PC user considering MBP looking for unbiased advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by wylie888, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. wylie888 macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    Hello all,

    I have been considering getting a new laptop for my upcoming deployment and have been thrust into the mac vs pc realm. In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently and have always been a PC user. I have always built my own PCs buying the hardware from sites like new egg and assembling it myself to get maximum performance without the stuff I do not want or need. All the computers I have built have had demanding gaming in mind so I have been sort of brainwashed into the 'what video card does it have' and 'how much RAM/L2 cache does it have? What's the processor/mobo? Can I upgrade in 2 months when the next game comes out and demands better performance?' That being said, I am at a different place in my life. I have been out of college (Go Gators) for 2 years and have a busy schedule in the Army--gaming is no longer a real part of my daily computing.

    I am a stubborn supporter of PC because I have always been able to get more with less (I can see people giving me the evil eye already!) To me, it has always been about numbers--processor speed, ram, cache, vram PRICE. I am a bit more open-minded now and I am ready to give the macbook pro a chance--but before I do, I would really like some advice from people in the mac world (maybe to help convince me just a little!) Ideally, if anyone out there used to build their own high performance PCs for gaming, your advice and thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Like I said before, I am no longer at the 'PC kills Mac' stage of my life--I can accept the fact that millions think Mac is better and easier to use. My only question that no one seems to have an answer for is--why? what makes it better?

    Here is my dilemma. I am considering the new MBP and also a 'gaming' PC laptop, the ASUS G71G-A2. After all is said and done, the ASUS will save me about $500 and give me superior performance (simply looking at the numbers). I do not need a 'gaming' laptop but I hope someone can give me a solid reason why I should pay more for less other than 'it just works', I sincerely want to know why it works better (if it does) with less. So here is the rundown the way I see it.

    MBP--2.53 intel core duo
    ASUS--2.53 intel core duo

    MBP--4gb of DDR3 RAM non-upgradeable (I believe it is still running slower than the better timings of the DDR2 RAM at time of release.. not sure)
    ASUS--6gb of DDR2 RAM--upgradeable to 8gb

    MBP--320gb @5400 RPM
    ASUS--two 320gb drives @ 7200 RPM

    MBP--not too sure! hopefully someone can help on this
    ASUS--1 x Express Card, 4 USB, 1 IEEE 1394, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 eSATA, normal audio ports, 8-in-1 card reader
    Winner--inconclusive (not sure about mbp's port situation)

    MBP--8x DVD RW
    ASUS--Blu Ray Combo

    Winner--not too big of a deal, but I would prefer the 17''

    ASUS--Windows Vista Home Premium 64 bit
    Winner--MBP (In all honesty, I have never used Vista or any mac OS--I loved XP--but everyone says the stability of the mac OS is far superior and I'm willing to take their word for it)

    Price (3 year protection plan included on both systems with an extra discount on the mbp)

    Now, with all that laid out, to me (in my PC gaming driven brain) it's no contest. That being said, I'm willing to accept the fact that this is not true--I just need to know why. I didn't include video card, over-clocking, OLED, battery life, etc. in the aforementioned comparisons because it no longer matters to me. But I find myself having an extremely difficult time passing up this ASUS and spending more money on a mac that seemingly has inferior performance. Hopefully someone can give me a more scientific reason why the mbp is still competitive (and hopefully exceeds the ASUS) in performance considering the price differential.

    For what it's worth, I am only considering the mbp because as I have stated, I'm no longer a 'gamer' and I have also been thinking about doing some video editing--everyone seems to heap loads of praise on macs for this task (including my girlfriend who does that sort of thing for a living and who is pushing me... ever... so... subtly... toward the mbp!) Although I would consider myself an advanced PC user, I must admit, it does get tiresome troubleshooting drivers, monitoring core temps, editing registry's, etc... but is it worth learning a new system? and is it worth the extra money on a system that is seemingly inferior performance wise?

    I apologize profusely if this came across as arrogant or 'PC is better than Mac' (and for the length of this post, phew!) I assure you, that was not my intention. I am simply hoping that someone can accurately describe to me why I should be considering the mbp keeping in mind the specs on that pretty ridiculous ASUS without the same 'Mac is better than PC just because it is' mentality that seems to come from the other side (realistically, they use the same hardware, just different OS's! cant we all just get along?!)

    I look forward to hearing from anyone willing to help and I thank you in advance, hopefully your thoughts and knowledge will help me purchase my first mac. Thanks!!

