Black MacBook vs. 15" MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by macguymike, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. macguymike macrumors 6502

    Mar 28, 2003
    I'm a 3rd year college student attending UC Riverside, majoring in psychology and planning on going to grad school.

    My trusty 12" PowerBook G4 has seen a lot of wear and tear over the last several years and while it still runs well, I think I'm about ready to upgrade.

    I've put together a list of criteria, both wants and needs, that I'm looking at as I compare the black MacBook and the 15" MBP. I also have a couple questions.

    1. Portability. I love how easy the 12" is to toss in my bag and to carry around in my hand. I like that it fits easily on the small desks attached to most of the chairs in the classrooms and lecture halls (as well as other places). Will the 15" MBP be too "big" or heavy?

    2. Comfort. I like the feel of the PowerBook's keys. I like the spacing and the pressure necessary for keystrokes. I wonder how much of an adjustment it would be to geet used to the odd-looking spacing on the MacBook keyboard.

    3. Battery life. Due to constraints on my schedule, I am sometimes on campus for extended periods of time. I use my laptop to take notes, and don't always have a chance to recharge the battery. I realize that no laptop battery is going to last all day or even through three 1.5 hour lectures without turning off a lot of extraneous features, but longer is still better. Any word on a difference between the MBP and MacBook as far as this goes?

    1. Graphics. I'd like to be able to play games on my laptop. My PowerBook doesn't handle new games very well. Even World of Warcraft, which has fairly low standards compared to some modern games, needs to have every single setting turned down to run without staggering obnoxiously. Not to mention it makes the fan run loudly and constantly. Would the MacBook be able to run WoW smoothly or am I better off with the MBP?

    1. Discoloration. I've read in several places that the finish on the black MacBook can quickly wear away and become shiny. I can feel the places on my PowerBook where frequent use and contact with my skin has worn it smooth, but it's not obvious visually. Is this 100% inevitable and unavoidable? If so, that would be a point in the MBP's favor.

    2. Matte vs. Glossy. I realize this may be one of those things where I just have to go down to an Apple store and see for myself. I've seen the lights in the lecture hall reflect off of other notebooks (both MacBooks and PCs) with glossy screens and I've wondered if it would be annoying. On the other hand, I like how shiny and bright the glossy screens look (even if they don't display colors "properly", a complaint I've read from some graphics-oriented users).

    My thanks in advance for any and all suggestions, opinions, and advice.
  2. iLoveMyMBP macrumors regular


    Feb 4, 2007
    New York
  3. interlaced macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2005
    I have a friend who's a 4th year at UCR. Cool.

    If you're talking about the fold-out excuses for desktops in lecture halls, yes, the 15" will be too big. It's heavier than a 12". Actually I think the Macbook is heavier than the 12".

    I had a macbook for a minute and didn't find the spacing annoying at all. But I didn't like the screen size and the glossiness so I got rid of it.

    I'm not sure on the exact difference, but I believe the battery life on the Macbook is a lot better than the one on the MBP.

    I can't comment on games because I don't play them. You can get a Marware protector to shield the area around your trackpad from wearing down. I usually did a thorough wipe down with the keyboard on my old Powerbook every week. Call me crazy, but it helped.

    That's all I can really comment on. Hope it helped a little.
  4. CaptainHaddock macrumors 6502

    Jul 6, 2004
    Nagoya, Japan
    The 12" iBooks were really nice and compact. There isn't so much difference between the 13.3" Macbooks and the MBPs — maybe an inch shorter and shallower. Plus the larger MBP screen is a very comfortable size when you're leaning back.

    The case-integrated Macbook keyboard is pretty neat, but I think the response of the MBP keys is better for long stretches of typing. I bought mine primarily for writing.

    The Macbooks always seem to get better battery life, but my MBP is still pretty good — about 3.5 hours with the screen on medium brightness, it seems.

    While I hear the Macbook is adequate for well-optimized Mac games like World of Warcraft, the MBP (especially the 2.33 model) is clearly the champ. It'll smoke the Macbook.

    Do check it out and see what you think. I find the matte looks and works great in all settings.
  5. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
    PowerBook G4:
    Dimensions: 1.18" H x 10.9" W x 8.6" D
    Weight: 4.6 lbs.

    Dimensions: 1.08" H x 12.78" W x 8.92" D
    Weight: 5.2 lbs.

    MacBook Pro:
    Dimensions: 1.0" H x 14.1" W x 9.6" D
    Weight: 5.6 lbs.

    Neither is as compact. I'd wait for the next round of laptop updates (plus leopard) and then enjoy whatever you get for year four plus grad school. And who knows. Maybe Apple will introduce a smaller Pro level laptop in that time.
  6. Deepdale macrumors 68000


    May 4, 2005
    New York
    I believe your needs would be more than adequately met by purchasing a MacBook, but your wants seem to be exerting pressure towards the MBP. You did not mention price concerns, but is that $700.00 premium worth it at this point?

