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

13" MacBook Pro - SSD Drive or Intel Core i7?

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Member Since: Jul 31, 2011
Posts: 1
LuckyKevin is on a distinguished road

LuckyKevin is offline
Hey everyone,
Apart from my new registration on this website I'm somewhat experienced with computers and am posting here for some advice on what MacBook Pro I should buy. I apologize for the lengthy post but I'd more than appretiate anyone's time and help.

I'm about to start college within the next few weeks and need a new computer, and I've decided on a 13" MacBook Pro.
My concerns are what specs and hardware I should give my MBP, and I'd love any advice based on the following information.

During college, I'll be running multiple different engineering applications that will most likely be pretty large.
I am going to have to purchase Parallels so that I can run Windows on my Mac as most of the engineering software only runs with Windows, so Windows will probably be running good percentage of the time.

To make use of the new OS X Lion, I'll most likely have multiple desktops open each with a few applications running on them.
My main tasks I'll be doing on my MBP are school work (Microsoft Office, Powerpoint, engineering software, etc.), web design (Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver), streaming high-definition TV shows and movies, and some gaming. I'm also most likely to have all of these applications open at once.

My choices come down as follows,
#1 - MacBook Pro 13" $1,864.00
2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
8GB Ram
256GB Solid Slate Drive

#2 - MacBook Pro 13" $1,579.00
2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7
8GB Ram
500GB ATA Drive

It's either the slightly faster processor i7 or the 256GB SSD that I'm torn on.

I'm in love with how fast SSD boot and load times and that's why I'm strongly leaning towards option #1 but I'm not sure if it's worth the extra money. Some other benefits of the SSD are a quieter and cooler hard drive and also conserved battery power. The smaller space isn't a problem for me as the most space I know I'll ever need is ~150GB. And as you can see I've opted 8GB of ram in both options.

To sum it up my main questions are,
Which option would be more beneficial for me, seeing as I'll be running Parallels a good amount of the time?
Will Parallels and Windows run faster/smoother/overall better with the SSD (because of faster load times) or with the Intel Core i7?
Is the 256GB SSD worth the extra few hundred bucks and being stuck with the Intel Core i5?

Thanks for all and any help and advice!

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If you're going to do virtualization, I'd go with the faster processor. Especially if you're going to be taxing the video while you're at it. While you will be hitting the HDD a bunch, you're going to be sharing the processor resources constantly (while open). Your performance improvement over a 500GB 7500rpm drive would really be initial boot and initial application launch. At least for the apps you've listed.

BTW, I'm at 126GB used with the following installed:

CS5 Design Standard, Lightroom, Office, iWork, and xCode.

I do have other things installed, but they're the smaller apps that just add up (silverlight, flip4mac, exif viewer etc). When I had vmWare installed there was another 20GB of virtual machine plus installation size (without a lot of heavy installed software on the XP instance). It's amazing how fast this stuff fills up, I remember when a 40GB drive was OUTRAGEOUSLY huge!

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Got # ? phear the command line!
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