MBP - 2.2 or 2.4? Advice Please.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by s7on3d, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. s7on3d macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    #1
    Hi everyone,
    So far I'm a Mac virgin, but I've finally made the decision to open my eyes and invest in a MBP! Now I just have to decide if it's the 2.2 or 2.4 for me... and I assumed you Mac Gurus could help me out.

    My needs are as follows:
    I'm a physics and engineering student starting out my degree.
    I plan on running parallels with Vista Ultimate and Linux (both of which I need for university). I might also open a Windows partition on Boot Camp (hopefully I won't have to).
    I plan on upgrading the hard disk to 160GB 5400 RPM if I get the 2.2.
    I do some graphics work (photoshop...) and ofcourse I'll be running things like MATLAB.
    No need for games. That's what desktops are for.

    Now I need the computer to do all that and do it smothely. The work in Vista will be mostly "Office" type stuff which I will have to do in windows.

    So what do you think? I doubt the processor speed will be a noticable difference, but the 128 vs. 256 MB of video memory might make a substancial difference...
    Would that be worth the extra $450?!
    If anyone has tried a setup like the one I need on the 2.2, how does it run?

    Any and all advice would be appreciated,

    Ilan
     
  2. SirCrumpet macrumors regular

    SirCrumpet

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    #2
    From what I can tell the 2.2 should do you nicely - the extra graphics memory probably won't have much impact on the things you will be using it for and the extra 0.2Ghz will only make a tiny difference.

    Having said that, if you were looking at the 2.4 and you were looking for justification to spend the extra amount, go for it - you won't regret it :)
     
  3. Atomic-Ed macrumors regular

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    Jun 6, 2007
    #3
    Based on what you described and from my knowledge of Vista and the fact that you want to upgrade the HD in the 2.2, I would recommend that you just purchase the 2.4 which has the much needed for Vista video memory and the HD you want to upgrade to already. Remember that upgrading the HD will most likely cost you around $200 and there is no way to upgrade the video memory from 128mb on the 2.2. So basically your stuck with it. Running Vista aero with small amounts of video memory is silly. It is a hog and will run poorly. Most PCs I build for Vista have at least 512mb video memory on them and they could still use moore. We are lloking at offering a 1gb video memory machine soon with the new Nvidia DX10 GPU. That and a minimum of 2-3GB system ram will run Vista aero much better.

    Anyhow, it seems alot of people are thinking that the difference between the 2.2 and 2.4 models are not enough to justify buying the 2.4 but to me it seems like there is enough differences to make it worthwhile. Of course there could always be more :) but still fair enough IMO.

    2.4 has a faster CPU (Important) a larger HD (You want anyway) double the video memory (Must for Vista). So I guess if you could add the cost of these upgrades to the 2.2 price it would equal or excede the $500 difference in price anyway. However that would be if you could do anything about upgrading the small 128mb video memory, which you can't do. So in the end I would say you should consider the 2.4 and be done with it.
     
  4. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #4
    Why is 256MB of VRAM a "must" for Vista?

    Frankly I've seen Vista's Aero effects, etc. run just fine even with Intel GMA950 graphics. I have a hard time believing that a 128MB 8600MGT isn't going to be enough for Vista.
     
