Another Student Seeking a Setup!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ddllv, Jul 16, 2014.

  1. ddllv macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2014
    But maybe.. maybe.. a little different this time? (Or not...)

    I've tried consulting friends, but nobody can seem to help me set up a system that will work for me.

    My current setup is my Macbook pro 2010 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, and I upgraded the HD to 1Tb (5400 rpm) about a year and a half ago. Current use is 425gb of that. I'm running OS X 10.6.8 (worried to update to Mavericks).

    This computer has been great for these 4 years; When I got it I installed Parallels with Windows 7, but it quickly became too slow to do anything on. I open it (unsucessfully) maybe once a year. I'm totally ok with saying good bye to it -- this was my first mac and the Windows OS was just a crutch :)

    What's my usage like?
    Well, I frequently have a number of programs open -- e-mail, open office, 20 tabs on the web, iTunes, lastfm, etc. -- sometimes even more, although I try to keep an eye on it and quit out of things.
    I plan to run adobe CS5 or CS6 for adobe illustrator for work, and possibly some of the other programs.
    I have around 175gb of music, currently -- plus years worth of photos, docs, etc.
    I take my laptop to friends' houses, on vacation, etc.
    Going to school, I anticipate some need for a computer at school, although not sure in what capacity (note taking, hanging out at school, projects, etc.)

    Here's the issue:
    I feel like this computer is going to die sometime in the near future. It's been crashing with more regularity (a couple times a year has changed to a couple of times a month) - it runs hot - I am worried about soemthing costly going out (logic board, video card, battery)... All components except the HD are 4 years old, I rarely re-start, and have used it for 4+ hours each day. Compounding my worries, I haven't backed up my HD in over 4 months, due to misplacing the power supply for my external hard drive (time machine is quite displeased). Cosmetically the computer is pretty beat-up: dents, scratches, 3 of the bottom rubber grips missing...

    I'm starting school in the fall, math major taking physics classes, and I think it's time to get a newer system running so I can stop worrying about everything crapping out.

    Making matters worse, I am already having to take out some loans for school and can only scrounge up $1,000 (gift my grandparents are giving me) to figure this out.

    I know I have a couple of options, which I'm looking at:

    -- MBP from Apple (the cheap, old one -- which is basically the same unit I've been using since I'd feel pretty lame buying a computer that physically looks the same [minus dent] as mine...)

    -- Refurb Mac Mini (I have a monitor, but no keyboard/mouse) and iPad air (but not sure if an iPad is any kind of replacement for a laptop... and I have not had a desktop since 2006...)

    -- in a perfect world, refurb 13" MBP retina display, 128gb SSD and 8GB ram just over 1k, the issue is I would need to get an enclosure for my superdrive and an enclosure for my hard drive, and I would want to extend my applecare (since I can't change anything on it to suit my needs), plus tax its more than a little bit over the budget.

    So, nothing seems right, and I'm sitting here typing on my hot MBP and asking y'all for some ideas about possible workable situations (obviously no perfect solution here)....
  2. giraffeboy27 macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Have you thought about a macbook air? They're more powerful than you think, plus you can get a decently specced one quite cheaply with a student discount (I use Unidays here in the UK, which allows you to get the high end 13" Air for only £800). The only downside is I'm not sure how their GPUs handle illustrator or photoshop.

    Before you do anything tho, get some sort of backup drive like the WD my passport. You don't want to lose your data if, like you said, the computer fails at any point soon!
  3. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    The first thing you can do that will really help bring your computer back to life is an SSD. Get a USB 3.0 exclosure, pop your 1TB drive in there, and get an internal 256GB 840 EVO or MX100 for about $120. Keep your photos and movies on the external drive, and put your OS and your important applications on the SSD.

    If you do get a computer, there is no reason to get the old MBP. For $100 more, you can get the rMBP with a much nicer screen, better heat sinks, 1 pound off the weight, much better speakers, nearly double the battery life, a better processor, a better GPU, an HDMI port, and support for many features in OSX Yosemite that the old MBP will not get.

