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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

Buying a MacBook Pro.


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Tarek

 
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Member Since: Sep 18, 2008
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Hello,

So I am currently in the market for a new MacBook Pro. I am using an early 2008 MacBook Pro which isn't in a perfect condition as both the optical drive and battery are dead. I don't want to replace them because they cost A LOT of money here and I'd rather just sell it, add money, and buy a whole new MacBook Pro.

MBPs are expensive in Egypt but not as expensive as in the Netherlands, where my father is going to be in a few days, so I decided I will be buying it from here.

I will give the models that are available here (I am looking for a 15" like my current one) and I would like to know exactly why one is better than the other.

Models:

1) MacBook Pro (2,408.94 USD) - 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 - 4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 320GB Serial ATA; 5400 rpm - Intel HD Graphics5 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with automatic graphics switching 256MB GDDR3

2) MacBook Pro (2,628.12 USD) - 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 - 4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 500GB Serial ATA; 5400 rpm - Intel HD Graphics5 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with automatic graphics switching 256MB GDDR3

3) MacBook Pro (2,890.93 USD) - 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 - 4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 500GB Serial ATA; 5400 rpm - Intel HD Graphics5 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with automatic graphics switching - 512MB GDDR3

I know the price difference between the i5 models and the i7 one is major, that's why I am thinking of just getting one of the i5 ones.

My current MacBook Pro's specifications:

MacBook Pro - Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz - 2GB of RAM - 250GB Hard Disk - Nividia GeForce 8600M GT 512MB

I would like to know if there's a major performance difference between the i5 models and this one. I am happy with my current MacBook Pro's performance, except for the RAM, which can easily be upgraded but I'd rather buy the new MBP because it looks so good.

One thing that is bothering me is the new i5 MBP's graphics card. It's 256MB a little too low? I mean my current one has 512MB, but I'm not sure which one is better because I'm very newb when it comes to hardware components.

Also, if the i7 model is like WAY better than the rest, then I might be able to find someone who's coming from the USA to Egypt and he'd pick it up with him. It's only $2199 there which is way cheaper than the lowest 15" model here.

Thank you guys for your time and I know this may seem like a chunk of text, but I hope you can take the time to read this and help me out.

PS: I am not a hardcore gamer, but I like to play computer games sometimes, and I hate the fact that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 runs kind of slow on the MacBook Pro even on low resolutions. So I don't know if the i5 models can run it smoothly?
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Tarek

 
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I forgot to add that Storage does not really matter to me because I have two External Hard Drives that I use mostly for games, movies, etc.

Also, we all know that the early 2008 MacBook Pro had some downsides like the horrible Optical Drive and that it got scratched so easily. Are there any noticeable downsides for the 2010 MacBook Pro so far? And is there a way to make sure that the notebook you bought is perfect with no flaws? Because if I buy it from the USA, it'll be hard to return it, get it fixed, or replaced as I'd have to ship it and shipping/customs cost a lot.
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CrimsonRequiem

 
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Storage and RAM never matter. You can always buy these else where for a lot cheaper than what Apple charges. The only downside is that you need to install these yourself and you need to buy a few tools if you don't already have them. Won't cost you more than 10 dollars in most cases and there are tons of guides on how to do these installations yourself.

What matters is the Processor, and the video card*. Buy the fastest processor that you can afford. Ignore everything else. The faster processor generally come with the better graphics cards anyways.

Faster CPU for future proofing. The end.

死神はリンゴしか食べない。
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Tarek

 
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Thank you for the input.

So I see that buying the i7 one from the US will be better as it will last longer - hoping for like two or three years?

Can you help me with the graphics card?

Which is better? GeForce 8600M GT with 512MB or GeForce GT 330M with 256 or 512MB and how much better is the 512MB one?
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I agree with CrimsonRequiem get what you can afford and from what I hear the i7 is noticeably faster not just a bench score.
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CrimsonRequiem

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarek View Post
Thank you for the input.

So I see that buying the i7 one from the US will be better as it will last longer - hoping for like two or three years?

Can you help me with the graphics card?

Which is better? GeForce 8600M GT with 512MB or GeForce GT 330M with 256 or 512MB and how much better is the 512MB one?
I'm going to say the later is better.

You can read up on GeForce 8600 GT here, and the GeForce GT 330M here.

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Depending on what site you go to it has (330m) 40 to 50% advantage over the 8600m if the application requires high frame rates.
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Tarek

 
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Then I suppose it is better for gaming.
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I agree with Crimson as well. I just (two days ago) got a new 15' MBP. I opted for the i7 with antiglare and did not pay Apple for either the memory or storage. Here's why:

On an educational discount the Apple memory was $360 to boost from 4gb to 8gb. Otherworldcomputing sells 8gb kits for $179, no tax, no shipping. Apple only offers a 500gb hard drive. I really need a 1tb so went with the base hard drive and will get the 1tb for around $100. The only thing to watch out for is that you need to make sure the drive will fit in the drive bay. Some will fit, some won't. I just got a Toshiba Canvio portable 1tb for backup from Dell for $94. Haven't checked if it will fit or not but if it does I may watch for the same deal again. The upgrade to the 7200rpm 500gb drive is a mere $45, but to get the 512 SSD will cost you $1125 and that's educational discount. Not worth it at this point. [Edit: Oh, and it is sooooo easy to upgrade both memory and storage, even in the so-called sealed units. Ten screws and there's the memory. A few more and out pops the hard drive. Simple. Any computer store has the screwdriver set for $10 or less]

I did go for the one extra expense other than the i7 and that is the Anti Glare screen. I've been very hesitant about it given how much I like the glossy on my 13 Alum. Macbook, but this is a work computer that will be outside alot. After two days with this machine, I must admit that I completely fell in love with Apple's antiglare. The hi-res kicks butt.

