Macbook Pro Buying Checklist

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by pjcforpres2020, Jun 29, 2010.

  1. pjcforpres2020 macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    Firstly, if something like this exists and I missed it, my due apologies. Secondly, this is my attempt to put together a list of tid bits I have picked up in my research of my next computer purchase, a Macbook pro. I am coming over from years of Windows, although that was preceded by years of Mac use, and I have been longing to make the switch back. The initial set up of this is going to be a little dirtier and less clean than I would prefer, but I am not an expert on Macs by any means, so am hoping for some input from those with greater knowledge so that I may update and clean up the OP, with the end objective of this being worthy of a sticky. My slant from the get go will be someone making the switch from Windows to a Mac, but do hope to have much valuable info in here that everyone can enjoy and learn from.

    Which Macbook should I buy?
    -this is a very personal decision that will be based on your own personal needs, wants, desires, and budget. As it stands, there are many options to pick from, but in the end it seems to come down to a few key factors; screen size, portability, processor speed, and intended usage.

    You have several options to pick from, the base Macbook, the Mackbook Pro series, and the Macbook Air series.

    My main focus is on the Macbook Pro series, but if you decide you need extreme portability, the Macbook Air might be right for you, especially if you are not going to ask anything super demanding of your computer. If you want affordability and portability, the Macbook is a great alternative to the Macbook Pro 13", although many would argue the extra hundred dollars is well spent, it does come at a cost. Many report the Macbook doesn't have as much glare as the 13" MBP glossy screen, and that that Macbook's screen looks better even (I disagree, personally). There is also the $200 price difference to factor in (although sales are easy to find to offset the difference, it is none the less $200). Really, the big difference between the Macbook and the Pro is the aluminum unibody of the Pro and the upgraded specs. If you are going to ask more of your laptop than youtube and flash based games, the extra money is likely a wise investment.

    On to taking a deeper look at the Macbook Pro series:
    -Screen Size: this affects both portability and usability. For me 15" is the perfect size, for you it may be 13" or 17". Important to keep in mind hi-res and anti-glare are only available with the 15" and 17" models. Looking at hi-res and anti-glare, this is another personal choice. Hi-res gives you more screen space since items appear smaller; this also means text appears smaller which is a deal breaker for some. Regarding anti-glare versus glossy, both are wonderful screens to look at. If you don't get hi-res, you only have the glossy option, so for some the need for the benefits of the anti-glare makes that choice for them. Anti-glare does a great job reducing glare, as well the screens offer superior color reproduction in terms of what they will look like when printed/ matching reality. For that reason, anti-glare are usually the only option for photo and video professionals, and even serious novice that edit pictures on a regular basis to later be printed. I went with a 15" hi-res anti-glare for the extra space, and anti-glare for the better colors since mine will be used a lot in the process of designing tattoo flash books and limited edition portrait prints. (My wife is a professional artist).

    -Portability: The smaller the screen size, the easier to carry the bad boy around. For me, I have been hauling a 17" Dell for the last two years... IMHO, it is portable but not optimal. The Macbook pro 17" is similar in size and weight, so I would say it is portable, but if you are on the go and don't need to have 17", get a 15" or 13". 13" is the most portable, but sacrifices some specs in the process. If you need the anti-glare or top of the line processor, then 13" is out of the question. However, 13" is the best selling of all the Macbook pros, and about 2/3 the price of a 15". 15" is the best balance of portability, screen real-estate, and power, IMO. It does weigh a bit more than the 13" and has a bigger foot print, but it isn't bad at all for me or my lady (she has a 15" Dell herself, that is pretty much the same, and she has not once complained about taking it places with her, and brings it to school every single day).

    -Processor Speed: While the current lineup doesn't have the fastest chips in the world, they are no slouches either. Any Macbook pro has more than enough power to handle most regular tasks. The only time someone would truly want to upgrade from the base processor, especially when looking at going from the 2.4 i5 to i7. The difference will pay off if you do a lot of video editing and encoding, convert files a lot, or use bootcamp/parallel a lot for gaming/video editing/picture editing. Or, in other words, if you do a lot of very CPU or GPU intensive processes, you will want to upgrade. But in the end, for the most part, it is not worth it for most people... the other reason to upgrade is if you are planning on using your Macbook pro for a very long time, 3+ years. I am going with the 2.4 i5, and will upgrade my RAM and hard drive since most of my heavy use will be photo editing large files, so I want the RAM space and quicker access to the file on the hard drive more than the faster speed. While an i7 would help me, the benefits are minimal since I am not doing video or gaming, and my real speed concerns center around RAM and hard drive speed.

