Graphic Designer needs help with purchase decision.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by RustyMac, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. RustyMac macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2007
    Finally the new MBPs are here and I am long due for a new system. I am having a heard time in deciding what would be a good set up for my freelance design business. Here are is what I been thinking:

    Choice 1:
    -15" 2.5 MBP (middle model)
    -20" or 23" display (be purchased later)
    **But, I am not sure what type of screen to go with, Glossy or Matt?

    Choice 2:
    -24" 2.8 Extreme iMac (refurb)
    -2.4 Black MB (new model)
    **Obviously glossy screen is the only option. Also, can only purchase one system for now.

    Choice 3:
    -24" 2.8 Extreme iMac (refurb)
    -2.2 MP (previous model)
    **This system will cost me the same as the MBP with a display.

    I will be using this for Graphic Design work both print and web. I have a small design studio where I do my work. I am not sure what screen (glossy or matt) is better. I figure it would be nicer to work on an iMac as my main computer and then use the laptop (MB) for displaying the work to my clients if I visit them but then again it is only a 13" screen.

    Most of my communication to my clients is email and cell phone. I am not sure if I would get tired of working on a laptop all day in my studio or if having both (iMac & MB) would be smarter, having two separate machines in case one where to get damaged or stolen.

    So the question is, which system set up and what to purchase first, laptop or iMac. Would the laptop be better first since the iMac are sure to be updated very soon? Sorry for so much detail. Go easy on me, I haven't purchased a new Mac in a long time.
  2. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    Based on what you are saying your needs are, I would recommend the Mackbook Pro, mid model with an external monitor. I'd also get an external keyboard and mouse so that when you have it home docked* it will be just like an iMac from an ease of use perspective. Then, you don't have to worry about transferring your files over, you can just unplug everything and present to your clients on the same computer, on a very nice, matte screen. One computer fulfills all your needs. I'd also check out the great deals in the refurb store right now on a 2.4 MBP for $1649.

    *(I starred that because there is no true docking station - I mean that the keyboard, mouse, monitor, and possibly extra storage devices are plugged into the macbook pro)
  3. RustyMac thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2007
    But what about that 2.8 Extreme?

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I am a grad student and can get the discount.
  4. amac4me macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2005
    I suggest option 1 as you'll regret if you don't get the "extra" features in your portable. Overall, the MBP will offer you more flexibility from a use perspective.

    When you have a MBP you won't even think of needing an iMac for your work. Besides, connecting an external display is very easy to do with the MBP.
  5. RustyMac thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2007
    I am leaning toward option 1 (MBP w/matter screen, and display). Is there much of a speed difference between the 2.4 and 2.5? Also, what are the pros and cons of the 15" and 17" screens.

    I have heard from people who have the 17" that they love it but other have said it is very large to carry around and is more fragile due to the wide measurement. I have also heard that the screen flexes more than the 15" when you open and close it. Any experiences? It is a lot more money though.
  6. surferfromuk macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2007
    Whatever you do make sure the MBP has the LED screen - Once you've seen one side by side a standard Gen LCD you simply will not believe such a difference is possible.
  7. apple4mark macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2008
    Northampton UK
    I used my G4 1.67ghz 17" Powerbook for all my work with an external 23" Apple HD Display for three years and the flexibility was great as I have everything in one location when at home or at a client, You won't regret buying the New MBP with an external display and go for plenty of ram and HD space.
    Importantly, I would go for the 17" with High Res matte MBP for color accurate when viewing pictures and also have more room to work around.
    I have just ordered my new MBP 17" as well as buying a Mac Pro 8 core 2.88 with 2 500gig HD and 8gig ram and 512mb graphic card, I have the 23" HD display and waiting for a revision for a 30"
    These have serve me very well and my G4 1.67ghz 17" is in immaculate condition, I carry it everyday back and forth, in and out, it hardly marked and thanks to the fantastic Booq Vyper sleeve as they are worth it for greater protection!;jsessi...4Pa38Ta38Rc3r0?it=A&id=99&sc=13&category=-113
  8. apple4mark macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2008
    Northampton UK
    I have heard from people who have the 17" that they love it but other have said it is

