Help deciding what MacBook to go with (edging towards 15")

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by CFoss, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. CFoss, Feb 26, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011

    CFoss macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I've been using several apple products over the past few years, and they've nearly all been great computers. However, after spending a year in university, I think it's time I delved into a MacBook. Problem is, I'm not sure what model I should get.

    For the past year, I've been using the family iPad (64GB, 3G) for the most part. It's been... okay. It's amazing to read on, and being able to use the Internet anywhere has come in handy several times. I love how weightless it is, and how it feels like I'm carrying nothing in my backpack, which is handy due to the fact that I have to walk all over campus on a regular basis. However, its simplicity makes it difficult to take notes, especially in my music classes (copying music citation into Pages, etc). I might not be able to use the iPad as much in the following year, as it's the "family" iPad... which is fine by me. I might be purchasing an iPhone to replace it... but anyway, getting back on topic.

    At home, I have a Mac Pro. I am a music composer, who uses Logic Pro on a regular basis (with almost a TB of EWQL virtual instruments installed). My Mac Pro slightly struggles at times, even with its decent specs (posted below). As a hobby, I often play video games (Team Fortress 2, Just Cause 2, etc) though not as often as I used to. I suppose it would be nice to be able to have the ability to play them... which kind of leaves me with no choice other than the 6750M.

    I suppose what I'm trying to ask is this: What MacBook do you think I should get? Should I go with the portable 13" MacBook? I'm not so sure on the low resolution... I'm pretty sure Logic would have to hide some of the (vital) track information being limited to around 750 pixels of height. I assume the Quad-Core i7 is better than the Dual-Core, even at the slower speed of 2.2GHz/2.3GHz. I just hope the 15" isn't too heavy.

    I also have a few spec questions, assuming I go with the high-end 15":

    Is the .1 GHz boost really worth $225? It seems pretty expensive...

    RAM, I assume I should go with 4GB, and purchase 8GB from OWC? It's where I got the RAM for my Mac Pro.

    Hard Drive... hmmmm... now this is pretty interesting. On one hand, $90 extra for an SSD Hard Drive is a pretty nice deal. However, I know I have a LOT more data than that. I use 150GB in music alone on my Mac Pro. Is everything needed? No, but I'd be lying if I said I feel comfortable leaving things off of it. Not to mention that we haven't even started talking about the applications and games themselves. I'm wondering if an external hard drive could make up for it later down the road. Heck, a Thunderbolt External SSD Hard Drive would work pretty nicely, don't you think? And even if I was to go with the stock 750GB/500GB HDD, I'd still not fit the EWQL library on there.

    Display, I'm pretty set on going with the Antiglare Hi-Res screen. Reflections just bother me so much, and for vivid images, I'll have my TV/Display/Monitors at home.

    AppleCare: Is it worth it for $299? My guess is, "Yes". Things often go wrong with portable computers, it's just their nature. If I was to damage what I have setup so far, I'd be spending a LOT of money to fix it.

    Mini DisplayPort to DVI/Dual-Link DVI Adapters: I assume I should at least get the DVI adapter to connect to the TV/Monitor at home. Even with the new Thunderbolt Monitors down the line, I'm still set on getting a standard TV, which won't likely have a Thunderbolt port for a while.

    I will need to purchase a printer, but I have no idea if I should go with any of the printer bundles. I think I'm going to leave it for later, and see if I can get ahold of a laser printer.

    What a long winded post. Congrats if you made it down here. Thanks for reading, and hopefully you'll have a bit of advice for me. :3


    Mac Pro specs:
    CPU: 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    RAM: 14 GB 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM
    GPU: nVidia 8800 GT
    HDD 1: 750 GB, 7200 RPM
    HDD 2: 1 TB, 7200 RPM
     
  2. Neolithium macrumors 6502a

    Neolithium

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    #2
    No
    Best bet is aftermarket and install yourself.
    Go with an aftermarket drive that is 7200RPM and has the capacity you need. SSD's are great but from what you describe it would be a waste having to sacrifice a number of things for the performance boost. I'm partial to WD Scorpio Blacks.
    Applecare is worth it.

    Just my 2 cents :)
     
  3. iPhone1 macrumors 65816

    iPhone1

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    #3
    You can always wait until a few days before your Applecare is up to buy another two years worth from Apple (or Amazon!). That way you don't have to spend that $299 right this second.:D
     
  4. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

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    #4
    Just a note, but once you get into the territory of the high-end 15" Pro with high-res screen, the jump in price to the 17" machine isn't much. So it might be worth taking a good look at the bigger machine. It will be heavier and less convenient, but for doing Logic on the go you might appreciate the additional screen space enough to make it worthwhile.

    But if you do decide to stick with the 15" one, then get the high-end model with high-res screen and don't look back. It's not cheap, but imo the best portable Mac Apple's ever sold...
     
  5. CFoss thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Thanks guys. :D

    Wow, you weren't kidding when you said the price difference between the 15" high-res and 17" wasn't much. $150... hmm... and I was so close on deciding on the 15" too. :S

    What does everyone think? Little less portability, for the large screen?
     
  6. inertiadriftsc macrumors newbie

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    Mar 4, 2010
    #6
    I love the 15" personally. It's about the right size and weight, fits perfectly in my backpack(I have a padded case thing built into my backpack so I can ride my bike with it so larger laptops don't fit). Also, the high-res screen is perfect for me for doing development work, though I don't know what your preferences are in terms of screen real estate for Logic Pro. Personally, I use the 15" as my portable development box when I don't want to be sitting in front of my desktop and it's a perfect size for just plopping down on a sofa or chilling outside and getting some work done.

