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Old May 22, 2012, 09:49 PM   #1
jetfx
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Why should I buy a MacBook Pro?

It's a serious question, although it reads like a flame attempt. The fact that I'm here asking this question means I am seriously considering moving from Windows (since 95!) to Mac. What I'm asking for help with is some compelling reasons why I should make the move, and what MacBook Pro would be my best bet. I'd very much appreciate what advice you have to offer.

So a few things about me - I'm a cartographer; I make maps for a living. While at work I am provided with a Windows machine, I also make maps on my own time on my own computer. You need a fairly powerful rig to run most engineering/mapping software. The computer I use is a HP EliteBook 8530w (15in) which I bought back in September 2009. It's reaching the end of its life span.

The primary piece of mapping software I use is ArcGIS. ArcGIS is Windows only, although ArcGIS's creator, ESRI has said you can run it on a Mac via Bootcamp. They make no guarantees about ArcGIS if you go this route however. Has anyone here ever attempted to run ArcGIS through Bootcamp, or more generally what has been your experience using Bootcamp to run Windows programs? Other software I commonly use, is availible in OS X versions, like AutoCAD, Google SketchUp and Adobe Creative Suite. CorelDRAW is Windows only, but I prefer Adobe anyway.

Perhaps the biggest reason I've never seriously considered a Mac in the past was the lack of gaming options. I can see that this is changing. How do you find Mac compare to Windows in terms of game selections and releases? I've never been someone who wants to play the latest and greatest, because when I find a good game, I tend replay it a lot. This means I have a library of Windows games, some of which have Mac versions I could buy, most of which do not. Will Bootcamp allow me to continue playing my Windows games? Also, is MacBook Pro a solid gaming platform if I do want to get the latest and greatest?

Some miscellaneous things now. I am not terribly familiar with OS X. I have probably spent less than 10 hours in my whole life using a Mac. Coming from Windows XP, how easy is OS X to pickup? I don't have trouble learning new things, but how long have you found, assuming you haven't always been Mac user, does it take to get comfortable with OS X? As a long time Windows user I've got lots of data I would want to migrate. How difficult have you found this? Considering any new Windows machine I get will have Windows 7, which I have not used, I've been thinking that moving to a Mac from XP can't be much worse than going from XP to 7. Any thoughts about that?

If I get another Windows machine, my likely choice would be a HP EliteBook Mobile Workstation 8560w (15in). In its favour, I shouldn't have compatibility issues as it's still Windows; its the same series as what I already have; and it is slightly cheaper than the MacBook Pro 15 inch. Going against it, I've had several hardware issues with my 8530w. Since I bought this thing for a course, all the other students had the same machine and image installed on it. We've all had the same issues with overheating, rapid battery burnout (mine was toast before 2 years, others in less than 6 months), and the wifi cutting out, requiring a restart (which mine did while writing this). I don't know if the 8560w has these problems, but computer reviews can't tell you how the thing will be in 2 years.

If I get a MacBook Pro, I'd get the 15 inch version. The 13 inch has too small a screen and isn't powerful enough, but the 17 inch is too large to cart around easily, and is rather expensive. By all accounts the MacBook Pro is a reliable and powerful machine. I'm not really sure how I would customize the 15 inch to fit my needs, but I would prefer to keep it under $2500. Any suggestions would be welcome. I also own an iPhone 4S. It is the first smartphone I've purchased, and have been quite pleased with it so far, but does using it with a Mac improve its usefulness, even in an intangible way?

So yeah, if you made it through that wall of text, I'd be thankful if you could answer some of my questions, or even make some suggestions that I haven't thought of. I'll take these questions into my local Apple store as well, although they are absurdly busy all the time.

Thanks very much!
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Old May 22, 2012, 09:51 PM   #2
Peace
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Good reason I can think of is it will show you the difference between a Macbook Pro and a Mac Pro.

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Old May 22, 2012, 09:56 PM   #3
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You shouldn't macbook pros suck. Get a Mac Pro. JK
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Old May 22, 2012, 09:56 PM   #4
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Good reason I can think of is it will show you the difference between a Macbook Pro and a Mac Pro.

Moved now.

B
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Old May 22, 2012, 09:56 PM   #5
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Good reason I can think of is it will show you the difference between a Macbook Pro and a Mac Pro.

