Looking to buy a Mac!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Sacred, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. Sacred macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2006
    Hey, I'm looking at buying my first Mac (Windows user myself) for when I go off to university.
    I've been looking at both the MacBook and MacBook Pros (needs to be portable so I can take it with me). I'm not sure which one to get though, money is no object but regardless of that why buy things you will never use/need?

    Anyway the primary uses will be as follows:

    Use of MS Office applications, will need to be able to use the whole range of applications except for Outlook
    Adobe Pro so that I can create .pdf files
    Photoshop CS
    Web browsing
    Video chatting
    MSN Messenger
    Playing mp3's
    Writing CD's
    Watching DVD's
    Playing games (such as EVE Online, World of Warcraft, TES Oblivion, Warcraft III TFT, AoE III and CSS)
    Wireless networking/internet

    Usage of the above based on the scale below:
    Heavy Usage
    Frequent Usage
    Occasional Usage

    Based upon my usage which machine would probably be best to invest in, more importantly what kind of set-up (basic or custom)

    Looking forward to your replies!
  2. amac4me macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2005
    Adobe's apps are not Universal binaries and hence, will rely on Rosetta to translate the PowerPC instructions in the current Adobe apps into x86 instructions.

    If you decide to get a Mac and plan to use Adobe apps on OS X, then make sure you get as much RAM as you can afford. Otherwise, you can get the Windows version, then use Boot Camp to boot into Windows.

    I'd say get a MacBook Pro.

    Oh by the way, congrats on the decision to make the switch :D
  3. mortey macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2005
    so cal

    I am pretty sure, and someone can back me up on this, that many Mac applications allow the ability to export to .pdf already.

    I think a macbook would be fine for you but if you want it to last longer and be better suited for graphic intensive apps I would go with a MBP. I just bought myself a MBP 2 nights ago and I don't feel bad about it. I suppose I am just playing it safe.
  4. slackersonly macrumors 6502a


    Apr 13, 2006
    OP said "(needs to be portable so I can take it with me)"

    do you mean just to school and back home 2-6 times a year or all over campus all the time? if the first, get an iMac and a case for it.
  5. Xander562 macrumors 68000


    Apr 2, 2006
    yes you can export pretty much anything and everything to .pdf, also you will rejoice when you open a .pdf for the first time, it literally takes the same, if not less time than a word, or picture document. unlike Adobe Acrobat or Reader or whatever, which takes about 10 minutes.
  6. bobber205 macrumors 68020


    Nov 15, 2005
    To make pdfs I usually pretend as if I'm printing the document. Before you print, there's an option to save as a pdf file.

    Great stuff.
  7. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    Don't let the microsoft version of MSN put you off, the mac one is rubbish!!!!

    Download aMSN here.
    I'm a HEAVY user of MSN (some of my best mates live miles away so I can only talk to them on MSN). It's a great piece of software.

    Playing MP3s - Apple make the best MP3 managment software in the world...
  8. Sacred thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2006
    Being able to make .pdf documents isn't a number one priority but being able to export pretty much any format of document into a universal document type that’s small in size (generally) and will work on any computer with a .pdf reader on is really important in business and I use it a lot of the time at work and can't imagine not being able to do it when needed. I can't see why Adobe being a professional company doesn’t have a universal binary though. Looks like if I need to use it I'll be using bootcamp :rolleyes:
    Thanks for the reply, bit daunting making the switch hopefully won’t take too long to get use to OS X. Who wouldn’t want a sexily designed Mac anyway, will put other laptop designs to shame :D

    I've not seen anyone say if a Mac can create .pdf files "out of the box" I sure hope it does as one less piece of needed software is great.
    I do like to play my games! Hence why I'm primerily a Windows user (games are just made for Windows), but now with Mac's being capable of easily booting between OS X and Windows XP theirs no real reason to stick to normal PC's which can only run Windows.