    Edit: Definitely go with the upgraded 15" with high res screen if you go with the 15" definitely worth it.
     
  7. Neolithium macrumors 6502a

    Neolithium

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    #7
    This is 100% up to you. I personally hate the 17" size of a notebook, however others have no issues with it. It all boils down to the preferences of the user :)
     
  8. ddoolin0 macrumors regular

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    Feb 24, 2011
    #8
    It is pretty gigantic. Not too mention not as many bags have the option of fitting the large screen.

    13 or 15 is perfect for me.
     
  9. iPhone1 macrumors 65816

    iPhone1

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    #9
    Had a similar dilemma last year. I ended up sending a tweet to Gruber asking him whether or not I should get the 17" over the 15". He said get the 15" because of portability and it's just better.
     
  10. CFoss thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I think I'm edging towards the 15". It might only be $150 for the extra 2", but I think it starts to become TOO big after 15". The key advantage of the 17" is the resolution is perfect for a screen (1920x1200 is probably one of my favourite resolutions for screens at the moment).

    Also, I'm still debating on what hard drive to get. It WOULD be nice to go with an SSD hard drive for once, and I can always update to a larger SSD later. I can then move the 128GB SSD into my Mac Pro (with the 2.5" to 3.5" converter provided by OWC).

    So this would be my final setup:

    MacBook Pro 15-inch Hi-Res Antiglare Widescreen Display [add $150]
    2.2GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7
    4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB - upgrade to 8GB via OWC
    128GB SSD [add $90]
    Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter [add $35]
    AppleCare Protection Plan [add $300]

    Comes to $2607.00. Pretty expensive, but man it's a nice setup. Once I add taxes and other things, it'll probably add up to $3000... oh well. Just to quickly add, this is with an educational discount, and I live in Canada.

    Thanks again. :D
     
  11. Neolithium macrumors 6502a

    Neolithium

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    #11
    Could always get the SSD & RAM from NCIX, my favourite Canadian e-tailer :D I've always loved their pricematching and quick shipping throughout the country.
     
  12. auero macrumors 65816

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    #12
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I don't understand how some think the 17 is gigantic. I have both at the moment and love my 17". I do design work so it's much easier to work on and it's not much bigger...

    A 15 on top of a 17 http://twitpic.com/4477np/full
     
  13. 8000rpm macrumors regular

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    #13
    Personally I only look at the 13 and 17. the 17 fits in all PC backpacks for 15" size its actually that much smaller than pc machines. If the 15 had the 1900x1200 screen (which is F'n GLORIOUS) I would go 15 all the way but the 17 has the way better screen and is only slightly bigger. I could never spend only 100 less and opt for the lower resolution and smaller screen size.
     
  14. 8000rpm macrumors regular

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    #14
    ncix sell macbooks? do they offer student discounts and will they install ssds prior to shipping?
     
  15. Prodo123 macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

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    #15
    Since you're used to the high-end Apple products (Mac Pro, 64GB iPad+3G), the 13" MacBook Pros will feel slow. Although they are Sandy Bridge, they are dual-core as opposed to quad-core, which deliver around 1.8 times the performance of the dual core. Also, no dedicated GPU means slower graphics. Personally, using an IGP is unbearable for me. Get a 15" MacBook Pro.
    Don't get the 2.3 Ghz CPU, 0.1Ghz is NOTHING. Spend that money on the high-resolution screen from the Apple Online Store, and spend the leftovers on aftermarket 1333Mhz DDR3 SDRAM.
    As for a hard drive bump, yes Apple has lowered the upgrade prices to a more reasonable point. However, aftermarket hard drives always outperform and outprice the Apple counterpart. I personally use a Seagate Momentus XT, which is a 7200RPM hybrid HDD with 4GB of SSD storage for improved performance. Sure, it's 500GB, but if that's too small then get the Scorpio Black.
    Finally, the high-end and the low-end 15" have different GPU and GDDR5 RAM amounts. If you're a professional gamer, video/movie producer, etc then you could most likely get away with saving a lot of bucks with the low-end 15" MBP.

    RECOMMENDED:
    Low-end 15", no CPU bump
    Aftermarket RAM to 8GB
    Aftermarket HDD boost
    Hi-res screen
     
  16. Neolithium macrumors 6502a

    Neolithium

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    #16
    They don't sell Macbooks, the only online place I know of that does was Compu2000; however NCIX has plenty of SSD's and RAM which works well with Macs. I don't believe in paying the Apple prices for RAM & HDD/SSD upgrades.
     
  17. CFoss thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
  18. Prodo123 macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

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    #18
  19. Lloydehhh macrumors member

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    #19
    Not sure about the US, as I live in UK, but isnt Apple Care for students dirt cheap?
     
  20. Lann macrumors member

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    #20
    I also live in the UK, and as a student, i will be getting the 3 year Apple Care for free. speak to someone at your uni about if you would also get it free
     
  21. CFoss thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
  22. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

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    #22
    The 0.1 GHz clock is misleading; it boosts higher, difference = more.
     
  23. CFoss, Feb 27, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011

    CFoss thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #23
    From what I've read, there's an increased cache size, etc... but according to the benchmarks tests, there isn't enough of a difference to warrant an extra $225.

    Edit: I think I'll look for a Vertex 3, 240GB. It'll have the best speed performance and size ratio for me.
     

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