Help on deciding 15 vs. 17" for design/filmmaking

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by designkf, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. designkf macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2009
    Hello all!

    I have been reading these forums for a while, but have yet to post! I am getting a new macbook pro for college. I currently have a white macbook and have used it taking all of my gen-ed classes but I need to get a pro for my majors (design and interactive media as well as digital filmmaking.) My question is if I should get the high end 15" pro or 17"? I am going to be using Final Cut Studio 2 and Adobe Design Premium CS4 along with After Effects CS4. I have a few questions...

    1) is there anyone out there using these programs that has a preference to the 15" or 17" pro? and why?
    2) i have heard that the matte display is better for design because the fact that the colors are more realistic, however after looking at the designs in person I prefer glossy... any opinions? Will glossy be a problem with the programs I am going to be using?
    3) Also, another concern with the matte... I am worried after apple not making the matte 15" option after the update today that they will soon do away with matte macs, and I would prefer to have an updated machine, as I plan to keep this till I complete my next 3 years of college and grad school. Any opinions?
    4) 2.8 vs 3.06? is there that much of a difference? I am thinking about getting the 3.06 being I want this computer to last for the next 5 years. Do you think the extra $270 is worth it?
    5) I really cant afford the SSD.. so my question is 500GB @ 5800 or 500GB @ 7200? is the 7200 that much faster? is it much louder?
    6) will 4GB be enough RAM? I def can't afford the extra $900 for 8GB...

    Thanks in advance for anyones help! I really appreciate it! :)
  2. bli625 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2009
    I recommend getting the cheaper model and getting a nice external monitor if you're going to be doing anything "color critical". That way, you have a smaller machine for on the go, and also a nice monitor if you were to sit down to do some work. If you really are going to keep this computer for 5 years, getting the 3.06 would probably be a good idea. The 2.8 is still plenty fast though. As for the hard drive, I would... get the cheaper one. In this case, the 500GB @ 5400RPM.. Wait a year, SSDS will be +500GB and the price will also be lower too. So when they get cheap enough, upgrade to an SSD and you'll notice a nice performance especially with the work you're doing.
  3. DooDaaDame macrumors member


    Mar 28, 2009
    On The Road-RV'er
    Yes, you do need a pro model. You need the biggest processor you can get.

    I am a 15 year vet at Digital Graphic Design. I need the 17" for pallet space. Photoshop, and many movie softwares need the real estate to have the capability to keep open many pallets and layers interfaces. Also you may have two or more programs running at the same time. I have imovie 09 and JES deinterlacer open and visible at the same time. This is my own personal preference, you may opt for the 15" because you have to haul it to class and try to balance it on a tiny desk.

    Go with what you like. I prefer "Anti-glare",(which is the correct term).

    Again, go with what you like.

    Yes. Get the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to video processing or photo work. The less time you spend rendering, the better.

    7200. You will also want a 7200 RPM external drive to house your large graphic and movie files attached by 800 firewire or eSATA. Do a search under eSATA to learn what you will need, or drop down to the Video or Audio forum on this site for more info. It's not any louder, your fans will make more noise.

    Go for the 4 GB, you can always add more later, most software I use don't use the 4GB up yet, but they will in the future.

    One thing you did not ask about is the move on future machines to the SD card slot rather than the existing express card slot. This is a big consideration, I use my express card slot to house an eSATA card which drives my external hard drives at speeds that are the same as writing to my internal Hard Drive. This is very important to film making. I am not aware of how the SD card slot will work in this respect, please do some research on this so you can make a more informed decision, Perhaps another GEEK can chime in on this one?HINT, HINT?

