MacBook or MacBook Pro??

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mavherzog, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. mavherzog macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2005
    Columbus, WI
    I am currently trying to decided between a MacBook and the 15" MacBook Pro.

    "Easy!!" you say. "The MBP is better!" Well, it's not quite that simple...

    I've had hands on both systems. The MacBook is lighter, sturdier (lots of "flex" in the MBP's chassis), and looks better IMO. The MacBook Pro has better graphics, additional expansion ports, and all the goodies that go along with the new Santa Rosa chipset (4GB max ram and faster FSB).

    I'll be buying a 250GB, 5400rpm internal drive and 2x2GB ram upgrade for either of them (the MacBook will only be able to address 3GB of the ram, but by getting matched pairs, I will get the increased performance of dual channel memory access).

    I will be buying an external display for use with either of them. Although I initially considered a 30" display if I went with the MBP, I think I'll stick with a 24" Dell that I can take advantage of it, at native resolution, with other computers in my possession (that are minus the dual-link DVI output necessary to drive a 30").

    So, with all upgrades and accessories being equal, we are looking at the following comparison:

    MacBook - $1348
    - 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    - lowest offerings for ram and hdd
    - Applecare

    MacBook Pro - $2848
    - 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    - lowest offerings for ram and hdd
    - 256MB 8600M GT GPU (if I'm going for the better graphics option, I'm getting the BEST GPU offering)
    - Applecare

    Now, I need to say this. I've spent the last 12 months in Iraq making very good money. I initially budgeted for a fully pimped out Mac Pro (I'll let you price it out)...So, I have the money to go with any option I please. However, I am being realistic in that I know if I buy multiple Mac's (like an iMac and a MB/MBP), one will be largely ignored. Also, I know that, even though I have intentions of keeping a new computer for 2-3 years, I never do. In fact, it is always a struggle to keep something around ONE YEAR.

    That's a $1500 premium for the MBP over the MB. My singular reason for wanting the better GPU is the upcoming StarCraft 2. I know that World of Warcraft plays good enough for my enjoyment on the I own a 1st gen CD MacBook (passed on to my wife). If they upgraded the MB to the new SR chipset with the upgraded integrated Intel graphics, I think it would be a no-brainer...but the GMA950 is getting VERY long in the tooth.

    When back home, I carry my laptop with me a LOT. Now, I currently own a very light, very portable ThinkPad X60s (Linux). I don't have plans to sell this (but may later on if it goes largely unused). If I went with a Mac portable, it would be because I want OS X with me when I am out and about, on vacation, training, in the office, etc.

    From a cost point of view, here is something else to think about:

    The base MBP I'd want to get costs $2848 (before taxes). That is minus the 24" Dell display, hdd upgrade (250GB) and ram upgrade (2x2GB). With the ram, hdd, and monitor I'd be looking at around $3700.

    For UNDER $3200, I can get all of the following:

    MacBook (2.0Ghz) and Mac mini (2.0Ghz)
    - $1917 from Apple Store
    2x2GB ram for the MacBook, 2x1GB ram for the Mac mini, and 20" LCD for the Mac mini
    - $581 from NewEgg
    24" Dell LCD display
    - $569 from Dell
    Zeroshock III case for MacBook
    - $33 from Shinza
    Screen and keyboard protector / screen-cleaning cloth
    - $13 from ShaggyMac

    That would get my kids a second Mac mini and still be WELL under the price I'd layout for the MBP option.

    If they upgrade the MacBook to Santa Rosa w/ better integrated graphics, I don't think I can, in good conscious, possibly buy a MacBook Pro. :)
  2. Paulsan macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2007
    What am I missing? How does a base 15" MacBook Pro cost $2848? Aren't they $1999?
  3. mavherzog thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2005
    Columbus, WI
    See third and fourth bullets under the MBP options breakdown.
  4. HazzFq macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2007
    I was in same position as you about 2 weeks ago!