    I don't have problems carrying it around, guess I'm a fit strong man and it make you fitter too!
    It's the first impression that my client loved when they see my !7" come to life!
    Believe me they love it and I bought another MBP 17" yesterday so it goes to prove I love it!
  9. Kinetic macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2007
    The 17" is really nice for the extra viewing space especially when working with Photoshop and Illustrator. If you don't mind carrying it around it's great.
    As for the screen, I'd advise against anything that is glossy as it won't give you a good representation of the color. My buddy who is a graphic designer showed me some stuff he designed and it looks different on my glossy screens compared to his and his print outs. Also, you might want to consider getting something to calibrate the monitor.
  10. RustyMac thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2007
    Now you guys got me thinking about a 17" MBP. It would be nice to have such a large screen. I wondering about the refurb models and save some money but those new LED screens and the High-res option. ahhh! :confused:

    To make this clear, the new 2.5 MBP are faster than the 2.8 Extreme iMacs?
  11. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Refurb 17" MBP with high res matte screen with 1920 x 12XY resolution (any processor speed).
    Choose a Dell monitor later.

    Your clients would love to see your work on a 17" laptop, not a 13.3", and not the slightly bigger 15". ;)

    I don't think processor speed will be the limiting factor for you with a new or refurb 17" MBP. Just make sure you get 3 GB of RAM or more, an external harddisk as a backup, and you'll be fine.
  12. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    I would still stick with the 15" model with a planned usage of a desktop 23" or 30" monitor.

    The new 2.5MBP are not faster then the 2.8 Extreme iMacs, but don't worry, they are plenty fast. There is no reason to buy two systems for what you are describing, it'll just make it more difficult to move your files back and forth.
  13. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
  14. notnek macrumors 6502


    Oct 25, 2007
    I suggest either the MBP with external display or an iMac. I did graphic design on my Macbook for 2 years before I could get an iMac and it sucks working on a small screen.
  15. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    Hi, I would say buy the 24" iMac FIRST. I am a professional designer who has a bunch of macs, but now do most of my work on a white previous generation iMac. It sounds like you are set up the same way as I am, I have a small studio and almost all my client interaction (beyond the initial meeting) is done via cell & email. Most meetings are a waste of time for both parties IMO, beyond the necessary client stroking at least. It is nice in theory to show material on a laptop, but unless you are demo'ing a website I would advise against it. If you want to show something tangible use printed mock-ups instead.

    If you are leaning towards refurbs, I would say choose a previous gen white 24". You are limited to 3gb, which is sufficient (4gb is better, like the alum ones can have). The upside is the screen which is matte, and I think has a better video card. There is a TON of whining over the glossy screens they added, my personal thought is most of the whiners have not tried calibrating the screens with an external hardware calibration device (probably the same ones who go on about a single dead pixel... is this REALLY a reason to send a computer back?? Besides there are software fixes to try an remedy that...). I worked many many years on high end CRTs (all of which were glass & glossy) and I lived to tell the tale....If you are tight on space you will appreciate the extra foot or desk room by not choosing a pro box. Ignore the rants of expandibilty & longevity, as they don't make too much sense... you will need/want to replace your computer in 4 years anyway, would you rather replace a 2500 one, than a 6-7k pro? (my caveat is if you are doing a lot video editing a pro is pretty much the machine you will need). Hang a couple of TB external drives, and you are in business.

    I have an uncle who teaches at MIT and travels quite a bit. He has a pro with a keyboard and screen for home, and likes his setup a lot. I however could not work that way. If 95% of your productive work time is at home in your studio I would choose the iMac..

    Recommended purchases beyond CS Suite & Quark, are Snapz ProX which is a very handy screenshot utility. It lets you proof things quickly, I also use compressed PDFs for multi-page docs... but screenshots are perfect for individual ads & projects. iPhoto is killer simple and great to manage project images. If you have a large archive Aperture is less intuitive but way more powerful, I find I am cleaning/adjusting more images in Aperture than pshop (it's way faster). You will need some sort of font management software if you have a large collection of fonts, I use Suitcase Fusion, which is buggy and a little bit sucky (it just sucks a little less than other products IMO). Font management is still a nightmare/headache, and it has always been so. You must calibrate your screen, I use the Spyder Pro (125-199) and found it easy & quick (my screen is simply dead-bang on for prepress purposes). Buy 2 printers, a laser printer for most things or initial internal proofing. I have an HP with some extra ram added and duplexing, HPs in my experience are trusty workhorses that will run 7-10 years of heavy use. You will need a color printer, prepare yourself for endless expensive replacement of ink cartridges (even with you laser printer handling most of your printing). I have 2, an Epson for tabloid and more accurate proofings which is frankly dog-slow, and a newer Canon which only handles 8.5x11, but spits color pages out at a blistering speed. If printing files from Pshop, always print from the "print from preview" option as opposed to just "print". Print calibration is the only thing suckier than font management, but I find print with preview usually works better than most solutions. Keep your ink-brand and paper stocks consistant, as the results will vary greatly with each seemingly minute change... and you are after consistency.

