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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Going to High-School: Macbook vs. Macbook Pro?

Going to High-School: Macbook vs. Macbook Pro?
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Aug 9, 2008, 04:56 PM
 
Hey everybody. I'm starting High-School in about one month and I am going to get a new laptop. I am just wondering if a Macbook will be good enough for me with its integrated graphics. I will be working with Microsoft Office, surfing the internet, photoshop, low level iMovie video editing, chatting. So far people have told me a Macbook is sufficient for that. But for some classes I might need to do some low-level 3D animation and maybe 2D animation and I think a Macbook Pro's 512Mb Nvidia graphics card would be better than a Macbook's low integrated graphics. What do you think? I wont be doing any high-level animation but I will do some and a bit of photoshop and iMovie and the regular internet surfing, money is not too much of a problem...because I have a 4 year old laptop and I'll get what's best for me now. Which should I get: Macbook (more portable and I like the design and keyboard) or the Macbook Pro (better graphics and speed but larger and more expensive).

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Aug 9, 2008, 06:19 PM
 
I'd get the macbook.
     
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Aug 9, 2008, 06:43 PM
 
Before I reply to that... where are you from?

ok... are you sure about getting a macbook instead of paying extra for the graphics just in case I have to do lots of animation.
     
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Aug 9, 2008, 08:06 PM
 
Lots of (strong?) rumors right now about new MB or MBP models being introduced in September. No way to know if they're true, but you might want to wait until the very last minute before getting something, and even then: check the rumor sites to see what they say.

And I'd go with the MB. Sounds like it'd be fine for what you're doing. Opinions will vary on this, but I think the MB is sturdier than the MBP, and the fact that it weighs even slightly less is gonna make a difference in the long run. You're gonna need a very good backpack (or rolling backpack) and it's all gonna add up.
     
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Aug 9, 2008, 08:10 PM
 
For the things you'll do regularly, the MacBook is fine. If a MBP will help for the 3D stuff depends on the app you'll be using; some really take advantage of the GPU, some don't.
     
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Aug 9, 2008, 10:34 PM
 
The MacBook is a lot less sensitive to scratches and dents than the MBP. For school it's perfect.
     
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Aug 9, 2008, 11:19 PM
 
High school? Who has a laptop in high school? Pretty lucky - but I hope it isn't bait for bullies. Although I always recommend against int-degraded graphics, I'd say MacBook definitely for high school. A MBP is too much for a high school student to take care of, I would think; even a MacBook is pushing it. But if you're going to get one, go with the MacBook.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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Aug 10, 2008, 08:30 AM
 
Hey, Amazing. I also heard a lot about the new Macbooks but after all they are just rumours. But do you have any idea when the new macbooks might come because I will still not get my Macbook for many months; should I wait for the new Macbooks or will the MBs and the MBPs now be just fine.
     
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Aug 12, 2008, 12:49 PM
 
I have another Macbook vs. Macbook Pro question.

What is the difference in the hard drive between 5400-rpm and 7200-rpm?

Should I get the a larger hard drive with 5400-rpm or a smaller one with 7200-rpm?

Any opinions and suggestions will be appreciated.

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Aug 12, 2008, 04:22 PM
 
If you're going to be filling the smaller 7200 rpm drive to more than 70% of its total capacity you will likely see the larger 5400 rpm drive get better performance even though its spindle speed is lower. OTOH if you're going to have 100 GB free on both you might as well get the 7200 rpm disk because it will be faster. In terms of heat or noise you won't notice any real difference.
     
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Aug 12, 2008, 07:09 PM
 
I'd go with the low end MacBook and spend the difference on all the little extras, such as:

Better printer - possibly color laser
Maximum ram
External display
External hard drive (firewire)
And the most important thing of all - AppleCare
     
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Aug 12, 2008, 09:37 PM
 
For high school, especially based on what you said, I'd recommend the Macbook. They're tougher, have a longer battery life, and better wireless reception....all of which can be quite important for school.
Roger Michaels
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Aug 13, 2008, 12:35 AM
 
The macbook should be fine. I would hope you aren't brining it to school every day since it is pretty much useless to have with you during class. Also any computer related classes will most likely not have any work you'll need to do on your own computer, as it will be done in class, mainly because not everyone has a nice or capable computer available to them at home.
     