    I looked everywhere to see what people would say about either. Most people said to me get a Macbook even when i had the money to get a MBP so i wasn't to sure but then i just thought if i get a macbook pro i won't get the "damn i can't do that my macbook is too slow or the graphics card is too poor" So i just went for the MBP
  5. mavherzog thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2005
    Columbus, WI
    So what, specifically, did you get? And, how do you like it thus far?
  6. odinsride macrumors 65816


    Apr 11, 2007
    I would go for the MBP. I own both the MB and MBP and the MBP is a much higher quality machine, both aesthetically and in terms of performance.
  7. crazycat macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2005
    The MacBook is my favorite laptop, its sexy, works great and is amazing to work on. But if you are thinking of doing any games even WoW go with the MBP. The MBP does everything a MacBook does but better, altho it is much easier to change the hard drive on a MacBook.
  8. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Starcraft 2 system requirement are not released yet, but if it's like Command and Conquer, then you need MBP.

    I have the 17" MBP Santa Rosa. I carry it everywhere in a courier styled laptop bag. No problem. Note that the MBP is actually same weight as the average 15" PC laptop, or some 14" pc laptops.

    I would not get ram from Apple though. That would save you money big time. I thought I would need 4gb of ram for my MBP, but been running with 2gb of stock ram and it's fine for photoshop and shooter games.

    I would get Apple Care if you want to keep it for longer than 1 year, but if you are going to resell it within 1 year, then I would not get applecare. You can always get it within 1 year of purchasing.
  9. mavherzog thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2005
    Columbus, WI
    A couple of MB<>MBP comparison questions:

    I thought that the MBP I briefly used had a lot of flex in the chassis. I know that my MacBook (1st gen, 1.83Ghz CD that I passed on to my wife) was VERY solid. Is this typical?
    How would you compare the 15" MBP to the MacBook in regards to weight and overall portability?
    Does the chassis on the MBP dent easily?
    How do the keyboards compare? I absolutely love the keyboard on the MacBook but haven't had hands on the MBP keyboard.
    I'm SURE the built-in speakers on the MBP are better than the MacBook's. :)
  10. jbg232 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2007
    I completely understand your pain:

    I also am in the market for a new computer to do work on mostly but, here's the rub - it must also play starcraft 2. Like you want to do I would upgrade the computer myself and want a powerful GPU on at least one machine.

    I have been thinking about this question for the past month and one solution that I though of (but haven't acted on yet) is to get a 24" iMac for home and a macbook for carrying around as your portable computer (I also find it much nicer looking, lighter, with a MUCH better battery life). This option actually winds up being the exact same price as the fully upgraded mbp (even with outside ram for all machines)

    The imac comes with an underclocked ati 2600xt (which is better than macbook, and slightly worse than the mbp according to official benchmarks) but should be able to play starcraft well as I see it.

    Either way, I too am tempted by the 17" fully upgraded MBP. I have to say that after fooling around with all of these models in the store I agree with the poster who stated that the macbook pro just feels better built and of better quality. I have no doubt that when apple updates something or makes a mistake with drivers (ahem video drivers on 24" imac computer rebooting problems ahem) their mbp and macpro customers would be the first ones in line to have software engineering come up with a fix. In the end I will likely go with the mbp because I don't know how much of a pain it is to deal with 2 computers, but I agree, it's not an easy choice.

    BTW, one thing I really dislike about the imac is the keyboard.... but that's another story.
  11. odinsride macrumors 65816


    Apr 11, 2007
    I feel that the MB chassis has more 'flex' than the MBP. My MBP feels very sturdy.

    Can't speak on this, I have a 17" mbp

    It seems pretty rugged, but I have been careful with mine so I don't have any dents. I carry my MBP in a sleeve from Aussiebag.

    I prefer the Macbook keyboard over the MBP. I ended up buying one of the new apple keyboards for my MBP since they feel exactly the same as the Macbook keyboard.

    The MBP speakers are extremely better!
  12. pscoble macrumors 6502

    Sep 11, 2006
    Well for me at least the mbp beats the mb in every single way. The screen is much better, in many ways the case is stronger, it obviously has a GPU, better CPU more base RAM more base HDD, its thinner, it is very light and the speakers are a TON better. I know this because my mom has a CD mb and the differences are amazing. Of course I don't care about about it being "more portable" the mbp is very portable and light I would never say if you can carry a mb around you couldn't carry a 15 incher around. Although I have to say the keyboards are even there are things I like about both of them. Oh yes one more thing a few weeks ago my dog (who is rather small) sat on my moms macbook. Part of the bezel chipped off :eek: so I'd would definitely say that the mbp is much more solid then the mb on its latch area and battery bay area. Well...hope this helps

    P.S. light up keyboard is really cool on the mbp :p
  13. huck500 macrumors 6502


    May 10, 2004
    Southern California
    I have a MB that was purchased for me at work, but I'm still going to buy a MBP in about 2 weeks (1 year free financing deal at my credit union starts).

