Some questions about the MacBook Pro from a PC User

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by nsvv, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. nsvv macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2011
    I've been using Windows and Desktop PCs enthusiastically for all my life and never even thought about getting an Apple Mac, put off my its extremely high price (I live in the UK) and its low specifications compared to similarly priced PCs. However, due to a decreasing interest in gaming and an increasing want for portability, I decided that I wanted to get a laptop as my next computer. As my budget is around 900-1000 GBP, the MacBook Pro 13" (i5 Model) naturally came in the short list, along side with the HP Envy 14 and the Alienware m14x. Like most windows users, I know very little about Macs so I have a few questions (about the MacBook pro 13" i5 version) for you Apple devotees which would help me greatly in my decision. I do tend to ramble on a bit so the tl;dr stuff is in bold.

    - My primary concern with the MBP 13" is the small screen size. I have only ever used desktop computers with screen sizes of around 21" so naturally I'm worried about the small 13" screen being too small. I'd be using the Mac for general text-based work, light video and image editing and the occasional game. Basically, I want to know if you can work properly on a 13" screen or if that is simply too small to use it as a primary machine for homework/essays/research etc. I simply cannot afford to get the 15" version, as much as I'd like to.

    -Although I am decreasingly interested in gaming, I still play the occasional game. I know that laptops will never be as fast as desktops, but was quite disappointed to find an integrated intel graphics chip when competition such as the m14x have quite powerful discrete chips. I'd like to know how far graphically you can push the MBP, and could it play a title graphically similar to Portal 2 smoothly on relatively high graphics (or is this just wishful thinking?

    -How long a working life can I expect the Mac to have? I'm still a teenager so I haven't got a huge income and can't afford to make a purchase as large as a MacBook more frequently than every 3-4 years so how outdated would it be after this period of time? I bought my desktop for 700 about 3 years ago and whilst it isn't the latest machine, it can still handle modern applications well. Can you say the same the model I'm interested in?

    -EDIT: I'm not planning to buy a laptop until early January, but how long from then on will the next MacBook Pro come out? Is it worth waiting?

    -And finally, (the inevitable Apple-noob question) what makes a MacBook so much better than its competition? I can easily find laptops for better technical specs for about half its price, but I know that its build quality, outstanding OS, customer support and beauty count for a lot. But does this make it worth spending so much on it where I could get a much faster laptop for the same money? An unbiased answer would be really nice here.

    I've gone on for a lot, so thank you so much if you've bothered to read at least a little bit. Any feedback would be massively appreciated. Thank you!
  2. danpass macrumors 68020


    Jun 27, 2009
    Miami, FL
    I find the 13in MBP screen size to be just as effective as the 15.4 of the older Win laptop I have.

    It just doesn't seem like a small screen for some reason :)
  3. nsvv thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2011
    Thanks for the reply, but is it still large enough to be used as a main computer?
  4. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008

    I have doubts about the 11.6 inch Macbook Air as a main computer but if I got one of those I'd get an external monitor. If what you can afford is the 13 in MBP, I would go with that choice and add an external monitor at a later date if you decide you want more screen real estate after using it a while. I have an early 2008 Macbook with a 17 inch external LCD monitor. It works fine for me. Recently I have decided to do without the second display due to a bug in the way OS X 10.7 and 10.7.1 handle external monitors when logging in remotely (VNC). I find I can still get along just fine. I have done my share of reports and written a lot of code on my Macbook.

    Useful life? As long as you like, really. Mine is 3.5 years old and as much as I'd like a new MBP or iMac, I don't need a new machine. I recently upgraded from 2GB of RAM to 4GB and from 160 GB HDD to a 500 GB "hybrid SSD" drive. I can easily get another year or two out of my Macbook bringing its useful life to close to 5 years. I'm still using (though not everyday) a G4 Mac Mini. It's useful life is now over 6 years. I'm a power user so I'm constantly installing software and using my computer. If it holds up for me, it will hold up for just about anybody.

