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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Can a Macbook Pro replace a desktop?

Can a Macbook Pro replace a desktop?
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xmattingly
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Dec 28, 2006, 12:25 AM
 
Here's a question I can hopefully get some good feedback about: basically, I'm third time tower owner -- I've always preferred them for speed, expandability, and cheaper cost of ownership. I know I'll be buying a new computer early next year, probably soon after Adobe CS3 is released. But I've been checking specs on laptops, and lately they're looking pretty good.

What I'm wondering is if a laptop can be a viable replacement for a tower. I'm aware that they're pricier and have almost no options for expansion, but having the flexibility to be mobile, plus the extra doo-dads that they come equipped with (wireless built in, iSight, etc) is looking pretty tempting. I'm a graphic designer by trade, and what I'm most interested in is whether or not it'd be able to keep up with the pace I work at as well as a tower can.

Right now, I'm using a single processor, 1.8ghz G5 w/ 2.25gb of ram. It's been a pretty good machine, but doesn't seem to manage ram quite as well as a dual processor, and it chokes when starts to page out. One concern of mine is whether 3 gigs of ram would be enough in a Macbook Pro. My experience w/ my G5 tells me that 2 gigs definitely isn't enough, but I've seen a lot of reviews and comments where they say that's plenty in a dual core processor machine.

What would be ideal for me is if I could test out a Macbook Pro for a week and put it through the paces, to see if it can keep up with the workload. But since that's not going to happen, any feedback or stories anyone has to share would be greatly appreciated -- especially if you're someone who has already made the switch from tower to laptop.

Thanks in advance, and Happy Holidays
     
ender78
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Dec 28, 2006, 12:38 AM
 
Find a local dealer with a good return policy and you may be able to do just what you want. Get a machine at a local BestBuy and buy an extra 2GB of RAM. I really see nothing wrong with doing that, if you like the machine, you will keep it.

I own a MacBook Pro but use it as a desktop. If I were to do it again, I'm not sure if I would not gave gone with a MacPro and a Macbook. If you do not need portability, the laptop is a waste.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Dec 28, 2006, 04:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by ender78 View Post
Find a local dealer with a good return policy and you may be able to do just what you want. Get a machine at a local BestBuy and buy an extra 2GB of RAM. I really see nothing wrong with doing that, if you like the machine, you will keep it.

I own a MacBook Pro but use it as a desktop. If I were to do it again, I'm not sure if I would not gave gone with a MacPro and a Macbook. If you do not need portability, the laptop is a waste.
Thanks for the advice. A retailer may be my best bet, but I think no matter where I go I'll be stuck with a restocking fee if I decided to return it. I agree; a laptop is a complete waste of money if it won't go anywhere. For myself, the majority of use will be at my desk at home, but it'd be a great benefit for me to be able to take my work with me wherever I go; especially since I don't have an office space that I can use to meet with clients, and in a lot of cases I'd rather be able to get some work done while I'm sitting with them rather than meet, take notes, do the work and meet again. The most important thing will be that it performs as well as a desktop, though.

If anyone can make performance comparisons between the newer laptops and desktops from their personal experience, I'd appreciate it. =)
     
molarszbt18
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Dec 28, 2006, 06:40 AM
 
A laptop will never be as fast as a desktop, but the portability function won for me. BookEndz does sell docks now for the MBP which is even a sweeter deal. You really have to think about it. $2,500 on a laptop could get you a sweet iMac if not close to a MacPRo
     
solofx7
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Dec 28, 2006, 09:32 AM
 
Well i am going to weigh in on this a little bit.
I have a MacBook Pro 17 and I think that it would probably suit your needs.
That being said I know that traditionally desktops are faster, but the Pros seem to hold thier own. Config-wise it is a monster. My came standard with 2 gigs of ram. In some tasks I do think that more ram will make a difference in what you do.
Also price-wise the MacBook Pro and the Mac Pro are close in price.
Another side not is that i run CS2 on my MacBook Pro w/Rosetta and things run smoothly. I think under the newest updates, Rosetta was speed up by like 40% or something. Honestly i do not really notice a difference at all.
I have always done towers prior to this computer. So I feel that it can be a good replacement.
And finally i am not sure I agree with getting the machine from anyone other than Apple. I have always had better service with Apple and i think that they deserve the direct business. I have also built a great relationship with my local store and they know me when i come in. I love it and it makes a huge difference in my shopping and service level.
The store also tends to be a bit more in tune with me and my needs in this way and go out of the box alot for me.
Also you may want to go into the store and try the machine. I think that the software may be on there and you will be pleasantly surprised.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Dec 30, 2006, 08:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by solofx7 View Post
Well i am going to weigh in on this a little bit.
I have a MacBook Pro 17 and I think that it would probably suit your needs.
That being said I know that traditionally desktops are faster, but the Pros seem to hold thier own. Config-wise it is a monster. My came standard with 2 gigs of ram. In some tasks I do think that more ram will make a difference in what you do.
Also price-wise the MacBook Pro and the Mac Pro are close in price.
Another side not is that i run CS2 on my MacBook Pro w/Rosetta and things run smoothly. I think under the newest updates, Rosetta was speed up by like 40% or something. Honestly i do not really notice a difference at all.
I have always done towers prior to this computer. So I feel that it can be a good replacement.
Thanks for the input! I think my best bet, like you suggested will be to just visit an Apple store and hope they have some professional graphics software loaded on a machine that I can fool around with. I think you're right about the ram... I don't think it'll make much of a difference in operation for most things, unless I'm doing a poster design in Photoshop or whatever... my big issue concerning memory is that I'm a heavy multi-tasker and when I get going on a group of projects, I'll have a lot of windows & apps open.