    Do spend a proper amount of time deciding which of the screen finishes is best for your eyes. I am okay with the glossy, but over time I must say that the matte is the one I would be most comfortable with for extended use periods. Then again, you are much younger than me.

    When style matters as much as performance, go with the MBP if your budget can handle it. I am sure you have seen comments from members very pleased with their MB, but less than enthralled with occasional issues of discoloration, fingerprints, reflections, etc. Best of luck with whatever model you eventually choose.
  7. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Random thoughts.

    I think you'll find that the MBP is HUGE in comparison to the 12" PB. hell, coming from a 14" non-widescreen thin and light, this laptop is huge!

    My MBP is brand new, and the battery on a full charge with the screen all the way down and wireless on, is 4 hours and 16 minutes.

    If I could trade my MBP for a smaller MBP, I would.

    and about the MB... yeah, I've heard about discolorations, I don't like the glossy screen... and I wouldn't get it for playing any games on. but it's still nice... I wish my MBP had a magnetic latch.
  8. thisonechance macrumors regular

    Feb 22, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    Most who play games on the c2d macbooks define play as "adequate".
    Not stunning, but by no means terrible.
    I think that the x3000 integrated graphics chipset that comes on the Santa Rosa platform will play most newer games rather well in comparison. But if you have to buy now, the mbp is a safe bet.
  9. drmike macrumors member

    May 17, 2006
    macguymike, I recently bought a MacBook (2.0 GHz, White, 80GB HD), but I seriously considered the black MacBook and the MacBook Pro. For a while, I leaned heavily towards the Pro, but I ended up getting the MacBook, partly because I plan to get a desktop to do any heavy-duty computing, and partly for various reasons that I'll explain below:

    The difference in weight between the MacBook and MacBook Pro is, in my opinion, negligible -- it's about a half a pound, and when I held each in my hands at an Apple Store, I figured either one would be fine in terms of weight. I also compared each laptop in terms of their dimensions -- meaning, how they seemed in my hands as opposed to the measured specifications. The MacBook is certainly not as wide or as deep and would be a little easier to fit into a tight bag, but the difference isn't that great. The MacBook's screen has a fairly large bezel, which accounts for the size of the casing. I personally preferred the MacBook in terms of size, but if you bought the Pro, I doubt if you'd have any problems using it in class (I teach a class at a local university, and a couple of students have MacBook Pros, and they manage to use them just fine on the small desks in the classroom).

    Battery life was a big factor for me. The Pro gets really good battery life for a 15" laptop, but everyone I asked before I bought my Mac told me that the life of the MacBook's battery is a bit longer. I'm averaging a little more than four hours on mine, and that's with Airport on the entire time. If I turned Airport off completely, I could extend the life even longer. I really enjoy being untethered, and I use my MacBook on battery the majority of the time.

    The MacBook's keyboard takes some getting used to because of the spacing (and especially for me because I was coming from a Windows laptop), but I got used to it very quickly. Personally, I love the feel of it, particularly the low-impact keys. For me, it's very comfortable. Having said that, when I was looking at the Pro, I really liked that keyboard as well -- it's a far cry from the uncomfortable Windows keyboards I've used for years.

    I can't speak to the discoloration on black MacBooks. I haven't had any similar issues on my white laptop, but then I've only had it for about a week and a half.

    Finally, regarding the matte vs. glossy debate. Here are my 2 cents: I prefer matte displays mainly because I think they're easier to look at for long periods of time (my old Sony Vaio laptop has an awesome matte display, and I continue to use it for certain tasks just because of this). However, in my opinion, I think text in OS X looks crisper on the glossy displays, and so I love the very nice readability of my MacBook. I don't have an issue with glare at all, except when I'm in a room in which there are bright lights directly overhead (which isn't often). When there is glare, it's still fairly readable, especially compared to HP laptops, which have (in my view) some of the worst glare I've ever seen.

    As far as glossy displays not displaying colors properly, I've believed this for a while; however, I actually have never seen "smoking-gun" proof that this is really true. For me, it's more a matter of how the LCD is calibrated, and not whether it has a matte or glossy screen. As an amateur photographer, I wouldn't have any qualms about editing photos on a glossy screen, provided it's calibrated correctly.

    Hope this helps. Good luck with your decision!
  10. djpl macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Go for the MacBook Pro. It's still VERY portable, if you want to play games the GPU is far better, the keyboard IMHO feels better (don't care for the weird spacing on MacBooks), and as for battery life... you will probably get 1.5-2.5 hours. If you need more, just buy a second battery and carry it with you. You will also love the increased screen resolution.
  11. polevault139 macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2006
    How will he be able to charge the second battery unless he puts it into the MBP?

    My vote is Macbook, I personally love the keyboard but it is a matter of personal preferance while most people seem to get used to it after typing with it for a while. The GMA 950 is not as bad as you may think and will be able to run WoW a ton better than your current Powerbook. With the X3000 coming out with Santa Rosa hopefully sometime this summer the performance increase will be even better. You go to an apple store or another apple retailer and check out both laptops side by side. Don't be afraid to take your time looking at them becuase when your going to be spending 1200-2000 on a notebook you want it to bee the right one.
  12. macguymike thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 28, 2003
    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    I think I'll hold out a bit longer to see what happens this summer as far as hardware goes, and of course for Leopard.

