Need help deciding between MBP or Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by uscpsycho, Mar 15, 2009.

  1. uscpsycho macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2009
    Hello, first time poster here in the market for a new Mac but need a little help.

    The most intensive individual task I am likely to do is encode & edit home HD movies with effects.

    I will also be running virtualization software with lots PC and Mac apps running simultaneously -- including Photoshop and web & software development. I know Web browsing isn't considered a taxing application but I regularly have 50-100 tabs open at a time. Stability and efficiency here is absolutely key.

    I won't be doing any gaming, 3D animation or anything like that.

    No matter how capable an iMac may be for the task that is not an option. I always want the option to upgrade my display.

    Will my use be intensive enough (or intensive in the right way) to get an appreciable benefit from the extra cores and RAM of a Mac Pro? If I can get away with a MBP I'd love to have the portability option but not at the expense of a significant performance hit.

    This may be a stupid question but are quad core Nehalems in the MBP future?

    Thanks in advance for any help. I used to be a Mac-only guy but I haven't bought a new Mac since I got my G4 which sees little use these days because I can't run Windows on it. My last few computers have been PCs (the last one I built myself) but I'm ready to come back. However, buying a Mac feels like a much harder decision. If you get something wrong on a PC (processor, video card, etc.) you can easily swap it out if you need to. With a Mac I feel much more pressure to get it the first time because of high startup costs and limited upgrade options.
  2. DolemiteJackson macrumors member

    May 6, 2006
    MBP should be fine for what you want it to do.
  3. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Get a 2.0GHz MacBook with the 24" Apple Cinema Display. That computer will do everything you want it to just fine and you will have a nice big monitor too.
  4. uscpsycho thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2009
    I appreciate your input but you just advised me to buy a ridiculously overpriced monitor to pair with Apple's bottom of the line laptop. I can't imagine anyone in their right mind would pay $900 (before tax) for a 24" monitor. That's bad advice. Regardless, I already have a monitor that I'll be using so that's not a factor in the decision.

    I didn't even consider the standard MacBook because I assumed I'd need a higher end rig. But in comparing the specs it seems like the main difference between MB and MBP is the video card and screen size. I don't think the video card really makes a difference for my use but if I go laptop I may opt for the larger screen which takes MB out of consideration.

    But if I go with the MacBook is the 2.0 CPU (assume with max 4GB RAM) going to run smoothly with multiple apps concurrently running in both Windows and OSX with tons of tabs open? That's the bottom of the line Apple laptop and I consider myself to be a more demanding user. Am I just being a snob or is that 2.0 going to scream for me?

    I noticed the MBP has a ExpressCard/34 slot, which I have never heard of before. What kind of Mac compatible cards are there which utilize this slot? AFAIK PCMCIA is still the standard for laptops. No?
  5. xhambonex macrumors 6502a

    Apr 17, 2008
    well its been pointed out that again and again that the price isn't that high for the quality. Do some research you'll see, but I'll save you buy saying I agree that a MB and an Apple Display would be just silly. And no I doubt the MB would work for you. You want dedicated graphics encoding HD video and editing it. Especially with all the other background apps and such. MBP sounds like a good choice, save some money, upgrade the RAM and get a monitor if you want one.
  6. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Well I think the main benefits to the monitor are that it allows you to charge the laptop and it has a really good panel inside.

    I think people often overlook the power of the MacBook. Nowadays it has a decent graphics chip which is more than capable of editing HD video. You'll need a decent resolution monitor in order to do it, which is why I suggested the Cinema Display.

    The processor shouldn't give you any problems at all. It's only 400MHz "slower" than the MacBook Pro.
  7. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    I love the assumption that simply because the MacBook is the least expensive laptop offering in the lineup, it's not good enough for you... even though you came here asking for advice because you're not sure what you need. :rolleyes:

    RE: the monitor. Expensive is not the same as overpriced. Yes, it's expensive, but it's also a high quality piece of machinery. I would never pay $900 for a 24" display, either, but that's because I don't need the high-quality display, built in iSight, or laptop charger.
  8. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    If there's any concern about performance, just get the Mac Pro.
  9. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Currently most of my HD conversion is done on a PC using MainConcept MPEG Encoder. Yes there is a Mac version but Id rather save my MacPros and MBP for real work :)
    Get the MBP if you want to the portability and horsepower. Eventually if when the time is right, you can always get a MacPro to compliment your workflow. If you have the money, dont get an 24". Cant live without a 30" IMHO :(
  10. waiwai macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2009
    u do not need a Mac Pro to make Home videos... That is overkill and i think you'd be better off investing in a MBP + a good HD camcorder.

    Mac Pros are for hardcore photo/video peepz that rely on it for work.

    If you are rolling in dough, by all means invest in a Mac Pro... but do you absolutely need it for what you're doing? No.
  11. jpk32092 macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2008
  12. uscpsycho thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2009
    Thanks for the help guys.

    I can appreciate that the Apple monitor has a better panel but I would assume you can get a comparable panel for less than $900. In any case, the level of my graphic work does not necessitate that caliber monitor; and if it did the MacBook wouldn't be an option. But like I said, I already have a monitor (and HD camera) so that's not a factor at all in the decision.

    I've decided against the MacBook for a number of reasons. A main one being the MBP's 15" screen. But I'm going to have to fight every geeky fiber in my body to resist the MacPro. I know I'll never use that much computing power but there's a part of me that just wants it. I have to convince myself that the MBP can do all I need and that the portability option is more important than having more juice under the hood.

    I've been out of the Mac game for a while so I'm totally relying on the expertise here. I'm just worried about how stable to MBP is going to be with Windows and OSX running multiple concurrent apps. I've got a 2.4 C2D Vista Ultimate 64 laptop and sometimes I strain it just with my browser tabs and Outlook with a huge PST. MBP is going to be a similar hardware configuration but running OSX, Photoshop and an IDE in addition to Windows. That's why I worry about the laptop. In my case the MBP's 4GB RAM limit is probably the weakest link for me.

    OTOH - Sometimes I think that the applications just aren't designed to handle the stress I put on them. Is Firefox going to be as stable with 100 tabs as with five? How stable can I expect Outlook to be with multiple large PSTs, multiple email accounts, tons of mail processing rules, 100+ past-due reminders pending, 15 email windows open, etc. I may be straining the applications more than the hardware.

    Now, am I missing something here or does the MBP lack an optical drive :eek: There is no mention of any kind of optical drive in the specs - I'm surprised Apple doesn't make Blu-ray standard on the MBP.
  13. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    You also need to remember that a 15" screen means a much larger and heavier laptop.
  14. uscpsycho thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2009
    Yeah, but this is going to be used almost exclusively as a desktop so that's not much of a factor. For the things I'll be using this computer for I'd regret not having 15" when I take it out. In fact there will be times I'll wish I got the 17" but I'm not going there.

    If I ever want to travel light I've got a nice little XP laptop that's 11 or 12 inch. I usually keep it under the seat of my car in a DVD player case.

    What's the story with the optical drive???
  15. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Read the specs?

  16. uscpsycho thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2009

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