Switching to Mac. Used MBP or new Mac Mini?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by fire away, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. fire away, Dec 3, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014

    fire away macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    #1
    I would like to switch to Mac OS and buy my first Mac. Options:

    Mac Mini late 2014, the starter model with 8 GB RAM. I understand that I would be able to change its HDD to SSD. I have a monitor and Logitech MX518 mouse, which I hope to use with it, will only need to buy Apple keyboard. Obvious drawback is lack of portability for outside use, which may or not be the problem for me, can't know at this point for sure, so I'd like to examine other options and think about it in the meantime.

    MBP 15 mid 2010 CTO, anti-glare hi-res screen option, 2.4GHz Intel Core i5, 4GB 1067MHz DDR3, 320GB 5400 rpm. Battery health 53%, 264 cycles — £610
    Does this battery needs replacement? If so, it may not be good for me. The cost seems a lot for 4.5 old machine. Is this a good price and can I expect another 3 years from it if I'll be careful with it or I'm risking because of its age? Anti-glare is good for me, possibly even be better than glossy Retina and I'm on a budget. How easy it is to find suitable RAM for it?

    MBP 13 mid 2012. 2.5GHz Intel Core i5, 4GB 1600MHz DDR3, 500GB Serial ATA; 5400 rpm. Battery health 93%, 374 cycles — £600
    This has a small resolution glossy 1280x800 screen which is worse than of the model above, but newer CPU (how much faster though?), faster RAM, is also easily upgradeable for RAM and SSD in the future. Also I think this option gives me an ability to upgrade ram even to 16 GB in the future, much cheaper than with Mini, which looks like a good thing to me. I can compensate for the screen with external monitor and use the internal screen only for light tasks. Another plus of this newer machine seems to be that it will likely to support newer Mac OS version in the future than mid 2010 MBP would support. Is this right? Also, how would this CPU compare to Mini CPU? Is the price good?

    Here's the notebook that I have now, which would help to explain better what I expect to get:
    My current notebook is Intel-Core i5 2410M 2.3 Ghz, 6 GB RAM (not sure what speed it is, probably 1033Mhz), Intel HD 3000 (perfectly enough for me, I just need to drive one external monitor), nVidia card (irrelevant). I absolutely hate this machine and I see perfectly that even though it's cheaper than a Mac would be with these specs, I've lost productivity and money by buying it, because of this now I can only buy Mini or older MBP. Can spend £680 tops (I'm not in UK, just specifying prices in pounds here). This notebook is soon to be about 4.5 years old. Even though at first it worked fine for what I needed and need now, it started overheating, because of its design it's very hard to clean the fan or change the thermal paste, so it's now slower than it was and obviously it can't run Mac OS. For my new (used) machine I need something faster than this but not necessarily a lot faster, everything more than that would be a welcomed bonus.

    My future tasks will be: Photoshop opened with web design projects; several browsers opened with about 100 tabs overall (may open less if it struggles); several small apps like skype, twitter client, music player and evernote. From what I've read Yosemite works slow with 4 GB RAM but maybe those were older posts and now Apple fixed the issue? Please advise.

    My expectations are that if I get a used Macbook Pro or new Mini, Mac OS (Yosemite) will make it work smoother than on Windows 7, and also SSD upgrade would allow me to make it a lot faster which would give me a significant boost over my aging machine for my tasks. I'm also expecting that if I buy used MBP, it won't have overheating problem that my PC notebook developed. I also hope to get at least 3 more years from a used MBP with no problems, which doesn't look impossible seeing that my current notebook is 4+ years old and works OK.

    Which one should I choose for my tasks, not taking the portability into consideration?
     
  2. rigormortis macrumors 68000

    rigormortis

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #2
    i just want to say that the MBP 15 mid 2010 batteries can be found on the internet by newertech for $99. so that shouldn't stop you

    the mac mini 2014 doesn't have upgradable ram. both the mac book pros can have ram added

    the mac mini 2014 has a fusion option, but owc (macsales.com) hasn't released a upgrade kit for this machine yet


    ill let someone else comment on your choices
     
  3. fire away thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 3, 2014
    #3
    rigormortis, thank you.
    It's very possible that newertech don't ship to where I am in Europe.
    I'm not even sure how fusion is different from SSD. Do you mean that Mac Mini has only fusion option and no SSD option? In that case it's probably not great. Also 1 GB fusion drive in the mid range option is too big for me. I don't need more than 500 GB of space.

    I can't emphasize enough how disappointed I am with my Windows notebook. It was pretty expensive with pretty good specs at the time (not the top, but still), but boy did I learn the price of "cheap" stuff. I've never hated a product this much in my life - that's quite an accomplishment for a company who's name I don't even want to mention. Quite a story. I have much to say about that, but not here, probably, as it would be an offtopic.
     