That is an excellent reason as to why I should read forum headings more closely.
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Old May 22, 2012, 10:11 PM   #6
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I bought my MBP because it suited my needs. I have the 13" dual core i7 with 8GB of RAM and an Intel 520 240GB SSD and I think its the perfect machine. It handles everything I ask it do. The programs I use most often are adobe cs5, aperture, final cut pro and logic pro. I have never ran into a problem running any of them. Should you decide to buy a MBP you will not be disappointed its an awesome machine and you can upgrade it in the future to your liking. However they are still very powerful and great right out of the box.
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Old May 22, 2012, 11:25 PM   #7
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I was in the same boat about 6 months ago...long time Windows user (since 3.1) decided to jump into the Mac world with a MBP. I can't speak to the gaming as I don't game but I can offer the Windows2MBP experience I've had.

Before I get into it, I want to say that the MBP is an above average product and that a final decision on whether to buy another one in the future has not been determined yet. Nothing has compelled me either way.

The first thing I noticed was the "it just works" mantra of Mac products is not true. I could not use the wifi at my school initially. Apparently it was an issue with Lion and several educational institutions. This annoyance lasted a couple of months until Apple decided to fix it in one of their updates. My expectation, backed by the "it just works" mantra, is that wifi should have worked without issue on Day 1. Failing that, an update should have made after a couple of weeks, not months.

I am a keyboard shortcut guru on Windows systems. After 6 months of MBP use, I am still frustrated by the lack of easy and intuitive keyboard shortcuts. The most infuriating is the delete key. On the MBP it destroys the character to the left of the cursor like the backspace key on Windows machines. I can live with that but only if there is a MBP-equivalent key to destroy the character to the right of the cursor...but there's not. That keyboard shortcut is a combination: fn+delete. Not ideal. Now consider that these two keys are on opposite ends of the keyboard which means you can't do that maneuver with one hand.

Another keyboard idiosyncrasy is that the function keys control mostly hardware functions like brightness, volume, play, etc. This isn't by itself an issue unless you're spend a fair amount of time in Excel. F2 is vital for my Excel usage. However, pressing F2 on the MBP increments the screen's brightness. To get the software functionality of F2 you need a combination: fn+F2. Completely annoying.

As far as ease of use I would say it's straightforward given that one already knows a graphical operating system. There are decisions Apple made differently than Microsoft that I find perplexing. The alt+tab of Windows is command+tab on MBP. Again, different keys are not a big deal. The big deal is they function differently. On Lion, if a window is minimized command+tab'ing to it won't make the window visible. One has to click on the icon in the task tray to make it visible. To me, that completely defeats the purpose of having a shortcut way of switching between open applications.

Migrating data was done by connecting an ethernet cable between my PC and the MBP. It wasn't trivial. I had to dig on the internet to find a way. I don't remember if it was a Windows issue, a Mac one, or a combination. In any case, again, it didn't "just work."

The most enjoyable part of the MBP experience is the included entertainment software: GarageBand, iMovie, and iPhoto. Now those, they just work. Actually, Image Capture is awesome too. That allows me to use my super old scanner without an issue. I did nothing but plug my scanner to the MBP and was scanning within seconds. That is exactly how I thought everything on a Mac would work.

I hope this helps.
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Old May 23, 2012, 12:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hfuhruhurr View Post
I am a keyboard shortcut guru on Windows systems. After 6 months of MBP use, I am still frustrated by the lack of easy and intuitive keyboard shortcuts. The most infuriating is the delete key. On the MBP it destroys the character to the left of the cursor like the backspace key on Windows machines. I can live with that but only if there is a MBP-equivalent key to destroy the character to the right of the cursor...but there's not. That keyboard shortcut is a combination: fn+delete. Not ideal. Now consider that these two keys are on opposite ends of the keyboard which means you can't do that maneuver with one hand.

