13" MacBook Pro as desktop replacement

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by BigSean, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. BigSean macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    What are your experiences with the 13" MacBook Pro as a desktop replacement?

    I just got mine in last week.

    The 13" MacBook Pro serves as my new workstation and it's smoking fast, faster than my Mac Pro. 8GB of RAM, a P256GB Corsair SSD (rebranded Samsung), and an MCE OptiBay with a 7200rpm 500GB HDD makes this thing scream.

    I'll post benchmarks tomorrow as it's currently in the midst of a Windows 7 Boot Camp installation at the office.

    I got this as a super-portable desktop replacement to pair with a 30" Cinema Display and attach to my Drobo.

    My only complaints thus far are:

    * The MCE bay for the SuperDrive is a cheap bit of plastic. The MBP often doesn't recognize it on reboot, so I have to unplug/replug it.

    * The Apple dual displayport adapter has no firewire plug, so those ports on the back of the Cinema Display are useless. Of course, I have my Drobo plugged in to the FW800 port, but still, I would have liked to see an adapter that's more full featured.

    Hopefully there will be a new crop of 30" monitors soon. Those haven't been updated in ages.
  2. Salty Pirate macrumors 6502

    Salty Pirate

    Oct 5, 2005
    kansas city
    that sounds killer! expand about the optibay....

    I was looking at getting one. Going with the 80GB x-25 and putting my stock 250 GB in the optibay, but not if it has issues, how do unplug, do you have to unscrew the back cover????:eek:
  3. BigSean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    I strongly suggest that you opt for a 7200rpm hard drive instead of the stock 5400rpm for your Optibay drive, especially since you'll be using a small capacity SSD as your boot drive.

    You definitely have to open the case, but it's really easy. Just make sure you have the right screwdriver and torx driver (for the HDD drive posts) and keep your screws organized. A lightly magnetic retriever is good for the stray screw.

    The hard drive is simple to replace. A few screws in the rubber bumpers, pull up the plastic tab, disconnect the connector and Bob's you're uncle. Take off the posts with a torx driver, put them on your SSD, then peel off the plastic tab and put it on your SSD. Getting the drive back in can be a little fiddly, but it goes pretty easily once you get the posts seated correctly.

    Pulling out the SuperDrive is a little more fiddly. You'll need to unscrew the subwoofer which sits in a leather-like casing, and slide it out of the way along with cabling. Then you'll need to remove three screws, disconnect the SuperDrive, and slide it out.

    Connect and slide in the Optibay, which can be a bit tricky, but it fits so snugly I didn't see the need to attach plates to it to screw it in. Screw the subwoofer back down after making sure you're cabling is good to go.
  4. polaris20 macrumors 68020

    Jul 13, 2008
    That sounds like a great setup! I wish Apple would just offer the MBP's without an internal optical; for the rare times I use it, I'm at my desk and can just use an external. I'd much rather have a factory installed second drive like your setup, SSD and larger HD.
  5. BigSean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    I agree. I'd really like Apple to offer a factory no-optical option and (hint, hint, Cupertino) a matte display across the whole MPB line.

    Work spoils me with hardware and software. Love, love my job.

    I'll finish software installation tomorrow - Boot Camp w/Windows 7 Ultimate for the odd "graphics test" gaming ;) and Parallels to use the BC partition for occassional .Net development. Actually, there's a method to the lightweight gaming test (I know the 13" has the low-end graphics card) - we're looking at using gaming engines for urban landscapes and archaeological reconstruction.

    Most of my work is done on the OSX side of things - Coda for PHP dev and XCode for a budding iPhone project.

    One of the big reasons I'm going mobile is because I'll be telecommuting for about a month as I recuperate from surgery and I'm on the road more nowadays.

