Macbook Pro vs ...?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Windgrace, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. Windgrace, Apr 2, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012

    Windgrace macrumors newbie

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    Apr 2, 2012
    #1
    Hello everyone!

    So I have been reading up on updates to the MBP lineup and I check everyday for updates. I am running a very old black macbook that's in dire need of a new top case and is currently functional because of an external keyboard I'm using to type. I'm in the market for a new computer and I don't know where to go!

    So I pretty much use my computer for internet and writing documents (student) so a 13" mba should be suitable (and I love the size/weight!) but as silly as it might be, Diablo III is a priority to me and my next computer has to be able to play it. I'm not a serious gamer by any means and this game will be the extent of my computer gaming. It looks like I'd have to step up to the 15" MBP to be able to run it. I doubt the new 13" MBP will have a quad-core dedicated GPU. Hopefully the 15" MBP update will be worth the wait.

    What about buying refurbished from the mac store? A 13" mbp from 2010 with a Nvidia graphics card is a bit less than $1k. But it seems silly buying a computer that's 2 years old...is it that much more reliable than a new PC?

    I haven't used a PC in a long time, and please don't let any bias (I realize this is a mac forum) but if there are any decent and comparable PC laptops (Lenovo? HP?) I should look at please let me know!
     
  2. BigZ9 macrumors member

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    #2
    I know Sandy bridge integrated graphics (Intel HD 3000) can handle the Diablo 3 beta on some relatively low settings. The next-gen Ivy Bridge processors are supposed to improve integrated graphics. So I think you should be fine getting the 13" Pro. Obviously a 15" would make everything prettier :D. No point in buying older hardware from Apple, especially since they're dropping support on some Intel macs with Mountain Lion. You never know what'll be next on the chopping block. And if you aren't an avid gamer I don't see much of a point switching to a PC.
     
  3. Macman45 macrumors G5

    Macman45

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    #3
    A refurb is a great way of saving money. You are buying from Apple, get the full warranty, and peace of mind that goes with it. Buying from ebay etc. is a lottery, you just don't know what you are getting.
     
  4. UnreaLTechniquE macrumors newbie

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    Australia
    #4
    15" has abit more power

    NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 330M or ATI Radeon™ HD 4670 or better (for GPU secifications) this is really the only necessary information for yourself as everything else you do is pretty basic computing. Personally I would recommend the 15" purely for the added power benefit. Its always better to have a little more then a little less just in case, you might find a point where you'll make use of it. But considering the price jump, the IGP HD3000 would be OK. Unless you want it a medium to high details the 13" will do just fine. :)
     
  5. Windgrace thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Hmmmmmm. Well I guess I'll have to wait and see what the new MBPs are going to look like. Without a doubt the 15" mbp will be fine for my needs...either I will wait to get the current one discounted or get whatever is the newest technology Apple plans on using. If I go 13" I'll definitely at least wait for the Intel HD4000, which hopefully will bring around enough of a power boost to run the game on medium...

    The suggested system requirements are:
    Recommended System Requirements for Mac OS X

    OS X 10.7.x or newer
    Core 2 Duo at 2.4GHz or faster
    4GB RAM
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M or ATI Radeon HD 4670 or better

    Would I need the processor upgrade from 2.4 to 2.8 in the 13" to make up for the lack of a dedicated gpu...?
     
  6. raineslc macrumors newbie

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    Apr 3, 2012
    #6
    I'm in the same boat as you but I'm trying to decide if I want an iMac instead...The things I'll do for some D3...but I kinda want a MacBook for when I'm on trips for work. Would the older 2009 24 inch iMacs be able to run diablo?
     
  7. knightphillip macrumors newbie

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    Mar 30, 2012
    #7
    If you can make it for another few months, i would wait and get the 15in mbp.
     
  8. BigZ9 macrumors member

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    Apr 2, 2012
    #8
    Instead, I think putting in 8GB of Ram will make more of a difference cause more memory will be allocated to the HD4000.

    Like on current macbook pro's with 4GB you get about 384MB of ram for the HD3000. Though when you upgrade to 8GB, it jumps up to 512MB.

    Hopefully, the next macbooks still allow for user upgradable ram...
     
  9. Windgrace thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    That's probably what I'm gonna have to do, but I'm hoping it's closer to the beginning of may. I don't think apple will be revamping their pros and airs with the new Ivy Bridge processors at the same time.

