MacBook Pro 15" Advice needed promptly for college student!!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MB98XJ, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. MB98XJ macrumors member


    Jun 29, 2009
    I have been debating between the current generation 15" Macbook Pro 2.53 Ghz and 2.66 Ghz models since WWDC.

    This will be my first Mac and I want something that will last 4 years. I really take good care of my stuff so I am hoping to make this last.

    My debate resides solely on the graphics card:
    -2.53 Ghz has a 9400M graphics card (integrated - which from what I told integrated graphics aren't that fantastic)
    -2.66 Ghz has both the 9400M graphics card and 9600M GT

    I've read thoroughly on MacRumors and have weighed the pro's and con's:
    -2.53 is $250 Cheaper (I will definitely be utilizing the EDU discount)
    -2.66 would be better for the future because it is sort of "future-proofing" my machine by allowing me the option to switch between the 9400M and the GT, which I was told would be great for future OS's (including Snow Leopard - I was told that it would run more smoothly on the 9600M GT)

    But on the other hand, should I just suck it up and spend the extra $250 and get the higher end one.

    On one side, I don't do any gaming or graphic design - I'm a Biology major with pre-med emphasis
    On the other side, I will be EXTREMELY broke over the next four years so I want to make sure I am making the right decision, considering you can't upgrade the graphics card down the road. I am a worrier and I am afraid I will be kicking myself in the future for not getting the 9600M GT... (What's $250 over the course of four years?)

    So basically I'm stuck with this computer for a long time and it is crucial I make the right decision.

    HELP! I need to make this decision final before Saturday (It will be tax-free weekend). I have the money, but just barely, I might have to borrow some money for books and misc. stuff for my dorm etc...(I'm paying for school myself)

    I will be asking for AppleCare for Christmas, so I have the proper coverage.

    But I would love some extra advice over the matter from you pro's at MR!
  2. JonB3Z macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2009
    It's hard for anyone else to judge the value of that $250 to you. But it sure sounds like it would be buying you some peace of mind!
  3. tdgrn macrumors 6502

    May 1, 2008
    Little Rock, AR
    I was a lot like you when I bought my computer. I didn't play any computer games and honestly could not justify getting a MBP. (This is was before unibody days) Regardless, being in school a couple of years really changes people, and even though you might not play games now, you might later. Plus, you know that you will have the ability to do whatever graphically that you might want to do. When buying a computer, IMO the best idea is to get the best computer you can buy... No matter what you buy, it will be outdated in 6 months to a year. That doesn't mean that it still won't be a good computer though. Good luck and let us know what you do. Something tells me you will be happy either way.
  4. iCantwait macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    if you can't afford $250 you cant afford a 15" MBP.

    i got the .66 because i am using it for 3-4 years like i did my iBook
  5. jimjar macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2009
    You don't need it

    You are already paying enough for the 2.53 MacBook. You will never notice the increased graphics performance for what you are doing. Save the $250, get the 2.53 and be happy !
  6. jbrenn macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2008
    you might not have a choice between the 2 there is a shortage of the 13, 15 2.53 models online it is 5 business days. The 2.66 ships in 24 hours. If you are planning to keep the computer for more than 3 years the 2.66 might be the way to go. It is a little faster and has a little bigger hd. The 2.53 will do everything you need to do.
  7. AppleTecFan macrumors 6502


    Jul 7, 2009
    It's just $250 you will be getting a faster computer
  8. xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020


    Jul 9, 2009
    I would say go for the cheaper one. You have no need to do any type of heavy video or photo editing, and even if you develop a hobby for photoshop or something, it will still run fine on the 9400m. If you decide to get into gaming, you are better off saving up and buying or building a dedicated windows machine for gaming. There are way more options as far as graphics cards, and you can build one for relatively cheap that will be better than a mac. That's just my .02, because the lower end model will do fine for your needs. I'm in college and just bought the lower end model and have no regrets. It does just what I need it to do and more. I would worry more about saving the money if you really need it because you never know what could happen. You may end up having to get something replaced in your car, or an emergency room visit. Hope that helps.
  9. Mr$Whale macrumors member