  2. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    Sounds to me like you answered your own question already.
  3. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    This is the mistake that everyone makes. They compare spec for spec what a computer is and say, "Oh, the MacBook Pro doesn't have HDMI and eSATA, it must suck." or "Ohp, no fingerprint reader there. Better go with the piece of Dell..."

    It all depends on what you'll be doing. If you'll be doing work, get the Mac. If you'll be playing games, get a good gaming PC and a Mac Mini with the money you have left over.

    Since you won't be gaming, get the MacBook Pro. It'll last you five years at least. I'm just gonna throw out a timeframe for the Asus... 2-2.5 years, max.
  4. wylie888 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    I'm trying to avoid the 'it sucks because it doesn't have this' mentality. I'm not saying the ASUS 'better' than the macbook, I'm trying to identify my known bias towards gaming PC's and maybe get an explanation as to why exactly the macbook pro is better rather than the 'it's just better' response. I'm willing to accept that my preconceived PC vs Mac notions are biased and inaccurate, I just want to know why this particular Mac would be better suited considering the hardware discrepancies and the fact that I do not need a 'gaming' pc anymore. Hope this clears things up. Thanks again.

  5. dr. shdw macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2008
    You forgot a huge factor, size and weight..

    MBP: 13.35 x 9.82 x .95 inches ; 5.5 pounds
    ASUS: 16.4 x 12 x 1.8 inches ; 8.6 pounds

    That ASUS is a monstrosity. At 50% heavier and being twice as thick, that's literally lugging around a paper weight. I'd go for the MBP + 360/PS3/Wii route..

    Also as for extra ports, the MBP has an Express Card 34 slot, FW800, display port, optical out, and 2 USB 2.0s.

    iMovie/Final Cut Pro are both pretty good and run well on the MBP. Also if you do end up getting a MBP, swap out the 320gb HD for a 500gb@7200rpm Seagate Momentus 7200.4 :)

    Also the PS3 is the best Blu-Ray player out there.
  6. wylie888 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    Thanks for the reply! The official weight of the ASUS is 8.6 pounds, I agree that is pretty heavy, but this laptop will be a desktop replacement of sorts so the extra weight is not a huge concern for me and I think I'd be willing to accept that considering the 17'' display. I must admit, the battery life on the mbp and its weight are very attractive though.

    I have heard nothing but good things about the mbp and editing with either FCP or Avid. As far as the hard drive concern, is that something you can purchase and install yourself or do the apple people have to install it to maintain the apple-care warranty?

  7. odinsride macrumors 65816


    Apr 11, 2007
    I think the biggest reason to get the Mac is for OS X. Just my two cents.
  8. dr. shdw macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2008
    Hmm sorry Amazon's site is misleading...haha yes it's 8.6 pounds. Mobility is always a nice factor though, and the MBP will feel more solid as well. Have you had a chance to play around with it at the store? If not, I'd definitely recommend it. The HD is the easiest thing to replace on the new MBPs. Just pop open the battery cover, remove one screw, change out the HD, and you're good to go.


    And no, changing out the HD doesn't void your warranty. Although of course if the HD goes bad, Apple won't replace it since it isn't the stock HD.
  9. dwright1974 macrumors 6502


    Aug 13, 2007

    Let me try and offer some advice.

    I work for an IT company and work with Windows XP and Windows Vista all day everyday, (I'm an IT Trainer). You could call me a geek and it never phased me having to go looking for a drivers, make changes to the registry, etc etc.

    Up to 12-months ago I was PC but I picked up a second hand Mac Mini from someone at work. It was mainly to see what all the 'fuss' was about. As soon as I got it home and plugged it in to my monitor, mouse and keyboard and turned it on, within 10-minutes I was up and running, (The previous owner had reinstalled OS X so was straight into the setup assistant).

    What struck me straight away was how it just worked. Once I'd punched in my WLAN details it was up and running with the software I needed to start playing with it.

    Within months, I'd sold the Mac Mini and bought a MacBook. Last month I sold that and now have a MBP. I'm hooked but for what I think are the right reasons.

    I deal with PC's all day, Training people how to use them and often, fixing the software on them. When I'm using a computer at home I just want it to work, and Macs do that. I can plug whatever I want in to it :)p) and it works. No going off to the Internet to find drivers, etc.

    Some might say it's because it's a closed system that it all works but actually I think that's a good thing. I don't have to mess about fixing it all the time. My Dad has a WinXP laptop and I am constantly using LogMeIn to dial on to it to fix things on it. I am trying to push him towards Mac because it would save me a load of time!!