Another keyboard idiosyncrasy is that the function keys control mostly hardware functions like brightness, volume, play, etc. This isn't by itself an issue unless you're spend a fair amount of time in Excel. F2 is vital for my Excel usage. However, pressing F2 on the MBP increments the screen's brightness. To get the software functionality of F2 you need a combination: fn+F2. Completely annoying.
I actually find the keyboard shortcuts on OS X much more standardized, well thought out, and logical than on Windows. The annoying function key problem is actually an example of that. Since a lot of us really use the function keys they can be activated in the keyboard settings so you don't have to use Fn.
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Old May 23, 2012, 01:03 AM   #9
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Here's several answers to some of your questions:

1) Technically speaking you're not actually running Windows in Boot Camp, it's nothing more than an app in OS X that allows you to make a second partition on your hard drive that Windows can be installed on, and the Boot Camp software that you install in Windows is just drivers for your Mac's hardware and an app which gives you some minor settings, such as brightness control. Simply put, you're running Windows natively, just as it would be on a PC -- so all your games and existing apps should run just fine as long as the Mac you purchase meets the hardware requirements for each of those apps and the same is true of any software from this "ArcGIS" that you mentioned -- if it doesn't work properly and your hardware meets their specifications, then they should give you the same support as if you were on a PC, as it's exactly the same. (Whether they will or not, I don't know.)

2) The list of good games available on OS X is quite small, but that's changing slowly. I'd recommend installing Windows 7 and just playing all your games on that, it's what I do.

3) The MacBook Pro is capable of gaming but it's by no means a gaming laptop. Check out this site which lists how well mobile GPUs do for gaming, and here specifically for the 6770M which is in the current high end 15 inch MacBook Pro.

In the latter link, you can click on the frame rates to see what system was used -- some of them, if not most, are the MacBook Pro and you should look for those results to get a good idea of how it will run. You can see that in several high end games such as Deux Ex: Human Revolution, Skyrim, Battlefield 3, that it isn't able to play at ultra settings with 30 FPS, but I'd guess and say that on lower settings at native resolution you should be fine in a lot if cases, but with some games you may have to play at a lower resolution -- particularly the intensive ones, like Crysis 2 or The Witcher 2, etc.

4) There's new MacBook Pro models coming out very soon. I highly recommend you wait for them, they should be at the same price point as the current models are now, but with better hardware -- particularly in the GPU department. They'll apparently have "retina" displays too, which means you'll probably need to run any games at half its native resolution on Windows -- but that should look the same (roughly) as it does on a MacBook Pro with a standard resolution display.

They could be released as soon as one month -- definitely worth the wait.
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Old May 23, 2012, 01:23 AM   #10
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I think only you can decide if you want one or not. If you want to deal with Bootcamp to run your software, go for it. For me, it's a bit of a hassle to restart whenever I need to use it. Of course I don't do anything in Windows that's required for work. This might make your work flow a bit troublesome if you're having to restart all the time. You may be able to use a virtualization but that will affect performance. I would check one of the forums for that main piece of software to see how those folks are doing it.

As for just using a Mac coming from Windows, it will take a few hours of getting used to. Once you do that, and you figure out how simple things are, it'll all make sense and be very intuitive.

As far as the delete key goes, there's some history to that pre computers. I can't remember what it was, but had to do with the way typewriters worked or something. When Apple started back then I guess they kept with the typewriter way. Another example of that is how caps lock works. On a Windows machine, when caps lock is on, you type in upper case. If you hold down the shift key it types in lower case. So.... it's not really locked. On a Mac, the shift key has no effect on the case, it will stay in upper case.

Macs also seem to last longer. I have a 2006 Core Duo MacBook. In 2010 a friend asked me to take a look at her HP or Toshiba notebook. I asked her how old it was as she was only 20 and it looked like, and ran like, it was about 8 years old. She said she bought it 1.5 years prior brand new, even though screws were falling out, hard drivers were dying, and some keys no longer worked.

Another neat thing I like about them is how easy it is to add a printer. All you really have to do is go to Printers in System Settings, click Add Printer, select the printer you want to add (either on USB or networked), and OS X will find and download all the necessary drivers/software you need to run it.

As far as gaming, I just bought a 2010 MacBook Pro and have played a few low level games on here. Lego Indiana Jones, The Tiny Bang Story, and some Pioneer Trail. They all ran smooth and neither raised my fans above maybe 3000 rpm.

You will need to purchase a retail copy of Windows XP or Windows 7 to install for Bootcamp, so make sure to add that to your list. As far as transferring data, you can either use an external hard drive or, if you have access to Firewire, put the MacBook in Target Disk Mode and treat it as an external hard drive. I think that's what I did as I couldn't figure out how to do it over the network at the time.
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Old May 23, 2012, 10:50 AM   #11
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Buy the machine to run the software and not the other way around. In this case since you are mainly/solely interested in running a Windows-only application, buy a Windows machine. IMHO the only Windows notebook worth buying are Lenovo. If reliability is really your top concern and you don't need portability get a desktop workstation instead. I've used HP and Dell the past decade with zero problems with either.
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Old May 23, 2012, 09:38 PM   #12
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It sounds like most of the programs you want to use will force you to be in Windows fairly often.

