What's so good about a Macbook Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by stupidlyme, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. stupidlyme macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2011
    Hey all, I'm new here and I've got a serious question that's been on my mind.

    I'm an engineering student and contemplating getting a configured Macbook Pro. The one I'm looking at is $2300 +/- (I live in Malaysia, so I'm converting from MYR to $). The specs for this is:

    2.4GHz Intel Core i5
    4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
    500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
    MacBook Pro 15-inch Hi-Res Antiglare Widescreen Display
    Intel HD Graphics, NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with 256 MB
    with iWork preinstalled.

    Now this pales in comparison to the HP Envy I've been checking out lately which is priced at $2000, $300 cheaper than the Mac:

    Intel® Core™ i7-740QM processor^
    (1.73GHz, 6MB L3 Cache)
    6 GB 1333 MHz DDR3
    640GB 7200rpm
    (14.5") diagonal HD+ High-Definition LED HP Radiance Infinity Display (1366X768)
    ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5650 Graphics (1 GB dedicated)

    Not to mention a bunch of freebies attached with it.

    So my question is this: Why get a Macbook pro when for a cheaper price, I can get the Envy with better specs? Granted, the Mac is used for a different purpose, i.e designing etc.. What is your opinion? As an engineering student, I would be using AutoCad and the like and also, nearly all engineering software only runs on Windows although I trust the ability of Bootcamp to run them. Nevertheless, the price doesn't justify the specs so what am I exactly paying for?

    Thanks in advance and much appreciated!
  2. nawoo macrumors regular

    Feb 3, 2008
    go with the envy then

    there are a thousand comparison threads like this. PCs will always be cheaper than macs.

    The HP doesn't even come close to the Macbook pro's design and aesthetic.

    If you want to compare specs and all, go for the HP and windows 7.
  3. stupidlyme thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2011
    That's exactly my question: Why the MBP then, aside from "design and aethetics"? Mind you, I really like the MBP and looking forward to getting it BUT I want to make an informed decision, hence the question. Thanks anyway :)
  4. shinji macrumors 65816


    Mar 18, 2007
    There is a mac version of AutoCAD, a current one, but yes many of the other dedicated engineering apps that you'll need to use probably only run on Windows or have file type compatibility issues. You would need to use Bootcamp or Fusion/Parallels.

    Regardless, the point of a mac is OS X. You'd need to use it first to decide if it's worth the premium. For me and most of us here, it's more than worth it. As nice as the design, asthetics, and build quality are, it's ultimately the operating system that makes me continue to buy macs.
  5. davegoody macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2003
    Reading, Berkshire, England
    You state you are an engineering student...... you then have sort of answered your own question.

    The machine (MacBook Pro) is sooooo well engineered. Raw spec is not everything when running an OS like OSX anyway. I have just upgraded my old, non-unibody 15" MacBook Pro, Core2Duo, to a Core i5 with 8Gb and 1Tb HDD. The new machine looks nicer, is built better, has a better screen. To be honest as nice as it is, it is really not that much faster..... do not be taken in by the Megahertz / Gigahertz myth. I use Boot Camp and run Windows 7 on my new MBP and it as fast as anything else I use (though running the 32 bit version I can not use the full 8gb of RAM, but this would be the same whatever hardware I was running on, HP, DELL etc...... 32 bit versions of Windows will only utilise 3.5Gb of RAM).

    One more thing (sorry for ranting) - if you bought an HP now, and in three years tried to sell it, you would maybe sell it for £150-£250. A MacBook Pro in three years time, that you paid maybe £1600 for, you will get £800 - £1000 for with ease. I sold my old MacBook Pro for £1100, it was immaculate, though 3 three years old. This is not about the old PC or Mac debate, it is about build quality and desirability of Apple Hardware. Good luck whichever machine you purchase.
  6. SuperCachetes macrumors 6502a


    Nov 28, 2010
    Away from you
    OP, as someone with at least a passing interest in engineering, I would think you would have some appreciation for the unibody design. I mean, there is a huge difference between the "metal finish" of the Envy and the carved-out-of-a-solid-block approach of the MBP. The MBP, for better or worse, it not really designed as a disposable laptop like so many pieces of equipment these days.

    Another thing I don't see mentioned here is customer service. Obviously it may vary around the globe, but in my experience, the Apple experience is second to none.

    Incidentally, you may want to put the x64 version of Windows on your Mac and upgrade the ram to 8GB yourself if you're going to be doing heavy lifting with AutoCAD. Good luck.
  7. Tonsko macrumors 6502


    Aug 19, 2010
    While ultimately it is a personal preference, I can only offer reasons as to why I switched.

    Bought myself a mac mini last year to begin iOs dev - was really impressed with it (OSX that is). After spending so many years (~16) supporting various OS' (windows, unix, vms and latterly linux) and networks, I have since sold the mac mini and bought a MBP.

