Macbook Pro 2 week review

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by johngardiner, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. johngardiner macrumors regular

    May 13, 2008
    Hey guys, so with a lot of people asking whether or not they should buy a Macbook Pro now, or never, I thought I'd give some impressions after having my Macbook Pro for 2 weeks now.

    So my model is the new Penryn 2.5 ghz with a 250gb HDD, 512mb video card and 2 gb of ram as you can see in my sig. When I first got it I was of course amazed. I loved OSX and the general look and feel of the laptop, so this will talk more about now that I have my computer setup to how I like it, how I'm finding the Macbook Pro.

    I'll start with what kind of computer user I am. I'm a university student in Canada and have been a windows user my entire life... only using my roomates macbook pro every once and a while to try it out. Finally I decided to take the plunge and buy my own as I'm making a good amount of money this summer at my job. Being a windows user I wanted to have windows on the macbook pro for those just in case times, and also because I play video games quite frequently. Getting windows up was a piece of cake, and it runs smoother than any other laptop I've owned. Granted it's XP and the requirements are pretty low, it has never ever seemed sluggish. So I have a 50gb partition for boot camp, and the rest is for OSX.

    At first I was amazed at the speed, and fantastic design of Leopard. I loved how easy it was to find my app and open it up. The apps that come with leopard are great. I play guitar so I've been messing around with garageband a bit, plus using iphoto and movie for the stuff I pull of my digital camera. All the iLife applications are very easy to use, quick and full featured. So much better than the crap you just delete with a new windows PC. I've also switched to using mail as my primary email program... and that too was extremely easy to get up and running.. just enter your email and password and mail does the rest. So all the apps are great. What impresses me more though, throughout my time spent in OSX is how efficiently I can work on the computer. (when I say work I mean do all my seperate activites... IM, music, browsing, email and whatever else). Using spaces to separate my activies, and also the shortcuts to switch between them, I find I can do things much more quickly than in windows. Expose is also fantastic if you have a bunch of IM's open for instance and need to find one thats in the background. Another thing that I've come to love is the dashboard. Having used windows sidebar in vista previously, I went in thinking that this would be nothing new...and in terms of the kind of applications you can put in dashboard, its not. What is special though, is the quality of those applications, and how much more they can do. For instance last night I installed a movie finder app that displays movie posters of all the current releases in theaters. I thought it was pretty cool, but then I realized once you clicked on a movie you were interested in, it would find the times it was playing in all your local theaters, and give you the option of streaming the trailer (assumedly from apples trailer database), all within the widget. Very very cool stuff. Over 2 weeks OSX has proven itself to be an incredible alternative to Windows. I still have a lot to learn on it (I just started using quicksilver last night... I feel like it will be a LONGG time before I figure out everything it can do), but whenever I boot up windows on my mac I now get this feeling of a much less quality product.

    BootCamp, and VMWare Fusion
    As I said from being a gamer, and needing windows in those clutch moments, I installed XP on my boot camp partition. Everything went extremely smoothly and drivers installed no problem (the only extra one I installed is a custom video card driver from for better performance). From a gamers perspective the laptop is great. Right now I have Age of Conan, Crysis, and Company of Heroes installed. Age of Conan made me wish I had made a bigger windows partition, but all of the games run great. Age of Conan and crysis I run on medium settings at native resolution, and Company of Heroes everything on high. Other than firefox and utorrent, that's all I currently have on windows, but will probably be adding some more apps as I head back to school in the fall. Up until last night I was running windows entirely through boot camp, but decided I would give VMWare Fusion a try as I had heard good things. So I installed it, and booted up my boot camp partition. Once you install the VMWare tools, XP runs nearly as smooth as it does when you boot it through boot camp. You can dedicate how ever much of the processor and memory to the virtual desktop, and hence make it the priority, or OSX the priority. After you have it all booted up, there are different ways to interact with your windows desktop. First is in a window where your XP or vista desktop is displayed within one osx window at a size of your choosing. Second is full screen where your xp or vista desktop basically replaces your OSX one and you can use a simple shortcut to go back to OSX. Lastly is called unity, where VMWare takes application windows from XP and turns them into windows on OSX, so it seems like you are running your windows apps in OSX, at near full speed. VMWare was fantastic in the time I spent with it last night, and am looking forward to using it more. (it's especially great because I don't have to leave OSX to do things such as downloading patches for age of conan etc.)

