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discussion of MacBook Pro screen, RAM, etc., options


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discussion of MacBook Pro screen, RAM, etc., options
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apple007
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Join Date: May 2006
 
2008-03-01, 18:20

As I've probably mentioned about 200 times here, I've been using a PB G4 17" since July 2004. While I'm probably going to try to hold out until the summer before buying an MBP 17" -- partly because I'm in Mexico for work, but mostly because I want to see what the arrival of Montevina might mean to the MBP line -- I wanted to start getting feedback on some of the important options that are available. Any feedback on the following would be much appreciated:

-- Memory. My current PB is running 10.4.11 and has 1GB of RAM. (I won't be upgrading to Leopard until the MBP purchase, so I have no idea how much more RAM Leopard might require.) The standard 17" MBP ships with 2GB of RAM; is that enough for regular day-to-day use, or would an upgrade to 4GB (I know, I know ... bought from a non-Apple vendor) yield a noticeable improvement?

-- Hard Drive. My current PB has whatever the standard HD was for a PB purchased in the summer of '04. The current MBPs are available with a 250GB at 5400 (standard), or a 200GB at 7200 (add $50), or a 300GB at 4200 (add $75). Left to my own devices, I would likely just stick with the default 250GB at 5400 option. Thoughts?

-- 17" Display. Aside from the size of the screen, I don't believe I had any screen options when I bought my current PB, but the 17" MBPs are currently available with four screen options: Widescreen (default), Glossy Widescreen, Hi-Res LED (add $100), or Hi-Res Glossy LED (add $100). My initial impression is that I'll probably go with the Hi-Res LED (non-glossy) but without having seen any of these in action, I'm not sure yet. Aside from the $100 price increase, any pros or cons to the Hi-Res LED displays? Any guess as to which of the four options will be most popular among MBP buyers?

(Note: I have no intention of paying $250 for a .1GHz upgrade, so there's no need to warn me about that. )

Thanks for all feedback.
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Brad
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Join Date: May 2004
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2008-03-01, 18:45

Quote:
Originally Posted by apple007 View Post
-- Memory. My current PB is running 10.4.11 and has 1GB of RAM. (I won't be upgrading to Leopard until the MBP purchase, so I have no idea how much more RAM Leopard might require.) The standard 17" MBP ships with 2GB of RAM; is that enough for regular day-to-day use, or would an upgrade to 4GB (I know, I know ... bought from a non-Apple vendor) yield a noticeable improvement?
2 GB should certainly enough for day-to-day use if you're doing web and office-type work. I work perfectly fine with 1.25 GB of RAM running 10.5.2. You probably wouldn't notice the difference with 4 GB unless you routinely have a lot of applications running, have a lot of documents open, or work with very large documents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by apple007 View Post
-- Hard Drive. My current PB has whatever the standard HD was for a PB purchased in the summer of '04. The current MBPs are available with a 250GB at 5400 (standard), or a 200GB at 7200 (add $50), or a 300GB at 4200 (add $75). Left to my own devices, I would likely just stick with the default 250GB at 5400 option. Thoughts?
Your PowerBook likely has an 80 GB 4200 RPM drive.

Personally, I'd go with the faster drive, even if it means less capacity than the other options. I'm pretty comfortable moving infrequently accessed data to external drives, but that 200 GB would still be larger than all but one of the drives I currently own anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by apple007 View Post
(Note: I have no intention of paying $250 for a .1GHz upgrade, so there's no need to warn me about that. )
Smart man.

That said, not so smart thread placement! Moving to Purchasing Advice...

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
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apple007
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2008-03-01, 19:02

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad View Post
Smart man.

That said, not so smart thread placement! Moving to Purchasing Advice...
Sorry about that. The thread placement seemed like a toss-up since there's both a purchasing advice aspect as well as a general discussion of the (new) MBP's specs.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2008-03-01, 19:51

Pretty much what Brad said.

2GB RAM (maybe 4GB down the road, when Ocelot or Lion comes out).