    I'll be totally honest with you, I currently work full time so if I bought one today it wouldn’t have much moving about (baring the daily trip to work so I can have it sit on my desk making me look important). But once I get to university I'm intending on using it as an all in one, its going to be my workstation, CD player, games console, DVD player and way of keeping in touch with friends back home. I can't afford to get a TV, DVD player, stereo, games console etc and a computer so have opted to get something that will be portable that I can take anywhere I need even if that’s on the train while going back home for the weekend.
    I've got to ask, what’s an iMac?

    Haha think I've said enough on .pdf files will begin to start to sound like I’ve got some sort of .pdf file fetish! Nice to hear that it can open .pdf files seems to take forever on a Windows machine.

    A few more questions if anyone can help. Firstly will I be required to buy a new copy of Microsoft Office? How would I go about setting up a wireless internet connection in my home allowing me (or anyone else for that matter) to connect to the internet (I don't require a new ISP because I'm using Mac do I?). Graphically what is the power of the MacBook? I already know the MacBook Pro spouts a very nice X1600 ATI card (256mb in the larger models) how does the MacBook compare? What are the dimensions of the MacBook, MackBook Pro (both 15" and 17") and their approximate weights? Lastly (at least for now) with these new memron :)confused: ) or what ever chips on the horizon is now really a good time to buy a Mac or would be better off playing the waiting game? This didn’t appear to be a problem in the past but with new Intel chips it seems as though their rapidly upgrading the machines and I would hate to think I ordered something today and in the next month they upgraded the full line.

  9. playaj82 macrumors regular


    Jun 26, 2006
    Kingman, AZ
    I would just hold off for now as far as buying the computer goes. Your biggest concern should be getting the "free iPod Nano" deal. As long as you buy your computer before that deal is off, you will be fine.

    Also, don't worry about needing it ahead of time to learn how to use it. If you are going off to college, all you will have for the first semester is time to screw off and learn how to use your new Mac anyways.

    You are really going to have a toss up when it comes to the graphics card. The MacBook has built in graphics with the actual chipset where it shares the main memory and uses it for graphics purposes.

    The important question is whether you "need" those capabilities. The latest games, then the answer is probably yes, go with the MBP.

    Otherwise, unless you are planning on being a graphic designer, stick with the MacBook for portability and cost. Upgrade your MacBook with the most memory you can afford, you will rarely remember that your graphics chip is built in.
  10. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    An iMac is a desktop computer that is totally built into the monitor. http://www.apple.com/imac/ You will have to buy a new microsoft office suite for the mac unless you use bootcamp and boot into windows every time you use it. The macbook sports integrated graphics which I've heard from other users can play doom 3 on medium/high detail. But I would strongly suggest getting the MacBook Pro over the macbook if you are going to do a lot of gaming. Also there is a refurbished section in the Apple store where you can get big discounts on the computers. You can probably get upwards of $400 off the mac you choose using that so you can use that for the software. Usually the product line is upgraded yearly and the macbook pro was announced in January and the first models shipped in February so I would highly doubt that there will be an upgrade to them for a couple months.
  11. Sacred thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2006
    Thanks for the advice but I live in the UK so no iPod offer for us :rolleyes: that said I qualify for a student discount which ranges from £50 to £150 (better than nothing right?).
    I'm not too sure, I would probably say that it would be better to spend an additional £800 and get a MacBook Pro over the MacBook as it will/should last longer (at least I hope it will) and be able to play the latest games.
    As for RAM looking at the cost it seems very expensive! Do I have to buy Apple RAM to fit inside a MacBook/Pro?
    I guess it was inevitable that this was going to come up, I've heard band things about the full new MacBook/Pro range from the white McBooks becoming stained yellow in just a couple of weeks, the Black MacBooks getting scratched/becoming flakey and even worse the problems with MacBook Pros including being able to use it as a portable frying pan, the high pitched whine and the mooing sound from the fans. Not forgetting the many problems with the backlighting behind the screen making some areas very light while leaving others very dark. Are these problems as wide spread as many internet sites would leave to to believe or is it just a case of what were seeing is the odd few cases of thousands of very happy MacBook/Pro owners?
  12. mortey macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2005
    so cal
    As for the RAM, do not buy from Apple. There are many resellers who sell RAM for significantly less. I just bought two gigs of the G.SKILL RAM for $161 including tax and shipping.


