help please

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by s2mcpaul, May 14, 2006.

  1. s2mcpaul macrumors member

    May 14, 2006
    Hello all. I am looking to purchase a new laptop. I am very much aware of the major differences b/w Macs and whatever you want to call the others. I think I am ready to throw windows out the door, however my main concern is that I have never owned a mac and I need some insight as to what the main differences are between the "_books." I will use it primarily for internet and business/finance related work. -ie lots of spreadsheets. I obviously want the most bang for my buck without sacrificing the most important functions. For me that would be(at least I think) batery life, storage capacity without loss of processing speed, screen size(not too small, not the biggest), and weight(not top priority).

    Also will I run into conflicts using certain taxonomy applications like edgar-online or the like?

    thanks for any help
  2. techound1 macrumors 68000


    Mar 3, 2006
    My 2 cents: go with a refub iBook - 14"; that's plento bang for accounting processes, super battery life, lots o space, and very rugged. Get the lowest amount of RAM you can and add aftermarket ram (data mem is recommended by a number of forum members). I spent $100 on 1 gig there vs $300 at apple!! Also check the promo code thread for even greater savings.

    Enjoy your new machine, no matter what you select!
  3. Mernak macrumors 6502

    Apr 9, 2006
    Kirkland, WA
    It seems like you only need a pretty basic laptop to do everything you need to. I would suggest the macBook if you can wait until they come out (it had better be soon) or a refurb iBook G4 14"(assuming they have any) so you can spend a bit extra on a RAM upgrade. THE PB/MBP seems like overkill unless you plan on doing more processor/graphics intensive work.

    as for the apps... i have absolutly no idea, but seeing as to they are online im guessing they will work (but probably want to try it out on a friends mac or something beforehand)
  4. s2mcpaul thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2006
    thanks guys I also will watch streaming video via pplive and the like. Any problems with that?

    additional feedback welcomed.
  5. quidire macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2004
    Washington DC (in Kalorama Triangle)
    MacBook Pro - more expensive, 15" and 17" varieties, all dual-core
    iBooks are about to be replaced; the soon-to-be MacBooks - less expensive, no firm details but probably 13.3", probably mostly single core with the top of the range being dual core

    Battery life is likely to be substantially similar in both options. Storage capacity is going to be upgradable-at-time-of-order for both, the 'Pros starting out more capacious and having larger/faster maximums. Weight is unlikely to be much of an issue until you get to the 17", which is still only average weight for laptops in general.

    Really the question is, what is your budget? Based on your screen size requests, a 15" MBP seems like the obvious choice. "Bang for buck" is a difficult idea because judgements about value are... value judgements. It is hard to tell what you feel is worth the money.

    Here are a few (conflicting) principles I have:
    1. As many processing cores as possible, but pay as little as possible for cpu speed within model+core range; in other words the difference between a 1.83GHz dual core MBP and a 2.16GHz dual core MBP is not worth the money, at least not for processor speed
    2. Get the best video card/chip possible, and as much video RAM as possible. The video card is used by all modern operating systems (OS X, Vista-to-be) to handle more and more user interface processing, and with good reason. The connection between the CPU and the video card is a bottleneck, and having processing done on the far side of that line means far less has to cross between the two. Further, every context shift from content processing to UI processing for the CPU is very expensive in a performance sense. Lastly, the chief obsolescence-provoking factor for slightly older computers is graphics card requirements. Thus this is the best way to future-proof any computer. Sadly, to get to double your VRAM on a MBP (for a very small fee, all things considered) you first have to pay for the 2.0GHz version (at least).
    3. Screen space is often underestimated in its productivity implications. Just as CPU context changes are incredible expensive performance-wise, having a situation where all the information you need isn't on the screen at once worsens our performance. Get as large a screen as you are able to reasonably transport (in other words, if you simply won't carry around a computer if it is larger than X" long, Y" wide, or more than Z lbs, than its screen space is useless).

    None of the above require one to be using one's laptop for games or multimedia; I believe the above even if one solely uses office applications.

    I certainly wouldn't buy an iBook; they were achingly bad a year and a half ago, and then had a tiny update that has left them ever more behind. It sounds like this is your main computer (as opposed to having a desktop and using a laptop only for visits to a coffee shop or browsing whist watching TV); all the more reason to avoid the iBooks.

    If you absolutely can't spend more than $1000, wait for the MacBooks, they should be released in a week or two. If you can afford a MacBook Pro, get what you can afford. Were I to get a new laptop, I would buy a 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro, buy aftermarket RAM but upgrade the video card. I would max out RAM (any Mac with less than 1GB RAM is going to be strangling itself with thrashing the hard drive for swap memory).

    It's penny-wise pound-foolish to buy an iBook if you can afford, well, anything else.
  6. s2mcpaul thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2006
    thanks a lot, quidire.

    Yes it will serve as my main computer. It being too big isn't so much a problem in fact I prefer a larger screen.

    So all-in-all you would suggest:

    -that the MacBook Pro will serve as a good desktop replacement.
    -that the 2.16GHz isnt necessary but b/c of the ability to double the VRAM might be worth it.
    -No ibook, but maybe the 'MacBook'
    -however if I can afford the MacBook Pro, then MacBook Pro.

