calling all architects....which mbp?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by g^3, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. g^3 macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2005
    Hello All,

    I am a first year graduate architecture student trying to decide which MBP to get. We will be using one of CAD flavors, Rhino, 3D studio max, Form-Z, Maya and a few other programs. I will also be doing most of my design work in the studio and take the computer home to write papers. Right now I am trying to decide between both of the 15'' and 17" MBP.

    Option 1:
    I could get the 15" 2.2 refurb MBP along with an external monitor and save lots of $$$$ now and upgrade later.
    Will the vram be sufficient to run those apps along with an external display?

    Option 2:
    Get the refurb 15" 2.4 and an external monitor. Leaving me no money to upgrade in the near future.

    Option 3:
    Get the refurb 17" high res with the faster 7200 rpm drive. This would be the ultimate in computing but I'm concerned with the portability issue.

    Let me know what you think. I leaning towards the 17" but am concerned the size might hinder its portability.

  2. iToaster macrumors 68000


    May 3, 2007
    In front of my MacBook Pro
    Although slightly less portable, the 17" is pretty sick. I'd recommend the 17" HiDef or either 15" (I have a 2.4, but a 2.2 will do, it's an obsession of mine).
  3. iKwick7 macrumors 65816


    Dec 29, 2004
    The Wood of Spots, NJ
    Architect (almost- I take my exams next year) checking in.....

    Let's see.... when I went to college the computers my school "gave" each student sucked bad, so I returned mine. I bought my Gateway centrino pc laptop w/ a radeon 9600 to get me through my last 2 years and it worked wonderfully.

    I will say this- graphics cards are important, but RAM is easily the most important thing.

    First, a question- since you will be doing most of your work in studio, will you be leaving an external display there (if you do, make sure you lock that baby to your desk!)?

    That being said, I'd personally go with option #3. You will SERIOUSLY appreciate the extra space on the 17" display and tha tmachine is a workhorse. Will you still be using an external monitor?

    As for portability, yeah the 17" will be a bit heavy, but i'd say it's worth it. I had zero probllems with my laptop and a couple books on my back alll day.

    Where are you going to college, if I may ask? I also seriously suggest you check out SketchUP- it's an amazing, simple 3d modelling program that is super easy to pick up. I do all my modelling with it and then, if I want to, sometimes render in other programs.

    If you have any q's, feel free to send me a pm! And good luck with all that ridiculous amount of work you have coming your way! :)
  4. g^3 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2005
    Thanks for your speedy responses.

    I just finished my first summer semester in the 3.5 yr grad program at Tulane. It was intense; we were all sleeping in the studio the nights before review.

    I really like the high-res 17’’ and it seems it is the way to go. If I get the 17” I can’t afford an external monitor. Will it still be worth it? With the low end 15” I could afford an awesome external LCD and maintain portability. I will bolt that baby to the desk and booby-trap it with exacto knives and super glue.
  5. iToaster macrumors 68000


    May 3, 2007
    In front of my MacBook Pro
    With that high a res screen on the 17" you really won't need and external (unless you planned on a 30" or something). Yes, bolt that baby down and this can be useful.
  6. iKwick7 macrumors 65816


    Dec 29, 2004
    The Wood of Spots, NJ
    Wait until you start sleeping in studio on nights when you don't have a project due the next day! :)
  7. ktbubster macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2007
    I'm not as experienced as many of the people here, as I am only finishing up my Undergrad in Product Design this year, but we have a similar way of doing things (I was in architecture first off but switched majors) as far as using computers in studio a lot and moving things back and forth as well as sleeping in studio :)

    I have a 15inch mbp (only a 2.0 cd as my sig says) and it handles auto cad and solidworks pretty well in just parallels even. I think the 2.2 would probably be pretty sufficient, but the 2.4 with the extra vram is probably the way to go.

    The 17 would be sweet and my dad brings his 17 mbp to work everyday (he hates using his work computers) and has no problems with the portability back and forth and on trips etc. However, I think in your case the 15inch 2.4 with an external might be the best way to go. You get the same power, but can get an external display, because really, doing all that work could probably even get cramped on a 17inch and if getting the 17inch means forfeiting the external, I think the 2.4 15inch would be the way to go.

