Buying a MacBook Pro for two specific types of use.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ildogma, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. ildogma macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2010
    Hello! I am new on this forum, and I'm pretty happy to see that everybody seems to be very educated, a rare characteristic in forums.

    As the title says, I'm about to buy a MacBook Pro. I just started university and I will be working a lot with most of the Adobe Suite (that includes Premiere and After Effects, which, if I'm not mistaken, are pretty demanding on the hardware side).
    I've always used a desktop PC, self-built and tuned to work very well with my other main area of interest: music production.
    My computer never really felt obsolete (although it's pretty old), even though, like all Windows machines, it kept getting slower and slower, even needing the ever-so-annoying process of re-installing the whole OS from time to time.

    I decided almost a year ago that I'm in need of a laptop, and I started taking a look at what Apple has to offer.

    What I am looking for is a stable workhorse with the right hardware to run both the Adobe Suite and softwares like Ableton Live and Traktor (yes, my laptop will have to endure live gigs, since I cannot afford a second laptop just for DJing!) flawlessly.

    Since I need to start using it as soon as possible, I also decided I will not wait for the newest family of MBPs, especially given that most users on here advised anyone who wanted to buy a new laptop to just get the current version.

    Now, even though I was leaning toward a 13" MBP, I decided 15" is the way to go: I need the bigger screen to work with graphics softwares and to keep cluttered interfaces as clean as possible.
    But, I have problems deciding which model I should choose. Instinctively, I would go with the top of the line (i7 CPU, 8GB RAM etc.) in order to be sure the MBP will be fully operational and up to par at least during the next five years, without knowing if that expense is really necessary.

    Here is my question: if you use any of the software I mentioned, can you give me your opinion on which laptop configuration I should choose?

    Thank you.
  2. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    Sony F laptops are going to be quite a bit cheaper than the MBP and they have the Quad i7. You would save enough for a 256GB SSD and max out the ram and it would still be cheaper than a base MBP.

    Just throwing it out there.

    Otherwise, the Mac lineup is pretty simple. Dual i5 or i7. 15" or 17". Gloss or anti-gloss.

    After using a good SSD in a laptop, you can never go back. They don't help your raw rendering and compressing power, but they make everything else seem very very fast and responsive.

    I guess I'd recommend the base 17" MBP with the i5. Take the ram to 8GB and this Jan/Feb when the next round of SSDs come out, try to slip a 256GB SSD in there.

    The 17" is not that much bigger than the 15" and for those kinds of programs, you will come to love the 1920x1200 screen res.

    In a dual core I don't think the i7 is worth the extra money over the i5 (ie your 8GB of ram) and the extra heat to make it much worth it.

    Just my .02.
  3. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    if you need to do heavy work on it, a quad-core Windows machine would suit you better.

    if you just need to do moderate work on the go, you can't really go wrong with any of the 15 or 17" models. you only need to decide how fast the processor needs to be, if you want a 1920x1200 (17"), 1680x1050 (hi-res 15"), or 1440x900 dispay, and if it's matte or glossy.

    an i7 gets you ~10% more performance than an i5. up to you if that's worth the cost.
  4. sbddude macrumors 6502a

    Sep 27, 2010
    Nor Cal, USA
    Upgrade the RAM to 8GB yourself. $400 is highway robbery.

    I bought 8GB for $140 on ebay, sold my 4GB for $70.
  5. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    Yes, everyone upgrades their own ram.

    What I meant was that the $200 for upgrading the i5 to an i7 is probably better spent on the ram.
  6. ildogma thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2010
    Thanks to everybody for your quick replies!

    I had considered a Windows machine, but after reading what users have to say in here ("my MBP/MB is 3/4/5 years old and still works like a champ..."), after talking to my professors and after considering the general trend in both the world of graphic design and music production (but unfortunately not 3D graphics, it seems), I decided Mac is the way to go.