All in all, I'm waiting until Adobe CS3 and Leopard are both out, as well as the next updates to the Mac Pro and MacBook Pro lines. Rumor has it that they're going to 8-core processors in the towers... who knows what's in line next for the MacBooks. It'll be a matter of what tempts me the most.
     
Peligro
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Dec 30, 2006, 01:14 PM
 
I am using my rev a MBP as a Desktop right now. I am however going to be purchasing a MacPro soon. I think for a lot of tasks the MBP is a force to be reckoned with. Graphic wise im not sure. I use mine for music.
eh. Maybe I shouldn't give advice I'm a mac newbie and I am love stuck.
     
Lava Lamp Freak
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Dec 30, 2006, 01:37 PM
 
I have the 2.33 MBP as a desktop replacement. Actually, it is replacing 3 computers; an IBM Thinkpad, a dual 2.5 G5, and a Dell workstation. I'm running it on a 23" display, and it seems faster than my 2.5 G5. I've not done any comparisons, but it feels speedier to me. Also, in Bootcamp, I can play Half Life 2, Guild Wars, and Lineage 2 at close to max settings at 1920x1200. Parallels software allows me to do all of my web page testing -- I'm a web developer -- without having to reboot into Bootcamp, or using another system. I'm thrilled with my system.

2GB of memory was standard with this MBP, and I don't think anything less would have been acceptable. Also remember that the C2D MBP has the same specs as the C2D iMac. So you can't say it isn't as fast as a desktop, its got the same parts inside! My only complaint is I'd like to have more internal HD space than 120GB.

I use Photoshop CS2, Aperture, TextMate, and Parallels software on a daily basis, and this 2.33 MBP has gracefully replaced my desktop G5.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Dec 30, 2006, 09:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by Lava Lamp Freak View Post
I have the 2.33 MBP as a desktop replacement. Actually, it is replacing 3 computers; an IBM Thinkpad, a dual 2.5 G5, and a Dell workstation. I'm running it on a 23" display, and it seems faster than my 2.5 G5. I've not done any comparisons, but it feels speedier to me. Also, in Bootcamp, I can play Half Life 2, Guild Wars, and Lineage 2 at close to max settings at 1920x1200. Parallels software allows me to do all of my web page testing -- I'm a web developer -- without having to reboot into Bootcamp, or using another system. I'm thrilled with my system.

2GB of memory was standard with this MBP, and I don't think anything less would have been acceptable. Also remember that the C2D MBP has the same specs as the C2D iMac. So you can't say it isn't as fast as a desktop, its got the same parts inside! My only complaint is I'd like to have more internal HD space than 120GB.

I use Photoshop CS2, Aperture, TextMate, and Parallels software on a daily basis, and this 2.33 MBP has gracefully replaced my desktop G5.
Thanks, man -- that's reassuring, especially since you're doing web developing and play games. That's also pretty cool that you were able to consolidate three machines with one little laptop! That's part of the big lure, to me: compact size -- I really like my tower, but let's face it - those things are freakin' huge -- and portability. Ahh... I need to get my butt out to the Apple store and start asking questions.
     
quattrokid73
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Dec 31, 2006, 12:18 AM
 
my 2.16cd 2gb is great for desktop stuff. i have a wireless apple kbd and mouse and my 19" synchmaster and i keep itunes on my 155" display and work on the 19" with no issue.
MBP 2.4, 2gb, 8600GT, 120gb 7200rpm; white iPhone 3G

     
xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 1, 2007, 06:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by quattrokid73 View Post
my 2.16cd 2gb is great for desktop stuff. i have a wireless apple kbd and mouse and my 19" synchmaster and i keep itunes on my 155" display and work on the 19" with no issue.
That's pretty much the route I'd intend to go; wireless mouse + keyboard (which I already have), and connecting to a bigger display. And I know that graphics-wise, the 256mb video card they come equipped with is a beast, too: my tower only has a 64mb card, and it handles everything I need it to.

Happy New Year, everyone!!!
     
pyrite
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Jan 1, 2007, 06:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by xmattingly View Post
That's pretty much the route I'd intend to go; wireless mouse + keyboard (which I already have), and connecting to a bigger display. And I know that graphics-wise, the 256mb video card they come equipped with is a beast, too: my tower only has a 64mb card, and it handles everything I need it to.

Happy New Year, everyone!!!
happy new year! i had great success with my laptop setup (i sold it recently to help save for my wedding), when i got home from work i'd plug it into a 32" LCD HDTV and a wireless keyboard/mouse setup and it became a great home/media machine as well. the new MBP, (larger cache and higher clock speeds), confidently keeps up with most desktops. you won't need to worry about performance. after buying my laptop, my dual processor desktop saw little use.

you've probably noticed a lot of desktops are now using laptop-esque hardware anyway, the old thinking of laptops being considerably slower is no longer really valid. desktops can have better bus speeds, faster hard drives (upgradable to 7200RPM on laptops anyway), but that's about it, unless you're comparing to a 4-core or 8-core desktops, which most people don't need anyway (and dont deliver the doubles in speed you'd expect, as most software is not coded to use 4-8 cores).

go the lappy for sure
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glhart
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Jan 2, 2007, 12:01 AM
 
It seems to me the biggest issue with the MBP is RAM -- I have a c2d 17" with 2 gigs, and when I am running several programs, especially Parallels and Rosetta, things slow down with a lot of disk access for virtual memory. Unfortunately, the same must be true for an iMac, which uses the same memory as the MBP and has only 2 slots, like the MBP. But the big Mac Pro could be maxed out with 4 or more gigs, and that would certainly help. It seems that 2 gigs on a PowerBook went a lot further than on the Intel machines. Aside from this, and the obvious issue of a slower hard disk, I am extremely pleased with the MBP -- for most things, it is as fast as the dual 2500 Power Mac I use at work.
     
