New Mac user--Help please?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by laughingbabe16, Jun 2, 2006.

  1. laughingbabe16 macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2006
    Hi everyone! I'm new to Mac and this fall I will be attending college. I went to the Apple store today and fell in love with the White MacBook with,

    13.3-inch widescreen display

    1280 x 800 resolution

    2.0GHz Intel Core Duo1

    512MB memory (2x256MB SODIMMs)

    60GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard drive2

    SuperDrive (DVD±RW, CD-RW).

    Anyways, since I will be in college, do you think this is a suitable laptop, that will last me all 4 years? I will have word, powerpoint documents, some graphic documents from my Paint Shop Pro program, as well as being connected to the internet, uploading photos from my digital camera, and sending/writing out emails. Will I have enough memory and hard drive space to do these tasks?

    Also, to the users who have this model, or any other MacBook, how long does your battery last? How do you know when the battery is fully charged? and when you over-charged the battery?

    I am a newie at Mac's so switching from my beloved Compaq Desktop PC will be a change, but I only hope its for the better.

    Any imput and feedback is very much appreciated!!

    Thank you again!
  2. 2nyRiggz macrumors 603


    Aug 20, 2005
    Thank you Jah...I'm so Blessed
    Macbook will do you good but i think you should up the RAM to at least 1gig and a external HD for your photos and music pleasure...

    I'm not sure about the graphics n stuffs but the macbook is powerful to maintain good work.

  3. swingerofbirch macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    Will it last you four years?

    It depends on how many times you drop it.

    One of my biggest regrets in college, besides the college I chose, my major, never having made friends, and having dropped out, is that I didn't buy accidental insurance for my iBook. I tended to drop mine a lot.

    I can't vouch for this company, but when I get another laptop, I think I will use them:
  4. SamIchi macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2004
    Great choice, you won't regret, and it should last you the 4 years if you take good care of it (OSX makes that easy). Like 2ny said, get some more RAM, and down the line get a bigger HD.
  5. lamina macrumors 68000


    Mar 9, 2006
    Great choice on the MacBook. What a beautiful machine. I would recommend the 1GB RAM upgrade though, as a previous poster outlined.

    However, if you can wait until September, Apple will probably be doing their 'buy a Mac get a free iPod' dealio where you get a free Nano. They have done it for the past 2 or 3 years with huge success, but the offer is only available at campus computer stores that are authorized Apple resellers.
  6. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Battery life will depend a lot on what you're doing with it, how bright you like your display, and how much RAM you have (more RAM makes for longer battery life, since there's less disk access). That said, 3-4 hours is probably a reasonable expectation for light use, and that's about what I get on my 17" MBP.

    As for when it's charged and how much battery life you've got left, it's very simple: There is a little thing you can display in the menu bar (you turn it on in System Preferences) that shows you the current battery state; you can select the percentage of charge, or have it display an estimate of how much time you've got left at the rate you're currently using power (or, when it's plugged in, how much time it will take to reach a full charge).

    If I'm reading your question right and you're worried about overcharging, as with any modern notebook that's impossible. The battery has its own internal computer that monitors state of charge and handles how much power goes in, so it's plug-and-forget.

    Basically if you leave it plugged into the wall whenever convienent, it'll charge, and whenever you have it unplugged you can have a rough estimate of time remaining displayed in the menu bar.

    To reiterate what everybody's saying, do yourself a favor and get at least 1GB of RAM. Apple does overcharge for RAM upgrades, though, so if you're even remotely comfortable installing it yourself (it's quite easy), I'd recommend ordering it with the minimum and buying some extra online.
  7. laughingbabe16 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2006

    Thanks everyone! I will definitely check out the extra RAM online today and see how much extra that will cost.
  8. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
  9. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Just so you know, you can add it later (buy 3rd party) if it's too pricey now. The stock amount of RAM is enough to get you up to speed with using the laptop, but, as mentioned above, you'll be much better off with 1GB (even better with more than 1GB) once you go to school. But you don't need to buy it now, and you don't need to buy AppleCare now either, but I recommend getting it before your year is up (if you don't buy within the first year, you can't buy it at all).
  10. laughingbabe16 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2006
    JSW- I do plan on getting the AppleCare right away. I would rather just have it now, instead of paying and getting it later. However, if I decide to upgrade to the 1GB RAM, why do I have to get it within the year? Is it because I will get the educational discount? or because after one year is up, Apple will not upgrade my notebook to a 1GB?

    I was also just thinking, instead of buying a 1GB RAM, I could just purchase one of those flash drives in a 512 MB to save most of my information on, this way, I would save most of my documents on the flash drive, thereby saving memory on my computer and leaving more space for more applications.

    Another thought that just crossed my mind: my desktop Compaq PC has 512 MB RAM and I have a pretty good amount of space left, more than half is free space. So would upgrading really be neccesary if I have this much space left over on my PC?

    Thanks again for everyone's imput! I appreciate it!:D
  11. spinne1 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 12, 2005
    Hermitage, TN USA (near Nashville)
    The one year was referring only to Applecare. You can up your ram at any time. If you plan on paying someone else to do it, you may as well get it from Apple right at the start. It will cost money for someone's time to install it. That said, it will be far cheaper to buy from a third party (such as Data Memory Systems) and then install it yourself (not THAT hard). You won't get any educational discount on third party ram, but the savings over Apple ram with an educational discount will probably still be significant.

    I've never heard of such a thing. A flash drive cannot be used as a ram substitute, can it?!

