Which has a cooler base (for use on lap) - MacBook or MacBook Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by beethovengirl, May 28, 2010.

  1. beethovengirl macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2004

    My husband is trying to decide between the MacBook and MacBook Pro. He uses his laptop in bed on his lap quite a bit, so the temperature of the bottom surface of the laptop is a significant consideration. Which one has a cooler base?

    Also, my husband has a 4th generation iPod that connects via Firewire. This would be problematic with the MacBook. Would a cable like this solve that problem?

    Durability is an important consideration too. I understand that the plastic MacBook is more prone to cracking while the aluminum is more prone to denting. Which is a more serious problem when it comes to protecting the actual contents of the computer?

    [He'd be getting 4 GB of RAM on the MacBook, so the only real difference is the Firewire and case for him]

    thanks for any advice you may have :)
  2. -Ryan- macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2009
    First and foremost, Apple do call their computers 'notebooks' rather than laptops as they advise against using them on ones lap. Aside from that, the MBPs are definitely better at heat dissipation, so are much cooler to have on the lap. In terms of durability, I'd say the MacBook is perhaps more durable, although a MBP would be more likely to survive rough treatment. :)

    Edit: Sorry, as for the Firewire cable, you don't need a dual cable. A normal 'modern' USB iPod cable will do.
    Edit2: Even if you get a MBP with Firewire, you still won't be able to use the old cable, as the old iPods used Firewire 400, whereas the new MBPs come with Firewire 800.
  3. ziggyonice macrumors 68020


    Mar 12, 2006
    Rural America
    The fact that his iPod connects via FireWire is a problem, because the MacBook doesn't have FireWire. Not only that, but even if he had a MBP, that uses FireWire 800 — and iPods used FireWire 400 back in the day. If I remember correctly, the 4th generation iPod also supported syncing via USB (and was one of the first iPods to do so). Have you considered getting a USB iPod cable and trying it out? That might solve the issue right there.

    Durability isn't as big of an issue as it may seem. Both the MacBook and the MacBook Pro have been redesigned from scratch, making them both quite sturdy. Granted, the aluminum of the Pro can dent, particularly if dropped onto one of its corners. On the other hand, the MacBook's plastic enclosure is quite resistant to dents OR cracking. (The OLD model of the MacBook had some cracking issues, but the new design has seemed to resolve that issue.) So I think the standard MacBook might be a little more durable in that regard.

    When you mentioned that you'd be upgrading the MacBook to 4GB of RAM anyway, then maybe going with the Pro is the way to go. Upgrading to 4GB of RAM is almost $100 right there — you could instead put that money towards a Pro and get the extra features (FireWire 800, SD card slot, backlit keyboard, 4GB RAM).

    Hope that helps!
  4. beethovengirl thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2004
    thanks for your replies, Ryan and ziggyonice! :)

    Are you referring to the iPod Dock Connector to USB Cable?
    That page doesn't list the 4th generation iPod as compatible...

    Wait, so Firewire 800 isn't backwards compatible the way that USB 2.0 is backwards compatible? gah!
  5. mcpryon2 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 12, 2008
    You can get a Firewire 400/800 adapter or cable. I got one from monoprice and use it with my Apogee Duet, which has FW400 out, and it works just fine.
  6. MrCheeto macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008

    1. If your iPod uses a modern connector, you can just get one for USB. Any iPod with a Dock connector will work with this cable.

    If you insist on using FireWire, you can pick up a tiny adapter like this. Mine works perfect.


    2. Either computer will NOT become hot on your lap so long as you do NOT block the vent!!
    It's the black slit, under the hinge. Same on all modern Apple notebooks


    3. Both will uphold to drops and such just as well. The plastic one is not prone to cracking...unless dropped. The aluminum one is not prone to bending...unless dropped. So don't drop them XD

  7. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    The aluminum Macbook Pro is going to be hotter on the lap than the plastic one. The MBP dissipates heat better because it uses the aluminum chassis as a giant heatsink. This means the aluminum is going to get really warm sitting on your lap since it conducts heat.
  8. MrCheeto macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Ah, this would make sense if the bottom of the White MacBook wasn't also aluminum. XD
  9. beethovengirl thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2004
    There seems to be contrasting opinions on which has a cooler base, so I guess my husband will test it when he goes to the Apple Store. Are there any websites or apps you recommend trying in order to heat up the computer at the Apple Store?

    thanks :)
  10. MrCheeto macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008
    Just go to the Terminal and type "yes > /dev/null" and enter. Then right click the Terminal icon in the Dock, open a new window, and enter the command in that one too.

    After about two minutes, right click the Terminal in the Dock and Quit it. This will make each mac as hot as it will ever get.

    Instead, you should just pick them up as they are in the store. I don't think your husband is going to be rendering earth simulations in bed...
  11. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...don't block the vents on the back and don't use bootcamp with winXX in bed and neither will get very hot...
  12. Bill Gates macrumors 68020

    Bill Gates

    Jun 21, 2006
    Has he considered simply buying something like this?
  13. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Most laptops will get pretty toasty on the bottom, although the plastic should be cooler due to not conducting heat as well. One idea is to get a lap desk, which makes it more comfortable to use and will block the heat, and I also have a plastic case for my aluminum MacBook that prevents a bit of the heat from getting to my lap, although I have it on a desk most of the time. I have a lap desk as well that I use that is padded on the bottom and has a wrist rest, as well as areas on either side to use for a mouse, should you get one. It is very comfortable to use, and was pretty inexpensive (~$25). I highly recommend picking one up regardless of which computer you buy. That said, I think the base Pro is a bit better of a deal, especially if you want 4 gigs of ram anyhow. The aluminum case is really nice, and the backlit keys are also very handy, and I imagine the Firewire 800 and SD card slots could also be a bonus. I believe it is also easier to open, should you want to upgrade the hard drive or ram later on, although I am not particularly familiar with the current plastic MacBook. Either way, I am sure you will love it, so enjoy your purchase! :)
  14. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Oh, I always thought the plastic macbook was entirely plastic, including the bottom.
  15. MrCheeto macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2008

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