    I'll do some more benchmarking to see how the SSD performs and post the results. This mobile workstation solution is expensive, no doubt, but it's a replacement for my Mac Pro which will be tasked for video editing and intern use.
  6. kasakka macrumors 68020

    Oct 25, 2008
    I use my MBP 13" primarily as a desktop machine, both at work and home. At home I've got an external Apple keyboard, with a Microsoft mouse connected to it, a FireWire audio interface for high quality audio via FW400 -> FW800, 30" 2560x1600 Dell 3008WFP display via mini-Displayport -> Displayport adapter and wired or wireless 'net connection. At work it's just a 22" 1920x1200 res screen via mini-DP -> DVI adapter, the external Apple keyboard and a generic HP mouse. I run the machine in clamshell mode.

    So far I've been rather happy with it, but there are a few things that bug me:
    • When moving between home and work, the window sizes seem to reset to the internal display sizes sometimes, usually when connecting again to the 30" display. Is there any program that lets me save positions and sizes for them so I don't have to resize them always?
    • It's silly that you can't run in clamshell mode without having the computer connected to AC power.
    • I could really use a dock for all my devices so there's just one thing to connect instead of having to plug in several cables.
  7. tallpaul macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2009
    I have a 2006 G5 2.4Ghz Dual Core 4GB ram 500 7200 HD

    I recently got a 2.53Ghz 4GB ram 13" Macbook Pro and as I use it much more than the G5 I was thinking of either selling the G5(I'd lose my ***** on it compared to what I paid for it) or maxing out the RAM to 16GB and putting another 1.5TB drive into it(whole upgrade would be less than €350)

    If I was to sell the G5 I could then upgrade the Ram on the MBP 13 to 8GB and maybe out in a SSD

    One question,if I was to put all my Itunes libary and music files onto a external harddrive and then connect that to MBP13 everytime I'm syncing anything in Itunes does the mapping work easily or will I get the message cannot loacte files in Itue libary each time I open Itunes despite the external HD being connected?

    I bought the G5 for Music production with Ableton Live and as much as I used it and enjoyed it from 2006-2008 it gets very little use now whereas I live on the MBP13 everyday, work, internet and some use of Ableton.

    Will I miss have the backup of a nice desktop machine a lot?

    thanks in advance
  8. BigSean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    Cold boot time in OS 10.6.1 is 17.4 seconds with the Corsair P256 SSD. Reboot is about the same. Super fast.

    Removing the optical drive and replacing it with a disk seems to have really boosted boot times.

    Accidentially hosed a partition when I did the Windows 7 install last night. Pretty certain I chose the Boot Camp partition. Just restored from my SuperDuper backup and am about to give it a go again.

    @tallpaul, I don't know about the iTunes issue. I have an external drive on my Mini at home, but the iTunes library on the laptop will live on the internal 500GB HDD along with my other data while apps and Boot Camp will remain on the SSD.

    If I were in your shoes and not using your G5, I'd sell it in a heartbeat and upgrade the MacBook Pro. I'd suggest going with swapping out the optical drive for a hard disk.
  9. BigSean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    My boss' 13" MacBook Pro also came in. His has 4GB of RAM and I've already installed the Corsair P256 in it. He's keeping his optical drive for now. I'm almost finished updating Windows XP on BootCamp on his MBP.

    My MBP is the same except for 8GB of RAM, a 500GB 7200rpm HDD replacing the optical drive, and I'll be running Windows 7 via Boot Camp.

    Both of us will be using Parallels to access the Boot Camp installation while we're in Snow Leopard.

    I expect boot times to be different since his will initialize the optical drive and mine won't have that limitation.

    Now to the questions.

    Which benchmarks would you like me to see run on these before I hand off his MacBook Pro?

    Which drive benchmarking software would you suggest I run in OSX and which in Windows?
  10. BigSean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    I have a recurring problem that I hope someone can offer suggestions for me to fix.

    I'm installing to a Boot Camp partition created on my Corsair P256 SSD.

    When I attempt to install Windows 7 Ultimate, I put it on the proper Boot Camp partition, format that partition, then when the OS is installed I go to install the drivers. Cannot do so, even by exploring the x64 directory and attempting to install each as administrator.

    Upon reboot to Windows 7, the OS freezes in mid-startup. Shortly thereafter when I try to reboot into OS X, I get the Apple logo that flips between a ? and the Apple logo.

