just purchased Macbook Pro, need some expert advise (RAM, Monitor, HDD)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jakeacc, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. jakeacc macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2008
    Hi everyone, this is my first post to the message board. Here is a little intro - you can skip to the 2nd paragraph for my questions. I've been reading MacRumors on a daily basis since August since I've been wanting to get a new laptop. The last Macintosh I owned was a Mac IIsi running Mac OS 8. I then spent several years in the PC world, but after changing career paths to motion graphics/animation/visual effects, I have returned from the "Dark Side". My job provides me with a very fast G5 tower, but I wanted a laptop to use nightly for casual stuff, and occasionally bring my work home with me. (using After Effects, Final Cut, 3D modeling) After no upgrades to the Macbook Pro line at Macworld, I decided that it wasnt worth waiting any longer since I've heard so many good things about the current MBPs.

    Last week, I purchased a 15 inch MBP with:
    - 2 GBs of RAM
    - 250 GB HDD @ 5400rpm
    - 2.6 MHz processor

    I'm not a expert at computers (especially Macs) so forgive me if my questions are silly or "noob"ish. Regarding the hard drive, I was going to purchase an external 2700rpm firewire drive that I would use for rendering my video projects to. (I'm hoping having the 5400rpm internal drive isn't going to make things slow since thats where the Applications are installed on) If you have any suggestions on firewire drives (in the 500 GB range), let me know.

    I definitely want to upgrade my RAM to 4 GBs, but didnt purchase it through Apple since their price was laughable. I've looked on neweggs.com and similar sites for Apple laptop RAM, but I'm not sure if it will be compatible, quality, or even a rip-off/bargain. If anyone has upgraded their RAM on their MBP, please provide a link to the exact model of RAM. (in the past, in the PC world, I've purchased RAM that seemed to meet all my computers requirements, but ended up buying the wrong type)

    More importantly, if my MBP came with 2 GBs, could I just buy 2 GBs from a 3rd party to get a total of 4 GBs? Or do i have to buy 4 GBs, and throw away (sell on craigslist) the 2 GB sticks that shipped with my laptop. I'm assuming its the latter.

    Lastly, while the 15 inch monitor is more than enough for surfing the web and checking email, when I need to get down into work-related matters (After Effects, Final Cut Pro), this will not suffice. At work, we have 24 inch Apple Cinema Displays which are beautiful and the perfect size. These are out of my price range, so I'm looking for a 24 inch monitor by another company that can give me similar quality. I don't know much about monitors so I'm not sure what to look for. (and why some 24 inches are 600 bucks and some are 200 bucks) I guess I could just use a DVI cable to extend or mirror my desktop to the 2nd monitor, but if there is a better option (i.e. being able to close the laptop and put it to the side and use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard), let me know.

    If any of you can answer any (or all) of these questions, I'll be very grateful. I did search the forum and found SIMILAR posts, but not exactly what I was looking for.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. noodle654 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2005
    Never Ender
    I just purchased a 2.2Ghz 15" myself and I love it.

    For all your Mac needs, the company OWC makes great firewire drives and great RAM for macs. Great company. You can purchase most things from them for a decent price.

    For RAM, anything that you can find will be good. I usually buy RAM from Crucial or OWC because they are well known and very reliable in the Mac community. I bought this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148087

    You can also buy http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/53IM2DDR4GBK/

    As for monitors, Dell makes some great screens (I think). I don't know exact product numbers.
  3. jakeacc thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2008
    Thanks for the prompt reply. That OWC link you posted states it would cost $99.00 for 4 GBs of RAM. Is that pretty much the average price these days?

    It also states that I could get $55 dollar rebate if I send them my old MBP two 1-GB sticks of RAM. 99-55 = $44 bucks That sounds reeeeeeally good. Has anyone tried their rebate program?
  4. gelatin macrumors 6502

    Sep 16, 2006
    where is a good place to sell the unused RAM? im not gonna do it with crucial cos last time i bought RAM, i got charged import/customs tax to get it from america :(
  5. techlover828 macrumors 68020


    Jun 28, 2007
    it says $20, although I imagine their program is good.

    from their website:

  6. mbp-wayne macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2008


    First, congradulations! You will enjoy the Macbook Pro.

    As for RAM, newegg is fine, and since the Macbook uses standard PC5300 SODIMMS, there are plenty of options too. You will need two 2G ram modules which should cost less than $150. I bought mine from newegg and they were the least expensive they had at the time (don't remember the brand, but the cost was about $115 for both). Mine were PC-5300 DDR2 generic SODIMMs. The original Apple are Samsung PC-5300 DDR2 SODIMMs. Leopard can make use of all 4G (unlike windows and previous versions of OSX).

    The internal HD will not have a great affect on your projects. With 4G of ram, there will be little need for swap space, and only the initial loading may be a little slower (than an internal 7200 rpm drive). However, the new high capacity (250, 320, and 500G 2.5" HD) 5400rpm drives are virtually as fast as the 'smaller' 7200 rpm drives. For an external, I would get a USB 2.0/Firewire drive (I have found that the firewire drives use less CPU cycles than the USB drives, and they are bootable as well).