    But you said you lived in the UK so I don't think they ship overseas. One of our resident UK Mac owners could probably point you in a proper direction.

    Best of luck to ya.
  13. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    You don't need to get Apple RAM, just see what the specs of the RAM are and get one from a quality company with the same specs for a lot less. There are a lot of people who are very happy with them and have not had those problems. If your MB/MBP developes one of the problems, Apple is usually pretty good with switching them out for new ones. And I've heard that the Powerbook line has always been on the hotter side so I would assume that it is usual but I can't verify it because I only have my iBook G4 which only under a very long encoding task with the CPU at 100% for several hours has gotten to a max of 71.667 degrees celcius.

    Just a note: The macbook has a longer battery life than the macbook pro.
  14. playaj82 macrumors regular


    Jun 26, 2006
    Kingman, AZ
    At the very least, wait until WWDC is over.
    At least then you won't have to worry about your computer becoming obsolete in a month.

    My guess is that Apple will not be likely to upgrade after the beginning of school, the university crowds are slowly becoming a huge market for Apple as more and more people go to college, everyone needs a computer, and everyone but engineers seems to be able to get a Mac. What student wants their computer obsolete 2 weeks after school starts.

    As far as the discoloration, flaking, frying pan complaints....I'm not really sure what to tell you other than you picked a crappy time to need a laptop. My personal feelings are always NO FIRST GENERATION products. However, since the MacBook was not the first Intel laptop, I don't feel as bad about it. Also, the powerbook design has been tried and true for years.

    All that taken into consideration, buy the extended warranty because problems you have named, minus user error, should all be covered and fixed by Apple for the most part.
  15. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    It's been stated in this thread already, but not very clearly or confidently. Macs can create PDF files out of the box with no additional software required. Anything on screen can easily be saved as a PDF. Any software that can print can also print to PDF, again no extra software required.

    OS X's display system actually uses PDF internally, so PDF integration in OS X is very good. Of course, you can buy Acrobat Pro if you need it, as it has advanced PDF features, but for the majority of people, OS X's built-in support is more than enough.
  16. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    Yes, it'll cost £100 (as you can get the Edu version)
    You can do this with any wireless router or from the mac itself by setting up internet connection sharing.

    No you don't need a new ISP unless you need to install software (as you're using a modem) and it's one of the few that doesn't support OS X (Orange/wanadoo is a notable exception)

    The macbook is okay graphically if you wait until september (for Merom) it'll have similar power to a nVidia 6600 (probably) currently probably about a nVidia 5600.

    Size and weight

    * Height: 1.08 inches (2.75 cm)
    * Width: 12.78 inches (32.5 cm)
    * Depth: 8.92 inches (22.7 cm)
    * Weight: 5.2 pounds (2.36 kg)

    MacBook Pro
    * 15-inch MacBook Pro
    o Height: 1.0 inch (2.59 cm)
    o Width: 14.1 inches (35.7 cm)
    o Depth: 9.6 inches (24.3 cm)
    o Weight: 5.6 pounds (2.54 kg) with battery and optical drive installed
    * 17-inch MacBook Pro
    o Height: 1.0 inch (2.59 cm)
    o Width: 15.4 inches (39.2 cm)
    o Depth: 10.4 inches (26.5 cm)
    o Weight: 6.8 pounds (3.1 kg) with battery and optical drive installed

    You can get a better discount on the phone higher education store (0800 039 1010) (or higher education website) of about 15% off your purchase (twice the usual discount), it also includes three years of warrenty cover for free!

    You can get RAM from http://www.crucial.com/uk but it's pretty expensive :(
  17. Sacred thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2006
    Thanks for the advice on the RAM if I go with a MacBook Pro I think I'll manage with 1gb of RAM for a while as it should be able to cope with anything I throw at it.


