Weird Macbook comparison question

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bcpnikhil, Jun 7, 2006.

  1. bcpnikhil macrumors newbie

    Jun 7, 2006
    So here's my weird problem/opportunity:
    I'm going into 12th grade next year, and I am a student with an ardent interest in computers. Through some weird hookups from my dad's company, I've been able to secure a Thinkpad T43p (2.13ghz Pentium M, Intel Wireless ABG + Bluetooth, 80 gig HDD, 2 gig RAM, FireGL Mobility V3200 w/ 128mb dedicated VRAM, 15" 1600x1200 screen, 4x DVD-R/RW) for free. It's an amazing computer, BUT my dad is planning to switch jobs, and needs to give back the computer, which leaves me without a computer.

    Although I really like IBM, err Lenovo Thinkpads because of their amazing build quality,windows has really always been a bore, and Linux just doesn't have the ease of use/easy hardware support, etc that I need in a laptop that I need to function daily and take to college. Therefore, I started looking into Apple's laptops.

    The Macbooks really interest me, as they seem to be very well spec'd out for a very reasonable price. FYI, I'm considering the 2ghz white Macbook, which I would upgrade to 2GB RAM and a 120GB HDD. What type of performance hit would I be taking when I switch to the Macbook? The Thinkpad is extremely fast, but unfortunately to get a comparable machine would cost nearly $2k, which I don't want to spend.

    Also, after browsing Craigslist, I found numerous 1.83ghz MacBook Pro's for sale for $1500. Should I consider these even if it is a decrease in processing speed from the 2ghz MacBook and $200 more?

    My Computer Habits: I plan to program very heavily on this machine, as I will be enrolled in a Computer Science AB AP class next year, and I am seriously contemplating majoring in Computer Science. Also, I browse the web, check email, IM, etc. I am a debater, and I take my computer with me to debate tournaments, so it should be somewhat travel friendly (although I don't mind the weight of the Thinkpad much, it is on the heavier side), and I have a fiendish habit of filling up lots and lots of harddrive space with various movies, music, etc.

    Sorry for the long post :).

  2. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    The biggest hit you'll be taking when switching from the ThinkPad to the MacBook are graphics & screen size. The MacBook has 64 MB of shared memory, and your ThinkPad had 128 MB dedicated memory. Unless you want to game, you should be fine.

    The MacBook has a better processor, but overall, they are somewhat comparable.
  3. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Well, the MacBook will have a faster processor (two of them, actually--the Pentium M is only single core, right?), and with the RAM and drive upgrades you mentioned it would be at least as well equipped in those areas and the optical drive.

    Where you're going to take the hit is the lower screen resolution (though to be completely honest, I think 1600X1200 is if anything too high for a 15" screen on a modern OS), and obviously the drastically slower graphics. A FireGL mobility with 128MB VRAM is going to run rings around the integrated GMA 950 with 64MB shared VRAM on its worst day.

    That said, it sounds like the work you're doing doesn't really rely on fancy graphics at all--you sound very much processor (compiling) and disk bound. As such, I'm not so sure that the slower graphics would be that much of a hit for you (unless you game on the side--just get a DS or something if you do).

    The screen resolution... depends a lot on how you use it. If you have great eyes and really took advantage of that 1600X1200, then the MacBook display is going to seem really small. If you tended to use large text and didn't have a lot of windows open, then it might not make a lot of difference.

    Just to be sure, you are planning on buying the 2GB of RAM yourself, since that saves you quite a bit over Apple's 2GB upgrade, right? The hard drive might be worth thinking about as well; since it's REALLY easy to upgrade yourself, you might just stick with the stock drive until it's getting kinda full at which point hopefully the next generation of high-density perpendicular-bit 2.5" drives will be on the market so you can go to 120+GB for not a lot of cash.

    It ain't the same powerhouse machine as the ThinkPad, but when you're grinding through a mess of code, it'll probably be noticably faster. Past that, it's going to be your call on whether you can stomach the smaller screen or not.

