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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?" :)

Lifetime PC User going Mac - Help!


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Thanatos42

 
Member Since: Feb 07, 2012
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Ok, I know there are a thousand posts like this one, but hopefully there's someone patient enough to lend me some sage advice on making the switch over to the world of Mac from PC land.

So, I've pretty much settled on getting a MBP rather than an iMac. I was originally going to go for the iMac because I do a lot of freelance photography and some light video editing, so having a nice big 27" screen would be great, but I literally don't have a single flat unoccupied surface in my tiny apartment to put it and I'm fond of being able to patter around the house with a laptop.

So, MBP it is. I figure I'll make do with a 15" screen until I have a bigger apartment and then buy a monitor/keyboard/mouse setup to dock to when editing photos.

So here are some burning questions I have about personalizing my MBP.

1. RAM - I know there's a heavier price tag for just having the apple logo on the item, but 200 bucks to upgrade from 4GB RAM to 8GB? That just seems excessive on the part of Apple. I've read in various forums that Apple uses RAM that you can pick up in aftermarket for a fraction of the cost. Something like $40 for 2 sticks of 4GB RAM. Would you recommend going outside the Apple ecosystem to save $160?

2. HARD DRIVE - If I go for the lower end 15" MBP, I'd have to pay $100 to get 750GB, which I prefer to 500. And $50 on top of that to go from 5200RPM to 7200RPM. What kind of noticeable difference will I get if go up to the 7200?

3. HARD DRIVE SWAP - another possibility, much like with the RAM, is to go aftermarket with the hard drive. Seagate's Momentus XT is a 750GB, 7200RPM hybrid drive that mixture SSD and HDD. It costs just a bit more than the $150 upgrade on the apple website. Again, leaving the Apple ecosystem to go for a better deal a good idea?

4. HIGH RESOLUTION - I like the idea of getting an antiglare screen, as I hope to use the computer outside one in awhile. But I can only get it on the high resolution screen. Does a 1680x1050 resolution on a 15" screen result in difficulty reading text? I'm currently on a 17" screen 1440x900 and I'm fine, but I imagine a higher resolution on a smaller screen might hurt my eyes. Any opinions or tips ?

5. EXTERNAL MONITOR - As I mentioned above, although I like browsing from the sofa, I would prefer to work on my photography on a nice big flat screen monitor. My wife and I would also use it as the main movie watching screen when I'm not working. The thunderbolt display looks nice, but carries quite the price tag. Any recommendations on a decent 27" monitor?

6. TV TUNER - (last question, I swear) - There's no point buying a monitor and a TV separately if we could put it all in one. We rarely watch TV, but when we do, it has to decode the TDT signal. Any all in one type solution or is there a way of fitting the monitor to act as a TV as well?


Thank you all for just getting to the end of this post. And to all who take the time to lend me a hand figuring these things out - a million thank yous.

Take care,
Paul
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RavingMac

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanatos42 View Post

1. RAM - I know there's a heavier price tag for just having the apple logo on the item, but 200 bucks to upgrade from 4GB RAM to 8GB? That just seems excessive on the part of Apple. I've read in various forums that Apple uses RAM that you can pick up in aftermarket for a fraction of the cost. Something like $40 for 2 sticks of 4GB RAM. Would you recommend going outside the Apple ecosystem to save $160?
Absolutely! Save your money and upgrade yourself. One good source for compatible RAM is OWC
Apple Mac Memory Upgrade Options: Easy Buying Guide, Free Install Videos. Memory backed by Lifetime Advance Replacement Warranty.

