Should I buy a MacBook Pro?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bollweevil, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. bollweevil macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    I have been a Windows user my whole life, but I want a new computer now, and I am seriously contemplating getting a Mac. This is a big decision for me, and I have two major questions for this forum. First, will a Macintosh meet my computational needs, or would a PC be better? Second, should I get a MacBook Pro or plain old MacBook?

    About 90% of what I do on my computer is internet, email, and Microsoft Office. (Maybe more like 95%) I love Firefox and Thunderbird. Some people say that Safari on a Mac is not as good as Firefox on a PC, and that Firefox displays pages faster. Is this true? If I use Firefox in OS X, will it be faster than Safari, or is Firefox for OS X worse than Firefox for Windows? Having a fast and good internet browser is very important to me, because I will use it a lot. Also, how is Thunderbird on OS X?

    What do people think of the following programs on OS X: Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, ChemDraw (ChemBioOffice), Mathematica, and Finale? I know that Photoshop used to be really slow on Macs, did they fix that?

    I think I want a MacBook Pro, but I am also looking at the MacBook. I like the bigger, 15.4" screen, and I think screen size is important for productivity and usability. I don't really need the extra ports or the video card, though. Which is more likely to get scratched, or dented, or dirty, the plastic MacBook or the aluminum Pro?

    I have some time to contemplate my decision while I wait for the MacBook Pro updates to come out. Thank you.
  2. dmb3886 macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2008
    I like the Microsoft Office 2008 on the mac a lot, some people dont but i think it's great. And all those "it loads too slow" complaints are exxagerated, it takes 7 seconds tops and the whole time u can tell its opening and its not frozen
  3. SVT Amateur macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2006
    Tyler, Texas
    I just got my MacBook Pro in the mail yesterday with the educational discount (I now wished I had gotten refurbished because it would have been another $100 cheaper).

    After opening I immediately ran boot camp, created a Windows partition, and installed Windows Vista Ultimate. After the 2 hours that ensued of having Vista install and then getting the 50 or so security updates Windows needed I installed Microsoft Office 2007. While it was installing I tried out Vista for the first time and found it to be pretty looking and functional. The main reason I need Vista is that I will be doing a lot of work on my corporate intranet and I can only access it using IE.

    After installing Office 07 and then doing all the updates for it, I booted back into Mac OS X and updated it and then installed Office 2004 (I plan on getting the $30 Office 08 from school as soon as I get a chance to go by the bookstore). Updating OS X and Office 2004 for Mac took much less time than Windows Vista and Office 2007 did.

    I used my MBP last night during one of my graduate classes and although I thought I would use Windows I instead used OS X. I was able to open my textbook (which I have in PDF format on my Windows HD) using Preview and then had Word opened right next to it to take notes. When the professor showed a powerpoint presentation I was able to download and open it on my MBP instead of having to watch a washed out version from the overhead projector.

    I personally love OS X (and love FireFox as well) and find it much faster and easier to use than Windows (plus OS X looks better). The only thing that sucks is that I can't save my Mac files to the Windows partition (I can only read files from the Windows partition). I know there is a program that allows this but I don't want to pay for it. I haven't tried reading the Mac partition from Windows, but I'm assuming I won't be able to without the use of a different program. This is fine for me though because I will be using Mac OS X and Office 2004 for school and home and using Vista and Office 2007 for work.

    So all this to say buy a MBP so that you enjoy OS X and all its benefits but also be able to have the option to use Windows.
  4. valdore macrumors 65816


    Jan 9, 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    If you're going to have Photoshop on your new computer, I'd be inclined to recommend the MacBook Pro.

    And, I've seen plenty of people who do nothing more than Internet/email with their MacBook Pros anyway.
  5. darfel macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2007
    I switch in August of 2007, I bought a MacBook C2D 2.16GHz high-end white MacBook. Since then I've been getting rid of my other Windows computers. I use Photoshop/Lightroom a lot and I find myself wanting a MBP for that reason, the larger display. I don't have a problem with Photoshop being slow either. I use both FireFox and Safari off and on, I don't see a huge difference. Some websites drop boxes don't display correctly but other than that I can use either. In my experience, all applications run smoother on my Mac. I'm waiting on the new MBP, but I don't know if I can part with my first Mac just yet...
  6. Csmitte macrumors 6502


    Oct 11, 2007
    Go with the MBP its sexier, has a bigger screen, and you will never look back
  7. forafireescape macrumors 6502a


    Jan 16, 2008
    I agree. For the stuff you're doing, a Mac would be better. Go for the MBP...I did, and I do NOT regret it :)
  8. CJRhoades macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2007
    Lafayette, IN
    If you want a really fast web browser for your mac, try Camino. Like firefox, it's developed by Mozilla but unlike firefox, Camino is purpose made for OS X.
  9. forafireescape macrumors 6502a


    Jan 16, 2008
    I use Camino and LOVE it. Most of the people around me use Safari or Firefox...but Safari just seems to quit out on me too much. Camino is great :)
  10. a4abt macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2008
    I had the same dilemma about a month ago. What sold me to the MBP was the screen size and the video card. Although I have to admit that my MBP was overkill for my needs, it's great to have the MBP's capabilities when you need it! I do very little photoshop (only beginning to learn all the functions!) and some amateur video editing. Everything is lightning fast on the MBP!