    I think I might have to wait a few months to get a new 13" mbp. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

    So if I got a current 13" mbp with 8 gb of ram it would be fine enough for my everday use and would run D3 ok?
     
  10. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    #10
    So I pretty much use my computer for internet and writing documents (student) so a 13" mba should be suitable (and I love the size/weight!) but as silly as it might be, Diablo III is a priority to me and my next computer has to be able to play it. I'm not a serious gamer by any means and this game will be the extent of my computer gaming. It looks like I'd have to step up to the 15" MBP to be able to run it. I doubt the new 13" MBP will have a quad-core dedicated GPU. Hopefully the 15" MBP update will be worth the wait.[/QUOTE]

    Gaming on a MacBook Air is silly as it's not meant for it, nor is that what it was designed for. If you have problems carrying a 13" MacBook Pro, it's a decent idea. Not so if you can. That said, if Diablo III is at all a priority to you, then I wouldn't consider any MacBook Air, nor any current 13" MacBook Pro (with the Intel HD 3000). I'd make an exception with the Mid 2010 13" MacBook Pro, owning more or less the same machine in the form of the Mid 2010 Mac mini and being able to attest to how well the Diablo III beta runs on it, however, even still the GeForce 320M that the Mid 2010 13" MacBook Pro has is still not ideal for Diablo III. I'd go with either of the current 15" MacBook Pros (and by that token, assuming money is no object and you like the idea of two more diagonal inches of screen real estate, the 17" as well).

    A Mid 2010 13" MacBook Pro, as good of a machine as it was for its time and as it is two years later, is not your best buy even as a refurbished Mac. I'd say that if you're shopping from the Apple Refurbished Mac section of the Apple Online Store (which, unless you need to customize the machine at the time of purchase, is always a fantastic idea), either of the current 15" models (listed as being from October 2011) will do fine, same with the 17" model, should you so desire. Same with the 17" and higher-end 15" model (with the AMD Radeon HD 6750 with 1GB of VRAM) listed as being from February 2011. You don't want the lower-end 15" model listed as being from February 2011 (with the AMD Radeon HD 6490 with 256MB of VRAM) as its video card is weaker than the GeForce GT 330M that is both in the Mid 2010 15" MacBook Pros and listed as a recommended system spec. Typically you want to have higher than the recommended system spec for optimal play performance.

    Frankly, I don't know of a PC laptop as well constructed and designed as the current design of MacBook Pros. On most PC laptops, you can't get at all of the components anywhere near as easily as you can on the MacBook Pros. Also, I don't know of a PC laptop as sturdily constructed as the current design of MacBook Pros. Sure there are PC laptops with faster innards, especially for the price, but you make up for that in having a well-constructed machine (something I don't find necessarily as evident or as big of a deal in any of their other four Mac product lines). The MacBook Pro is the best PC laptop in my opinion. That said, even with a maxed out 17" MacBook Pro, you will never get as good of performance as with a custom-built PC desktop.

    However, given that your gaming habits (let alone any system intensive task needs beyond the usual word processing, music, Internet, e-mail) seem to be limited to Blizzard games, if not just Diablo III, I think you probably don't need a dedicated gaming rig and would be probably fine with either a current 15" or a higher-end previous gen 15" MacBook Pro. That said, at the end of this month we will be six months into the eight-to-ten month refresh cycle of the MacBook Pro line. Unless you're specifically going for the Apple Refurbished models (for which new models don't appear until three months after the refresh anyway), it is probably wise to wait until the line is next updated. If you're going that route, I recommend waiting about two months until after the refresh as all known bugs and issues are usually ironed out either in manufacturing or via Firmware updates by that time. Otherwise, find the 15" models that I mentioned today and snag 'em; they're fantastic machines. Whatever you do, just don't forget to buy AppleCare.
     
  11. Jb07 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    I wouldn't consider something 2 years old. If you want to really stretch your budget, get a high end windows computer. For ~$800 , you could get a Lenovo U400 with an AMD Radeon 1GB graphics card. If your heart is set on a Mac, then go refurb.
     
  12. Windgrace, Apr 3, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2012

    Windgrace thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Yeah, I'm not planning on getting an Air to play the game. Hah. I did some reading online and the Intel HD 3000 doesn't seem to be up to the task. I wonder if the new 13" pro due with the Intel HD 4000 will be a significant step up to run the game on Medium...as much as I prefer the 13" size I think that even with the Pro update the 13" will not receive any serious upgrades to it's graphics. I think, if I go with a Mac (which I'd prefer) I'd have to go with a 15" pro. I'm wondering if the 13" pro is going to be dropped entirely...

