Switcher's Dilemma

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by kevbo111, Jun 30, 2006.

  1. kevbo111 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    #1
    I've been fantasizing about my switch a lot lately, and looking at possible candidates. I've been drawn toward the Macbook Pro, for its better features, Expresscard port, independent video card RAM, aluminum casing, etc. What I've been thinking most about is the specifications. I'd prefer a 15" over a 17", just because I don't think the extra $300 is worth the larger screen/extra ports/better DVD Burner. Additionally, it'd probably be less portable than the 15", but that's lower on the list. Anyway, here are two options I'm considering:

    MBP 2.0 GHz:
    512 MB RAM (Can upgrade to 2GB @ somewhere other than Apple for $150-$175 or so)
    80 GB HD (Upgrade to 100GB at Apple for $90, or can I do it elsewhere?)
    ATI Mobility Radeon - 128MB
    $1799 excluding upgrades, approx. $2065 with upgrades


    MBP 2.16 GHz:
    1 GB RAM (Upgrade elswhere to 2GB for about $80)
    100 GB HD
    ATI Mobility Radeon - 256MB
    $2299 excluding upgrades, approx. $2379 with upgrades


    When/If I do in fact get a Mac, it will be using the education discount, so that helps a little bit with the price, but it's still going to be tough to get enough to pay for one. I was wondering if anyone had any input on the differences in processor speeds/video card RAM, since those seem to be the only differentiating factors between the two computers. Is there any noticable difference between the two, and if so, is the price difference worth it?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Xander562 macrumors 68000

    Xander562

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    #2
    i dont think you will notice the speed difference in the processors, its only 160 Mhz, but i would advize you to by off of www.amazon.com because there is not tax, and discounts almost all time, and rebates, something that you dont get with the apple store. it all comes down to what you want, just think it through, and dont buy anything thats going to be overkill for your needs.
     
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #3
    Not that it will particularly stop you from getting a thousand one-word responses, but you really gotta say what you want to *DO* with the computer. Because, for instance, yes, there is a significant noticeable difference between the two video cards, IF AND ONLY IF you are doing certain kinds of things with certain kinds of applications. The performance of Safari for visiting MySpace, in contrast, will not differ greatly based on video card.

    But my general observations about stats in the switch...

    1) Adopting to the iLife way of things really meant I used a lot more hard drive space than I anticipated. So a bigger HD is definitely at a greater premium to me in hindsight on an Apple notebook than it was in Windows.

    2) RAM is very important in general, but on this notebook, it is crucial for two things: Running Parallels (if you chose to do so, since it will split the RAM in half) and running Rosetta (if you want to use Adobe or MS Office, for instance, before they get universal versions).

    3) The video card is probably going to primarily be important for you if... A) you use high-end video stuff, B) you want to future proof for video games. Vista also seems to really like using video RAM... you might want to look at how much VRAM Vista wants for full Aero at the screen res of the MBP (I'm not sure -- I think it's 128MB, but it might be 256).
     
  4. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #4
    Something is not quite right with your prices for RAM upgrade.

    Upgrading from 512MB to 2GB or from 1GB to 2GB will cost you exactly the same money. Any 512MB MacBook or MacBook Pro comes with two 256MB chips; if you want to upgrade to 2GB you have to throw these chips out and buy two 1GB chips. Any 1GB MacBook or MacBook Pro comes with two 512MB chips; if you want to upgrade to 2GB you have to throw these chips out and buy two 1GB chips. In every case, you buy two 1GB chips. Or are you going to try to sell your chips on eBay?
     
  5. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Russia
    #5
    The video cards in both are the same, except one has double VRAM. Trust me, you wouldnt notice the difference between 128 and 256 MB in most tasks. Unless its you run 2 displays and play a demanding game on one of them. The speed of the cards is the same.

    2.16 COreDuo isnt worth it, IMO. Many ppl complain that their 2.16 GHz drops to 2 after a few minutes of use because MBPs are getting hot :eek:

    I suggest that you go for the #1 option :)
     
  6. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    #6
    That's actually incorrect, the MacBook Pro comes with its RAM in single SO-DIMM configurations. The 512MB is just one stick, the 1GB config is one stick. There is an option for a 1GB (2x512MB) option but the stock configurations are all single SO-DIMMs.

    On the entry level MBP you can upgrade to 1.5GB with third party RAM after the initial purchase before you have to toss out any of the original RAM. On the 2.16GHz and 17" MBPs you can go all the way to 2GB without losing any of the original RAM.

    The MacBook and the Mac mini are the only computers that come stock with RAM in pairs. Don't believe me? Look at the website.
     
  7. kevbo111 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    #7
    I was just looking at some prices on Pricegrabber.com for estimates. Most of the DDR2 SODIMM 1 GB sticks were around the $70-$80 each. For the 2 GHz version, I would just swap out whatever was in there and replace it with 2 1GB sticks. For the 2.16 GHz, I'd only need to 1 stick because it comes with 1 stick of 1GB standard. Although I could downgrade to two 512 sticks for a $100 savings, and if I buy two 1 GB sticks, i'll save like $20-$30 off having the 1 GB standard and buying another one. Intersting...
     