    For an external monitor, get a good one. Don't be misled by advertising (there are many tricks used for contrast ratio and refresh). Personally, I like the Viewsonic and Samsung monitors. I bought a well spec'd house brand from one of the office stores and returned it the same day - it had a beautiful display and my photos looked almost 3D, but it did tear a little during video playback, so it would not be good for me. I am waiting until I see a good price on a Viewsonic or Samsung.

  7. pulsewidth947 macrumors 65816


    Jan 25, 2005
    LaCie do some nice external hard drives with Firewire 800 on. But they don't make their own HDs, only the enclosures, so if you don't like a particular brand of HD then you're out of luck. I own 4 LaCie drives and touch wood they have always been reliable.
  8. DavoMrMac macrumors 6502


    Oct 9, 2005
    For memory I would recommend Crucial, they have a system checker for the Mac now, so you are guaranteed compatible memory.

    For hard drives, I would take a look at the Western Digital My Book range, nice and quiet, I love mine.
  9. Freyqq macrumors 68040

    Dec 13, 2004
    for external hd, i would recommend firewire over usb2. In my experience with macs, it is just much faster. (My external drive has ports for usb and firewire and i've tried both)
  10. bijou macrumors regular


    Sep 7, 2007
    You'd be wise to keep the original RAM in case the laptop needs warranty work. Apple techs are known for blaming some unknown issues on user-replaced non-Apple RAM. Just throw it in before taking it to the geniuses and you've protected yourself against that issue.
  11. noodle654 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2005
    Never Ender
    Thats a good idea. On my old iBook they blamed cosmetic damage on my logic board and my Kingston RAM!! I called Apple after I got my iBook back from Flextronics and it was basically destroyed. I sent it back and they replaced the LB and told me my RAM was bad. On top of that the computer was a wreck. Flextronics sucks.
  12. andrewdale macrumors 6502a

    Jan 28, 2008
    Memphis, TN
    I don't think anyone has replied to this comment yet, so I'll do it. Pardon me, if I missed a reply.

    Your MBP that comes with 2GB of RAM actually comes with two 1GB sticks. So, in order for you to upgrade to 4GB, you'll need to buy two 2GB sticks. As the other poster said, I would recommend you keep the other RAM. You never know when you'll need it.

    Hope this helps a bit.
  13. jakeacc thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2008
    Thanks for all the helpful feedback. I was set on purchasing that OWC Ram that noodle posted, but a lot of you seem to prefer Crucial for some reason. I'll check that out.

    Good point about keeping the old RAM for warrenty reasons....I guess thats better than trying to make the $20 from trying to re-sell the old ram.

    Regarding external drives, I've always been told to stay away from LaCie drives. (this was 4 years ago) Maybe they've improved? I purchased a Mad Dogz 200 GB firewire/USB drive 2 years ago, and it only boots up about 50% of the time. It's a piece of junk. I need a very reliable drive since I'll be storing GBs and GBs of video footage, and if lost, could cost me clients. Is firewire still better than USB drives? I just read about USB3 that is supposed to be the fastest. (drives will probably be more expensive, though)

    I have another question, thats a little more oriented to my job. I use Adobe After Effects on a daily basis. I have been reading several complaints that once users upgrade their Quicktime to version 7.4, the ability to render quicktimes from After Effects results in an error. (apparently, this is due to the new iTunes rental service and DRM and it thinks rendering a QT from After Effects is an attempt to try to strip the DRM off the video) Here's the discussion:

    My MBP already shipped with the latest version of iTunes and Quicktime. I need to go back to 7.3. Can I just drop QT folder in the trash (how do you properly uninstall apps on a Mac) and search the web for an older version of QT. Think this will cause any problems?
  14. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    For backup of important projects, you should have 2 copies:
    burn a disk (for video I guess you can get external Blu-Ray), and have a copy on a harddrive.

    For video you should use eSATA card and eSATA drives, ideally a secure/fast RAID.

    On the MBP, since it was introduced way before quicktime 7.4 was released, you should be able to download previous quicktime and install over 7.4 (some files might have to be removed first though).
  15. Neil321 macrumors 68040


    Nov 6, 2007
    Britain, Avatar Created By Bartelby
    My MBP already shipped with the latest version of iTunes and Quicktime. I need to go back to 7.3. Can I just drop QT folder in the trash (how do you properly uninstall apps on a Mac) and search the web for an older version of QT. Think this will cause any problems?[/QUOTE]

    Most people use something like http://www.appzapper.com/
    to delete their unwanted stuff as it finds all the hidden files
    belonging to that app that you might miss

    Cant see a problem with going back to a older version of Quicktime
  16. jakeacc thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2008
    My only concern with going back to to an older version of QT is that the current iTunes may require it. I guess I could get an older version of iTunes as well. (as long as I dont have to re-download all my album art)
  17. jakeacc thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2008
    One of my questions that hasnt been answered yet is when I want to use my MBP to do video work, I want to use an external monitor, 3-button mouse, and a full keyboard. (wont be using the laptops screen, trackpad, or keyboard)

    So I could just plug all these accessories into my MBP and keep the laptop away from my work area, but I'd prefer a docking setup. (being able to close the laptop and still work)

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