New to Macs / IT Pro - MBP, or MB? Hmm.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by pmj85, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. pmj85 macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2016
    Hi all,

    I have worked in IT for a decade now, and for the first time I find myself having to be fluent in Macs. I didn't really know what to expect at first, but sufficed to say I like what I see. It also happens to be upgrade time; I'm currently using a Dell XPS 9530 (15") with an i7, 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD (oh, and an Nivida dedicated GPU / 3.5kish screen).

    Truth be told, I've never needed all of that power. I was originally purchasing the machine to edit videos etc., but that never panned out (long story) - so I've been stuck with a behemoth for answering emails, remotely interfacing with servers, streaming media, etc. You get the idea - it's complete overkill.

    So, to the point. I want to purchase either a Macbook Pro 13", or a Macbook. Portability is the most important thing (ruling out 15" models), because I'm always lugging my equipment around and also do a lot of travel outside of the country. On the surface of things, the Macbook is the best bet... but for less money, I can get vastly better hardware / battery life (important) in the 13". It's hardware that I don't necessarily need - I know that the Macbook will handle anything I require professionally and personally, but can I really justify paying more for drastically inferior hardware?

    I find myself in the strange and previously un-encountered position of "But... it's so shiny!", apparently bereft of my usual discernment.

    Are there any other IT people here using a Macbook as their daily driver? If so, could you please enlighten me as to how it fares?

    FWIW, the 'one port fiasco' doesn't bother me. Happy to use adapters when needs be; not fussy about that kind of thing.

  2. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2010
    London, UK
    IMO the 13" Macbook Pro is probably the best value Apple portable machine at the moment. Though wait a couple of weeks to see if Apple announce a refresh at the 21 March event.
  3. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Unless you do a LOT of docking and undocking, and want to do it all with a single USB-C hub, I can't see any good reason to get a MacBook over a MacBook pro.
  4. pmj85 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2016
    Tomorrow - shininess? :p

    Thanks both. I had heard rumblings that there was a Mac event up and coming, now you mention it. I can certainly wait another 10 days.

  5. Azl macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2012
    Karlsruhe, Germany
    if you don´t need the extra power and like the mb then go for it.

    Just my 2cents
  6. Frosties, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    Frosties macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    For now the macbook pro is a better choice, the macbook is a crippled first generation computer that will show it's limitations pretty quick. It's due for an update soon, new processors are coming and a safe bet is that apple have added some connectors to the next generation due to massive critique with the macbook and skylake brings new ports to the table.
  7. pmj85 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2016
    Thanks, Frosties - that was a really helpful post.

    I'll hang fire for now. I have a (rather rubbish) Lenovo Thinkpad to tide me over.
  8. blwest78 macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2016
    I concur. 13" Retina MBP is a great machine. If you want to use it with a monitor, just get something from 12 south ( that fits your fancy. I like the BookArc combined with the apple bluetooth keyboard and magic trackpad w/force touch.
  9. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    The MBP is a better computer, certainly, but the MB is so beautiful and so shiny and so small that it's very easy indeed to overlook its shortcomings (it's not anything like as slow as haters make out). And its portability is just amazing. If you don't need to game or edit videos you should certainly look at it. I swapped my MBP15 for an iMac and a MB and love them both.

    But as others have said, wait until the 21st and see what upgrades to either may or may not get announced, since we're so close...
  10. throAU, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    I'm an IT professional (of 20 years) and i suggest you go for the retina Macbook Pro.

    Unless you desperately need the slightly reduced weight, the Pro has more ports that will be useful - HDMI, display port, regular USB ports, thunderbolt. It also has a stronger CPU which may help if you're doing stuff like virtualisation, compressing files to move them around, transcoding video stuff, etc. "IT" is a bit general so it's hard to know exactly what you're doing, but that could also be an accurate description of your IT position particularly if you're working in support, even a couple of escalation levels up.

    Unless you're in a very specific niche and rarely need to plug stuff in, the single USB-C port is going to be a real pain for someone doing IT type stuff.

    Yes, there are work arounds and dongles but they cost money and there's still only one port.

    Not to put the Macbook down, but it's just not ideal for this sort of workload. You're unlikely to know what you have to deal with, and the additional flexibility of the Pro will be a big help.


