Can't decide; MacBook or Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Doodledoo, Oct 19, 2008.

  1. Doodledoo macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2008
    Hi everybody, I'm a student who's looking to get my first Apple laptop - I have experience with a Mac as evidenced by my sig, so I don't need an intro course - and I can't decide whether to buy a new MacBook or MacBook Pro. Here are my questions:

    1. Is the backlit keyboard worth the extra money? If it's nothing special, I'd consider just buying a base model new MacBook, but what are your thoughts?

    2. How much of a difference in performance is noticeable between the 2.0 GHz and 2.4 GHz processor models of the MacBook?

    3. I have no need for FireWire or ExpressCard/34, so the port selection between the two is not of concern to me. However, is the difference in graphics performance enough to warrant a MacBook Pro purchase?

    4. Possibly my most pressing concern; is the screen on the MacBook of usable size? From my casual fiddling around, it looks pretty small. I'm used to a 14.1" 1400x900 display in a laptop - should I go for the 15.4" 1400x900 MacBook Pro display instead? I don't see a point in having a 1920x1200 17" display, so I'm only wondering the difference between those two.

    5. How much of a weight difference is there between the two? I know the figures, but how much of a practical, day-by-day difference is there in the two pounds separating them?

    Any advice or answers from people with experience with the new laptops would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much.
  2. nope7308 macrumors 65816


    Oct 6, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    To my knowledge, the difference between the two computers is 1lb, not 2lb. To properly answer all of your questions, we will need some indication of what you'll be using this computer for.

    In terms of general advice, I think the MBP is warranted only if you want a 15" screen and you're gaming or doing intense photo/video editing. A backlit keyboard should not be the deciding factor in your decision, but the higher end MBs do come equipped with it. In terms of portability, only you can decide whether a 15" screen and 1lb difference in weight is substantial. Remember to think about how many book you'll be carrying around as well (an additional 1lb may feel like 10lbs at the end of the day). You may notice a difference between a 2G and 2.4G processor, but that all depends on what you'll be using the computer for. That said, it's important to remember that the processor cannot be upgraded in the future (unlike RAM). You should also keep in mind that Snow Leopard (the next OS release) will be offloading some computing tasks to the GPU (so a better video card will result in better overall computing). In this respect, the MBP may be more of an investment - but again, this all depends on what you'll be using the computer for.

    So, my advice is to think about what your actual needs are, and then weigh the pros/cons of each (or come back and post very specific questions ;)). Good luck with the decision!
  3. Doodledoo thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2008
    Thanks, that helps. I was mainly going to be using the computer for occasional gaming and web browsing, but I hadn't really considered the possibilities Snow Leopard might bring as far as having a dedicated graphics card to work with. I think I'll be getting a Pro, then.
  4. GeorgeD macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2007
    I'm sure apple wouldn't make a a brand new laptop that would not be compatible with the new OS that is coming out. that would just be ridiculous. haha..

    well, my thoughts are that you don't really need the MBP and if screen size is your main issue, the regular MB actually isn't that small and I'm sure it will be really easy to get used to. I say get the high end model new MB. :)
  5. nope7308 macrumors 65816


    Oct 6, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    Obviously the MB is going to be compatible with SL, but the Macbook won't have the advantage of a dedicated card. Depending on how much (and what kind of) gaming the OP does, I think the MBP would be the better choice (apparently, money doesn't seem to be an issue). Additionally you get more screen real estate - it really depends on your needs.
  6. kenned macrumors member

    May 16, 2008
    1: I have the new macbook 2.0 without the backlit keyboard, when in rooms with decent amounts of light etc, it's not needed. but as soon as it's dark it gets impossible to read what the keys says, white on black isn't made for reading in the dark :(

    2: depends, i doubt that people would notice it if they didn't know which they one had.

    3: the 9400M in the macbook runs all games today, though in some games like crysis you might have to cripple the eye-candy ;)
    I ran TMNations Forever on my windows xp partition. High settings, 2x antialising, 1280*800 (native) resolution, gave me an average of 32 fps.

    4: I also used to have 1440*900 14.1" computer, i find that the MB screen isn't good for much more than 1 app at a time, so no running 2 apps next to eachother. Gorgeous display though, and isn't a bottleneck for using your computer. :)

    5: I carry my computer everywhere i go, but i wouldn't care about the 1 pound extra in my bag if i had a 2,1" bigger display.
  7. stanleyBE macrumors member

    Sep 22, 2008
    Snow Leopard will use the Nvidia 9400M as well. Not only discrete graphics.