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #4
    Fusion drives are 128gb ssd and 1tb normal HDD the OSX software manages where everything is to keep the machine as fast as it can be for what you need when you need it.

    The mac mini options include 256gb SSD and a 1TB fusion option they are the same price on an upgrade. This upgrade is £160 I would reccommend that an ssd of any type is pretty much a muct these days.

    I would suggest the mid range mini with the fusion drive it is £729 on the store and has 8gb RAM standard, if you can find a student to order it for you then you can get student discount this should bring it into your budget.

    If you need some protability I would suggest a refurbished macbook air 11.6 inch that can be connected to a monitor when needed or taken with you when needed, especially if you use it with a monitor a lot it'll give you the best of both worlds.
     
  5. imaccooper macrumors regular

    imaccooper

    Joined:
    May 29, 2014
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #5
    As has been stated, the new mini doesn't have upgradable ram and neither do the macbook airs. If you do decide to go with either of those options then make sure to get the ram you will want for the duration of the machine (8gb is enough).

    I want to also say that you will absolutely want an ssd (fusion drives are also good if you need large amounts of space for a smaller price).

    My suggestions on this topic are typically based on two things. If you need portability or think you might want it, and if you have the peripherals (screen, keyboard, mouse). I actually own two minis and they are wonderful machines but they ar obviously not portable. The MacBook Pro is probably a little bit more money but I would tend to lean toward it in many situations because it is a great machine also.

    To answer your question, if you are interested in keeping your current portability then I would go with the MacBook as it will be a great upgrade from your current setup. If portability is not a huge deal for you then the mini is probably going to be cheaper and you will love it (I would suggest taking a look at the 2012 minis with the i7 processor). Whichever option you take make sure you get adequate ram (upgradable on the MacBook pro and the 2012 mini) and the ssd.
     
  6. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #6
    None of the applications are processor intensive, but 100 tabs in a browser can eat up a lot of memory, making the mini, with twice the RAM, the obvious choice.

    You said to ignore portability, so the MBPs will really have no advantages. Also, if you have a PC keyboard (you already say you have a mouse and display) you don't need to buy an Apple one. The Apple Command "⌘" key is just the Windows key.
     
  7. fire away thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    #7
    Yes. I guess another thing to consider here is that MacBook Pro will not have warranty. Will have to make sure I check it well if I decide on MBP. Luckily I may have several days for that.

    I think CPU is the bottleneck on my current notebook because of the overheating. I think 6 GB is enough for me. I have seen a review where a guy said that MBP 23 mid 2012 has inadequate cooling (I know it has one fan compared to 15" models) and that fan spins loudly when doing CPU intensive tasks. Would like users of this machine to comment on that. But MBP mid 2012 has Ivy Bridge compared to my Sandy Bridge that I have now (not sure if that will help a little), and also I believe that MBP cooling system will still be better than my current notebook's (fan is pretty much constantly loud now, unless a computer is in power saver mode, the it's mostly off and I'm not doing anything), at least I hope that Apple didn't do a bad thermal paste job like some others. Have any of you 2012 MBP (or other similar MBP) users changed CPU's thermal paste to fix overheating? Let me know if you did. I will go and search youtube for videos about loud MBP sounds, will see what I'll find.

    As far as portability goes, I'm now at the crossroads, depending on circumstances in the near future. In one case a portable machine may be useful, in another case not so much, hence why I have those very different options to examine.

    I'm now leaning towards MBP 2012 a bit because of the portability. I really wish it didn't have glossy screen though.
     
  8. fire away, Dec 4, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014

    fire away thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    #8
    Yes. I guess another thing to consider here is that MacBook Pro will not have warranty. Will have to make sure I check it well if I decide on MBP. Luckily I may have several days for that.

    I think CPU is the bottleneck on my current notebook because of the overheating. I think 6 GB is enough for me. I have seen a review where a guy said that MBP 23 mid 2012 has inadequate cooling (I know it has one fan compared to 15" models) and that fan spins loudly when doing CPU intensive tasks. Would like users of this machine to comment on that. But MBP mid 2012 has Ivy Bridge compared to my Sandy Bridge that I have now (not sure if that will help a little), and also I believe that MBP cooling system will still be better than my current notebook's (fan is pretty much constantly loud now, unless a computer is in power saver mode, the it's mostly off), at least I expect that Apple didn't do a bad thermal paste job like some others.

    As far as portability goes, I'm now at the crossroads, depending on circumstances in the near future. In one case a portable machine may be useful, in another case not so much, hence why I have those very different options to examine.

    I'm now leaning towards MBP 2012 a bit because of the portability. I really wish it didn't have glossy screen though. But I'll have to compromise obviously. Is £600 good price for that MBP?
     
  9. michelg1970 macrumors regular

    michelg1970

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Location:
    Gouda - The Netherlands
    #9
    Actually macsales.com DO ship to Europe (albeit costly) or alternatively (I did this too) you can buy it in Europe which saves you the hassle of customs.

