Advice for a convert buying MBP next week

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by convert31, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. convert31 macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2011
    Hey folks I have long been a PC guy but the new MacBook Pro (MBP) has forced me to finally change sides. I am happy to say that my wife will be very please as she has been an incredibly loyal Apple consumer for over 20 years. Although I can barely stand her smug "you finally see the light" attitude I cannot deny how advanced the form and function of Mac products are in comparison to the competition. I will say however that I consider myself far from a newbie to technology and rolling up my sleeves and personally upgrading my hardware/software.

    Now getting to the main event: I am going to purchase a MBP next Thursday but now after tirelessly researching my options and all the available after-market upgrades I have turned a joyous moment into an agonizing decision. Any and all advice/insight is greatly appreciated. Below is a break down of what I am considering and how I am rationalizing my purchase:


    Processor - 2.3GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7
    This is the max available when I configure my MBP online. This is an easy choice for me because I typically want the greatest computing power I can get my hands on and can afford. My primary reason for this is that I want a computer that will still hold its own in years to come. However, I am worried that MBPs with Intel's Ivybridge will come out in less than a year and I should simply wait. Although I am comfortable with pulling the trigger now because I know that the trend of faster processors constantly coming out is apart of the CPU culture.

    Memory - 8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB
    Again this is the max that is offered on the Mac website so its a no brainer. Although, I was concerned about Apple's "All MacBook Pro models support up to 8 gigabytes of RAM" statement because I would like to upgrade my memory as the years pass. I did look on (OWC) and see that there is currently a 16GB memory upgrade available. Is a 16GB memory upgrade even possible? If it is, is it the most I'll ever be able to upgrade my MBP with? I see 32GB (2x16GB) of memory being common place in the near future. Also, I was considering ordering my MBP with the stock 4GB (2x2GB) and upgrading the memory with 8GB (2x4GB) from OWC myself and save ~$100 but I questioned the quality difference between what I would get from apple and what I would get from OWC.

    Hard Drive - 500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
    Although having 750GB is appealing the speed of the 500GB seals the deal for me and I have a 1TB external HD if I need extra storage. Honestly, to really the unlock the true power and speed of my MBP I plan on switching over to a 240 GB SSD as soon as they become more affordable or when I can afford their current price (~$400).

    Display - Glossy Widescreen Display
    I am convincing myself this is an area that I can save money without sacrificing having a great notebook. However, I am wondering if a $90 Hi-Res Glossy upgrade is really worth it or would even hurt. I mean, when spending $2k whats another $90? A drop in the bucket, right? Moreover, whats another $45 on top of that $90 for the top of the line Hi-Res Antiglare display?

    Service and Support - AppleCare Protection Plan
    I am sure you'll all recommend and agree that it is in my best interest to purchase this coverage with such an investment, right?

    Please forgive me for the wordiness but as you can see my anxiety is getting the best of me. Hence, the above agonizing and ambivalence. Again, any and all advice/insight is VERY much appreciated.
  2. caughtinfire macrumors member


    Jul 2, 2011
    Bellevue, WA
    it looks like your situation is a bit similar to mine in that you're looking for something that will last a while. i had many of the same considerations as you did and my thoughts were pretty much as follows.

    i personally don't feel that the .1ghz difference was enough to justify the cost difference and the 2.2 is more than sufficient for most needs.

    as for the ram, you can purchase an 8gb kit for 50$ from multiple places (for quality ram, too, not just the cheap stuff. crucial has an 8gb kit for $55 i believe) and save that $150. the current models do max out at 8gb though i'm not entirely sure if it's a hardware or firmware limitation (i'm guessing the former).

    on the screen, i'd HIGHLY recommend you go into a store and seriously look at the glossy and anti-glare screens side by side. for many, including myself, the glossy screen is a deal-breaker, especially if you'll be using it anywhere other than in a perpetually dark room. the extra pixel real estate is great to have as well.

    solid state drives are still expensive, so i'm entirely with you on waiting until they're a bit less expensive (and more reliable).

    at any rate, it's going to be worth it however you get there. :)
  3. Yumunum macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2011
    Once you get into the Mac loop, I betcha there's a good chance you're going to upgrade your computer way before your processor becomes "too slow" for that days standards. I wouldn't spend the money on that if I were you, unless you're doing some serious stuff.

