best upgrade options for MBP

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dobiewonkanobie, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. Dobiewonkanobie macrumors regular

    Nov 16, 2007
    I'm planning on getting a new 15" MBP 2.4 in the next week or so. I am wondering about the available upgrades and what might be the best to get. I was planning on getting the hard drive upgrade (200gb/7200rpm) because I'll need the space. I then found out with my student discount i could also afford the processor upgrade (2.6ghz), but I don't know quite enough as to whether it would be worth it or not. I'll be running Solidworks, Rhino, Adobe Creative Suite, Office, Itunes, etc. The memory upgrade is out of my price range.

    For reference I chose the 15" over the 17" for portability.

    PS I have read all the rumors regarding an '08 upgrade to the MBP, and I don't have that comfort zone to wait in.
  2. foidulus macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2007
    Definitely get 4 gigs of ram, but not from apple, you can get them from various vendors, OWC being a favorite around here, you can find ads for them and support the site ;) It will set you back around $150 or so.

    I wouldn't upgrade the CPU unless you have the money after upgrading the hd and the ram.
  3. Dobiewonkanobie thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 16, 2007
    Can you or anyone explain why I should upgrade in that order, I only have a loose understanding of how everything works together optimally. What am I missing/wasting if upgrade the HD and CPU withouth the RAM?
    OR a different opinion of course.

    And how I can I upgrade aftermarket? does it void the warranty? I'm not one to take that on myself.
  4. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    Aren't the CPUs soldered onto the board in the notebooks?
  5. foidulus macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2007
    Simply put, if you don't have enough RAM your computer always has to go to disk to store/retrieve information about the open programs. Disk is a few orders of magnitude slower than RAM, so unless you are working on something that is very CPU intensive but doesn't require a lot of memory(which is pretty unlikely outside of a few fields), you would be better off having more RAM(and of course, even better off having both, but your wallet will not be as happy)

    In all of Apple's products, save the mini, RAM is considered a user upgradeable part and replacing it will not void your warranty. Installing it is a relatively simple procedure. You want to get 2 2 gigabyte sticks.

    In the macbook pros, disks are not considered user replaceable. Many people have upgraded their disks, but it involves taking the computer apart, and I would only recommend it for experts.

    The CPU is soldered into the board on macbook pros and basically is not upgradeable by the end user. If you have the cash and want to keep your new baby for a long time, I would recommend getting the CPU upgrade, but only after upgrading the ram and hd first.
  6. avincent52 macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2007
    Foidulus did an admirable job of explaining the tech side--I learned something.
    I'd just add a real world proviso. If you think you'll find $150 in your wallet in a month or two, say after the holidays, you might splurge for the faster processor and wait a little while to buy the RAM.
    Your computer will run a bit slower (but still be plenty fast) until then (than with the slower processor/more ram config) but over the life of the machine you'll have an optimal configuration.
    FWIW, I've got a 2.2 with 2 g of ram and it runs fine for what I do, and previously I had a 2.16 machine with only 1 g of ram and that one wasn't noticably slower. The biggest difference I see between the machines is the smaller AC adaptor.
    good luck
  7. CommodityFetish macrumors regular


    May 31, 2006
    Syracuse, NY
    I think of it on the model of a woodworker's shop:

    Hard Drive: shelf/storage space for inactive power tools (apps) and projects (files)

    RAM: size of workbench/table - how many projects / tools can you have out and active at one time

    Processor: how fast the woodworker works, and how many of them there are (w/ multi-core processors)

    So you can have a fast processor, but if too much time is taken moving things from the shelves to the workbench because the workbench is not big enough to keep them all out at once... So you're better off having a bigger workbench even if it means having a slower processor.

  8. mobydisk macrumors newbie

    Nov 16, 2007
    When asking about upgrades, make sure you tell people what you are going to do with the laptop. Otherwise, you get vague suggestions based on their own uses which may vary greatly from your own.

    If you are using Photoshop with big images, or editing video, then the 4GB RAM upgrade is probably important. For every day applications, 2GB RAM is fine. And the RAM is easy to upgrade at any point in the future so it isn't a big deal.

    The hard drive is a pain to upgrade later, since you either need to add an external one, or replace the internal one and copy everything over to it (which is a real pain).

    Unfortunately, Apply waaay overcharges for all their upgrades, so don't go out of your way to upgrade things unless you really need to. The 2.6GHz processor upgrade is not going to be noticeable except in the most extreme of situations, and it probably reduces battery life. But you won't be able to do it later on.
  9. Dobiewonkanobie thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 16, 2007
    Wow, i think you're the first person to truly explain this in a way I understand. Thanks!
  10. Dobiewonkanobie thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 16, 2007
    First, how would the 2.6 reduce battery life?
    Second, in reference to your first comment, I did mention the programs I would be using. Solidworks and Rhino are a 3-d design programs (used independently/non concurrently) similiar to AutoCAD. I would also be using Photoshop and Illustrator on small to medium size/ hi rez images. As well as InDesign and Acrobat. I may use Final Cut, but only for personal use. At this point i can't say how much of this I'll be running at once. I imagine PS and Ill or PS and FC might be run concurrently, along with iTunes and a browser window, and mabye the iChat at times. Most of this will be new to me (in this configuratio), so I can only guestimate.
    Oh yeah, I'll be running Parrallels/Windows Vista as well (so I can run Solidworks)
    If that helps to further answer my question, I'd appreciate it
  11. moez macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2007
    If you would be running Parallels with Windows Vista then I would say RAM upgrade is essential. You would need atleast 1GB to run Vista going smoothly. That would leave just 1GB for OSX which is not that much (saying from experience)
  12. mobydisk macrumors newbie

    Nov 16, 2007
    Oh yeah, you did. :) I guess I just skimmed.

    As far as I know, the 2.6Ghz processor uses more watts than the 2.4, but it is new enough that I haven't seen anyone measure it yet. Usually that impacts battery life somewhat, but I can't say how much without real-world experience with both of them.

    From what I know, running Parallels/Vista will consume significant memory. But I haven't used Solidworks -- how much memory does Solidworks consume on Windows? I think a rule of thumb is to take that and double it, and that's what you need on your PC. So if Solidworks runs well at 1GB, get 2GB. IF it likes 2GB, get 4GB.

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