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MacBook Pro Config Q's

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
First post here, so please be gentle!

I'm upgrading from a 2-year-old PowerMac G4, 1.67Ghz, so I should see a performance boost almost no matter which one I pick. Currently I have 1GB Ram and my system is pretty slow. While I don't run big graphics programs, I usually have the entire office suite open, plus an Omni ap or two, plus chat, plus lot's of browser windows in both Safari and Firefox.

Anyhow, looking at my choices for 15" laptop it's basically 2.2Ghz vs. 2.4Ghz, 160GB vs. 120GB, and 128MB video RAM vs. 256MB video RAM. Everything else looks the same -- correct?

My questions are:

1. Is 2GB RAM enough? 4GB is an expensive option, though perhaps worthwhile as the size of everything (plus Leopard) expands.

2. Will I see any difference between the two video cards (128 versus 256) if I don't typically use graphics intensive programs.?

3. The 0.2Ghz CPU difference seems completely unimportant,
but if there's extra cache on the 2.4Ghz model or some
other enhancement, it could make a real difference.

Thanks!

Aaron
post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8Lives View Post

First post here, so please be gentle!
1. Is 2GB RAM enough? 4GB is an expensive option, though perhaps worthwhile as the size of everything (plus Leopard) expands.

Not sure this is still true on Intel processors but on the PowerPC G5 CPU 4GB RAM was a sweetspot. Several people reported that their machines ran noticeably faster once they upgraded from 3 or 3.5 to 4GB. Someone explained it with the virtual memory caching scheme which works most efficiently with 4GB RAM (or more).
If that still holds true for Intel processors (which I believe is the case as this is merely an OS X feature, not really processor related) then I would say go for 4GB.

Other than that it depends on whether you want to use virtualisation via e.g. Parallel's software. If you have the odd Windows/Linux application to run and don't want to reboot all the time, virtualisation is a great solution. And now that it soon supports the GPU as well, this might be the time.
Virtualisation effectively runs a full Windows (or Linux) process next to Mac OS X, both sharing the same RAM. With 2GB total RAM each would get (roughly speaking) 1GB RAM. Not a lot for Mac OS X, nor Windows. With 4GB RAM each process gets 2GB and will be lots happier.

But it applies in general, if you intend to run a lot of applications in the background (iTunes for music, iPhoto, etc.) more RAM is better.

Quote:
2. Will I see any difference between the two video cards (128 versus 256) if I don't typically use graphics intensive programs.?

It's not merely games or graphics intensive programs. More and more features of Mac OS X itself (and things like QuickTime or iTunes music encoding/decoding) are loaded onto the GPU, and as such more memory is better.

This decision depends on how long you want to use your new Mac Book Pro. If you want to buy a new one next year anyway, don't worry then.

But if you want to use it for 3-4 years then you should worry about this as 3 years from now 256MB video RAM will be the bare minimum for decent performance. 128 won't cut it in 3 years. As video RAM is NOT upgradable this decision must be made NOW.
If you want a future-proof Mac Book Pro, then go for the higher video RAM.

Quote:
3. The 0.2Ghz CPU difference seems completely unimportant,
but if there's extra cache on the 2.4Ghz model or some
other enhancement, it could make a real difference.

That's the feature where it probably makes the most sense to 'pass'. If you don't need the extra speed go for the 2.2GHz but do get the 4GB RAM and 256MB video RAM.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
thank you - that is very helpful. I will be running parallels, so the point on RAM was an excellent one.

It looks like you need to go with the 2.4GHz to get the 256MB video.
post #4 of 8
Like you, I'm upgrading from a 1.67 GHz Powerbook, so I think the speed increase will be huge - probably in the order of 6-10x in a number of areas. I remember the first MBPs being touted as 6x the speed of the 1.67 PB, and since then we've had the move from Core Duo to Core2Duo.

All in all I'm really looking forward to this upgrade, not to mention the move to Intel processors and all the new stuff that can happen once on that platform.

I went for the 2GB to start with, but I plan on maxing the MBP out at a later date with RAM that doesn't cost an extra $600
post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by auslander View Post

Like you, I'm upgrading from a 1.67 GHz Powerbook

I just sold my 1.67 15" Powerbook yesterday in anticipation for this upgrade. I just have to look at the new screen first and it's a done deal.
post #6 of 8
I would disagree with hobbit on a few points and agree on the rest. I would start with 2 gbs of ram and see how it works for you. That's what I have and I'm perfectly content. YMMV depending upon the apps you run and how many at any given time. It seems like most people here recommend 2 gbs of ram for MBs and MBPs and are content with this amount. I wouldn't get less than 2 gbs however.

As far as the graphics card is concerned I think you'll be quite fine with the 128 mb card. Remember that Macbooks, which are Apple's best selling machine, have integrated graphics that can only address 64 mb. It's likely that Macbooks going forward will still use whatever integrated graphics Intel has available and I doubt it will touch the video card Apple just put in the MBP, even 5 years from now.

Whatever model you chose, I would bet you'll be happy with it's performance.
post #7 of 8
I think that the lower config. is the best for price-performance
If you check the reviews and benchmarks from ars and some other sites the difference between the 2.2 and 2.4 models are about 5% even on games.
You get a 10% boost for 20% of the price, not worth it in my opinion
be sure to upgrade the HD though the extra 40 gb's is worth the $67
post #8 of 8
as for upgrading the RAM, when I buy mu MBP I plan to order the 2GB and try it out, and If I do not feel like it is enough, I will upgrade to 4GB through third-party. You can buy 2 2GB chips for a little more than 200 and then sell the 1GB chips back for 50.
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