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Thread: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

  1. #1
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    Jan 2007
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    Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    Hi, im starting college this fall and plan to pursue a degree in some sort of programming or technological science, i was wondering which laptop would be the best choice for me.

    The 2 options

    * 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    * 2GB memory
    * 200GB hard drive1
    * Double-layer SuperDrive
    * NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB
    for 1,799

    or

    * 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    * 2GB memory
    * 250GB hard drive1
    * Double-layer SuperDrive
    * NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 512MB
    for 2,299

    also..would 4 gigs of ram be overkill or is it needed? (its 180 extra dollars) money is of the essence, but i realize that buying a good computer is essential. any help would be appreciated, thanks

  2. #2
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    Re: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    Bumping the 2.4 GHz to 2.5 GHz won't give you much of a speed boost, and both the graphics cards are fine for now, but if you get the 512 MB graphics card then you will be able to use the laptop for a longer time without it "feeling" slow. If you are going into programming, then you probably won't need as much performance from you graphics card for "work" type stuff. However, if you go into a field that requires 3-D rendering (I'm in Mechanical Engineering and we do 3-D CAD work), then the higher end graphics card will definitely pay off in the long run.

    Also, DO NOT buy the ram from Apple. I have a Macbook Pro 2.6 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, and 512 MB of VRAM. I got mine with the default amount of ram (2 gigs) and then I bought an additional pair of 2 gig sticks from Other World Computing (www.macsales.com). I now have 6 gigs total (4 in my laptop and 2 extra which you could sell on e-bay if you wanted to) for which I paid less than a hundred dollars extra as opposed to the $170 that it would have cost be to get only 4 gigs from Apple.

    Similarly, don't pay Apple excessively high upgrade price for the faster hard drive. I did the same thing with the hard drive as I did for the ram, I bought a separate 200 GB 7200 RPM drive with an external firewire 800 enclosure for less than what it would have cost me to upgrade the harddrive through Apple. I then swapped the drives and now I have a 7200 RPM 200 GB drive in my laptop and a portable 200 GB 5400 RPM firewire drive for storage space.

    So to sum up, if you will need the extra graphics performance for the type of work you are going to be doing (or if you are a gamer) then it is worth paying the extra because you can't easily upgrade the graphics yourself. For everything else, get the minimum configuration and then buy the upgrades separately, it will save you money and get you extra hardware at the same time.

    (Also, as a side note. When you put 4 Gigs of RAM in the laptop, it will only really use a little over 3 Gigs of it because the processors in the Macbook pros are set to run in only 32 bit mode. You could install a 64 Bit linux and get access to all 4 gigs, but XP and OS X don't really use it all. There is still some things that OS X does to utilize the extra 3 quarters of a gig of ram, but it is not the same as accessing all four gigs the real way.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Re: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    Mmm... OS X only running in 32-bit mode you say? I just bought a MacBook Pro (4,1) and am running 64-bit Hardy inside a VMware virtual machine. Could VMware do that while itself running in 32-bit mode, albeit on 64-bit hardware? Interesting...

  4. #4
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    Re: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    if your going to go for programming mac is not the answer. I'd say buy a dell xps 1750 it's balls to the wall and currently one of the only laptops with sli graphics technology built in, it's expensive though. other than that go with the precision series you'll get better hardware for less cost than what you'll pay from mac, you'll probably get a longer life out of your box that way, I'd say the precision 6300 is what your looking for or if you want smaller go with the 4300. the hardware bang for the buck is about 1000 dollars cheeper than what you'd pay for a mac. plus if your looking at installing ubuntu who cares if windows comes with it, and you can always just install osx if you really want. mac book pro is a waist of money unless you need final cut. just my opinion of course.

    I recently like a day ago purchased the precesion 4300

    2.6ghz core duo with 6mb l2 cache
    80 gig hd "bought a 320 from newegg"
    1920X1200 wuxga dislpay a must for my cad work
    nvidia fx 360 512mb 256 dedicated "check the nvidia website the specs for this card outstrip the 8600 gt or gs
    8X dual layer dvd/cd burner
    2gig ram

    all for 1800 bucks.
    Last edited by tvtech; May 4th, 2008 at 06:44 PM.
    Asus M70vm-C1 intel 5100 abgn nvidia 9600GS intel 2.53gig centrino2

  5. #5
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    Re: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    For what you're using the computer for, I don't think it makes a difference. Go with the cheaper model.