pyrite
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Jan 2, 2007, 12:06 AM
 
both the new imac and the new MBP can take 3GB of RAM
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bbqhog
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Jan 2, 2007, 01:00 AM
 
I am very happy running my new 17" MBP as a destop machine. It has 3G of RAM, a 7200 RMP hard drive, and is part of a wireless network containing an HP laserjet for wireless document printing. When I want to do photo printing, I plug in an Epson 3800. I also have a LaCie D2 160GB drive for redundant backup and storage of large image files. I use a Logitech bluetooth mouse and a Wacom USB tablet when I am at my desk. Works like a champ.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 2, 2007, 05:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by pyrite View Post
happy new year! i had great success with my laptop setup (i sold it recently to help save for my wedding), when i got home from work i'd plug it into a 32" LCD HDTV and a wireless keyboard/mouse setup and it became a great home/media machine as well. the new MBP, (larger cache and higher clock speeds), confidently keeps up with most desktops. you won't need to worry about performance. after buying my laptop, my dual processor desktop saw little use.

you've probably noticed a lot of desktops are now using laptop-esque hardware anyway, the old thinking of laptops being considerably slower is no longer really valid. desktops can have better bus speeds, faster hard drives (upgradable to 7200RPM on laptops anyway), but that's about it, unless you're comparing to a 4-core or 8-core desktops, which most people don't need anyway (and dont deliver the doubles in speed you'd expect, as most software is not coded to use 4-8 cores).

go the lappy for sure
Point well taken - come to think of it, pretty much all of Apple's computer lineup, except for the Mac Pro's, are using laptop components, aren't they? Lava Lamp Freak had made an iMac comparison a little earlier...

Yeah, software is probable about as far off from taking advantage of multi-core processors as they are from working in true 64 bit mode. Still - at least the system will take advantage of having multiple brains. If you are as heavy of a multi-tasker as I am, all that extra number crunching will definitely come in handy; if you have one or two apps that are still processing, you can jump to something else you're working on and keep on truckin'.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 2, 2007, 05:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by glhart View Post
It seems to me the biggest issue with the MBP is RAM -- I have a c2d 17" with 2 gigs, and when I am running several programs, especially Parallels and Rosetta, things slow down with a lot of disk access for virtual memory. Unfortunately, the same must be true for an iMac, which uses the same memory as the MBP and has only 2 slots, like the MBP. But the big Mac Pro could be maxed out with 4 or more gigs, and that would certainly help. It seems that 2 gigs on a PowerBook went a lot further than on the Intel machines. Aside from this, and the obvious issue of a slower hard disk, I am extremely pleased with the MBP -- for most things, it is as fast as the dual 2500 Power Mac I use at work.
Ram is probably my single biggest hangup about whether or not I would get a laptop... I consider that kind of expansion future proofing against ever-so-bloated-but-increasingly-capable software... not naming names, though. I think I can live with a slower hard drive, though... Not making little of your dilemma with virtualization on your computer by any means, but for me that's a little more reassuring. I've always been under the impression that paralells is more memory intensive than working in graphics (usually), and I have no plans to run Windows... Rosetta will be a dead issue by the time I upgrade (for the most part).
     
mrplow
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Jan 3, 2007, 03:38 AM
 
I'm using a macbook with external mouse/kb/lcd and I think it's absolutely fan-freakin'-tastic.. to say a laptop will never be as fast as a desktop, are you suggesting that a powermac g3 is faster than a macbook? sure no laptop will ever be as fast as the *top of the line* desktop, but it certainly can and does match many others. (iMac is VERY close to the macbook pro)
     
Dzokayi
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Jan 3, 2007, 12:14 PM
 
Your current tower is paging with 2.25GB RAM. Your system requirements are only going to increase. It seems foolish to buy a laptop with a RAM celing of 3GB. You NEED 3GB already! Based on that alone I would not even consider the laptop, unless it is to supplement a tower with 4GB +.

If you look past 'teh shiny', you'll see that the RAM limitation makes the current crop of laptops a bad fit for your intended workload.
     
jeffr
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Jan 3, 2007, 07:43 PM
 
Until I got my 15.4" MacBook Pro a week ago, I had been using the 15.4" PowerBook G4 as a desktop replacement. I've always liked notebooks rather than desktops because they are so compact, it just sits on my desk and takes up practically no space. And when I want to, I can bring it into the other room and watch some TV (like I am doing right now). I am a fairly casual user, mostly email, web, iPhoto, iTunes, maybe a little photo editing, and rarely I will use iDVD or iMovie. For me, I've never needed any more than the PowerBook or the MBP could deliver.
     
Lava Lamp Freak
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Jan 4, 2007, 12:51 AM
 
Memory is definitely important. I had 3GB in my G5 and had page outs with it too. Regardless of how much memory you have, the computer is going to use all of it, so you'll still have page outs. 2GB is the minimum acceptable for me. I had an Intel Mini last year with 1GB and found it unusable. I upgraded to 2GB and that made a HUGE difference.

Comparing my G5 with 3GB to this MBP with 2GB, I think the MacBook Pro is faster even with page outs. I think the processor is just more efficient than the G5. There is no substitute for real memory, but for my work load, 2GB is doing just fine. Any time I run Parallels and several other programs at once, the page outs start to go up. But since the computer boots very fast, I just do a quick reboot after I quit Paralells to clear out the pages. Parallels is the most memory intensive software on my computer. Rosetta likes memory too. I run Entourage and Photoshop CS2, but that is all I have for Rosetta.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 4, 2007, 04:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dzokayi View Post
Your current tower is paging with 2.25GB RAM. Your system requirements are only going to increase. It seems foolish to buy a laptop with a RAM celing of 3GB. You NEED 3GB already! Based on that alone I would not even consider the laptop, unless it is to supplement a tower with 4GB +.