    Now, on to the other choice. I don't consider myself a fanboy but Vista sucks and doesn't compare to OS X! (In fact, Vista doesn't compare to XP and that is my OS of choice on my work laptop despite it coming with Vista orginally).

    Also consider the practicalities. That is a big laptop. One of my colleagues has just got a Toshiba laptop for work, (can't remember the name), and it is huge. So huge in fact he has had it for 2 months and still can't find a suitable laptop bag for it, he literally walks out of work with it under his arm. As another poster have said, that's a lot of weight to carry around!

    My suggestions would be:

    - Go to an Apple Store/Reseller and have a play with a Mac.
    - You mention your Girlfriend is pushing you towards a Mac. Does she have one? Have a go on hers.

    Hope I've not come across as too much a fanboy and helped you out a bit!

    Good luck on your choice!

    - D
  10. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008
    Did you consider things like upgradability of the HDD? The Mac's is in a bay with the battery: You simply flip a lever, and the cover detaches and pulls away. You then just lift the drive out in its cradle and unscrew it. Another nice thing about the MBP is how easliy the case opens. You'll need a fairly tiny phillips screwdriver, but once you get one, you'll just need to remove 8 screws, and the whole bottom plate lifts out so you can clean the fans or get to the RAM slots.

    Another thing to keep in mind, is that Mac's have VERY nice cases. If you've never seen the MBP in person, it's hard to appreciate it. It looks amazing, the the thing is incredibly strong. It also looks very, very slick. There are simply little touches like IO ports sitting flush with the case, and being ordered so that they form a pattern, the hinge folds up into the vent when you close it, neatly hiding both. The power LED is concealed behind a spot in the case where the metal is worn down very thin. It looks solid when the light is off, but you can see the light through it when it's on. It's a very cool effect. The lid latches magnetically, so there's no latch. You just close it, and there is a quiet "thunk" and its closed. The thumbscoop for lifting the lid is literally carved out of the palmrest. The keyboard is backlight (with white LEDs no less).

    And a few other points...DDR3 IS faster. Timings are measured in DRAM clocks, not seconds. 7-7-7-20 @ 1066Mhz is faster than 5-5-5-15 @ 667Mhz. See the Wiki article on DDR3 for more info, as this is a fairly common belief. Also, the MBP's RAM runs 1:1 with the FSB, the Asus probably doesn't. The MBP's ports are: Magsafe (breakaway power cord), Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire800 (FW400 compatable), 2x USB 2.0, Mini DisplayPort, Audio Line-in, Headphone/Optical out, and ExpressCard 34. Also, check out the trackpad on the Apple website. It's something special. I've never seen a pad on any of my friends laptops that even comes close, including older Macs.

    Really though, don't buy a Mac for hardware. It's not worth it. It's mostly a a PC aside from the EFI (instead of a BIOS), just in a VERY slick-looking and well-built case with a graphic of a piece of fruit on it. You get a Mac for OS X. I suggest dropping buy apple.com/macosx and checking out some of the features. Watch the "Guided Tour" video if they still have it up. That will sell you VERY quickly.
  11. cawesjmu macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2004
    Richmond, VA
    Agreed! The MBP can run windows as well if you have to, while the PC can't run OS X (not counting hacks).

    MBP--not too sure! hopefully someone can help on this
    ASUS--1 x Express Card, 4 USB, 1 IEEE 1394, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 eSATA, normal audio ports, 8-in-1 card reader
    Winner--inconclusive (not sure about mbp's port situation)

    From Apple's site
    # Gigabit Ethernet port
    # One FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps)
    # Two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
    # Mini DisplayPort
    # Audio line in
    # Audio line out
    # ExpressCard/34 slot

    So yes, the ASUS has more ports. The MBP's advantage is that it has a FW800 port and "Combined optical digital input/analog line in (minijack)," and out. I'm not sure what the ASUS has.

    You just have to ask yourself if you'd really use the extra ports the ASUS has. Would you hook it up to a HDTV? Do you have any external drives with eSATA? Would you use the 8 in 1 card reader? If you'd use those a lot and don't want to get express cards for the MBP to make up for it (minus the HDMI), ASUS might be the better choice.

    In the end it comes down to what OS you want to use.
  12. gazfocus macrumors 68000


    Jan 3, 2008
    Liverpool, UK
    I too am an IT Technician and I deal with PC's every day, I also do a degree in IT and Internet Technology (using Windows XP machines). While I'm at work, 90% of calls I get are from people that say 'well it did work this morning but it doesn't work now' and I find that's one of the main annoyances with Windows. Whereas I can come home, go on my mac and just enjoy using it.