    I am really unsure about buying a 17" laptop. They seem to be pretty big, and since I do have to commute with it a lot (I'll use it at my Uni, at home and in clubs) I think it might become an annoyance. Is the weight difference very noticeable?
    Regarding the ever-persistent glossy vs matte debate, I think I will go with glossy, since it has to be perfectly visible in dark environments.
    Also, I don't know if I can afford a SSD right now. If I do as you say (replacing it during Q1 next year) does that require a major hassle with re-installing everything? I'm sorry, I have no idea how Macs work on the hardware side, and I didn't even consider a SSD before you mentioned it!

    I believe i can cough up the extra money for the faster processor and hi-res screen. I'm lucky enough to attend a university which gives me 10% discount on some Apple products, MBPs included.

    Thank you, this is very good advice (even though someone else might consider it obvious). I didn't even think of opening my new MacBook once I got it, but now you mentioned it, I did a little research and found out that it's pretty simple and straightforward, allowing me to spend less on RAM when buying it and invest on the better CPU instead.
    Is crucial(dot)com a good place to get new RAM? I live in Europe, so I'd probably pay a lot for the customs, but the price on the 8GB set seems very low still.
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    You should stick with a Windows based laptop so that you don't need to buy all that expensive software again for your new Mac.

    But I'm going to guess that you don't pay for Adobe or any expensive software since that extra expense never entered the conversation, so get the base 15" 2.4 GHz i5 and be done with it. ;) Also, get the anti-glare screen.
  8. ildogma thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2010
    I have access to the Adobe package through my University, so that's an expense I can luckily avoid.
    I have to purchase a new version of Traktor anyway, so I would pay for it on Mac and PC.
    The only "annoying" expense is Ableton Live, but I will be able to afford it since there are education versions of it and I might even get it through my University!
    So software expenses are not a big deal.

    Will the anti-glare screen perform well in a dark environment? I have read glossy screens are best at that, and apparently tilting the screen slightly will remove any glare issues. Is this true?

    Thank you for your reply.
  9. christophermdia macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2008
    I have both a glossy 13" and an AG 15", and at night there is virtually no difference. I think in a darker room the colors pop on the AG and are more accurate. Glossy is nice too though, I prefer the AG for an overall computing experience, when I want my 15" to be glossy then I connect it to an apple LED screen.
  10. JCCash macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2008
    I travel and use the new 13" MBP. I bought my son a refurb 15" MBP. I have FCP on both units. The larger screen and faster CPU on the 15" helps when not using the MPB with an external monitor and is faster. If you can't afford the 17" go with the fastest 15".
  11. StephenHuang macrumors newbie


    Feb 7, 2010
    SK, Canada
    I have only two types of use for buying a MBP . First: Show off:cool: Second:do all my work;). So combining together, I am using MBP to sexily do my work:D
  12. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    I use Photoshop CS5 and sometimes FCP.
    CS5 seems to run fine even with my specs (15", 2GB RAM, 2.4GHz C2D) but the i7 should make a big difference. I know you didn't mention FCP but that's another demanding app. My lil ol' computer struggles. I recommend when video editing 4GB RAM min.

    I think for you a high spec'd i5 or i7 15" will do perfectly. :)
  13. aimbdd macrumors 6502a

    Dec 10, 2008
    East Cost
    1.73 quad core? no thanks... personally i would much prefer a faster dual core. You can also enjoy your 2 and a half hour battery ;)
  14. mofunk macrumors 68020


    Aug 26, 2009
    I bought a Refurb 08 Unibody 2.53Ghz high end MBP about a year ago. Installed CS4, Digital Performer, Lightroom, and a couple other music software. Its pretty solid. Any MBP beyond this point will work with what you want to use. As far as the glossy screen, It took me awhile to get use to coming from my PB anti-glare screen. In low light or near a window, its not bad.

    What I wasn't away of was when I purchased it, you cannot look on your screen standing at an angle. I guess that is good if you are working outside your home and don't want prying eyes. But when I'm in the studio I have to face front, so that I can see the screen.

    4GB of RAM of more is fine. If you can add more, than do it. Also, the option of waiting a year, and then upgrading is fine too. You can save that money for gear or whatever you need.

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