So! Where's the benefit of using a Macbook?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Sizzler68, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. Sizzler68, Jan 8, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

    Sizzler68 macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2012
    Hi all,

    This is my very first post about my very first mac machine, a late 2011 MBP with the 2.2 GHz Core i7 processor (2nd gen quad core), 512 MB Radeon 6750 video, 15" standard screen and 4 Gb of RAM. I've been a PC user for 25+ years and do a fair amount of photo editing and a moderate amount of graphic design for my secondary job as a photographer. My day job is as an IT tech. It would be awesome to get some honest, "proven" responses and not any personal "mac is better than pc" answers.

    So, after using pcs all these years and deciding to "upgrade" my last pc-based laptop (a Gateway ID79C with core i7 1.67 GHz first-gen dual-core processor, 8 GB RAM, 5400 RPM HDD, 1 Gb Radeon 5650 vid card) and I chose to get a macbook pro.

    I don't have an unlimited budget and after considerable research including talking with several mac techs and a guy at a mac store I thought this macbook pro would be at least a moderate step upwards in performance.

    Well, I use Adobe PS CS5, Illustrator CS5, MS Excel, Adobe Acrobat a,d several external USB hard drives (photo storage/backup).

    I am finding that I am spending as much time looking at that spinning "beach ball" as I ever did on my previous pc-based laptop (as specd above). Maybe I am doing something wrong or I am missing something but as of now (2 and a bit weeks of use on this macbook) I am feeling that I had traded $2200.00 CDN for a very nice looking BUT mediocre performing laptop. I could certainly have spent the money better with some additional photo lighting or gear and been frustrated NO more with my previous laptop than I am with this new macbook.

    DO NOT get me wrong, I am NOT bashing the macbook. I am simply relayin my initial experiences with it in comparison with a lesser specd pc laptop. I am hoping that I am missing something so I can justify the money I have spent. I am hoping someone here can tell me the "magic trick" I am missing to enjoy this macbook as I had hoped I would.

    As for the mac OS being better than Windows 7... Well, in some regards it is much better, in others it's much worse. Anyone can do pretty much any task on either platform.

    I apologize for the long post and the rant but I hope there's enough information in this post for someone to be able to help me out :) Show me the light as it were!

    Thanks all!
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    You lesser specced laptop had more RAM.

    Maybe upgrade yours to 8 or 16 GB.

    You could also think about upgrading the HDD to an SSD.

    And to troubleshoot:
    And to learn more about Mac OS X:

    And to find some answers:


    Maybe have a look at Advanced Search to find similar threads:
  3. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    I have a 15inch 2010 MBP 2.66ghz i7 6GB RAM etc etc, mine's damn fast, so don't understand why you're saying you're staring at the beach ball so much, is it noticeably long or just a few seconds? Because at the end of the day a mac is still a computer, it still has to load things, and it still goes through the same crappy hard drive bottleneck like every other PC laptop.

    But, basically what simsaladimbamba just said...
  4. TheJing macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2011
    Somewhere in Europe
    Seems odd. I've had my Macbook Pro 13" for 9 months and have yet to see the spinning beach ball when it shouldn't have been there. I use photoshop, flash and illustrator a lot.

    There might be something wrong with your machine.
  5. Sizzler68 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2012
    Thanks for the VERY fast responses! It is much appreciated. The RAM is definitely the first thing I thought of and will be going to 8 GB (the max it handle take according to apple site), correct me if I am wrong) this week. I would love an SSD but am waiting for a 500 Gig or so to become affordable to mere mortals :) I also did consider there may be an issue with my machine but wanted to do a little research before I went here.

    FYI, I usually have PS open along with Excel, Sparrow, Firefox and an occasional other app, simultaneously.
  6. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    The 2011 MBP can support 16 GB RAM, look at the first link I provided.

    You could always go the Optibay route, buying one smaller 120 GB SSD for the OS and using the bigger HDD for data.
    Look at the second link I provided, especially #4 in there.

    Look at Activity Monitor as I suggested, maybe also have a look at the Disk Activity tab in there.

    Also consider changing your thread title to actually reflect your problem, if Activity Monitor does not show it to you. As of now, it seems rather baiting for clicks.
    To edit your thread title to a descriptive one, just click on the [​IMG] button on the bottom right of your original post and then click the [​IMG] button below your message.
  7. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Oct 19, 2011
    Had the same thread about two days ago.

    In the last few years, hard discs have become a bottleneck for performance, at least if one is concerned with stuff like application launch times and document opening. Your new machine has the same HDD speed, so effectively the same performance.

