MacBook or MacBook Pro

Mac-lover3

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 2, 2014
549
382
Belgium
Hey everyone,

I posted a while ago in the MacBook forums for the same question but I have more info now.

I'm starting college next year and need a new laptop for that. Now I have a 2011 MacBook Air (128GB, 4GB RAM with an i5) it's definitely running on its last legs. Cycle count is at +1000...

Note that I will travel probably 4 or 5 days by bus and train for at least 1hour 20min.

So for next year this is what the school recommends (minimum):
  • i3 or better
  • 4GB RAM
  • screen resolution 1280 x 800 or better
  • battery up to 5 hours (ideally 7 hours)
I need to be able to run this:
  • Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 (may be in dual boot or virtual) probably will do through Bootcamp.
  • Being able to read and write in Office 2016 (is provided by the school)
  • Being able to install Flash 10 or higher (probably best using this through Chrome?)
  • Being able to use Photoshop, Illustrator & Indesign CC
I know I don't want a new MacBook Air the screen really isn't good. So I went to look further 2 options in my eyes.
  • MacBook 12" standard version: m3, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM = 1409€ (with edu discount)
Question; Is it powerful enough?
Note: I don't mind the one USB-C port.
  • MacBook Pro 13": i5, 256GB SSD (upgrade), 8GB RAM = 1644€ (with edu discount)
Question: Is it overpowered for my needs?
Note: bulkier and heavier.

Thanks for all the help!
 

AFEPPL

macrumors 68030
Sep 30, 2014
2,644
1,570
England
I'm sure both would work just fine, you could always balance the cost out with a CPU upgrade.
While rMB is lighter, neither is like a brick either.

If you are planning on using a VM go for 16GB.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Beachguy
Comment

CyberBob859

macrumors 6502
Jun 13, 2007
473
155
I guess I have to ask the obvious. If you NEED a Windows machine (because your school is specifying it), why not just buy a Windows laptop? One of the newer Microsoft Surface laptops would easily meet the requirements. (Just make sure you do the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.) You can also get a student discount, & free Office 365 Personal for one year, and maybe (if you hurry) you can trade-in your old MacBook Air and get some money for it on a Surface Laptop.

Now, if all you really need is to run Microsoft Office and Adobe PhotoShop Creative Cloud, there are Mac equivalents. If you value thin and light, with little to no I/O requirements beyond USB-C, the MacBook is a good choice. However, I would go past the base model, because you're probably going to need a little more power and storage. (Core i5 version with 16 GB of RAM.)

However, if you have to run other Windows apps, or really need the Windows versions of Office and Adobe apps, then you're looking a running Windows using virtual machine software like Parallels on your Mac. At this point, a MacBook Pro is the way to go, with 16 GB RAM needed (Core i5 is OK, Core i7 would be better.)

If you can figure out what you absolutely NEED versus want, and what's in your budget, you can get an idea on which way to go. You should also figure that anything you get should probably be good enough to use for at least two-three years.

Good luck!
 
  • Like
Reactions: akash.nu
Comment

AFEPPL

macrumors 68030
Sep 30, 2014
2,644
1,570
England
Agree with above, Surface is a great device and would do those things much better.
 
Comment

Mac-lover3

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 2, 2014
549
382
Belgium
I guess I have to ask the obvious. If you NEED a Windows machine (because your school is specifying it), why not just buy a Windows laptop? One of the newer Microsoft Surface laptops would easily meet the requirements. (Just make sure you do the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.) You can also get a student discount, & free Office 365 Personal for one year, and maybe (if you hurry) you can trade-in your old MacBook Air and get some money for it on a Surface Laptop.

Now, if all you really need is to run Microsoft Office and Adobe PhotoShop Creative Cloud, there are Mac equivalents. If you value thin and light, with little to no I/O requirements beyond USB-C, the MacBook is a good choice. However, I would go past the base model, because you're probably going to need a little more power and storage. (Core i5 version with 16 GB of RAM.)

However, if you have to run other Windows apps, or really need the Windows versions of Office and Adobe apps, then you're looking a running Windows using virtual machine software like Parallels on your Mac. At this point, a MacBook Pro is the way to go, with 16 GB RAM needed (Core i5 is OK, Core i7 would be better.)

If you can figure out what you absolutely NEED versus want, and what's in your budget, you can get an idea on which way to go. You should also figure that anything you get should probably be good enough to use for at least two-three years.

