Buying Advice for a PC Geek

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by avalanchez71, Aug 14, 2006.

  1. avalanchez71 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #1
    First of all, let me thank anyone who's kind enough to give me some advice.

    I'm a PC geek. I've been building PCs for years, I do web development, and some graphics work. I am not necessarily a Windows fan boy, but I am extremely familiar with the OS and feel very comfortable that I can rescue my data regardless of what might happen.

    I've made the decision to buy a Macbook for various reasons, but primarily to give Mac OS X another attempt and too have a decent machine to do it on. I'll be buying the basic white model with 1gb ram, however, I noticed today that Apple has refurbished units with the same warranty for less money. For me, this is very tempting, as this will not be my primary machine, and I'm looking to save some cash.

    Here's my questions.

    Can I swap out RAM in a MacBook as easily as I can in a PC notebook? What type of RAM does the MacBook use? I'm assuming DDR 400. Are there any restrictions on brands/types because of the board or setup in the MacBook?

    Does Apple offer any upgrade protection for the upcoming release of 10.5 or once I buy a Mac with 10.4 am I forced to shell out the additional $100 for the next OS update?

    Has anyone bought a refurbished part from Apple, if so, was it in good condition? Any problems?

    Again, I appreciate all responses. Again, I'm going to buy this as a test, if I like it, I might consider switching, but I have no intention of doing so at this point.
     
  2. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    #2
    The RAM questions can be answered with a quick look on the Apple web site. The MacBook uses DDR2 SD-RAM PC2-5300 667MHz SO-DIMMs. It's very easy to swap out the RAM and the HDD on the MacBook.

    You're not forced to shell out the $129 to upgrade to 10.5, it's not mandatory but if you buy a Mac before 10.5 is released you will not get it for free.

    From what I hear the refurbs are good.
     
  3. avalanchez71 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #3
    Thanks for the info. I apologize for missing the info on Apple's site.
     
  4. stonyc macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #4
    Although you mentioned that you're looking for more of a "re-introduction" to Apple hardware and OS X... if you find this initial experience satisfactory, and plan to purchase more hardware in the future, consider getting a membership to the ADC (Apple Developer Connection).

    I'm assuming you're not a student and therefore not eligible for the student developer membership to ADC (think it's about $90), so a Select membership will cost you $500 for one year. With that membership though, you'll get a one-time discount on Apple hardware (I think it's 20%, but don't quote me on that... whereas the Education discount usually works out to about 10%, and the Apple Employee discount I've heard works out to around 25%). You'll also get free OS upgrades for one year (including 10.4 to 10.5, assuming that upgrade happens within the year) among other benefits. Depending on the hardware that you buy in that year, that $500 membership could end up having been paid for itself and possibly more.

    In terms of your imminent purchase, I've heard of only positive experiences with Apple refurbished products. They're covered by the same warranties and eligible for Applecare just like newly purchased products. I would recommend however that you not upgrade the RAM through Apple's store... you can usually find much better deals on compatible RAM through other third parties. The RAM is easily installed, you'll just need a small Torx screwdriver to uncover the slots.

    Good luck! :)
     
  5. flyers1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #5
    Hello. I was in the same boat as you:pC builder for years and decided to give Mac a try(long story as to why...)

    The macbook hard drive and memory are very easy to switch out. Just remove the battery and they are right there. Procedures are available on the apple website. Use a SATA HDD and DDR2 PC5300 SO-DIMMs(2 sticks with matched pairs for better performance).

    Unfortunately, there isn't 'upgrade protection' for the next OS. If you buy now and you want Leopard when it comes out next year, you'll have to buy it.

    I bought a refurb ipod shuffle for my wife and it works perfectly. But for a macbook, I would probably buy new. There were a bunch of small issues with the original macbooks that seem to be fixed in the newer machines. Plus, you can buy it for $1099 on macmall or amazon with NO tax, free shipping and a $100 rebate that isn't available thru apple. If you live somewhere with a 7% tax like here in NJ, that no tax thing really helps.

    Hope these answers help.
     
  6. avalanchez71 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #6
    Thanks. The re-introduction is very true, I have a G3 400mhz box at home, but due to its speed, it's dust-covered in the closet.

    I've been looking at 3rd party RAM from my usual online vendors for just such an upgrade. I've always been very partial to Kingston, but do you have any specific brand recommendations for RAM?
     