  8. rmhop81 macrumors 68020

    rmhop81

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    #8
  9. kevbo111 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    #9

    Well this is good news. I'd rather not spend an extra $300 or so if i have to. Will there be any effect on 3D rendering applications of the slower configurations? I'm going to college in the fall for engineering, and I'm thinking about progams like AutoCAD and stuff of that nature.
     
  10. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    #10
    It would be a time saving of a matter of seconds, or for longer operations, a few minutes. It's really not going to make a massive difference. You'd probably be better off going for the slower configuration and spending the money you save on speccing up a bigger HDD and maxing out the RAM. Anything left over after that should go on a good bag for the laptop.

    That way you'd get a better "all round" package that would provide a better user experience than a faster machine without any of the other bells and whistles.
     
  11. slooksterPSV macrumors 68030

    slooksterPSV

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    Nowheresville
    #11
    Depending on what you're doing, a bigger HDD is always a +. If you'll be installing Windows then I'd go with the bigger HDD if you do a lot with video, images, etc. But don't forget about External HDD's; those are a God-send when it comes to just a regular computer (iBook only has 40GB HDD, so I had to get an external for the media I use - photos, iDVD DVD's, etc.)

    You'd be surprised how quickly you go through RAM with any OS, Vista requires - yes REQUIRES 512MB to start off, it recommends 1GB. Depending on how many apps.... ya know what, yes upgrade the RAM, always get more RAM - cheapest and fastest upgrade.

    Vista requires 128MB of Video RAM for Aeroglass Effects, but you need 64MB I think. Anyways, depending on what you're doing again, Video RAM may be a must - Gamers know VRAM is a huge huge must. Digital video/photos, if you use photoshop a lot then a bigger video card is always a +. If you're just using Office Apps, iLife, etc. its no biggy.

    I know I quoted mkrishnan, but I'm agreeing with what he's saying for kevbo111. It depends on your needs. Who knows maybe a MacBook is all you need. Then again who wouldn't want a MBP?
     
  12. SuperSnake2012 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2005
    Location:
    NY
    #12
    You're gonna want that extra VRAM to support all those stupid transparencies on MySpace now :rolleyes:
     
  13. generik macrumors 601

    generik

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Location:
    Minitrue
    #13
    I doubt so, VRAM is mainly used for driving larger displays or caching graphics textures for the next BFG 90000 shooter game. Stuff like transparencies on MySpace? No idea what the hell they use, but definitely not VRAM :D

    I'd go with the lower model, not like it is such a huge difference anyway, besides if you really need much more performance out of your MBP then the best option is to wait for Core 2 anyway.
     
  14. extraextra macrumors 68000

    extraextra

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2006
    Location:
    California
    #14
    AutoCAD is a very intensive program and if you are using this + other 3D programs I would maybe suggest 256MB of VRAM. You would also need more memory I think since you are going through Windows. The second option might be better for you in the long run.
     
  15. slooksterPSV macrumors 68030

    slooksterPSV

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    Nowheresville
    #15
    VRAM and transparency. Hmm... that would use VRAM, right?, because it'd have to blend whatever colors were behind it e.g. if it was a transparent yellow fill and a transparent green fill, it'd be a transparent blue fill. So it'd use like what... 1kb of VRAM for that? ... that may be more of CPU and GPU processing though, not really VRAM... hmm.... - I'm all sorts of mixed up.
     
  16. kevbo111 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    #16
    So I guess this rules out the 64 MB of shared RAM in the Macbooks. Even though I'm drawn toward the pro, I've been taking a closer look at the Macbook, because:

    A) It costs less
    B) It's not as expensive
    C) It's cheaper

    Would the Macbook be suitable, or is the price jump to the Pro worth it?
     
  17. generik macrumors 601

    generik

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Location:
    Minitrue
    #17
    I am pretty sure an IIG or even some ancient PCI based Matrix G-200 card will handle transparencies just as well as the latest cards. As far as 2D acceleration goes very little progress has been made since years ago.
     
  18. extraextra macrumors 68000

    extraextra

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2006
    Location:
    California
    #18
    You mentioned AutoCAD/engineering previously? If I am not mistaken, AutoCAD is a 3D program. I would not recommend the Macbook because of it's integrated graphics. If it does run AutoCAD I don't think it will do it very well.

    And haha @ your three reasons all being the same thing about money! I would think that the price jump is worth it for you considering your intended career path. It will last several years so no worries.
     
  19. kevbo111 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    #19
    Ok, thanks for the advice! (And thanks for having a sense of humor similar to mine :D )
     
  20. amac4me macrumors 65816

    amac4me

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2005
    #20
    I'd recommend the 2.16 system that you've described.

    My thoughts are a few hundred extra will go a long way when it comes to peace of mind as you won't ever second guess your decision. That happened to me in the past.

    Congrats on your decision to make the switch.
     

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