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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Advice on best Mac note book to buy

Advice on best Mac note book to buy
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Jun 12, 2012, 06:03 PM
 
I have been waiting to see what Apple offered in terms of their new laptop line up yesterday. I have been using a Pismo for a long time now and it has been a fantastic laptop for me. No problems with it at all since new. Now I am thinking about replacing it. I need advice on the best lap top Apple has made recently. I would like to have the same trouble free experience with any new replacement laptop I might buy from Apple. Can some one recommend which of the recent laptops from Apple have had the least problems? I am hoping to may be pick up one of the out going models at a knock down price. Or should I buy one of these new models that came out this week? Any advice welcomed!
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 12:43 AM
 
it would help if you mentioned what would be some of the things you need to do with it.
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Jun 13, 2012, 06:43 AM
 
Without knowing your particulars, usually the 13" MacBook Air is a very good place to start: it's light, it's powerful, it's beautiful.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 06:54 AM
 
If you've still been happily rocking a 1998 Pismo until today, anything you could possibly get would be a different universe.

I second Oreo's suggestion. A previous-generation MacBook Air should be a wonderful replacement.
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 07:02 AM
 
Since you don't seem too particular, figure out how much you're willing to spend, then get the machine that fits your budget. The 13" MacBook Pro is an excellent all-around machine. If you know you don't want the optical drive the Airs are great.
     
DNA man  (op)
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Jun 13, 2012, 05:15 PM
 
I would not need a real power machine. When I was considering buying my Pismo, I was told that I should try and buy the fastest laptop I could afford and that would last me for the longest period of time until I needed to upgrade. That has been good advice.

I don't need a real power machine now but I still would like to be able to do some Photoshop and video work with it. I am keen to find out what laptops were the most reliable and best engineered. I bought a PowerMac G5 along with a 23" cinema display and they were the worst bits of kit I have ever bought from Apple. I have been a bit weary of buying Apple products since then.

When I bought my Pismo my only real options were CPU speed and hard drive capacity. Now there are so many more variables ranging from CPU, GPU, twin GPUs and solid state drives etc. I would like to be able to run any new laptop with the current 23" Cinema display I have and a larger monitor at a later date. I would like at least a min 15" screen on the laptop but I was thinking about one of the 17" laptops too.

I suppose a better way to phrase the question would be...
Which Apple laptop can I buy that will give me the same happy trouble free user experience I have had from my ye olde Pismo over the past number of years.
I am not sure if I should be looking at a slower CPU speed but with a solid state drive etc. I also noticed looking through some old stock online that some laptops from Apple had a build to order option for a higher res screen. Or at least it seems that way. Is that the case?
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 06:14 PM
 
For what it looks like you need I would go with the solid state.
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 06:14 PM
 
So, emphasis on a laptop with the lowest expected hardware failure rates. No GPU overheating, perhaps an SSD, or easy HD replacements. A keyboard that doesn't pop key caps, power port that doesn't get loose or catch fire, battery that lasts and/or is easily replaceable.

I don't know the answers on this, sorry.
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 07:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by DNA man View Post
Which Apple laptop can I buy that will give me the same happy trouble free user experience I have had from my ye olde Pismo over the past number of years.
The good news is that from a quality standpoint all Mac laptops from the past few years have been excellent. Technical obsolescence of course depends on what applications and workflow you ask a box to do, and on having the capability to add up to 16 GB of RAM. No Mac laptops allow more than 16 GB RAM.

Given what you have said we can easily limit to a few great choices:

...I don't need a real power machine now but I still would like to be able to do some Photoshop and video work with it....
Anything to do with images work means you will want a top end Macbook Pro (MBP) rather than a lower end box like a Macbook Air (MBA). The good news is that 2011/2012 top end MBPs are all very strong. You do need to have 2 upgradable RAM slots, or in the case of the June 2012 MBPs you need to buy pre-equipped with 16 GB of RAM.

Already we can limit to only 2011 and later Macs because they are a serious tech jump better than everything that came before. You want an i5 or i7 processor "Thunderbolt" MBP.

...I would like at least a min 15" screen on the laptop but I was thinking about one of the 17" laptops too.
The 17" is great, I own a 2011 MBP. Unfortunately they are no longer made as of this week, so they will probably be in scarce supply so you may have to settle for 15" which is also good.

I am not sure if I should be looking at a slower CPU speed but with a solid state drive etc.
Do not worry about CPU speed because the 2011/2012 i5/i7 boxes are all way strong. Strong enough that things like SSD, graphics and RAM are the limiters moreso than the CPUs are.

You do want an SSD (solid state drive) for the boot drive if at all possible; either built-in or as a retrofit. Unfortunately there are way less SSD boxes out there to choose among than hard disk drive (HDD) boxes.

Best analogy is that SSD versus HDD is like comparing fuel injection versus carburetor. SSD is just better in every regard, across all apps and the OS. However SSDs cost more per GB so if you have large amounts of mass storage you will want an external HDD. And of course you need external HDDs for backup. HDDs are cheap.