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Aug 13, 2008, 11:19 PM
 
You might even consider a MacBook Air. I love my Macbook, but lugging it around all day can get a little tiresome. It doesn't sound like you'll be doing anything that exceeds the Air's capabilities, and the lightness and portability are definite positives in your situation.
     
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Aug 14, 2008, 07:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by Nergol View Post
You might even consider a MacBook Air.
Less cpu, smaller, less ports and hard drive for a higher price? I like the MBA but not as a main computer or one for high school. The MB will be able to stand up to more abuse in a backpack then the MB or the MBP
     
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Aug 14, 2008, 10:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
Less cpu, smaller, less ports and hard drive for a higher price? I like the MBA but not as a main computer or one for high school.
Lighter with better battery life? Perfect computer for high school (less weight => less back strain, runs all day without needing to find seats by power outlets).
     
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Aug 14, 2008, 10:34 PM
 
The other good thing about the MB for H-Sch is that you'll have more bargaining power for when it comes time to get something for college. That's when you'll perhaps be drooling after something more powerful, like a future MBA on steroids, and you'll be in a better position at that point if you exercise restraint now.
     
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Aug 15, 2008, 08:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Lighter with better battery life? Perfect computer for high school (less weight => less back strain, runs all day without needing to find seats by power outlets).
The weight difference between the two models is such that, it really sholdn't matter. The durability of the MB vs MBA is a major factor especially given the life of a High School student.

Addtionally while it can be used as such, I believe Apple's market segment for the MBA is if the person who travels alot and who also has a main desktop computer. The under-powered CPU, memory and disk space do not lend itself to being a primary computer.

mduell, let me ask you this, as you own a MBA, is this your only computer?
     
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Aug 15, 2008, 09:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
mduell, let me ask you this, as you own a MBA, is this your only computer?
Of course not. He has already stated in the other thread on this topic that he is using it as a mobile companion together with a desktop PC at home and FreeBSD servers at work. As pretty much every MBA user his MBA is a mobile companion.

It is the established consensus that the MBA is not an ideal sole computer. Its expansion capabilities are too limited, it's raw power is low, and it is not suitable for heavy-duty tasks (2 GB RAM ceiling comes to mind). It is a mobile companion, but not your primary computer.

With respect to the OP's original question, the MBA is most certainly not intended for high school students. It is expensive (MB offers much better performance for half the price) and it is delicate. A student should get something more robust that offers good value. The high school pupil is about the last thing Apple had in mind when they thought up a model customer for the MBA.
( Last edited by Simon; Aug 22, 2008 at 03:11 AM. Reason: spelling)
     
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Aug 15, 2008, 11:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Of course not. He has already stated in the other thread on this topic that he is using it as a mobile companion together with a desktop PC at home and FreeBSD servers at work. As pretty much every MBA user his MBA is a mobile companion.

It is the established consensus that the MBA is not an ideal sole computer. Its expansion capabilities are too limited, it's raw power is low, and it is not suitable for heavy-duty tasks (2 GB RAM ceiling comes to mind). It is a mobile companion, but not your primary computer.
Which is my point, the OP is looking for a computer to suit his needs, its my opinion that the MBA would be a poor fit for the OP. I'm not saying the MBA is a poor computer, in fact I rather like it and if apple refreshes the line to fix some of the short comings, I may snag one myself. Since it will not be my primary computer either.
     
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Aug 15, 2008, 05:48 PM
 
I have both (MB and MBP) and I can certainly recommend the MB in this case. I use it for day to day activities and while you can notice the difference in speed between the 2, the MB has a better (in my case) work to value ratio.
Beides, the MBP has some serious issues with the nVidia graphic cards. It hasn´t failed me, but those graphic cards have been troublesome even on Dell and HP owners.
     
