moving from 2 computers to 1?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by janewales, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. janewales macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2009
    I've always had a desktop and a laptop, and they were always PC, until my last laptop, 2 years ago-- an Intel Macbook that I thought I'd use mostly for presentations and travel. Naturally I fell in love with it and with all things Mac, and I'm finally ready to shift entirely to Mac. It's time when I'd normally update my desktop, but I'm wondering about maybe moving to just one computer, a laptop, which I'd attach in my office to an external display (I already use a 20" ACD in the office, also about 2 years old).

    But my current laptop isn't going to be able to be the main machine without some modification-- the hard drive (120GB) is too small if I move everything on the office machine to it. I could upgrade the hard drive and run with this laptop for a few more years, I think. That's cheap, but I don't _have_ to let money be the only guide (new research grant will fund new equipment pretty generously). My needs: lots of writing, presentations, some web work, image acquisition and organization but not much manipulation, bibliographies, surfing... (I use Office, Dreamweaver, Fireworks occasionally, Acorn, EndNote, the usual browsers and iLife stuff).

    So here are my specific questions:

    -do you use just one machine this way?
    -do you use a laptop as your main machine?
    -are there likely to be heat issues if the laptop is closed but acting as the CPU in the office set-up?
    -will my MacBook (Intel Core Duo 2.16, 2GB RAM, GMA 950 graphics) be able to run my 20" ACD properly?
    -would you get a wired or a wireless keyboard? (I already use a wireless Mighty Mouse for the laptop)

    I could in fact afford to buy 2 new machines, say a Mini for the office and a new laptop, now or later (it would still be a MB, not MBP, because I really like the small size). Or I could buy a new MB now... I was thinking, though, that it might make the most sense to wait for Snow Leopard before getting all new hardware, but I'd hate to, say, melt my current MB by asking it to do something it's not really cut out for. Any advice most welcome!
  2. kindablue09 macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2009
    Hmm, you've a lot of questions...

    Overall, I think there are a growing number of people who use a mb or mbp as their primary machine.

    Yes, I use my laptop as my main machine, although my uses aren't as demanding as yours.

    As far as I know, your mb should have no problem running an ACD.

    Wireless keyboards are more of an aesthetic choice if you have a typical desk set up; if you want one go for it, but I can't see any tangible benefits (plus think about the need to change the batteries).
  3. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Many people use laptops as their primary machine. Everyone in my family does except my mother, as do most people I know. Modern laptops are powerful enough that you're not sacrificing anything - especially when you plug into an external display.

    The MacBook should be fine in clamshell mode, but maybe invest in a cooling pad for peace of mind. I use mine connected to an external display, keyboard, and mouse, but I extend the desktop and leave the MB open. I've run it closed, though, and there didn't seem to be any trouble. And the MB will have no trouble driving your display. :)

    As for keyboard... get what you like. I opted for the wired one because the wireless keyboard does not have a numberpad.
  4. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a


    Dec 22, 2007
    The cesspit of civilization
    You could replace the hard drive on your current laptop (here a 500 GB for your macbook) for less than 130 bucks, upgrade the RAM to 4 GB for about 60 dollars and get a 1 TB external for backups (remember your hard drive will die someday) for about 120 dollars. There you go, a "practically new" machine that will last you for years to come, and connected to a external display could be your Primary machine for all the needs you list.

    Yes, I have my Macbook (SR 2.2 GHz) that I take everywhere, and when in my house I mount it in a "laptop-stand" (it's actually a book holder), connected to a Viewsonic 22 inches display, a SeaGate FreeAgent external drive for backup and storage, and use it with an old bluetooth apple keyboard (that has a numeric trackpad) and bluetooth mouse.

    Yes, but ALWAYS keep at least ONE backup. You know, laptops get stolen all the time, plus, it's going to fail one day.

    I don't know, I don't think so, because there are products in the market that are directed to use it that way, but why would'nt you put it on a stand, use it open and have 2 displays at your disposal (more screen real state is always better).


    It's up to your preferences. But keep in mind that the new wireless keyboards do not have a numeric keypad.
  5. macgrl macrumors 65816

    Jul 17, 2008
    I have used a laptop as my primary machine for about 8 years now, much prefer it to having either a desktop or desktop and laptop. So much easier to work from different locations, plus I travel a lot so it's great:)
  6. apeacock macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2008
    I'm moving in that direction right now - my MacBook is my main computer for everything... except Warcraft. I have an old iMac g5 with a real video card for some light gaming. I also have an external display hooked up, and I have found one benefit that no one else has mentioned: dual displays. When I'm computing, I have the laptop open and run the external monitor as an additional display - I've found it very handy to have that little bit of extra screen space for stuff like iTunes/instant messenger/etc. I actually run three screens on my PC at work, but that is overkill most of the time...
  7. janewales thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2009
    Thanks, everyone-- the suggestions are useful (an aside-- I can't go to 4GB-- mine is a first-generation Intel machine, so maxes out at 2, at least according to the guys at the Apple Store). I think I'm going to experiment with using the laptop as described for a few weeks and see if I like it (I'm a little worried about the disconnecting/ reconnecting all the time)-- so I've got the connector and keyboard. We'll see how it goes!
  8. txhockey9404 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    Based on your current mac, any new Apple laptop would be faster, and some much faster.
    You could go with the new 2.0ghz 13.3" Unibody Aluminum with 2gb RAM (upgradeable to 4gb) and upgrade the drive yourself for $150. That way you have a little room to budge in this computer by upgrading RAM to 4gb later and to an SSD in a few years for more speed. $1299 +$150=$1449