  6. #6
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    Re: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    Thanks for all of the replies, they have all been really helpful, but have raised a few new questions

    1) why not use mac for programming? is it hard to find necessary software?

    2) how hard is it to add ram to a Macbook Pro? is there a high chance of messing it up?

    3) will the faster hard drive be very beneficial?

  7. #7
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    Re: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    Adding ram is very easy, all you have to do is take the battery out and remove three screws. I would say there is very little chance of messing your computer up (Apple classifies it as a user upgradeable part). The hard drive, on the other hand, does require that you disassemble the laptop, i.e. remove the keyboard.

    I don't know how much difference the faster drive will make because I don't really have anything to compare it to. I have a fast drive in my MacBook Pro (4,1) and a slower drive in my Powerbook G4, but the G4 also has a slower processor and less ram so it is not a good basis for comparison. I think it makes a difference when you are dealing with large files, such as video, and information needs to be written to the hard drive as virtual ram (swap space). The faster drive will allow the computer to get quicker access to the stuff stored in virtual memory (of course adding more ram decreases the need for this).

  8. #8
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    Re: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    if your serious about getting into programming and you actually plan on using this machine for compiling, both processor speed and hardrive speed will be components in this decision. as this is a laptop, you'll probably only use it for development level stuff and leave the heavy compiling to another more powerful system, otherwise your compile times are going to be out of the world. also yes it is very difficult to find most native programs in mac format. Although it is becoming easier programming is much easier in linux and especially windows. it also depends on what platforms you plan on developing for mac/linux take up on the high estimates 7% of the pc market. if your going for game development windows is your platform of choice. graphics editing systems in the semi pro level are common on mac's in the final cut pro system, there are many windows variants of this type of video editing system, and some various somewhat useable linux variants. mac systems have on the high estimates around 4.4% of market share, on low estimates around 2.4%. they're also very difficult to make extensive customizations too. apple really wants you to use their systems to do what they tell you to do with them. it's also one of the reasons why their system work as well as they do because they use very limited hardware specs and a very tightly controlled operating system.


    I know it's kind of a ramble but you should check things out. and do some research. dell for my purposes had the best hardware vs. price component, the operating system is ubuntu for myself with windows xp running in vmware for autocad there are check out asus hp etc if your looking for a more extensive list of computers and their compatibility with linux check out linuxlaptops

    but... on a cost vs performance scale mac is on the expensive end of things check out comparable hardware specs and you'll find out that you can buy some of the top end mac specs for close to 1000 dollars less from other manufacturers
    Asus M70vm-C1 intel 5100 abgn nvidia 9600GS intel 2.53gig centrino2

  9. #9
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    Re: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    If you're going to be using Ubuntu as your development environment (which is probably a good idea; it's a really good development environment) it doesn't matter whether the laptop is a mac or dell or whatever, just as long as the hardware is supported. Of course, this depends somewhat on what you're going to be developing - if you need to develop Windows apps you'll need a windows install at some point . In that respect, the mac will be most flexible - you'll be able to have a linux, windows, and mac development environment available. You probably don't care about this, though.

    Hard drive speed is nice for compiling, but for small stuff will be largely irrelevant - given enough RAM small (and not-so-small) projects will fit entirely within disc cache. Unless you're going to be working on large projects you really don't need to care very much.
    Remember: if your problem is not described on a Launchpad bug, it can only be fixed by accident!

  10. #10
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    Re: Buying New Macbook Pro, Need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by RAOF View Post
    If you're going to be using Ubuntu as your development environment (which is probably a good idea; it's a really good development environment) it doesn't matter whether the laptop is a mac or dell or whatever, just as long as the hardware is supported.
    and if you wanted fully supported hardware under linux, a mac is probably not the best choice.

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