Macbook? Macbook Pro? I don't know what to buy!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by feelthefire, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. feelthefire macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    #1
    Okay, here's the dilemma. I have approximately $2000 to spend on a new computer. I currently have a very nice PC laptop, 1.86GHz Pentium M with FireGL V5000 graphics card, 1Gb ram, port replicator, high res screen. It works great on a desktop connected to a second monitor, but it's a bit bulky to tote around (though all told it is not much larger than a MBP.) It was bought in 2005, and has a year of warranty remaining.

    But I've been after a mac for like 6 years and now I have the money. I'll be going back to school for my third year in college in about a month, so by the time whatever I buy is 2 years old it will be time for graduation presents and a replacement for my windows laptop can be had.

    I use my computer for predominantly internet, some word processing, DVD watching, movie ripping, that kind of thing. I don't game, really. I think somewhere I have a copy of the sims 2 but I'm not into WoW, Halo, HL2, or any of that. I do use a lot of microsoft excel and a windows specific program, but I'm happy to use bootcamp, or just use my other computer, since it works fine.

    I'm looking at either the black macbook or the bottom end MBP. There's a $400 difference between the two.

    My concerns are:
    the macbook screen is really small, but there's something to be said for portability, and I've never had a computer with an integrated graphics card. All my computers have been high end that have been passed down from my software developer father after a year of use. I assume it's absolutely fine, but I want to be sure that I'm not taking a MAJOR downgrade if I buy the macbook.

    And the macbook pro has all the newer technology, like the SR chips and LED displays.

    Battery life is a big deal to me, so whichever gets better battery life (with wifi on and iTunes running) might be the winner. In an ideal world I'd get 4+ hours out of my computer. Five would be rediculously awesome. My current one gets about 3 hrs with wifi on and music playing.

    So I guess it comes down to which computer gets better battery life and is more "future proof" since I'd like to keep this computer 3 years or more.

    HELP! I am going to the store today to talk to a genius and put the two side by side. I assume the MBP might be better for the future, but at $1800 it is getting close to my budget and I don't have a lot of wiggle room for software, etc.
     
  2. iBunny macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #2
    I chose the Pro, and havent looked back.

    The faster you buy now, the longer it will last. Also, the pro is much nicer in terms of build quality and looks. Plus the Keyboard and 15'' screen makes life much better.
     
  3. on777 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #3
    I am a first time Mac owner. I purchased the black MacBook and after three days of using it, I exchanged it for the MacBook Pro. I just could not get used to the small screen size, but over all love OS X now. I cant believe I waited this long to make the switch. Best is go to the store and compare them and if you want the MBP, you better hope they are in stock. As far as software goes, ever heard of newzbin:D? Good luck, which ever one you purchase, you will not be disappointed.
     
  4. dcv macrumors G3

    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    #4
    You say you're a college student and you haven't listed any particular heavy-duty applications. You don't really "need" the Pro. A MacBook would suit you just fine. It's slightly smaller for you to carry around with your books etc plus you'd also save money and benefit from far better wireless reception and I think slightly better battery life.
     
  5. feelthefire thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    #5
    I don't really do anything graphics intensive. I stream a lot of video for my job but that's more the internet connection than anything else.

    I do need good wifi reception as I almost exclusively use wifi.

    I keep coming back to the black macbook but I've never had a computer that small and I worry a little bit about the integrated graphics...and then I see the macbook pro and it's so shiny and I just want it...but I'm just not sure about the $400 price difference. I do feel a little weird about buying old technology in the MB when the MBP has new stuff that's only just coming out in PC laptops.

    I don't tend to bring my computer to class much since I'm a pen and paper kinda gal but I do travel and work on planes, where having some extra screen would be nice if the weight is almost the same...
     
  6. dwsolberg macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2003
    #6
    Choices

    I've used both, so here are my thoughts:

    1. The wireless reception on the MacBook Pro is just fine. Don't make that a big factor.
    2. Battery life on the MacBook is better than the Pro by probably 45 minutes to an hour (three hours vs. four)
    3. Both screens are bright and clear. The smaller MacBook screen generally worked fine for me.
    4. The MacBook Pro holds 4 GB of memory vs. 2 GB for the MacBook. This actually makes a difference in speed if you're running Parallels for Windows. (Actually, the MacBook can hold 3 GB of memory, but video performance suffers slightly and Apple doesn't support the configuration.)
    5. The video card in the MacBook Pro is much better than the MacBook, but it only makes a huge difference in games or in programs like Aperture that take advantage of the card.
    6. The MacBook has an easy-to-replace hard drive, which is really nice because hard drives are getting much bigger lately.
    7. The build quality of the MacBook Pro is better, but the MacBook takes a beating a lot better. The Pro tends to dent very easily. With either one, you'll want some type of case.

