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Old September 10th, 2008, 11:00 PM   #1
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MacBook Pro / Mac Pro Specs &Questions

I'm looking at getting a MacBook Pro, and was wondering if anyone had any specific suggestions as to what I need. I figure on the 17" HD screen, and 4GB of memory, but when I look at the website, it's $250 more for 2.6Ghz than for 2.5Ghz. Is this worth it?? Also, do I opt to may more for the smaller but faster hard drive?

I also am wondering if I should just keep saving up for a Mac Pro? Here's what I've got going for the mac pro quote-

dual 2.8 Quad Core
4x2 gig Lifetime Memory RAM chips 8 gig
Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM .11 drive
second superdrive, Wi FI
Samsung 245T 24 LCD Mon

w/ AppleCare will run over $5100.

I wont be able to buy the Mac Pro until around January, but could buy a MBP by October...

I want to buy FCE so I have something to play with, but I know I'm going to buy FCS2 later anyway... is it worth it to buy FCE if I knew it would take awhile to get FCS2, or is that completely redundant and stupid? AND If I have a Mac Pro & a Macbook Pro, & buy FCE/FCS2, what happens with updates/registration/upgrades? Do I have to pick one computer to update, or can I register the program on both computers?

I guess what I want to know is- Can I be confident in buying a MBP now and waiting until spring to get the mac pro? And can I please have some suggestions on spec improvements for either machine... I'm getting a HV30 to start with, so any kit suggestions would be great as well. I'll just keep posting questions as I think of them.

Thanks for your time.

Will
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Old September 10th, 2008, 11:31 PM   #2
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There is no upgrade path from FCE to FCS2. Same goes for the academic version of FCS2 So, in the long run, if you want to save money, go straight for the full version of FCS2 and don't pass go. The end-user agreement states that you are allowed to install FCS2 on two computers that you own, one desktop and one laptop.

Personally, I got the Mac Pro first, since my priority was performance. Still saving up for the laptop.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 01:44 AM   #3
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But I will get high quality editing performance from a MBP, right? And as far as editing purposes, how big of a difference is the 2.5Ghz processor from the 2.6Ghz (besides $250)?
Will I regret getting a MBP first?
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Old September 11th, 2008, 03:40 AM   #4
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MBP or Mac Pro

I have a very recent 15 inch MBP 2.5Ghz, 200GB 7200 RPM HDD and 4GB of RAM (non-Apple). I'm also about to get a Mac Pro so have gone through a similar thought process to you. In my opinion, you'll not even notice the slight increase in speed a 2.6GHz will give you over a 2.5, just put that $250 saved towards getting FCS2. That's what I have as I knew that was where I would end up (still sometimes find it hard to leave the superb usability and speed of production in Vegas 7e behind though! - but it'll come).

My mate has a similar spec 17 inch version. It's a big beast - I prefer mine and I think he does sometimes! Screen is a bit of a squint though for detailed editing work - but certainly useable and very, very good (bright, clear, sharp). Make sure you get a matt, non-reflective screen. This Dell (Windows) laptop I'm typing on has a glossy screen - never again!!!!

Regarding MBP or MacPro, well it depends how you work/what you do. I now use a Sony PMW-EX3 and absolutely need a MBP for field downloading of SxS cards/showing shot stuff immediately back to clients - which we do in seconds (what a joy to leave tape behind!). However, I also want a desktop Mac Pro as it'll be so much faster and more ergonomic to work at with my (already owned) 2 large LCD's etc. (rather than scrunched up over a tiny screen - bad for the back, neck and eyes!). Let me tell you, working on a 24 inch LCD is a JOY!!!! I'm still trying to work my way round the bug with the latest MBP's that seem to make it hard to display on an external monitor - lots of stuff on Apple forums on that - I'll get there soon I'm sure!