    I prefer OSX on so many levels - it's based on BSD, so I'm happy with the command line. It's powerful, fast, it rarely breaks, it wakes from sleep properly and quickly, don't have to worry about rebuilding it (i.e. no registry), you don't have to defrag it etc. All the myriad of little maintenance things that I ended up doing with windows to make it run tip-top, you just don't have to do. The trackpad is bloody brilliant too - scrambles your mind for the first day or two and then it becomes second nature.

    I have since been informed that windows 7 doesn't need defragging or rebuilding. While I can appreciate W7's awesomeness compared to previous offerings, I remain to be convinced about that. W7 is good. I was very impressed with it when first installed it (esp. when it went off and grabbed ALL the drivers itself!) However, personally it's a bit like too little too late. Don't get me wrong, I run 2 W7 vms on the MBP ( for work stuff), but that's snapshotted so v. easy to rollback, but for me OSX... is just ideal. I have had maintenance probs with W7 on my desktop, had to re-install it because of driver issues etc. so it isn't perfect. Neither is OSX perfect obv., but, there you go. I just don't want to deal with windows any more.

    Make of that what you will :)
  8. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    the battery life with an i7 quad will stink, the touchpad is nowhere near as nice, it's not built as well, it doesn't run OS S, the display resolution stinks, and I don't think the 1366x768 display option is anywhere near as good as any MBP's color- and contrast-wise. I think it's only the upgrade options that are.

    frankly if you don't find OS X that special, don't buy a Mac. yes, there's AutoCAD for Mac, but who chooses that over Inventor, SolidWorks, or ProE? not very many, which means you have to reboot all the time to use them. not a problem now if you're an underclassman, but it can be if you're not, or if you're a grad student.

    the 1GB VRAM doesn't benefit you at all, btw, unless you plan on playing games on a hi-res external display...and that's assuming the 5650 is up to the job, which I'm not sure it is.
  9. rhinosrcool, Jan 18, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2011

    rhinosrcool macrumors 65816


    Sep 5, 2009
    Good point. However, I'm not so sure that they would run as well under either bootcamp or a virtual machine. Others may be able to refute this? For you, a windows laptop may be best.

    Agreed. My 15" i5 is one sweet laptop. So far (6 months), my mbp runs great and requires little maintenance. Also, its design makes it easier to tote (only 5.5 lbs and thin). In addition, I love the long-lasting non-removable battery.OS X is so smooth; when I use my windows desktop, windows seems clunky; i.e, it often requires extra steps to complete a task. And, with OS X, I don't need to use either an anti-virus program, malware program, or defrag.

    As for navigation, the trackpad is fantastic (I don't think it works as well under windows?) and no mouse needed. And, this is coming from a long-time mouse user (desktop VX Revolution- really nice mouse).

    What do some of the other engineering students use? You might want to ask around.
  10. joehahn macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2009
  11. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I teach electrical engineering classes and use lots of student's notebook computers helping them out. I use a 2 year old 13" MacBook in class to do demonstrations (including running EE CAD software) and video screen capturing of the lectures at the same time. I run the CAD software under Parallels/Windows 7, while capturing with iShowU and projecting Keynote slides.

    Performance-wise, my old MacBook runs perfectly fine. Having a high performance (and HEAVY) Windows computer would be no advantage.

    But the real difference, and one that I see regularly with the students' systems, is that the Mac's screen is superior. I've got more pixels on my 13" than the OP is citing on the HP, and pixels are everything with a CAD program's GUI. Their screens are also dim and suffer from very limited viewing angles. The Mac's trackpad is superior to any of the PCs, and the keyboards are better than most.

    Three years ago I didn't have any students with Macs. Now at least a quarter of them have Macs and most students that buy new computers have been buying Macs to replace their old PCs.
  12. NorCalLights macrumors 6502a

    Apr 24, 2006
    Right there, there's your answer. That HP with a 14" screen has fewer pixels than the 13" MBP. The Hi-Res 15" MBP that the OP has selected has a resolution of 1680x1050.

    Good luck trying to draft on that HP's screen. I'd go crazy. So either you're looking at buying an external monitor and never being able to draft on the go, or you should think again about the MBP.
  13. chris y. macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2006
    los angeles, ca
    I did a restore on a HP 17in Envy i7 quad laptop recently and had a chance to use it for a bit.

    The MBP has a better screen, runs much cooler and quieter, and has a significantly better battery life (the Envy only had 1.5 hour capacity from my actual use).

    With that said I think the HP Envy is a great PC laptop definitely one of the best as far as how its built and how it looks. You cant really go wrong buying an Envy but the extra price difference you pay for the MBP is worth it.
  14. jetblk328i macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2010
    I also was shopping between the MBP and Envy, 14 though.

    The MBP had much better OS, battery, and build quality, all very important to me.
  15. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    I can't explain it, but my 2.8 GHz MBP ran MATLAB and other EE engineering software under Windows 7 better than my i5-520 Dell laptop. Both had 4 GB of 1066 MHz RAM, similar HDDs. The Dell did only have an integrated 310 GPU, while the MBP has a dedicated 9600 GPU, but I can't see how that would have enough of an effect on a CPU/memory/I/O bound task as I was benchmarking.