If you look past 'teh shiny', you'll see that the RAM limitation makes the current crop of laptops a bad fit for your intended workload.
Well, yes and no. Bear in mind that my current computer is only a single processor 1.8ghz... the machine I use at work is a dual 2ghz w/ 1.5gb of ram, and it doesn't page out as much - and when it starts to, I'm still able to skip around my open programs without nearly as much of a hitch as my home computer. Having said that, I already know that the MBP's are going to be significantly faster/more efficient than my home machine. And when I hear so many reviewers saying that 2gb of ram is plenty in a MBP (in light of my current usage), it adds a little to the confusion.

Originally Posted by Lava Lamp Freak
Comparing my G5 with 3GB to this MBP with 2GB, I think the MacBook Pro is faster even with page outs. I think the processor is just more efficient than the G5. There is no substitute for real memory, but for my work load, 2GB is doing just fine. Any time I run Parallels and several other programs at once, the page outs start to go up. But since the computer boots very fast, I just do a quick reboot after I quit Paralells to clear out the pages.
That's about as close as anyone could get to my original question - was your G5 a dual processor, by chance? Page outs, I can deal with... but having the machine hang up while it's happening is a pain. Yeah, it's just as easy to quit a program and dump its cache (I often have to do that at least once over the weekend for Safari), but that kind of maneuver gets a little frustrating when you're into a few programs that are part of an integrated workflow (like Adobe CS). Interesting that you say Parallels is more ram intensive than Photoshop in Rosetta - I have no intention of virtualization, so I think I'd be free & clear there.
     
Lava Lamp Freak
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Jan 4, 2007, 11:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by xmattingly View Post
That's about as close as anyone could get to my original question - was your G5 a dual processor, by chance? Page outs, I can deal with... but having the machine hang up while it's happening is a pain. Yeah, it's just as easy to quit a program and dump its cache (I often have to do that at least once over the weekend for Safari), but that kind of maneuver gets a little frustrating when you're into a few programs that are part of an integrated workflow (like Adobe CS). Interesting that you say Parallels is more ram intensive than Photoshop in Rosetta - I have no intention of virtualization, so I think I'd be free & clear there.
Yes, it is a dual 2.5. I know what you mean about Safari. Except I have to quit at least twice a day because as it uses more memory it quits loading graphics and eventually pages. I've tried FireFox and Camino and both have the same problem. I'm guessing memory leak?

I'm not a heavy Photoshop user. I just use it for low rez web graphics and rarely some photo touch up. I use Aperture for most of my photo needs. CS3 is faster than CS2, and uses less memory, but I've been getting to many program errors to be able to use it for working. I'll upgrade when its released.

Something to keep in mind, you can purchase a "refreshed" model from a retail Apple Store and save $250. It isn't refurbished, its just a machine that someone brought back to the store for any reason other than a malfunctioning computer. That is how I bought mine, and I don't think it had even even been touched before. For me, that come out to less than what I could have got it for from Amazon with no tax.
     
phobos
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Jan 4, 2007, 11:49 AM
 
xmattingly if you are planning to get the next revision of macbook pro I'm betting that it will not have the 3gb limitation. I'm also guessing though that it will not go any higher than 4gb.
I agree that more ram the better but be sure that you really need lots of ram and it's not just a "I want more" thing. I mean I've done billboards 3m wide by 1.5m at 200dpi on Photoshop with only 512MB of ram. Yes it was infuriating to work like that but the work was done. And we're not talking about put a picture and some text and you're done. It was creative work. Brushes. filters panorama compositing the whole pack!!
I think 4GBs leaves you plenty of room for both photoshop and illustrator open and other small programs (mail, safari etc) at the same time.
If you need even more than 4gbs start thinking of ways to improve your workflow. You don't need photoshop, illustrator, after effects, mail, safari, dreamweaver, flash, indesign, all open at the same time. This a common problem for a lot of people in creative positions. If you've created an element in illustrator and you're done with it don't leave it open. You get my point.
Hope this helps

[edit]
I've reread your posts and you say that you use aperture alot. I guess that's why you see all those page outs. Aperture is memory, cpu and disk hungry. But there are still ways to improve that by improving your workflow. You might thinks that this is a stupid answer but if you think about it for a while you will definately find things in your workflow that bog down your system just because you are used to work in a "messy" way. e.g You don't need 20 versions of the same image that have slightly diferrent brightness.
( Last edited by phobos; Jan 4, 2007 at 11:58 AM. )
     
zaghahzag
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Jan 4, 2007, 12:24 PM
 
i use a 2.0 dual g5 with 4 gigs of ram and a mbpro with 2 gigs of ram. at home, i use the mbp pugged into a 22 inch screen with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

It's a great setup and completely useable. With that said, it's about hte same speed as the g5 with all the memory. For photoshop (non-intel) the g5 completely spanks the mbpro.

If I were you, i'd get a macpro w/ 4 gigs of ram, and then if you need portability get a macbook.

for your uses, a macpro will have a much longer lifespan because of the amazing amount of ram you can put in there, whereas the macbookpro will reach some its limit at 3gigs.

also, some of the work you do will go 1.5 to 2x faster on the macpro than on the mbpro.

not to mention that you can have 5 sata drives in a macpro.
( Last edited by zaghahzag; Jan 4, 2007 at 12:26 PM. Reason: addition)
     
SierraDragon
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Jan 4, 2007, 07:34 PM
 
The real question is as regards (a) pro graphics usage and (b) the future time frame mid 2007 thru 2011, not today! The performance experience of casual users, today IMO is not very relevant.