    I want to congratulate you on picking an excellent career choice. It is challenging and creative at the same time. It can take you places you never expected.
    Remember, these are my own opinions, do your research and spend some time talking to people who actually work in your field of interest. I recommend again you check out the specialty forums on this site concerning graphics, web page, video and audio, they can give you and idea of what you'll need for other external equipment, as well as giving you their own expertise. Also, visit businesses that actually do the kind of work you are studying for. They can, and will talk your arm off about what you should pay attention to in class, they work in the real world and have priceless experience to draw on.
    Good Luck!:)
  4. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    Go for the 17" with out a doubt, I have a 15" (Classic) MBP and I've become addicted to using my 22" external to edit on, 1440 x 900 simply isn't enough room to edit in properly.

    Mine also has a matte display and I'd say go for the matte option, it's better to have realistic colours, than a glaring display...

    I have 4GB RAM on mine and it's easily enough for FCP, I guess for HD video 8GB would be pretty handy, but I'm sure 4GB will do for a long time for now.

    Go for 2.8ghz, the 3.06ghz will not be a noticeable speed bump, unless you would be encoding video literally all day every day.

    Go for 500gb at 7200rpm, what you slightly lose in battery life, you easily make up for in performance, mine has a 5400rpm drive and it's a pain to see Garageband cut out mid recording because there's too many tracks and it can't access them all at once...

    Hope this helps.
  5. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
  6. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    17 strip out as much as you can (RAM and HDD basically) cause you can add those later.

    For video you want those SSD slots IMO as well as the dedicated graphics (FCS Color requires it) and the screen real estate is nice.
  7. designkf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2009
    Thanks so much everyone! i"m pretty sure I'm gonna go with the 17" 3.06 500GB @7200 :)
  8. modular macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2009
    That's a really nice machine! I plan on getting a 17" soon as well. The last laptop I had was a 15" PowerBook g4. I used it for maya, flash, photoshop, final cut pro, and after effects. The one thing that made it difficult was the screen resolution. There is just no space for all your pallets and your workspace with the 15" resolution. You'd want to have it pluged into a monitor most of the time if you got the 15.

    17 resolution is great, plenty of screen realestate for pallets!

    3.06 is about 9.3% faster than the 2.8 (correct me if I'm wrong on this). If this is correct, then a 10 minute render on a 3.06 will take 11 minutes on the 2.8. Doesn't seem like a big enough speed boost for $300, but you can't upgrade this later so if you have the money go for it.
  9. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Yes, as mentioned before, determine whether or not having an ExpressCard slot will be useful to you, because now, they only put them on the 17" model.

    Personally, I don't know what I'd do without mine when I have to work out in the field doing digital capture for Panny P2, RED, XDCAM, etc. I have FW800 (for having a second dedicated FW bus), eSATA and PCMCIA adapter cards I use frequently. The absence of an SD card slot on the 17" model shouldn't be viewed as a disadvantage, either. USB readers that support every card format under the sun are dirt cheap.

    Also, having the additional resolution afforded by the 17" display doesn't hurt, either.
  10. hd1080ts macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2004
    You want the 17inch, for the screen res, matte option and the ExpressCard slot.

    FCP in "two up" view is great on a 17inch and you can always use the extra speed and longer battery life.

    ExpressCard is very useful I have eSATA and FW800 cards, and is essential if you ever shoot with Sony EX1/EX3 SxS cards. I am currently shooting a lot of RED so need 2 x FW800 busses for fast data cloning on location.

    Matte screen, I had a glossy screen for a while on a MacBook Pro, great when indoors with normal lighting levels, go outside or in a brightly lit movie studio and it was a real pain, I swapped to a matte screen MacBook Pro the first chance I got.

    Get a backpack and it's not much hassle to lug around, I have a Brenthaven which is still going strong since I got it for my 17inch G4 Powerbook way back when they first came out.

    I just ordered a new 17inch with 3.06Ghz CPU, 500GB 7200rpm, 4GB ram. matte screen.

    Have fun.

  11. kasakka macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    I don't think the $300 extra is worth it for what is really a pretty minimal performance increase. I agree that an external monitor is the way to go, the Macbook displays are all 6-bit TN panels which means they're not suitable for anything that requires color accuracy.

    The smaller size will be nice when you have to move the Macbook around.

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