Help a PC Veteran pull the trigger on a 17" MBP

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by justinellison, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. justinellison macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2009
    Hi everyone,

    I've been into PC's since my 12MHz 8086 (and that's if you had the turbo switch flipped). I'm a Unix sysadmin by trade, and I do a lot of development on the side. I've been administering Linux/Solaris for the past 10 years, and I know my way around Windows quite well.

    I've recently begun to play with OS X, and after checking out their MBP's, the build quality is pretty impressive. My old laptop needs replaced, so I'm going to be going with a 17" MBP.

    When I don't have 23 terminals open onscreen, I'll be running Eclipse, so screen real estate is a huge deal for me. I have a more than capable desktop with a 22" screen, so this laptop will be for on-the-couch development/administration and occasional travel.

    While I'm more than comfortable with PC hardware, I'd like some advice from the crowd on some Apple specific stuff.

    1. Glossy vs AntiGlare
      Any advice here? My Dell XPS M170 has glossy, and I kind of like it except for the fingerprints. My ThinkPad T61 is anti-glare, and it's okay. Generally, I watch video on my TV, not my computer. Which is best for fonts onscreen?
    2. Solid State vs SATA
      Any large files will be stored on my NAS over the network, so I don't have any large storage needs, 128GB is more than enough. Does the SSD increase battery life, or decrease heat output? Can I install my own SSD later on (I've worked on tons of laptops before) ?
    3. 7200RPM vs 5400RPM
      On my Dell, when I replaced my 5400RPM drive with a 7200RPM, there was a small noticable performance gain, but the thing about melted my lap! Is this the case with the MBP as well?
    4. 2.8GHz vs 3GHz
      For what I do, aside from some compiling, I don't think I'll notice 200Mhz x 2 cores difference in performance. However, how upgradable is it? Is the CPU board replaceable so that I can upgrade it myself after my warranty's expired, or is the whole thing soldered together in one massive board?
    5. Refurb vs New
      This looks like a no brainer to me. Are there any "gotchas" to buying a refurb? I also want to make sure that they change the model numbers between new and refurb, right? So, I have to compare features to makes sure I'm comparing apples to apples (punny, I know).
    6. AppleCare
      Is buying AppleCare off of eBay advisable? How about 3rd party licensed resellers like MacMall? Or is it best just to go through Apple?
    7. Hardware-Only AppleCare?
      I know my way around OS's, and can get myself out of any software problems I might run into. Is there a hardware-only option to AppleCare, or do I get the software phone support no matter what?

    Sorry for the long list, and if I'm missing a FAQ that contains all this somewhere, feel free to flame me while pointing me in the right direction.

  2. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    1. Everyone's different and has different preferences. I'd stick with what your last laptop was personally.
    2. SSD does save battery, produce less heat, increase read/write speeds.
    3. Get SSD if 128G is large enough. Macbook Pros run hot.
    4. From what you're saying, seems like 2.8 is plenty. Use the savings for the SSD.
    5. They're no catches or tricks with refurbs. Get it if they have the config you want.
    6. For laptops I think Applecare is very advisable. It's paid for itself after a fan and speaker went out on mine. Everyone thinks different - prepare for a large debate.
    Also, save yourself money and get AppleCare from MacMall or Amazon.
    Save yourself more money by buying from Ebay - look for a seller that will send you the complete box, not just a code through email.
    7. It's an all or nothing deal. Applecare is basically for the hardware - the phone support is an added bonus.

    Best of luck - as I stated before, MBPs run hot, so be careful about running it on your lap without protection.;)
  3. fehhkk macrumors 6502a


    Jun 11, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    Are you mechanically inclined? If so, you can upgrade the hard drive yourself to a faster/larger capacity one. It really is a piece of cake.

    In terms of the screen, book an appointment at an Apple store, or go to one and play with the display units they have there, that should give you a good idea of the size, and other features that you might want.
  4. bntz313 macrumors 6502

    Jul 11, 2007
    once you go mac you never go bac :D

    I've made to switch 2yrs ago and love every minute. Everything just seems easier
  5. deneenco macrumors member


    Dec 14, 2007
    A2, MI
    I own one of the last unibody 17" 2.66 macbook pro's, I have the glossy screen.

    as for temp, my experiences have been great with the new uni-17. My 17" MBP runs very cool actually. My previous laptop was an original Core2Duo 2.33 15" MBP, it tended to run HOT.

    The Glossy/Glassy screen looks great if there is no light directly behind you (as you'll see in an Apple store with ONLY over-head lighting). I had a glossy iMac in my office, and never ONCE was distracted by reflections, and loved the deep colors/vibrance of the screen (only had over head lighting, or a small desk lamp on), so I bought the 17" with the glossy screen. I'm learning that it was a mistake, when sitting on my sofa, there is a floor lamp directly behind me which causes a pretty terrible reflection when it's on.... in retrospect I wish that I had gotten the matte screen (I dont want to have to re-decorate my entire living room around my laptop).

    I dont want to kick off a huge debate about glossy screens vs. matte screens here, this is JUST my observation after owning both. If the laptop is sitting ONLY on my desk in my office, the screen is fantastic, and I'd not even consider matte... unfortunately I tend to use it more while sitting on my sofa where the reflection is a real bummer.
  6. justinellison thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2009
    Yeah, I've replaced screens, hinges, system boards, you name it (I worked for a repair shop 15 years ago, and build/repair my own ever since).

    Can I replace the 5400RPM with my own SSD?
  7. emptyCup macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2005
    There are no gotchas about a refurb that couldn't happen with a new machine and are not covered by the warranty. Occasionally people get more than they pay for but usually you can't tell it is not new.

    There are too many eBay horror stories for me. I would buy Applecare from LA Computer or Amazon. Best wishes.
  8. Branskins macrumors 65816

    Dec 8, 2008
    You can purchase the AppleCare up to a year after your initial purchase correct? You don't have to buy it right away if I can remember.

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