Trying to decide between MBP options...

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Dr Strangelove, Jul 24, 2008.

  1. Dr Strangelove macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    #1
    I am finally fed up with Vista so much that the wife and I have decided to take the Apple plunge together. We are looking for a notebook that will be mostly plugged in but sometimes taken to the couch, backyard, or on trips. I have narrowed it down to the MBP but can't decide on options and would love some help.

    We are looking to use the notebook to edit photos and High Def Videos of our first child (due in Feb :D ). Probably using iLife and Aperture 2 for the cool feature of being able to make our own scrapbooks and have them printed and bound.

    I'll be using Garage Band to record some of my original music and of course publishing some websites as well. Were also already using MobileMe with our iPhones and Vista desktop to keep everyone's schedules in order so the notebook will also integrate into this I am sure.

    Besides that the machine will be used every day to browse the web, e-mail, and whatever else cool Apple makes easy.

    So on to my questions that I would love some answers to if possible:

    1) Coming from the Windows side, I found myself upgrading desktops at least every 12 months and laptops within every 24months. Does a Mac run the same lifecycle or can I expect to be using this product for 3-4years to perform the tasks I mentioned? (I.E. do the upgrades to the OS usually install on the current models and run ok)

    2) CPU, RAM, HD for best performance in the applications I mentioned, is there a minimum I should be shooting for? (I hear 7200RPM HD is going to be key for photo and video editing and RAM up to 4GB is suggested but the CPU doesn't really matter as much)

    3) I am considering the 17" model over the 15" unit just for the sake of having more real estate to work with. Any thoughts on current owners for or against the bigger screen?

    I am still not sure if I will wait or take advantage of some sales with rebates I see from places like Amazon or Apple Refurb.

    Thanks for any input.


    **By the way, I owe all of this madness to a friend gifting me an Ipod touch 6 months ago. 2 touches, 2 Iphones, and now soon to be one Mac later. Here we are. Some would call it a virus, I would call it enlightenment.
     
  2. bigrell486 macrumors 6502

    bigrell486

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    #2
    1) Macs can last a fairly long time with Apple Care you are covered for 3 years, some keep their computers longer. Me, I usually buy a new one every 2 years.

    2) For video editing, yes a faster Hard Drive will be better and with 4GB ram you should have no speed troubles.

    3) I own the 15" but have used the 17" in the Apple Store. The big screen is nice and you get a higher resolution than the 1400x900 offered on the 15", but I think it is impractical for heavy traveling. (perfect for staying in one place though!)

    Have you considered a iMac and Macbook combo? The pricing should be the same if not less and you'll get a better Machine in the iMac and the mobility you desire in the Macbook.
     
  3. jroller macrumors regular

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    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    #3
    1) I would be surprised if you found a need to buy another machine before your three year applecare expires (get applecare, no question). Frankly, you can go 4-5 years. I have some seven and eight year old machines running well in my labs.

    2) I would go with the faster hard drive (even though it is smaller) and 4 gigs of RAM. The processor is the least important of these three considerations. Spend money on the hd and RAM, instead of the processor if you are budgeting.

    3) I spend much of my workday doing graphic design work. On my desk is a Mac Pro, but my laptop of choice is the 15' MBPro. 17' was just too unwieldy for me. But that is a personal decision.

    I am waiting myself for the next version of the MBP to buy; think it would be foolish to buy now, when it seems likely we'll get multitouch and a new processor. Always felt better buying after a new release than right before despite the fact that all computers are aging the moment you make the purchase.

    I am a big fan of the refurb options and often steer people in that direction, but again I would wait to see what is released next before deciding.

    My .02...
     
  4. winninganthem macrumors 6502a

    winninganthem

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    #4
    2.)
    You'd be surprised to see how powerful MBP stock configurations are. Buy a stock configuration first, and if you find that you really need the faster HDD and extra RAM, buy that afterward.

    Reason why I say this is because I do a lot of Photoshop and video editing work and I thought initially that I would need a completely maxed out system. After buying my MBP last week I found that the stock configuration suits my needs just fine at the moment.

    CPU power is important! The CPU matters because you can always upgrade RAM and HDD but you can't do that to the CPU. Opt for the 2.5Ghz option because it has a 6mb cache (compared to the 2.4Ghz with a 3mb cache). This cache size difference works wonders in performance.


    3)
    Buy the 15" only if you need to be on the go a lot. As a student I need to walk around a lot across campus so I opted for the 15". The 17" is too bulky for me, but if you aren't going to be moving around very much, the 17" would be a viable option. The High Def screen is absolutely marvelous on that machine.

    But, I love my 15" screen as it is. Go for matte, the colors are vibrant and it's nice not to worry about glare. Keep this in mind though, both 15" and 17" configs are very compact compared to other laptops made by other brands, so either way you'll get a lightweight powerful machine.
     