    Only difference beyond size/weight/price is FireWire, ExpressCard and better graphics. And battery life will be a bit shorter on MB Pro.
  8. AboveTheChaos macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2008
    One thing to check into is whether the LCD is better with the Pro. When I went to the store, I was planning on getting the Macbook, but to me there seemed to be a difference in the screen quality. I played around with the Macbook and Macbook Pro and they even let me put them side by side. They couldn't tell me, though, if the Pro was definitely a better quality screen but even one guy said it looked better, even after we tweaked them for a while. I'm not saying that is the case but to me it looked like the Pro looked better. I wound up with the Pro because it just seemed like a better fit since it came with more (expresscard that I can use with my memory card reader, firewire so I could use my firewire hard drive if I wanted, and the better screen.)
  9. Paramecium macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2008
    I got the higher end MB with the light up keyboard and love it. I can't imagine not having it now.

    But it's definitely up to you, there isn't that much of a difference performance wise between the two MB's. It's almost like spending an extra $300 just for the keyboard... but I don't regret it at all. :D
  10. Doodledoo thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2008
    Alright, so, backlit keyboard yes. This eliminates the MacBook base model. I plan on upgrading the RAM, so I suppose proc speed isn't that big a deal (correct me if I'm wrong!). I would like to be able to run more than one app on the screen simultaneously; I'm used to 1920x1200 on my iMac, but I don't think it would be the end of the world if I couldn't. I plan on doing some graphics-intensive things, I suppose, but I think I could sacrifice some game settings. I've read the LCD is a lower-quality type of screen elsewhere and I've seen the proof (Gizmodo review) but I'm not too worried about that kind of thing. Hmm. Not so sure anymore.
  11. nope7308 macrumors 65816


    Oct 6, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    Well, it sounds like you know the facts, so now it's time to make a decision... :D
  12. Doodledoo thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2008
    Aagh, so much pressure, lol. Well, Best Buy has a great deal on the base MacBook Pro ($2050!, which is like $1740 US) but it's going to be maybe a month and a half before I can buy anything. With sales taxes, that's around $2300, and it still only has 2GB RAM. If the deal is over by the time I can purchase, it'll be probably too expensive for a while; taxes push the $2149 base with a RAM upgrade to about $2500... I'll think about getting a high-end MacBook with all the trimmings - that's about $2150. Hmm. Dammit, I'm just not sure. I need to go to the Apple Store to mess around with the different models before I really decide, though.
  13. redmeister macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2007
    if youre a student id say get the backlit since you'll have some late nights and such. plus its just a useful feature overall imo
  14. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    When I bought my MBP last April, the backlight seemed to be an attractive extra option, but was not a deciding factor in making the original purchase. However, having used it for half a year, I can say it is exceedingly useful and makes working in conditions of low light much easier. I'd certainly not wish to forego it now.
  15. Doodledoo thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2008
    Alrighty, I have a few new questions. Heh. Man I suck at deciding on things.

    Okay, so, has anybody tried playing Spore on their MacBooks (not Pros)? How crippled do the settings have to be for the game to run well (or even decently)?

    Also, I want to know how much screen real estate you really have on the MacBook. Is it possible to have more than one application running side-by-side? I'm not sure if it'll really stop me from buying one, but how much more is there on the Pro? Is there a marked difference?

    Lastly, how much of a pain in the ass is switching graphics modes on the Pro? I have heard the rumours that SLI and non-switching features are coming in 10.5.6. Also, will I be regretful if I buy the MacBook and end up wanting the Pro? How well can I return things? Can BTO things be exchanged for store credit? Is there really that big a difference between 2GB and 4GB of RAM in most situations? How much is DDR3 RAM to buy and self-install?

    Lastly lastly, I plan on buying my MacBook on Black Friday if I eschew the BTO model I wanted. How much of a discount might this get me?

    Thanks so much.
  16. jbrenn macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2008
    screen size

    i went from a 15.4 hp to a mb and the screen change did not bother me one bit. The smaller foot print is better for a student the desk at my college are narrow and many notebooks are hanging off the edge. thata does not happen with macbooks. I do not play games on my macbook. ddr3 is actually cheaper with the student discount. the cheapest i found was 140. i dont think bto can be returned at all.
  17. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    I second the statement that the MB screen looks terrible in comparison to the MBP screen.
  18. Doodledoo thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2008
    Thank you so much, that's what I needed to know. I think I'll just get the higher-end non-BTO model of the MacBook, install the RAM myself eventually and save a bundle. It's good to know that the difference in screens is little. That solidifies it! Huzzah, I've decided! Thanks, everybody.

    Alright, then just one more thing: how well does Spore run? I'm not changing my mind anymore but I'm just curious. Also, does anyone know what Apple's Black Friday discounts usually are?

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