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Aug 15, 2008, 08:56 PM
 
I recommend bottom of the line MacBook, max out the RAM yourself to 4GB, upgrade the HD yourself to 320GB 7200 RPM. The big question is: Should you buy now or when Apple upgrades the MacBooks. If you can wait four to six weeks, it might be a good idea.

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other.../53IM2DDR4GBK/

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Hitachi/0A57547/

http://www.macinstruct.com/node/130

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c6ckjy-gdY

The metal housing around the HD needs to be taken off with the Torx driver and put on the new HD. The installation is fairly straightforward but, if you're at all unsure, get a friend of parent to help you. Also, no need to pay for backup software if you're upgrading a new Mac. Just install Leopard after upgrading the HD.
( Last edited by DCJ001; Aug 15, 2008 at 09:34 PM. )
     
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Aug 17, 2008, 10:21 PM
 
Wait until after the Macbook+iPod education deal is over. That's just bait for the Joe Blowpacks who can't wait for the upcoming updated Macbooks.
     
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Aug 18, 2008, 01:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
I believe Apple's market segment for the MBA is if the person who travels alot
Perhaps home to school and class to class like a high school student?

Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
mduell, let me ask you this, as you own a MBA, is this your only computer?
No; in addition to what Simon notes, I also have another older laptop.

Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Of course not. He has already stated in the other thread on this topic that he is using it as a mobile companion together with a desktop PC at home and FreeBSD servers at work. As pretty much every MBA user his MBA is a mobile companion.
Having an MBP instead of a MBA would not in any way change or reduce my need for the other systems I have, so would you say the MBP is just a mobile companion like the MBA?
     
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Aug 18, 2008, 02:43 PM
 
For you that might be the case.

In more general terms it's consensus that a 1.8 GHz device with max. 80 GB HDD and a 2 GB RAM ceiling is suitable for not much more than light use. Anybody who does a bit more demanding tasks than just email/web/Office will need a beefier machine. A student on a budget should get the best performance per $ and not the opposite.
     
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Aug 18, 2008, 06:19 PM
 
MacBook w/ Superdrive is my advice.
     
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Aug 21, 2008, 03:05 PM
 
Seriously? I don't think a macbook would be enough. You might want to start looking at a Mac Pro for highschool
-----
but, bpl323 has got it
     
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Aug 21, 2008, 09:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by applesbiggestfan View Post
...I will still not get my Macbook for many months; should I wait for the new Macbooks or will the MBs and the MBPs now be just fine.
By all means wait for the new laptops because new choices will be available to consider soon. Also, I do not agree that a MB is somehow necessarily more appropriate just because you are in HS. Your coherent verbiage here and the fact that you have had a computer for 4 years makes you not a rookie in my opinion. One needs a laptop for the apps one runs, and a competent HS student is quite likely to benefit greatly from the added power and (more importantly) flexibility, pixels and screen real estate of a MBP.

We should revisit this discussion after new laptops are out. For instance if new MBPs accept more RAM than MBs, that would be a huge life cycle benefit to selecting a MBP. Or model changes could make MBs a better choice.

Whatever you get, get the largest hard drive available.

-Allen Wicks
     
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Aug 22, 2008, 03:09 AM
 
Sierra, have you ever recommended a MB to anyone? I get this impression you always try to push everybody to a MBP regardless of their situation.

No offense, seriously. I'm just curious.

(Tried to PM you about it, but form what I can see you turned PM off.)
     
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Aug 22, 2008, 12:11 PM
 
Well, I think applesbiggestfan has already made his decision (though we don't know what it is.) And, afaik, high school students don't qualify for any edu deals, meaning the iPod/etc discount can't be had...otherwise, that'd be the way to go.

When you're a student, there's a great deal to be said for having the lightest laptop, because you're carrying it around a lot. If it's too heavy or too big to carry, then part of the usefulness of having a laptop goes out the window. For my kids, I was lucky to find a PB-100 discounted at Costco and a discounted duo, both of which had long and hardworking careers. Lightweight was really important, and even the minute difference in weight between the MB and MBP shows up in the long run.