    First of all, yes. What happens on your PC is not applicable, but I doubt any modern PC regularly uses less than 256 mb of ram. Ram is not like a hard drive where space is set aside and used permantly. You don't have set blocks that are used all the time no matter what (besides for the system itself). Your ram usage is constantly flowing, up and down as different processes use it and unuse it. With OS X, you need gobs of ram or else your whole system will seem sluggish. Why? Because not having gobs of ram equals frequent page swaps which means your hard drive space is being used as a temporary holding ground for things your ram wants to hold but cannot due to space constraints. Just know that for OS X, you want at least 1 GB of ram. You could run it on 512, but the performance hit is not worth saving the money.
  12. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    JSW was only talking about the AppleCare, not the RAM. The RAM, you should probably upgrade as soon as you can afford it, but of course there's no reason that it needs to be within a year. And if you don't custom-configure the computer with more RAM when you buy it, you're going to need to find a friend who knows their way around computers or pay somebody to install it for you. If this is what you do, there are several reputable online dealers who offer reasonable prices and lifetime warranties on RAM, and guanantee compatibility with your Mac, which many people here will direct you to. You just need to find/pay someone to install it for you once you've bought it.

    On the other hand, if you can afford it it might be worth the additional expense to just get it preinstalled when you order the computer, to avoid the hassle later.

    You seem to be confusing RAM and hard drive space. In short, RAM is "short term memory"--you never use it directly, the Mac (and Windows) automatically uses it as "working space" for programs that are open. When there's not enough of it free (again, you don't "see" this unless you open a program that monitors RAM use), the computer slows down somewhat.

    Hard drive space, or storage, is what you seem to be thinking of. It is long-term storage that doesn't "disappear" when the comptuer is turned off, and you *do* use it directly, every time you save a file or a document. It is where your files, and your programs, are stored. When the MacOS or Windows reports (for example) "21.5GB Available", it's talking about your hard drive, not RAM. The MacBook comes with at least a 60GB hard drive, which it sounds like you're unlikely to ever fill up unless you start saving a large amount of music or photos, or get into digital video editing.

    The computer will slow down if there's almost no hard drive space left, but it doesn't relate directly to RAM, and the 512MB a pendrive holds is only a tiny fraction of the hard drive space in the MacBook (again, about 1/120 of it--512MB is 1/2 of a GB), so storing your files on it wouldn't make any measureable difference.

    I hope that made sense.
  13. animefx macrumors regular

    May 10, 2005
    I would look online (try NewEgg) for more memory. You can get 2 gigs of ram do throw in your new MacBook (I did) for pretty cheap (much cheaper than Apple's store). With 2 gigs of ram, it could last you 4 years as long as you aren't gaming on it, it will be really really fast.

    Don't forget that you can also upgrade your hard drive at a later date if 60 gigs isn't enough for you.

  14. laughingbabe16 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2006
    Again, thanks!

    I must have been confusing RAM and Hard Drive space. Thanks for answering my questions, I understand much better now. :D

    If Apple's store for RAM is expensive like everyone is saying, where else (store wise) could I get it for cheaper? Would best buy be a good bet, where I could also get it installed, for cheaper? Or while I'm up at the Apple store when I purchase my MB, should I just get it installed there and pay the $90?
  15. SamIchi macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2004
    There's are some threads about this floating around in the forums. Do a search. I think currently the cheapest ones are Optival for $77 (1GB). Check this site out.

    You can search for MacBook specific RAM. I would say the best place to get RAM is through a respectable online site, not BestBuy.

    Even though installing RAM is user friendly on the MB (atleast from a video I saw), if you're new to this kind of stuff, ask a computer knowledgable friend and have him/her guide you through it. That way you'll learn for future refrence and won't be hesitant to do it for your next computer. I wouldn't reccomend having Apple do it, since they charge so much. But hey, if you got the money, and don't mind spending, go ahead.
  16. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    As for where to buy RAM online, you'll find that most people here will recommend either DMS (, OWC (, or Crucial is the "highest end", but also the most expensive, and the other two are similar, though I personally prefer DMS. All guarantee Mac compatibility, have reasonable prices for what they sell, consistent quality, and offer lifetime warranties.

    It sounds like you're buying a non-custom-configured unit at an Apple store--is that right? If so, you might do better to just use the Apple online store and order one with the $100 upgrade to 1GB--it may not be the best deal in the world that way, but there are no installation hassles and it should ship pretty quickly. Saves you the confusion of having to buy RAM since you don't sound very comfortable with the procedure, although there are plenty here who will help you if you want to go the DIY route.

    If you do add it later, it's worth noting that the MacBook has two RAM slots, but they're both full when you buy the computer. Since it will run a tiny bit faster if both slots have the same size memory module in them, you would ideally want to replace both (and maybe sell the old ones on eBay or something).

    At DMS, to use one example, you can buy 1GB of RAM (2 512MB modules, which would completely replace the 2 256MB modules that come with the MacBook) for about $125. Get a friend to install them for you, and you're good to go. You'll note, however, that this is actually more expensive than the "Build to order" upgrade from the Apple store, since you can't make use of the old modules, so if you don't want to bother selling them, then it's really a better deal to just use the online store to order it.

    If you want to just upgrade it to the maximum 2GB and be done with it, though, you can buy 2GB (again, 2 1GB modules) from DMS for $240. The same costs $500 if you order it from Apple, obviously a lot more. If you have the money to spare, this is what I'd do personally, so I could just forget about it.
  17. nadyne macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2004
    Mountain View, CA USA
    I just got a new MacBook last week. I've been getting about 6 hours of battery life so far. That's running wireless and with the screen at full brightness, but not doing anything much with the DVD (just installing software and so on).

    Every Mac notebook has an icon in the meny that tells you the status of the battery. Clicking on the icon will give you more information. If you're running off the battery, it will give you an estimate of time remaining. If you're plugged in, it will tell you how long until it is fully charged.

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