Buying Macbook Pro - 2.4 Ghz / 2.5 Ghz (all silver) or the new one? HELP!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jon08, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. jon08 macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Hey there!

    I've been considering buying a Macbook Pro lately. This'd be the first time for me getting into this field of laptops, therefore I don't know much about MAC OS etc.

    I plan to use the laptop mainly for school work (i.e. Word, Internet, etc.), as well as some Music Making (Reason Propellerhead), but here and there I'd definitely like to do some gaming as well (been anticipating GTA 4 for PC, as well as Crysis 2 etc.).

    With the release of the latest MBP, I've been disappointed by the look of the new keyboard. To be honest, I prefer the outlook of the all silver version to the latest one, for the most part thanks to the keyboard. Somehow, I just find the silver keyboard much smoother and better looking.

    In any case, I have been deciding among 3 MBPs:

    1st OPTION:
    2.5 Ghz (Bus: 800 Mhz)
    Cache standard, secondary 6 MB
    2 GB RAM DDR2
    Geforce 8600 512MB GDDR3 SDRAM

    2nd OPTION:
    2.4 Ghz (Bus: 800 Mhz)
    Cache standard, secondary 3 MB
    2 GB RAM DDR2
    Geforce 8600 256 MB GDDR3 SDRAM

    3rd OPTION - the latest MBP
    2.4 Ghz (Bus: 1066 Mhz)
    Cache standard, secondary 3 MB
    2 GB RAM DDR3
    Geforce 9400, 9600 - up to 512MB (shared)

    Now, I'd like to pose a couple of questions to you guys.

    1) Is it true that NONE but the latest MBP is compatible with DDR3 RAM?

    2) Would I be losing a lot by getting the MBP with 2 GB DDR2 RAM as opposed to 2 GB DDR3?

    3) What role does this L2 cache play on the laptop? Is it better to have 6 MB or 3 MB of it?

    4) Is there a noticeable difference in performance between 2.5 Ghz (Bus: 800 Mhz) and 2.4 Ghz (Bus: 1066 Mhz)?

    5) How would a Geforce 8600 512 MB be compared to 9600 256 MB in terms of gaming? 9600 not much better?

    6) On I found certain early 2008 version MBPs with glossy screens. Does anyone know if they are legitimate? Were those some kind of special editions, or how come they come with a glossy screen? (I thought this was the latest MBP trait only.)

    7) If I were to have the Boot Camp thingy with Vista, is it possible to just have Vista running somewhere in the background, and whenever you need to use a program that is not compatible with MAC OS you'd just pull it out of Vista and run it on MAC OS without having to completely switch to Vista?

    This would be all for now. I appreciate your help in advance!!!!
  2. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    If you mean can the older Macbook Pro use DDR3, no, it only takes DDR2. In either case I'd personally buy 4GB for either system to replace the 2GB it comes with (ie buy 2x2GB).

    Nothing really. It's clocked faster, but my understanding is it has worse timings in other ways and ends up about the same at those clock speeds. At any rate, I wouldn't really let it influence your decision.

    6MB is better, but you're not going to be able to tell a difference between any of these processors without actually running a benchmark on them. I wouldn't worry too much about the "slower" CPU in the lower end versions of these things, though of course the faster one will be a bit better (probably mostly noticeable in things like media encoding that need all the power they can get, but don't rely on the GPU like games do-most games are going to be held back by the GPU, so the CPUs will probably be too close to tell much of a difference).

    It'll probably depend on the game, and settings you run. They're basically the exact same hardware, but the 9600GT is clocked faster. Basically if the game or settings you're using require more than 256MB, the slower GPU with more video RAM will outperform the faster GPU in this case, but I can't really give you an example :(

    Matte is generally preferred, but yeah, the last generation Macbook Pro was offered with both screens. Matte was the default, but there were so called "glossy" screens available.

    Not with Boot Camp. Boot Camp lets you completely reboot to Windows, and the Macbook Pro just becomes a Windows computer. There are two (or sort of three) programs that let you do what you're talking about though. VMWare's Fusion (I think it's's their only Mac product) and Parallels. Both allow you to install and run Windows within OS X. I personally would buy VMWare's product, as they've been doing virtualization on the enterprise level far longer than Parallels (and I've heard the basics, and stability, etc. are just better on VMWare's product). There are demos for both I think.

