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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > MacBook vs MacBook Pro for DUMMIES

MacBook vs MacBook Pro for DUMMIES
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Aug 17, 2008, 10:30 PM
 
If I see one more macbook vs macbook pro thread I am going to puke.

A. If you are in High School you don't need a MacBook Pro

B. If you work for a living on your mac especially with graphics, video or 3D you need a MacBook Pro

got it?
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Aug 17, 2008, 10:35 PM
 
To a certain extent, people want their choices and planned purchase validated by the crowd. Other times they're looking for an individual experience in choosing the right model for them. I don't think there's any reason to get worked up over either.
     
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Aug 17, 2008, 11:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by mania View Post
If I see one more macbook vs macbook pro thread I am going to puke.

A. If you are in High School you don't need a MacBook Pro

B. If you work for a living on your mac especially with graphics, video or 3D you need a MacBook Pro

got it?
Incorrect!!!

If you can afford a MBP.... buy a MBP............ if you cant buy the MB!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Aug 17, 2008, 11:43 PM
 
or save up until you can
     
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Aug 18, 2008, 05:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by richwig83 View Post
Incorrect!!!

If you can afford a MBP.... buy a MBP............ if you cant buy the MB!!!!!!!!!!!!
Incorrect!!!

If your needs and budget are more inline withe MB configuration, buy a MB, if your needs and budget call for a MBP, buy a MBP
     
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Aug 21, 2008, 04:03 PM
 
I am going to agree with Cold Warrior about not getting worked up over it. I'm sure it's going to keep happening no matter what.
     
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Aug 22, 2008, 12:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by mania View Post
If I see one more macbook vs macbook pro thread I am going to puke.

A. If you are in High School you don't need a MacBook Pro
What a silly thing to say. Do you really think that [all HS students limit themselves to just low-end apps and/or are incapable of affording a MBP? Of course not!

-Allen Wicks
     
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Aug 22, 2008, 12:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
What a silly thing to say. Do you really think that [all HS students limit themselves to just low-end apps and/or are incapable of affording a MBP? Of course not!

-Allen Wicks
Valid point!
     
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Aug 22, 2008, 04:01 AM
 
There are rough guidelines to go by:
• get a MB if you're on a budget
• get a MBP if you need performance/expansion/resolution and can afford it
• get a MBA if portability is more important than specs/features/price

But those are very rough categories and do not cover many people's buying situations. That's when people should post about what they need to do with their computer, what they can afford, and what they have come up with so far. Others can then offer advice and their experience to help the buyer make a well-informed decision.

And that is exactly one of the purposes of a technical board. I see no reason why there shouldn't be such threads in the Mac Notebooks section. If you want to read other people's non-technical blathering about extraneous topics go to the Lounge.
( Last edited by Simon; Aug 27, 2008 at 04:40 AM. Reason: spelling)
     
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Aug 22, 2008, 06:01 PM
 
okay...

Macbook if you you don't have enough money to get the Macbook Pro

Macbook Pro if you do animation and gaming.

Capiche?
     
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Aug 22, 2008, 09:30 PM
 
The guildeline is to get a regular MacBook if you plan to bump it around all day long and don't feel like having your precious aluminum bend and fold and eventually have internal problems. The aluminum on the MacBook Pros (and older aluminum Powerbooks) bend easily and transfer more of the vibrations straight down through the components. The hard plastic formulation traditional with Apple's low-end portables hasn't changed much, and that's excellent, because I had a super-old G3 iBook that went through over 3 years of tons of battering around and getting bumped... nada, zippo in terms of internal issues. There developed a decent crack on the back cover of the iBook, but that had zilch impact on the LCD colors. Something else to consider. It's not a clear decision, and it's not obvious. So... now let's get out the marshmallows, have a campfire, and throw the MacBook Air into the mix.
     
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Aug 23, 2008, 04:39 PM
 
Some of us like the smaller size of the MacBook. Sure, if it had more Pro stuff in it I'd love it, but it all comes down to the size for me.

There was a time I had my 13" and would wish it was 15", but I just prefer the small case. I'll probably end up just getting a next generation MacBook when it comes time to upgrade again.
     
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Aug 24, 2008, 12:24 PM
 
[QUOTE=zykron;3712219]The guildeline is to get a regular MacBook if you plan to bump it around all day long and don't feel like having your precious aluminum bend and fold and eventually have internal problems. T/QUOTE]

Originally Posted by Jasoco View Post
Some of us like the smaller size of the MacBook. Sure, if it had more Pro stuff in it I'd love it, but it all comes down to the size for me.