    I found the Newertech batteries on the macupgrade.eu (affiliated to macsales) website for you: http://macupgrade.eu/catalog/batteries-chargers-apple-laptop-batteries-c-35_284.html
     
  10. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #10
    Something's wrong if what I'd consider a light processor load (Photoshop especially with what would be small (web size) images, web pages which at least with Safari "sleep" unless actively viewed, some audio programs) causes your fan to go into overdrive. Don't have those particular models you are looking at, but have a 2011 15" MBP and do video rendering and transcoding with FCPX for hours at a stretch without overheating. I had a still older 13" MBP that also had no problems with similar heavy CPU use.
     
  11. fire away, Dec 4, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014

    fire away thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    #11
    Thank you, seems like they do ship to me indeed.

    Generally I know 100% it's because of overheating, as when I removed one dust filter the computer instantly became snappier and fan started working less frequently and loudly. But that was half a year ago, gradually but surely it became worse again. It's underclocking the CPU quietly to keep cooler temps, that's why it's working noticeably slower.
     
  12. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #12
    Retina 2013 13" MBP with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD would be my suggestion. Not sure where you are buying or what the market is like where you are but they do go for under £700 in the UK.

    Modern CPU, decent RAM, dual thunderbolt 2 ports and HDMI, fast SSD, retina screen, very little in difference to the current models.
     
  13. fire away thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    #13
    In that case I should probably conclude that prices are higher for used Macs where I am. £700 seems like too little for that here. Weird, because for Mac Mini in the stores here it's exactly the same as in UK, I just checked the base model. For example: MBP 15" CTO mid 2010, 2.66GHz Intel Core i7, 4GB 1067MHz DDR3 SDRAM, 500GB Serial ATA; 5400 rpm, anti-glare 1680x1050, GeForce GT 330M is £750, at least that's now much they ask. Retina you've suggested has much better hardware it seems. However, it's 13" as opposed to this 15" and also doesn't have anti-glare. Maybe that could be the reason for the price?
     
  14. fire away, Dec 4, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014

    fire away thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 3, 2014
    #14
    Umbongo, I checked at Gumtree.com, yes first result is £690. But some are £750, one is asking £900 (same 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5), another one £950. Not experienced so not sure why prices differ that much. I see MBP Retina 13" 2014 2,9Ghz (maybe means 2.4 with Turbo Boost to 2.9 or is 2.9 real option?), 8GB, 256GB SSD. Listed for £710 where I am. The seller says that he's selling because he needs 15". Not sure how real this is, seems like a very good deal that should be grabbed but I won't be able to test it for days, only for like an hour probably. But he says that there's still Apple warranty for several months. I guess if I would to check the warranty and make sure it's real, maybe I should think about it. I think this price is less than what others offer in the listings so it looks a bit too good to be true here. What do you think?

    I'm not really convinced that Retina is a great thing as it seems like it's not very supported in the web, so images pretty much just get stretched to fit the pixels, which I think means the same exact quality really, unless the page has a special version of images for retina. The same should be true for movies as well and for everything else pretty much. I know from experience that more pixels on the screen isn't necessarily great for the eyes. And it's gloss, and it's 13" anyway so everything will be small, I would have to up the DPI to make things bigger, the idea of which I don't like. Maybe it's the reason why Retinas sometimes go for similar price like MBP mid 2012? Also I wonder how much likelier they are to fail than MBP mid 2012 and how likely it is that this Retina's SSD is going to fail (for some reason I assumed that it's not upgradable), for example, or the display? Even though it looks like a decent deal, probably an overkill for me now, very high specs, Retina which I might not even use or enjoy for reasons stated above.
     
  15. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #15
    The retina screen is really nice at 1280x800, but even if you don't want that you can have 1440x900, 1680x1080 resolution. 15" screens are nice, but you are going to sacrifice a fair bit of performance to get that and be buying a 4 year old laptop. I've used 13" retina's for sometime and I think you are over thinking the actual screen. I would buy it for the CPU, graphics, SSD, battery life, ports, build quality and that they are recent machines for a good price.
     
  16. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #16
    The images are doubled in size, making the effective pixel size the same as on a conventional display. So no gain there. Same thing is true for movies 720p or less resolution. But not for "everything else pretty much" which will improve. High resolution photos, such as those taken directly from a camera without being shrunk for the web, viewed locally (or in retina-aware websites) will be sharper. Text will be sharper. 1080p movies can be viewed at full resolution on that 13" display.

    More pixels on the screen isn't necessarily great for the eyes when all text shrinks. That has been a flaw of OS X (compared to Windows which will scale to adjustable sizes). But in the case of retina, it does a 2x scaling keeping text the same size as it was in a conventional display. You can set non-optimal resolutions that make the text smaller, to get more information on the screen, but you don't have to do so.
     

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