    I can spend over $1000 but I would like to spend under $2000
  7. quidire macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2004
    Washington DC (in Kalorama Triangle)
    That was my recommendation, although there was one misunderstanding:
    The 15 inch MBP is available in three CPU speeds: 1.83, 2.0, and 2.16 GHz. The latter two get the upgraded vram. For that reason I recommend the 2.0; the 2.16 is fairly pointless. Additionally I was confusing the iMac and the MBP when I said there was a small charge for getting the higher VRAM amount; there is no charge. The 1.83 gets 128 MB VRAM, all 2.0+ get 256 MB VRAM.

    The price is $2K for the 1.83, $2.5K for the 2. The extra 500 buys +512 MB RAM (for a default total of 1GB in one SO-DIMM stick), +20GB in the HD (to 100GB), the CPU and the VRAM.

    I would actually buy the stock 2.0GHz model, and then whenever you like, buy an extra 1GB SO-DIMM stick (this can easily be done down the road whenever; it costs around $100-130).

    The 2.16 GHz is a $300 upgrade (on top of the 2.0) that gets you nothing but a desultory cpu speed bump.

    Now, you said you'd prefer to keep the total price under $2k. You can get a stock 1.83 MBP and add RAM now; $2000 + 100 for an aftermarket 1GB SO-DIMM chip and you have 1.5GB RAM. Sure you get 128 MB VRAM, but that is still more than you are likely going to be able to get in the MacBook.

    But if the <$2K cap is firm, well the MacBook will still be a great laptop, and you can always add a desktop down the road if you find new programs 1 or 2 years from now that the MB has a more difficult time dealing with. I can guarantee if the MacBook has a dual-core model, it will still be well under $2k. Apple would never let its consumer line encroach on the professional line in price to that degree.

    Whatever you decide to do, enjoy! Mac OS X truly is a huge improvement over Windows; I switched about 18 months ago and have never regretted it.
  8. s2mcpaul thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2006
  9. quidire macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2004
    Washington DC (in Kalorama Triangle)
    Not at all, you are more than welcome.

    By and by, I edited my second post after I noticed the <$2k line; hopefully the coda will be useful.
  10. s2mcpaul thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2006
    oh one (hopefully) last question. In terms of operational use, how long can I expect my new macbook or macbook pro to last. Some owners of older versions of apple products seem to have issues fixing problems once apple replaces a product (I'm talking like 2001 G3's and the like).

    obviously systems become outdated and with technological advances a new system is likely needed after a few years, but will it still be of use. For example I use my old-old PC as a home theater PC (HTPC).


    -----thought this might interest some of you, but I don't know why-------

    With the OSx86 (OSX Tiger for Intel chipsets) leak, hundreds of people have been attempting to install OSx86 on their home computers. Some are having great luck, while others are finding that their hardware is not compatible, and it just wont install. In the following article I will discuss how to build a Intel based computer that comes very closely to meeting the specs of the OSx86 Development machines. We will discuss exactly WHAT hardware you want, WHERE to find the software, and HOW to install it. Meaning that with a little magic, this complete walkthrough will have you installing OSx86 on a $200 Intel machine using the OSX install disc, and have everything work great!
    First off we need to pull together everything we will need. We will need some specific hardware (list coming in a bit) along with some specific software. This is where it gets tricky. Officially, OSx86 has not been released. As you may have heard, Apple has decided to move to intel architecture, which means that their base OS along with OSX applications will need to be ported to work on this new intel based chipset. On Tuesday April 19th 2005, a developer copy of OSX Tiger for Intel based chipsets was leaked to the major torrent sites. At the time there was not much you could do with this image, but since then there has been a lot of poking and hacking done on it, allowing us to install it.
    There are several methods to install OSx86, but we will be discussing the best method (IMHO), using the Base Image (leaked DVD) along with adding some patches to make it bootable. There are other methods such as using VMWare, and DD'ing a disc image onto your hard drive, but I will not be discussing those as they are not as stable in my opinion.

    Before I get into the meat of this, let me first say that downloading and using the leaked DVD is illegal. This version of OSX is aimed only at developers, and should only be used on official development machines. We will be discussing the hardware and techniques needed to duplicate this just to share the knowledge. Most of this information has been obtained from some excellent sources such as the OSx86 Project Wiki and forums. These places are just a FEW that have a wealth of information, if you have any problems or questions I would suggest starting there.

    I suggest you purchase the required hardware, and then prepare the software while you wait for shipping. That way you can have all the bugs worked out before-hand. The hardware we will discuss below is just a suggestion, as it has been hand picked in order to be as close to the development machines as possible with staying close to our $200 budget. You of course can use other equipment that you may have laying around (case/ram) for example -- and of course you could upgrade components as you see fit. For example, it would be pretty sweet to build this into a Apple G5 Case (Make sure to see the update at bottom of article for special savings!) that is available from Before you buy anything however, make sure it is on the Hardware Compatibility List on the OSx86 Project Wiki site.