    In the end, you're going to be happy with either one. I got the MacBook Pro because of the ability to hold 4 GB of memory and because the LED backlight screens are supposed to keep their brightness for longer.
     
  7. on777 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #7
     
  8. DealMinded macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    #8
    First off, a few things to remember: you can get an education discount, students currently get a Nano with purchase, and you get a $100 printer rebate. (I'm not DealMinded, for nothin')

    Given your specifications, I'd get the Macbook (which is most definitely NOT a major downgrade from a MBP), unless you were thinking of getting a 17" MBP. Don't worry about the video chip; you said yourself you won't be putting a lot of stress on it. Do, however, max out the RAM (to save money, get the minimum RAM from Apple or one stick of the max amount and get both/the other stick from newegg or the like - figure out if it's cheaper throwing a stick away and buy two new ones, or upgrading the one stick and buying another third party). This will increase performance, allow you to run many apps at the same time, extend the computer's life, and also aid video performance. For what you're doing, this will last you many, many years to come running 10.4/10.5 and probably even 10.6/10.7. (I have low-end G3s that run Tiger very well).

    Now, the issue you have brought up, which is debatable, is the small screen. I had the same dilemma two years back; I always had large screen (15-18") PC laptops. In the end, I chose a 12.1" PowerBook and, w/ the extra money, bought a 20" LCD. I didn't know if I would like the small screen size, but got used to it very, very quickly. And currently, you're in a better position than I was. The MacBook has a resolution of 1280 x 800 while the 15" MBP has a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels. My guess, is that the difference for you will be negligible after a few hours of use (the brain is very good for getting used to things in the visual world as long especially since you are young and probably don't have declining eye-sight associated with later years). However, if you were thinking the 17" (1680 x 1050), well, then you have a decision to make as this is a sizable difference for some applications. Personally, I think laptops should be portable, and we have wonderful free, multi-desktop software apps and multi-desktop built-in in 10.5 to give us some virtual-space. I am also of the opinion that money wasted where it's not really needed can be better spent for other toys (like large monitors - although you have one, fun software - although you will find a lot of great free apps, nice speakers, booze - you're in college, right?, etc.).

    Oh, and one more thing: battery life is slightly better on the MacBook than the MBP (30 minutes says Apple). You could spend a bit of the money saved buying an extra battery, or even a third-party longer-life battery.

    Hope this helps. You'll hear people saying they love both, the switched from both, to both, didn't regret both, etc, but the truth is, it's a new Mac: you'll be happy either way. Welcome home. ;)
     
  9. Kaiser Phoenix macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 12, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #9
    Thing is, people always talk of 'portability' and all but the weight difference between the pro and macbook is not THAT big. They are both over 2KG meaning it isnt really considered 'light' in todays standards, where typically a laptop of a 13inch class should weigh at least less than 2kg.

    That being said, I personally think that on the other hand, a MBP is actually quite LIGHT for its class 15.4 inch screen and what not.

    Now there is talk of an ultraportable being released but obviously thats just a rumour...

    Conclusion is that while the looks and all may be to personal taste, the MBP is much more comfortable to use with the larger screen, more power etc.

    If I were you, I would definately go for the pro.
     
  10. DealMinded macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    #10
    As a student, he doesn't want to be that guy with the giant computer in class. Portability isn't all about weight. A smaller screen is somewhat more discreet and, if you travel, much easier to handle in confined spaces.
     
  11. feelthefire thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    #11
    Well I went and used both at the apple store today. I took a look at the macbook pro next to the macbook and I think I was more pleased with the macbook. The macbook pro had a ton of screen surface area but I prefer working on an external monitor anyway, and probably will when I'm at my desk.

    I was a little tweaked that the macbook doesn't seem to have speakers. I'm sure it's hiding them somewhere but having them on the keyboard surface is kind of nice.

    I really wish I could get the guts of the MBP in the macbook housing. I like the plastic better, I think the black looks really classy, but the fit and finish wasn't superb. The MBP looked better constructed. I would love for that rubberized edge to come to the MB.

    However, I think thanks to the user upgradeable hard drives and RAM in the macbook, it might be the winner. I think I'll be happier upgrading the ram and being able to replace the hard drive myself.

    It can drive all the display I need and since i have a super 15.4" laptop already I think the macbook might be it. The laptop I have now was $3100 when I bought it and it's still cranking along. It's approximately equivalent to a MBP so buying the MBP might just be too much.

    I just have a problem with not buying the best that's available! It seems weird to me to be going in and buying a laptop with semi-old tech in it when PC laptops get updated so often that you're almost always getting something pretty new.
     
  12. Kaiser Phoenix macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 12, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #12
    That is true, overlooked that aspect...

    BUT

    you may want to check this thread out http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=330550
     

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