  7. kaboutertje macrumors regular

    kaboutertje

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    #7
    A MB would be a perfect choice, but do you perhaps have a son/daughter, on whoms name you could buy the mb it could save you some money with the edu discount. ( you didn't hear this one from me :p)
    Also skip the 1gig and get 2gig. And you have to let go of the feeling that you could have build it yourself a lot cheaper, cause you do pay a premium price for a mac, but it's worth it.
     
  8. avalanchez71 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #8
    Well, unfortunetly for this scenario, I do not have children yet.

    As far as the amount of RAM, I have 2g in my newest PC, and it doesn't make a tremendous difference on XP. Does OS X really need 2g to perform well?

    As for the feeling that I could have built it better...this doesn't apply to notebooks, at least not for me....another reason I'm not interested in a Mac Pro, iMac, or Mini.

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  9. thegreatluke macrumors 6502a

    thegreatluke

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Location:
    Earth
    #9
    No.

    Mac OS X requires 512 MB to run at any decent speeds, but 1 GB seems to be the sweet spot. It's pretty much the same as in XP. If you do tasks with very large files, you might need more than 1 GB.

    If you're looking for a truly expandable tower-type Mac, the Mac Pro is the best bet.
     
  10. amac4me macrumors 65816

    amac4me

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2005
    #10
    - Get at least 1 Gb of RAM, if you can afford more, I say get some.
    - You won't get Leopard 10.5 for free, you'll have to pay for the upgrade.
    - I know several people who have purchased refurbished machines without any issues/problems.

    I would however recommend that you purchase Apple Care to extend your warranty. Good luck!
     
  11. stonyc macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #11
    I've used Kingston RAM without issues in a 15" Powerbook G4 (second-to-last revision) and a 12" PB (last revision). Other brands that I've seen or heard... Crucial, Corsair (though I've had only experience with their non-Apple memory), ie. the usual suspects in PC memory. There are a few brands out there that will sell guaranteed-to-work and warrentied memory in addition to ones mentioned already that are escaping me for the moment..
     
  12. avalanchez71 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #12
    Ok...follow-up....

    Can I buy the MB with 2x256 and swap one of them for a 1g without any issues? I've done this many times on PCs, but want to make sure there's not a compatibility issue I'm unaware of here.

    Thanks to everyone who's put in their two cents. I really appreciate it.
     
  13. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
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    visiting from downstream
    #13
    Yes, you can do that without any problems. In fact, I recommend it if you are technical enough to swap out RAM yourself... Apple's RAM prices are tantamount to highway robbery. I almost always get the bare minimum RAM in a machine and then upgrade it myself.
     
  14. SteveG4Cube macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    Location:
    MontCo., PA
    #14
    I'm typing this from a refurb. black MacBook. I also have a refurb. G5 iMac, and my sister is using a refurb. MacBook after several years of good luck with a refurb. G3 iBook which my mom is now using. Refurbs are great bang for the buck, same warranty as new, cosmetically brand new appearing, and my iMac actually came with rev. B specs (250gb HD, 512mb RAM) even though it was a rev. A (160gb/256mb). The memory on the new 'books couldn't be simpler. If you can remove the battery you can swap it. Apple recommends installing matched pairs, but most people who just swap one module seem to be happy. Mine's running fine for now on the stock 512mb. Good luck with your decision.
     
  15. avalanchez71 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #15
    Thanks again, guys. Sounds like a refurb with the base memory is the best bet for me.
     
  16. mr_matalino macrumors 6502a

    mr_matalino

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    Oct 14, 2005
  17. emptyCup macrumors 65816

    emptyCup

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    #17
    Since everybody else has handled the technical issues well, I would like to address the reason you have decided to buy a Mac: to learn OS-X. If you are the sort who likes to explore, then the MB is a reasonable machine to do it on. In a couple of weeks, if not sooner, you should be comfortable with the OS.

    However, many technically proficient Windows users feel lost at first on OS-X because many things they "know without thinking" no longer work. For them Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Tiger Edition by David Pogue is a worthwhile investment. It is not a bad idea for any switcher, though.

    Have fun
     
  18. gadgetgirl85 macrumors 68040

    gadgetgirl85

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    #18
    Let us know when you get it :D
     
  19. avalanchez71 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #19
    Thanks for the recommendation. I've heard good things about the "Missing Manual" series, I may very well pick up a copy.
     
  20. avalanchez71 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #20
    My MacBook has arrived. Original impressions are good. I'm keeping some notes on my web site at www.avalanchez71.com/storylist.php?cat=11

    Can anyone tell me how to stop a program from auto-starting on login? HP's device assistant insists on running everytime I boot. I don't want to remove the HP software, I just want the device assistant to stop annoying me.

    Thanks again!
     

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