So what are the *disadvantages* of a macbook pro ?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by blue, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. blue

    blue Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2010
    I currently have a small and slow (Windows based) netbook. But I'm now getting images, big files, that I want to process with some more serious software, at a decent speed and with with a decent screen.

    Is there anything against the Macbook Pro (I'll be aiming for a second hand/clearance, so it will be intelC2D rather than i5/7) ?

    Do I need 15 or 17 in screen ? Will the "old" specs be up to scratch to give speedy lightroom/photoshop operation ?

    I know there's lots of users and fans on here so would be interested in the cons as well as the pros - and if any nonmac users would share their specs for a laptop would appreciate that too.
  2. Mosca

    Mosca Mu-43 Regular

    May 27, 2010
    About the only real disadvantage for one from a photography aspect is that they almost all have glossy screens. Otherwise, they are nice units.
  3. Akashi

    Akashi Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 1, 2010
    Tromso, Norway
    They no come with optional screens, so no problem anymore.
  4. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hey Mosca you cant really go wrong with a mac, but make sure you don't get an older white one. They're nice but awefully hard to keep clean, The aluminium unibody ones are fantastic - black keys, real glass on the screen and the freakin smooth glass trackpad. Just wipe them with a cloth.

    Try and get a 2.4GHz processor with about 4gb ram. The ram and the HHD is pretty easy to install if the need arises. Also if you get the newer Mac series the Ram bus speed is increased from 660Hz to 1066Hz. Mac software apps are easy to find on the net as well.

    The money will be worth spend if you get a good one. I hope you enjoy you're shopping around. All the best,
  5. tam

    tam Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 12, 2010
    Old specs will be fine. Anything with a core 2 duo, just avoid the older core 1 models.

    One with 256Mb+ of videoram will give you a boost with larger images, panoramas or working with large external monitors.

    Buy a smaller laptop and spend the savings on a decent external screen unless you *need* the mobility all the time, much better to work with.

    If you can try before you buy, try it somewhere quiet. Turn the screen brightness up and down. Does it buzz slightly when not at full brightness? If so the inverter that powers the screen backlight may be on the way out (expensive). 2nd gen core 2 duo ones (so 3rd gen MBP) have an LED backlit screen and avoid this issue (it's a nicer panel too, colour wise).

    If the trackpad looks shiny, and there is pitting in the aluminium either side, it's seen heavy mobile use likely.

    Anyhow, great machines, you'll love it. I know the above might sound bad, but I know them well as I've owned/used them a lot, so know exactly what to be looking for.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    MacBook Pros have always had the choice of screens, at least since '06. Just bought a new one myself but this time I went against the grain and bought one with the glossy, though not HD, screen. For years I've avoided the glossy as a "purist" but I have to confess I love the way the glossy looks.:biggrin:

    My old 2006 MacBook Pro did not have the proper graphics card to work with Aperture 3, but it does now so I look forward to having much more fun. The moral of the story is that you should be aware of what kind of graphics card you need, if you are considering an older refurbished model. This time I have an 8GB and added a little more oomph.

    My nephew has a MacBook Pro and is a lighting designer and director at a performing arts college in NY and he does shows elsewhere all over the place - and he loves his MacBook Pro, too.:wink:

    Just a note here to add that we have several extremely knowledgeable former Apple folks here as members...who I think will probably spot your thread and when they have time, they'll post.
  7. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I am operating a late 2008 MBPro, and it handles LR and PS/CS5 well - though the 4GB RAM limit is now beginning to show. Later versions can take 8GB of RAM, and this can make a real difference to performance.

    I am not sure where you are based, but if you have access to Apple online, check for refurbished machines. These are not used as such: basically, they have been returned due to a flaw, or a change of mind, and have been checked and tested. Basically new, with full warranty, at a great discount.

    As for the choice of 15" or 17": a lot depends on the level of mobility required. If you just move it occasionally then 17" can be good. Personally I think 15" is a sweet spot.

    If you need more screen real estate than add a good external monitor. If you are serious about your photo editing, especially to print, laptop screens are never really that good anyway.
  8. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    something to consider... the 17 inch models come with a higher res screen - this can be counter productive as all the interface elements eg the icon and the menus become smaller..

    As a former Apple guy who got to play with all the toys I really disliked the higher res 17 inch models - too much eye strain. Same thing with the 30 inch monitor, but that was more wrist strain... its a long drag from one side of the screen to the other on one of those

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  9. LisaO

    LisaO Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 18, 2010
    New York Metro Area
    Real Name:
    None. It is a computer you will be happy with.
  10. CalebPhotographer

    CalebPhotographer Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 1, 2010
    The option was gone until recently. (recently = late 2009)
  11. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Really??? Not even for more money? I'm sorry if I was misinformed, but I am shocked. So much for my pontificating, eh?:redface::wink:
  12. CalebPhotographer

    CalebPhotographer Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 1, 2010
    Yeah it was re-released right when I was about to purchase my 15 inch. So I called in and changed my order, and now I'm a happy camper.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. naturecloseups

    naturecloseups Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    I'm assuming your primary objective is image post-processing since you mention being able to handle large files.