In college I used a MBP 15" from early 2008 and it was a fantastic machine for my usage. I graduated as an MIS major so I had to use bootcamp very often for programming and other Windows applications. It really didn't bother me to have to run Windows on my MBP for most of my time at school and at home for homework. OS X was only a quick reboot away.

I like Windows and OS X both a lot but overall I like to use OS X for my day to day stuff. Keeping my data on Google and utilizing Dropbox makes my life extremely easy to switch from different OS environments and machines and still have all of my data.

As others said, anything that runs in Windows will run in bootcamp for OS X. I can tell you specifically though that I ran ArcGIS on Windows Vista in Bootcamp on my MBP during college for my Geology course. It ran great and I didn't have any issues.
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Old May 23, 2012, 09:58 PM   #13
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Seeing as you are probably going to be using Windows at least 75% of the time, you should probably just go with the EliteBook. You'll save cash and you won't have to buy a Windows license, there won't be any new learning curve, and you won't have to reboot your computer every time you want to play a game or do work. I see no point in buying a Mac if you are just going to install Windows on it and not really use OS X.
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Old May 23, 2012, 11:42 PM   #14
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If you are familiar with Windows 7 more then just run Bootcamp (Pre-installed on your macbook) and buy a Windows 7 copy. Run the wizard and it will partition your hard drive with Windows on the new partition. That's what I do as I need Windows for work and use the Mac OS X for everything else. When you reboot the computer you hold down the alt/option key on the keyboard and you will see a Windows hard disk and a Mac OS X hard disk image. You toggle left/right and hit enter and bam-- you are in the the OS of your choice!
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Old May 24, 2012, 10:40 AM   #15
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I should be a little more clear. Over half of what I'll do with a new laptop would be the usual: internet, typing, movies, music, etc. ArcGIS would be like 10% of the time, since I would be using it in a personal rather than professional capacity at home (wall maps as gifts, learning new things, etc). Games maybe about 30% of the time, and I would be inclined to buy my future games for OS X if I had a MacBook Pro, assuming they are available for it. I have a copy of XP already, so I'd likely just install that, rather than buy Windows 7, unless I have to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew9559
As others said, anything that runs in Windows will run in bootcamp for OS X. I can tell you specifically though that I ran ArcGIS on Windows Vista in Bootcamp on my MBP during college for my Geology course. It ran great and I didn't have any issues.
Well that's good to know that somebody here has tried it and it worked fine. That ArcGIS and other Windows software I owned would run fine with Bootcamp is my main concern, although I likely wouldn't be using Windows on a daily basis. If it really came down to it, my games are older/low graphics and run fine on my current machine (or possibly fine on a virtual machine), it's just that hardware issues with it impede me from doing daily things like checking the internet.

However, thanks for all the advice! It's given me a fair bit to chew on. I'll certainly wait to see what update of the MacBook Pro comes out soon before I make any final decision. More suggestions are welcome as well though.
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Old Jun 3, 2012, 11:38 PM   #16
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I think this is an excellent reason to buy mac pro
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Old Jun 4, 2012, 06:15 AM   #17
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XP comment

You need to be aware that Mac hardware purchased new with 10.7 Lion or newer won't allow you to install or use Windows XP on the boot camp partition. Only hardware old enough for 10.6 Snow Leopard has drivers for XP. You'll need Windows 7 for your new laptop.

I changed from Windows XP (I started with Windows 3.1 after Amstrad CPM) to Mac 10.5 and find the keyboard shortcuts a breeze. I don't use a mouse with my Macbook, basically because I don't need to. Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts are more logical, standard across apps and more extensive than Windows. I use Aperture, PS Elements, Lightroom, Logic Pro and other interesting software quite happily on my almost 5 year old Macbook. I'm looking forward to getting a newer Macbook Pro after the next update (or Macbook Air if it gets more ram) Windows runs as good on a Mac as it does on any PC, including some specialty medical software I use. Go for it, but wait for the upgrade before buying.
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