MacBook vs. MacBook Pro For School - Help!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jahall, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. jahall macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2010
    I'm buying a laptop for school (IB) and am looking at either a MacBook or MacBook Pro 13". However, I am having a hard time deciding between the two, as they are both great computers. The main things I'm considering are:

    1. Durability: I'm not going to be throwing it around, but I don't want something that will scratch if one of my little sisters grab it with their fingernails. It will be kept in a sleeve (most likely neoprene), and will also be carried around my house and school.

    2. Performance: Both models are 2.4GHz with 250GB, but one has 2GB of RAM vs 4GB of RAM. I don't need an i-# series processor for what I'm doing, so will the RAM make much difference? They both claim to have 10hrs of battery life - would the higher graphics card in the Pro use this faster than in a regular MacBook?

    3. Compatibility: I have USB cords for everything I need, but the SD reader in the Pro would be nice.

    4. Wireless: I will be using it on wireless only, and in a few different places: home, friend/family homes, school and work. I've heard that some older model Pros didn't have very good wireless reception because of the aluminum, but I asked at a local university dealer where they said that the antenna had been moved to the top corner of the screen. Is this true?

    5. Portability: 4.5lbs and 4.7lbs are not a great difference, but large screens (such as TV screens) give me headaches after looking at them for any amount of time. Also, the computer will be doing a fair bit of travel so I would like a smaller screen.

    I'm going to be using the computer for:
    Music, word processing (most likely OOO Aqua, but iWork '09 or Office '08 may be installed), internet (a fair bit of research), watching movies, Skype, Google SketchUp, Adobe Digital Editions, and a little bit of light photo editing (fixing color, red eye).

    Things that I'm not concerned about are:
    Blu-Ray, HDMI output, audio/video output, Boot Camp, price. I do not play video games so the graphics card is not of great consideration. I'm also not worried much about Windows compatibility as every computer I will need to work with can view a PDF, and there is a family computer running XP.

    Any opinions on this would be lovely, thanks!
  2. anon.ymous macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2010
    Honestly in terms of performance, you probably won't really notice any difference. The 4 gigs of ram is nice, and with the edu discount ($50 on the MB versus $100 on the MBP), the advantages of the MBP - fw800, backlit keyboard, sd card slot, better screen - are a good value add I think. I also really prefer movies on the mbp - edge to edge glass instead of the inlaid plastic on the white mb.

    You did say price wasn't an issue, but if you are on a budget, you may consider getting the white mb and getting all the peripherals you want with the leftover cash - external hd, some speakers, mobileme, maybe a mighty mouse, etc. I would always recommend a cheaper version of basically the same computer but adding the extras that will make your experience a fuller one.
  3. shrakner macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2006
    The only reason I would see to not get the Pro would be price, and since that isn't an issue for you, get the Pro.

    The new Macbooks may be more sturdy than their predecessors, but the Pro will still be more durable. You may not need the extra ram, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Glass may be annoying for reflections sometimes, but it's easy to clean and makes a very sharp screen. And that backlit keyboard is a very nice thing to have. And the Pro just looks better overall.
  4. Velin macrumors 65816


    Jul 23, 2008
    Hearst Castle
    Seriously, get the Pro. The all-aluminum build quality is fantastic. The upgraded stats and card reader are great. And you will love the backlit keyboard and screen. Especially for school if you're doing work in your dorm or library, you'll really come to appreciate these extras.

    My wireless reception has been great. Better than PCs.

    Get the Pro.
  5. jahala macrumors regular


    Feb 7, 2008
    I prefer macbook pro

    I have a white macbook pro and an aluminum macbook. I prefer the aluminum machine because it is a bit thinner and lighter. Not a lot, but I notice the difference. Since price is no issue, I would recommend the aluminum macbook pro. However, if you will often be in places with the light behind you, you will appreciate the lower gloss on the white macbook's screen. In fact, the screen is why I have the white macbook for my wife. The screen faces the living room window.
  6. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    I just bought my Macbook Pro just forthat.
    My computer usage is EXACTLY what you mentioned above.