There was a time I had my 13" and would wish it was 15", but I just prefer the small case. I'll probably end up just getting a next generation MacBook when it comes time to upgrade again.
Actually it all comes down to personal preference be it size, plastic vs. alu or budget. There's no right or single answer.
     
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Aug 25, 2008, 02:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by applesbiggestfan View Post
okay...
Macbook if you you don't have enough money to get the Macbook Pro
Macbook Pro if you do animation and gaming.
Capiche?
Sorry, the idea that MBPs are just for animation or gaming is incorrect. Anyone who needs pixels, graphics power, screen real estate or connectivity is better served by a MBP than a MB. That includes still images (a huge market segment), spreadsheets, anyone who needs fast external hard drive connectivity, etc.

Note too that MBs only come with glossy displays that add contrast and saturation to images. Such displays are popular with consumers but often very undesirable to folks who do not want their displays adding contrast and saturation to their images.

-Allen Wicks
     
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Aug 25, 2008, 03:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Sorry, the idea that MBPs are just for animation or gaming is incorrect. Anyone who needs pixels, graphics power, screen real estate or connectivity is better served by a MBP than a MB. That includes still images (a huge market segment), spreadsheets, anyone who needs fast external hard drive connectivity, etc.

Note too that MBs only come with glossy displays that add contrast and saturation to images. Such displays are popular with consumers but often very undesirable to folks who do not want their displays adding contrast and saturation to their images.

-Allen Wicks
Exactly my point. More pixels, graphics power, and a better/bigger screen. And what is that especially good for? - Animation, Gaming, and I forgot to mention Photoshop.
     
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Aug 27, 2008, 12:48 AM
 
Well,

I'm an Engineering major that needs the screen space to run huge spread sheets in Excel and do lots of work in MATLAB for Data Analysis and Control Systems. Not to mention switching to Winblows to open up NX to do some modeling. Considering my busy engineering student schedule, the use of a desktop just isn't an option (especially since I'm on the Formula Racing Team too).

The MBP is therefore well suited for someone not into Animation, Gaming, or Photoshop, where as the MB is not.
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Aug 27, 2008, 04:11 AM
 
I think saying a macbook pro is for anyone requiring performance is oversimplifying the differences. Processor power is pretty similar between the macbook and the macbook pro... Personally I could not work graphics with a glossy screen (I don't know if I could use one period), but for the price difference you could get a pretty nice external display to complement the macbook and still be at a lower price then the macbook pro would have cost on it's own.

I don't pay for my notebooks, and have had a macbook pro since they where first released. If I had to buy one myself I would definatly get the macbook + a good external display, since I need an external display even with the macbook pro! I also think basic 2D graphics (photoshop, indesign etc) will run just fine on a macbook untill you start talking about really big images...

I say get a macbook pro if there is a feature you need, if not get the macbook pro. If you know you will be using certain applications, look at their recomendations if uncertain. But compared to macbook pro pricing, the macbooks are a steal (and looking at coworkers macbooks, they seem to be built extremly well for the price point).
     
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Aug 27, 2008, 05:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by mania View Post
If I see one more macbook vs macbook pro thread I am going to puke.
Well, then don't create them.

Originally Posted by applesbiggestfan View Post
Exactly my point. More pixels, graphics power, and a better/bigger screen. And what is that especially good for? - Animation, Gaming, and I forgot to mention Photoshop.
So single minded....

Originally Posted by kamina View Post
I think saying a macbook pro is for anyone requiring performance is oversimplifying the differences.
Exactly

Originally Posted by kamina View Post
I say get a macbook pro if there is a feature you need, if not get the macbook. If you know you will be using certain applications, look at their recomendations if uncertain. But compared to macbook pro pricing, the macbooks are a steal (and looking at coworkers macbooks, they seem to be built extremly well for the price point).
Right again. (and fixed )

I do web design. I have a Macbook Pro. I use a VERY small sized app to do my html and css coding. I could very easily do it on a Macbook. But I like the bigger screen.

A friend of mine got his MBP just for the backlit keyboard. To reiterate kamina:

get a macbook pro if there is a feature you need, if not get the macbook.
     
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Aug 27, 2008, 02:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by kamina View Post
I think saying a macbook pro is for anyone requiring performance is oversimplifying the differences. Processor power is pretty similar between the macbook and the macbook pro...
[emphasis mine]

I must go after the semantics here because they are essential. Processors alone do not define performance. Performance is the accomplishment of work and work is accomplished through all the components of a box, not just the processor! The MBPs' screen real estate, pixel count, FW800 hard drive connectivity all have significant positive impact on performance with mid/upper-level usage.