    Before buying my MBP, I went to the apple store and compared application launch times on the MBP and on the Air. At that point I figured out that if I don't get a SSD, there's no point in upgrading my system. Right now I'm restricted to 128 GB of storage on the machine, but it's so damn fast :)

    8 GB RAM will get rid of most of those beach balls. You could consider upgrading to a 7200 rpm HDD, this should bring some improvements.
  8. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    First two things I did for my 2011 MBP ......
    Upgrade Ram To 8 Gig
    Upgrade HDD To 1.0 TB

    Use of external drives can slow things down, and IMHO if it can be avoided it should be. A 1.0 TB HDD gives me enough space for my current/working photo libraries. Once I am done with a project I move it off of the MBP HDD to two different external backups. I know the SSD fans like to tout the speed of them, but when using external HDD's for work file libraries they can and will negate some of that speed gain.
  9. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Maybe you also need to look at your workflow, if similar machines with similar software are producing similarly mediocre results.

    For big-time photo manipulation a more powerful desktop might have been in order; laptops are compromises in that regard.

    These are tools, so we can't tell you why they aren't producing the desired results since we don't know what you're doing with them.

  10. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    From what kind of Windows Notebook are you coming?
    A 2.2 Ghz Quad core is a 2.2 Ghz Quad. OSX won't change that if anything OSX performs slower as many Apps for Windows are better optimsed and Windows 7 in general is just not as resource hungry because it ought to still work well on the slowest hardware. OSX especially with Lion went more in the direction of Vista just with the benefits of fast hardware to run on.

    OSX is better in the GUI and if you learn how to use it you might get some things done faster but if you expected more performance than from a similarly specced PC you got it wrong.

    Unless you do some crazy stuff in PS you won't need 8GB with your Use. At least that won't fix you spinning ball.
  11. sweetbrat macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2009
    Redford, MI
    Not true. Photoshop likes RAM a lot. If he has multiple tabs open to work on more than just one photo at a time it can easily start to use large amounts of RAM. I also do photo editing and graphic design work (using CS4) and I found that going to 8GB of RAM made a big difference. I wouldn't be surprised if upping the RAM helped the OP quite a bit.
  12. Ant-honey, Jan 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

    Ant-honey macrumors newbie

    Nov 16, 2004
    yo mama

    If you truly do 'a fair amount of photo editing and a moderate amount of graphic design for my secondary job as a photographer' you should know better, especially for an IT guy. You bought a machine that has Pro in the name and are using it with the stock 5400 rpm drive and the minimum of RAM. What exactly did you expect? You mentioned limited budget, then why get this base machine and expect miracles? It seems you would be much better served from a less expensive, more powerful PC based machine. You've already told yourself this.

    BTW, I'm using a late 2011, 2.5ghz with 6G SSD and 16 gigs of RAM and photography pays my mortgage. Because Apple has taken so long to update the Mac Pro I'm using this is as a desktop stand-in - quite successfully actually. Your mileage may vary.
  13. derickdub macrumors 6502

    Mar 13, 2011
    I am sure a ram upgrade would help significantly. You should also look into getting at least a hybrid disk drive. I was using a Momentous XT prior to my Intel 320 SSD and they were very close in performance.

    I have the high-end mid-2009 13" MBP with 8GB ram and the Intel SSD and handles 10MB+ .dwf files in AutoCAD with hundreds of layers fine for the most part. I haven't seen a beach ball since upgrading my ram to 8GB.
  14. yly3 macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2011
    Ok, hear me out. I had the exact same problem as yours. I have an Early 15 2011 with 2.2 quad i7 and Radeon 1gb 6750M with 8 gigs of ram. Beachballs, lag that shouldn't be at a 2000$ machine.
    You have a faulty HDD. Stop wasting time checking and waiting like I did in the last frustrating 5 months. Get yourself to an Apple Store, insist and show the Genius the lag and try to get your HDD replaced.
    After all this time, I finally got myself a Kingston SATAIII SSD. Yes it's expensive, but right now, this machine is from outer space.
  15. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    IF you depend on your macbook financially like I do then your thinking is backwards. I edit 1000 RAW photos at a sitting and going back and forth between Lightroom and photoshop is a big time waster using anything else except an SSD:

    500gb for $680 fee shipping

    An SSD has saved me countless hours. (It does add up).
  16. salacious macrumors 6502a

    May 15, 2011
    i too work in IT, i have a macbook pro 13" 2011 i5 2.3 ghz, 4gb ram, i can have google chrome, photoshop cs5, final cut pro x, motion 5, after effects cs5, and logic pro all open editing and what not and have a beach ball for about 2 seconds if that, your problem is that your working from external hard-drives, thats basic computing knowledge of an IT guy, even a non-IT guy could figure that out, my suggestion is you use firewire instead of usb, it will help things somewhat, and also transfer what work you need to your laptop, then once your finished save it back to your hard-drive that way your not really using your laptop hard disk space.