    Remember that you'll have to buy your own separate copy of Windows regardless of whether you install it through Boot Camp or VMWare/Parallels' product. Also remember virtualization works fine for some things-running a Windows version of Office, for example, but you could NOT run modern games through it. You would need to reboot and run Windows by itself.

    Also note that the older Macbook Pro does NOT have a user accessible hard drive like the new one does. I'd personally never buy the old model because of that. There were also manufacturing issues with SOME 8600GT GPUs, but not the 9600GT, so there's probably some chance of getting a bad GPU on the old model.

    Also I've heard there are issues-particularly in Windows-with the drivers for the new trackpad. Not an issue if you plan on using an external mouse though.
  3. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    Get the older one, especially if you prefer the look. The new ones are a lot more about the new design and a lot less about being faster/more featureful.
  4. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Are those glossy screens equivalent to those in the latest MBPs?

    So would it be a better idea to just take a MBP with no Windows OS and then buy it separately as opposed to the offers that include Windows already installed?

    What version of Vista would work best with a MBP though? x32 or x64?

    What do you mean by "older Macbook Pro does NOT have a user accessible hard drive"? Does that imply that there is NO Windows-like option of opening, say, a D: hard drive with your data and simply access it? What is used as an alternative then?
  5. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    I don't know if they're the exact same screens, but they're probably similar. I was VERY impressed with the last gen matte screen, and I even thought the new Macbook's screen looks good (and the new MB Pro's screen is supposed to be better still).

    What was the offer? I mean if it's a reasonable price and giving you a full copy of Windows with it, it might be fine. As long as they give you the disc you could always reinstall everything the way you want it.

    I'm not quite sure what you're asking with that question, but what I meant is the hard drive can't officially be physically accessed and replaced on the old Macbook Pro by an end user. Some people will tell you it's easy to do anyway, but it gets into questionable warranty territory, and it's not something I'd be comfortable with doing.

    For some people, the lack of a user accessable drive doesn't matter, but for me, I want to be able to buy a new drive when I get the system and swap it-then swap it to the original drive if I ever have to send it in for warranty service.

    It's something to consider at least if you're comparing the two models. For me it's a deal killer for the old models, but for some it wouldn't be an issue at all.

    In terms of Windows and how OS X or Windows sees the hard drive, there's no difference-I was just talking about physically being able to access the drive. On the new Macbook Pros it's ludicrously easy. You can see the drive without even using any tools in about 5 seconds, and would just need a screwdriver to make the switch.
  6. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    This is one of the offers:

    I am not exactly sure if they provide you with a Vista Recovery CD or the original package of Vista, or nothing of the above......

    Oh, well I have no intentions of accessing the hard drive physically, unless it was defective and would have to be replaced....other than that I have a 1 TB external disk, so I'm not worried about the storage room so much...

    Btw, is MBP warranty international?
  7. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    I'd want to find out about that-I'd guess they just give you a boxed copy, but...

    Plus that price isn't all that great. Even with Windows there are cheaper places.
  8. aaquib macrumors 65816


    Sep 11, 2007
    Toronto, Canada
    It makes sense that the new MBPs may have better quality screens because they're all corner-to-corner class.
  9. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
  10. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    That doesn't follow. The glass covering the screen has nothing to do with the quality of the screen. Both the current and last gen models probably look pretty great though.

    That's not bad! $50 cheaper than Amazon even. They're charging too much for Vista though, if that's the only difference between those configurations. It's just $100 on Newegg for the OEM version of Home Premium.
  11. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    The problem with the previous versions of the MBP is that they use the Nvidia 8600 and that's a deal breaker for me. Yeah, I's covered under warranty for 2 years, but my luck it would go out right when I was in the middle of a project or out on the road. Besides, I'd hate to send it in to get it fixed. I'm like you, I prefer the older versions (especially the matte screen), but the newer version has a much better GPU... especially if you are into gaming.
  12. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Do you think I should be getting a 3-year warranty extension as well?

    And another thing...just need to get this straight: supposing I was to purchase Vista along with that VMWare program. From what I understand VMWare basically lets you run Vista in the background, hence whenever I wished to run a program that would otherwise NOT be compatible with MAC OS I could simply click on a button and the Vista desktop would pop out? And in that way I could run that very program and then hide the Vista desktop and wind up in Mac OS again with that program being open and ready to use?
  13. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Does that GPU defect apply to 256 MB or 512 MB ones? Or both?

