Looking to buy my first Macbook Pro and would like some help

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by macnoob22, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2011
    I'm currently a Senior in High School, and I'm looking into buying a Macbook Pro for myself some time between now and when I start college in August.

    Right now, the Macbook Pro that I'm looking at is a 13-inch without Retina Display with 8GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive ($1,499 from Apple)

    Even though I would be eligible to get the $100 off Education discount through Apple, that same Macbook Pro is available at www.bhphotovideo.com for $1,398 and plus, with B&H I wouldn't have to pay sales tax in the state that I live in, 3 years of AppleCare would be $190 and I would have my choice of one free software program, either FileMaker Bento 4 Database Software, LoJack for Laptops Standard Edition (1-Year Subscription), or Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac. So all together, with free shipping and no sales tax, it would come out to $1,588 with the Macbook Pro, 3 years of AppleCare, and the free software.

    My first question is the following: Should I buy my Macbook Pro now or wait?
    I would really like to order my Macbook Pro now so that I could have some time to use it and get used to it before I go away to college, but I always become hesitant when buying an Apple product because I know, like with all technology I feel like the minute I open the box, Apple will announce the next line of Macbook Pros. So bearing Apple's history, do you think that I should get my Macbook Pro now, or wait a couple of months, maybe around July or so and see what happens and maybe Apple will offer some sort of a college promotion.

    My second question is: Is this the right Macbook Pro for me? Since I will mostly be using it for doing homework, email, web surfing, and light gaming I will definitely not need the retina display. But I feel like, for double the RAM, more hard drive space, and a better processor, it's worth shelling out the extra $300 for the higher end 13" Macbook Pro, since I think it will continue to perform highly efficiently down the line. What do you guys think?

    And lastly: Are there any better deals out there for the Macbook Pro that anyone knows of? And if I do buy through B&H which free software do you think is the best/which one should I choose out of: FileMaker Bento 4 Database Software, LoJack for Laptops Standard Edition (1-Year Subscription), or Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac?

    Thanks everyone, I really appreciate it!

  2. macrumors 65816


    Oct 10, 2011
  3. macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2013
    For your first question:
    It is unlikely that intel will release a new architecture for mobile performance CPU. That means the next major update in the CPU will not happen within 2013.

    I doubt that apple will try to force a discrete graphics module or a quad core i7 processor in the 13 inch lineup either, so performance wise, it is unlikely that there will be a big shift within the 13-14 fiscal year.

    Although its not certainly the best timing, it is quite reasonable.

    For your second concern,
    Retina is definitely an overkill if you're not doing any multimedia tasks.
    And I personally think that the hardware in any 13 inch models cannot be used to fully take advantage of the retina no matter what.

    But be warned: you will not be able to play any 3D games on any sub-13" solutions offered by Apple. The GPU is not meant for gaming. Yes it will run counter-strike source in reasonable settings, but no, it will not run Starcraft II optimally.

    It's difficult to find any bargain for any apple products, especially for current-gen models; not by on-line, at least. Maybe some local resellers have some deals for you, but definitely not from a retail.
  4. macrumors regular

    Aug 21, 2011
    Stockholm Sweden
    Get a used machine

    A differen take:

    Look for a used machine instead. Core 2 duo is good enough for almost anything, except playing games. Upgrade to latest OS, replace the internal hard disc with a 128GB SSD, change to 8 MB of memory. Get an external hard drive, maybe using an Airport Extreme (not too difficult to find used). This will give you a better "system" for less money.

    // Gunnar
  5. macrumors 68020


    Aug 13, 2011
    I would recommend buying a previous generation 15" MBP through Apple's refurbished section. This way, you can upgrade to 16GB RAM in the future, you have an ODD bay that you could put a SSD in, and the dual GPUs can be used for gaming where as the 13" integrated GPU cannot. The larger screen is very helpful with schoolwork and the weight difference is negligible. The one I am recommending is:

    Refurbished MacBook Pro 2.3GHz Quad-core Intel i7
    Eligible for OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date Program

    Originally released June 2012
    15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, 1440-by-900 resolution

    4GB (2 x 2GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    500GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm
    8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 512MB of GDDR5 memory

    Have fun!
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2011
    While I really like that suggestion there are just two things that concern me:

    1. I'm very inexperienced when it comes to opening and fixing up computers and I'm afraid that I might screw something up and mess up the Macbook Pro that I just spend $1500+ on.

    2. If I mess something up, I don't want Apple telling me that I'm out of luck and they won't be able to help me since I tried to open up and upgrade my Macbook.
  7. macrumors member


    Aug 9, 2010
    Cape Town, South Africa
    You sound like you may enjoy the Macbook Air 13". Check it out at the store.