    I am about to add another iMac as a workstation... personally I am hoping for a 30" to come out, and yes it will be easy to get over the glossy screen... good luck. michael
  16. rlnhrt macrumors newbie

    Jul 17, 2006
    this is off-topic, but have you tried Linotype's Font Explorer? it's free and i am so happy with it, i have thousands of fonts and am always activating and deactivating lots of fonts and it does it perfectly.

    And returning to the main topic, i would get option 3, i agree that if you are going to be working most of the time in your studio, it's much better just have the iMac (if you can wait for the next revision, would be better); you get about the same power as the MBP but for a fraction of the price.

    And for the presentations with the clients you only need to copy the files that you need for the presentation, you don't need to backup EVERYTHING, just what you are gonna need, and for presentations you'll be fine with a basic laptop (such as the MacBook)

    as for the 13" screen, yeah, maybe a 17" would be much impressive, but what it's important is that your work is what will impress the client, not the screen ;)
  17. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    I did try it briefly, but found Suitcase a bit more functional for my situation. Gripes are, autoactivation pretty much sucks or does not work (it ATM worked better in OS9). I produce publications and have to have a large number of fonts active during production periods, when the fonts are activated it takes FOREVER for Suitcase to initialize, and even to quit. It took awhile for me to realize that it was painfully chugging away, as opposed to being frozen. It is more "stable" than ATM was, but that is about it. I cringe anytime I get an ad with a particular flavor of Helvetica, as that font seems to cause the most issues (and too many designers love to use it, maybe it's because it is the default font??).

    I agree with waiting for the new ones to come out too, even if you are buying a refurb as the prices on those will drop further. I think they just dropped 400.00 more on the refurb 24"s yesterday...

    If you are not doing a lot of video, you will be pleased with your 24" iMac... I work on large publications, huge pshop files for billboards, etc. with NO problems. I have to say my white 24 is one of the best computers I have had over the years, and I expect the new ones to be better...

  18. RustyMac thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2007
    I appreciate everyones suggestions and opinions.

    As I mentioned earlier, I have a small studio where I do my work but now things are changing and one of my clients is letting me share part of his studio in NYC four days out of the week so I can meet with my other clients and do work as well. This is making me lean more towards and laptop and I can keep a display at both my studio and the NYC studio. I do like the iMacs though but I am not crazy about the glossy screen.
  19. rozwell macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2004
    Just my 2¢...

    At my 9 - 5 I have a 2.4 MBP and at home I have a 2.1 white iMac where I do all my freelance work. I have to say performance and feature wise, the iMac owns. It feels like a real machine, not some little toy and its nice to have a bunch of USB and Firewire for all my external drives, printers and scanner and not have to more things (USB and another couple cords to junk up my setup). I understand your situation though, so how about this.

    Go with choice 2 and leave your iMac at the place you will spend the most time and keep the MB at home, your other studio, on the run, etc...

    And one other thing I absolutely hate about the MBP is its metal construction. I have had g4 aluminum powerbooks and now a MBP and they all bend and for a $2000+ machine to bend like some cheap piece of metal after a few trips in my bag ticks me off to no end. (specifically the display, when closed, an obvious slant to one side always develops)
  20. Brianstorm91 macrumors 65816


    Sep 30, 2007
    Cambridge, UK
    I have a PowerBook for portability and will be getting an iMac to keep at home :)
  21. RustyMac thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2007
    quick question, is the previous 17" 2.6 MBP (or refurb) faster than the just released 17" 2.5 MBP?
  22. Grokgod macrumors 6502a


    Feb 26, 2002
    Deep within the heart of madness!
    Here is my buck fifty worth.

    I would get an iMac when there is an update soon.

    Better graphics card hopefully and more screen real estate.
    A larger screen is very important when working on graphics and you can use print outs to show clients.

    But print outs do not help with Flash sites or animation!

    MBP with an external screen is an great solution but is it cost effective?

    SO I say iMac, large screen with enough power and no heat under your fingertips.

    When you make some money at your job you get a MBP,

    Oppps forgot about the BAD glossy screens!

    Forget it! MP and an LCD from Samsung. Thats the best bet.

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