    -Intended Usage: What do you plan on doing? This is very personal as well, and will dictate hugely which Macbook pro is right for you. If you are a professional photographer and need an on the go post production computer, you will be looking at 15" or 17" with an anti-glare screen, and the extra money on a faster processor and hard drive will be a wise investment. If you are a college student looking to surf the web, do word processing and some slightly more heavy usage, and will take your MBP with you to classes, take a look at the 13" and 15" models in basic trim. If you are a 30 something business man that travels a lot and needs a computer with you all the time to work on presentations and proposals, keep up with the family's facebook page, etc. you will likely want an anti-glare (airports have huge windows with lots of natural light), so and 15" seems to have a more professional appearance in my mind. But of course, this is all subjective and speculation, as I said, intended usage and desire to complete that usage are a very personal decision and choice.

    Some important things to keep in mind I have come across:

    -When ordering and trying to decide on an upgrade, go with what you can't do yourself down the line; the processor, the screen, the graphics card; versus what you can do, the RAM and the hard drive.

    -You need Word compatibility? iWork does a pretty darn good job, there is also MS Office (which happens to have bigger text on a hi-res screen than iWorks), there is also Open Office (haven't tried it yet myself, but have heard many great things, and no for a fact that it does a better job the MS Office 2007 at opening several MS Office 2003 documents)

    -Get a case of sorts. Either neoprene sleeve, or something else to your tastes. For $40ish, it is a good investment to protect you $2kish computer.

    -OWC and newegg are awesome for buying upgrades to the RAM and hard drive; NOTE: please tell me other places to add to this list!

    -Applecare is worth it, and you can add it on anytime in the first year, so if you can't buy it when you order, try and get it sometime in that first year.

    -Do your best to go to an Apple store, or Best Buy/other reseller, to see them in person before ordering. Especially when making the screen choice, it is a HUGE help. Best way to compare screens, as well, is to go to the same webpage with lots of photos, then open up iWorks and type up a paragraph in each, even check out youtube videos, etc.

    -Don't worry about loosing all of you Windows programs. Boot camp and parallels will be able to handle them for the most, and do a pretty darn good job of it, although you will want to get a mouse since the drivers don’t work the best with the track pad when running boot camp.

    -If you are going to upgrade the processor, go for the gold and get an i7, unless you really can't afford it but want more power than the 2.4 i5. But reality is that that 2.53 i5 is just marginally better, where as the i7 really is noticeable step in most people's minds.
  2. TheBritishBloke macrumors 68030


    Jul 21, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Very good guide indeed! It may be worth making a generalised version which can be stickied though (so not tied to a specific model/refresh). Other than that absolutely fantastic =]
  3. E Male macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2010
    The Big "Apple"
  4. elpmas macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2009
    Where the fresh snow don't go.
    This had much thoughts put in it. Good job...=)
  5. pjcforpres2020 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    Thanks guys! I will try to clean it up some in coming days, add in links, etc... I might do one that is general, but my main focus has been macbooks and that is where my greatest knowledge is at. And it is well thought out because I research all my larger purchases, and this is the result of that research.
  6. Kahalu'u Bob macrumors 6502a

    Kahalu'u Bob

    Aug 9, 2007
    Great list. Thanks. You don't mention the advantages of SSD. For me, that trumps many of the other options, if I were thinking about how to allocate $ for a purchase. And I prefer the Apple SSD to aftermarket, for many reasons discussed at length in other threads.
  7. TheBritishBloke macrumors 68030


    Jul 21, 2009
    United Kingdom
    I didn't mean an all general one. I meant one general for the MacBook/Pro range lol
  8. pjcforpres2020 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    I added in some stuff on the Macbook and Macbook Air models.

    I also added in my first series of links... internet is really slow today at work, so not sure how many more I will add since it is frustrating waiting a couple minutes for a simple page to load just to grab a link.

Share This Page