PSCS2 already shows improvement with up to 8 GB of RAM. Other graphics apps - and especially the OS - are also strongly moving in a RAM-utilizing direction. For graphics pros 3 GB will be significantly limiting over the future life of a new box.

I own a maxxed-out 17" C2D MBP because the portability is a necessity. But (for graphics pros like us) no laptop is totally a "desktop replacement." The strongest MBP is still very much a compromise. iMacs are the worst of all: performance limited by design and without the benefit of portability.

My tower is a maxxed DP G4, hopefully being upgraded to a maxxed Mac Pro this quarter.

Note too that MacIntels do seem to inherently need more RAM that the G4/G5 platforms did, so analogies to G4/G5 RAM performance are IMO of limited value.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jan 4, 2007 at 07:44 PM. )
     
phobos
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Jan 5, 2007, 01:54 AM
 
When you buy a laptop you know that it won't last for that long.
But if you know (from the beta anyways) that the cs3 will run on the current generation of macbook pros pretty fast then it's a certain bet that it will run even better on the next rev on april which is from what I understand xmattingly's plan.
The next substantial revision of CS (I mean after CS3) will be in 2+ years. A .5 release will probably be released on a year or so but the big version that usually has higher requirements will come in 2+ years. And even then the machine will be able to run the new programs.

The way I see it:
Illustrator is for most of the machines a future proof program. It's a beast but you can have a ridiculous amount of complexity and objects and still not slow down. You definately don't need 4+ GBs.

With the resolution dependent Photoshop things can slow down pretty fast but you can work quite easily at 300dpi in A2 dimensions with 3GBs of ram without having many pageouts. And let's be logical here. On a professional environment most of the times you won't go more than A3 in size.
If you usually work on bigger dimensions you probably know that you don't work in that resolution but in 1/4 of that or bigger depending on what you want or what the printer wants.
PSCS2 already shows improvement with up to 8 GB of RAM
It works better because os and other programs have more ram to use not because photoshop can use all that memory. Photoshop if I remember correctly can only register 3GBs.

InDesign is even for the most low specced machine. A powerbook at 667MHz with 512MB of ram can do a whole book with ridiculous amount of pictures and not slow down.

3d and motion graphics is a different thing. But still with 3d if your're planning to use it as most people do - create elements that you later composite on pictures - you still have a 3d capable render efficient machine. With movies you need power not only in ram but in hard disk and graphics as well. (for compositing programs.

Anyway I think the next revision of macbooks will be a nice working environment for a lot of graphic designers. We're talking about some serious power here. The only thing that concernes me is how well the new os will run. Cause if this thing runs badly then we're gonna have some serious problems
     
brokenjago
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Jan 5, 2007, 02:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by xmattingly
whereever I go I'll be stuck with a restocking fee...
Not Fry's Electronics.
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motionMan
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Jan 6, 2007, 03:12 PM
 
If price is not a huge concern, once the mbp memory limit goes to 4GB+ you could get an mce optibay drive (replaces the superdrive in mbp, if you're okay with an external burner) and run raided HDDs for added performance or capacity. Obvisouly not as easy an upgrade as it would be in the MacPro, nor as wallet friendly, but it would be a sweet setup, in theory anyway.
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xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 6, 2007, 04:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by Lava Lamp Freak View Post
Yes, it is a dual 2.5. I know what you mean about Safari. Except I have to quit at least twice a day because as it uses more memory it quits loading graphics and eventually pages. I've tried FireFox and Camino and both have the same problem. I'm guessing memory leak?

Something to keep in mind, you can purchase a "refreshed" model from a retail Apple Store and save $250. It isn't refurbished, its just a machine that someone brought back to the store for any reason other than a malfunctioning computer. That is how I bought mine, and I don't think it had even even been touched before. For me, that come out to less than what I could have got it for from Amazon with no tax.
I think the problem with browsers in general is that they're designed for convenience - all the pages and media from sites are cached into memory, so they're readily available if you want to go back to them while the browser is still active.

I'll definitely keep the refresh model in mind! I've actually had pretty good luck buying off of eBay, too - that's where my last two computers came from.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 6, 2007, 04:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by phobos View Post
xmattingly if you are planning to get the next revision of macbook pro I'm betting that it will not have the 3gb limitation. I'm also guessing though that it will not go any higher than 4gb.
I agree that more ram the better but be sure that you really need lots of ram and it's not just a "I want more" thing. I mean I've done billboards 3m wide by 1.5m at 200dpi on Photoshop with only 512MB of ram. Yes it was infuriating to work like that but the work was done. And we're not talking about put a picture and some text and you're done. It was creative work. Brushes. filters panorama compositing the whole pack!!
I think 4GBs leaves you plenty of room for both photoshop and illustrator open and other small programs (mail, safari etc) at the same time.
If you need even more than 4gbs start thinking of ways to improve your workflow. You don't need photoshop, illustrator, after effects, mail, safari, dreamweaver, flash, indesign, all open at the same time. This a common problem for a lot of people in creative positions. If you've created an element in illustrator and you're done with it don't leave it open. You get my point.
Hope this helps
Point taken - I've heard rumors that the next MBP will support more ram - I wonder if that has anything to do with 64 bit memory addressing of the processors? Ram is definitely not a vanity thing for me, it's more of a "can this machine handle my workflow without impeding me" thing. Otherwise, I'd just be dropping several thousand on something comparable to an Alienware machine. That's the dividing line I'm riding right now, though... truthfully, the towers have a lot more expansion than I need - especially since most peripherals are USB or Firewire now - but I'm still not sure if a lappy will have enough, yet.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 6, 2007, 04:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
The real question is as regards (a) pro graphics usage and (b) the future time frame mid 2007 thru 2011, not today! The performance experience of casual users, today IMO is not very relevant.
No question about it - future proofing is about as much of an issue for me as being able to perform well in the present. I figure if I have a laptop that can keep up performance-wise for at least two or three years, that'll be good enough. And, if I were a casual user, there wouldn't be much room for discussion - a MacBook would be plenty for most people (I think).
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 6, 2007, 05:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by phobos View Post
When you buy a laptop you know that it won't last for that long.
But if you know (from the beta anyways) that the cs3 will run on the current generation of macbook pros pretty fast then it's a certain bet that it will run even better on the next rev on april which is from what I understand xmattingly's plan.
The next substantial revision of CS (I mean after CS3) will be in 2+ years. A .5 release will probably be released on a year or so but the big version that usually has higher requirements will come in 2+ years. And even then the machine will be able to run the new programs.