Quote:
2. HARD DRIVE - If I go for the lower end 15" MBP, I'd have to pay $100 to get 750GB, which I prefer to 500. And $50 on top of that to go from 5200RPM to 7200RPM. What kind of noticeable difference will I get if go up to the 7200?
Unless you are accessing the disk a lot I doubt you will see much performance difference. But, I would spend the extra $150 if it was my machine

Quote:
3. HARD DRIVE SWAP - another possibility, much like with the RAM, is to go aftermarket with the hard drive. Seagate's Momentus XT is a 750GB, 7200RPM hybrid drive that mixture SSD and HDD. It costs just a bit more than the $150 upgrade on the apple website. Again, leaving the Apple ecosystem to go for a better deal a good idea?
You will hear good and bad on the Seagate Momentus. I would pass on it and go with an SSD instead if I was so minded and move the stock HDD to the Optical Bay.
OWC OWCDDMBS6E120 DIY Kit: Data Doubler + 120GB... in stock at OWC

Quote:
4. HIGH RESOLUTION - I like the idea of getting an antiglare screen, as I hope to use the computer outside one in awhile. But I can only get it on the high resolution screen. Does a 1680x1050 resolution on a 15" screen result in difficulty reading text? I'm currently on a 17" screen 1440x900 and I'm fine, but I imagine a higher resolution on a smaller screen might hurt my eyes. Any opinions or tips ?
I would pass on that option but only you can judge what you want. I would spend a lot of time in the Apple store (if you can find one with a Hi Res demo model)

Quote:
5. EXTERNAL MONITOR - As I mentioned above, although I like browsing from the sofa, I would prefer to work on my photography on a nice big flat screen monitor. My wife and I would also use it as the main movie watching screen when I'm not working. The thunderbolt display looks nice, but carries quite the price tag. Any recommendations on a decent 27" monitor?
I have a 27in Viewsonic HDMI 1080p Monitor that I like. It cost me ~$330 shipped.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00..._ya_os_product

Quote:
6. TV TUNER - (last question, I swear) - There's no point buying a monitor and a TV separately if we could put it all in one. We rarely watch TV, but when we do, it has to decode the TDT signal. Any all in one type solution or is there a way of fitting the monitor to act as a TV as well?
I'll leave this to others to answer, but I will say that El Gato makes a line of USB TV tuners for the Mac

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vansmith

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanatos42 View Post
1. RAM - I know there's a heavier price tag for just having the apple logo on the item, but 200 bucks to upgrade from 4GB RAM to 8GB? That just seems excessive on the part of Apple. I've read in various forums that Apple uses RAM that you can pick up in aftermarket for a fraction of the cost. Something like $40 for 2 sticks of 4GB RAM. Would you recommend going outside the Apple ecosystem to save $160?
Without hesitation, everyone here will recommend doing it yourself if you're comfortable doing so. The cost saving will be noticeable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanatos42 View Post
2. HARD DRIVE - If I go for the lower end 15" MBP, I'd have to pay $100 to get 750GB, which I prefer to 500. And $50 on top of that to go from 5200RPM to 7200RPM. What kind of noticeable difference will I get if go up to the 7200?
Negligible to noticeable depending on what do you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanatos42 View Post
3. HARD DRIVE SWAP - another possibility, much like with the RAM, is to go aftermarket with the hard drive. Seagate's Momentus XT is a 750GB, 7200RPM hybrid drive that mixture SSD and HDD. It costs just a bit more than the $150 upgrade on the apple website. Again, leaving the Apple ecosystem to go for a better deal a good idea?
I can't speak for Apple's markup but I imagine that it's considerably higher than if you bought it yourself.

I can't really help with the last few questions so I'll leave those for someone more knowledgable in those areas.

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Dysfunction

 
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FWIW I have zero problems with the high res panel in my 15" mbp being legible. That said, it's probably a personal thing.

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Thanatos42

 
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I want to thank you all for getting back so quickly and with such great feedback. I think part of the anxiety of buying a mac is that you want to make the perfect decision if you're spending that much on a piece of hardware. This must be especially hard for first time buyers, as they have yet to see the value in a Mac purchase over that of a PC one.

I feel like I'm homing in on the purchase now. Thanks guys!

Take care,
Paul
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dtravis7

 
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Paul, others have answered your other questions but I have one thought.

The Thunderbolt display is not just a display but single Thunderbolt cable also carries USB, Firewire and other signals to the 27" display so if you do dock your MBP, you will really have a nice Desktop system with many more ports and just one single cable to plug in!
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