Some Guidance Appreciated for a (Potentially) Migrating Windows User

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by polydeuces, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. polydeuces macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2018
    #1
    Hey y'all, I'm considering taking the plunge on the 2017 13", nTB. I'm curious about upgrades and so forth, and I know there are a billion posts in these regards, so I appreciate anyone who takes the time in my unique case.

    I really have no idea what I'm getting into. I currently use a Windows 7 desktop that I hobbled together on a shoestring in 2010, and I'm mostly interested in trying something new. There are a lot of attractive options in the Mac OS ecosystem that seem like they could extremely benefit my workflow, and Windows 10 left a distinctly bad taste in my mouth with all of its innate bloat.

    I'd greatly appreciate some help sussing out my needs, so I can hit that sweet spot of $ spent/resources used. This computer is going to be primarily geared toward my business, which involves freelance & creative work. Maybe it'd help if I provided some details on my usage.

    * All the standard stuff -- web-browsing, email, etc.
    * Affinity Designer, Photo & their upcoming Publisher app (I can't effing wait to say good-bye to Adobe). I use these programs a lot, and usually will have them open at the same time. (Currently using InDesign in lieu of Publisher)
    * Conference calls & screen-sharing with clients.
    * Large conference calls & webinars.
    * Podcast recording & editing.
    * Some video editing. Nothing too crazy. Mostly for YouTube videos and *maybe* some short videos with high resolution, TBD.
    * *Lots* of writing.
    * Playing some *very* casual indie games during breaks.

    I'll be running a rather unimpressive DVI display when I'm working at home.

    I have some reservations based on the keyboard, which seems to have had some issues. Temporarily putting design issues aside for a moment, I'm curious if anyone has done a lot of typing on the newer models -- such as writing books. I'd like to hear from anyone who types extensively for long periods of time, and what the ergonomic experience has been like.

    I've done quite a bit of research, probably more than is good for my psychological health, TBH! And I'm feeling conflicted. I wouldn't consider myself to be a "power" user, but I am intending to use the machine in meeting professional goals.

    I've read some conflicting information about RAM, and how 16GB is overkill for most people. I've also read that Mac OS is very well-optimized, so long as the user doesn't have a billion programs running at once, and they keep Google Chrome in check (or don't use it at all). My currently dated PC has forced me to stay disciplined in only keeping open the applications that need to be, which I consider to be a healthy habit in general.

    I'm thinking of going with the stripped-down model -- 8gb RAM, i5 Processor but upgrading to 512 GB storage. It seems unlikely that I'll need the processor, but do you think I really need the 16GB RAM based off this usage? It feels unlikely, but I'm really not entirely certain. I am typically a frugal person by nature, and prefer not to spend money on resources that I will not use. That said, I recognize the paradox presented in the interest of what is often considered an over-priced machine. I'm more interested in the usability, well-made applications & lighter weight of the operating system over the aesthetics of the machine's design, and to me there is value in working with tools that are comfortable & intuitive.

    I really do appreciate any advice y'all have to offer!
     
  2. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #2
    What's a nTB? I'm racking my brain on the acronym. I'm guessing you're talking MacBook Pro or Air.

    Anywho, I say that if you can afford the 16GB, go for it. MacOS will expand out into the RAM by preloading as many of your used applications as possible, which makes launching them near instant. Not as big of a deal with modern SSDs, but it's still a good idea to consider if you can spare the expense--especially if you're dealing with a Mac where the RAM cannot be upgraded. Since it looks like you keep your systems for a long time, you might be glad you spec'ed it for the future.
     
  3. keysofanxiety macrumors G3

    keysofanxiety

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    #3
    Non-Touchbar. Sokath, his eyes uncovered ;)
     
  4. McGiord macrumors 601

    McGiord

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    #4
    i you ever are going to consider using a virtual machine to run Windows on macOS, then consider the 16GB as well as i7 processor.
    What is your budget? Do you really need the portability? A refurbished 27" iMac may be a much better investment if you are ok with a Desktop, therefore you get also 5K monitor for a great price.
    There is almost no upgradability nowadays after you click on your purchase.
    What is your budget?
     
  5. polydeuces thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 10, 2018
    #5
    Ah yes, for clarification's sake, I did mean the 13" MBP, 2017 model without the touch bar.

    Thank you for the advice so far!
    --- Post Merged, Feb 10, 2018 ---
    I appreciate this advice!