    Yeah I know exactly what you mean, on the flip side of that I got an iPod Nano on the day of release with no problems at all, it doesn’t scratch really easily or have any battery problems. Guess its a lottery on if I'll get a good or bad MacBook :rolleyes: which it really shouldn’t be but I suppose it can happen with anything that’s mass produced. (anyone know any approximate figures with relates to total units sold vs. total units returned due to faults?)
    Is the extended warranty really worth an additional £280? I've got to take this into consideration as I'll already have to shell out for insurance incase it gets stolen (moneys not a problem mind but it doesn’t grow on trees!)

    Thanks, pretty much sums everything up nicely. I rarely need to use the advanced adobe features but being able to create pdf's is very useful!

    Thanks for all of the replies, defiantly going to go with a “standard” MacBook Pro 17”. Just need to decide how long to play the waiting game, looking at the front page of this website leads me to think that they will probably upgrade again to 2.33ghz processors but how long till they might do this? They’ve already revised the whole line once and now that their using intel chips I can see 4 even 5 line revisions a year which means it will be a case of being stuck for when to take the plunge and actually buy the thing (I’ve always had the same problem with PC’s currently running an AMD 64 FX53 shortly after dual core processors went mass market >_<’ ) is this going to be a problem with future Mac’s with them revising the line so often, I sincerely hope not (nothing worse than shelling out £2k for what in 2-3 weeks will be outdated, welcome to the modern world I guess?)
  18. Sacred thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2006
    Thanks for the specs, the only software with my ISP if for the modem would this still be required to be installed on my Mac (even though I wont be using a modem)

    With regards to the education discount I have two questions, firstly you can only access the higher education website from inside the university that you're attending, what would you need to provide over the phone to prove that you were indeed going to be a student (I'm starting my first year in September so currently dont have a student number, card or anything like that the only thing I would have is a UCAS number) secondly does the Apple Store take VISA Electron? As this is the only card I currently have available and if I get someone else to pay I would probably lose my student discount?
  19. playaj82 macrumors regular


    Jun 26, 2006
    Kingman, AZ
    Sorry....The Mac Developers conference in August. This is the place where Apple usually previews and releases all their latest and greatest new products.

    If this were past years, I would say don't worry about buying now because Apple just released the MacBooks and they won't upgrade any time soon.

    However, given the new computers have Intel chips, Intel releases updates to their processors much quicker and a lot more often than IBM ever did with the G3, G4, and G5 chips.

    Apple is notorious for waiting until big events to "release" all their new products at one time. It gives the rumor people more to talk about at once. But if Apple is going to upgrade the MacBooks or MacBook Pros any time soon, the most likely time for that upgrade will be August 7.

    Any time after the conference, it will probably be safe to buy the computer without the worry of new upgrades. As always, I'm just basing this opinion off of what has happened in the past. The fact that Apple has had many surprises for consumers in the past few years may continue into this year as well.
  20. Sacred thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2006
    Thanks for the reply. Ouch August is sooo far away, don't need a laptop till September though so I think I will wait it out. Whats the chances of the next line of MacBook Pros having the new "merom" chips? As they should be released in August as well.

    *points to above question regarding Educational discounts and payment options*
  21. dpaanlka macrumors 601


    Nov 16, 2004
    Probably already stated, but less bluntly: any program that uses the standard Mac OS X printing dialogue can make a PDF. This means (essentially) every program that can print.
  22. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    You would probably need a letter of acceptance for your university. You should get one after your results come out in the middle of August, normally Apple don't check though so you should be fine. I think they do take VISA electron as i've bought stuff on the iTMS with one, but I'm not totally sure, I would have thought they would be OK with using someone else's card to pay for it in any case, alternatively you could get your Student bank account set up before you get to Uni (highly recommended anyway to avoid queuing massively on campus) and use that card on that to buy the computer.

    The new MacBook Pro's will have the new Merom chips with practically 100% certainty, the MacBook will probably also have Merom as other laptops in it's price range will too...

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