    May 19, 2008
    I would say don't run yourself into the ground with this new computer business. I was able to function just fine with an iBook for four years during college/university. And I was like you...didn't play games, didn't make movies so I didn't need the extra power. What would you be future proofing for? Leopard will work superbly on your machine, and would you need and be upgrading all the features of a new OS every year? I got on fine with Tiger. I know people still using Powerbooks and they're fine.

    Save your money and go with the lesser expensive option. $250 goes a long way when you're in school (and still does when you're out). Use the extra money to buy a case or an external or flash drive (if you don't have any) and save the rest. Good luck!
  10. MacMini2009 macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
  11. smartalic34 macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2006
    if you dont plan on doing any gaming over the 4 years, go with the cheaper MBP. the dedicated GPU in snow leopard will be used as a supplementary processor, but if you arent doing things that tax the processor in the first place, the GPU wont make any difference. any OS out 4 years from now will mostly likely run perfectly fine on a 9400M. take my MBP with the low end ATI X1600 with 128MB VRAM... here I am with a 3 year old MBP, and snow leopard will fly on my machine.

    if you are just web browsing, word processing, itunes, stuff like that, the higher end MBP is overkill. even for 4 years.
  12. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Although I don't think the difference in clock speeds matters much. In 3 years how much will you be missing that $250? I say spend the extra money.
  13. nigameash macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2008
    Space: The Final Frontier
    you wont notice any major difference in between the processor in your day to day work but future proofing your system for games + graphic designing is the way to go!
  14. xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020


    Jul 9, 2009
    not when you don't play games, nor do graphic designing. Even if he were to start playing games in 2-3 years, he hardly future proofed his machine. the 9600gt is not THAT great of a GPU, especially in a few years. And if he decides to start editing photos or doing some photoshopping, the lower end MBP will still do just fine running those programs. He is not going to do any professionaly graphic design, and will be able to get by just fine.
  15. scottkifnw macrumors regular


    Jan 17, 2008
    Trophy Club, TX
    My 2 cents

    I would go for the most bang for the buck in a laptop. Upgrade paths are limited, so go for the best video card you can get. If you amortize the $250 over 4 years, is $62.5/year, not too bad even for a poor student.

    Get it, enjoy it, you deserve it.
  16. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    I have had the previous generation Unibody MBP since they were released. It came with the 9400M and the 9600GT. I found that the performance of the 9400M to be so good I did not need the GT. Apart from some initial testing, which also showed that the GT made the MBP significantly hotter, and caused the fans to become audible more oftern, I have not used the GT. You will get more battery life just using the M. Given your use, you don't need the more expensive one so save your money.
  17. bcburrows macrumors 6502


    Mar 25, 2009

    I started out with the 1Ghz PB 12 incher (lasted 3 years) as a 3rd year medical student, before a 2GHz 15 incher (2 years) and have now moved to the 15 inch 2.66 uMBP just a few months ago.

    My advice would be different
    - I never use the 9600 - only ever caused my problems with i presume bugs, hopefully ironed out in snow leopard
    - I have actually been far less impressed with the uMBP than the others - especially the PB (but I probably remember this fondly as I had just moved from a rubbish windows toshiba)

    Anyway my advice would be go for a top of the range 13 incher and use the spare change for a monitor. If you are at uni the 13 is so much more portable, I find the 15 just a little too close to being a bit of a pain to move around at work.
  18. nigameash macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2008
    Space: The Final Frontier
    then let me rephrase it "if he were to decide to play games in a few years, i am sure he would still be able to play alot of them (of course not at high settings!) but at reasonable settings with the dedicated card.

