RFI: Decision day on a new laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by lowkey13, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. lowkey13 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    #1
    I'm making my decision today on purchasing a new laptop. I'm going to list (in my Rumsfeldian fashion) the known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns and see if anyone can provide info that will seal the deal.

    First, the background:
    Longtime Apple/MacUser (Apple IIe, Mac Plus). Currently have an iMac (most recent gen until this release), iPhone 3GS x2 (me and the wife), and iBook G4 that's almost eight years old and dying- both the second battery and the second power cord are frazzed. I need a new laptop, and soon.

    Purpose of laptop: It will be a combo work/home laptop. Will probably run a small amount of windows app (virtualization/bootcamp). Watch DVDs. Use Citrix to connect to work. ITunes, webbrowsing, MSOffice. No heavy photoshopping, no heavy gaming (although I've always enjoyed a good round of Civ, I PS3 most games).

    What I know: Having looked at computers, and knowing my current laptop, I know a 13" screen won't cut it. I like the 17", but don't need it enough to pay the premium or feel like lugging it about. So it will be a 15" screen.

    My questions:
    1. If I were to get a laptop today, would you recommend lowest MBP 15", or midrange MBP 15"? I know the midrange comes with the extra GPU, but I don't know enough to know if this is a large advantange. I tend to hold on to my computers for a long time (see my iBook, above, and until my iMac purchase earlier this year I was still using a G4 tower I had purchased in '99). Is the extra GPU worth it?

    2. I really like the MacConnection deal that expires today. I know the Arrandale processors are coming out (maybe February). I could hold out, but I don't have a feel for how advantageous they would be. Looked at many threads, and still don't know. Any recommendations as compared to the $250 I would save today?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. oculus42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2002
    Location:
    Maine
    #2
    For the uses you suggest, I would recommend the regular MacBook, unless you are sold on the 15" screen. The MacBook and the low-end MBP are basically the same computer, but the two inches of screen represent a 70% cost increase.

    There are some nice features of the MBP line... SD-Card slot, the ability to use the Apple Remote, and most importantly, 8GB of RAM.

    I'm not against the 15" MBP (Have the last generation, myself), it just doesn't seem like you'll see much benefit from it. You might hit up the 13" MBP and go for the 8GB of RAM, as tha might help with the virtualization, depending on how much work you're making your laptop do.
     
  3. brendu macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #3
    to answer the question you actually asked... the base 15 should serve you just fine... the beefed graphics card might help out in the long run, but if you are not planning on serious gaming (which lets be honest no mac user really is) or doing any heavy photoshop / video editing then you really don't need it...

    get the base 15 and enjoy it!
     
  4. lowkey13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    #4
    Thought about base MacBook

    Oculus,

    I thought about the base MacBook when it was released. Apple did a great job adding features to it, and there's not much to differentiate it from the 13" MBP line now (all of my firewire HDs died in the last few years... *sigh*).

    However-

    1. After many years with a white iBook, I really could use a more professional laptop for my work. Can't rock the grad school look forever. Plus, you know, style.

    2. I've really thought long and heard about the screen, and have spent a long time (too long, according to the missus) at the Apple Store looking at the screens. I've been forced to do a lot of work on my iMac because my current laptop screen is too small- my profession has a lot of readin' and writin' in it, and the 13" just doesn't cut it. It's such a pain that I'd almost go with the 17" if a) I wasn't cheap and b) it wasn't such a pain to carry around.


    Brendu-

    Could you give more info on the differences with the multi-gpus. Again, I'd rather spend the little extra money to get the extra gpu if, four years down the road, it makes the laptop more useable. It's my understanding that snowleopard takes advantage of it; I just don't know why/how exactly.
     
  5. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Location:
    Sacramento
    #5
  6. oculus42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2002
    Location:
    Maine
    #6
    The better GPU is obviously better for gaming. It's also slightly better for Photoshop CS4 (offloads some operations to the graphics system), and image editing/management software like Aperture. On the Windows side (not yet on Mac) you can use the integrated and the discrete graphics at the same time... discrete for graphics, integrated for physics calculations while gaming.

    The better and/or multi GPU will be more significant in the coming years, as OpenCL starts seeing more implementations. As programs start making use of the ability to offload tasks to the video card for rapid parallel processing you can expect the desktop apps to get faster - even browsers - with the better graphics cards. This is somewhat speculative, and there are no concrete timeframes associated with this, though.

    I upgraded my MBP 15" to 4GB of RAM, as I use it for Aperture, video editing & transcoding, running virtual machines, photo editing, music, Hulu... everything, really. If you plan on using any virtualization, I would strongly suggest 4GB. I fine Photoshop just bearable on the 15" screen... the palettes consume much of the screen, but i can still work. To be fair, my desk at work has a 30" and a 24". If you are going to use your laptop as a pseudo desktop (mostly at a single location and occasionally on the road) I would recommend picking up a 22" or larger monitor (Samsung makes a nice 2048x1152 for a reasonable price) because the extra real-estate is worth it.
     
  7. lowkey13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    #7
    Final Thoughts?

    Okay, I have to make the purchase decision very soon (PST). I am leaning toward getting the 15" mid range (2x GPU). Here's my final thoughts if anyone can address them:

    I know that the new models will be released (likely) in February. I know that the form factor will remain the same, and the main change will be inclusion of Arrandale and (perhaps) minor bumps to subsystem and HD size. However, I am also aware of nVidia's issues with intel. Are there likely to be any other changes (to GPU etc.) that would make it worth toughing it out until then? Also, will the old models be on a similar ($250) discount in February when the new ones are released?
     
  8. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Location:
    Sacramento
    #8
    well, even if they drop in the arrandale

    Its gonna cost a premium -- and you seem to be on a budget -- or at least being frugal.

    No need to worry about the 4 gigs of ram, all 15" MBPs come with 4 gigs stock.

    Macconnection will offer the $150 rebates again, but it usually takes them a couple of weeks or so to get it going after they are released.

    Right now, nobody can beat the $1999 price on it.

    And you still need an external monitor/keyboard/mouse laptop stand setup -- like anyone of these: http://eshop.macsales.com/search/stands

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Rain Design/10032/
     

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