    My biggest gripe with the refurbished 15" models present is that the $ difference between new and refurbished really isn't that huge.


    From what I'm reading, it looks like there could be updates as early as May and probably June at the latest. Kinda sucks missing out on the first few weeks of the game if I do have to wait until June, but oh well. As I said before, I wonder if the 13" pro is going to be dropped from the lineup. It barely has more processing power than a 13" air and, if I remember correctly, the 13" air is outselling the pro by great margins. I wouldn't be surprised to see 15" and 17" pro refreshes with the updated quad-core Ivy Bridge in May and refreshed 11" and 13" Airs updated in June with the updated duo-core Ivy Bridge processors (and maybe the addition of a 15" air.)
     
  13. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    #13
    The Intel HD 3000 in the Early and Late 2011 models was a slight step backward from the NVIDIA GeForce 320M used in the Mid 2010, and the Intel HD 4000 should be a good step forward from both of those, but it will still be mediocre relative to 2012. I do like the 13" MacBook Pro and was previously in the market for one until I realized that as someone who wants to eventually simplify things and only have one Mac that is my main Mac and main computer (with probably a ton of Windows machines that all do various things like work and gaming), a 13" Pro just can't do the things a 15" can, and really a 15" Pro isn't that much hard to transport than a 13".




    You save $70 by buying refurbished over buying the same Mac new with an Academic discount. It's not the $270 difference that it would be if you weren't clued into the academic discount, but you could still do a lot with $70. Even then, the real bargain is on buying something like the Early (February) 2011 higher-end 15" MacBook Pro where you'll save that much more because that same model doesn't exist new and is that much cheaper for being older. Given that said model is identical to today's low-end model, save for having double the VRAM, that's still not at all a bad proposition.

    The 13" Pro, if configured with an SSD, will smoke the 13" Air. Plus there are plenty of people out there who need a DVD drive on their laptop, so it is possible that it'll stick around for a while yet. Then again, Apple might be relegating the DVD drive as a higher-end feature, in which case they could easily simplify the line-up by positioning the 13" MacBook Air to replace the 13" MacBook Pro in the line. I feel like one could debate theories in either direction for days. The 15" Air looks likely, given the rumors, but it isn't going to replace anything. People need the 15" Pro to have the features that it has, almost all of which would be lost in going from Pro to Air, then again, the theory also exists that the 17" Pro might remain the only MacBook Pro for those that need it similar to the Mac Pro being a desktop for those that need an Apple-branded Mac desktop for anything including the kitchen sink.
     
  14. Windgrace thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #14
    I agree, I was wondering if I could possibly get an 11" air and maybe a PC desktop/laptop to play my game but it seems like it would be worth the $ to go all out and get a 15" mbp to keep things simpler.

    That is very true. My family (read, sister) had a nightmare experience with a refurbished macbook that was replaced by a 15" pro at the end of the warranty because the computer had books of information because of all kinds of problems. That 15" mbp has been problematical lately, as well. I suppose I have the same chance of a brand new machine being problematical though...

    Yeah, I just feel that if they slim up the 13" pro by removing ethernet and optical drive they pretty much have the 13" air...but you're right that we can debate many different possible directions Apple can take with their Air/Pro lineup. And no, I don't believe the 15" air will replace anything. If they manage to put a dedicated GPU in it then I might take a look at it, but I find it unlikely. All-in-all, I wish these updates weren't so up in the air! Haha.
     
  15. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    #15
    As someone who used to have three Macs to do the job that should've best been done by the combination of one Mac and a NAS system, I can appreciate complex set-ups. If you notice my signature, the Mac mini Server that I list there will probably be sold and replaced with a 15" MacBook Pro as soon as they are updated (provided Apple doesn't do anything drastic with the new rev such as remove the optical drive or any ports of importance), which will be used in conjunction with the PC tower in my signature, which I'll use for gaming. Obviously, money doesn't grow on trees, so that combination might not be financially practical. Plus, you are a student yes? If you're living in a dorm, a desktop can be kind of unwieldy to carry, so I'd say that simply sticking with a 15" MacBook Pro for while you're a student in the dorms makes sense, then build a PC when you're in your own place.