    If useful life is a priority for you, don't look at the prices of PC crap, get a Macbook or Macbook Pro and you'll never regret it. I don't buy AppleCare any more but as a new user switching to Mac, AppleCare offers you a lot of piece of mind with its 3 years of phone support and free repairs for things which are not accidental damage.
  5. nsvv, Aug 23, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011

    nsvv thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2011
    Thank you! I already considered the possibility of connecting a second larger monitor but I almost immediately shrugged it off due to its relatively low power. I'm not a specialist but I (was) pretty certain that the MacBooks integrated graphics chip would struggle with a second monitor. And I believe the input for my monitor is VGA (or DVI- not sure); are their adaptors to connect a MacBook?
  6. Daffodil macrumors 6502


    Jun 7, 2011
    In a sunny state of mind
    Yep, adaptors exist for both DVI and VGA, just make sure you get the right one :)

    I have a 13" MBP and am very happy with it. Granted, I don't do a lot of gaming, so I can't help you there, but it's my main (and only) computer and I've never felt that the screen was too small. In my experience, it's also nice that it's not a 15" for the sake of portability, because big laptops can get heavy to carry around pretty quickly...
  7. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    I've got a 13" MacBook right now and it works fine as my only computer. I've been using this one for right about 3 years (it's a Late 2008, Aluminum so similarly constructed to the current MBP's). Only thing I've needed is a new battery.

    My computer also handles an external display without much trouble, though occasionally I've hit snags using Keynote with some of the fancier effects. The new MBP's are significantly faster, so that should eliminate the issues there. I'd say you'll be fine for everything you're talking about (except maybe the gaming, I don't play any graphically intensive games).

  8. phillytim macrumors 65816


    Aug 12, 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    Congrats on jumping over to the Mac side of life! I too was a LONG-time PC guy, just bought my MBPro 13" the weekend before last.

    I agree with the other poster, somehow the 13.3" screen is very usable; I think moreso because of the 2-finger scrolling on the awesome Trackpad, distinctly. I just LOVE that Apple Trackpad! And as others say, you can hookup a larger monitor to it too, quite easily.

    You just cannot time purchases to Apple release dates for the Macs. Impossible. I was gonna wait too, but I realized that was futile, and the best new technology we will get will not be until Ivy Bridge cpu/chipsets NEXT summer 2012.

    Even if they refreshed MBPro before then, there's really not much worthwhile to wait for until Ivy Bridge, which apparently will not even hit the streets until April of next year on anything. Just buy it and enjoy it now that you want it! Get the 15" or 17" if you're worried about a more friendlier discrete graphics option for gaming.
  9. Hallivand macrumors regular


    Aug 26, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    As a teenager myself, I can vouch that my own 2009 Macbook Pro 13" purchase was one of the best I had made. In Year 11 (all of last year) I had it hooked up to a 21.5 inch HD screen via the miniDisplay Port to VGA converter, without any problems at all. I did a considerable amount of Keynote work on it through the year, as well as using it everyday at school with Pages and Word for hours at a time. Doesn't see as much use now, but still holding up like day champ :)

    You won't have any issues at all with performance or anything (as long as your not doing hardcore gaming or the like), with the unibody construction making it built like a tank. Plus the battery will last for years, my one still lasts all day like it did when I first bought it. Considering your graphics and processor are considerably upgraded, you would be able to run some casual games too. Borderlands 2 and World in Conflict ran fine here anyway :D.

    Go ahead and it'd be one of your best purchases tech wise :cool: won't regret it!

    Edited for content
  10. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    The man makes some very useful points, I'd listen to him.

    For what you want to do, a last generation 15 inch MBP would be great and I'm sure you can find one in great condition (still with Apple Care) for the same price as a new 13 inch MBP.

    Personally I had an 07 black MacBook before this one and ended up selling it to fund for the newest one.

    The old one was great; ran fast and gave me 4 hours of battery life ; however, I felt the graphics card was lacking and I also wanted the MultiTouch trackpad as well.

    If you can find one, a 15 inch will give you a larger screen and a better graphics card.

    But to answer your question about that card, I can play Portal 2 on medium-high settings smoothly when running in Bootcamp; anything but that will give you pretty bad performance.

    As I stated, I have the baseline MBP so if you have any more questions or want me to "do" anything, feel free to ask :)
  11. nsvv thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2011
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    Thank you guys! You've really help me decide and I'm almost certainly getting one now. Just waiting for the last bits of cash to come in. I suppose I want to wait for the next edition to come out with the hope that it includes a discrete card like the 2010 version but if it comes out in summer, then there's no point. However, if it comes out in early 2012 (like the previous models have) I'll get that then, but I really have no idea. I suppose the things I'm most concerned about is general productivity speed but you guys are all saying it's fast enough. If I think of anything I'll message you YoungSpade (thanks for the option) and again, thanks to all of you! If only the Minecraft community was as helpful as the Mac one :)

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