Note too that most of us are advising waiting for new laptops expected next month. At that point MBPs are likely to address more max RAM than MBs, a huge performance benefit moving forward over the full life of a new box with mid/upper-level usage.

...I would definatly get the macbook + a good external display, since I need an external display even with the macbook pro!
And if you were to downgrade to a MB you would be driving that external display with the integrated graphics of the CPU rather than the MBP's separate strong graphics card. That will reduce overall performance with mid/upper-level usage.

...I also think basic 2D graphics (photoshop, indesign etc) will run just fine on a macbook untill you start talking about really big images...
Yes apps like PS will "run" on a MB (fine for just incidental usage), but at substantially reduced performance, especially with a second display sucking power from the limiting integrated graphics and without a way of allocating Photoshop's all-important scratch to a fast FW800 or eSATA external drive. The idea that heavy graphics apps "will run just fine" on lowest-end Macs is just not the reality of the world of graphics.

...compared to macbook pro pricing, the macbooks are a steal (and looking at coworkers macbooks, they seem to be built extremly well for the price point).
Agreed. I recommend MBs for folks with funds limited and primarily low-end usage.

-Allen Wicks
     
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Aug 27, 2008, 03:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
[emphasis mine]

I must go after the semantics here because they are essential. Processors alone do not define performance. Performance is the accomplishment of work and work is accomplished through all the components of a box, not just the processor! The MBPs' screen real estate, pixel count, FW800 hard drive connectivity all have significant positive impact on performance with mid/upper-level usage.
What's mid/upper-level usage? I often tax my mac a lot. Mainly by running loads of apps at a time (and possibly virtual machines). However I find the macbook pro's display to be too dim and small (especially concerning pixel count) for any serious work, hence it's attached to a 22" display when I need to do serious work. For the other stuff I would manage with a lower resolution anyway.

Note too that most of us are advising waiting for new laptops expected next month. At that point MBPs are likely to address more max RAM than MBs, a huge performance benefit moving forward over the full life of a new box with mid/upper-level usage.
The ability to add more memory is a huge benefit, I'm forced to get a new mbp as I can only put 2GB in my current first gen machine.

And if you were to downgrade to a MB you would be driving that external display with the integrated graphics of the CPU rather than the MBP's separate strong graphics card. That will reduce overall performance with mid/upper-level usage.



Yes apps like PS will "run" on a MB (fine for just incidental usage), but at substantially reduced performance, especially with a second display sucking power from the limiting integrated graphics and without a way of allocating Photoshop's all-important scratch to a fast FW800 or eSATA external drive. The idea that heavy graphics apps "will run just fine" on lowest-end Macs is just not the reality of the world of graphics.
Substantially reduced performance is a huge overstatement. When the chipset has integrated graphics it is forced to use the main ram instead of the graphics card built in memory. This will lower memory bandwidth to the cpu by about 10-20%, but lower overall performance (relating to using photoshop) by far less. To get an idea, search for tests where a macbook /mbp is tested with different size memory sticks vs. matched sticks in photoshop. There is about a 5% difference in performance while applying filters, and the difference in memory bandwidth (dual channel is activated only with two identical memory sticks) is far bigger then what you'll lose by using integrated graphics.

For drawing images on the screen (be it photoshop or preview showing a pdf file), the memory in the graphics card does not make a big difference.

edit: let me add that I can get either a macbook or macbook pro as a workstation depending on what I prefer. The catch is that I can buy my old workstation after ~2 years for next to nothing. If it was not for that I would probably just take the macbook for easier transportation
     
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Aug 27, 2008, 05:05 PM
 
Repeat after me: Photoshop gains nothing from a beefy GPU or a lot of VRAM. PS needs CPU, memory, and a fast scratch disk. In that order.

A PS pro will want a MBP over a MB because of its screen size, FW800, and EC/34 (eSATA card). The X3100 on the MB is not in any part involved in PS performance. Perceived or measured.
     
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Aug 27, 2008, 05:15 PM
 
I like my MBP for the screen size, I cannot work in anything smaller then that, so I echo Simon's sentiments.
     
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Aug 27, 2008, 05:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Repeat after me: Photoshop gains nothing from a beefy GPU or a lot of VRAM. PS needs CPU, memory, and a fast scratch disk. In that order.