    I'm mainly using my MBP for school (emails, researches, word processing, powerpoint, excel) and Office 2008 is great for all those tasks!

    My only complaint (not annoying, but no computer is perfect ;) ) is the heat generated by the MBP. I am used to have PCs and they all ran cool...but the MBP tends to run warmer.
  11. bollweevil thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    I have another big question: Why does the processor upgrade from 2.2 to 2.4 GHz cost $500? It seems like the cheapest 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro you can buy is $2499, and comes with more video card RAM and a bigger hard disc. The hard disc upgrade would have only cost $75 from Apple, but how much is the video card RAM worth, and how much is the processor worth? Does it actually add up to $500 of value? It seems like a bad deal to me. Also, a MacBook with all the same specs as a MacBook Pro basic (except for the obvious screen size, video card, construction, peripheral ports, etc) costs $1449.

    So basically, a 2.2 GHz processor with 2 GB RAM and 120 GB hard disc in a Mac laptop costs $1449. A 2" larger screen and more ports costs $550. A 9% processor speed bump above that costs $500. This price curve is steep - a lot of extra money doesn't buy that much more computer. You might say "that's just the way it is, Apple is trying to segment the market." But the price curve for a Dell or an IBM is significantly less steep.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I hope the MacBook Pros get updated really soon, so that I can take that into account in my decision. Once they update the MacBook Pro, it will almost certainly be faster than any MacBook you can buy, and it will be easier to justify the $550 premium.
  12. heatmiser macrumors 68020

    Dec 6, 2007
    It's just another premium. I'd advise against it.
  13. aiterum macrumors 6502


    Nov 17, 2007
    United States
    Apple is a business, and they will make money any way that they can. If you want higher specifications for a lower price, you can either wait until the new ones come out (although not guarenteed to come out in any reasonable and fashionable timeframe) or you could purchase a refurbished one
  14. Sully macrumors regular


    Oct 27, 2007
    I have a small company and we do business with all Fortune 500 clients. We also have to deal with small "mom and pop" landowners and investors. I use the office suite for Mac, Firefox and Safari (to separate work from personal browsing) and communicate with these large and small companies seamlessly with my Macbook Pro.

    As a dedicated windows user for as long as I can remember and someone who has to deal with a windows business world, I was also skeptical when i decided to make the switch. However, I did and I haven't looked back. I haven't had one problem with software or with communicating with windows people. In fact, my business partner uses a Dell laptop and we have no difficulty at all.

    I bought the base MacBook Pro because of the larger screen, the SR chip (it wasn't available in the MacBooks when I was shopping last summer), the express card slot (for Verizon wireless Internet, and because I thought it was more "future proof" than the Macbooks that were available at the time. The fact that I like the looks of it better is an added bonus.

    I picked the base model because, for what I do, the 2.4 ghz model was overkill and I perceived more value in the base model. So far, I've been happy. I'm running Tiger with no problems and I'm eagerly anticipating the next upgrade for Leopard because I'll feel more comfortable about its stability.

    In short, as a die hard windows lover, I highly recommend the MacBook Pro and Apple. I've had great luck with it and virtually no problems.
  15. mbp-wayne macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2008
    I use both

    I started using Mac's when I went to work for a Japanese company (opened their technical support and applications center in the US). I started with a Mac Si and IICx which were used for desktop publishing (their first english data book). Later, I had an ibook, Ti Book, and now a MBP. I also use a dedicated windows machine for CAD and Six Sigma software that is not available for OSX. I also need explorer for VPN and secure access. Could I run windows? Yes, but I like to keep my Mac a pure Mac (well almost, I do use CrossOver for a couple of fun apps).

    Office 2008 can import Office 2007 files, iWork can import (with some formating issues) Office 2007 files too. Native support for pdf files is great, and Quicken, Turbo Tax, and Lightroom all work too (and can transfer files to/from a PC). The only drawback I have is that my Photoshop CS2 is not Universal, and does not work well in 10.5 (and I don't want to buy the upgrade - CS2 is left over from my Ti book),

    So, I don't think you will have too much issue with a MBP, and if push comes to shove, you can always 'erase' OSX and use the MBP as a Vista or XP machine (what a waste). At least you have that option with the MBP - must Win notebooks will not run Mac OSX without much effort (though you could run Linux, like I do on an ancient IBM Thinkpad).