    I recently went through the same comparison between the Macbook, the 13" Retina and the 15" retina myself and bought the 13" with 512 GB SSD. 16 GB would have been nice but it wasn't available off-the-shelf, and realistically if i need to do a lot of heavier VM stuff i have 2 vSphere clusters i can use at work, so....
  11. pmj85 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2016
    My role is quite a strange one, truth be told. I work for a (great, all bias aside) company who are beginning to break into the education sector. As such, I'm helping them to build a framework for a full-time, onsite support solution. I'm therefore responsible for 1st, 2nd and 3rd line support - although some 3rd line stuff has to be escalated, because (thanks to being stuck in a rut for a while at my old job) some of my knowledge is out of date. Training soon :)

    Some virtualisation will be required, but from what I have read the MB can cope with that - so long as you aren't doing too much heavy lifting.

    You're right, though - and I appreciate the advice. I think I'm starting to head towards the MBP.
  12. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Yeah, truth be told the CPU power in the Macbook is plenty. The RAM is enough for light duty VM work too.

    The big, big one though is the ports. If you want (for example) to plug in your charger and a USB->serial adapter, or a network adapter and a serial port or whatever... awkward. The pro has better battery life too, and the 13s are light enough to not be a problem. IMHO. For most people the single port won't be quite so annoying, but in the role you're doing (perhaps similar to myself) you won't need ports often, but when you do you, you're likely to need a few of them.

    Definitely test the keyboard on both too, the MB has the "new" keyboard with very little travel and so far i don't really like it.
  13. pmj85 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2016
    I had a play with both the MB and the MBP at a store yesterday. Firstly, the keyboard on the MB is certainly different but I didn't have any real qualms with it - I think it's something I could quite easily live with and even learn to like. Secondly, there was no discernible difference in app loading times between the two. The MB was plenty fast enough for what I need... and I'm really not bothered about the odd stutter under load here and there,so long as the job gets done.

    Ports wise, I have a gaming spec PC and also my work laptop (ThinkPad - port-o-rama!) for that stuff.

    I'll wait for the potential refresh, but honestly - at this rate I think I'll end up flipping a coin on it, because they're both great.

    Also - that screen. My god, that screen (on both).
  14. dan1eln1el5en macrumors 6502


    Jan 3, 2012
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    15" rMBP here, wonderful machine.
    I wouldn't go for the MB as the lack of ports. I think the MB is mostly for people who write a lot, and don't need too much the USB file transfer etc.
    at first I found only 2 USB ports insufficient, but by now I live it (had my MBP for 2 years now - full specced and I could continue using it for years to come still)
  15. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Application load times are mostly due to the SSD which is similar between the two, but if you ever do any video transcoding or compression the pro will be much quicker.

    For me, ports are important on a portable as I use things like serial adapters, monitors, etc. - i can't lug my desktop machine around to plug into network equipment...

    But if you don't need the ports and can live with the keyboard then sounds like the MB will do the job.
  16. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Actually, you're paying more for drastically smaller and lighter hardware. (Well, technically, I think its about $200 less than the MBP with 256GB of SSD. If you are literally carrying it around, on foot, in a briefcase all day then that might be justified. Otherwise, the 13" rMBP is still pretty small and light and isn't going to be too much of an ordeal to ferry to and from the car park.

    Its an awkward time to buy a Mac, because everybody is waiting for Skylake and Intel's release schedule doesn't seem to have been planned with Apple in mind. Nobody knows what Apple will do, but one reasonable guess is that eventually the rMBP will get slimmed down further, totally obsoleting the 13" Air, and the next gen MacBook will evolve from the current executive toy to the entry-level machine (just like the Air did, years ago).

    ...but that's just a guess (we could just get minor bumps to Skylake processors), plus it sounds like this week's event is going to be mobile devices.

    I'd only buy at the moment if the need was urgent.
  17. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    I would go into an Apple store and see which one feels right in your hands. The Retina MacBook Pro has quite a nice keyboard, the one on the Macbook is quite shallow. You may or may not like this - it's a personal preference thing.

    The trackpad click on the Macbook also feels different.

