wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
Due to some medical conditions I've been fortunate that my school district is allowing me to work from home, teaching the online only learners. I'm currently working on a smallish (43" wide) desk with two laptops and a 21.5" DELL P2217H external monitor. The PC is a Dell Latitude 5400 (school issued), and my Mac is a 2012 13" MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM and connected to a 120GM internal and 500GB external SATA drive (system).

The MacBook Pro is my primary computer, though I need the PC for some school related functions (currently having trouble connecting and accessing my school OneDrive folder [school files] from my Mac, and the video on the PC laptop is better than the Mac camera for WebEx meetings). Also, a few other school programs (e.g., Schoology) work better on the PC than on the Mac. Thus, I use both laptops simultaneously. I prefer the Mac, but it's getting a bit old and slow. The Dell monitor is connected to my MacBook via a USB-HDMI adapter since the external SSD SATA drive uses the solo thunderbolt connection.

I am interested in buying a new Mac laptop and a new monitor to create a two computer, two external monitor system; I might forgo the two laptops (set them aside) in lieu of two external monitors. Since I now work at home, I want my computer(s) setup to be as efficient and useful as possible. I have a few questions:

1) What speed/function will I gain with a new 2020 13" MacBook Pro over my 2012 MacBook Pro? I sometimes feel my current computer is slow. However, with 16GB of RAM I'm using only half of it even with a lot of apps open. Except for Webinars, my use is typical business apps with mostly cloud storage. I might do a little video recording, but not much. Still, my laptop seems slow. Maybe it's not. Manipulating (editing, attaching, using) photos is very slow, and I do this often. And when I start using photos my CPU load skyrockets. My RAM usage also shoots up - would I need 32GB of RAM rather than 16GB? Would I benefit from a new Mac laptop?
2) With limited desk space I'm considering a second 21.5" DELL PPSS17H monitor. I would like a 27" monitor, but I don't think I have the space. Besides, 1920 x 1080 pixels seems to be adequate for a 22" monitor, but no so much for a 27" monitor. If I went 27" I'd want a higher pixel and thus more expensive monitor. Does this rationale make sense? Am I missing something? Is there a better monitor choice? The monitor purpose is business, not photo/video editing or watching movies.
3) Should I forgo buying a new Mac laptop and just get another monitor? And maybe buy an external webcam and mic for the WebEx meetings, and thus putting the laptops aside, just using the two monitors. I would then need to figure out the keyboard situation to handle both computers; I currently use a wireless mac keyboard for the Mac, but the laptop keyboard for the PC. And two mice.
4) With a new Mac laptop, would I be able to do all of my work from the Mac and ditch the PC laptop?
5) A better solution altogether? I don't have room for a bigger desk.
6) And as daylight hours decrease, I may need webinar lights to add somewhere on my desk; I'm currently relying on a big window in from of me for webinar light. But what and where do I place lights on a small desk?

All in all, my questions are more home office related than necessarily computer related. Any help would be most helpful.

Michael
IMG_2069.jpg
 
Last edited:

wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
So a new computer wouldn't benefit me much? What about a second external monitor?
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
7,832
1,474
Baltimore, Maryland
I can't answer all those questions but you could consider a new(er) MacBook Pro, an external webcam if the new MBP's isn't sufficient, whatever external monitor(s) will work for you, and either using Microsoft Remote Desktop (free) to access the Windows computer or running Windows in a virtual machine.

For webcam lighting you might be able to find something to mount on the wall.
 

nothingtoseehere

macrumors 6502
Jun 3, 2020
348
354
Your desk space is very limited so the main goal should be to reduce stuff. Therefore and as you need a Windows PC, you could consider to get a new Intel MacBook and to run windows with Boot Camp or parallels, to serve your windows needs
 

wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
Yes. Boot Camp, Parallels, or Microsoft Remote Desktop are excellent possibilities. Can one readily switch back and forth, say, between Mac and Boot Camp? One computer and one monitor would be very nice. Would a 2020 13" MacBook Pro be a good choice? 16 or 32GB of RAM? And then maybe a webcam is the built in isn't sufficient (I have no idea if the built in camera is good or not). And no dual mice or keyboards - yeah!
 