    I've had almost every Mac (iMac, Macbook, etc), and I'm sold on the Air. Powerful, incredibly light, great screen, etc. Try it.
  8. macrumors 68000

    Apr 25, 2012
    For 1, it's really VERY simple to do. If you can watch a video and follow EXACTLY what they do you won't mess anything up. The only thing to remember is that the memory goes in at a bit of an angle then gets pushed down to secure it. Apple considers the RAM and HDD user-upgradeable on the 13" and 15" cMBP, the only thing they wouldn't cover is damage you cause. You also have to be absolutely sure you keep the screws in the right places (2-4 of the hinge-side ones are longer). They SHOULD not deny warranty because you upgraded the machine, as long as the upgrade didn't cause the damage.

    Despite what RedCroisaant says, the one he posted is the CURRENT generation and is nearly identical to my Mac (I have the hi-res screen). I MUCH prefer the real-estate I have on my personal 15" MBP screen over what I have on my work-provided 13" (the one I'm typing on now actually).
  9. macrumors 68020


    Aug 13, 2011
    I didn't even realize that this was the current generation and that makes me advise it more readily!
  10. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2011
    So it's easy to install the SSD as well?
  11. macrumors 68020


    Aug 13, 2011
    Yes. It's not like a snap-on model, but ifixit has some great tutorials and they sell the right tools for the job. And the thing is, you don't have to do any of the work if you don't want to. There are certified Apple resellers that can do the work for you and that's usually guaranteed. SSD kits also normally come with brackets to make sure they fit properly and OWC sells SSDs that are specific for each model of Mac.

    I took my 2009 iMac to Best Buy to have the Geek squad replace the 320GB HDD with a 3TB one. It's been perfect. I just made sure to reinstall the OS myself afterwards to avoid having to pay a $100 fee for it.
  12. macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    +1 Get the 13 Air. The weight of any other model will get old fast. Give yourself flexibility by going with a drive no smaller than 256 and 8GB RAM.
  13. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2011
    Sorry for all of the questions, but is there a particular brand of SSD that you recommend?
  14. macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2012
    I second this opinion. My sister, a first time Mac user who uses it for the same functions you mentioned, loves it.
  15. macrumors regular

    Nov 28, 2011
    Classic condescending jobush....
  16. macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    The Samsung 830 is very highly rated. Apple has such confidence in it that they OEM it. The Crucial M4 would probably be a good contender for second choice. I've installed two different capacities of the M4 and they've both been great.
  17. macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'd look into the cost of your free program of choice (as some of those you really can get for way cheap) in conjunction with Apple's educational discount; you might find that the total cost is even cheaper. Otherwise, you are doing exactly what I did when I was prepping for college, though I was given my first Mac used by a friend who switched back to Windows.

    So, here's the trick to buying Apple products. It doesn't matter whether it's a Mac, an iPod, an iPhone, or an iPad (though the interval does vary between them). Basically, each product is on a recurring cycle. Sometimes that cycle goes longer than usual (as has happened with the Mac mini on multiple occasions and as happened with the iMac this past go-around), sometimes it's much faster than usual.

    In the case of MacBook Pros, historically, the interval of time hasn't varied anywhere near as much as any of the other Mac product lines. For MacBook Pros, typically the refresh cycle is once every eight to ten months. Around month five, if a new CPU (i.e. Arrandale, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell) is due out from Intel, Intel will have shared greater detail. Around month seven or eight, Intel will formally launch said new CPU and not too long thereafter, you will see rumors on this site of supply shortages from retail chains leading into the next refresh. Then the week or two before, rumors of the launch date will start cropping up. The day or two leading to that day, you will see leaked photos of boxes, the top-case/unibody, and/or the logic board. Then, release.

    Exceptions to this rule have come during design refreshes. That being said, we're in the middle of one now. So, long answer short, you currently have the choice between two different MacBook Pros, both are loaded with current technology (Ivy Bridge CPUs, USB 3, GeForce GT 650M [for 15" models], etc.). One from the incumbent design, one from the design that is obviously about to replace it (retina).

    If you are dead set on a MacBook Pro of the newer design and with a retina display, it is likely to be updated at the usual interval of eight to ten months. They were updated last in June and we are now in month seven. Mobile Haswell CPUs, the successor CPUs to the ones in all currently selling MacBook Pros are due out during the 2nd Quarter of 2013. Figure March to June. If you start college in August, this will still give you time to adjust to your new computer while allowing you a decent amount of time before it starts the 4-7 year journey towards eventual software compatibility obsolescence.