    i have a macbook pro 15" 2.4ghz (santa rose model)(june 07) with 256mb 8600gt. ii recently bought an imac 24" 2.66ghz (09 model) with the integrated 9400 card. it has 256mb shared vram.

    now when i play most games, i get way superior performance on the mbp than on the imac!

    eg: assassin's creed can be run at level 3/4 in the graphics + level of detail with amazing performance on the mbp but when i do the same on the imac, i can barely run it at 2/4!
  19. Wombert macrumors regular

    Oct 31, 2005
    Munich, Germany
    I never use the 9600 on my MBP. The integrated graphics has more than enough capacity for OpenCL based stuff for years to come.

    In fact, you should seriously consider a 13". It's the better machine now that it also has Firewire again and the 15" doesn't have ExpressCard anymore. I'd love a lighter and smaller laptop, and I'll definitely get a 13" next time. For the money you save, you can buy a nice monitor for when you are using it at home. A 24" ACD, or (that'd be my choice and advice) a nice big Dell with plenty of inputs so you can also hook up a PS3 or whatever later.

    Should mention I occasionally play games in Bootcamp on the MBP, and the 9600M comes in handy there, but laptops basically sucks for gaming compared to desktops, especially with the limited upgrading paths available.
  20. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Get the refurbed 2.4 late 08 uni mbp for $1350. It should be enough to get you through undergrad, and you can use the savings for bee...uh, I mean applecare.
  21. m3kilpat macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2009
    I was just in this same exact situation last week and also posted a thread on it. In the end I decided to go with the 2.53 because I decided that a longer battery life outweighed the 1 or 2 times I'd ever need the dedicated GPU. I also thought "well I might need the graphics and I want this Mac for as long as possible" but I read a bunch of threads where 90% of people said they never even use the discrete graphics card. Personally I do light photoshop work and will possibly do some movie editing and gaming (minimal), but I can tell you 256mb of integrated graphics will beat the hell out of my crap Toshiba 128mb integrated graphics and that does an ok job as it is.

    So since I bought the new 2.53 two days ago that's obviously what I'm recommending.
  22. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Back when I got my Macbook Pro, the ATI x1600 was the cream of the crop in terms of GFX power. I never played games, but chose to spend the extra on a better card, larger screen, and backlit keyboard.

    2 yeas later, I am playing games. I kinda wish I had only gotten the Macbook, however, as OS X is horrible for gaming, and I actually build a PC so I could get decent FPS's in my games.

    Long story short: Unless you do a lot of 3d stuff on the go, don't worry about the graphics chip. If i was in your place, I'd get a low end Macbook Pro (the 13" one), set aside the difference between that and a low end 15" model for a PC later down the road if you want it, and be happy knowing you got the best bang for your buck.
  23. eliteneo macrumors member

    Oct 31, 2008
    i just bought the 2.53 over the 2.66
    it doesn't make sense to spend an extra 250$ on that espically, because all you need for college is the 2.53
    so i would go with the cheaper one and save the moeny
  24. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Agreed, spend the money.
  25. feflower macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2009
    my advice

    A computer will not make you a better student; time with textbooks, good study partners and good time management will go a long way.

    I have to agree with the people who say go with the cheaper smaller option. The larger the laptop is the less likely you want to carry it around and use it.

    Spend the savings on a monitor and a mouse; unless you are one of those who are happy working on a single small screen. Ask yourself what applications you will need. I gather most of them don't need extras power, graphics. I'm in humanities so your needs maybe a little different, but I am assuming a good flashcard program will help you memorize facts (look into Genius or Anki).

    Most importantly: buy your computer and if it does the job, DON'T keep comparing with the latest apple products. You will ALWAYS regret your decision if you keep comparing. If it does the job, you've bought the right computer.

    I went to college with a 8-pin dot-matrix printer, an "IBM clone" desktop and I think it had 48k of RAM. My marks were fine...

    Good luck with college

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