    Trust me, go for the Macbook Pro. The 4GB RAM will make it worth it, and it wont scratch easily. I'm not the most careful person out there, but I know I've hit my new Macbook Pro with some things... but no scratches.

    You said you didn't have a limit, so ... Macbook Pro for sure!
  7. jahall thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2010
    Thanks for all your help! I've also been talking to Apple, some techies I know, and a few dealers and decided I don't really need the MBP (and the MB is cuteer ;) ) so right now I think I'm going to go with the MB.

    However, I'm really into Google SketchUp and I'm currently working on a model of a house that I'm estimating to come in at around 50KB, and as I use SketchUp frequently, not being able to run it is a dealbreaker.

    Some notes:
    - I use the old family desktop (40GB dd, approx. 600MB RAM, Win XP with
    about 100 pictures, a few basic programs, 30 or so songs) and it's very slow.
    It will let me build simple things like a chair, but when I was trying to work on
    the model of the house two nights ago it kept crashing.
    - SketchUp is part of my job, so at work I use the work laptop (75G hdd, approx 700MB RAM, and some basic programs plus Jasc PSP).
    It can handle it, albeit very slowly.

    I searched the forum and saw a few posts on it, but the ones focusing on the MB and MBP models with SketchUp seemed to be a few years old, and since new models have come out ince then, along with new versions of SketchUp, I'm very curious as to how it will run before I buy a computer (tomorrow is most likely the big day! so help ?!).
  8. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
  9. lopezmatthew01 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2010
    First off I couldn't help noticing that you either will be starting IB or already are in it. That's an accomplishment of its own trust me I just finished getting my diploma. As far as your question I would suggest getting the 13 inch. That is going to be more than enough for the program. I managed to survive all 4 years using a virus riddled dell. It is now that I am heading to college and have decided to get the 13 inch. Good luck with IB and enjoy your new laptop.
  10. MCRunning macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2008
    Macbook pro. I bought one for college and haven't looked back. Great build quality compared to the macbook
  11. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    They're both great computers. I might have gotten the Macbook provided it had 4GB RAM, but a Macbook with 4GB RAM wasn't worth it for the price, because just for a bit more, you get yourself a computer with more features like backlight keyboard, aluminum casing ...

    I think a good price for the Macbook would be $899. Doubt Apple will do that though. They like to stick' to em guns.
  12. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    If/when you upgrade the ram in the MB to 4Gb the performance will be equal and the differential of about $100 makes the MBP a much better value. I had a 2009 MB and now have a 2010 MBP - I got great deal on each but the biggest difference for me was the backlit key so I can work in low light. Firewire makes for faster data transfer and the aluminum look commands a bit more respect ;)
  13. bt22 macrumors 6502

    Feb 15, 2009
    My neighbor has a MB that is a couple of years old. It's one of the white ones before the MB went Aluminum and then back plastic. Her palm rest are very dingy and there are a few cracks in and around the palm rest. I would recommend getting the Alum. I just think you would be a lot more satisfied with the quality and durability a few years down the road.

    Just my 2 cents...
  14. SESpy macrumors regular


    Mar 13, 2010
    Go for the Pro mate. I have both, have an i5 and an i7. Have the 2009 model, the polycarbonate one and have a lot of probs with it. Have opened up a few thread, the charging slot got burned and the lower plastic, the rubbery part has popped up, like it's UNGLUED! Go for the PRO, as for performances, go for the better configuration! There is a difference though it may not be THAT big.
  15. jahall thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2010
    Hi again!
    I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for sharing your opinion. I picked up a MBP 7,1 over the weekend and I am VERY pleased with it!
  16. Cougarcat macrumors 604

    Sep 19, 2003
    The EDU price used to be $899. Only recently did they make the discount only $50. For students, the MBP is a much better deal.

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