It all depends on your wallet (or your parents' wallets.)
     
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Aug 25, 2008, 02:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Sierra, have you ever recommended a MB to anyone? I get this impression you always try to push everybody to a MBP regardless of their situation.
That is a valid observation. I generally recommend MBPs over MBs and MPs over iMacs because the folks asking usually are not lowest end (surfing, Office) users and usually have graphics apps in the mix. IMO from overall utility and a life cycle cost analysis basis MBPs and MPs, especially refurbs, are often best life cycle choice for mid and upper end users. E.g. even though I am not wealthy I bought a MBP for my nephew when he was a graduating HS senior largely for flexibility reasons.

OTOH iMacs are great for folks who will only involve with lower end usages. My two best friends have iMacs and I bought an iMac for my father, but for graphics users I think iMacs are poor desktop choices. MBs IMO are only good for those folks who will not be limited by the much smaller real estate and pixel count or who cannot afford a refurbished MBP, because IMO from a life cycle cost basis refurbished MBPs are most often cost effective.

Let me be clear, however, that for only web surfing and basic text work IMO MBs are usually the best laptop choice.

-Allen Wicks
     
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Aug 25, 2008, 04:41 PM
 
I perfectly agree with the spec comparisons and the arguments regarding expansion/resolution.

I am not so sure I concur when it comes to longevity though. Whereas it used to make sense to invest big and then hold long, IMHO this has changed quite a bit. Hardware is cheap, performance doubles quickly, and software tends to make older hardware obsolete ealier.

I don't think it's economical to put a lot of money in a high-end machine and then keep it for five years. That's just too far out on the horizon. At least in the Mac world if you buy below the top (or buy refurbished) and then swap every 2-3 years, you're better off than if you buy the current highest-end model but then have to keep it for 5 years.

OTOH if you have to go high-end, you can usually stay on top w/o investing a huge amount if you keep your Mac in great condition, replace it early (within 6-18 months) and then sell it off on the used market. It's amazing what kind of money people pay for used Macs in good condition.
     
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Aug 25, 2008, 06:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
I don't think it's economical to put a lot of money in a high-end machine and then keep it for five years. That's just too far out on the horizon. At least in the Mac world if you buy below the top (or buy refurbished) and then swap every 2-3 years, you're better off than if you buy the current highest-end model but then have to keep it for 5 years.
     
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Aug 25, 2008, 08:32 PM
 
It sounds like you'd be better off with a standard MacBook.

The MacBook and MacBook Pro are due for an update, though. I'd recommend waiting just a little bit longer if you can. If you can't, the iPod promotion and student discount is a good deal on current hardware if you must buy now.
     
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Aug 26, 2008, 02:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
I don't think it's economical to put a lot of money in a high-end machine and then keep it for five years. That's just too far out on the horizon. At least in the Mac world if you buy below the top (or buy refurbished) and then swap every 2-3 years, you're better off than if you buy the current highest-end model but then have to keep it for 5 years.
I agree if below the top is defined as upper-middle (midrange MBP) rather than lowest end (MB). And I unequivocally agree with the value of buying refurbished when feasible.

IMO it is simple really. Lowest-end Macs are appropriate and life-cycle cost effective for lowest-end uses. If usage is not lowest-end, then upper-middle range boxes are most cost effective as well as nicest to use. A MB, for instance, no matter how spiffy its CPU is, lacks fast external hard drive connectivity, pixels, good graphics support and screen real estate. Overall limiting for upper middle-range usages.

Using low-end boxes for middle-range usages is of course possible, but it leads to constantly chasing new low-end box performance and poor life cycle cost performance over time. Obviously precise life cycle numbers vary among individuals, but a ~2 year life cycle for MBs chasing middle range performance as opposed to a ~3 year life cycle for MBPs chasing middle range performance is IMO a reasonable expectation.

-Allen Wicks
     
   
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