    The Mac mini Server that I use as my primary Mac is a refurbished model and I've had no problems whatsoever. Similarly my dad has the same generation of Mac mini, but the non-server model. Also refurbished. Also no problems whatsoever. Then again, these are the Apple-refurbished models from the Refurbished Mac section of Apple's own store site. But still if yours are the same, you might just have poor luck. I will not be buying my MacBook Pro from that section as I will definitely be customizing it at the time of purchase. Sad, but at least I can still get the educational discount.

    Yeah a discrete GPU in a 15" Air is a laughably unrealistic proposition despite many people on this site wishing/believing otherwise. I think that it'd make the ultimate secondary Mac, though frankly, I have a secret desire for the 15" MacBook Pro + 17" MacBook Air dream combo, but that's just me. I would like it if Apple didn't can the 13" Pro, but then again, I have no personal investment as a Mac with an Intel IGP and no discrete GPU does me nothing. I could see them going either way on it, to be honest. Really, I have qualms with any Mac that isn't either a 15" MacBook Pro or a 17" MacBook Pro.
     
  16. Windgrace thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #16
    Sound advice for sure. I was thinking maybe an iMac+iPad combo too...but once you add Applecare I might as well stick with the 15" pro at that price point. I think I'll have to stick with a 15" pro to get everything I want in one package...now it's just time to let the waiting begin to see the new specs for the refreshed/redesigned Pros.

    A 15" air with a discrete GPU would be awesome, but I agree that it's not going to happen. A 13" with a discrete GPU would be perfect for me, but I highly doubt that it's going to happen. As I said before, I wonder if the 13" pro is on the chopping block...

    I might as well ask. My friend is going to an art school for digital stuff (autocad, maya, etc). Lion doesn't support her programs and she's been using a pretty old MBP for the last several years. She bought a top-end iMac but, as I said before, she couldn't get her programs installed even with the help of employees at the Apple Store and had to return it before she even left the store. So she's looking at PCs. I think Lenovo, Toshiba and HP generally seem to get better reviews, but I'm not sure what kinds of makes/models she should be looking at. Any tips?
     
  17. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    #17
    I'd say that you should get a 15" MacBook Pro AND an iPad. Given that Apple sells the refurbished models of both the first generation iPad as well as the all of the iPad 2 models, you can still experience 90% of benefit of owning an iPad without it necessarily being a new third generation model. I bought my first generation iPad in that fashion and don't at all regret not spending more and buying an iPad 2 when it was new. Really an iPad is more portable than a MacBook Pro (or a MacBook Air for that matter) and is more appropriate for certain uses. It's costly, but very much worth it, in my opinion.

    See, I don't think a 15" Air with a discrete GPU would be awesome, but that's only because it'd have to be a pretty neutered discrete GPU to deal with the low-voltage. As for the 13" Pro being on death row, I have a feeling it'll live to fight another day given that there are consumers (largely college students) that demand a laptop that can play DVDs as this is their DVD/player/TV in the dorm.


    Odd that Lion doesn't work with AutoCAD (which is now back on the Mac platform) and Maya, unless she only has older versions of that software. If she's looking for a laptop, I'd still stand by the recommendation of a 15" MacBook Pro and a Windows 7 license for use with Boot Camp, as the 15" MacBook Pro is, incidentally, the best laptop on the market in my opinion, running Mac OS X or not. Otherwise, if a desktop PC is what's needed and it is to solely be used for this software, I'd say you and/or your friend should build a PC tower as it'll be of much higher quality than any PC you could buy from any name-brand manufacturer...and honestly, solely from a hardware perspective, I think it's a better machine than any of Apple's current three desktop Mac product lines. Really I make those recommendations as I truly feel that the 15"/17" MacBook Pros are the best laptop out there, PC or Mac. Similarly, I feel a custom built tower (whether used as a traditional Windows PC or a Hackintosh) is the best desktop out there, PC or Mac.

    If a desktop PC is desired and neither of you know how to build a PC tower nor have time to learn, Asus and Lenovo are good brands and they make fairly solid machines for being name-brand desktop PCs and not custom-built ones.
     
  18. knightphillip macrumors newbie

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    #18
    any current mac is good for everyday use. i suggest the 15in because Diablo will run better with the graphics card in the 15in model. The 13in would be fine but you would have to run diablo at lower settings.