Both are superb devices - I have been a real Apple sceptic for many years but now understand why people rave about them. Not cheap, still have bugs/imperfections but generally they are a joy to use. So in the end whether you go for MBP or MacPro I suspect you'll be very happy. One other thing, for sure as soon as you buy whatever you decide on, the very next week Apple will announce a same price or cheaper upgraded version of it!!!! (and I bet both MBP and MacPro get a bump in specs before you buy looking at your timescales).

Good luck and hope this helps.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 08:14 AM   #5
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I have a 15" MBP 2.4ghz with 4GB RAM. Have recently installed FCS2 and it seems very responsive from the small amount of work I've done. Certainly beats my old dual G5 :-)

But I think you should step back for a moment and ask yourself a more basic question. Do you need a laptop? If not, then I don't understand why you would consider it as an alternative to a desktop system.

Have you considered a third alternative of an iMac? I just got a system at work and looked at both the iMac and MacPro. Of course I would have liked the MacPro, but it really would have strained my budget a little too much. Instead I got a 24" iMac core 2 duo 3.06ghz with 4GB RAM, a 23" Apple Cinema Display, Matrox MXO and FCS 2 for a total of $5,400. Could have saved a bit by getting a non-apple monitor and 3rd party RAM I suppose.

Have just started working with this system in the last couple days, and am really happy so far - it's fast, and the screen on the 24" iMac is really impressive. It really is an inch larger than the Apple Cinema Display, and considerably brighter (does it use LED technology like the MBP?).
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Old September 11th, 2008, 09:01 AM   #6
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I'm in the same boat as William with considering the MacBook Pro.

Is it necessary to have 4 gig rather than the standard 2 in that there will be a noticeable performance cut? Yes, I know more RAM is better but I'm buying on an ed. discount and customizing the RAM doesn't seem to be an option.

How easy/hard is it to add the RAM yourself? I did it to my MacPro without any problems.

William: Question 1 is do you need to be mobile? I have a Mac Pro to which I added RAM and another drive. It is fan-freaking-tastic. The only problem is it's in my home and most of my editing needs to happen at my regular; therefore a laptop is helpful.

Do not skimp by buying educational or other "discounted" software. I bought FCS under an educator discount without knowing it is not eligible for upgrade in the future. I would have been better off paying full boat.

I'm not familiar with the guts of the MBP, but it is super easy to add RAM and drives to the tower. There's no reason to pay extra to Apple when you can get those components from a 3d party and DIY. The same is likely true of the laptop.

Bob
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Old September 11th, 2008, 09:12 AM   #7
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You'll get more speed from the RAM upgrade than the small bump in processor speed. Also, the faster the cpu, the more heat to dissipate. And, be sure you get the largest hard drive they sell regardless of speed. You'll start running short of space much sooner than you think.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 10:49 AM   #8
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Thanks, Jim.

Any reason not to upgrade the RAM myself rather than paying Apple for it?
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Old September 11th, 2008, 11:38 AM   #9
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Upgrading RAM is easy on the MacBook Pro. Be sure to work in a static free environment when doing it. I have upgraded RAM on Macs going back to the IIfx and the only Mac I won't do a RAM upgrade on that's out now is the Mini. That's a real tough job and I did it once, never again.

If you have any doubts about doing it, go to an authorized Apple service provider.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 03:10 PM   #10
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It's really easy to add the RAM yourself. I got my MBP last winter, and while I was in Circuit City one day I noticed they had 1 GB modules on sale for about $100 each. I haven't followed prices recently, but that was about as cheap as you could get back then. Has worked perfectly ever since.

The iMac I just bought is the first machine I've ordered with additional RAM from Apple. Since it was for my business, it was just easier that way. There *might* be some arguments in favor of paying the additional amount for Apple RAM though, in case you have a problem down the road and they claim it's related to your third party memory. But I suspect that's pretty rare.