Good luck!
To answer your question. I don't really want a Windows machine because I got accustomed to Macs. Also the Surface isn't permitted by the school. I have no idea why, I guess they see it as a tablet. Another reason I don't want a Windows machine is because I like certain programs on my Mac (which are only available on MacOS).

Why the i5 though? Benchmarks are almost identical for m3 and i5?

16GB RAM is an option!!

I can use bootcamp to run Windows no? Why would I need Parallels?

Future proofing is guaranteed by buying either Macs though?

Thanks for all your input though!
 
Comment

CyberBob859

macrumors 6502
Jun 13, 2007
473
155
To answer your question. I don't really want a Windows machine because I got accustomed to Macs. Also the Surface isn't permitted by the school. I have no idea why, I guess they see it as a tablet. Another reason I don't want a Windows machine is because I like certain programs on my Mac (which are only available on MacOS).

Why the i5 though? Benchmarks are almost identical for m3 and i5?

16GB RAM is an option!!

I can use bootcamp to run Windows no? Why would I need Parallels?

Future proofing is guaranteed by buying either Macs though?

Thanks for all your input though!
The school is probably not permitting the Surface Pro (or original Atom-based Surface), Microsoft's tablet/laptop hybrid device. What I'm referring to is the new Surface laptop. This is Microsoft's attempt to go after the MacBook Air, and IMO they succeeded. It is what nearly everyone was looking for - Air hardware specs but with a Retina display. Apple didn't build it, so Microsoft did. Since you were using an Air, and your school seems to spec out a Windows machine, I recommended the Surface laptop.

The MacBook is designed to be run without a fan so it uses low-power chips. (Even the i5 and i7 used on the MacBook are low-power variants.) It really isn't designed to be a high workload machine. You can run something like Photoshop on it, but it will tax the processor. So, look at the Turbo Boost numbers. The i5 and (especially) the i7 provide better Turbo Boost and would be more indicative of the speed when something like Photoshop is being used. These processors aren't available in the base model, which only uses the m3.

I think the MacBook is a great machine (I have one myself.) I just don't know if I would want to use the base model for something like Photoshop.

You can use Windows via Bootcamp and not need Parallels. However, in this case, you boot into either Mac OR Windows. In Windows, your Mac programs aren't available (and vice versa.) Parallels is ideal when you want to stay in a Mac environment, but need to run Windows programs and move data back and forth between the two environments. Bootcamp just allows you to boot in Windows, hides MacOS, and turns your Mac into a Windows laptop. Based on your likes, I assumed that you would want to stay in Mac but only have access to Windows, so Parallels would be better. But if you can live with an either/or option, then Bootcamp is OK.

Just know however - with either option (Bootcamp or Parallels), you're going to need a valid Windows license. IOW, you'll have to pay for a Windows version.

As for future proofing - any hardware bought today will last. But, IMO, you really should buy based on your needs NOW and in the immediate future. Buying the minimum hardware requirements today, but then getting assignments, files, and jobs, that may require faster hardware later will hamper you.
 
Comment

ZapNZs

macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2017
2,310
1,155
If you like macOS only programs, chances are you will like running a Windows VM more than Bootcamp because you can access this simultaneously - I use VMWare Fusion to run like 20 some odd OS' and love having this capability. For this reason my vote is for the MacBook Pro. The 2017 MacBook has had a considerable CPU increase and those who buy them absolute love them, but I think the MacBook Pro's added power, superior display, and modern IO could all be useful for your needs.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Beachguy
Comment

AFEPPL

macrumors 68030
Sep 30, 2014
2,644
1,570
England
I run a VM but don't run parallels (I don want to pay for it!) so I'm currently using virtualbox from oracle which is free.
Again options..
 
  • Like
Reactions: Beachguy
Comment

DFTU101

macrumors member
May 16, 2008
94
0
Hey everyone,

I posted a while ago in the MacBook forums for the same question but I have more info now.

I'm starting college next year and need a new laptop for that. Now I have a 2011 MacBook Air (128GB, 4GB RAM with an i5) it's definitely running on its last legs. Cycle count is at +1000...

Note that I will travel probably 4 or 5 days by bus and train for at least 1hour 20min.