The way I see it:
Illustrator is for most of the machines a future proof program. It's a beast but you can have a ridiculous amount of complexity and objects and still not slow down. You definately don't need 4+ GBs.

With the resolution dependent Photoshop things can slow down pretty fast but you can work quite easily at 300dpi in A2 dimensions with 3GBs of ram without having many pageouts. And let's be logical here. On a professional environment most of the times you won't go more than A3 in size.
If you usually work on bigger dimensions you probably know that you don't work in that resolution but in 1/4 of that or bigger depending on what you want or what the printer wants.

It works better because os and other programs have more ram to use not because photoshop can use all that memory. Photoshop if I remember correctly can only register 3GBs.

InDesign is even for the most low specced machine. A powerbook at 667MHz with 512MB of ram can do a whole book with ridiculous amount of pictures and not slow down.

3d and motion graphics is a different thing. But still with 3d if your're planning to use it as most people do - create elements that you later composite on pictures - you still have a 3d capable render efficient machine. With movies you need power not only in ram but in hard disk and graphics as well. (for compositing programs.
You pretty much pegged me about CS3. Laptops are looking all the more tempting with what's coming down the pipeline, especially after what I've found on the web:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYoepcvDZoo

http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0612illustratorcs3.html

I have to disagree on both counts on Illustrator & InDesign. I've done plenty of work in Illustrator over the years, and I've had a love/hate relationship with it from AI 9, and on. It's a great program, but became pretty bloated and flaky ever since they made PDF the native format. AI 8 was rock solid though... the news I read on Think Secret is really encouraging.

I've done a lot of work in publishing too, and seen InDesign start to chug even on fairly capable towers, depending on how complex the layout is, how many pages, effects, etc are used in a document.

I agree about 3D graphics - someone would have to be retarded to try that kind of work on a laptop. I've known people who can get by doing video on a lappy, but personally if I were in that line of biz I'd want the expandability and speed of a tower.
     
praterkeith
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Jan 7, 2007, 05:56 AM
 
Originally Posted by xmattingly View Post
Here's a question I can hopefully get some good feedback about: basically, I'm third time tower owner -- I've always preferred them for speed, expandability, and cheaper cost of ownership. I know I'll be buying a new computer early next year, probably soon after Adobe CS3 is released. But I've been checking specs on laptops, and lately they're looking pretty good.

What I'm wondering is if a laptop can be a viable replacement for a tower. I'm aware that they're pricier and have almost no options for expansion, but having the flexibility to be mobile, plus the extra doo-dads that they come equipped with (wireless built in, iSight, etc) is looking pretty tempting. I'm a graphic designer by trade, and what I'm most interested in is whether or not it'd be able to keep up with the pace I work at as well as a tower can.

Right now, I'm using a single processor, 1.8ghz G5 w/ 2.25gb of ram. It's been a pretty good machine, but doesn't seem to manage ram quite as well as a dual processor, and it chokes when starts to page out. One concern of mine is whether 3 gigs of ram would be enough in a Macbook Pro. My experience w/ my G5 tells me that 2 gigs definitely isn't enough, but I've seen a lot of reviews and comments where they say that's plenty in a dual core processor machine.

What would be ideal for me is if I could test out a Macbook Pro for a week and put it through the paces, to see if it can keep up with the workload. But since that's not going to happen, any feedback or stories anyone has to share would be greatly appreciated -- especially if you're someone who has already made the switch from tower to laptop.

Thanks in advance, and Happy Holidays
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NeutrinoMan
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Jan 7, 2007, 02:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by jeffr View Post
Until I got my 15.4" MacBook Pro a week ago, I had been using the 15.4" PowerBook G4 as a desktop replacement. I've always liked notebooks rather than desktops because they are so compact, it just sits on my desk and takes up practically no space. And when I want to, I can bring it into the other room and watch some TV (like I am doing right now). I am a fairly casual user, mostly email, web, iPhoto, iTunes, maybe a little photo editing, and rarely I will use iDVD or iMovie. For me, I've never needed any more than the PowerBook or the MBP could deliver.
The 15.4" I received in early December had a display with a grainy appearance:

http://forums.macnn.com/69/powerbook...rainy-matte/5/

I'm wondering how yours is? I'm wondering if Apple is easing off on the anti-glare coating to avoid the grainy-sparkle effect.
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jeffr
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Jan 7, 2007, 05:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by NeutrinoMan View Post
The 15.4" I received in early December had a display with a grainy appearance:

http://forums.macnn.com/69/powerbook...rainy-matte/5/

I'm wondering how yours is? I'm wondering if Apple is easing off on the anti-glare coating to avoid the grainy-sparkle effect.
Before I ordered a new MBP Core 2 Duo, I tried out the MBP Core Duo refurb. Actually two, and both were defective, which is why I decided to get a new C2D. There was a fair amount of grain on those Core Duos. With my C2D, yes, if I look very closely I can see some slight grain, but it is extremely slight. It is actually less grain than my PowerBook G4, which is a model regarded to have an excellent screen. I am very please with the C2D's screen, no complaints.
     
webmonkie
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Jan 8, 2007, 07:44 AM
 
If all you do is browsing the web, you have your won blog site, and you do some small photo editing maybe.
     