    When I had my last desktop PC (a custom built gaming machine), there were constantly things I wanted to do where I would have to tweak the settings or update drivers, but I don't have to with my MBP.

    OSX does take a little bit of getting use to but after spending a couple of hours messing around with the OS, I was comfortable that I knew where things were and how to do most things I could do on a PC. I still have my work laptop which as you, I took Vista off and put XP on, but the other thing worth remembering is, you can run Windows on your Mac too (either in Bootcamp or Parallels/VMWare).

    I would go for the Mac any day. Can't wait for my desktop Mac in January :)
  13. isianto macrumors regular

    Feb 12, 2007
    I used to be a pc users, I always compare the hardware I want to buy like you do, based on processor, ram, etc. But for me, I always happy at my choice when the first 3 months, but after that I notice windows slowing down. Then I got a mbp. I installed 3 OS on it, MacOSX, Linux (Centos) and Winxp. I got it over 2 years ago. And I have not noticed slowing down with MacOSX.

    For me, a good laptop whether it's a pc or a mac depends on 2 factors:
    1. Hardware
    2. The operating system that drives it.

    I agree with a poster that said if you want to work, get a mac, if you want to pay game get a pc. I like OSes, each has some advantages and disadvantages, so what I meant to say is it's actually depend on you. It's your choice.

    For me, I'm very satisfied with my mac, only two problems that I had with my mac, one is the battery ( I've exchange 1 time and by 1 time in 2 years), and the superdrive (1x exchange), but the mac customer service is the best, so it's not a problem with me.

    It's my point of view, and please forgive me for my english.
  14. Next Tuesday macrumors 6502a

    Next Tuesday

    Sep 14, 2006
    MBP's dont max out at 4gig ram. You can put 6 gig in them and probably 8 if apple ever releases the patch for it. ALso, I like the current 15" mbp's but im holding off until they update the 17" mbp.
  15. SpecOps2087 macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2008
    I don't get it...you said you don't game anymore yet you keep bringing up the fact that the ASUS can game better?

    If you don't game anymore, get the mac and be done with it. As someone mentioned, build a cheap desktop to satisfying your "non-gaming" needs or get a PS3/360/wii.
  16. KFujiwara macrumors member


    Dec 16, 2008
    I just recently purchased the new Macbook Pro (specs in my sig) and I am very happy with it.
    After researching between Windows-based and Mac computers, I have found that there is one (of many) reason why the Macs seem to work better; memory allocation. Compared to Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X was able to distribute RAM much more efficiently among programs that were open. Most of the programs I used in the research included Photoshop and Illustrator (CS 3 and 4, programs that I make use of at school and for my field) that can use up a large amount of memory when given the option to do so.
    I have not done any gaming on here just yet so I can't really say anything on that note, but I would say that if you intend to run high-memory programs, try the Macs out and if needed run Windows through Boot Camp. The suggestion of going to different stores to try out the computers is great and really helped make up my mind.
  17. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    A few things to consider:

    1. You can buy Apple Protection anytime within the first year. My advice would be to buy it if you had any problems that needed sorting under warranty and leave it otherwise.

    2. You can get desktop replacement + more portability by buying a MacBook and a large screen. You can attach up to 2560 x 1600 pixels screen to the new MacBook (1920 x 1200 with the old one). The graphics card on the MacBook is fine for non-serious gaming :D

    3. Since you have built your own PCs, you can buy a MacBook or Pro with small hard drive and RAM, then upgrade to 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB RAM quite cheaply.

    4. Should it turn out that you need Windows for any reason, you can install it without any problems.
  18. dr. shdw macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2008
    The new MBPs are quite picky with DDR3 memory, I'd stick to ram from Apple if you want the least headaches..
  19. drichards macrumors 6502a


    Nov 30, 2008
    Asus can't compare to a mac. There's no Asus Store in your mall. There's no Asuscare support line with Americans who only support Asus products. There's no AsusRumors, InsanelyAsus, Asusenstein, 9to5asus, TheUnofficialAsusWeblog, or The Cult of Asus website. Nobody gets excited about the next new revolution in Asus hardware that is going to change the industry.

    The Asus is big, heavy, and silly looking. It looks dated, the keyboard sucks, and what the heck is up with that touchpad? Its almost nine pounds. That's gonna be real comfortable in a bag. Its not a laptop, its a lan party computer.