  5. Dr Strangelove thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 24, 2008
    #5
    Thanks for the great suggestion, yes we have kicked it around. I think the wife and I like the mobility of a laptop but also want some power when we decide to plug it in. The main family PC is a very new Vista Ultimate machine with about 3TB of RAID storage for media that I plan to keep using and eventually replacing by a Mac, but not at this time.
     
  6. Dr Strangelove thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    I think the 7200RPM HD is almost a no brainer for me at this point and I will pick up some 3rd party RAM and DIY it since Apple wants too much $$ for 4GB.




    The thing is though, can you get a current model refurb if those have just been released? I plan on waiting, but not too much longer, so I hope Apple stops draggin it's feet on the update.
     
  7. Dr Strangelove thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 24, 2008
    #7
    This is also great advice, I think I am sold on the 17" model, but need to go check it out again in person. I was looking at 2.5Ghz but also considered 2.6Ghz though I am not sure the upgrade is justified. Ram I would of course install myself but the HD I will probably opt to get from Apple directly.
     
  8. HiFiGuy528 macrumors 68000

    HiFiGuy528

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    Jul 24, 2008
    #8
    Rumor has it that Apple may do the model change in August (only a couple of weeks away). I am on the same boat as you, first Mac and can't decide which upgrade to get. But I canceled my order (MBP 2.4Ghz 15", 200GB, 2G RAM @ $1859) today because I feel that I will have more to choose from when the new MBP arrives. If I don't like it, I can always buy the current model. Heck, it may even be cheaper. Unless you are getting a KilleR deal on one today. I didn't so I would wait.
     
  9. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
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    Location:
    NYC
    #9
    Well the Mac product cycle is around 6 months, the OS cycle is 12-18 months. You should expect the need to upgrade every cycle, but the current OS would work with no issues in say 3 years time. Of course you can still upgrade every cycle still.

    Well you might appreciate the screen real estate of a 17" high-resolution MBP; however if that too big, I'd head for a 2.5/2.6 MBP. Sure you could get the 2.4, but I like to think when I'm editing videos 100MHz makes a difference especially between 2.4 and 2.5 . And yes working with RAW files you will want a lot of RAM and of course just find third party RAM for 4GB. HDD shouldn't really matter since for video editing you should be using an external drive as a scratch disk anyways; save a few bucks, forget the upgraded internal HDD and buy a 1TB external for Final Cut; you will find the extra scratch disk space to be very convenient.

    I did just mention that and yes it is very nice.

    Yes friends can be malicious.
     
  10. JR Green macrumors newbie

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    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    Saskatchewan
    #10
    Ram is optional, but the 7200RPM HD is worth it...

    Congratulations on the upcoming new movie star. :)

    I bought the stock MBPro with the plan of buying additional ram later, which I did for far cheaper than what Apple offered (Thank you, macsales.com!) At the time, I considered the 7200RPM hard drive, and decided against it to try and save costs, though I did elect for the larger 160 GB drive.

    The MBPro I received was nice and quick, though I have found that I don't really need the extra 2 GB of ram I bought unless I am running Parallels Desktop, in which case the extra ram helps... sort of. I have a menu bar plug-in which tracks my ram usage, and I am at 1228MB with Firefox, Mail, iTunes and Pages all open. Occasionally when ripping video from one format to another I might jump close to the 2GB mark, but not often... so I don't know if I would do the extra ram again unless I knew I was going to do graphics/video work more often. That said, better too much than too little. Even with iPhoto, I haven't needed more, and I suspect that for the things you are looking for the ram boost might be optional. As to processors, buy as much as you can afford and still feel good about yourself over. I am not sure the top-of-the-line are worth the extra $$, but often getting better than base model gives you a bit longer life cycle, meaning that the upgrade comes out as a better investment in the long run.

    The 7200 RPM hard drive is a different story. My stock 5400 died about 5 months in, and was replaced (Applecare is a must!) under warranty. Once I got my notebook home, I checked, and not only had my hard drive been jumped up to the 200GB model, but to the Hitachi 7200 RPM model (I did phone the shop to confirm they hadn't made a mistake, and they told me they just did what they were told...) I could not believe the difference; boot times, as well as application launch times dropped noticeably, though not knowing I was getting the faster drive meant I didn't do any before/after tests with a stopwatch. If you have any leanings towards speed, buy the faster drive right off, and have it covered by the full system warranty.

    I "downgraded" from a Dell XPS (13 pounds...) with a really nice, 1920*1200 display, and was worried about the lost screen space with a 15" MBPro. It hasn't been a major issue, however, and I simply bought a 2nd display to help out in my office when I need more real estate. If the MBPro had a Blue-Ray disc player, I might feel differently, as the 1400*900 doesn't give 1080p movie playback, but otherwise the lighter weight and LCD back lit screen which looks awesome, especially in glossy, more than makes up for the few pixels. Movies look better on this than almost anything else I have seen...

    I can't comment on the life-cycle of one of these, as I have had mine about a year. That said, in looking for a new computer for my wife, I don't figure it is worth buying a new MBPro and giving her this one, as it hasn't started showing its age in the least, in terms of performance, battery life, etc. She'll wind up with a Macbook, if all goes well...
     