    As for the hard drive, unless you NEED that extra space, put your money towards a SSD. It will really change the way you compute. Personally, I'd feel like it would be dumb for me to go purchase a computer without a solid state drive. My computer would feel like crap to me. Ever heard someone say "Once you go solid state, you never go back"? I have, and I completely agree. Also, remember that your computer is only as fast as it's slowest part. Your hard drive will bottleneck so many things for you if it's slow

    Glossy has better colors... And it's slightly better protected from damage. I also haven't found glare to be that bad, at all. I would choose the glossy over the AG, but that's just me.

    Like you mentioned earlier, what's an extra [$$$] once you're spending $2,000+? I'd get the AppleCare. This is a good selling point too when/if you do resell in the future.
  4. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    I think if you can let go of the "I want to make this purchase last" that so many people have and buy a computer for today, then you'll waste less money and still get plenty of power to take care of your work. Upgrade the RAM, add an SSD, etc. down the road if you find you need it. There is no need for you to dump all of the money on the front end like this.

    Yes, Ivy Bridge will come out. And, there will be another processor after that. You can bet that they will be faster, cooler, and more energy efficient too. Your computer is going to be outdated as soon as you buy it. But, as long as the capabilities far outstrip your actual usage, I wouldn't give it another thought. Wait a couple of years for Apple to work out the kinks in a redesign (rumored) and that will be perfect timing for an upgrade.

    I have a glossy 13 and have no complaints. If I bought the 15 I'd get glossy.

    You didn't say what you will be doing on it, so we cannot really help you out too much more. Why have you not considered the MBA?
  5. pazz macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2010
    London, England
    +1 for the Hi-Res option. It's almost a no-brainer.

    Will you require a quad core CPU? Why is your heart set on 15"?

    The premium above the Sandy bridge 13" is substantial for what is a very marginal improvement on single threaded tasks.
  6. GJCAG macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2011
    +1 for the high resolution and matte screen options

    17 inch 2010 MBP owner here
  7. Kafka macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2011
    Considering the anti-glare option, 9 people out of 10 on this forum will tell you to get it.
    However if I were you I'd get to a store and check in person: now that I've done that I know I don't like it.

    For the rest I would just repeat what caughtinfire said.
  8. raydi07 macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2011
    I was in your same situation. After reviewing all the options i decided on a 13" mac book pro with the I7 dual core as this would suffice in all uses of the mac. The main reason i went with the 13 over the 15 was that i would use this for business travel and the smaller form was a plus. In addition i had read on these forums on using the mac in clamshell mode. I use a thunderbolt hdmi adaptor connected to my 27" flat screen and a bluetooth mouse and keyboard. And it performs flawlessly. I have a 27" screen for home use and a 13" for travel. I purchased the crucial 8gb ram upgrade for $55 and installed it yesterday and have noticed an improvement, less beachballing!!
    When the SSD prices drop i will probably end up replacing the HDD but for now the hdd is quick enough. I don't game on my mac, thats what i have an xbox for. Any programs that requires windows, and i do have 1 use virtualbox running windows xp. Just loaded virtualbox yesterday and today i will install XP.
  9. Mac-key macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2010
    According to OWC's website - the 2011 MBPs CAN support up to 16GB of RAM. Posters on this forum have backed this up.

    Recently though, one guy said ONLY the 2.2/2.3 15/17MBP can support 16GB.

    Either way, buy your 8GB upgrade aftermarket and save $$$
  10. vnle macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2010
    I would say that if you're comfortable with hardware, you can definitely do the RAM/SSD upgrades yourself down the line. As for the display, I got the glossy but I do sometimes miss my AG so it all depends on you. But definitely go for the HiRes!
  11. GuitarG20 macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2011
    Sounds like you're speccing that baby out ;)

    I would definitely go with the high-res, but... i dunno about anti-glare. i like glossy more, but that's just me.
  12. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    Okay, before anything looking like a worthwhile suggestion will be typed into this thread, we'll need to know your intended use for your computer.

    Maxing out the RAM, HD and processor is all fine, but if all you do is go on facebook, use skype and e-mail, it's money thrown out the window.