    My time spent with my macbook pro has been extremely pleasureful. I've fully converted to an OSX and Mac user :) . There are some things that take some getting used to, right clicking with the trackpad, the new shortcuts, scrolling and all the new trackpad features etc. But once you spend some quality time with it, they become second nature and you probably wouldn't want it any other way. The laptop is gorgeous... the screen literally amazes me every time I look at it (I have the matte ps), and especially so when I realize it's not even on full brightness. The battery lasts anywhere from 3-5 hours... depending on screen brightness, cpu usage, and wifi usage. Typically for me it will last about 4.5 with the screen on a good level of brightness and casual browsing and IM'ing.

    so I hope that helps any doubters out there... I know the forums can make the macbook pro out to be a trouble filled device, but keep in mind that it's infinitely more common for someone to go on and post problems than it is for someone to write about how much they love their computer. If you have any questions feel free to ask, and if not go buy your damn mac!
  2. shoppy macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2007
    Good for you and thanks for the post. It's a learning curve initially but afterwards it just all makes sense. I still remember my first powerbook ahh, that was a while ago.
  3. Neil321 macrumors 68040


    Nov 6, 2007
    Britain, Avatar Created By Bartelby
    Nice write up,you mention QS and how long it takes to learn your right it does,but here's a pdf to make your learning curve easier,it's a few pages long mind you,and can take a while to load
  4. Beau10 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 6, 2008
    Downtown San Diego
    Hi John,

    I'm a similar convert, having used Windows PCs for nearly 20 years (caveat was a stint in college in the mid-90s with a Powerbook Duo 280c - but obviously things are quite different today).

    I'm a Sr. .NET developer and I tend to tax the living crap out of my computer on compiles... running everything under fusion just fine. Love OS X, couldn't go back.
  5. johngardiner thread starter macrumors regular

    May 13, 2008

    thanks neil, I was looking through that last night figuring some stuff out... it's really a very deep program that looks thin when you first get it!

    I've also been using delicious library which has been really cool. Surprised something like it hasnt come out for windows yet.
  6. Bobioden macrumors 68000


    Sep 23, 2007
    Nice review. I am going on 1 month for me and loving it.
  7. Neil321 macrumors 68040


    Nov 6, 2007
    Britain, Avatar Created By Bartelby
    Hi john

    Yep your right it does take some figuring out,i've tried to use it everyday for god knows how long now and i think I'm still only scratching the surface of what it's capable of,anyways seeing as your new to Mac's i thought you might be interested in this link to other apps & what they do,oh and once you go Mac you never go back
  8. mersea macrumors regular

    Mar 28, 2005
    Age of Conan is running fine with only 2 gig of RAM? I'm talking myself into upgrading to the base MBP from my old iBook... How long did it take you to install XP? I probably will max out to 4 gigs eventually, but I want to start playing right away :) :)
  9. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    i don't think even crysis will use more than 2..especially at the settings your forced to use b\c of the videocard in the comp...

    4 is nice though for vmware tho so you can have more ram to play around with
  10. Christian G macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2008
    Hey! Congrats on the switch.
    I noticed you said you were still using uTorrent on Windows...I just thought I'd throw a quick plug for Transmission:
    It's my favorite BitTorrent client by far...I find it balances full-featuredness and usability perfectly. Maybe you'll find it useful.

  11. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    rTorrent FTW!!!
  12. bertpalmer macrumors 6502

    Apr 12, 2007
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts - glad you're enjoying it - let us know any updates you have!
  13. Draeconis macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    I really liked the OPs post, very concise and helpful for us about to switch over. One thing I've been wondering is how Crysis runs? I've heard quite a lot about it running on mixed medium/high pretty well, but I value resolution pretty highly, and they all seem to be sacrificing it for extra FPS. What FPS do you get when you play it?

    Also, I'm currently a Windows/Linux user and I have McAfee on both systems, but trying to get McAfee software for Mac is somewhat of a nightmare. They only seem to sell it to Enterprise Businesses, and only a minimum of 3 copies? Very strange. I know OS X is pretty secure, but because of it's popularity increasing, that will slowly change, and I'd like to have a backup rather than just relying on not many people using OS X.
  14. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I forgot to say:

    Congratulations and thanks for the great review!