    First and foremost, I can't stand the glossy screen on my MB. If Apple ever switches over to the glossy screen for the MBP I'll be looking for another computer maker. I thought I would get used to it, but I haven't.:mad:

    Second, the screen is just too small. The 15" screen on my PB is perfect, any smaller is too small.

    The chassis on my PB is much more sturdy than my MB's, and it's much older. The thing I don't like about the aluminum body is pitting after years of use, but I can live with it. It's well-built machine.

    I also want to play a couple of games, including WoW, and I want the absolute best performance possible. In PVP games it's essential...;)

    I'd also rethink the 4 gigs of RAM unless you need it for image or movie applications. I'm not sure it will make any difference for most things.
  14. Whistleway macrumors 6502

    Feb 16, 2005
    if you can wait till Jan, chances are MBP will be refreshed.
  15. rhys105 macrumors regular


    Oct 8, 2007
    Cardiff, Wales, UK
    If money isnt an issue, then get the macbook pro! :apple:
  16. saltyzoo macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2007
    glossy / matte is an optional feature. Choose the one you prefer.
  17. d_saum macrumors 6502


    Jun 14, 2005
    great thread due to the fact that Im in the same boat. I've been thinking about a MBP because my MB's plastic is starting to crack and its driving me nuts. Yesterday I literally crazy-glued my case back together on the right edge forward of the dvd slot.

    I want a sturdier case and I think the back lit keyboard would be cool. If those rumors about the aluminum MB's are true though.... I might just go with one of them. I hate having to wait though.... grrr :mad:
  18. mavherzog thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2005
    Columbus, WI
    I like both the MacBook keyboard and the keyboards on the ThinkPad's I've owned. Both have decent tactile feel for laptop keyboards. Is the MBP keyboard mushy??
  19. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    For your OP, I say go mbp. Not simply because I have one, but since you have the money, and since you might pick up other hobbies later on which might require a better machine, a mbp is best.

    Now, on to this post:

    First off, this bothered me about your OP: you stated that the macbook is lighter. This is only nominally true. The macbook weighs in at 5.1 lbs, and the mbp weighs in at 5.4 lbs. .3 lbs is about 5 ounces (4.8 to be exact). You will not feel this when it's distributed over the additional length and minor depth increase of the mbp. I challenged anyone to tell the difference between 5.1 and 5.4 lbs without a scale. Most of us wouldn't notice it at all.

    As for portability, it's pretty portable for a 15". I'm a student, and I slip it into my backpack and I'm ready to go. For the most part, it's just as portable as a macbook because the macbook has only a slightly smaller surface area (because the macbook screen has a larger bezel around it). If you're using a backpack or shoulder bag to carry your macbook or macbook pro, you won't notice much of a portability difference. Since you mentioned that you were in Iraq (I'm guessing as a contractor?), you are probably larger than me (5' 9" @ 140lbs). If I can carry my mbp everywhere, I'm sure you can ;).

    Now on to the fun stuff. The macbook pro is a bit more flexible than I would like. This is mostly the screen/display portion. However, don't be dismayed by this, because I've never seen any "ripples" that usually accompany a flexible screen. My old HP had a fairly flexible display, and the slightest pressure in the back would cause ripples to appear on the screen.

    The body doesn't move too much relative to other notebooks. Considering the fact that the body is less than an inch thick, I think it holds up pretty well.

    Keyboards. Now there's a good topic. Personally, after spending a good deal of time with a macbook keyboard (30 hours stretched over 16 weeks), I simply can't recommend that thing. I know a lot of people like that keyboard, but I just can't stand it. The macbook pro keyboard doesn't have the complete "mush" feel to it, but it is "softer" than the macbook keyboard. For me, as a fairly quick typer, it's perfect because it doesn't make as much noise as I expected. On my old HP, which used standard plastic keys one finds on generic notebooks, the keyboard was noisy. The macbook keyboard was quieter than that HP, but the macbook pro keyboard is slightly quieter than the macbook's. If you used a Thinkpad before this, then I'm guessing that you'll find the macbook pro keyboard a bit closer to that feel than you would find the macbook's. The macbook pro keyboard isn't ideal either (I don't think the Thinkpad will ever be beat), it's pretty good. Oh, and the backlighting is cool but useless:p

    Finally, speakers. The macbook pro speakers are better than the macbook's, but if you are serious about listening to something, external speakers are your friend. The macbook pro speakers are pretty good, but they're not exactly desktop quality. This will never be on a notebook, as the laws of physics don't allow it, and our best scientists are still working on inventing magic.