    I do some traveling and also prefer to sometimes work outside of home, as tasks allow. The nature of my work allows a great deal of flexibility, which I consider a luxury to be enjoyed.

    My budget for the computer itself is maxed at $2,000, though I am really trying to swing it under $1,700. I recognize that there will be additional expenses -- extended warranty, adequate protection during travel, necessary dongles/peripherals, software licenses.
     
  6. mroy16 macrumors member

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    May 28, 2017
    #6
    I have a 2016 13" base MBP with 256 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM. The processor should handle your workload just fine. The lack of a discrete graphics card might impede some of your video editing, but if that's more of a hobby, you may be happy with the slower speed in those tasks if it saves you from spending for a 15" model.

    Upgrading the SSD is always nice, especially if you are working with video files. 16 GB RAM is also nice if you want to have multiple creative apps open or want to run a VM. That said, I'm able to run Minecraft with a few gigs of RAM while also keeping open several browser tabs and other applications - all with 8 GB.

    I would also leave room in your budget for a TB3 dock, or at least a USB-C dongle. If you're concerned about the keyboard, having some USB type A ports available makes adding a keyboard and mouse super easy. Consider your use case, and see whether a TB3 dock or a simple USB-C expansion dongle makes the most sense. I use a full dock to connect several external HDDS, a monitor, mouse and keyboard, ethernet, and speakers. I love the one-cable solution to docking my laptop, but it definitely added to the total cost of the machine.
     
  7. polydeuces thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 10, 2018
    #7
    Thank you for the candid advice & those sapient considerations, mroy16. My docking setup as of now will be relatively lightweight, but this year I am intending to expand my setup more toward a dedicated studio, so this is welcome advice.

    Do you mind if I ask, what dock you use and have found to be a reliable option? I have done some preliminary research, and it seems as though there are many contenders but, like most technology these days, it is difficult to sift the truth on the usability of many of them.
     
  8. mroy16 macrumors member

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    May 28, 2017
    #8
    I'm currently using the Pluggable TB 3 dock. It has a USB 3 and an audio I/O jack on the front. The back has 4 USB 3, gigabit ethernet, DisplayPort, and two TB3 ports (one for connecting to the laptop). It charges at 60 W, which is perfect for a 13", though not a 15" under heavy load. I think I had to reconnect it once because some USB peripherals were having trouble, and I connect and disconnect daily.

    Previously, I tried the OWC TB 3 dock. It's $50 more, at $300, and has an added FireWire 800 and SD card reader. After several weeks, it stopped connecting reliably, and the tech support was terribly slow, so I returned it in favor of the Pluggable option. Of course, this is all anecdotal, though Amazon reviews offer a pretty similar experience.

    When I bring my laptop in to my office (I'm a grad student in a research lab, so I'm not spending all day on the computer), I plug into an Anker USB-C dongle that gives me 3 USB 3.0 and gigabit ethernet. It has a metal housing, so it can't take the RF receiver for a wireless mouse, but otherwise it's perfect for my quick needs. I've thought about getting a video adaptor with power pass-through so I can charge my laptop while also running a second monitor, but I'd also have to get a monitor.

    It's amazing what you can get away with using a pair of USB-C dongles. If you don't need the throughput of TB3 for 4K/5K displays or ultrafast I/O, a pair of dongles with power pass-through can accomplish a lot of what you need for a lot less cost. It is a bummer that so many adaptors are needed to give me the utility that I need and want, but TB3 really offers a lot of flexibility to let me customize my I/O exactly as I need. Now that I own the docks and dongles I need, I'm really happy with the setup.
     
  9. polydeuces thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 10, 2018
    #9
    mroy16
    Thank you for taking the time, that's a solid recommendation.

    I've appreciated all of your insight so far, so I'm curious about what your overall experience has been with the 2016 model. Are you enjoying it, have you had any major issues, what has the keyboard been like for you, or any other relevant experiences you'd care to share. I'm very new to this forum, and so I feel I keep running into posts that make me wonder if a 2017 model would be a worthwhile investment, or a potential major headache. I've found some 2015 models that are priced rather agreeably on eBay, and am trying to discern which may be the "safer" option in regards to this migration.

    Thanks for all of your help!
     