HDD-wise, personally I'd much rather have the speed (200GB @ 7200rpm) vs. capacity (250GB @ 5400rpm). To me that's a smart, no-brainer upgrade. Not for everyone, I realize. But for me. I've been on an 80GB 4200rpm drive for four-and-a-half years now, so anything is going to be a step up for me.



And, at that point (well into the $2,500+ range), I have to say "what's another $100?" and go for the high resolution option...that would give you the working space, on your 17" notebook, that you'd get on Apple's 23" Cinema Display!



That's a well-spent $100, IMO. You probably won't regret that a year or two down the road. That's a full double-page spread in InDesign and all the palettes showing (and still room on the sides/pasteboard to throw stuff). Holy crap, I can only imagine how neat that must be on a notebook. Hell...on any display, period!



As for matte vs. glossy, that's just a personal thing. Me? I think I'd dig the glossy. I like how it looks on the new iMacs and on the 13" MacBooks. My desk at home isn't situated in such a way that I'd be getting any nasty window reflections, so I think I'd like that crisp, dark look. I love my Dad's glossy iMac screen. Everything just seems richer, and seems to "pop" so much more.

Yeah, good call on that $250 100MHz bump...



I priced out that particular 17" PowerBook for me, and it's just under $3,000. Not getting it (unless I win the lottery tonight), but it was fun to see how it all shook out, upgrading this, opting for that, etc. Neat to know that such a powerful, capable machine (with such a huge work area) can be had for under $3,000 (and you can take it with you anywhere).

If I had that screen size/resolution, I wouldn't even see the need for a separate spanning display because that would all be enough on the 17".
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apple007
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2008-03-01, 20:39

Thanks for the feedback, 'Brad' and 'scates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0 View Post
Pretty much what Brad said.

2GB RAM (maybe 4GB down the road, when Ocelot or Lion comes out).


Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
HDD-wise, personally I'd much rather have the speed (200GB @ 7200rpm) vs. capacity (250GB @ 5400rpm). To me that's a smart, no-brainer upgrade. Not for everyone, I realize. But for me. I've been on an 80GB 4200rpm drive for four-and-a-half years now, so anything is going to be a step up for me.
Interesting; 2-for-2 on the 200GB at 7200 option. I'm not sure I like the idea of losing 50GB of storage; perhaps the next MBPs will have even bigger HDs and size vs. speed won't be an issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0
As for matte vs. glossy, that's just a personal thing. Me? I think I'd dig the glossy. I like how it looks on the new iMacs and on the 13" MacBooks. My desk at home isn't situated in such a way that I'd be getting any nasty window reflections, so I think I'd like that crisp, dark look. I love my Dad's glossy iMac screen. Everything just seems richer, and seems to "pop" so much more.
This is exactly the type of feedback I was hoping for re: the display. I travel a lot and use my PB in all kinds of lighting situations. Given that fact, should I simply avoid the glossy options without much further thought?

Thanks again.
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dmegatool
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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2008-03-01, 20:58

For the screen I think it's all about LED.

I didn't try the glossy on a extensive period but the matte look awsome for me. LED is so bright and it reach is top brightness instantly... no warming or whatever it is. It's really really nice !

Dave Mustaine :"God created whammy bars for people who don't know how to solo."
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pscates2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2008-03-01, 22:53

Quote:
Originally Posted by apple007 View Post
Interesting; 2-for-2 on the 200GB at 7200 option. I'm not sure I like the idea of losing 50GB of storage; perhaps the next MBPs will have even bigger HDs and size vs. speed won't be an issue.
To me it's just a matter of that 17" MacBook Pro being such a honkin' piece of gear, and being a true "desktop replacement" type of machine (the ports, processor and power, screen size/resolution, etc. A true "no apologies" type of machine, easily being someone's one-and-only Mac, and running rings around everything but the high-end towers).

Just seems odd to me to "cripple" it by not going with the fastest drive available for it. If they ever make 7200rpm drives available for the MacBooks, I'd upgrade to that as well if I was going to buy one...even if it meant a 50GB capacity "downgrade".

If the rumors are true about updates coming again, sooner rather than later, it may not be an issue, sure enough. At some point there will be 250GB+ laptop drives at 7200rpm.

