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

MacBook - MacBook vs MacBook Pro


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missdsml

 
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Sorry if I am repeating a thread (and if there is one, please post a link), but can people list their thoughts on macbook vs macbook pro?

I would love to get a macbook pro, but budget may dictate only a macbook purchase. I want to make sure I don't need to buy again in a year or two.

I know the macbook pro is better for video and photo editing .. is there anything (other than the difference of the hardware and RAM) else that I should be mindful of?

I am looking at these two models:

Macbook - 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; SuperDrive 8x (DVD±RDL/DVD±RW/CD-RW); 120GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm; 2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB

vs

Macbook Pro
- 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW); 160GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm; 2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
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Geeky1

 
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The MBP is larger and (slightly) heavier than the MB. It also has a better screen, and a SIGNIFICANTLY faster graphics card. The MB was just updated today, so the model you're looking at is no longer available. The new model has a 2.2GHz CPU and takes 4GB of RAM, just like the MBP does.

If you're not gaming, doing video editing or CAD work, and IF you can deal with the low resolution screen on the MB, with the new models supporting 4GB of RAM like the MBP does, you could get by just fine with a MacBook, though you may want to hold off for a month or so if you possibly can to see what the bugs are with the new machines.

MCCCXXXVII
Notebook RAM Buyer's Guide- How much, what type, what brand, where to buy, etc.
MBP: 17" WUXGA/2.4/4GB/160GB 7.2K
G4: Heavily modified Dual 533 DA
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missdsml

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geeky1 View Post
The MBP is larger and (slightly) heavier than the MB. It also has a better screen, and a SIGNIFICANTLY faster graphics card. The MB was just updated today, so the model you're looking at is no longer available. The new model has a 2.2GHz CPU and takes 4GB of RAM, just like the MBP does.

If you're not gaming, doing video editing or CAD work, and IF you can deal with the low resolution screen on the MB, with the new models supporting 4GB of RAM like the MBP does, you could get by just fine with a MacBook, though you may want to hold off for a month or so if you possibly can to see what the bugs are with the new machines.
Thanks! I am also moving to the UK in 2 weeks. Do you know if the new MB will be available in the UK?
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Geeky1

 
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It will be. I'm not sure what effect it would have on the warranty if you bought it here and then moved to the U.K. I mean, to me, I'd think they'd have to honor it... People DO move, after all.

But I don't know what hoops (if any) you'd have to jump through to get warranty work done on it, if it needed it. On the flip side, (assuming you're in the U.S., at least), it'd be a lot cheaper to buy it here.

Three other things:
-Seriously consider getting a 7200rpm hard drive in the MacBook Pro, if you go that route, and can afford it. You can upgrade the MacBook yourself later, but the MacBook Pro you can't (well, you can, but you'll void your warranty). And it's a very worthwhile upgrade.
-Seriously consider getting 3 or 4GB in either machine. DON'T pay Apple's RAM prices, you can do it yourself. It's dead easy, doesn't void the warranty, and will save you about $500US over having Apple do it. It also makes a HUGE difference; OSX is much more responsive and less laggy on my MBP with 4GB than it was with 2.
-DEFINITELY get AppleCare. Notebooks in general (regardless of manufacturer) aren't anything like as reliable as desktops. It's well worth the cost... if you have a major failure (logic board or screen) outside of the 1yr warranty, the AppleCare warranty will have paid for itself 2-3x over, if not more, just from that one repair.

MCCCXXXVII
Notebook RAM Buyer's Guide- How much, what type, what brand, where to buy, etc.
MBP: 17" WUXGA/2.4/4GB/160GB 7.2K
G4: Heavily modified Dual 533 DA
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missdsml

 
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I am in Canada, and since the dollar is doing so well (as I did price comparisons last night) it is only a difference of $30GBP. I have decided to buy it when I move over there in 2 weeks (and will wait a bit more for this model and for them to sort out the bugs) as it is just simpler.

Ok, you did mention the RAM (and I am glad you did as this was my next question) where can I buy the RAM? I did install 1GB on my iMac two years ago and that was pretty easy but I am unsure of installing in on the MB or MBP.

Do you have instructions?

I really thank you for answering all these questions and providing me even more info!
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Geeky1

 
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I'm not sure of a specific place to buy it in England. I can tell you what you need though, and someone from the UK ought to be able to point you to to a reputable reseller. Both machines take 667MHz (also called PC5300 or PC5400) DDR2 SODIMMs. Make sure to get a reputable brand; OCZ is good, as is Mushkin, Crucial, Corsair and Kingston.

There are instructions in the manual on how to install it... It's not difficult at all. The only thing to keep in mind is that my MBP has the tightest slots I've ever run into. Ever. I've never encountered another machine-be it a PC or a Mac, brand new or 20 years old (and yes, I have computers that old... some older than that, even ) that has RAM slots as tight as my MBP does. I don't know if the MB is the same way or not. If it is, you won't do it any harm if you carefully insert and remove the old RAM a few times (say, 4 or 5) to break the slots in a bit before putting the new stuff in.