    So, if you please, what do you do, daily, on a computer?
  13. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    2.3Ghz. Seriously that is just a stupid thing to buy unless you really don't care about money at all. 4.5% difference. It was said that you need 20% to even notice a difference if you look for it. Anything less around 10% nobody can tell apart without using some benchmarking tool. It is the first place to save money.
    Buy a new piece sooner rather than waste money on the most ridiculously priced CPU.

    Intel currently sells these CPUs.
    2720QM (2.2Ghz) $380
    2820QM (2.3Ghz) $510
    2760QM (2.4Ghz) $380
    2860QM (2.5Ghz) $510
    The last to aren't available in MBPs yet but paying for a 2820 is like throwing money at Intel.

    Funny thing I would rather save on everything else before I save here.
    How many hours a day do you look at the screen and how many hours a day will you notice the actual difference between 2.2 and 2.3 GHz (hint - never ever).

    supported RAM btw has nothing to do with CPU. It is the logic board that might not support some amount but I am pretty sure it supports at least 16GB even in the low end MBP. Who knows what you would need 16GB for. The majority of people doesn't need 4GB. Without running some VMs hardly anybody could really use 8GB. Software requirements don't climb exponentially while the hardware industry keeps doubling the capacities.
  14. convert31 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2011
    Feeling the love

    Man.....Everybody, thank you so very much for all the input. Its funny, this is my first foray into actually engaging in a forum instead of simply reading them.

    First, I apologize for not including my usage. I may have subconsciously left it out because I don't want you all making fun of me for being that guy who likes to have a Ferrari engine under the hood but never take her over 80MPH...silly i know (especially because i consider myself a frugal guy as well). With your input, I think I will save on the memory and upgrade myself. Also I will be sure to go to the Apple store and check out the different displays.

    @caughtinfire: do you recommend the 8GB upgrade from crucial over OWC?

    @Yumunum: I really want a SSD but I can only afford the 120GB and my current CPU that I bought in 2007 has 150GB and I was hoping my next CPU would have more as I often have to delete and/or move things to my external HD to make space.

    @palpatine: great insight, thank you. Honestly, although currently my uses are quite pedestrian, at various points in my life I find myself doing all kinds things (CAD, photo/video editing, gaming, etc) and I want to be sure when it comes up my CPU can cover me needs as much as possible. That is why I really want the 2.3GHz. But i acknowledge what you are saying.

    @pazz: I do like the idea that the 15" has the option for a higher end graphics card and I am not ready to give up my optical drive just yet.

    @snaky69: Currently my uses are quite pedestrian, at various points in my life I find myself doing all kinds things (CAD, photo/video editing, gaming, etc) and I want to be sure when it comes up my CPU can cover me needs as much as possible. That is why I really want the 2.3GHz. But i acknowledge what you are saying.

    @dusk007: you make a very persuasive point about hours spent looking at the display and hours noticing a difference between 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz, thank you.
  15. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    CAD is not very CPU dependant unless you are doing renderings of your models when you're done working with them, or running Finite Element Analysis on them. So for that, I'd skip the CPU upgrade entirely unless doing analysis and rendering a lot. I do CAD of very large models on Solidworks 2011 on my early 2008 MBP and the GPU shows it's age, but CPU usage rarely goes about 25%.

    Photo and video edition will be more RAM hungry than CPU hungry, up until the point where you render also. The minor speed bump of the higher grade CPU would be negligible even for that, saving perhaps 10-15 seconds on a 5 minute export.

    Gaming is not CPU dependant, but GPU dependant, so again, for this purpose, the upgraded CPU is not something I'd buy.

    Personally, I'd skip the upgrade entirely, but that's just me.

    As far as the screen upgrade goes, I'd say it depends on your eyesight, as OS X is not resolution independant like windows is, fonts in menus and such would appear smaller and for people with poorer eyesight it could be a problem. Again, personally, I'd buy the high-res matte option, I cannot stand glossy screens, even indoors.

    I feel SSD's are great and all, but I like having a lot of internal storage, so I would wait until the technology goes down in price some more as the only real benefit are faster app startups, quieter machine and faster start ups and shut downs. Since I barely if even shut down my machine unless an update requires it, I feel the difference would be negligible for my usage and thus will hold out on the upgrade until it becomes more affordable.