  10. mroy16 macrumors member

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    May 28, 2017
    #10
    I've been very happy with the laptop so far. The processor in the 2016 is a bit weaker than the 2017, and some of my data processing at work can push it to the limit, but 99% of the time it's plenty. Like I said, I have a keyboard at home where I do any longer writing, but the keyboard hasn't bothered me personally. A lot of people complain about the keyboard on this forum, but without actual data, we don't know what the failure rates are like.

    With your use case, I don't think there would be too much difference between the 2015-2017 models. The biggest differences are the size and I/O, as well as price. As long as you consider your options and what sort of peripherals you're going to be using, I don't think you'll regret your choice.
     
  11. shaunp macrumors 68000

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    Nov 5, 2010
    #11
    I would go into an Apple store and use one first. Laptops are a very subjective thing and you may or may not like the keyboard on the MBP. You have reservations already about this and no comments on here about anyone elses experience could replace actually going and using one yourself.

    Also consider ports. Are you happy with having just one port type on your laptop and potentially needing to carry a few adaptors around?

    I would also compare this model with an XPS 13. They are a similar price and size, but the keys on the XPS have more travel and there are more types of port on the machine. Like the MBP you can't upgrade the RAM, but you can replace the storage yourself if you need to at a later date.

    I would spend at least an hour in the shop using each of them to get a real feel for how they are, and even do more than one trip.
     
  12. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #12
    I agree. I wouldn’t drop that much money on a laptop I hadn’t been able to try. If you end up hating the keyboard or seriously missing a particular port, you’ll be frustrated with your purchase.
     
  13. smallcoffee macrumors 65816

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    North America
    #13
    Have you looked into refurbished directly from Apple? You're still eligible for the Apple Care extended warranty.
     
  14. McGiord macrumors 601

    McGiord

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    #14
  15. polydeuces, Feb 11, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018

    polydeuces thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 10, 2018
    #15
    Yes, I got to thinking that the keyboard is going to be a defining factor in this decision. Today, I'm going to go to a store to try out the '17 keyboard -- I intend to spend some time with it and see how it makes my hands feel after the fact. That should give me a good basis to choose between '15 & '17.

    I'm not so concerned about the ports. I figure that regardless of my choice, I will likely need to invest in a dock for my home studio. A WACOM tablet, keyboard, mouse, external speakers -- it can add up in terms of cable real-estate which is something that I think anyone doing this kind of work aims to avoid.

    I'll be scoping out other laptops and trying them out when I go to try out the keyboard. That said, I vastly prefer a simpler OS with lower overhead for the kind of stuff I do. I expect Windows 10 has improved by a large margin since I last tried it, but my experience within the past year having tried it out was pretty sour.

    I may be one of the few people choosing to migrate the basis of operating system & software, but for me this is the primary reason. Secondary are inputs & weight, dead last comes aesthetics.
     
  16. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #16
    I generally recommend 16 Gb RAM, since it's non-upgradeable. If you expect to keep the machine for 4-5 years or more, get 16 even if you have to bend the budget a little to do it. Also, if you will have to run Windows apps occasionally, the simplest way to do that is with a virtual machine (Parallels, VirtualBox, VMware), and I'd strongly recommend 16 Gb for them as well, unless your VM usage is very occasional and you don't mind it being slow. (You could go the Bootcamp route instead, and be OK with 8 Gb for Windows, but it's much less convenient.)

    If you think you would be in a position to replace the laptop, if necessary, 3-4 years down the road, I think you will probably be OK with 8 Gb. It's the unknown bloat of future applications that makes 8 Gb a bit questionable over the longer term.
     
  17. polydeuces thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 10, 2018
    #17
    So I went and tested the keyboard today -- spent about half an hour on it. I found it to be an overall pleasant experience. It definitely seems like it would suck for users who don't use a light touch. I appreciated the responsiveness of it, though I recognize it would take some getting used to. Aside from it being rather different than keyboards that I'm ordinarily accustomed to, it didn't feel as unnatural or weird as I had expected it to, based on the commentary I've seen.

    Still a little nervous about the potential for keyboard failure, but I enjoyed my time with it today and think I'm going to try to swing the 2017 model.

    Regarding spec, the jury is still out in my case. While I would certainly prefer spec'ing it out, I think my budget may force me into treating this as entry level -- which is fine, because luckily my needs are not particularly sophisticated.