There's this video as well... Keep in mind it's for the old generation MB, but it SHOULD be identical to the new generation (Apple did a refresh, not a major overhaul)... I didn't make it but it looks like one of the better ones I've seen. Also, the "really small phillips screwdriver" the guy in the video refers to is a #0 size, iirc.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=1Zjzv-mJxFY

MCCCXXXVII
Notebook RAM Buyer's Guide- How much, what type, what brand, where to buy, etc.
MBP: 17" WUXGA/2.4/4GB/160GB 7.2K
G4: Heavily modified Dual 533 DA
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missdsml

 
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Great! Thanks again.

Because of budget, I am leaning towards the MB (though I yearn for the MBP). I will install the RAM myself, and I will get the AppleCare (got it with my iMac).

I am also thinking of upgrading the hard drive from 120gig to 160gig. It only adds a bit of money so I thought this would be smart.
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Geeky1

 
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I would very strongly suggest that you keep the drive stock when you buy it from Apple, and upgrade to a 160GB or larger 7,200rpm hard drive after you buy it. You can swap the drives on the MB without voiding the warranty (though I highly recommend you keep the stock RAM and hard drive and put them back in if you have to send it in, just to be safe). All of the stock MacBook drives are 5400RPMs, and they are significantly (read: noticeable in the real world, not just in benchmarks) slower than the 7200rpm drives.

How much slower? Well, let me give you an example. A very simplistic example that doesn't account for variables like seek times (meaning that this example will probably make the 5400rpm drives look, if anything, closer than they would be in real life... think of the example as a 'best case scenario' kind of deal). Let's say you have a program that you want to start, that has to load, oh... I don't know... 300MB of information from the hard drive into RAM. For the sake of this example, we'll compare a slightly outdated but as close to current 5400rpm laptop drive as I can find-the Seagate Momentus 5400.3 160GB, to the current 7200rpm Seagate notebook drives, the Momentus 7200.2. According to my sources, the 5400.3 averages about 35MB/s sustained transfer rates, while the [IMG]7200.2[/IMG] hits almost 50, on average.

Next, divide both numbers by 300, to determine the (approximate) loading time for the program. Not taking into account seek times or other variables, the 7200rpm drive will take 6 seconds to load, the 5400 about 8.5. Now, 2.5 seconds may not seem like much time... but believe me, you notice it. You notice it in the time it takes to find files using spotlight (though that's due to the much faster seek times more than the transfer rate), you notice it in how long it takes to boot and how long it takes to load programs.

The 5400rpm drives aren't BAD, by any means, and they're miles better than the 4200rpm drives that USED to be in laptops... but if you can afford the $200ish US it would cost to upgrade the drive, I think it'd be a worthwhile upgrade. What I'm saying is, don't think you HAVE to get a 7200rpm drive, but with 4GB of RAM and a 7200rpm drive the MacBook is going to be as fast as you can make it. And it will be [b]fast[b]. My MBP (similar specs; 7200rpm 160gb seagate drive, 2.4ghz, 4gb) boots (from startup chime to desktop, fully loaded) in something like 25 seconds.

MCCCXXXVII
Notebook RAM Buyer's Guide- How much, what type, what brand, where to buy, etc.
MBP: 17" WUXGA/2.4/4GB/160GB 7.2K
G4: Heavily modified Dual 533 DA
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Badley

 
Member Since: Oct 25, 2007
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Good Reply!
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fiveightandten

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geeky1 View Post
I would very strongly suggest that you keep the drive stock when you buy it from Apple, and upgrade to a 160GB or larger 7,200rpm hard drive after you buy it. You can swap the drives on the MB without voiding the warranty (though I highly recommend you keep the stock RAM and hard drive and put them back in if you have to send it in, just to be safe). All of the stock MacBook drives are 5400RPMs, and they are significantly (read: noticeable in the real world, not just in benchmarks) slower than the 7200rpm drives.

How much slower? Well, let me give you an example. A very simplistic example that doesn't account for variables like seek times (meaning that this example will probably make the 5400rpm drives look, if anything, closer than they would be in real life... think of the example as a 'best case scenario' kind of deal). Let's say you have a program that you want to start, that has to load, oh... I don't know... 300MB of information from the hard drive into RAM. For the sake of this example, we'll compare a slightly outdated but as close to current 5400rpm laptop drive as I can find-the Seagate Momentus 5400.3 160GB, to the current 7200rpm Seagate notebook drives, the Momentus 7200.2. According to my sources, the 5400.3 averages about 35MB/s sustained transfer rates, while the [IMG]7200.2[/IMG] hits almost 50, on average.

Next, divide both numbers by 300, to determine the (approximate) loading time for the program. Not taking into account seek times or other variables, the 7200rpm drive will take 6 seconds to load, the 5400 about 8.5. Now, 2.5 seconds may not seem like much time... but believe me, you notice it. You notice it in the time it takes to find files using spotlight (though that's due to the much faster seek times more than the transfer rate), you notice it in how long it takes to boot and how long it takes to load programs.