    Of course running under OS X has many other benefits, such as the enhanced battery life.

  16. ECUpirate44 macrumors 603


    Mar 22, 2010
    Specs are great and all but they mean nothing without a solid os. OSX>Windows.
  17. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    I'm looking at those HP specs and I fail to see how the MBP "pales". It's got more RAM and a bit of hard drive space, but it's also got a crappier screen and a slower CPU (clock wise).

    I guess we're all different but there aren't that many reasons I'd want to give up clock for cores on a notebook CPU, especially when heat and battery life are accounted for.
  18. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    BootCamp is just a second OS install, like using a second partition or second hard drive or second computer. a Windows computer with the exact same specs as an MBP would run Windows exactly the same. as it happens, CAD software runs perfectly fine on an i5 and 330m.

    a touchpad is nice for some things, but design work is not one of them...especially when using BootCamp drivers, which frankly stink for the touchpad.
  19. aussiedj macrumors regular

    Dec 31, 2008
    stupidlyme - I find the best way to help someone to understand is to ask them, if they are a PC user, how many hours / days / weeks do you spend in a year maintaining it / fixing it / reformatting it. And how long would it run smoothly (everything just works) at a time? What's the longest?

    Now go and ask any mac person the same question. :)
  20. rhinosrcool macrumors 65816


    Sep 5, 2009
    I understand. For some reason, xp, in bootcamp, didn't seem to run as well as I'd hoped. However, I will give it another shot.

    Yeah. Under windows, my experience with the touchpad was poor. As for design work, I am not too experienced. It seems a mouse is the better tool; but, with os x, it is nice to not have to use one.
  21. Tonsko macrumors 6502


    Aug 19, 2010
    The magic mouse is a bit temperamental under W7 bootcamp as well. A wired mouse is better. Both touchpad and magic mouse work perfectly under W7 fusion.
  22. Macmel macrumors 6502

    Feb 7, 2008
    I use regularly both W7 and Snow leopard. I prefer Snow Leopard, but I have no obvious reason for it. W7 runs perfectly fine and does not need maintenance like older versions did. As of today, it's not so clear that OS X> W7. And my PC using W7 is a 2 year old 17" 600 euros computer, a piece of crap in every sense, but it works just fine under W7. I can imagine it would be great to work with a much more powerful machine.
    On the other hand, my early 2008 MBP had to be defragmented because the HDD was 70% full and I was suffering performance problems. I know, Iknow, defragmenting is not something for macs, but that is just not true. The computer improved a lot after that.
    My point is sometimes Mac users accuse Windows users of never trying a Mac and not knowing what they're talking about, but the opposite is also true more than often. Windows evolved from "Millenium edition", just so you know. XP was just a good OS, latest versions of Vista were also good and Windows 7 is no worse than OS X Snow Leopard. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
  23. aussiedj macrumors regular

    Dec 31, 2008
    Well put Macmel.

    As stated in the conference call: - "Retail stores: Record 851,000 Macs sold, up 24%. About half were to customers new to Mac."

    If half of all apple customers are prepared to take the plunge (and I can honestly say I have never heard anyone that actually has one say anything negative), it would be interesting to see how many people, if at all, are ditching mac for other OS's.

    Also just thought, what if Apple's marketing dept comes here to ask these obvious questions just for new advertisements ideas? :D
  24. dasmb, Jan 19, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2011

    dasmb macrumors 6502

    Jul 12, 2007
    Here are the reasons I buy Apple machines, despite their much higher costs.

    1) Build quality. Cases made out of real metal that feels rigid and can take more of a beating without looking crap. Cross that with the plastic cases of other machines -- they may look good, but they tend to feel less dense. I've used some that feel like they'd fall apart with regular use. They probably won't, but I like a machine that feels like it's always ready to go. Plus they look awesome, no bizarre angles or louvers or latches or ports all over the place. You're engineer, so looks may not matter. But if you're a good engineer, they will.

    2) Size and weight. The 17" MBP is light enough (under 7 lb) to be held with one hand, but still has the power of a much larger HP/Dell/whatever. Last I looked, the only vendor offering comparable power to weight ratios was Acer, and their costs were also comparable.

    3) Battery life. That same 6+ lb MBP can play movies for hours in between charges. A good balance of weight and usability

    4) Screen quality. Other machines have higher bit density, or are wider, or brighter, or have a better viewing angle -- but, again, Apple displays tend to have a really great balance. Good displays are expensive and a major cost for Apple -- most of these cheap lappys have ******** screens, like that 1300x768 machine you're looking at.

    5) Great keys, decent track pad.

    6) Painless service and support.

    7) Mac OS. Hey, you can break all the EULAs you want, put OSX on your eMachine for all I care -- but part of OS X is the reliability and easy upgrade path, which you don't get if you're hacking.

    If computing is an economic necessity for you, don't get a Mac they're ludicrously expensive. If computing is something you want to enjoy, the Mac may help with that.

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