    I also suggest 8gb of ram for sure. I have a macbook 2010 2.4ghz but it runs great with 8gb ram and 320gb 7200rpm HDD. But no gaming for me just multitasking and memory hog applications.
     
  19. Windgrace thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    As cool as it would be to have the Pro and the iPad I think financially I'd stick with just the laptop...for now.

    You're right, a discrete GPU in the 15" air would have to be really weak for sure. There'd be all kinds of heating problems, etc. If the reports are true (again, it's all speculation) and the 'slimming' of the Pro line included dropping the optical drive and ethernet ports, then the differences between a 13" air and pro would be almost nothing. But that's if Apple does plan on dropping those things from the Pro builds...it sucks that this is all up in the air. If they drop the optical drive/ethernet I'll go with a current 15" Pro...

    I think her programs are older...I should ask her if she is planning on getting the updated 2013 autocad...that should work fine on both Lion and Mountain Lion. I think she was trying to stick with her older software, but that wouldn't make sense if she switched to a PC because she'd have to get the PC versions of the programs. I'll have to ask her about it. I keep researching computers and I always come back to the 15" pro, too...

    I am curious about using Bootcamp. I'm not sure how it works exactly. I guess I could just google it, because my friend's mom asked me how I felt about putting Windows on a Mac and I drew a total blank. Is it much of a hassle dealing with Windows and anti-virus? It's also an option for me, as I'm sure I could get better gameplay playing D3 via bootcamp (although I know the game would run just fine on OSX with the 15" pro).

    Unfortunately, I am not sure how viable a desktop is for her. She has a cruddy internet connection and usually goes to the nearest Starbucks to email the teachers her work (she's been doing the courses online).
     
  20. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    #20
    Fair enough, though if capacity isn't an issue and 16GB of iPad is plenty, the first generation iPad with 16GB refurbished on Apple's store is only $300. Just throwing it out there as they are wonderful things. Though you tend to not realize it until you own one, as I found out.


    I do like the repeated use of the "up in the air" pun/ :)

    Really the one I'm most worried about is the 15" Pro. There have been no rumors about the 17", which leads me to think that they won't modify it for the next round if the redesign rumors pan out. Though I don't like the idea of spending $200 more for two extra inches of screen I don't care about. I need ethernet, FireWire 800, and the optical drive, so losing any of those would be really bad for me. Still, I have a feeling that, at least the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros aren't going anywhere, at least in terms of features like ports, a discrete GPU, and the optical drive; too many professionals demand those features and would be screwed if they went away. Hell, Apple lists the optical drive as a feature on its webpage!

    Yeah, it sounds like she needs newer software either way. In that case, I'd say that a 15" MacBook Pro is the best laptop on the market today, and again, I don't make that assertion at all with regards to the OS it ships with; I'm solely talking about design, servicability, specs, how easy it is to get at any component you'd need to get at, etc.

    The Boot Camp Assistant dynamically partitions your drive and injects something into it to spoof the Windows installer into thinking that your drive has the type of partition scheme that Windows can be installed on. Then you boot from the install DVD (or thumb drive, if you're classy enough to have imaged the install DVD to a thumb drive) and run the installer as you would on any other PC and do a fresh install. Afterwards, if you're on Snow Leopard, you stick in either the retail DVD or your system restore DVD and install the Boot Camp software for Windows (which includes Windows drivers). Once that's done, you basically have two partitions, one with Windows and one with Mac OS X; you can switch between them however you like. On Lion the process differs in that you can only install Windows 7 (XP and Vista aren't supported anymore) before you start the Windows installation it'll download the drivers to either a thumb drive or a blank DVD that you will burn and you'll use that in lieu of the Snow Leopard DVD/System Restore DVD in my instruction above.

    As for D3 performance in Windows on the same MBP versus in Mac OS X, given that the game runs in DirectX in Windows and OpenGL in Mac OS X, you will get increased speed in Boot Camp. Important enough to care, doubtful, though I suppose that is debatable. If you can spare the additional $100 for an OEM copy of Windows 7 Home Premium and you have the hard drive space, I say do it. Otherwise, don't bother; a small part of Blizzard's charm is that they dual-release their games on both OS X and Windows so you don't have to use Boot Camp.

    In that case, I stand by my 15" MacBook Pro recommendation, especially since, if she needed to, it could be a 15" MacBook Pro running Windows 7, and independent of platform, it really is the best non-Ultrabook laptop out there, in my opinion.
     

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