    8gb of ram will also help which im looking at getting, but the i5 is so far handling it well apart from rendering..
  17. dontpannic macrumors 6502


    May 16, 2011
    Orpington, Kent, UK
    I upgraded my Core i5 2.6Ghz to 8Gb RAM, and haven't seen the beach ball since. In fact, I now get no page outs whatsoever.

    Definitely the best machine I've owned so far, my first Mac :)
  18. noisycats macrumors 6502a


    Jun 1, 2010
    The 'ham. Alabama.
    Maybe get rid of the "MAD" emoticon then.
  19. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    Well, sparing the part about how much I love my Macbook Pro, my response to you would be that... the beach ball is expected. Even with 16GB of RAM, it's still expected sometimes. I can at least tell you that even with 16GB of RAM, my Macbook Pro still freely shows the beach ball whenever it pleases.

    The main bottleneck when you see that beach ball is mostly the storage. The base Macbook Pro's still come with a 5400RPM drive with 8MB cache, which is barely good enough to run casual stuffs, but it will choke considerably when you start doing something intensive... like trying to open up a 500MB Photoshop file on 4GB of RAM, or... try to access a folder with over 500 files.

    My suggestion would be that... if you don't have the money to spare on an SSD, try to grab one of those Seagate Momentus XT drives (I'm eyeing one for myself), or at least upgrade to a 7200RPM drive with 16MB cache or something. The difference should be noticeable!
  20. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    I have 2 of these in my MBP in a software RAID, I can tell you, the performance increase is phenomenal. I rarely ever see the beach ball. One of them will give you a performance boost, but 2 is something else...
  21. arogge macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2002
    A Mac is a PC. There is almost no difference between a regular MacBook and any other regular laptop. If you're experiencing system hangs, there's something wrong. Run a trace on errant processes, and of course, try rebooting. Sometimes the Finder crashes and then everything starts behaving strangely. Also listen for hard drive activity. Does it sound like the drive is clicking repetitiously in a pattern? That could mean a problem with the disk cache. Under what specific conditions does the hang occur? If it's only with a specific software package or vendor, like Adobe, there could be a problem with the software installation and its shared files on the hard drive. If it only happens when loading large data sets, you may have an optimization problem.
  22. Carlanga, Jan 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

    Carlanga macrumors 604


    Nov 5, 2009
    upgrade the RAM at least...

    you should know that those apps need a good quantity of RAM, if you don't believe me remove half the RAM from your other laptop and see how much slow it gets while using those apps ;)

    Also, Mac OS as a system is less taxing on RAM than windows (at least up to vista, don't know win 7), you also get better battery life than with windows machines. Since you use a lot of taxing programs you can maybe uncheck the option for the resume apps in Lion also.

    Upgrade RAM + SSD HD for a super boost in performance :)
  23. Sizzler68, Jan 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

    Sizzler68 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2012
    Thanks! All your feedback is appreciated

    Now, to address several comments made:

    - I picked up 8 GB of RAM (Crucial brand) and installed it this evening. Will monitor the performance benefits
    - I would like an SSD but have been eyeballing the Momentus and 7200 RPM options. Regardless of anyone's personal experience here, $600+ for a modest 500 GB hard drive, SSD or otherwise is a bit much! I suspect a Terabyte 7200 or hybrid HDD is the next purchase :)
    - It is true that I am an IT guy but I have next to zero experience with Macs though I have looked at the various mac OS offerings over the years
    - The OP icon was meant to be frustration, not anger :)
    - For the record I am really liking my MBP, it is a very nice machine. I guess I'm just a little surprised by it's performance given the relatively hefty price tag
    - regarding the response suggesting my previous win laptop was the same spec as this MBP, I beg to differ... This is a Quad Core i7 at 2.2 GHz, more cache, newer vid card (albeit less vid ram) and I'm sure several other enhancements over my 2 yr old win laptop with a Dual core i7 at 1.67 GHz and a gen.5 older vid card

    ONE more update: I just ran through processing a set of Trader Cards for a Hockey Team I shot recently. It consisted of editing the photo and adjusting the picture position within my card template. I have all 17 player photos on separate layers as well as several groups of editable text levels. There are roughly 100 layers including the static (same for every card) text and design elements. Around 42 MB total file size. I also had the activity monitor running, Sparrow, Excel (with order information), and Firefox (with 6 or 7 tabs open). I haven't seen the spinning ball as of yet and the RAM doubling (4-8 GB) has made a noticeable difference. Now for that zippy hard drive :)

    Again, thanks for all of your feedback and suggestions. It is appreciated
  24. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    Well there we go then, RAM is often a great way to really speed up your computer, I noticed the modest bump from 4gb to 6gb, it made quite a difference even though it's only an extra 2gb. Glad your machines running a lot smoother now. I do really suggest the moments XT hybrid drives though, they are super fast.
  25. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    Not if you use thunderbolt, esata, or firewire 800.

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