MattJeff
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Jan 8, 2007, 06:30 PM
 
i say it can replace my G4 tower and my G4 imac, its a beast.
     
markus
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Jan 8, 2007, 11:40 PM
 
i think a mbp c2d can replace a desktop. it did for me, and i have no issues with "grainy" display, i wouldnt like to use this computer for gaming, but that's only because i wouldnt want to wear out it's nice keyboard
     
Thraxes
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Jan 9, 2007, 10:50 AM
 
I can't speak about Adobe apps as I don't use them heavily enough to pass judgement. I use them enough to notice that rosetta is too slow for me but in the grand scheme of things, Adobe is only secondary.

My primary apps are Video-related though and I must say that I am very pleased with the performance of my MBP in that aspect. I use FCP and Motion quite a bit - when having both apps running at the same time I do get pageouts but I think they would be minimal if I had maxed out the RAM to 3GB instead of the 2GB I have now. So I just avoid that situation and prepare the motion clips before I fire up FCP, no biggie. I have to stress though that I only work with SD video at the moment, usually in DV-50 format and so bandwidthwise a large FW400 drive is enough for now. SD is also a reason why can't comment on Photoshop performance as I am usually working with PAL resolution images or Web-Page images - small potatoes in other words. So with SD video as my main heavy lifitng job (games in bootcamp are the other ) I am quite happy with my MBP as my main "workstation"...

However, just after MW 2008 I intend to splash out on some major equiptment upgrades for HD editing. A hefty Tower, lotsa RAM a nice RAID array and whatever HD camera fits my fancy at the time (shoulder carried is a must, recording media being either HDV or hopefully by that time there will be a good direct to Harddrive semi-pro cam available). I do want do go all out at that point, I am a TV broadcasting engineer by training and have certain standards, even as a student I managed to get a perfectly good BetacamSP camera out of a bankruptcy auction for merely 1000$! (I am the envy of the uni and get invited to all kinds of Video shoots by my fellow students ). I can digitize the tapes in full quality DV-50 on pro equipment at the university and at the TV station where I work part-time (sadly a Sony J-3 Betaplayer and a SDI->FW converter are way outta reach for a non-pro).
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wolfen
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Jan 10, 2007, 04:48 PM
 
Think back 5 years - still talking 21st century. Today's MBP user is very time-competitive. The graphic designers of 2002 (with towers inferior to today's MBP) weren't starving for lack of computing power back then, and neither will you today.

THEREFORE the real question is this: will the laptop add enough value to your business (via presentation portability, time savings, and lower price, etc.) to outweigh the processing power benefits and the investment protection (video, storage, and media upgradability) found in a tower? That's the financial question.

No one can answer the usability question for you.
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xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 15, 2007, 04:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by Thraxes View Post
My primary apps are Video-related though and I must say that I am very pleased with the performance of my MBP in that aspect. I use FCP and Motion quite a bit - when having both apps running at the same time I do get pageouts but I think they would be minimal if I had maxed out the RAM to 3GB instead of the 2GB I have now. So I just avoid that situation and prepare the motion clips before I fire up FCP, no biggie. I have to stress though that I only work with SD video at the moment, usually in DV-50 format and so bandwidthwise a large FW400 drive is enough for now. SD is also a reason why can't comment on Photoshop performance as I am usually working with PAL resolution images or Web-Page images - small potatoes in other words. So with SD video as my main heavy lifitng job (games in bootcamp are the other ) I am quite happy with my MBP as my main "workstation"...

However, just after MW 2008 I intend to splash out on some major equiptment upgrades for HD editing. A hefty Tower, lotsa RAM a nice RAID array and whatever HD camera fits my fancy at the time (shoulder carried is a must, recording media being either HDV or hopefully by that time there will be a good direct to Harddrive semi-pro cam available). I do want do go all out at that point, I am a TV broadcasting engineer by training and have certain standards, even as a student I managed to get a perfectly good BetacamSP camera out of a bankruptcy auction for merely 1000$! (I am the envy of the uni and get invited to all kinds of Video shoots by my fellow students ). I can digitize the tapes in full quality DV-50 on pro equipment at the university and at the TV station where I work part-time (sadly a Sony J-3 Betaplayer and a SDI->FW converter are way outta reach for a non-pro).
Cool - thanks for the thorough response; it's very insightful! Even though it's SD, it's still cool to hear from someone who's doing regular video production on a laptop. I've never used FCP or Motion, but my understanding is that they (or any video editing suite, for that matter) are pretty ram intensive. That's also pretty impressive that you can get enough done working off a FW drive -- I know that if I go the laptop route, I'll also be getting one at the very least for backup.

Bankruptcy auctions are great places to get equipment for cheap, aren't they? Six or seven years ago, I got a G4 tower brand new for a few hundred below retail.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 15, 2007, 04:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
Think back 5 years - still talking 21st century. Today's MBP user is very time-competitive. The graphic designers of 2002 (with towers inferior to today's MBP) weren't starving for lack of computing power back then, and neither will you today.

THEREFORE the real question is this: will the laptop add enough value to your business (via presentation portability, time savings, and lower price, etc.) to outweigh the processing power benefits and the investment protection (video, storage, and media upgradability) found in a tower? That's the financial question.
Yeah, but the thing you can always count on regarding hardware+software is that the software is almost always engineered to perform well on hardware that's available at the time. I would argue that laptops are far more capable for today's software than they were several years ago -- Thraxes says he does video editing on his, and I never heard of anyone doing that at the turn of the century. I knew a few graphic designers that were using them for their work at the time, but they were taking a pretty big performance hit for the sake of portability, and on top of that their machines were outdated (for available software) within a year. Now, I'm not so sure that's the case.