James_C

macrumors 68030
Sep 13, 2002
2,500
1,164
Bristol, UK
Do you need a laptop ? If you tend to do all your work at the desk then a 27" iMac may be the way to go. Nice large screen and you can ditch all the other kit on your desk. I also suggest getting Parallels and using windows on your Mac. Parallels has a "coherence mode" which means that you can run all your Windows Apps in its own window on your Mac Desktop. You can also copy and paste between your Windows Apps and you Mac Apps. No need for a separate PC. Parallels will allow you Windows Apps to run at almost native speed. The 2020 iMac finally has a 1080P HD Webcam so that would solve your video issues. It also has a significantly better Mic setup as well.

Of course if you need portability then the 13" Mac Book Pro would be a good option, but then you will probably need to use an external monitor.
 

wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
I once had a 27" iMac until it died. Yes, it's nice and a great "relative" bargain, but while I do most of my work at my desk I want the portability. I have a side business where portability may or may not be useful in the near future. But it IS an option that I should at least consider. Perhaps, when necessary, I can use my school PC laptop for my portability needs.

I'm checking with my school to see if all of my school function needs can be placed on my personal Mac computer running Parallels. The school district likes control and they may not allow me to add certain functions to my personal computer for school use.
 

James_C

macrumors 68030
Sep 13, 2002
2,500
1,164
Bristol, UK
I once had a 27" iMac until it died. Yes, it's nice and a great "relative" bargain, but while I do most of my work at my desk I want the portability. I have a side business where portability may or may not be useful in the near future. But it IS an option that I should at least consider. Perhaps, when necessary, I can use my school PC laptop for my portability needs.

An iPad may be another option possibly for remote work, depending on what you need it for.

I have an 27" iMac, 15" MacBook Pro and an iPad Pro. I hardly use my MacBook Pro at home.


I'm checking with my school to see if all of my school function needs can be placed on my personal Mac computer running Parallels. The school district likes control and they may not allow me to add certain functions to my personal computer for school use.

If they don't then you should be able to use Microsoft Desktop Connection (MDC) to remote into your work laptop that does not need to be on your desk. MDC is excellent and almost lag free for office applications.
 

clueless88

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2020
135
65
I would suggest that you put a wall between work and personal use. Keep the MacBook Pro for personal use only. Use the dell laptop with an external camera and/or mic with your monitor for school stuff. If you find you need 2 screens open simultaneously get a larger monitor like 27 inch and have the windows laptop display 2 different windows on that monitor.

It would be ideal if you could use the laptop in a closed position with a mouse and external keyboard.

When I was working I only did company business on the work provided phone and laptop, any personal calls, texts, emails, surfing I did on my personal electronics.

Your school also would probably balk upon installing their software on personal computers.
 
Last edited:

justashooter

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2020
234
120
Your 2012 Macbook Pro 13 should not be slow for the tasks you are performing. I have this exact MBP with an internal 500gb SSD/16gb ram and use it daily for photoshop, business apps, etc without a problem. What OS are you using?

You say your MBP has a 120GM (I assume you meant GB) internal, is that an SSD or hard drive. Is that your boot drive? because you have a 500GB external that you are calling (system). If the 120gb is the boot drive is it full? That will make your system slow.

I would have used USB 3 for your external drive and saved the thunderbolt/displayport port for monitor use.
 

mk313

macrumors 65816
Feb 6, 2012
1,312
563
I’ve been working from home during the pandemic as well. In my case, I ended up using an external widescreen monitor with two hdmi inputs, along with a multi-device Bluetooth mouse & keyboard, and a Twelve South Curve to hold the laptOp. The twelve south is nice since it puts the laptop screen at roughly the same height as the external monitor so it’s like having a smaller second monitor Without taking up any extra desktop real estate.
I also like the twelve south over cheaper stands because my person laptop fits underneath the work laptop, so it cleans up my desk quite a bit.

I can only use one laptop screen at a time, but it’s easy to move back & forth between work & laptops quickly (I pretty much only use the external display on my personal Mac (it would get tedious to keep pulling it out from underneath the curve stand.) With a widescreen monitor, it’s easy enough to use just one screen on my personal laptop, at least for my Uses.
 

wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
Your 2012 Macbook Pro 13 should not be slow for the tasks you are performing. I have this exact MBP with an internal 500gb SSD/16gb ram and use it daily for photoshop, business apps, etc without a problem. What OS are you using?

You say your MBP has a 120GM (I assume you meant GB) internal, is that an SSD or hard drive. Is that your boot drive? because you have a 500GB external that you are calling (system). If the 120gb is the boot drive is it full? That will make your system slow.