  11. Herrow macrumors regular

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    Jul 24, 2008
    #11
    Sounds like a refurb 15" MBP is what you need. Save a few $$, an get your feet wet in the "Mac" world.
     
  12. noodle654 macrumors 68020

    noodle654

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    #12
    I would get the 17" hi def if you really want screen real estate. But, if you want to save money, buy an older model (2.4GHz 17",Mid 2007 revision). Apple sells them on the refurb store, and you could get one at MacMall probably.
     
  13. Dr Strangelove thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    Gah, guess I have to sit tight like everyone else and see what happens in the next 2-3weeks. If they would only give us a release date......
     
  14. DiamondMac macrumors 68040

    DiamondMac

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    #14
    Congrats on the move over, you won't regret it

    I made the jump 2 years ago and still have my laptop from then

    Before then, I must have gone through 3 laptops from the previous year alone. Pathetic
     
  15. DaveF macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I think it depends on why you were upgrading so frequently. Windows XP hasn't changed much in the past six years, and a computer from six years ago will run XP about as well as a brand new computer (though not quite as fast, of course). Standard office software hasn't changed much either.

    So if you were buying every year or two to get faster hardware for new image and video software, you'll probably want to do the same thing with a Mac.

    If you were buying every two years because that's what you like to do -- well Mac hardware follows the same technology course as Windows hardware now so you'd have no reason to stop upgrading.

    If you replaced frequently because your computers slowed down from spyware, malware, viruses, etc. and didn't / couldn't clean them up, then you're probably in good shape and won't need to upgrade a Mac as frequently.

    If you upgraded frequently because PCs are dirt cheap and you can afford to, well you might not be able to afford to upgrade the pricier Macs as often :)
     
  16. jackiecanev2 macrumors 65816

    jackiecanev2

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    #16
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned this (and excuse me if they have) but how about an external monitor pairing? It's the best of both worlds... extended screen real estate for when it's plugged in on the desk (and from what I can tell, it will be most of the time), and mobility computing for when you want to unplug it and haul it somewhere. (15.4"/1440x900) is usually more than enough for whatever you want to do when you're on the go. Plus, all your info is on one machine instead of two.
     
  17. noodle654 macrumors 68020

    noodle654

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    #17
    You need to upgrade the RAM in your MBP...512MB??:confused:
     
  18. Dr Strangelove thread starter macrumors regular

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    #18

    Just to keep up with the bloatware that is/are Windows based programs. I am kind of a tech junky too, so the urge to upgrade might hit me with Mac products as well, but the price point will probably stop me from doing it as frequently. I was more trying to generalize if/how a Mac ages compared to a Windows machine in terms of staying lean and mean for the video and photo editing my wife and I plan to use it for.

    The way I see the next 5 years for me in terms of required systems:

    1 - Windows based PC for gaming ( Current rig is running a watecooled/overclocked Intel Desktop with a stripped version of Vista64. Vista actually runs ok if you tweak all the crappy bloatware out of it)

    2 - Family desktop for Bills and media storage and some ripping and editing (Currently Vista with RAID5)

    3 - Notebook for Video/Photo editing at home and on the go. Also, web browsing, web publishing, etc. (Soon to be a MBP)



    I guess the question was more along the lines of, "if I buy near top of the line, can it last me 3-4yrs or will I be forced to upgrade due to age"
     
  19. Dr Strangelove thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19

    Thanks for the suggestion, I have thought about that, but I won't be plugging the notebook into another monitor at this time....maybe our plasma if we want to show off slideshows, but that's about it. I guess I wasn't clear on the plugged in part. It will be mostly plugged in but not near the same room as the family pc.
     
  20. DaveF macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Again, it depends on your personality and what you expect and like to do. My previous computer ran Windows 98 and then WinXP for 9 years. It wsa really an incompatibility with XP and ever more complicated websites (java, javascript, flash) that pushed me to getting a newer, faster computer (my current MBP).

    I expect that I'll want to replace my MBP in maybe three or so years just because I'll want (not need) new hardware.


    The need to upgrade is driven more by the user's software upgrade habits and their personal taste. Since you're a frequent upgrader, I'd assume that won't suddenly change by entering an Apple Store. (In fact, it might get worse! :)) You'll still enjoy upgrading software, hardware, and be hankering for new stuff in a year or three.

    All that said, I think any middle-of-the-road Mac computer, just like any mid-range Windows computer, will be very usable for the next three to five years. (I'm using a five year old WinXP box at work for engineering.) A high end system, more so.


    Unless, by way of caveat, your computers were bogged down by spyware/malware/virus crap. Currently Macs are effectively immune from this problem and you'll definitely get more lifespan from your Mac than your PC.
     
  21. DiamondMac macrumors 68040

    DiamondMac

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    #21
    Wow, good catch. I upgraded it months ago by 4x

    Forgot to upgrade my sig :D
     

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