    Here are the base requirements:

    * CPU: (SSE3 Compatible, With some hacking you can get SSE2 processors to work):
    * Motherboard chipsets: This is still debated, but the consensus is that Intel chipsets work the best.
    * Video: Basic VGA/SVGA works on most chipsets, however for accelerated graphics you will need the Intel GMA900 onboard graphics chip (the motherboard selected below uses this chipset)

    $200 OSx86 Mac Parts List:


    Case 1-Bay ATX Case w/300W Power Supply $18.00
    Motherboard ASRock P4Dual-915GL Micro ATX Intel Motherboard $51.99
    CPU Intel Celeron D 340 2.93Ghz / 256K Cache / 533 FSB / Socket 478 $49.99*
    Memory 2x AllComponents 256MB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 266 (PC 2100) $22.39 x 2
    Hard Drive 20 GB 7200RPM Hard Drive (Check Ebay, or your basement) $19.99
    DVD Drive BTC 16X DVDROM


    * CPU price was after $50 MIR. Apparently this deal might be over. I am currently looking for a replacement, if you know of a good deal on these, please let me know. However you should be able to find this processor for around this price using froogle.

    I chose this hardware as best as I could using one vendor to save on shipping. (My favorite retailers & The case is from as it was the cheapest case I could find that included a Power supply. You can probably find a good deal on a case by visiting my local mom & pop computer store, that way you don't have to pay for shipping. The processor is being obtained through a TigerDirect deal. Before you go out and purchase exactly what I have linked to, I suggest you read the article on Getting the best deal online to possibly find these components cheaper. While we wait for our hardware to arrive, we need to obtain and prepare the software side...
    i'll add the rest if anyone wants it.
  11. quidire macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2004
    Washington DC (in Kalorama Triangle)
    If your computer is under warranty, Apple will often give you an upgraded computer if they can't find parts for your old one (admittedly, a rare occurance). Outside of warranty... I have no idea; my oldest Mac (which was my first Mac) is 18-19 months old.
  12. idea_hamster macrumors 65816


    Jul 11, 2003
    NYC, or thereabouts
    True -- a friend of mine had to send his "Wall Street" PowerBook in under AppleCare. Since they had to replace his HD and didn't stock his size any longer (a whopping 5GB!), he got a free upgrade to 10GB. :)

    As far as your Mac lasting, you'll be pleasantly surprized ... unless you like replacing your hardware every 1-2 years. When the 500MHz Titanium PB first came out in Jan of 2001, I bought one. It's still ticking along today and works just fine for lots of stuff -- even some light Photoshop.

    Your basic warranty is good for 1 year from date of purchase. AppleCare extends that to 3 years from date of purchase. Also, you should know that Apple allows you to buy AppleCare for your Mac at any time during the 1-year warranty period.
  13. s2mcpaul thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2006
    I was looking at the specs for the MacBooks released today. I think that It makes sense for me to buy this one and just get a desktop in about a year.
    The major concern from the foregoing pertained to issues b/w the Macbook Pro 1.83GHz and 2.0GHz. Are the same issues relavent with the MacBook?

    Basically, Is the VRAM upgradable like the MacBook Pro?
    e.g when you buy the 2.0GHz rather than 1.83GHz (it does not appear to be the case, but what do I know)
  14. quidire macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2004
    Washington DC (in Kalorama Triangle)
    For what it's worth, I agree; buy the cheapest MacBook now ($1100), and some aftermarket RAM. Buy an iMac down the road.

    Different machines sold by Apple have different premiums for memory; I bought a mac mini w/ Apple upgrading the memory. The premium wasn't bad and the hassel of upgrading the Mac mini hardly seemed worth it. Conversely I bought aftermarket RAM for my Powerbook and Powermac.

    The MacBook starts off w/ 512MB RAM (not enough!). You can go to 1GB for $90, or to 2GB for $450 (and Apple will upgrade it etc). You can probably buy 2GB of Macbook RAM for around $220-$270. Installing memory in the Powerbook series was pretty easy; the iBooks were harder. I have no idea which will apply to the Macbook.

    I would get the 1.83GHz laptop unless you really want the colour black.

    Nope, you cannot upgrade the VRAM, but then you will have the iMac for the more graphically demanding stuff. Moreover, you can get a .Mac account and have files easily synchronised between the two, and available off the web as well. This is huge; you'll never lose that report because your harddrive crashed or someone stole your laptop. I don't know if getting a .Mac account is really worth it until you get that second computer, but it is afterwards. (I guess even w/ one computer your iDisk backs up to Apple's servers, you get the webspace, the email addy, etc etc)

    Many on this forum disagree; they say the webspace isn't worth the money. I think its less about the email address and the webspace, and more about the fact that all of my passwords to various websites are kept in sync on all the machines (well Macs anyway) that I have accounts on. Additionally I have that iDisk that backs up automatically and propagates the files I put in it to whichever computer I'm using at the time (and if I make changes in one, moves the new version of that file back to all of the others as well). There are other features to .Mac; this is the one that provides me the most value. Others may like the ease of putting photogalleries etc on the web; YMMV.

    .Mac is $100/yr.

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