    I'm leaning more towards a MacBook Pro, but that may change once I get down to an Apple store and get some hands-on time.
  13. macguymike thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 28, 2003
    Right on. What school/degree is (s)he in?
  14. Aniej macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2006
    I think you should lean away from the glossy based on the concerns you already expressed regarding reflections. It honestly depends on your sensitivity to things like that, for me it would drive me nuts because I like you am a student and spend a major portion of my day staring the screen. I think the potential benefits don't even come close to the hassle that could result from the glossy based on your situation.
  15. RojoLeo macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Take care of your eyes. Using that for four and a half hours (3 1.5 hour lectures) everyday with a glossy screen in a typical classroom setting (I know my university had those horrible fluorescent lights) will begin to put a real strain on your eyes.

    It can take time, but you'll likely eventually start getting headaches from eye strain. Your environment is the perfect candidate for a matte screen.

    With that aside, I think if you get the MB you'll always feel like you have "barely enough" horsepower to accomplish what you want. There's nothing that degrades a computer experience more than struggling to complete your favorite tasks.

    If you can afford it, MBP is your answer.
  16. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    I find my MacBook Pro to be fine, it's not too big or too heavy for me. The MacBook pro is only about a half a pound heavier than the MacBook and it's not that much bigger either.

    I tried out the MacBook keys and didn't like them much, I've read on the forum that it takes about 2 weeks or so to get used to them. I really like the keyboard on my MacBook pro, it's even better than my desktop keyboards that I've used.

    The MacBook Pro isn't going to win any battery life contests, I find that it only lasts a paltry 2.5 - 3 hours for my school work/running some programs. I don't know how the MacBook compares though. I bought a 2nd battery and I've been fine ever since.

    If you're doing any games then you're MUCH better off with the MacBook Pro. I can do plenty of games like Need For Speed Most Wanted on my MacBook Pro on Medium-High settings and it will be perfectly playable.

    I'm not sure on this as I do not own a black macbook.

    I've used both glossy and Matte laptops and I much prefer Matte, as glossy screens pick up finger prints VERY easy, along with the lighting issues you mentioned. If you can live with the glare from the lights and like how the glossy displays color, then go with it.
  17. Rovias macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2005
    Too many people on this board will recommend the MBP when, for your needs, a Black MacBook will more than suffice.

    I own one, and yes, the keyboard is a bit odd at first, but I became accustomed to it after about 15 minutes, and actually now I enjoy it more than the old iBook/Powerbook keyboards. The keys are more firm, for one thing.

    Battery life and portability can't be beat with the MacBook. Games are a different story, but a MacBook should still be able to handle WoW fine. The more graphics intensive games will give you some issues, though. If you plan on doing heavy and frequent gaming, you should get the MBP.

    Other than that, however, a Black MacBook will make you very happy. :)
  18. PDE macrumors 68020

    Nov 16, 2005
    I am transitioning back to a macbook with external monitor as my main machine - from a macbook pro 17'. Before that I've always used 15" macbook pros and powerbooks. Since the displays on the MBPs aren't very good anyway, it doesn't make any sense to me to carry around a large portable for the sake of a mediocre display. The macbook is of course not great for aperture or any application that needs more screen real estate, but when connected to a large externa display, it's an amazingly versatile little machine. Until notebook displays get better (or until Apple puts better displays in them), I'm going to stick to this setup. I lose a little comfort when mobile, but I also have the benefit of a truly nice size laptop.

    While I liken the metal feeling of the MBPs, I prefer the design of the macbooks:

    - nice, small and feels easy to transport. It may not weigh much less or be much smaller, but it makes a huge difference in day to day use.

    - keyboard. Take a little getting used to and will depend on typing style. However, I love it now! Because of less vertical travel, my typing has changed a lot, for the better. My fingers now almost glide across the keyboard, almost floating across as I depress the keys. Very light touch is needed and thus it helps prevent strain while typing. Very comfortable. Different from MBP but equally comfortable if not more so IMO

    - Wireless range is better. On average I get at least 50% more wireless networks on the macbook compared to the MBPs.

    - Battery life is great, a little better than the 17" and quite a bit better than 15".

    - magnetic closure system: love it. Becomes second nature within seconds and you just don't want to have to press a button to open a display again.

    - display tilt: a little better than MBPs - every degree counts to me.

    - heat: cooler surface because it's plastic


    - black surface smudges still, though less on the newer ones than the older ones.

    - black surface may come off over time. Hard to say. My first blackbook had that happen within two weeks but that was probably an exception.

    - fans are on more and they are louder than the MBPs - annoying sometimes.

    - no separate GPU - only really important if you do 3D and games. I use this with photoshop c3 beta and it runs great, no problem whatsoever.

    just some impressions...hope they help.

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