I had a major issue on my PowerBook G4 a couple years ago with it failing to recognize all my memory. This has been documented by a number of other users, and someone even started a class action lawsuit over it. Apple was very responsive to my problem however, and actually did 3 motherboard swaps through my local Apple Store. After the third time I just gave up on trying to use the questionable 1GB module. Apple never claimed that it was the fault of this module, but I had some questions in my own mind.

Your mileage may vary...
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Old September 11th, 2008, 08:34 PM   #11
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iMacs- I'm not sure why, but I'm not keen on the all-in-1 desktop solution. I want to be able to shoot & edit on the move (family functions, out of town events, bar scenes, etc...) and know that I'll be getting a MBP in the future anyway... Do I have some weird misconception of the iMacs & their ability to edit and the ease of upgrade? I look at an iMac, & I see NO upgrade options for the future.

Is there a general agreement that non-glossy, non-reflective screens are better for the MBPs? What about the "richer colors & the deeper blacks"? I only ask because I dont know, & I dont want to buy one and then say "Oh. Thats what they were talking about."

17" vs 15"- Is there, again, a general agreement out there that the 15" is better?? No Bigger is Better? Is this because of backpack problems? Do the 2" really help out, or just get in the way? Is it worth the money to get the bigger display?

I haven't heard anything about the MBP bug re: displaying on external monitors- can someone please explain/lead me to the info?? Will this be a problem for me? I am very interested in buying an external monitor for use at home for the MBP, but it sounds like this is a concern.

I'll be having Zotz do all the RAM upgrades when I purchase the laptop, so everything falls under the same warranty.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 09:21 AM   #12
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I'm not familiar with the external monitor bug on the MBP. I have been using mine on and off with a 23" Apple Cinema display for over 6 months and have never seen a problem.

Certainly the iMacs involve some compromise. They lack any sort of expansion slots, and the MBP has the expresscard slot. Other than that, I don't think there are many differences. RAM maxes out at 4GB. But it packs a lot of power into a nice package - 3.06ghz core2 duo with a 512MB NVidia GeForce 8800. This thing is fast.

I'm using it with the Matrox MXO to connect a 23" Apple Cinema Display as my preview monitor, and that seems to work really well. It connects via the DVI and USB ports (you will need a a mini-DVI adaptor for this on an iMac, but that's no big deal). As I posted above, I got the iMac because even the bottom of the line MacPro would have cost over $1,000 more (would have needed to buy TWO screens with the Mac Pro, increasing the cost) and I don't think it would have offered much better performance. But of course I could have put more RAM into it, added an HD card of some sort, RAID card, etc. But again, this all would get into more money than I could justify for the kind of work I'm doing. Like I said, that basic system was $5,600 which included Final Cut Studio. Am spending another thousand or so for enough firewire 800 drives to handle the big project I'm working on. Will also need to spend some on a pair of reasonable monitor speakers... don't forget audio in your budget!

If you NEED a laptop in order to be mobile, then that should settle it for you. Otherwise, I think I'd prefer the iMac with its 24" screen. One thing I've noticed while working on the 15" MBP with the external 23' screen... the laptop screen looks REALLY tiny next to it, and it's also strange because it sits low on the table compared to the external screen. And if you add an external keyboard and mouse, then you need to put the laptop even farther away from you to make room. That seems even more awkward to me. Mind you, it isn't a bad compromise if you need the portability and only want one machine. But if you primarily work at a desk, it's not ideal IMO.

I personally think the 17" MBP's are awfully large to haul around (on a business trip for example). But if you don't travel much, then bigger is probably better. Of course it gets more expensive though.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 11:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Michael View Post
And, be sure you get the largest hard drive they sell regardless of speed. You'll start running short of space much sooner than you think.
I disagree with this strongly. My first MacBook Pro arrived with the largest hard drive (by mistake). I only noticed because application loading times seemed so slow, performance really suffered. It was driving me nuts. Then I found out it had the 300 gig 4200rpm drive instead of the 7200rpm I had ordered.