  5. Atomic-Ed macrumors regular

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    Jun 6, 2007
    #5
    Yes aero will run with 128mb of video ram but certainly not good. Yes you can see the effets and all but it is simply too small amount to effectively run aero due to the 3d acceleration the OS now uses for the interface with the shaders and texture memory being taxed with any kind of real world use like multiple windows open and such. I have been building PCs for over 20 years and for about 10 of those specializing in 3D workstations and gaming machines. I have worked with every OS that came down from MS over this time period and never has 3D or texturing been a part of the interface itself. Aero is the first itteration of this and is crippled by a GMA950 or any other integrated video. If you were to use the windows experience utility in Vista and take a look at the subsystems scores that make up the total score for that machine, you will find that the graphics section score for a GM950 or integrated card will score absolute minimum to run aero. Mostly a 2.0 or so. A real graphics card with 256mb of memory or more will score in the 4.x range for this test. This would be something like a geforce 7900GS or so, which is a decent mid card but hard to find in a laptop. You can find it in some gaming laptops but cost and selection is limited even from Dell. Now if you up the ante and get a card with even more video memory, you will see the aero score increase as well. I know this first hand and have been working with Vista prior to its release on many system models and cards. The bottom line is on any laptop the video abilities are always poor compared to a desktop and the fact that they are not able to be changed (soldered to the board) makes it a prime component of the decision making process for selecting a machine. Since Vista is new and the need for real gpu power with appropriate ram is important, the industry selling machines are still on the integrated offerings path, however anyone running Vista on an integrated graphics will tell you it simply sucks. Eventually as Vista outpaces XP, the laptop makers will need to offer much better graphics solutions. This new Nvidia gpu is the beginnings of this direction and you will see more of this in upcoming months. I am new to Apple and have never ran OSX ever, but even from what I have read about the upcoming Leopard, it will use the gpu even more than the current release does. Sharing system memory with an integrated card is not going to be a fun experience.

    Anyhow, if you don't believe this then go try out some Vista machines, even at the store displays, and take note to the gpu in the machine and amount of memory it has. The watch how noticeably better the ones with real graphics run the interface and how much smoother it is. You will quickly see what I am talking about. Not to mention that beyond the interface games and other 3D accelerated titles will not work properly if at all without proper graphics support. So if you decide you want to play a game or work with a decen modeling package, well you will be out of luck with integrated or low video memory cards.

    Personally the lowest end machine I sell with Vista Aero is a 7900GS with 256mb memory in it. I will simply not even offer a system for Vista Aero with less than this or it would be crippled. As I said we will be offerinf some higher end models as well soon, our initial tests show a tremendous interface improvement under Aero not to mention next gen DX abilities with 10. Anyhow, do yourself a favor and consider the graphics abilities of a laptop as a key concern when purchasing now, which will give you a better experience from the start as well as a little better longeviety for the machine as newer software emerges.
     
  6. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #6
    I'm sorry, but I still don't get it. What Aero effects don't run well with GMA950? I briefly owned a Sony SZ460 (which could switch between GMA950 and a GeForce 7400), and on the GMA950, all the Aero effects ran smoothly. Windows moved properly, the window previews worked fine, Aero Glass.

    What exactly is there in Aero that a GMA950 can't handle? I never saw any stuttering or choppiness with any Aero effects, but maybe I'm missing something?

    Please tell me what wouldn't run smoothly if I ran it on a GMA950 machine? I don't have my Vaio any more but I could easily try it out at a store.

    Honestly, I've never been able to tell a difference in Aero performance with integrated graphics or a dedicated GPU; in both the Aero special effects, UI elements, etc. ran smoothly for me.
     
  7. Atomic-Ed macrumors regular

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    Jun 6, 2007
    #7
    I am sorry you didn't get it but let me try it this way,

    Vista Aero introduces core interface support for 3D graphics. Some of these features are the Windows Flip 3D, translucency effects or Glass, Cool live thumbnails, window animations, as well as many other 3D visual effects. Aero was designed and intended for mainstream and high-end graphics cards. To enable these features, the contents of every open window is stored in video memory to facilitate tearing-free movement of windows. As such, Windows Aero has significantly higher hardware requirements than its predecessors. 128 MB of graphics memory is the Bare Spec (Not real world) minimum requirement, depending on resolution used.

    Keep in mind if you want to use the computer for having multiple windows open at once then even if your integrated video using shared system memory (Another horrible aspect but yet another story) will run it, you will be maybe looking at a window or two open at once with aero before it will become totally unacceptable and choppy. The video memory stores each open windows info, hence the need for more video memory. Running Aero on an integrated card is just plain silly based on Aero's design model and real requirements. Kind of like hauling a whole truckload of bricks to a building site one brick at a time rather than with a dump truck, you could probably do it but it certainly would be no fun.

    Hope this helps explain it better for you....
     
  8. MIDI_EVIL macrumors 65816

    MIDI_EVIL

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    UK
    #8
    2.4

    256mb VRAM

    160GB 5400rpm HD


    Get the 2.4

    Rich.
     
