MPB as a desktop replacement (or, MPB as the only computer, if you wish)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by domenicop, Dec 10, 2014.

  1. domenicop macrumors member

    May 16, 2013
    Hi guys, I was considering to replace my iMac with a MBP because I am gonna need the mobility a laptop offers in a year or so.

    Anyway, the majority of the time, I think I'm gonna use it as a desktop replacement with an external monitor. I still don't know if in clamshell mode or both opened, but I am more inclined to think clamshell mode (with the notebook closed) will be good for me.

    Anyway, the point is: Using a notebook in that way, what should I be worried about?
    My current iMac is on like always, it goes in standby when it needs, but apart from that, I only shut it down for 1 night every 10 days or so, and it's going good with this rhythm from 4 years.

    Will the MBP get damaged being used like this? Does it support to handle this load? Of course, when I say I keep it open a lot, I don't mean doing heavy video editing stuff, the majority of the time is idle or downloading something.

    What about the battery? Using it as a desktop, I'm sure I'll waste a lot of cycles, in no time, but I have no problem in changing the battery after 2 years of use for 200 bucks, so that I can get a happy 4 year life without any problem.

    What are your thought on this? Did your battery get drained a lot after a lot of usage?
    Is there anybody else that use the MBP as their only computer?
  2. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    Road warrior power-user here.

    If your usage has to do with needing high-end desktop-class performance, then what you're looking for is a workstation-class laptop. If it's more about ergonomics, then any good laptop capable of driving an external monitor with good resolution would do.

    I highly recommend the Retina Macbook Pro as a workstation-class portable computer. My own units have been superb, and I really pound my machines. They've held up far better than any of my previous Windows laptops (Dell, Sony, Compaq, IBM/Lenovo...). In fact, my doughty 2010 pre-Retina Macbook Pro survived my chronic over-usage (and even a Chinese-hotel-room physical hack) and runs 24/7 to this day as a specialized server.

    Marvelous machines. Great keyboards, great screens, great support.

    And great power. If you don't need that, consider an Air.
  3. heehee macrumors 68020


    Jul 31, 2006
    Same country as Santa Claus
    I've been using MBP as the only work computer for about 9 years now. I'm on my third one and have absolutely no problem. Actually, the entire office (25 people) use laptops and external monitors, both PC and MACs.

    Also, why use clamshell when you can have dual screen?
  4. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    I use my rMBP 15 as a desktop replacement including heavy duty Video editing and transcoding. I have been using one for about 4 years now. I have the laptop setting on the keyboard tray and a 27 inch monitor on the desk above, a real nice arrangement. The rMBP for its precise text display and the 27 inch for video and photo editing. It runs maybe 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

    The rMBP perfect for this, no damage whatsoever. It may get a little warm to the touch at times, but it is designed for that. If I routinely processed 2 hour feature films, a Mac Pro may be a better desktop, but not an iMac.

    Batteries are no longer user replaceable (its glued into the case). When you use the laptop plugged in as a the desktop, its not using the battery or using up cycles.

    I'd advise the max RAM and internal SSD memory as you can spend as you can't upgrade RAM and its nice not to have to lug around external drive when you are on the run.
  5. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    I'd recommend keeping the rmbp open, as it provides another surface area for cooling. Regardless, it is a fine desktop replacement as long as it has sufficient power for your needs. It's not going to outperform a mac pro, but it has a lot of power for its size.
  6. domenicop thread starter macrumors member

    May 16, 2013
    This is what I wanted to hear, thank you.

    You don't always need the two monitors. Plus, it seems that when using clamshell, it won't waste battery cycle. So I think I'm gonna use it in clamshell as default mode, and switch to dual monitor when needed.

    rMBPs haven't really been out for that long. Am I missing something?

    When I said I would pay 200 bucks to replace it I meant to make it replace from the Apple Store. That is possible, right?

    The 16GB upper RAM limit is a limitation for me. Not in the short run, but I intend to keep a machine like this like 4/5 years. I bought my current iMac with 4GB, planning to update it later, and I am using it at 12GB now. It's not wasted, you can see the pc eating it up when doing some intensive task. In the same way, I could see myself needing like 20gb/24gb in 4 years, to be safe. Maybe I'm gonna wait for later models.

    If it's possible to keep the screen off when opened, that seems like a good idea (if the notebook over-heat a lot)
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Yes apple will replace your battery. Keeping it plugged in will not really damage it just use it plugged in or not how you wish and it should be fine for 3-4 years no issues at all.