I also noticed looking through some old stock online that some laptops from Apple had a build to order option for a higher res screen. Or at least it seems that way. Is that the case?
Yes, display choices include a) regular or high-resolution and b) glossy or anti-glare ("matte"). Also add in the June 2012 retina displays, which are even higher resolution, not specifically anti-glare but alleged to not have as much glare as the glossy displays. Your Pismo was a regular resolution matte display.

Display preference is totally personal preference. Many images folks like me hate the glossy displays, but most folks seem to do ok with them.

Higher resolution is a two-edged sword. Higher resolution overall looks better, especially for images; however it makes some fonts smaller which can be very irritating. I choose high rez but dislike the sometimes-small fonts.

Basically you need to go to an Apple store and compare displays to get a feel for the differences. If for some reason you cannot I suggest that you choose a MBP with anti-glare/matte display.

Note that June 2012 MBPs no longer have Superdrives. No big loss because external DVD drives are easy enough. However note that an advantage of the older MBPs is that one can post purchase retrofit an SSD or HDD into the bay used by the Superdrive, a very slick solution to having SSD instancy plus cheap HDD mass storage in one mobile MBP.

IMO Apple-refurbished MBPs are a great way to go, equal to or better than new. E.g. one good choice (unfortunately HDD not SSD; really look hard to find an SSD version) that meets the criteria above:

Refurbished MacBook Pro 2.2GHz quad-core Intel i7

Originally released February 2011
15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Hi-Res antiglare widescreen display, 1680-by-1050 resolution
4GB (2 x 2GB) of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
750GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm
8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
Intel HD Graphics 3000 and AMD Radeon HD 6750M

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/hom...ac/macbook_pro

Another good source (no tax) to check is
New and Refurbished Apple / Mac Computers

I recommend against the June 2012 MBPs as poor value, except for the retina display models with 16 GB RAM, which are expensive but excellent if the retina display suits you.

HTH

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jun 13, 2012 at 07:26 PM. )
     
DNA man  (op)
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Jun 13, 2012, 07:07 PM
 
Mmm... sounds like Apple doesn't build 'em like they used to then?


Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
So, emphasis on a laptop with the lowest expected hardware failure rates. No GPU overheating, perhaps an SSD, or easy HD replacements. A keyboard that doesn't pop key caps, power port that doesn't get loose or catch fire, battery that lasts and/or is easily replaceable.

I don't know the answers on this, sorry.
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 07:09 PM
 
That's not what he said.

That was just narrowing down criteria.
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 07:29 PM
 
Your Pismo was purchased over 10 years ago NEW at a base price of $2,499.00
It had 64mb of RAM, and possibly a 6 or 10 GB hard drive (I had one with the 10GB).
Today, that same money might get you the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, 2.3 Ghz quad-core, 256 SSD drive, 16GB of RAM
Since this new Mac Book is brand new, I don't think we can say that we can guarantee flawless 0% failure rate on the one you buy.
I can tell you from experience that ever since the Unibody MacBook Pro came out, the quality has been excellent. I have one from 2008 with an SSD and it is still very fast and has not had a failure. And I have a good experience with Mac laptops too. I have used the following:
Powerbook Duo 2300, Powerbook 2400/180, 3400/180, Pismo, Powerbook G4/500, AlBook G4/167, MacBook Pro CoreDuo 2.16, MBP C2D 2.8.
And the last one has had the best experience with little or no problems.

What kind of video editing are you doing on the Pismo right now? Do you still have 64MB of RAM, or have you upgraded it? Did you upgrade the hard drive as well? Are you still running OS9 or are you using MacOSX? which version? 10.2, 10.3 or 10.4?
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 07:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by DNA man View Post
Mmm... sounds like Apple doesn't build 'em like they used to then?
Like I said above:
The good news is that from a quality standpoint all Mac laptops from the past few years have been excellent.
Better than all previous Mac laptops, many of which I owned.

Of course any new laptop is likely to not achieve the extraordinary 12-year life of your Pismo, but that would be due to coincidence or workflow obsolescence (I am certain that you are not doing Photoshop or video on your Pismo ) rather than to innate quality.

-Allen
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jun 13, 2012 at 07:54 PM. )
     
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Jun 13, 2012, 07:43 PM
 
Here is a perfect MBP for you:

MacBook Pro 15in 2.4GHz i7 4GB/128GB SSD/Hi-Res Antiglare CTO | Small Dog Electronics

Probably no tax added, US$2455 delivered to your door. Costs less than your Pismo did.

But if you like the retina display you might as well buy the latest and greatest, which has stronger graphics support. It is only a few hundred dollars more...

( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jun 13, 2012 at 08:02 PM. )
     
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Jun 15, 2012, 08:15 AM
 
what have you done to upgrade your pismo over the years? does it still have the original amount of memory? original hard drive and battery? did you replace any of these things yourself? i only ask because the new retina pro, none of these things are user replaceable so if you hope to get ten years out of it i would say it is very unlikely. also it is so new that there is no way anyone can judge how reliable it will be. the bugs haven't been worked out yet.
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ibook 466
     
   
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