  9. alexjs77 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2007
    #9
    I don't think this is entirely correct. The difference between 2.4 and 2.2 at most is $100 dollars. The HD upgrade is $60-70, and I know that 128 of video memory is not $330. If anything the difference between the two is about $250.
     
  10. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #10
    I understand the concept, I just haven't seen it in theory. With my SZ460 while using it in Intel GMA950 mode, I had many windows open at a time, and never saw any stuttering or choppiness when using Flip3D, live window previews in the taskbar, etc. Even with videos playing, etc. I didn't see any slowdown or choppiness.

    So I understand what you're saying, but never saw what you're describing myself; I just haven't seen anything to indicate that integrated graphics can't handle the Aero stuff just fine.
     
  11. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #11
    I think your CPU prices might not be right.

    I just went to Lenovo's site to configure a T61, for example.

    When choosing a 2.2 GHz C2D CPU, it lists the upgrade price to move up to the 2.4GHz CPU as $255 (and that is with a limited time savings of $125; it says the normal upgrade price is an additional $380 to move from the 2.2 GHz CPU to the 2.4 GHz CPU).

    Based on that, the price difference with the higher end 15" MBP seems pretty reasonable.

    If you've seen something else though that indicates that any other laptop manufacturers provide an upgrade from the 2.2 GHz CPU to the 2.4 GHz CPU for only $100 more, I'd be glad to be proven wrong.
     
  12. alexjs77 macrumors newbie

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    Jun 5, 2007
    #12
    I just looked on newegg and a e6400 (2.13ghz) is $187 while a e6600 (2.4ghz) was $223. I couldn't find the 2.2ghz cause I'm lazy.
     
  13. robcts macrumors regular

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    Sep 10, 2005
    #13
    $500 is not worth 200MHz, 40GB space, and 128MB VRAM. Sorry. You'd be better off purchasing 3GB more RAM to bring the total to 4GB with the extra $500, and have some left over for accessories such as a sleeve, case, etc.
     
  14. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #14
    Those are desktop CPU's.

    The pricing on the mobile Merom chips is completely different. The 2.4 GHz CPU right now is the top-end, so the extra cost makes sense (same reason Lenovo is charging an extra $255-380 to move to it from 2.2 GHz).

    It's sort of like how the fastest desktop C2D CPU costs hundreds more than the next fastest.

    -Zadillo
     
  15. alexjs77 macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Yea as soon as I posted that, I realized it. Just waiting for you to correct me haha. But nevertheless, the difference in performance between 2.4 and 2.2 seems to not be that large at all.
     
  16. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #16
    Oh yeah, no doubt. I was mainly just arguing that the $500 difference in price Apple is charging seems in line with what other laptop makers would charge for a similar set of upgrades.

    Whether it's worth it or not completely depends on someone's needs.

    -Zadillo
     
  17. Atomic-Ed macrumors regular

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    Jun 6, 2007
    #17
    the only thing I can think of is that since you had one of the strange combo setups in that machine with both a real gpu 7400 chip and the gma950, that it was somehow using the combination of the two to handle varying graphics loads of Aero. If you go and try a straight gma950 at the store as I was saying, you will see it I am sure. I happen to also have 4 laptops that I own and unfortunately one has the gma950 in it (won this in a dell contest for free) anyhow, it with it's gma950 and 2 gb of system memory with a core duo, 7200rpm HD, chokes to death running aero. This is after I open more than 2 windows at a time or even streaming video from websites. Running the same machine with XP MCE, it runs alot stronger but the gma950 still sucks big time. The contrast is literally horrible and the clarity is similar to the old TNT chip era back in the late 90's. BTW.. If you read the design specs on the ga950, it is a $7.27 chip that provides OEMs the ability to sell notebooks very cheaply compared to including any real dedicated chip solution. Of course because of this you will see tons of them, especially in cheap notebooks, but as I said it won't be long until integrated junk like this will no longer be popular with builders as their sales are already suffering with Vista now.