I would have used USB 3 for your external drive and saved the thunderbolt/displayport port for monitor use.
My 500GB drive is my boot drive. I really don't use the internal 120GB drive for much. I have about 100GB of free space on the external drive. If I use the USB3 connection for the external boot drive, how much slower would it be than using the thunderbolt drive? If the speed differential is minimal then I can use the thunderbolt drive to connect to the external monitor which would be nice.

OS is 10.15.7.

Speed bogs down a lot when I open and use Photos - not sure what's happening there.
 

wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
If they don't then you should be able to use Microsoft Desktop Connection (MDC) to remote into your work laptop that does not need to be on your desk. MDC is excellent and almost lag free for office applications.
I will look into MDC. Thanks.
[automerge]1601927887[/automerge]
I’ve been working from home during the pandemic as well. In my case, I ended up using an external widescreen monitor with two hdmi inputs, along with a multi-device Bluetooth mouse & keyboard, and a Twelve South Curve to hold the laptOp. The twelve south is nice since it puts the laptop screen at roughly the same height as the external monitor so it’s like having a smaller second monitor Without taking up any extra desktop real estate.
I also like the twelve south over cheaper stands because my person laptop fits underneath the work laptop, so it cleans up my desk quite a bit.

I can only use one laptop screen at a time, but it’s easy to move back & forth between work & laptops quickly (I pretty much only use the external display on my personal Mac (it would get tedious to keep pulling it out from underneath the curve stand.) With a widescreen monitor, it’s easy enough to use just one screen on my personal laptop, at least for my Uses.
Thanks. This might be a good space saver.
 

clueless88

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2020
135
65
I’ve been working from home during the pandemic as well. In my case, I ended up using an external widescreen monitor with two hdmi inputs, along with a multi-device Bluetooth mouse & keyboard, and a Twelve South Curve to hold the laptOp. The twelve south is nice since it puts the laptop screen at roughly the same height as the external monitor so it’s like having a smaller second monitor Without taking up any extra desktop real estate.
I also like the twelve south over cheaper stands because my person laptop fits underneath the work laptop, so it cleans up my desk quite a bit.

I can only use one laptop screen at a time, but it’s easy to move back & forth between work & laptops quickly (I pretty much only use the external display on my personal Mac (it would get tedious to keep pulling it out from underneath the curve stand.) With a widescreen monitor, it’s easy enough to use just one screen on my personal laptop, at least for my Uses.
Very nice! Just looked at the 12 South website and the BookArc looks intriguing as well--can use the laptop in a closed position without taking up much horizontal space.
 

justashooter

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2020
234
120
Is your 120GB internal drive a hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD)? If it is a SSD I would make it your system drive (OS X/boot/applications). And only your system drive. I would store all your data on the external drive, and USB 3 would be fine for that. I would then use the thunderbolt/minidisplayport for running your monitor (there are adapters from minidisplayport to HDMI, DVI, etc.) I'm wondering what external hard drive you have that is thunderbolt, does it have two thunderbolt ports on it?
 
  • Like
Reactions: adib

flaubert

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2015
361
94
Portland, Oregon
Is your 120GB internal drive a hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD)? If it is a SSD I would make it your system drive (OS X/boot/applications). And only your system drive. I would store all your data on the external drive, and USB 3 would be fine for that. I would then use the thunderbolt/minidisplayport for running your monitor (there are adapters from minidisplayport to HDMI, DVI, etc.) I'm wondering what external hard drive you have that is thunderbolt, does it have two thunderbolt ports on it?

Actually, I'm also wondering about the 500GB external drive: is that an SSD or spinning drive? If it is a spinning drive that would totally explain why it is bogging down when you open Photos. A spinning drive has to seek all over the place to pick up bits of files. The Thunderbolt cable is a big, wide pipe, but if it is connected to a spinner the bandwidth is essentially wasted.

@justashooter: thunderbolt hard disks are almost always single port Thunderbolt for some reason (they terminate the chain).

