Macs with a 4 year service plan - take it in and if they can't fix it, you get a new one. Often more cost effective than AppleCare and easier to deal with if there's no Apple store nearby.

For software, see what the school offers too. Many have student deals that are very good deals.
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