  16. bollweevil thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    Unexpected Mac problems

    I just played with someone else's current-model 15" MacBook Pro, I don't know how it was configured, but it was a real shock. It was like "bizarro-computer." I couldn't figure out how to right click on files on the desktop, for instance. Then I tried to open one of my larger Excel files, and it displayed properly, but the watch cursor never went away. I changed some data, but the formulas referencing it never updated. Excel was very frustrating because it didn't work, and it didn't have a progress bar on the bottom (like in Windows) or any other indication that it was simply thinking. The file was a bit large, but I doubt it was thinking that long. Is this because it was a Windows Excel file, or because the versions were mismatched? I was hoping it would "just work," it was a Mac, after all.
  17. Full of Win macrumors 68030

    Full of Win

    Nov 22, 2007
    Ask Apple
    The track pad has one button, a left click one. However, there are ways to invoke a right click.

    2004 runs under emulation; since the program was designed for a different class of processors. Depending on the age and configuration of the MacBook Pro, it can be sluggish, since the emulation is a CPU and memory hog. Looking at the other software you mentioned, I'd bet it was a more complex Excel file, adding to the issue. Last month they released Office 2008, which was designed for the new Intel CPU's, so you might want to try that at an Apple store before making a final call.

    One of the differences in the OS'es. The taskbars are linked to the programs in Windows - but they are somewhat independent of one another in OS X.. Its somewhat confusing at first, but you get used to it. I don’t know why Apple does it that way – but they do.

    They typically do, but they just have different ways of doing it. I’d bet you might have used a pipetter or two in your day, and it’s the same thing. I can name three of four different takes on changing their volume. Some have you press the plunger down to lock it and then move another ring to do the adjustment. Some move the plunger around to adjust, whereas others move a barrel separate from the plunger. Does not mean one is better than the other – its just differences in how they are done.
  18. bollweevil thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    You are correct, I have used a pipette. I am guessing you deduced that from my mentioning ChemDraw. Of all the programs I mentioned, ChemDraw, Office, and Mathematica are the only "necessities," the rest are "hobbies."

    However, I would argue that some pipette configurations are more accurate (and perhaps better overall) than others. Some pipettes have hysteresis, or "slop," in the thing you turn to adjust the volume - it wiggles a little before beginning to adjust. This can lead to inaccuracy, but can be remedied with practice. Some pipettes rely on springs to set the stops, and springs require up to a minute to accommodate to changes. I also suspect that pipettes with three-digit counters are more precise than pipettes where the volume is simply printed on the adjustment ring.

    That is how I would over-analyze your analogy if I were an analytical chemist. Sorry for the silliness. In reality, I agree with you completely. Macs are just a little different, and I will need to adjust if I choose to get one.
  19. lbeaumont macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    I am in the same boat as the OP. I am heading towards a MBP (well almost certain I will buy one now) for uni and my life science subjects.

    If there are any Windows programs, install XP under Parallels/Fusionz and open the programs under 'coherence mode' so you can essentially run the programs in OS X.

    Atleast that is how I think it works.
  20. espressoroast macrumors member


    Feb 3, 2008
    Just got a 2.2 MBP after 15 years of Windows use and did not regretted it for a second.

    It is nice to be able to fall back to Win if you need it but as you get used to OSX, I think you won't do it unless you absolutely have to.

    I've done a very intensive research before buying mine and came to the conclusion that the price difference between 2,4 and 2,2 won't justify it for my needs, which are very similar to yours.

    The up from MB to MBP is a bit more significant but it's also more about the 'feel' of the thing so I'd advice you to go to a store and fiddle with both of them. The actual performance is not worlds apart (except gaming and other GPU intensive tasks).

    Since I'm in humanities, my work is mostly text related and I use Scrivener for research purposes. It is a fantastic writing tool and I'm so glad to ditch the hateful Word to use it only for making the layout of the page.

    I do have Office '08, which is FAR more responsive than '07 on my old HP (Which was a 1,6 core duo).

    I'd say, don't be afraid for a sec and do the switch, you'll be delighted in so many ways.
  21. bollweevil thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    I am beginning to suspect that the MacBook Pro update is being delayed because I disobeyed my grandfather's advice. He is a very wise man, and back in November he told me not to wait, because there would always be a forthcoming update. I didn't listen to him, because I am a chemistry major and the Penryn processor uses hafnium oxide as the dielectric. Sure, I want the specs increase too, but the cool chemistry really clinched it.
  22. heatmiser macrumors 68020

    Dec 6, 2007
    It does you nothing to realize you've made a mistake if you continue to make it after the realization. You can keep waiting, or you can buy now. Neither will have an effect on when Apple ultimately decides to release an update, and neither will make the computer you buy any more (or less) relevant when quad core laptops are everywhere a year from now.
  23. sal macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2007
    seems like you'll be happy with the macbook. If you want to do more with your computer and you have the money, then go with the macbook pro.

    remember, the macbookpro has pro at the end of it for a reason. If you are going to be doing serious, professional work on it, get it. If you have the extra money for it. Get it.

    Otherwise, for basic wordprocessing, email, web and light video/photo/sound work, the macbook is a very capable machine and you'll be happy with it.

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