MacBook Pro - are my expectations too high?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by yum314, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. yum314 macrumors newbie

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    Oct 13, 2014
    #1
    Hi,

    I'll try to keep this as brief as possible!:)

    I'm a student, wanting to buy a new laptop, and have some questions about how a 13" retina Macbook Pro (un-upgraded) would function in my day to day life. The most I would use would be Matlab and SPSS (infrequently for university/college) and occasionally Photoshop Elements (as well as Firefox, Word, and Excel very frequently).

    Questions:

    - Would it be able to run Word (multiple documents), Firefox (multiple tabs) and Spotify at the same time without crashing/getting slower(as an example)?

    - Would it be able to handle Skype sending and receiving high quality video? (Surely the answer to this will be yes, but my current laptop PC cannot)

    - Would it last 3-5 years, even if I take it to college/university 5 days a week?

    - Would adding an external monitor greatly reduce the speed at which it can do things? And would this mean it had a shorter life? Ideally I'd like to buy a larger external monitor, as well as wireless mouse and keyboard.

    - Would it be worth getting AppleCare considering the above? I know it's much cheaper for students

    Thanks so much if you respond, and I'm really sorry if I've chosen the wrong place to post this. If so can you point me in the right direction for where to ask / where to look? I'd be really grateful :)

    Rachel
     
  2. tengorazon macrumors member

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    Sep 30, 2012
    #2
    An rMBP with the minimum specs should easily be able to handle all of the above. Look for a refurbished 2013 model in the Apple Store to save money. I would recommend AppleCare since you will presumably be carrying the computer around a lot. Good luck!
     
  3. ABC5S Suspended

    ABC5S

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    #3
    Doing some of the very same things you will be doing and I have the following spec's. Really like the system

    MacBook Pro Retina / 8 GB memory / 128 GB SSD drive / Safari (Best for me)
     
  4. Mac2k4 macrumors newbie

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    Sep 30, 2014
    #4
    No offense but even a base model macbook air will handle that. Air is extremely light and portable. I'd buy an Air if I were you. Just my opinion.
     
  5. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #5
    I can't say either way on Applecare. I can say I've owned notebooks for several years at a time. I'm typing on an early 2011 model right now. The battery started to swell up maybe a month ago, and needed to be replaced. The charger cord also frayed recently. Overall it was a bit past 3 and a half years old. It's important to realize that you may have service costs like that down the road. I was out of pocket on both as applecare expired back in February.
     
  6. snaky69 macrumors 603

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    Mar 14, 2008
    #6
    I numbered your questions for ease of response.

    1. Any computer built in the last 5-6 years can do that with ease. If you have used one that can't either there is a hardware/software problem on it, or the owner has been really cheap on RAM.

    2. That has a lot more to do with your internet connection's speed than the computer itself. An iPad can do it, and that's a whole lot less powerful than a MacBook Pro.

    3. Luck of the draw. These things are built in very large productions. Duds happen. If you get a good one with no manufacturing flaws, I can't see why it wouldn't last 10 years. By that time though, it'd probably be too underpowered for most users.

    4. No. I don't understand why you would think that. If it couldn't handle an external monitor, then I don't see why Apple provides you with a thunderbolt port and HDMI as well to run 2 of them.

    5. Your call, nothing is user replaceable or repairable in those laptops. Either you get a good one with no issues, either you don't. You can buy AppleCare anytime during your 1 year original warranty. You have a whole year to make up your mind.

    With that said, an iPad has enough computing power to handle all you mentioned, so if that is truly all you do on a computer, then if anything the MBP is too powerful for your needs.
     
  7. Freyqq macrumors 68040

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    Dec 13, 2004
    #7
    A base model 13" rMBP could easily handle this workload. The only limiting factor for you would be how much storage you need, but you can always get a cheap USB 3 external hard drive for the overflow. You would probably never be in trouble based on the workload above, but any personal stuff like a large amount of music or pictures could fill it up.

    External monitors don't affect the life of the computer. Not sure where you heard that. It may run the components a littler harder because you are having it work harder, but that is nothing this computer can't handle.

    Applecare can be worth it. Obviously, it is mitigation of risk. The computer should last 5 years, but if something were to break, obviously it would be cheaper to repair if you were covered. That being said, the most likely things to break on a laptop were the hard drive and the optical drive, as they had moving parts. This computer has an SSD instead of a hard drive (faster and newer technology) and no optical drive, so it should be pretty reliable.
     
  8. s2mikey macrumors 68020

    s2mikey

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    #8
    Ditto to what others have said. If possible, you may want to bump up the RAM to 8GB for what I consider a trivial cost. It'll ensure longer term usability and be able to do even more for you should your needs change down the road.

    Even so, the base config would work for you.
     
  9. TechGod macrumors 68040

    TechGod

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    #9
    An iPad or MacBook Pro could handle all things mentioned above easily.
     
  10. yum314 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 13, 2014
    #10
    Thanks everyone for your responses! Makes making my decision on whether to buy much easier :).

    I'm aware I know horribly little on this lol, which is why I came here to ask :)

    I will probably get the Extended AppleCare for the reasons discussed, and go with a MacBook Pro over the Air for the retina display :) (unless they surprisingly announce a retina Air on the 16th!)