    And I'm still running Vista on my desktop and it has not crashed once, boots up faster than OS X.
  15. cms2 macrumors 6502


    Aug 4, 2007
    excellent post

    Just wanted to thank you (as others already have) for a really well thought out and worded post. I switched just under a year ago to the MBP SR and I have loved every second with it. I was never a big computer person before this, usually just treating my laptops as any other tool. This computer, though... well my wife says it's my baby. I forget that I'm even using a computer, the interface is so easy, the whole thing just gets out of the way and empowers me to do whatever I'm trying to do with the minimum fuss.

    I will never, ever go back. :apple:
  16. ricpac macrumors member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Great news for n00bs and switchers. You couldn't have said it any better. Hats off to you JG.
  17. alanlindsay macrumors member

    Mar 4, 2008
    Overclocking the 15in MBP

    I have the base penryn model and I use Rivatuner in XP to overclock the 8600M GT and I highly recommend it. The 15in model comes undercloked as standard unlike the 17in model for what I can only assume are heating issues.

    Unless you game on your lap there's no reason why you can't safely OC the card and reap in an extra 0-20% performance increase.
  18. johngardiner thread starter macrumors regular

    May 13, 2008
    hey guys, just to respond to a few of the questions:

    Crysis: Crysis runs very well on the settings I mentioned. My FPS ranges from 20-50 depending on where you are, how many enemies you're around etc. It's a great game.. and awesome for showing off your laptop to your friends.

    Age of Conan: Age of Conan isn't really a RAM dependent game, as much as it is a GPU dependent game. After a bit of tweaking (turning off shadows, bloom and particle distance) I range from 20-25FPS in the cities, and 45-70FPS outside of the cities.

    XP was very quick to install, it's the same speed as any recent non-apple computer, there's no delays or anything because you're on Apple Hardware.

    And yeah I've been using transmission while in OSX and often transferring files over to windows through my boot camp partiion rather than booting up xp.. haha that's how much more I love OSX

    Hope this helps!
  19. Insulin Junkie macrumors 65816

    Insulin Junkie

    May 5, 2008
    Mainland Europe
    Awesome review, glad you're enjoying your macbook Pro as much as I am! (Or maybe even more, since you've had it for longer) :)

    And I agree - once you've started working with a Mac you'll start wondering why you ever used Windows for that long :D
  20. tanism macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2007
    Thanks for the detail review.
    I just converted to mac last week. The experience has been great so far. And I already know that MacBook Pro is going to be my next laptop. :)
  21. Hushbull macrumors member


    Apr 23, 2008
    Bible Belt ---> NYC.
    I'll post a review as well whenever mine arrives. The Initial Feelings of a Mac Convert, a couple weeks later, Mac: From This Day Forward, a month later, I Mac and Looking Back.
    Presuming I enjoy my experience, it would be another few threads that doesn't cast a huge doubtful eye on everything Apple.
  22. Babaknt macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2008
    Crysis on virtual?

    Thanks for a great review JG!:)

    Out of curiousity, have you tried running crysis on the virtual machine?

    I am also planning to take the plunge over to mac and buy a macbook pro in august. I am a Architectural student and need heavy hardware to power the heavy software. Unfortunatly some of the graphic softwares only come to windows. From what I have heard the virtual engine is not powered by the graphics card, which causes a problem if you would like to use 3dsmax etc.
  23. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    I remember when I was getting ready to order my first mac all my co-workers scoffed at it because EVERYTHING I do is windows related (IT work, Direct X Programming, etc). I kind of wondered too if it was capable of everything I did in windows so I researched, then I bought and I have to agree. Mac blows windows out of the water. Windows feels unfinished now when I load it into bootcamp or vmware, and whats really great is the fact that I CAN load it into bootcamp or vmware!

    With multiple desktops I have windows in one desktop, mac in the other, and I flawlessly switch between them. I write programs in windows, save it, and can open it on mac and edit it there if I wish. Having multiple OSs on one desktop is fantastic. Why buy a mac and a windows machine when I can just buy a mac and have both?
  24. johngardiner thread starter macrumors regular

    May 13, 2008
    Haha no I haven't tried that... I did however try CS:Source and it worked but was very stuttery.. booting up your windows disk in boot camp is the preferred option in these cases.

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