    Contrastingly, if you want a MacBook Pro of the incumbent design, it is likely to be discontinued in favor of the new design, thusly completing Apple's transition to it. There are many features of the incumbent design that a ton of people covet (which is why they are staggering this transition rather than doing what they typically do with their other machines during a design change; namely just getting rid of the old design at the launch of the new one). Such features include, a built-in disc drive, a built-in FireWire 800 port, a built-in Ethernet port, easier access to internal components than is found on any other laptop (Apple and Lenovo machines included), a battery that isn't glued to the chassis, discrete (upgradable) RAM modules, the option to have a hard drive for a cheap $-per-GB ratio and greater storage, or the freedom to upgrade/replace either your pre-existing boot drive or DVD drive with newer/greater/larger/faster versions or SSDs. If any of that appeals to you, I'd say this is an exception to the eight-to-ten month rule and you should buy now before it's no longer offered.

    Regardless of which one you get, provided you find a model that fits your needs there, buying a refurbished model is even cheaper than the Apple Online Store for Education and is likely cheaper than your B&H deal as well. You lose out on pretty packaging, and you lose out on the ability to customize certain things (that would be available as "configure to order" options, like a 512GB SSD or a 1TB Hard Drive). But otherwise, you get a brand new exterior, the same 1-year limited warranty and the same eligibility for AppleCare that you'd have on a brand new model.

    For homework, e-mail, and web-surfing, you will be fine with the 13" MacBook Pro. For light gaming, it really depends on the games you will be playing. If you're going to play Civilization V, the integrated graphics on the 13" MacBook Pro will run that game fine, but it won't look great. StarCraft II will look great, but not as great as it would on any recent 15" MacBook Pro. The Portal games (as well as just about any Valve game based off of the Source engine) will look plenty fine on it. Your mileage will vary; figure out what you want to play and then go from there.

    The CPU upgrade is worth considering, especially since it's a non-removable part of the logic board. The RAM and storage upgrades are also worth doing, though not from Apple. Though with the higher-end 13" MacBook Pro, Apple pre-maxes you out anyway, so it's a moot point. Still, the storage upgrade is way less expensively done on your own and aftermarket. In the event of a drive failure, Apple won't replace your drive, but if you buy the right drive, you will have a five year warranty on the hard drive (compared to the three years on it with AppleCare).

    Again, I'd consider the refurbished Mac section of the Apple Online Store. For the cost of a new 13" MacBook Pro, you could get a 2011 15" MacBook Pro with discrete graphics that are still better than the integrated you'd be stuck with on the 2012 13". In such a deal, you'd miss out on USB 3.0, but otherwise the difference between Sandy Bridge CPUs and Ivy Bridge CPUs isn't so much that you will regret such a move, especially given that a Quad-Core Sandy Bridge Processor will still be faster than a Dual-Core Ivy Bridge Processor. They do have the current models on there too, though the discount isn't as great due to the younger age of the current models. Either way, you have a ton of options and none of them suck. Congratulations on your move to the Mac platform. Hope you love it as much as we do.

    You are totally wrong here. Intel is launching the "Fourth Generation Core i Processors" otherwise known as Haswell, and they are launching it in the second quarter of this year. This is a known fact. Not only that, but since Intel goes back in forth (in the "Tick Tock") fashion of a die-and-wattage-shrink followed by a new architecture followed by a die-and-wattage-shrink and so forth, and since Ivy Bridge was the die-and-wattage-shrink, Haswell is the new architecture. With the new architecture will come new performance in same way that Sandy Bridge (being the new architecture release) did in 2011.

    I agree with you on the discrete graphics module part. Given that Haswell doesn't lower the wattage from Ivy Bridge, Quad-core CPUs in a 13" MacBook Pro, let alone one with the current retina design, are unlikely. However, when Haswell is replaced by Broadwell (which, again, lowers the wattage), we may see a quad-core i7-laden 13" MacBook Pro yet. That would be the middle of 2014.

    Given that simply using the finder is substantially better looking on a retina, I think the word "overkill" is misused. Similarly, you are wrong about the current 13" retina not having the hardware muscle to fully drive its display. Apple does have problems with driving retina screens, and those problems are ENTIRELY SOFTWARE-BASED! This is evident in the fact that a non-retina 13" MacBook Pro of current (which runs the same CPUs and GPUs as its 13" retina counterpart) can drive two Thunderbolt displays just fine in addition to its own internal display and that the combined number of pixels between all three displays is more than double what the 13" retina has on its own internal display.

    A non-retina 13" MacBook Pro has a screen resolution of 1280x800. The Mid 2010 and Early/Late 2011 13" MacBook Pros both ran StarCraft II quite comfortably on medium settings (and the game looked pretty great doing so). The 2012 13" MacBook Pro ought to push high settings with minimal trouble and (again) look amazing doing so given the 1280x800 display. Sorry, but you do not know what you are talking about here. I agree that newer titles shouldn't be considered on this machine, but if we're talking StarCraft II and titles requiring only similar muscle, the 13" is more than adequate.