A PS pro will want a MBP over a MB because of its screen size, FW800, and EC/34 (eSATA card). The X3100 on the MB is not in any part involved in PS performance. Perceived or measured.
And from there we can return to my original statement, where someone not working with large images does not need a mbp to work with photoshop (if using the spare money for a big external display).

I have the education license for photoshop, and just use my own disk as a scratch disk. Works fine while operating on pics from a 10 megapixel digicam, even if I open a bunch of them at a time. Of course if you are a professional photographer / graphic designer the situation will be different as your project sizes will be significantly larger...

edit: I should probably mention the photoshop is on my imac, and the internal disk is faster then a 5400rpm notebook drive, but I don't think that will make a notable difference with basic usage.
     
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Aug 27, 2008, 05:37 PM
 
Wow, this is becoming quite a heated debate. Albeit, a rather silly one.

It seems to have all been started by some rather uninformed replies at the beginning of thread.

So, the general consensus is that:

Macbook - for those who want a smaller or cheaper machine, at the sacrifice of dedicated VRAM/FW800

Macbook Pro - for those (who can afford it) who want a larger screen, VRAM for programs that use it (like Maya) or games (meh), or need the additional ports it has to offer.

I am open to corrections as needed - just keep it simple. (OP said a dummies guide to MacBooks vs Pros)

Personally, I think that the whole Macbook vs Macbook Pro debate is really really asinine and just a cry for attention on a thread: read the gawdamn specs on the machines, and maybe some reviews; and then decide what to get based on what you will be doing and using your MB or MBP for. And if you really can't decide, and need to post *yet another* thread about it, then you really should: read the gawdamn specs on the machines, and maybe some reviews; and then decide what to get based on what you will be doing and using your MB or MBP for.
     
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Aug 27, 2008, 11:10 PM
 
Having sold literally hundreds of MacBooks, and having this question asked of me daily, I agree:

If you need a powerful 3D card (games, Final Cut Studio, CAD, etc), the extra connectivity (FW800, dual-link DVI, or ExpressCard), or the larger internal screen, go for the MB Pro. Otherwise, the MacBook is fine and won't perform any worse.

The biggest misconception I hear is that Adobe Creative Suite benefits from a MB Pro. It doesn't, as none of the apps are significantly GPU-accelerated.
     
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Aug 28, 2008, 04:13 AM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
The biggest misconception I hear is that Adobe Creative Suite benefits from a MB Pro. It doesn't, as none of the apps are significantly GPU-accelerated.
Does this include After Effects?
     
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Aug 28, 2008, 04:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by calverson View Post
Does this include After Effects?
Probably not, at least from After Efects system requirements:

# For OpenGL support: Adobe After Effects supported OpenGL 2.0 card (NVIDIA recommended)
Which would imply that it can benefit from OpenGL acceleration.
     
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Aug 28, 2008, 04:44 AM
 
Originally Posted by calverson View Post
Does this include After Effects?
For the most part, no.
Have a look at these benchmarks, compare the MacBook and the ProBook running XP (native speed) and you'll see that the ProBook is barely faster, although it has a slightly faster cpu (2.16 GHz vs. 2 GHz) which accounts for at least part of the difference.
(Edit: I just noticed that the benchmarks compare the previous version of After Effects, not the current version.)

Adobe doesn't make good use of the GPU, unlike many Apple apps. Aperture relies heavily on the gpu, Motion even uses the gpu to render video. FCPro doesn't really use the gpu with the possible exception of plugins, but since Motion uses the gpu to render stuff, I think it's safe to say that the next version of FC Pro will benefit from a faster GPU.

The matter of fact is that Adobe apps (except possibly Premiere) do not benefit from a faster gpu, particularly Photoshop will not run any faster. Nor will people see slowdowns in system performance when they connect an external screen to the MacBook (my best friends gave away his ProBook and bought a MacBook; he drives his 23" ACD HD with it).

@Sierra Dragon
I think you're mixing performance with productivity here. People can be more productive if they have more screen estate, but it doesn't make the machine faster. Plus, a lack in screen estate can be alleviated with an external screen.
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Sep 2, 2008, 08:42 PM
 
I would be happy with a 17" Macbook but since it is not available I settled for a 17" Macbook Pro!

I would love a 20" Macbook!
     
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Sep 5, 2008, 09:37 PM
 
Well I had no idea my beer induced rant would go this far. Sorry if I offended anyone. I am a web developer without much cash due to the expensive area I live. I also end up doing some video work and certainly am glad I scraped up for a macbook pro to replace my dead powerbook. It finally feels adequate. Best to all my mac brothers and sisters.
     
   
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