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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Some questions about drives, memory, etc.


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toddhd

 
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I am a long time PC user, and I work as a software engineer (.NET developer). This economy is taking its toll on my family however - I find myself being laid off for the third time in 12 months, and work is almost impossible to find. In order to supplement some income, I've decided to start writing some iPhone apps, but that requires a Mac.

Unfortunately, I'm still kinda Mac stupid. I did some research, and I think the MacBook Pro is a good choice for me, because it is powerful enough to do heavy development work on, and can handle the OpenGL/3D work I do sometimes as well. Mostly I like that it can dual boot Windows/Mac via Bootcamp, so I can have the best of both worlds.

That being said, I want as much hard drive and memory as I can get. I'm finding that the Macbooks are VERY expensive, and upgrading to the faster/larger hard drives and 8Gb memory drives the price even further.

So my question is:

Would it be cheaper to buy the Macbook with minimal memory and hard drive specs, then buy new memory and hard drive from a retailer (i.e. NewEgg)?

If so, what kind of hard drives and memory does a Macbook Pro use/support? Can I shove a 1TB drive in there for instance?

If I do buy a new drive, how do I copy over OSX/Apps/BootCamp/etc. to the new drive?

Will this void my warranty or support options?

Any info you could offer would be appreciated. Being out of work, I'm terrified of spending money right now, so if I do make a purchase, I want it to be the right one.
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bobtomay

 
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1. Yes, it would be cheaper to buy memory and drive upgrades from newegg.

2. To answer pretty much all your technical spec questions see:
Apple - MacBook Pro - Technical Specifications - All the specs for both 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro notebooks
It does use a 2.5" drive as pretty much do notebooks from all manufacturers. So no, you can't shove a 1TB drive in there, as there are no 1TB 2.5" drives made. 500 GB is the current largest size and Seagate is currently the only one making it in a 7200 RPM flavor.

3. If you get a new drive right away, no need to copy anything over to the new drive, just do a fresh install from the disks supplied with the machine.

4. It does not void the warranty to upgrade memory or the drive. The documentation with the machine will show you how to upgrade both. Apple's warranty will not cover the parts you have put in there of course. Those would come from the manufacturer of those parts.

?? - For the purpose you're suggesting, it would be much less expensive to buy an iMac instead of the MacBook Pro. Don't see any need for 8 GB of memory for your uses either. 4GB should be more than ample.

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louishen

 
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Definitely buy the base machine from Apple and do the upgrades yourself, you will save a lot of money

Also google the Apple refurb store, you could save an extra few hundred dollars (welcome in these hard times) and still get a new Apple computer that has been rechecked and has a full warranty.

Macs use standard memory and laptop size SATA drives, go to Everymac.com to find the exact RAM spec for your model.

As for moving data, you can back-up the mac to an external with Time Machine (comes free with the mac), install a new drive, start up from the DVD and format it and install OSX. Once the OS is up and running your can restore all your apps and settings from the back-up using Migration Assistant (again a free part of OSX)

bobtomay was quicker than me, but as he says, an iMac or the MacBook are excellent machines, the Macbook Pro's only real advantage is a bigger screen and firewire ports, if those two things are not essential then the pro is a lot more money

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Oneironaut

 
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Macbook Pros are awesome. I have one and probably could have found a refurbished one for less. I added more RAM for the maximum of 4GB, but it was FAR cheaper to buy it and install it myself, and it didn't void the warranty. In fact, the User Guide comes with instructions on how to add memory. You can use any laptop memory modules, you don't have to use the Apple ones. Newegg, Other World Computing, and Micro Center are all good places to find affordable RAM.

However, swapping out the hard drive yourself WILL void the warranty, at least with my generation of MBP. Having an authorized Apple dealer do it for you will NOT void the warranty. Micro Center did mine for 40 bucks, which I would have paid just to avoid having to deal with all the tiny little screws holding my MBP together. 500GB is the biggest SATA HD you can put in, and it can take a SSD, I think 160GB is the biggest those come in though.

Make sure you get RAM and a hard drive for LAPTOPS! I like to do things for cheap myself and I was so keen on the price that I almost didn't notice that I was about to buy a desktop HD!

Note that some Macs allow access to the hard drive which might mean swapping it out won't void the warranty. Just make sure to ask about that when you go shopping for one. There seems to be some debate over this, but 3 AppleCare reps, a Geek Squad rep and a Micro Center rep told me that swapping out the HD myself would void the warranty. This might depend on the generation and model.

If you do all this before you start using your Mac, you won't have to transfer anything over, you'll just have to reinstall OS X from the included disks. If you wait until later, you can just use Time Machine to back up your files, then use Migration Assistant to get them all back. Both are included and really easy to use.

All Intel Macs can be partitioned to run Windows, so an iMac might be a more affordable option, or even a regular Macbook. The main advantage of a MBP is the dedicated graphics card for video work, so if you don't need that, a cheaper model might suit you better. Other models might let you put in more than 4GB of RAM too. But really, 4GB works quite well.
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Buying refurbed can save you a good chunk of change.

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