Switchers are the most religious of Mac fans.
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Tarek

 
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thanxal, I can't think you enough for this post. I so am going to do that if and when I go to the USA.

I just wanted to know a couple of things:

1) Is it possible to customize a MacBook Pro and have all the components of a low end i5 except with the i7 processor?

2) When I buy the parts, should I replace them myself or go to a professional and get it done? I wouldn't want to screw a new computer and I know that replacing parts will void the warranty but I don't care since warranty isn't going to help me.. I don't even live in the US.

Thanks a lot!
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thanxal

 
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1. The cheapest "barebones" i7 option is $2199 ($1999 educational or refurbished). And to be frank by industry standards there is nothing barebones about it. Barebones gets you a 1440x900 glossy screen, 500gb 5400rpm drive, 4gb of memory and the standard backlit keyboard. There is no way to "downgrade" below this configuration (in the US) without dropping down to the i5 processor. This degree of consideration (e.g. not putting crappy hard drives, 2gb memory, etc) is what makes Apple Apple. There's not going to sell junk to make a cheap sale.
2. It depends on how much experience you have repairing computers. I remember working on Apple IIs and trying to figure out Windows 3.1 driver problems on Hewlett-Packard PCs. I rebuilt an old Power Mac G4 recently with a new chip etc. So for me its almost no thought to upgrade RAM and disk media. But if you don't know what you're doing, don't do it. Take it to somebody. And yes it does void your warranty unless you have an Apple authorized place do it. If you're unsure spend the extra with Apple. Trust me you won't buy another laptop for at least five years.

Note: unless you are running super graphics intensive or memory hogging programs, 4gb of memory should be fine. I run computer mapping programs on Windows inside Parallels (both are horrific memory hogs) while running Mail and Safari on the Mac side [edit: on my iMac, which only has 4gb]. I'm fine with 4gb, although 8 would make things go slightly faster. If you need to run Windows you can also Bootcamp which devotes all system resources since OSX is not running simultaneously. The 8gb memory is really the only upgrade other than a faster 500gb hard drive. [edit 2: oh and the hi res screens, either glossy for $US 50 or anti-glare for $150. The refurbished section of the Apple Store right now has a 15' i7 500gb 4gb memory anti-glare hi-res Macbook Pro for $1999. It comes with the standard one year warranty - and you can buy the three year if you really want).

Switchers are the most religious of Mac fans.
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Tarek

 
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Thanks for your quick and thorough reply.

I don't think I want a refurbished one as a lot of them turn out to be screwed up after a while and I won't be able to return it. The $2199 has good specifications and I don't think I will need more than 4GB of RAM as I don't use memory hogging programs. I usually just browse, chat, and play games on the Windows side which will require no more than 4GB of RAM.

500GB is more than enough for me especially since I already have an external HD. I guess I will just buy that one and keep the extra upgrades (RAM, 7200 rpm HD, etc.) for a later time when the computer gets a bit old.. you know what I mean?

Thank you again for your replies, you really have made things clear for me.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarek View Post
Thanks for your quick and thorough reply.

I don't think I want a refurbished one as a lot of them turn out to be screwed up after a while and I won't be able to return it. The $2199 has good specifications and I don't think I will need more than 4GB of RAM as I don't use memory hogging programs. I usually just browse, chat, and play games on the Windows side which will require no more than 4GB of RAM.

500GB is more than enough for me especially since I already have an external HD. I guess I will just buy that one and keep the extra upgrades (RAM, 7200 rpm HD, etc.) for a later time when the computer gets a bit old.. you know what I mean?

Thank you again for your replies, you really have made things clear for me.
Why would you return it? Just because it is refurbished doesn't mean that it has been used. They have the same one year warranty that the new Macs have. If there is a problem with it you can go to the Apple store and get it fixed or whatever just like if it was a new Mac.

死神はリンゴしか食べない。
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Tarek

 
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That's the problem I addressed earlier. I can not go to the Apple store after buying it because I will already haven taken off to where I live, Egypt. The Apple stores here are authorized sellers, they do not fix for free whether you are under warranty or not. 1999 for the refurbished seems like a good deal since I can buy protection for it with the rest of the money and maybe some software.

By the way, do the Apple stores sell refurbished ones or BestBuy or both? And are you sure refurbs don't always have problems?
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CrimsonRequiem

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarek View Post
That's the problem I addressed earlier. I can not go to the Apple store after buying it because I will already haven taken off to where I live, Egypt. The Apple stores here are authorized sellers, they do not fix for free whether you are under warranty or not. 1999 for the refurbished seems like a good deal since I can buy protection for it with the rest of the money and maybe some software.

By the way, do the Apple stores sell refurbished ones or BestBuy or both? And are you sure refurbs don't always have problems?
Are you sure New Macs don't have problems? >_>" There is a possibility with any machine. I would only by refurbished from Apple. I don't know if BestBuy does or not.

死神はリンゴしか食べない。
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