    4GB RAM is plenty for most people, but if you do a lot of photo or video editing, or you like to have everything open at once, or like running multiple VMs, I strongly recommend you upgrade to 8GB. Kits can be had for around 50 bucks and I wouldn't buy the overpriced Apple upgrade, RAM is RAM, there is no "apple quality difference". Buying "Mac Compatible" stuff is no longer needed since the Intel switch back in '06. By the way, the 15's and 17's can take up to 16GB of RAM, as OWC claims.

    I think that covers most if not all of your questions, and if not, ask away!
  16. convert31 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2011

    I just got back from the Mac store and spent about an hour talking with the geniuses and checking out the difference in displays. My excitement continues to build, I feel so ridiculous for getting this excited but I can't help it. One thing that they repeatedly said was replacing the optical drive with a hard drive would void the warranty. Can anyone confirm this? Perhaps the obvious thing to do is put the original optical drive back in if I ever need to take it in for service.

    I must admit, more and more I am being convinced and persuaded to save $ money and get the 2.2GHz (rather than the 2.3GHz) and spend that $ (plus some extra $) on the Hi Res anti-glare display and a 240GB SSD.
  17. Jrv macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2011
    Long Beach, California
    Coming from a recent convert to the dark side:)p), you wont regret your decision.

    The Macbook Pro is by far the best notebook I've ever used.
  18. SangYuP macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2011
    Although I'm still extremely new to macs, I'll have to agree.
  19. Yumunum macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2011
    Your excitement is totally understandable :)

    I'd go with what you said below... Hi-res and a SSD. No other computer upgrade will be as significant as a SSD. You'll wonder how you lived without it
  20. DWBurke811 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 10, 2011
    Boca Raton, FL
    Yes, removing the ODD will void the warranty. But if you put it back in before you bring your laptop to apple, and didn't mess anything up, they won't be able to tell.
  21. convert31 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2011
    Zeroing in

    Alright folks, thanks to all your great input I am zeroing in on my purchase specs (which feels like a major accomplishment). Here it is:

    15-inch MacBook Pro - $2,373.00

    - 2.2GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7
    - 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
    - 500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
    - Hi-Res Antiglare Widescreen Display

    As soon as I get my MBP I will immediately upgrade the memory to 8GB. However, I am unsure which after-market brand to go with. It almost seems like there some political thing with OWC. I noticed a couple comments about "OWC's inflated prices" and that they've been "scamming the Mac community for years." On the other hand the same individual said that the "memory and service from Crucial is fantastic." I typically like information (including prices) that is unbiased and based on specifics to help me make an informed decision.

    As for the 240GB SSD, I think I'll have to wait a lil while (in other words, a couple paychecks) until I can upgrade this part of the equation because $2400 is plenty to spend right now. However, I would like some solid insight on available SSD options. After stumbling upon a great article ( I discovered that all SSDs not are not created equal (e.g. different rates of sequential read/write & random read/write). Ultimately, I want to experience the "once you go SSD you'll never go back" feeling. Also, discussions around issues with TRIM and the longevity of SSDs have me somewhat concerned. Again, any insight with these dynamics is very (very) much appreciated.
  22. Mac-key macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2010
    great choice! you're going to be very excited you went with the hires ant-glare. I LOVE mine!

    as for the RAM, I've used OWC - great stuff, BUT so are other options that work just as well.

    take your pic
  23. AppleDApp macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2011
    get the lowest RAM available when you order your MBP probably 4gb then upgrade with macsales Apple charges 2 arms, 2 legs and a couple teeth for RAM.
  24. DWBurke811 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 10, 2011
    Boca Raton, FL
    OWC RAM isn't made by OWC, they just "test"(in quotes because I don't know what, if anything, they do) the RAM to make sure it'll work with a Mac, so you get Brand X RAM from OWC, rather than just buying Brand X. Macs are just Intel based computers, so any RAM will work. I have 8GB of Crucial RAM on the wag from Newegg, $50 shipped. It's rated 5/5 stars from reviewers on Newegg, 150+ reviews, with many saying it works flawless in a Mac; to me, it doesn't get more "tested to work in Macs" than that.

    Personally, I can't see paying more than double for something to be "testesd," when said test is pointless.

    As for SSDs, even a "slow" drive like a Samsung 470 or Intel 320 is going to be stupid fast compared to a HDD, even a 10,000 rpm drive.
  25. pazz macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2010
    London, England

    Just be very careful when swapping things round. Don't rush the job and having a decent PH00 or PH000 screwdriver helps a great deal.

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