    Three words for you: Apple Refurbished Models.

    To the OP: This is not at all a bad idea!

    The model referenced here is actually a current generation model, but models released in October 2011 will be a great bargain and you will get more bang for your buck. Though even with current models, you will save money. The only thing you really miss by doing that is prettier Apple packaging and the ability to customize with upgrades that you could easily and more cheaply afford aftermarket.

    1. It's REALLY simple. Like, if you've ever used a phillips screwdriver, that's half the battle. You remove the bottom case, you disconnect the battery, you remove the bracket holding the hard drive in place (which is held in by two other phillips screws that don't come off the bracket itself), you disconnect the drive; you transfer the four torx lug-nuts and the plastic pull tab to the new drive, reconnect the new drive in the place of the old one, rescrew the bracket, reconnect the battery, pop the top case back on and rescrew the screws, boom, you've upgraded your hard drive.

    2. If you are careful, it will be hard to break anything along the way. I can see not wanting to open your computer out of OCD, but speaking practically, unless you are careless, you will not break anything. Apple won't void AppleCare on a unibody non-retina MacBook Pro for you replacing your drive. They will on a retina, but not on a non-retina. They won't honor warranty on the hard drive if and/or when it fails, but that makes sense, it's not the drive they provided you. In that case, the drive manufacturer will likely have a much longer warranty than AppleCare would anyway; just RMA the drive and wait for the new one to arrive. Boom.

    SSDs that fit in the non-retina MacBook Pro are the same form factor as hard drives. They are literally interchangeable for each other.

    There are forum posts about this in these forums, all complete with commentary and counter-commentary. I'd suggest reading through a few of them, then reading other reviews elsewhere and then forming your own opinion based on what you've read.

    To the OP: This is a stance that I've seen posted before by many others as well as MaximumPC magazine. You should do your own research and see what appeals to you, but you should still consider the frequency at which this stance is posted.
  18. macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    It's strongly recommend not going with 13 inch for a primary computer. It's too hard to run two programs side by side. For example, it's very hard to read a pdf paper and then type a document in word when you can only see one of the two at a time. You constantly have to task switch and it's slow on a mac to do expose compared to a pc.

    Get a 15 inch display, or get a 13 inch and a desktop.
  19. macrumors newbie

    Feb 9, 2013
    In the same predicament

    I just wanted to know which macbook pro you ended up buying. I am in the same predicament and think if I posted my question, people would be annoyed.
    I am thinking about waiting for the new rMbPs to be released in the hopes of lower price points. I would love a retina display and appreciate extra pounds off of my backpack, but would miss the drive, as it would be so much easier to import all of my music, movies, and videos on my laptop.
    I assume you have made a decision at this point and would like to know your thoughts on these concerns. Thank you.
  20. macrumors 6502


    Apr 12, 2012
    New England, USA
    This is a very comprehensive, thoughtful and lengthy reply. Thanks for commenting on issues many of us have in mind while we read these posts. Another example of why this forum rocks! True enough, there are several features in the prior generation MBPs that make upgrading to the new rMBP difficult - optical drive, some ability to upgrade components, etc.

    Gracias dude!
  21. macrumors 68040

    Jul 18, 2011
    It sounds that the entry level 13" macbook air might suit you well. Just invest in an external HDD. Personally, I am getting by fine on my 64gb air because I don't store any media on it.

    4gb ram ought to suffice for standard uni stuff. Since it is your primary computing device, you will want a larger screen. You get the benefit of SSD without having to crack your laptop open, and your back will thank you for the sleeker and lighter form factor when you carry it back and from school everyday.
  22. macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Any time, man! I love providing Mac advise, and the current state (as well as near future) of the MacBook Pro line is somewhat of a near and dear topic to me when it comes to Macs as it really is the only Mac with any practicality compared to a PC equivalent, and it is a dilemma that I had faced myself just months ago.

    Ultimately, I went with the non-retina, (a) I value upgradability, (b) I don't want to have a display on which most of the apps I run look like crap for a majority of my ownership of it, and (c) I can't afford to pay so much for so little storage capacities. Also the retention of the internal optical drive, internal FireWire, and internal Gigabit Ethernet ports were all major pluses. Then you get into little odds and ends like the battery charge indicator lights and the sleep/on LED, and Kensington Lock slot, all of which are handy; it really just seems like a better design all in all, but I digress...
  23. macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2013
    Does the 2008 MacBook Pro beat the 2008 macbook aluminum?

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