    There's quite a lot of overlap between the 13" MacBook Air and the 13" Macbook Pro. As you don't need the power of your current machine have a look at one of these, but as others have said give it a couple of weeks before you buy anything as Apple could have an update out very soon.
  18. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    2c, but buying a 13" macbook air right now is totally crazy in my opinion. I very much doubt it will be on the market inside of 6 months, and everything else in apple's line-up is retina. Which means that software development will be (even more) focused on retina displays.

    that, and the fact that in 2016 the viewing angles on the TN display the MBAs have is just complete garbage. Go play with one in a store and move the hinge backwards or forwards a little and watch the colour shift. Then try it on a new Macbook, Macbook Pro Retina, or even the old 2012 model Macbook Pro (or any Pro from the last 7 years or so). They don't distort like that because they're all IPS displays.
  19. Userbase macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2016
    Bought a Mac Book Retina in Sept 2012 for $2,500. In Dec 2015 required a battery replacement. Apple Store quoted $500 and would need my laptop for 7-10 BUSINESS DAYS (translation - 2 calendar weeks if all goes well)!!!

    First, the cost was extortionate (20% of original purchase price) and nearly enough to buy a comparable brand-new non-Apple laptop. Secondly, can you imagine operating without your laptop for TWO WEEKS!?!?

    Reason given - Apple engineers (accountants?) thought it was a good idea to GLUE the battery to the underside of the top - requiring it and the perfectly good parts attached thereto, such as the track pad, to be trashed too. Hardly a candidate for the Green Product of the Year award is it?

    For comparison, I replaced the battery in a 5 year old Dell Studio laptop with a $55 higher capacity aftermarket part delivered to my door in 2 days, that I changed in 12 minutes (would have been faster, but I was tired). During the two days I waited for the part, I could still use my laptop.

    It's a good thing Apple doesn't make $30,000 cars, because when the battery needs replacing in 3 or 4 years it would cost $6,000 and take 2 weeks. Plus, the hood, dash, windshield and steering wheel would all have to be replaced too.

    Also, the four foot pads underneath the bottom of the case had fallen off and we were quoted $10 EACH, plus $100 labor to replace these (total $140!!). Reason given - these are a "special" two-piece Applesque design with an inner piece that fits through a hole drilled through the bottom of the case and glues to the outer foot piece - supposedly to make it more durable than other readily available simpler, lower cost designs. Replacing these requires opening up the case and moving some components. Clearly it wasn't a superior design because they all fell off in 3 years.

    Were told that because of the four holes Apple had drilled through the bottom case, we had to cover these or moisture or debris could enter, and no cooling air could circulate under, the Mac Book. So we bought some 3/4" stick on pads at the hardware store for $3 a dozen and installed four of these in 30 seconds. Expect these should last at least as long as the originals. And if some fall off, we have 8 spares on hand to replace those in a matter of seconds too.

    Based on this, one could easily be led to believe that Apple deliberately and cynically designed its product with short-life planned obsolescence and expensive lengthy repairs costing 20% of the original purchase price to boost revenues and prey upon its own customers' wallets.

    It would also seem they wish to propagate the "it’s an ultra sophisticated high technology mysterious black box that is beyond your tiny brain to maintain" Wizard of Oz patronizing attitude towards its customers. Well, time to wake up Apple - the curtain was pulled back long ago.

    There was another business that tried a 3 to 4 year planned obsolescence and "so-expensive-to-repair-might-as-well-buy-a-new-one” strategy. It was called the American Auto industry. That went well.

    Run away.

  20. pmj85 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2016
    It may seem like folly to some, but I think I'm going to go ahead and order a Macbook. I'm not particularly interested if something more powerful gets announced in a few days time; as it is, it's pretty much perfect for my needs. It wouldn't bother me in the slightest to learn that a superior model came out a little further down the line.

    I don't see it as 'handicapped' or what have you, which is how other people have described it. It seems like a perfectly functional bit of kit.

  21. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    If you've made up your mind then . . . you've made up your mind.

    But in this house, my partner (a writer, who's on her MB 6-8 hours every day) hasn't been happy with the MB. She came from an 11" Air, and before that, a fairly loaded 15" 2010 MBP.