    Considering the inevitable post-purchase expenses, I might have to play it safe and go with the 8gb RAM, 256 SSD. Between cloud & external storage, I think 256GB will do just fine. After all, I've been working with 128GB on my desktop for 8 years now, and it hasn't been awful. Also, for what it's worth I don't run VM and can't imagine a situation where my work would force me to.

    Thanks for all your help so far, y'all. In coming to the recognition that I was going to buy a computer, I resolved to give it the adequate consideration, and I thank you for helping me in that process. Still welcoming any/all thoughts on it, I'll probably give it another few days before I lock in a decision.
     
  18. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #18
    You're making an informed decision, and I don't think you'll be unhappy with the system you spec'd. Once you buy, just don't look back!
     
  19. admwright macrumors regular

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    Scotland
    #19
    You say you do not use a VM, but you are currently running a Windows based machine. Are you sure that there are OSX version/equivalent applications for all the work you want to do? If not then a VM is an ideal way to run the Windows only applications. Also, if the Windows applications are not memory intensive then you can get away with only allocating 1 or 2 GB and this keeps enough for OSX as well. I run basic XP and Win7 VMs with 512Mb to 1Gb RAM.
     
  20. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #20
    OP:

    From your list of needs above, sounds like what you really "need", is...
    ...an iMac 27".
     
  21. mroy16 macrumors member

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    #21
    OP addressed this earlier in the thread. Post #5 is pretty clear that a laptop is preferred.
     
  22. tubular macrumors 6502

    tubular

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    #22
    Let me give another thumbs up to Affinity software. I too am eagerly awaiting their Publisher. Adobe needs to be taken down another couple notches, because their subscription stuff is for the birds.
     
  23. polydeuces thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 10, 2018
    #23
    So, to give everyone an update, I solidified my choice. Found a Best Buy open box deal (did some research on these, seems overall good) on eBay, picked it up for $1,280 retail (not including tax). 13" 8GB RAM, 256 SSD, i5. Looking forward to it, glad there's a 14 day return policy just in case. Safe to say, y'all will likely see more of me 'round these parts -- I'm optimistic you'll see me reveling in my wonderfully positive experiences ;)

    @Fishrrman : I looked into the desktop models, but based on current needs, space, home-life, etc -- a laptop is really the way to go for me, currently. Basically my fiancee and I share a bedroom, sometimes have different schedules, and our workspaces are also in our (rather large) bedroom. So, sometimes I need to find privacy for video calls, sometimes I need to not be at home. Plus, as aforementioned -- flexibility is a wonderful thing in my line of work.

    @admwright : I've given this some consideration. I went down the list of all the applications I used prior and confirmed -- everything I currently do has a Mac OS counterpart. I'm planning on keeping my desktop anyway -- still have InDesign CS6 on there, which I'll begrudgingly use until Affinity Publisher hits the market. Luckily, I don't have any projects involving DTP til a little ways into the year.

    YAS. I don't mind subscription models on software (I've got a Todoist account, great app) but the rate is absurd. I'd have no problem if they let me build my own creative suite at a reasonable monthly rate, but expecting me to shell out $240/yr for one program, or $600/yr for a boatload of things I will never use, is just absurd. It's extremely exclusionary, and I find it to be an insult to the artist community. Glad Serif is on the scene providing comparable, well-made applications at reasonable prices. I'm pleased that someone out there is giving a stiff middle finger to Adobe.
     
  24. admwright macrumors regular

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    #24
    For your CS6 apps, you should be able to move these over to the Mac if you want. If I remember correctly your licence lets you run on Mac or Windows, just not both.
     
  25. polydeuces thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 10, 2018
    #25
    Hey y'all!

    Replying from the "new" Macbook here! I got it in the mail yesterday, absolutely no trouble whatsoever so far. Runs like a dream and actually, really digging this keyboard. I had felt kind of neutral about it at first when checking it out at the store, but now that I can actually sit and type on it for awhile, I have discovered that I rather like it -- makes me feel like I'm typing much faster, but I think that's probably some form of confirmation bias. Hoping that it continues to work as well as it is now for some time.

    Still learning all the keyboard shortcuts which, so far, has been the biggest pain in making the switch.

    Anywho, just wanted to swing by and say, "Thanks!" to everyone that helped out. This feels entirely appropriate for my needs and I'm really looking forward to putting it to work. Back to writing!

    Cheers~
     

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