    If you cannot afford the extra cost, get a MacBook Air. It will cost less, and be a much better computer. The upgradability of the MBP is really misunderstood. When it comes down to it, even if you upgrade everything you can (e.g. the RAM and HDD), it will still not perform as well as a MacBook Air. Back in 2012, I would have recommended the cMBP to maybe 5% of people, but at this point it is outdated to the point where upgradeability is kind of pointless. My girlfriend has a 2012 MacBook Pro that was running slowly, and it cost us $150 just to put it on par with my 2010 MacBook Air. The 2014 MBA will perform much better than the 2012 MBP, and the benefit of the extra HDD space and optical drive are absolutely not worth it.

    If you really need your whole photo library with you at all times, I guess go ahead and get a cMBP, but I can guarantee that 128GB should be enough for what you need at school. Just keep the 1TB drive you have, and put the old drive back in your MBP. In terms of the superdrive, do you really need one? You can pick up a really nice one for $20 if you actually need it, but other than installing MATLAB and Windows 8, I haven't used an optical drive in 4 years.

  4. ddllv thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2014
    I looked at MBA, I do wonder though about the processor not handling as much (nice... I use computers so often but struggle with the terms)... I mean, I run so many programs at once, I wonder if the MBA could handle that?

    For some reason I assumed the MBA were light for a reason... not as powerful... especially if I am running CS5 or 6 with music and web and misc apps... would a MBA work as an everyday computer or what? MBA is pretty cheap open box from best buy with education discount and may be able to scrounge up a movers coupon... screen is quite small though...

    btw I use my superdrive a few times a month... not for programs, mainly CDs from the library, movies, burning DVDs, etc (Guess I'm stuck in the past, I mean it IS 2014 but I still consider my cd drive an essential part of a computer setup)
  5. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    The processor on the MBP is about 7% faster than the MBA, so there will not be much noticeable difference. The graphics are actually about 20% worse on the MBP, so for CS6 the MBA would actually run better. The MBA screen actually has more real estate than the MBP. It is 1440x900 in comparison to the 1280x800 on the MBP. And in terms of the optical drive, that is fair enough. Like I said, you can find high quality optical drives for about $20, and as long as you don't need it on the go you can just keep it in your room.
  6. ddllv thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2014
    to add, my mother just offered to sell me her ipad 1 32gb, which she never used, for $100. I'm borrowing it for a couple of days to see what it's like and if it is something that might be helpful in my situation (and to see if the battery is still good).
  7. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    If the rMBP is a little out of budget, the only other computer I'd consider is a MacBook Air! I was lucky enough to be lent one for a week, and if I hadn't had my sights set on buying a rMBP in the future, I'd have bought one there and then.

    It handled Illustrator and Photoshop CS6 perfectly - it even felt faster than my current MBP (early 2011 quad-core i7) due to the SSD, and it even managed some video editing, even if the render times were slightly longer. Keep in mind that any modern MBA will be faster than your MBP due to the SSD and i5 (or i7) chip.

    The only thing is, I'd definitely get 8GB RAM. That's almost a requirement if you're working with large multi-layered Photoshop files.

    Have you thought about a refurbished machine? They still offer a 1 year warranty, and the external cases are brand new. At the moment, there are only MBAs with 4GB RAM under $1k, but it's constantly updated. You may get a good bargain.

    The only other thing: order a new backup disk right now!! Hard drives are the most likely component to fail, and even though you've replaced yours, you never know what's going to happen next. Backup before it's too late.
  8. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Your 2010 machine isn't really that old. More RAM will solve the problem with 20+ tabs open. Mavericks will help with memory as well. I have SSD and 8 GB of RAM in my late 2011 MBP and I expect to get years more use out of it trouble free. I normally run Windows 7 or XP in Virtualbox ( a couple of times a year SUCCESSFULLY). My wife's 2010 Mac mini runs just fine with SSD and 8 GB of RAM as well and it's a lot lower spec than that year's MBP.

    As for the iPad, I would expect that the battery is fine especially since she didn't use it much. An iPad makes an excellent "road machine". One thing I've done is use dropbox as my "home folder" since Apple won't relent and give us a filesystem on iPad. I have the free dropbox so I'm always running out of space but for $99 a year I could get a 100 GB "home folder" if I really needed it.

    I would mention iOS8 and the fact that Apple is finally bringing back something similar to iDisk but sadly an iPad 1 won't be able to take advantage of it.
  9. crzdcolombian macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2010
    sell your pro for 500 + get the Macbook air for 1000 for the 13 inch. I think I recently sold a late 2009 for 500 or maybe it was a mid 2010 13 inch I forget.

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