    At any rate if you feel the gma950 is good for you then by all means go for it, it just does not change the specs of what it really is nor the performance difference which are quite clear in comparison.
     
  18. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #18
    It doesn't. With the Vaio SZ line, when you are in "Stamina" mode, it uses just the GMA950 - it doesn't have some way to use both.

    Anyway, I don't know what to say. I never noticed this kind of stuttering, etc. other laptops I've tried in stores with only GMA950 graphics (or GMAX3100 graphics in the new Sony FZ laptops).

    But there's no point continuing to argue about it, as obviously we've both had different experiences with it.

    I've seen plenty of reason to get a dedicated GPU; just that Aero performance hasn't been one of them. If I was buying a machine just to use Vista and do word processing, etc. I'd be fine with GMA950 or GMAX3100 graphics.

    -Zadillo
     
  19. tekmoe macrumors 68000

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    Feb 12, 2005
    #19
    that is exactly right. everyone has the mindset that apple is charging an extra $500 for the 256vram. this is certainly not true. the price difference between the 2.2 and 2.4 is substantial. if it wasn't, apple could either charge less or throw more goodies into the high end 15".

    people... :rolleyes:
     
  20. Atomic-Ed macrumors regular

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    Jun 6, 2007
    #20
    I just saw that reply post and was going to respond but saw you already mentioned the facts on it. Your quite right that there is quite a bit more difference between the two cpu's. The 2.2 cpu is selling for about $330.00 and the 2.4 is $600.00. I also have no idea where that person is buying a 160gb 5400 rpm sata notebook drive for $59.00 but I would sure like to know. A decent 160 drive is around $200. The video memory is actually quite expensive, I would estimate around $100 more using gddr3 and again you could not upgrade this ever if you wanted to anyhow.

    What I figure is:
    +$270 CPU
    +$100 Video Memory
    +$200 160gb HD
    ---------------------------
    +570.00 in value and you would still have to do the work yourself and some of this is not even possible.


    So again I say the extra $500 apple charges for the 2.4 seems to be fair.
     
  21. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #21
    Yeah, I think the thing is, some people wish that there were more configuration options, or maybe that it was a 256MB VRAM GPU in the base model and a 512MB version in the more expensive model.

    I think some people wish they could get the 256MB VRAM GPU (which they could benefit from if they game, etc.) without having to pay for something like the expensive 2.4GHz CPU (which they could probably do just fine without).

    -Zadillo
     
  22. v-ault macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2006
    #22
    Integrated graphics can run vista w/ its effects, so I don't see why you're acting like VIsta is some huge 3D game that requires an amazing GPU. I ran Vista on my 128vram 2nd gen MBP, and it ran very well. Another guy I know runs vista on his integrated graphic laptop just fine.
     
  23. Atomic-Ed macrumors regular

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    #23
    i don't know what to tell you on ths as MS coded Vista's Aero interface exactly as I previously described where each windows texture info is stored in vram. This is a fact and is clearly described in the Vista design specs. If your 128mb (which is bare minimum spec) can defy the coded design of MS somehow then thats great. Otherwise is is not physically possible for your 128mb video memory to hold more window info than any other cards 128mb video memory does. Maybe through some sort of 3rd party texture compression technology hacked into it or something, but sort of that I just can't tell you why yours defies physics.
     
  24. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #24
    Just a correction, the $60 they mentioned I think is the cost of upgrading from 120GB to 160GB HD. When you get a 160GB hard drive upgrade you're not spending the full price for a full 160GB hard drive; you're paying for the cost of moving up from the cost of a 120GB HD to a 160GB HD.
     
  25. Zadillo macrumors 65832

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    #25
    I have no idea about design specs, etc.

    I can only tell you my personal experience running Vista on a Sony SZ460 with GMA950 graphics, and it always ran smoothly and just fine even with many windows open and using window previews in the taskbar, Flip3D, etc. and even having video playing.

    Either way, GMA950 graphics shares system memory (usually it would take about 200 megs of my 2GB of memory when running with the GMA950 graphics), so I don't know how big a deal the issue is with storing stuff in video memory anyway.
     

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