    Get atleast 2gb of ram ... max it out if you can, I'm sure that will help things speed along. Architecture probably needs a little less color accuracy and such as graphic design does.. so you could probably get away getting just a nice hp or dell (although i love my 200 dollar acer monitor in my sig. It's amazing for the price and I would highly suggest it)

    Anyway, sorry for all the babble. I think, if I were you, i'd get the 15 with an nice external. Heck... if you et the 15 2.2 you could get a cheap 19 inch (acer 19s go for under 150) to bolt down in your studio (bolted down ofcourse) and another one for your home and when you are done with school you could dual monitor it! :)

    Just my 2 cents. I just think that the high def to full res might be a little heacachy and a even bigger external would definitly be a weight and stress reliever off your eyes, and ive you a really big work environment for mapping out your presentations or modeling in multiplue programs at once.

    I can't imagine doing my design work on anything less then a 19 or 22 now, I just LOVE all the space!
  8. looking4anotebo macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2007
    Option 1.

    There is little to no reason for you to get the 2.4 over the 2.2, and at $500 extra, that money would be much better spent on other things.

    15 vs 17

    15 gives you much better portability, hangs with in terms of specs, for the most part, except the display. I don't think the slight spec advantage justifies the much higher price.
  9. g^3 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2005
    Thanks for all your advice. I think i'm going with a refurb 15" and an awesome second display.

    One last question, I looked at the refurbs and they also have the last gen 2.33 for 1899. Is it worth the extra cash for the slight speed bump and different video card? The 2.2 has the nvidia 128mb video card and the 2.33 has the 256mb radeon card, which is better? Does the 2.33 use the SR chipset?
  10. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Go with option 3 and get 4GB of RAM as soon as you can. It looks like you're going to be doing a lot of 3D modeling and rendering for which the extra speed of the processor will help (especially if you're rendering Hi-Res images solo). :) You'll definitely appreciate the extra Screen real-estate you'll get from the HD screen on the 17".

    I've got 2x19" 1440x900 screens for CAD and I sometimes feel like I run out of screen space. I'm a toolbar minimalist freak nearly everything is done with keyboard commands - see attached.

    And yes, the 2.2/2.4 use the SR chipset while the 2.16/2.33 don't. The SR has a max of 4GB RAM but the old chipset can see 3 (or 3.3).

    Attached Files:

    • CAD.jpg
      File size:
      313.7 KB
  11. galstaph macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2002
    The Great White North Eh
    I personally went for the 17, I was in the same boat as you and decided I'd rather have one machine that can do it all, without tacking anything onto it.
    Hopefully it gets here before I start my next session on Monday though...

    At the very least get the highest res you can and the most ram you can for how much you want to spend:)

    You may also want to check out pricing for ADC Student members, it'll save you a wee bit more over edu pricing on the machine itself if you go new, plus you'll get some goodies from apple every month for a year (ADC mailings):D
  12. g^3 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2005
    I went ahead and ordered the 2.2 15," with the extra money i'll max out the ram and get a 24" screen. I couldn't justify the extra $500 for the 2.4Ghz model, the slight speed boost, vram and 40GB HD difference didn't seem worth it. The deciding factor was that it would be almost impossible to bike 1.5 miles everyday to and from school with the 17." The salesman at the apple store he advised me that the 17" wouldn't hold up well being bumped and knocked around and that the 15" because of its size inherently holds up better.

    The next step is to find a screen and heavy duty lock.

    Thanks for all of your help. I'll let you know how everytihng works out.
  13. 26am1 macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2007
    hang on dont buy yet

    if u are a college student then go to the apple website and type in adc on search then select getting started, then join adc, then student membership, then lastly student hardware purchase program.

    i am a college student and i discovered this program it saves u a ton of mony.

    i bought 15 2.4 for 2000
  14. 26am1 macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2007
    once again dont buy yet

    i was reading ur post then i decided to share my secret. i used the adc (apple developer's connection) and saved a ton of money.
    u can get the 17" for 2300 and 15" 2.4 for 2000 and 15" 2.2 for 1600. the program only costs a 100 but it is well worth it they mail u new software monthly which u can burn and keep the burned cd and sell the software on ebay. and u can easily make up the 100 dollars u spent:)

    i hope u didnt buy yet.

    15"2.4 mbp
    80 gig ipod 5.5 g
  15. g^3 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2005
    I am aware of the student ADC program. I'm under the impression this takes a little while to setup, am I wrong? I need the computer by early next week. How long does it take to buy under the ADC program (from buying the membership to purchasing the computer)?

    Burning and selling the free software is both illegal and unethical please don't advertise your illicit activitiies.
  16. 26am1 macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2007
    doesnt take long

    u buy it all online and u get it in about 5 days worth it saves u a ton of mony.

    well i did sell and i got cash call it unethical but i call it smart:D

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