    Oh, and as for the difference between the 1.83GHz model and the 2.0GHz model--since they're otherwise identical, it's going to be a pretty straightforward 9% speed boost. Whether that's worth the added cost to you will depend on how valuable your time and that 9% extra speed is. You're unlikely to notice it day-to-day, but it'll shave some time off of lengthy compiles.
  4. Amuraivel macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2006
    For coding, I would think that the screen resolution is too low.

    Thinkpad T60p-14"
    (some have GPU close to X1600)
  5. bcpnikhil thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 7, 2006
    Yeah, I'm going to do the RAM and HDD upgrades myself. Apple is charging insanely high prices for 2 gigs of ram.

    I don't really do too much gaming. I dabbled into CS Source once, but I really sucked and I didn't find it THAT entertaining - more of a timesuck really. I'm a movie hack, and one of the reasons I'm excited about getting a widescreen notebook is that DVDs on the go will be more fun to watch.

    As far as the resolution goes - I do have somewhat good eyes, and try to make the most of the resolution, but after using my dad's 20" 1600x1200 lcd, the pixel density is getting really old.. I mean, who REALLY needs 1600x1200 on the go anyway, right? I'm planning on getting a 20.1" widescreen LCD from Costco (it's a Sceptre LCD for $260), which I would plug the MacBook into with a DVI adaptor I'd have to buy. I dunno if the resolution will be way too low for coding.. I mean, I won't be hardcore coding on the laptop screen, as most of the hw/projects will be done at home with my LCD. Most of the stuff on the road would be a) getting head starts on stuff in the car, b) notes I take in class, or c) finishing up hw last minute in the morning or b/w breaks.

    Thanks so much for the replies so far. What do you think about the added tidbits of info? BTW @Amuraivel: I REALLY don't want to go back into the Windows world, esp. because if I really need to, I can dual boot with a Mac now. Every windows laptop I have owned has needed a reimage at least once in its lifetime due to spyware/virii and the like. I'm just sick of putting up with that ********. EDIT: bullfeces. There's a new compound word for you.
  6. ®îçhå®? macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2006
    Nikhil, i would read the article about whether you want to buy a macbook or macbook pro. It goes into a lot of depth and is found in the mac guides section.
  7. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Ok, that being the case, the screen size/resolution doesn't sound like it'll be an issue at all. In fact, were I in a similar situation (light duty on the road, external monitor for the heavy lifting at home), I might well go for the 13" as well, just for the added portability.

    Sounds like you've picked a pretty good setup, and I expect (though you never know for certain until you try) that it won't seem like much of a step down at all. If nothing else, you won't feel like you're going blind staring at a 15" screen at 1600X1200.

    Nothing wrong with Scepter, but might I suggest looking at slightly nicer LCDs? I like ViewSonic, personally--you can get a nice 19" widescreen for about $210 from NewEgg right now (got one for my dad, and he loves it), or a higher-end 20" with a bit more resolution for about $330, $260 open box. Dell's non-budget ones tend to be reviewed well, but I haven't liked their cheapest ones.
  8. bcpnikhil thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 7, 2006
    Are Sceptres known for bad quality? Sorry.. I'm a bit oblivious to different brands/models of LCDs. I DO want a 20" widescreen because I'd like the added resolution. I saw a Viewsonic for 299 on, which seems pretty nice. I also want one with a DVI connection, juse because I think that it would be a higher quality connection (newer technology, after all.. VGA cxns are sooo stone age, err 90s)

    After reviewing the MacBook Pro's again, I'm under the impression that it just doesn't make sense for me to get a used one. I might as well buy a cheaper new MacBook regular and upgrade the HDD/RAM, and use the extra money towards the LCD. Furthermore, as I'm not really a gamer, I think the added benefits would really be minimal.

    Are there any good dock solutions with Macs? I really liked my IBM Thinkpad Dock, but I can't seem to find any real "docks" except for the BookEndz ones, which a) wear out the ports of your computer and b) there is no BookEndz dock for the new Intel Macs.

    Also (off topic, I know), @Makosuke: you're from the Bay Area too! I think a lot of people from these forums are around here (geographically).

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