    The MB has been troublesome from the beginning. Sure, our experience is just a single data point, but I think it's worth talking about because the failures and headaches have been because of the new technology: keyboard and battery (I assume that the latter is new at least in its form factor). Both have failed, and the KB has failed twice. This was in the first 9-10 months.

    And, as others have said, the single port is annoying. Sure, if you're always careful to watch the battery level and never need to use an external disk (using the ridiculously-priced USB adapter) when the battery is low, or never need to use a wired ethernet connection in that situation -- well, fine. Putting it another way, if you need to use that port for something besides charging at unpredictable intervals, then you're going to have to make sure you get in the habit of always paying attention to your battery level.

    And yet it's an attractive machine in many ways. If I were you, and I wanted a MB, I would wait for Mod2 of the design. We went into a first-gen buy with our eyes open, hoping that it wouldn't be troublesome. But it was.
  22. kc2kth macrumors member

    Aug 27, 2009
    I had been in IT for about 11 years when I bought my first Mac back in 2005. I'm only on my 2nd one now and considering my next, but they are amazingly well built. I'm a Thinkpad fan at heart - and I have one of those as well I bought a couple of years ago. It and the Macbook Pro are the only laptop form factor machines I'll consider because of the build quality. As for your needs specifically I can say the Mac lineup appreciates extra memory and fast drive access. I don't have an SSD in my current MBP. If I did I probably wouldn't even bother shopping for a new one. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
  23. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    If you have a MBP with a mechanical HD, I can heartily recommend upgrading it to a 2.5" SSD - it makes a huge difference.
  24. pmj85 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2016
    I went to have a proper mess around with both the Pro and the MB last night. Given all the heat that the MB keyboard has received, I was surprised at just how much I liked it, and how natural it felt to me. In fact, I much prefer it to the keyboard on the MBP - something I was not expecting. Perhaps my spade-hands find the large keys agreeable, or something :)

    Upon returning home (web order = edu discount >:B), I went ahead and ordered the base Macbook model (Space Grey) with the HDMI / USB / Charge port adaptor, 'just in case'. It should arrive tomorrow... which incidentally is the due date of my second daughter. Which one comes first is anyone's guess.

    It perhaps seems like a hasty decision with the Mac conference literally days away, but you know what? I honestly couldn't care less about any impending hardware refreshes. As it is right now, it's perfect for what I need. Absolute worst case scenario: I end up hating it. No probs - I'll just flog it on eBay and get a newer model (when out) or the MBP. I sincerely doubt that'll be the case, though.

    Without trying to sound like a raving loon, when I use the MB I 'feel' like I've tredpedisiously put one foot forward into the future - and I like the vibes I'm getting from the other side. The form factor is sublime, and the keyboard - for me - really shakes the formula up in a great way. It's a taste of what's to come... and I do like progression.

    Thanks to all for your advice throughout the thread. Everything was weighted, and a lot of research was done. In the end, I went for the product which ticks all the boxes and also does a little more. Exciting times! I can't wait to see what else Apple have in store :)

    Oh, and @monokakata - single data point or not, I appreciate the input. I'll be sure to look out for early warning signs. I doubt I'll be using it as much as your partner (sounds like she needs a far more robust work-horse!) but these things are good to know, so thank you.

    I guess all of this makes me an Apple convert then, eh? Never thought I'd see the day.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 16, 2016 ---
    ^ This.

    I have recommended SSDs as more cost-effective upgrade options to some of the sites I've worked on previously, and the difference an SSD makes... total game changer. Hardware vastly inferior to your Mac is suddenly transformed from near obsolescence to lightning fast.

    I also highly recommend you get the SSD upgrade. I can't be without one now. In fact, the laptop I'm currently using until my Mac arrives has a 5200RPM effort in it. It's like being back in the 1800s :p
  25. pmj85 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2016
    First impressions: excellent.

    The only slight negative I have is the backlighting. It isn't an issue at all for myself, because it's a feature I seldom if ever use anyway, but the reviews are correct - it is uneven, and I find that quite strange for an Apple product. Still, first gen device and all that.

    Loving the keyboard. I don't think I ever want to go back to the spongy efforts with more travel. This thing is superb!

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