    If such a situation occurs, can you possibly request them to replace the GPU with a newer, better one? :)
  14. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    I'm going to I think-although I can get it for less because I qualify for their educational discount. Notebooks have a really high failure rate, so it'll make me feel better, I guess! :D

    Yeah, sort of. You wouldn't want to keep VMWare's program running all the time though, as it would be using RAM and some CPU time. Basically you'd want to shut down Windows and that program if you weren't going to use them for a while.


    I doubt it :) It was supposedly fixed, and a late 2008 last gen Macbook Pro should supposedly be okay, but you'd really have no way of knowing. I do have a coworker who had his system repaired 3 times because of the GPU, but I don't know how common that really is.
  15. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    If it's a Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT, then it's affected. If you can find a Macbook Pro that carries something other than the this model, then it's probably okay... but I don't think Apple released anything in the 15" model with a different gpu. Certainly nothing you could find for sale without being used.

    Apple will NOT replace a defective card with something else. First off, it's not compatible, and secondly, they just won't do it. When my graphic card went out in my Macpro, I asked them if I could upgrade to the newer card and pay the difference. They flatly refused saying that any warranty service MUST be replaced with the exact same part. No, they will slap in the exact same card hoping it will carry you until the warranty finally runs out.

    If you are the type of person who buys a new laptop every couple of years, then this might not be an issue. But don't expect the older model to last. It might... because the card may or may not fail, you are just playing a game of odds. You'll be okay for the first two years while under warranty... but after that, you might have a beautiful doorstop.

    Also, I might mention, the new Macbook pros also have the dual gpu that may wind up having SLI enabled in future software updates. That's worth a look.
  16. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    it is physically impossible to replace a mobile GPU since it's part of the motherboard.

    whether you get an old or new MBP, Applecare is more or less a must.

    and just about virtual machines, I use VirtualBox, which is freeware. You should also look into CrossOver, which lets you run Windows applications on OSX.
  17. eyerot macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2008
    RE: Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT DEFECT:

    Please note that this same issue is cropping up in the new aluminum MB's and MBP's.

    My new 2.4 MB has the glitch, and after seeing multiple screenshots of the garbled output occurring in a variety of applications, an Apple tech confirmed that the symptoms are identical to those associated with the 8600M defect.

    And if you want my 2 cents, go with option 1.
  18. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    That sounds like a driver or software issue that's being described here, not anything to do with the 8600 manufacturing defect. And supposedly not all of those were affected, it got fixed (supposedly). Dell and Apple until recently continued shipping notebooks with 8600s, so hopefully they were really fixed.

    Also ANY GPU model can have some defective units-but they don't look like what's being described by most of the people in those threads.

    Also don't count on being able to use that 9600 and 9400 together. It's still very unclear to me whether that's possible as they aren't the same part, and most of what I've heard says they can't be. And even if they could be, the performance gain would be minimal.

    Might be possible though that at some point with like 10.6 or something you'll be able to use the for seperate things-like do encoding on one and use the other for graphics or whatever-not as outside the realm of possibility at least.
  19. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    honestly, it doesn't sound like the same issue. The 8600M GT would fail completely due to heat. This is just bad rendering, and sounds more like a software problem.
  20. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
  21. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    When you buy the machine you get one years free AppleCare. Apple also launched a extended repair program because of the GPU, so you get a second year on top of your first all free. If you want to buy the AppleCare extended warranty then you get 3 years.
  22. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Yeah, I see... Do you know any places with inexpensive AppleCare Protection Plans?
  23. eyerot macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2008
    The distortion I am seeing in my display is, according to Apple support, identical to a symptom common in the previous generation of MBP's that was associated with faulty GPUs.

    When I sent the screenshots over to the product specialist, my call shot up the customer service chain pretty fast. They seemed more than a little concerned.

    I was told on Thursday that engineering wanted a look at my data cap, so I sent them the files. We'll see what they say on Monday.
  24. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    Can you show us pictures? Because what was being described in those threads doesn't sound like a hardware issue, but you may be having something else going on. (I'm thinking we might be able to point you in the right direction for that.)
  25. mynameisraj macrumors 6502

    Nov 14, 2008
    Boulder, Colorado
    Ebay + Live search discount

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