And if the MacBook Pro would ever adopt the same sort of "easy HDD access/replacement" of the 13" MacBook, options will be open (and easier to tap into) in the future. You could buy whatever was available at the time, knowing that in a couple of years - as notebook hard drive capacities increased - you could easily swap a larger one out without it turning into a huge disassembly/warranty-voiding project.

A nice little "protects the future" type of feature, especially for such an expensive machine (the kind of machine most people aren't going to be buying every 24 months like they might a ~$1,100 MacBook or iMac). If I'm dropping nearly three grand on a 17" MacBook Pro, I'd like to know that I could easily (and quickly) put in another hard drive in a couple of years to extend that "freshness" as long as possible.

Seems like the MacBook Pro "deserves" this capability more than than the consumer-level MacBook (easily accessed/swapped hard drives). I always found it odd that it hasn't received that design yet. I hope those few things come true on this next version (magnetic latch, new keyboard and this HDD access).
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torifile
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2008-03-01, 23:20

Make it 3-for-3 on the 7200 RPM drive. Absolutely. You lose 20% capacity for a 33% bump in speed. And after you cross a certain critical level of HD space - probably 50 gigs or so - anything else is inessential. How much data are you really going to carry around with you? You'll likely appreciate the speed more than the space.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2008-03-01, 23:34

I wonder what sort of heat-generating or battery-sucking issues there are with a 7200rpm drive vs. the 5400rpm in a MacBook Pro?

Any? Miniscule? Or something you'd notice? I guess they wouldn't offer the 7200rpm if it was a huge hit on heat or battery concerns, huh?



Would we be talking a few minutes, or something more substantial like 45+ minutes? Surely not. But I don't know about this stuff...never had a laptop with that type of drive.
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PB PM
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2008-03-02, 00:22

From tests I've seen on the web, the difference was a matter of 5-10 minutes, in terms of battery life, depending on the tasks being done.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Katan
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2008-03-02, 00:37

Cool...so not much of a hit. Good to know.
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saschke
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2008-03-02, 08:50

I'd like to discuss one thing, as that seems to be the most controversial point in this thread: isn't a slower, bigger hard-drive nearly as fast as a smaller one with more rpm? e.g. 250gb at 5400rpm vs. 200gb @ 7200rpm??

i've ordered my new mbp (baseline) with the bigger drive and feel way better knowing that hard-disk space issues are further down the road compared to 200gb stock...

Last edited by saschke : 2008-03-02 at 08:53. Reason: typo
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Eugene
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Join Date: May 2004
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2008-03-02, 09:00

Quote:
Originally Posted by saschke View Post
I'd like to discuss one thing, as that seems to be the most controversial point in this thread: isn't a slower, bigger hard-drive nearly as fast as a smaller one with more rpm? e.g. 250gb at 5400rpm vs. 200gb @ 7200rpm??
For big file transfers, yes. If you're copying lots of little files dotted all over your HDD, the faster RPM will make a difference.
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saschke
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2008-03-02, 09:04

Yeah, I'm aware of that. I currently have a 7200rpm drive with 100 gigs in my first-gen MBP. Just remembering an article I've read months ago which said, that the difference is smaller when compared to a bigger, slower drive because the hdd has a higher density???!

EDIT: Damn... I've misread your answer. Thanks.. You've answered my question...

Last edited by saschke : 2008-03-02 at 09:52.
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Dave Hagan
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Join Date: Jul 2004
 
2008-03-02, 21:57

I noticed on Amazon.com that they are selling the base model 2.5GHz 17" MacBook Pro for $2,644 - after a $150 rebate. It's available for pre-order, so that means Amazon doesn't have it in stock yet (I wonder if they would have the high resolution version on there at some point?)

Depending on where you live, the $2,644 price is cheaper than education discount from Apple + sales tax. I live in Mass and for me that would be a savings of $129.95. Just a thought.....you could put the $129.95 towards a 4GB RAM kit from OWC...I think the memory is more important than the hard drive speed. My 2ยข.
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