    RAM usage in modern OSX (yosemite and mavericks is massively misunderstood they use all available RAM as much as possible but much of it is just keeping things loaded for instant opening. THis RAM is available to the system whenever it is needed the only way to see how your RAM is coping is to look at the pressure graph if it is green in your workload then it is coping with ease, if there are no page outs to disk the same applies.
    Also RAM compression will mean that 16gb can act like up to 24GB without causing the pressure graph to change colour or any page outs. 16GB of RAM is plenty for almost every workload short of rendering 4K videos with lots of after effects etc and should be enough for at least 4-5 years.

    You should be able to target screen mode and have one screen with the macbook open, you could also use your Imac as the screen...
  8. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    My rMBP is de-facto my only computer since 2012. I sold my iMac at some point, because I was not using it. I am also not using an external display, because frankly, I don't see a point (at least for my work, which involves mostly text). The real screen estate is the same and the quality of the rMBP's screen far surpasses that of the external monitors.

    What you should be worried about? Well, nothing. Its a wonderful machine and it will take anything you throw on it without complains. I have took any care of my battery, I average at around 1.5 load cycles per day, and my battery is still over 80% of its original capacity.
  9. domenicop thread starter macrumors member

    May 16, 2013
    16gb is plenty as long as you don't consider VMs. If you have 6/8gb taken up from VMs, you should reconsider. This is my situation. Of course I don't run 8gb worth of VMs 24h a day, but when I do I would like my mac to run like a 2500$ machine should.

    I would definitely sell the iMac if I buy a rMBP. That or my kidney :p
  10. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I've been using laptops as a desktop replacement for many years and I keep in clamshell mode quite often. I've never had a problem (knocks on wood).
  11. robo456 macrumors 6502


    Mar 3, 2008
    New Jersey
    Sorry to threadcap a little bit, but it might actually help out the OP as well:

    For the guys who are running their macbooks in clamshell mode, are you using any kind of docking station? or just have the the wires direct?

    I'm in a similar situation trying to figure out what to do; I have a 2009 white macbook that I upgraded to SSD and 4gb (or was it 8? heh) that has been running 'pretty good' for a while now, as well as a 21" i5 iMac.... but just looking to consolidate into one machine at this point.

  12. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    I can't confirm this. I used a 2012 15" rMBP as desktop replacement with open lid and the only time I was gathering cycles was when I recharged after having it actually used on battery. Similar experience with two older MBA's before.

    Not sure about the exact price, but it's possible, yes.
  13. domenicop thread starter macrumors member

    May 16, 2013
    You *can*, right?
  14. Cloudsurfer macrumors 65816


    Apr 12, 2007
    Yes I use my MBP as my only computer, it's been the finest Mac I've ever had. Do a lot of video editing and transcoding in FCPX and Compressor on it, you need a lot of patience with that on this ancient hardware but it still chews on anything you throw at it.

    And I wouldn't worry too much about cycles and stuff. My battery has over 500 cycles and I still get about 3-4 hours on a single charge (down from 8-9 when I first got it). I'm happy with that. I'd rather put those 200 bucks into a new MacBook.
  15. Mikael H macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2014
    No matter if you choose to use it open or in clamshell mode, I recommend spending a few dollars on iStatMenus. Being able to manually increase the fan speed makes me feel better about running heavy tasks (and, when I have time, games) on my rMBP.

    Battery has not been a problem yet. My wife "inherited" my mid 2010 MBP 15 (pre retina) and still gets several hours of real use out of it when she needs to run it on battery.

    My MacBooks have held up insanely great to my abuse. I travel less now than when I got my first one, but my current rMBP still goes into and out of my backpack every day both at home and at work, and I have had zero problems with it.
    Of course I wouldn't complain if someone gave me a Mac Pro for use at home, but the rMBP is good enough that I can't justify the expense based on my own usage.
  16. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    No, I can't. The rMBP does NOT waste charging cycles when used as desktop replacement with open lid.
  17. domenicop thread starter macrumors member

    May 16, 2013
    That's not good.

    I'm confused. I wrote exactly that.
  18. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    My apologies for not expressing myself more clearly. :(

    I wanted to say that it does not waste battery cycles even when _not_ in Clamshell mode. I assumed that your statement about not wasting battery cycles in clamshell mode would mean that you thought it actually would waste cycles when used with open lid.

    This is not the case.

    Hope I could clear up the confusion now :eek:

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