The 5400rpm drives aren't BAD, by any means, and they're miles better than the 4200rpm drives that USED to be in laptops... but if you can afford the $200ish US it would cost to upgrade the drive, I think it'd be a worthwhile upgrade. What I'm saying is, don't think you HAVE to get a 7200rpm drive, but with 4GB of RAM and a 7200rpm drive the MacBook is going to be as fast as you can make it. And it will be [b]fast[b]. My MBP (similar specs; 7200rpm 160gb seagate drive, 2.4ghz, 4gb) boots (from startup chime to desktop, fully loaded) in something like 25 seconds.
VERY good reply. This is actually stuff that I was curious to hear, as i'm probably going to replace the stock drive in my black MB with a 7200RPM 200GB Hitachi HD.

I didn't think it would affect boot time though. My MB (2.0GHz, 120GB, 2GB) boots from button push to fully loaded desktop in 25 seconds. I'll be curious to see if it gets even faster with the 7200RPM HD.

Thanks again for the info.

-Nick
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phrozted

 
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I'm also considering Macbook vs. Macbook Pro.

So this has me curious. If all this upgrading is possible, should I just upgrade a Macbook and not bother with a Macbook pro? I like the small size of the Macbook, and I've heard that it gets better wireless. I also don't like Pro's flimsy aluminum case.

Sorry to bring this away from the numbers talk, but I'm a simple guy.
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Geeky1

 
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The bottom line on the MB vs. MBP discussion comes down to three factors:
  1. Are you going to want to play recent (e.g. Doom 3, Oblivion, etc. Basically anything that would require DX9 on a PC) video games?
  2. Are you going to be doing serious video editing (e.g. using something other than iMovie)?
  3. Are you going to be OK with the low resolution screen on the MacBook?
If the answer to those questions is no, no, and yes (in that order), then there's no reason for you to get a MBP.

If you can't answer those questions with those answers definitively, you need to get the MBP, and that's all there is to it. It's always better to have more power than you need than it is to not have enough when you need it-whether you're talking about computers, cars, cameras, or most anything else really.

MCCCXXXVII
Notebook RAM Buyer's Guide- How much, what type, what brand, where to buy, etc.
MBP: 17" WUXGA/2.4/4GB/160GB 7.2K
G4: Heavily modified Dual 533 DA
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phrozted

 
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Good advice. Although, for me, I've been trying to set up a good weighing mechanism, but I don't have the hard facts to do so.

For instance, knowing how much better wireless is on the Macbook would be helpful. If I'm able to get considerably better reception on the Macbook most of the time, it might outweigh the inconvenience of not being able to play this or that game.

Similarly, I'm not sure how much the durability of the Macbook casing will matter. I've been told it's far more durable, but I can't be sure. If it is, then it might be worth losing some power to end up with a machine more likely to hold its cosmetic value.
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Geeky1

 
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I tend to doubt that the wireless range is significantly worse on the MBP. It very well could be, as the aluminum casing can have an effect on wireless range, but I highly doubt that it is significant.

And as far as the durability of the cases go... I haven't looked into the issue at all, but based on my experience in working with metals and plastics (both professionally for a time, and as a hobby), my gut reaction is that anybody that thinks that the MB's plastic case is somehow tougher than the aluminum on the MBP is deluding themselves.

The case on the MBP is anodized aluminum; the anodizing process enhances the preexisting layer of aluminum oxide on the surface of the aluminum itself. And aluminum oxide is an EXTREMELY hard, durable material. To quote Wikipedia: "because of aluminium oxide's great hardness (position 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness (harder than glass, quartz and hardened steel, to name a few substances...)), it is widely used as an abrasive, even as a much less expensive substitute for industrial diamond. Many types of sandpaper use aluminium oxide crystals. In addition, its low heat retention and specific heat makes it widely used in almost all grinding operations, particularly cutoff tools."

This is in contrast to the relatively flimsy case of the MacBook, which is plastic (presumably ABS, though it could be polycarbonate I suppose). The MBP's case will be FAR more scratch resistant than the case on the MB could ever dream of being. Both can be scratched-but the MB's case will fare much more poorly, in my estimation, over years of daily use than the MBP's will.

The MBP's case will also be far more tolerant of most abuse (being dropped, being stepped on, etc.) than the plastic on the MB. The only thing that I can think of that might cause people to conclude that the MB's case is somehow more durable is the fact that the plastic will probably hide scratches better than the Aluminum will. It will get a lot more of them, I'm sure, but it will disguise them better.

MCCCXXXVII
Notebook RAM Buyer's Guide- How much, what type, what brand, where to buy, etc.
MBP: 17" WUXGA/2.4/4GB/160GB 7.2K
G4: Heavily modified Dual 533 DA
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The hard drive in the Macbook is also rubberized, whereas this isn't the case in the Pro. And as for my 1st gen Pro, the aluminum is the worse for wear, I'll say that much. Bumps which should really weren't very big deals have left tell-tale dents. Whatever the coating on the latch button is made out of it, it's wearing off and leading behind a gross grey patella. And one of my Pro's latch hooks lost its spring a while ago, which has meant that the computer thinks it's open sometimes when in my backpack, the result being loss of battery. Gross.

I don't know whether the Macbook has its own durability issues, but I'm fairly gone on the fact that the Pro is a fragile machine.
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