Edit: I see in a different paragraph that the OP refers to the external drive as an SSD.
 

calliex

macrumors 6502
Aug 16, 2018
315
119
Pittsburgh, Pa
Yes. Boot Camp, Parallels, or Microsoft Remote Desktop are excellent possibilities. Can one readily switch back and forth, say, between Mac and Boot Camp? One computer and one monitor would be very nice. Would a 2020 13" MacBook Pro be a good choice? 16 or 32GB of RAM? And then maybe a webcam is the built in isn't sufficient (I have no idea if the built in camera is good or not). And no dual mice or keyboards - yeah!
I used the 21 in iMAC with external monitor for 10 years running parallels. I could switch between windows and mac easily. I put the parallels window on the 2nd monitor and moved between the two. I ran a windows only cardiogram analysis software program but most everything else I did was on the MAC.
At that time the base 12 in iMac and base MacBook air where both around $1000. So for the price of a MacBook Pro I had two computers. the iMac was the work course and the air was for mobile use.
 

James_C

macrumors 68030
Sep 13, 2002
2,500
1,164
Bristol, UK
Speed bogs down a lot when I open and use Photos - not sure what's happening there.

Are you using a USB 3 rated cable to connect your SSD to your Mac. If you are not then this may the source of your slowdown. I have a 500 GB Photo Library on an external USB 3 SSD and it responds fine.

The Cable that plugs into your Mac ( on a 2012 Mac it will be a type A socket ) should either have a blue interior or have USB 3 labeled on it.

This is what mine looks like.

If you are using a Hub then it needs to be a USB 3 hub as well.

IMG_0211.jpeg
 
Last edited:

wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
Is your 120GB internal drive a hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD)? If it is a SSD I would make it your system drive (OS X/boot/applications). And only your system drive. I would store all your data on the external drive, and USB 3 would be fine for that. I would then use the thunderbolt/minidisplayport for running your monitor (there are adapters from minidisplayport to HDMI, DVI, etc.) I'm wondering what external hard drive you have that is thunderbolt, does it have two thunderbolt ports on it?
Both drives are SSD. The external is a LaCie drive (in bright orange case) with a thunderbolt and USD3 connection.

I now need to figure out how to move the system and the apps to the internal drive. Best method?

Thanks.

Michael
 

wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
Actually, I'm also wondering about the 500GB external drive: is that an SSD or spinning drive? If it is a spinning drive that would totally explain why it is bogging down when you open Photos. A spinning drive has to seek all over the place to pick up bits of files. The Thunderbolt cable is a big, wide pipe, but if it is connected to a spinner the bandwidth is essentially wasted.

@justashooter: thunderbolt hard disks are almost always single port Thunderbolt for some reason (they terminate the chain).

Edit: I see in a different paragraph that the OP refers to the external drive as an SSD.
Yes. Single port - One Thunderbolt and one USB3.
 

wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
Are you using a USB 3 rated cable to connect your SSD to your Mac. If you are not then this may the source of your slowdown. I have a 500 GB Photo Library on an external USB 3 SSD and it responds fine.

The Cable that plugs into your Mac ( on a 2012 Mac it will be a type A socket ) should either have a blue interior or have USB 3 labeled on it.

This is what mine looks like.

If you are using a Hub then it needs to be a USB 3 hub as well.

View attachment 963475
Currently I'm using a thunderbolt cable to connect the external SSD to my Mac laptop. However, if I move the system and apps to the internal SSD drive (this was recommended), then I can connect the external SSD to the Mac via a USD3 cable for files (music, photos, etc), and use the thunderbolt connect for the external monitor, thus eliminating the USB to HDMI adapter.
 

justashooter

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2020
234
120
As far as I know there is not a way to move the system from the 500gb to the 120gb, you would have to do a clean install of the system on the 120gb. And it would be best of it was freshly formatted, which would require all the data to be moved off the 120gb or you would lose it. Could you do one thing though, download BlackMagic disk speed test and check the speed of both drives? On your boot disk you have to select a subfolder when you run the test. It is free and on the app store.
 

wacomme

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 21, 2009
290
33
As far as I know there is not a way to move the system from the 500gb to the 120gb, you would have to do a clean install of the system on the 120gb. And it would be best of it was freshly formatted, which would require all the data to be moved off the 120gb or you would lose it. Could you do one thing though, download BlackMagic disk speed test and check the speed of both drives? On your boot disk you have to select a subfolder when you run the test. It is free and on the app store.
Here are my speed test results.
 

Attachments

  • DiskSpeedTest 500GB External.png
    DiskSpeedTest 500GB External.png
    228.8 KB · Views: 65
  • DiskSpeedTest 120GB Drive.png
    DiskSpeedTest 120GB Drive.png
    227.6 KB · Views: 82
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.