    Also, I the laptop that I bought this year and that I'm using now has 8GB ram but has a lot of difficulty handling Spotify, Firefox, and Word at the same time, so I imagined there are big differences between how a laptop's specs look on paper to someone who doesn't know this stuff (me) and how the laptop will actually perform.
     
  11. TechGod macrumors 68040

    TechGod

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    #11
    That's a problem with the computer rather than the RAM.
     
  12. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #12
    Depends on the type of cpu your existing laptop has - swapping the existing hard drive for an ssd will also help. If the fans are loud use a towel and baffle half the exhaust port and blow really hard into it whilst closing your eyes and repeat the other half. Use a vacuum cleaner nozzle to suck any debris out which is why I said close your eyes when you blow :D
     
  13. yum314 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 13, 2014
    #13
    Oh really? That's interesting, I shouldn't have assumed it was related to RAM. It's a Toshiba laptop that I bought new in January for about £330 and really regret the purchase. I'm really glad it doesn't look like I'd be repeating this if I bought a MacBook :)
     
  14. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #14
    A tosh with the AMD k5 chip in it most likely at that price range. They run pig slow but go really quick compared to before after an ssd transplant.

    A MacBook will blow the back doors off it in terms of performance even if you upgrade the tosh but it's got a hell of a lot more power under the hood than your cheapie!

    Upgrade the MacBook pro ram to at least 8gb and get AppleCare
     
  15. yum314 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 13, 2014
    #15
    Thanks for the advice, I think I've kept it quite dust free using similar methods to those you've described :). I have no idea about the CPU (a quick google search didn't return anything that I could follow to find out) but it's 2.00 GHz (I don't know what that means, I assume it's very bad). I'm pretty set on getting a MacBook now though so it doesn't really matter :)

    ----------

    This is exactly what I wanted to hear!! I won't try anything related to the SSD thing but this comment alone pretty much confirms my MacBook purchase :)
     
  16. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #16
    With the stock hard drive the tosh is as slow as cold custard - for 300 quid I advise my clients to get a used i5 or i7 hp probook business notebook with an ssd than buy cheap and nasty consumer gear new. If you sell it to a mate tell them to upgrade to ssd else flog it on eBay to let them have a working but dreadfully slow laptop!
     
  17. drlunanerd macrumors 65816

    drlunanerd

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    #17
    FYI: AppleCare is free for students in the UK if you purchase via the Higher Education Apple Store.
     
  18. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #18
    It's neither. It's an issue with firefox. Firefox can be a pain when it comes to relinquishing memory. Chrome uses much less, even with all of its helper processes. Taking it to school 5 days a week, just make sure you're very careful with the power cord. Even then these things can fray, and you should expect that there will be a time when you replace that battery. Note that Applecare doesn't cover them past a certain number of cycles, as they are considered a consumable part.
     
  19. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #19
    If you read his posts describing his problems - his existing cheapo Toshiba AMD chipset laptop, one which I have also had painful experience in terms of performance until it was made use-able by upgrading to an SSD was his real problem. A load of rubbish to put it mildly!

    Firefox can be a pain but it's syncing prowess and superb extensions across all platforms without my personal data being analysed or mined means its still my default browser - Chrome deals with flash though!
     
  20. Woochoo macrumors 6502

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    Oct 12, 2014
    #20
    You can do all this even with a MBA. The external monitor won't reduce speed, because it depends on your graphic card, not directly related to CPU. What's more, in case you pick up a MBP it would have to drive more pixels of the retina display than a 1080p external monitor, so it would be even more fluid.

    Apple Care, in my experience, is NOT worth it. When I bought my MBP 13", in the same shop (not official Apple Store) I took a 2 year insurance policy which would cover everything (including own made damage), except theft, for the 10% price of the mac value. Worth it? For sure, I accidentally spilled water over my MBP (valued in 1300€, so the insurance costed me 130) and they came home to pick my Mac, repaired it (valued in 800€ because of the logic board), and sent it back. Otherwise I would've lost my Mac because it didn't even start up.

    On the other side, Apple Care is more expensive and it doesn't cover any water spill or damage you made to your Mac.
     
  21. Freyqq macrumors 68040

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    #21
    CPU is too slow probably. The rmbp has a great CPU for your usage case.
     
  22. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #22
    Well yeah I can understand that. I don't really hate firefox. I just occasionally get annoyed with its cookie monster "all your ram is belong to me" policy.
     
  23. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #23
    With 16gb in my MBP and double that in my Mac Pro it's not something I even think of most of the time unless it hangs and I have to close it. I've had it in bootcamp guzzling nearly 2gb with ludicrous amounts of tabs open in loads of windows :D

    Besides - it's an absolute anorexic in terms of guzzling ram compared to Photoshop which eats boxes of biscuits compared to just the one packet :)
     
  24. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #24
    Photoshop has to write temporary raster data somewhere to provide responsive toggling of various states and things. They could do that via lower quality adjustments on cached images, but it would be less accurate. You can lower the available ram and rely on scratch disks, which was the older system. Anyway firefox doesn't have to deal with some of those things. I make it tolerable by addons. I block the various analytics trackers in addition to using an ad-blocker. It definitely makes things more responsive.
     

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