So for next year this is what the school recommends (minimum):
  • i3 or better
  • 4GB RAM
  • screen resolution 1280 x 800 or better
  • battery up to 5 hours (ideally 7 hours)
I need to be able to run this:
  • Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 (may be in dual boot or virtual) probably will do through Bootcamp.
  • Being able to read and write in Office 2016 (is provided by the school)
  • Being able to install Flash 10 or higher (probably best using this through Chrome?)
  • Being able to use Photoshop, Illustrator & Indesign CC
I know I don't want a new MacBook Air the screen really isn't good. So I went to look further 2 options in my eyes.
  • MacBook 12" standard version: m3, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM = 1409€ (with edu discount)
Question; Is it powerful enough?
Note: I don't mind the one USB-C port.
  • MacBook Pro 13": i5, 256GB SSD (upgrade), 8GB RAM = 1644€ (with edu discount)
Question: Is it overpowered for my needs?
Note: bulkier and heavier.

Thanks for all the help!
[doublepost=1501675723][/doublepost]The MacBook will be much slower in running windows. It was painful on my 2015 MacBook. With all the programs you want to run, I'd go for the MacBook pro. Also, if you install windows with only 256 GB and you want to use all those Adobe programs, you may want an external hard drive to store those files. You'll have to manage your hard drive space wisely. Go for the 512GB harddrive if you can.
 
Comment

Mac-lover3

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 2, 2014
549
382
Belgium
[doublepost=1501675723][/doublepost]The MacBook will be much slower in running windows. It was painful on my 2015 MacBook. With all the programs you want to run, I'd go for the MacBook pro. Also, if you install windows with only 256 GB and you want to use all those Adobe programs, you may want an external hard drive to store those files. You'll have to manage your hard drive space wisely. Go for the 512GB harddrive if you can.
It's hard to justify 500€ for 512GB option. 256 should be okay is I now only use 100GB (Mac OS only though.).
 
Comment

Jess Tech

macrumors newbie
Apr 19, 2017
5
1
Toronto
I would highly recommend going with the 13" Macbook (over the MacBook) as a minimum. The 12" MacBook is basically a really expensive word processor, not ideal for anything graphic.

One of the minimum system requirement for Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign) is 1GB of VRAM, which the MacBook does not have. As a long term investment that will carry you through your 4+ years at college, I would suggect the 15" MacBook Pro (non touchbar), its a big investment, but again worth it in the long run.

I invested in a 15" MacBook Pro when I went to university, and 10 years later, its still a working laptop and I was still able to sell it for a small profit
 
Comment

Mac-lover3

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Dec 2, 2014
549
382
Belgium
I would highly recommend going with the 13" Macbook (over the MacBook) as a minimum. The 12" MacBook is basically a really expensive word processor, not ideal for anything graphic.

One of the minimum system requirement for Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign) is 1GB of VRAM, which the MacBook does not have. As a long term investment that will carry you through your 4+ years at college, I would suggect the 15" MacBook Pro (non touchbar), its a big investment, but again worth it in the long run.

I invested in a 15" MacBook Pro when I went to university, and 10 years later, its still a working laptop and I was still able to sell it for a small profit
Thanks for the input. The 15" is out of the question, it's just to big to carry around every day. I will also be traveling 2 hours at least every day so I think I settled for the 13"
 
  • Like
Reactions: Beachguy
Comment

Jess Tech

macrumors newbie
Apr 19, 2017
5
1
Toronto
Thanks for the input. The 15" is out of the question, it's just to big to carry around every day. I will also be traveling 2 hours at least every day so I think I settled for the 13"
The 13" MacBook Pro weighs 3.02lbs, and the 15" MacBook Pro Touchbar model weighs 4.02 (4.49lbs for the Non-touchbar model), for the extra screen size, which most designers prefer, along with the better graphics card, the extra 1lbs is worth it, I understand your concerns having to travel extensively and carry the laptop, but, truely you wont notice 1lbs
 
Comment

Tech198

macrumors G5
Mar 21, 2011
14,637
1,838
Australia, Perth
If u are working with photos in illustrator or in-design work, then a 8 Gig bare minimum.... 4Gig is not really enough for photo work. I'd go with the 13-inch since the edu discount..

if there was no education discount, then it probably would matter more.
 
Comment

Similar threads

  • Hellothere99
0
Replies
0
Views
100
  • Irphones
2
Replies
2
Views
220
  • GBE2020
3
Replies
3
Views
312
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.