I had a replacement sent, and the difference was amazing. No way would I get a bigger, slower hard drive given the choice.

Also, save your money, buy ram and install it yourself. Much cheaper than at Apple.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 12:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff View Post
It's really easy to add the RAM yourself. I got my MBP last winter, and while I was in Circuit City one day I noticed they had 1 GB modules on sale for about $100 each. I haven't followed prices recently, but that was about as cheap as you could get back then. Has worked perfectly ever since.

The iMac I just bought is the first machine I've ordered with additional RAM from Apple. Since it was for my business, it was just easier that way. There *might* be some arguments in favor of paying the additional amount for Apple RAM though, in case you have a problem down the road and they claim it's related to your third party memory. But I suspect that's pretty rare.
Had it happen to me with an iMac a number of years ago. The computer had it's motherboard changed but in the end it turned out to be a bad non-Apple memory card. The company I bought it from exchanged it and all has been well since.


Quote:
Originally Posted by William James Ryan View Post
iMacs- I'm not sure why, but I'm not keen on the all-in-1 desktop solution. I want to be able to shoot & edit on the move (family functions, out of town events, bar scenes, etc...) and know that I'll be getting a MBP in the future anyway... Do I have some weird misconception of the iMacs & their ability to edit and the ease of upgrade? I look at an iMac, & I see NO upgrade options for the future.

Is there a general agreement that non-glossy, non-reflective screens are better for the MBPs? What about the "richer colors & the deeper blacks"? I only ask because I dont know, & I dont want to buy one and then say "Oh. Thats what they were talking about."

17" vs 15"- Is there, again, a general agreement out there that the 15" is better?? No Bigger is Better? Is this because of backpack problems? Do the 2" really help out, or just get in the way? Is it worth the money to get the bigger display?

I haven't heard anything about the MBP bug re: displaying on external monitors- can someone please explain/lead me to the info?? Will this be a problem for me? I am very interested in buying an external monitor for use at home for the MBP, but it sounds like this is a concern.

I'll be having Zotz do all the RAM upgrades when I purchase the laptop, so everything falls under the same warranty.
The upgrade difference between an iMac and a Mac laptop is small. The ports are about the same but the MacBook Pro has the Express34 slot which allows for some interesting expansion options (eSATA ports might interest you). The difference in the internal workings of an iMac and the laptop line is small. They share the same basic motherboards (with small modifications) so an iMac is essentially a stationary laptop.

The 17" is big and heavy. The 15" is a good size for a backpack and I have taken it on the road happily. You might have the brawn for the 17" so don't discount it. If you are serious about the external monitor then the 17" screen isn't a real need.

Think about where you might use the laptop. If you expect to be traveling around then the laptop with a MATTE screen is a good choice. If you are staying in one place to work then I would suggest an iMac with a glossy screen. I use one at a production house and it's great.

I use a Viewsonic external monitor with my MBP with no problems. What ever the bug is, I haven't heard of it.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 01:16 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by William Hohauser View Post
The upgrade difference between an iMac and a Mac laptop is small.
I don't really disagree.... but take a look at that beautiful screen on the 24" iMac before you come to the conclusion that they're the same ;-)

Also, you will have to get either the 2.5ghz 15" MBP or the 17" MBP if you want 512MB of VRAM. The 2.4ghz model (which I have) only has 256MB. Not sure how much of an issue this really is for day to day stuff. Perhaps it helps with Motion or Color... haven't used either of the new versions enough yet to form an opinion.

Also, just a general "gotcha" of which you should be aware because it comes up around here sometimes. If you customize ANYTHING when you order your Mac (bigger hard drive, more RAM, etc) then you will have NO OPTION to return it. The stock Macs give you a 14 day window to return if not satisfied. Not so if you order something custom.... cavaet emptor. See their policy here: Apple Sales and Refund Policy
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