    Best of luck. :)
  20. sal macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2007
    I had to make a simila decision two weeks ago.

    Initially I was going to buy the macbook. But I didn't like the white so I was looking at the black. After adding two gigs and apple care. I was already at 1,900 dollars(before taxes). somehow the 1999 MBP didn't look so bad price wise. After apple care, it went up to 2350 before taxes.

    I was already getting the two gigs, better video card, better processor for $450 extra.

    I am happy with my decision. I love my MBP. Thin, light and powerful.
  21. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    for what i use my computer for, i cant justufy the 1000 dollars to get a mbp over a mb. do i wish i could play some games well like halo? sure but i have a 360 too
  22. mavherzog thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2005
    Columbus, WI
    You are correct. It IS pretty much a wash based how close they are in weight. Hope I wasn't TOO bothersome. ;)

    Yes, I think that I can handle it in my backpack.

    I am more concerned by my perception that the MBP is a little more fragile than the MacBook. I may be all wrong in this (which is why I throw these points and questions "out there"). For example, not that I made a habit of it, but when I had my 1st gen MacBook, I could pick it up by one corner and it felt solid. No flex that I could see/feel. Compare this to, say, a big Dell Inspiron. You don't DARE pick it up by the feels like the laptop will snap in half before successfully lifting it off the table. (and, yes, I know very well that you should never do this...stressing the logic board and all that jazz...just trying to make the point)

    Does this flex make it inheritantly more fragile? That's my biggest portability question. I want something that can handle being carried from place to place on a daily basis.

    You being a student, I'm sure you carry it around all the I guess the fact that you are trumpeting the MBP's virtues, I can safely assume the MBP will handle the gentle abuse of frequent transport quite well.

    I am a big fan of both the IBM buckling spring keyboards and other high-tactile feedback mechanical keyswitches (such as the blue Cherry switches and the blue or white Alps switches). I understand that you make a sacrifice with keyboards regardless of which laptop you use. But I'd like to stay as far away from the craptastic Dell laptop keyboard experience as I can. I like my laptop keyboard surface to be solid...and for the keys to provide at least linear feel and spring back quickly. IMHO, both the ThinkPad and MacBook keyboards provide this. I don't want a significant downgrade from this experience if I go with the MBP.

    The technical advantages of the MBP over the MB are obvious and are really not my main concerns right now. I am, obviously, willing to pay the premium for the larger screen, better graphics, faster FSB, etc... What I don't want is to buy the MBP and ultimately regret it due to physical/cosmetic/etc attributes that are somehow inferior to the MacBook. I feel that if I pay the increased cost, the MBP should be, in every way, a cut above the MB.
  23. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    The macbook pro is a bit more fragile in the sense that the aluminum probably won' take as much of a beating as the plastic of macbook, but I can't imagine it being put under extreme stress unless you're a very reckless person.

    Gentle transport will be more than fine. I am pretty anal about how I take care of my mbp, but I doubt you'll have any problems.

    Honestly, the best way to feel the keyboards is if go and test one out for yourself. Since I can't tell you what it feels like in the same way that you can feel it in person, you'll have to go and test it out yourself. Personally though, I find the macbook pro keyboard to be superior to the macbook's.
  24. mavherzog thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2005
    Columbus, WI
    Well, alrighty then.
  25. Macmannsd macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2007
    I think it comes down to a pretty simple lifestyle issue. If you are a gamer (of any sort) then you need the MBP to be happy. If you are looking for a desktop replacement then probably go with the MBP.

    However, I have always thought that portables are meant to be just that, portable. I just ordered my MacBook 2.16 yesterday, upgrading from a G4 12" iBook. I want to be able to travel as easy as possible. The MacBooks have plenty of horsepower to do what 'most' people will need. It's not like you can't use photoshop on it. I'm a web developer and it has plenty for me.

    And like everyone else has said, don't buy RAM upgrades from apple. They are over 200% marked up over any 3rd party vendor. 1GB sticks for the macbook are about $30 right now.

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