    You could go with the new 2.4ghz 13.3" Unibody Aluminum with 2gb RAM (upgradeable to 4gb) and upgrade the drive yourself for $150 (or stay at 250gb). You would also have some room to budge via RAM or SSD, but you start out faster. $1599+$150=$1749

    You could go with the white Macbook that is similar to the 2.0ghz Aluminum, but will have a slower bus speed. Upgrades can be the same, but this machine will start out the slowest. $999+$150=$1149

    You could go with a new Mini and use that as a primary computer for a while. The problem with that is that it is unable to be easily upgraded. You can get a 2.0ghz with 4gb RAM and a 320gb HDD for $924.

    You could go with a Macbook Pro (I know you don't like the 15" screen, but you could use your old Macbook when you need more portablilty. The Pro is also thinner than your Macbook, although its footprint is quite a bit bigger. You also get more for your money.)
    If you want a lower price, go with the 15" 2.4ghz and upgrade the HDD for $150. You can upgrade RAM later up to 4gb. ($1999+$150=$2149)
    If you want more upgradeability, go with a 15" 2.66ghz stock. You can upgrade the HDD later and the RAM goes to 8gb. That runs $2499.

    Personally, if I had the money, I would go for the MBP 2.66 because of its upgradeability. You seem to have enough for a Macbook and Mini, so you probably have the cash for a Pro.
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Now of your applications required a lot of "power". Storage is the issue. You could upgrade the internal disk to 500gb and also buy a 1TB external drive to keep on the desk ad another 1TB or 1.5TB for Time Machine. You woud have to leave some of your data on the desktop on the 1TB external but that is no different from if you had two computers.
  10. janewales thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2009
    Right-- storage is the main issue-- I haven't had any performance issues with the MB and the apps I currently use. A cheap upgrade to the hard drive seems reasonable, and then I can look to replace the MB a year or two from now.

    To those of you who use a laptop in both a mobile and an office setting-- does it bug you to have to plug the monitor in every day? That's what I'm balancing against the different hassle of having 2 computers.

    Also, a lot of you seem to be suggesting keeping the laptop open for extra screen real estate-- but I thought I'd read somewhere that you couldn't get the true resolution of the external display this way. My ACD is 1680 x 1050, while the MB is 1280 x 800; I want the native resolution of the ACD. Doesn't that mean I have to run the laptop closed?
  11. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    Your model can use up to 3.3 GB - install 2x 2 GB sticks or 1x 2 GB, 1x 1 GB (but you loose some performance if sticks have different size). Only Core Duo (not Core 2 Duo) machines were limited to 2 GB.

    You MacBook supports 1280x800 on the built-in display and 1920x1200 on the external at the same time. No worries here. Still, running with only the external speeds things up because memory reserved for graphics isn't split between 2 displays.
  12. janewales thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2009
    That's interesting-- the manual and tech specs on the Apple site confirm the 2GB limitation, though-- what's that about?

    Thanks for the clarification about the display, btw-- very clear.
  13. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    There's some confusion here. The core duo macbooks maxed out at 2.0 Ghz. So:

    - If the processor speed is 2.16, it's a core 2 duo and can take up to 3.3 GB RAM.

    - If it's a core duo, it cannot be 2.16 Ghz, and moreover, it can take 2 GB max.

    Just look "about this mac" under the apple menu to see your CPU speed.
  14. wfoster macrumors 6502a


    Feb 16, 2009
    Plymouth, UK
    I'm basically the same as you. I had both a laptop and desktop, both PC. I used them until they were on there last limbs. I always said to my Dad that Mac was so much better than PC.

    I then convinced him to let me save up and buy a MacBook and after a lot of nagging, he relented. I fell in love with Mac the day I received the MacBook. I then decided to replace my desktop. I was thinking "I'm going to get a Mac Pro" but then I woke up from my dream.

    After a few weeks of having the MacBook, I got some crazed idea in to my head to sell some unwanted items, laptop and desktop PC on eBay UK. I fetched enough to buy a Mac Mini and a pair of decent speakers. I'm happy as larry.

    I say you stick with two machines. One on the desktop and one for being portable.

    For portability, you would want maybe a MacBook Pro and upgrade the HD and RAM to its maximum size. I would then get a base model Mac Mini and upgrade it to the Mini's full potential.
  15. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    Apple is known for stating incorrect max RAM limit in tech documentation. The most recent example is the 4 core Mac Pro - Apple says it can only support 8 GB, but tests proven that it can take 16 GB (and I think 32 GB would also be possible once 8 GB sticks are released).

    The pre-SantaRosa Core 2 Duo MacBooks had Napa chipset and it was proven to use up to 3.3 GB.

    Right, I didn't notice he said Core Duo 2.16. Yes, its either Core Duo or Core 2 Duo 2.16 GHz.
  16. janewales thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2009
    Sorry, I mistyped. It is indeed Core 2 Duo, 2.16 GHz, but as I said, both its documentation and the people at my Mac store told me that it could only take 2GB of RAM-- and this was fairly recently, when I upgraded from 1 to 2.

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