    I restored the SSD from a backup and can boot fine, but I'm thinking something's up with Windows 7 and SSD or there's something to this machine in particular. I've read extensively and nobody else seems to suffer this problem.

    I'm planning to install Vista 7 Ultimate (as opposed to XP Pro 64) just to get a usable Windows OS that can handle 8GB RAM. Once I clone that install with Ghost or something, I'm planning to try an upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate.

    A hell of a workaround, I know, but does anybody else have a better idea to offer?

    Many thanks in advance.
  11. Doju macrumors 68000

    Jun 16, 2008
    What's the deal with these optibays and your warranty? Does it void it?

    And does your 7200rpm feel more vibraty?
  12. thesmoth macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    I had a 3.6ghz quad core PC with a fast nvidia GPU and a 24" monitor. I sold it to my brother and bought the end 13" mbp in the summer, upgraded to 4 gigs, and i've been super happy. The fact that such a powerful and capable computer can fit into such a tiny enclosure with such a nice screen is really cool.

    Once SSD become cheaper i'll upgrade and this thing will be perfect, and when 8 gigs of ram gets cheap i'll get that as well. I have a 1tb external drive I use with this for time machine backups and storing files. My only complaint is that the 160gb drive it comes with is pretty small (especially if you want to dual boot) but upgrades are cheap. I'm just going to wait until cheap SSD drives are around.

    If this was paired with a 24" monitor it would be perfect, but i don't have the room for that right now.

    13" mbp, mdesign rain stand, external USB keyboard, bluetooth laser mouse, and i'm all set at work.
  13. MacModMachine macrumors 68020


    Apr 3, 2009
    i cant believe people buy those overpriced crappy mce unit's

    buy the one from newmodeus.com
    cheaper and better construction.

    you can find all the info you need on optibay's in my thread.


    i have tested pretty much every combination of hdd/ssd's

    vertex , corsair , intel , solidgo and summit's

    750gb hdd's , 500gb hdd's and soon 1tb's :D

  14. BigSean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    I don't know if it voids the warranty, but I doubt it. These are dead simple upgrades.

    My 7200rpm drive feels fine, no real vibration. The case fits snugly. It's less noisy than the optical drive was spooling up.
  15. BigSean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    Thanks for the info. The Optibay was expensive. While it came with an external case for the Superdrive (a very cheapy one), had I known about the newmodeus option, I would have opted for that - though not your electrical tape solution. ;)
  16. dgdosen macrumors 65816


    Dec 13, 2003
    For any of you using a hard drive in your opti-bay -

    Did anyone try to RAID their drives together for faster speed? Sure you have a higher risk of failure, but backups can help you get around that issue.

    I'd be interested to see if anyone got that working.
  17. ThirteenXIII macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2008

    with itunes on an external drive, its no problem at all, itunes auto maps to the drive.
    a good tip to keep in mind is make sure the drive is powered on & connected prior to opening itunes...sometimes itmight revert back to the default itunes library.
    i have mine on a timecapsule so its no issue, it auto wakes from sleep when opening itunes...so that may be something to consider.

    question for the op....can you install Windows on the optibay drive?

    any decrease of performance on the drive on the sata connection? it runs at 3Gbps?

  18. BigSean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    I can install Windows on the Optibay, but would rather have the speed of the SSD when I boot into Windows 7, hence BootCamp.

    The SATA connection is running at 3Gbps. :)
  19. BigSean thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2009
    I found the solution to my Windows 7 installation problems. It turns out that the MCE external drive caddy for the Superdrive sucks. I popped the Superdrive back in and had zero problems installing Windows 7 64bit and the drivers.

    I'm going to remove the Superdrive shortly and pop the Optibay with the 500GB drive back in. I'll look for another solution for the external drive in the event I need to install other software via a disc.
  20. MacModMachine macrumors 68020


    Apr 3, 2009
    i have done raid 0 on intel's , vertex's and 500gb wd drives.

    they will give you 20-30% more performance over a single drive on the ssd's

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