    You know why you should buy the Macbook Pro. I'm not even going to talk about it.
  20. unsmashed macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2007
    Hey I saw your posting about buying a MBP, and I went through a similiar analysis 1.5 years ago - I'm on a MBP and glad I haven't looked back.

    One thing that you should look into since you're in school is getting an ADC Student Membership - http://developer.apple.com/products/membership.html - for $99

    You'll get 1 year of software updates (which will get you the next version of OSX for free) and a 1 time hardware discount.

    The hardware discount takes $500 off the price of the MBP! If you're looking to get applecare, that can be purchased cheaper through the education store (doesn't matter where/when you buy it)

    hope this helps - let me know if I can answer any questions. Another thing to look at that is useful is VMWare Fusion - let's you run Windows on the Mac without having to choose at bootup - it's good for any remaining Windows apps that you need while you transition.
  21. 11800506 macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2007
    Washington D.C. Area
    Also, not to sound like a fanboy but the hardware is just more solid feeling. It uses high grade aluminum and glass instead of cheap feeling plastic and has a light up keyboard as well. Plus, that Asus is a brick almost literally and while you say it will be a desktop replacement, I'm sure you will take it with you at some point and in that case you'll be wishing you had a lighter computer. Plus the Asus is basically twice as think and while the Macbook Pro's thinness can cause it's fans to be a bit loud sometimes, it's all worth it when you look at it. In the end, the Macbook Pro is polished and when you use it you'll notice all the nice simple details which just make your computer fun to use. That's what sucked me in :)
  22. mattwolfmatt macrumors 65816


    Jun 7, 2008
    You looking for UNbiased advice??? You're at the wrong place.

    Seriously the best reason to get the MBP is the stability and the OS. Never a headache. It just works.

    I've upgraded my August 08 one to 4GB RAM and a 320 7200 RPM Hard drive. It's pretty darn fast, in my opinion.

    Just my two very small cents.
  23. winninganthem macrumors 6502a


    Jun 10, 2008
    I bought my first MBP this past July and I have had nothing but good things to say about it.

    In terms of hardware, it is built beautifully with a clear, bright screen and I find it very light and portable considering the power it has. Granted, compared to Windows laptops in terms of pure specs, it falls short, but this doesn't do much to hinder my enjoyment in using it.

    In terms of software, OSX is awesome. I consider myself a power user, so when I was switching to Mac I heard that it made a lot of everyday tasks easier, so I was concerned that the interface would be dumbed down and oversimplified and stupid. I was really happy to find that OSX allows for a lot of customization and is actually a pretty deep operating system. It's pretty cool how it's backed up by UNIX and you can run terminal commands and whatnot.

    The GUI is beautiful: little features like Spaces and Expose are wonderful; you can go look that up on Apple's site, I won't go too far into it here. One thing that takes a little getting used to is that windows in OSX don't "maximize" like they do in Windows. When you hit the green "+" button on a window, it resizes itself to fit only as much of the screen as you need to make its contents viewable with minimal scrolling. When I first worked with it I felt like my screen was cluttered, but after awhile I learned how to work with it and now I can't go without it. It's nice to be able to work and see my desktop and the other windows overlapping since my work usually deals with multiple programs across multiple windows. OSX is all about drag-and-drop.

    As far as stability and compatibility with other devices goes, every computer crashes. It's pretty decent though that I can count the number of times my MBP has crashed on me on one hand. The only real compatibility shortcoming I've run into is that my Windows Mobile 6 phone (a Samsung Blackjack II) doesn't sync with iCal by itself, I needed to get a separate program called MissingSync to do that for me, which was a minor inconvenience.

    But yeah, put together an elegant, beautiful looking piece of hardware (that is decently specced but not ultra-high performance) together with a very deep and stable operating system and you can understand why a lot of Mac owners are near fanatical about their systems.

    Just realize that OSX is not for gaming. DirectX >>> OpenGL (or whatever it is that OSX uses, sorry, I forget :X). I have a Vista partition on my HDD so I can play games too. So yeah, best of both worlds.

    Hope this helps.
  24. drichards macrumors 6502a


    Nov 30, 2008
    The 17in Macbook Pro doesn't weigh nine pounds. The Asus is heavier because its cheap crap. The extra cost of the Macbook Pro goes into superior engineering. Its plain and simple.
  25. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Minor correction here:
    MBP--Leopard, and just about any other OS's compatible with Intel architecture via Boot Camp
    ASUS--Windows Vista Home Premium 64 bit

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