My real question is what's more important to me - portability or expandability? True that MBP's have a higher initial cost upfront, but even with maxing out the ram and getting an external drive, I think I'd be spending less than on a Mac Pro. That FB memory is still pretty damn expensive, and I'll want at least 4 gigs. Let alone that those towers offer more expansion than I'll ever need: four PCI slots, space for another optical drive that I'll pay for and probably never use. I still haven't answered that question, though.
     
xmattingly  (op)
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Jan 19, 2007, 03:35 AM
 
Hey, just a quick note of thanks for all the responses I got in this thread! I'm pretty well convinced that a MBP would be a suitable alternative for a desktop with very little compromise (at least for my needs). Now I'm just waiting to see what the next lineup of hardware will be for laptops and towers, then I'll be able to make my decision. The cool thing about asking for opinions from other Mac users is the level of enthusiasm that most of us share about our equipment; I got a lot of great feedback here. Thanks again!
     
solofx7
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Jan 19, 2007, 09:15 AM
 
Originally Posted by xmattingly View Post
Hey, just a quick note of thanks for all the responses I got in this thread! I'm pretty well convinced that a MBP would be a suitable alternative for a desktop with very little compromise (at least for my needs). Now I'm just waiting to see what the next lineup of hardware will be for laptops and towers, then I'll be able to make my decision. The cool thing about asking for opinions from other Mac users is the level of enthusiasm that most of us share about our equipment; I got a lot of great feedback here. Thanks again!
dude, i so agree.
i am a mac user for nearly 2 years.
i have been through alot, but Apple takes great care of you, and i will tell you that the MacBook Pro rocks. it honestly is a beast.
     
SierraDragon
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Jan 21, 2007, 02:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by xmattingly View Post
...the thing you can always count on regarding hardware+software is that the software is almost always engineered to perform well on hardware that's available at the time.)
As regards heavy graphics apps I could not disagree more. In general over the years such apps have always performed well on the stronger more modern hardware, with the best laptops always far behind the high end towers. E.g. until the end generation of the PB G4s Photoshop was basically unusable on laptops.

A good current example is Aperture. The (IMO killer) app has been out for quite a while now and even though Aperture on MBPs runs pretty well, only the strongest MacIntel towers with custom graphics cards allow full performance. The next round of towers due soon will allow even better Aperture performance, hopefully finally meeting the full needs of the heaviest Aperture users.

Today's MBPs are a pretty amazing leap of laptop performance, now running graphics apps pretty well. However when we buy any new box we are getting today's hardware that will need to run the apps and OS versions of the future. For instance, it is a pretty safe bet that our current (IMO already limiting, Photoshop improves up to 8 GB) max of 3 GB of RAM will be pretty limiting as time goes on.

All that said I do fully agree that a MBP may well be an acceptable sole computer for many folks who accept the limitations.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jan 21, 2007 at 02:54 PM. )
     
NeutrinoMan
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Jan 22, 2007, 04:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by jeffr View Post
Before I ordered a new MBP Core 2 Duo, I tried out the MBP Core Duo refurb. Actually two, and both were defective, which is why I decided to get a new C2D. There was a fair amount of grain on those Core Duos. With my C2D, yes, if I look very closely I can see some slight grain, but it is extremely slight. It is actually less grain than my PowerBook G4, which is a model regarded to have an excellent screen. I am very please with the C2D's screen, no complaints.
Thanks for the feedback Jeff - but I think I may just wait to spend my refund money, it looks like these MBP displays may be getting quite an improvement:

http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=2426
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Sub
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Jan 22, 2007, 07:59 PM
 
The Macbooks keep getting faster and keep getting less problems, the longer you wait the safer you will be, but how happy?

( Last edited by Sub; Jan 25, 2007 at 06:36 PM. )
     
mergemedia
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Jan 23, 2007, 12:46 AM
 
I use my macbook pro as a desktop when I'm home. I plug it into a 24" dell LCD as a second monitor, and use an external mouse. I don't use an external keyboard, though, because I love the macbook pro backlit keyboard. I wish apple would make a backlit external keyboad which matches, I'd buy it in an instant.

I have a SaiTek backlit external keyboard, but I don't like the blye LCDs, and it's not really a mac keyboard.
     
unleashed
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Apr 5, 2007, 02:07 PM
 
I'm contemplating the same thing, and this thread was a great find. I'm in the same boat almost exactly. I have a Dual 1.8 G5 and a MBPro 17". I'm seriously considering a Mac Pro, but may try out my laptop as my main computer for a while. If you're still reading this thread, I'll keep you up to date on the progress.

Some things I didn't see in this thread that should be mentioned. I use a desktop and laptop, my calendars are synched, and my email is synched. Regardless, going to a client's with my laptop: I always forget to put something on the laptop. Managing two computers is a pain, no matter how good the synching gets, it's a pain. Having 100% of your working files on one machine is a great advantage. What if you're client is going to be late but you're already enroute? You can work while you wait. Or what if you want to just tinker on that logo while your kid is watching a movie and you're sitting on the couch not really into watching the Little Mermaid for the 100th time?

And, I upgrade computers relatively frequently—not lately, but I usually have a computer that's only a couple of releases old. Buying two computers every year or two is a lot of money. If I could, I rather put that extra money into something else.

The RAM ceiling is a problem, I'll admit, especially if you're like me and usually have InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash all open. But we'll see how it goes. With Universal Binaries out in a month now, that may not be so bad.

I'll post again once I've worked on it a week or so full time.
     
 
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