    I had also been shopping for a new laptop last few months. When selecting a laptop for image processing my most important criteria is the screen followed by max memory supported and finally processing power. Most decent graphics cards will do fine for photoshop and you need to worry about then only if you are into HD movie editing, 3D rendering or games etc.

    My present (and soon to be previous/backup) laptop is an IBM T43p with a 1400x1050 S-IPS FlexView screen that I purchased in 2005. It is quite slow by today's standards for editing 8+ MB raw files (not to mention my ~300MB 35mm film scans at 5400 dpi) but I can't let it go because of the lovely screen which was, and still is, acclaimed as one of the best laptop screens ever made before 2009.

    Anyway back to my shopping story -- I looked at iMacs and MacBook Pro 17" -- the new ones with LED backlighting. The aesthetics and build quality of Macs left me nothing to complain about -- but I was shocked at the sheer mediocrity (relative to the price segment they are offered in) of the displays Apple offer. It appears that the LED iMac /MB Pro 17" models use an IPS screen alright, but they do not even display the entire Gamut of AdobeRGB. I was confused as to why Apple does this. I have never taken a close look at Apple products until recently but I have always though of them in the same spirit that I think of the brands Leica, Zeiss, Mercedes etc -- the highest priced and having the highest quality. Sadly -- the iMac/MB Pro machines do not fare well on the display quality front, they should be able to offer much better for the premium they command. The glossy screen was hard to digest and seems to make no sense -- most laptop users don't always have control over the ambient lighting so why not offer the anti glare option? And why support only up to 8GB RAM even in the highest spec'ed MacBook Pro 17"? Yes they look cool, have a durable aluminium chasis, sports the generally coveted Apple logo etc. but those are not going to make my images look better, are they?

    I always thought Mac makes computer products targeted towards visual artists including photographers but I now realize their current lineup may be targeted to creative artists but not necessarily photographers.

    My journey in the quest for a new laptop ended yesterday when I finalized an order with HP for the 8740w laptop with DreamColor 2 RGB LED display capable of showing colors in true 30 bit (about a billion colors) -- the gamut quoted is "NTSC (in CIE 1976 u’v’ space) 133%; Adobe RGB Coverage 100%; sRGB Coverage 100%". The specs are Core-i7 720M/17" WUXGA RGB LED WVA (1920 x 1200 resolution) screen/8GB RAM/ATI FirePro M8720 graphics/500GB HDD. It cost about 25% more than the highest spec MacBook Pro 17" but here the expense was worth it -- it wasn't so for the MB Pro.

    I also considered other laptops with RGB LED display (Dell has a few of those) but they all had glossy screens and TN (intead of IPS) panels so viewing angles would be poor.

    Hope this long-winded rambling helps in some manner.
  14. blue

    blue Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2010
    useful discussion and comments, thanks.

    I want to stick with a laptop and need anti-glare screen for various practical reasons, but am very new to this rgb/colour gamut/display particulars. (I have the gist of it).

    My local apple store sells a decent end of line/ex demo 15 in macbook pro at the moment for £999 - compared to starting at £1600 for 15in i5. Problem is the screen. I have just discovered - can only add anti glare onto the new i5/i7 versions as a £120 extra.

    So my "I can just about push out for a macbook if it's under a grand" plan now has a rather big hole in it - to the tune of an extra 800 quid or so.

    Tried looking at HP uk website but it is hopeless, and can't configure eg. like on Dell, and don't fancy a £2000 layout at the moment.

    Still like the idea of a mac, but do the users here find the colour space/screen performance affects their print results very much ?
  15. tomrock

    tomrock Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    Indianapolis, IN
    Have a look at this article: Rob Galbraith DPI: Evaluating the MacBook Pro 15 inch LED-backlit display

    Rob Galbraith is a very respected photographer and writer and see what he has to say about Apple Laptop screens.

    I've used Macs for years. I have a Macbook Pro with the glossy screen and yes, it takes some getting used to but my pictures look great on it. I've never missed Adobe RGB color on the screen but maybe I'm behind the times.
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  16. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    To add a bit of perspective: most colour professionals who use Mac laptops utilize the mobility for design, tethered shooting, library management etc. When doing very sensitive colour work they will use an external monitor. The iMacs are in the same boat. Most prose want dual displays anyway, and the iMacs have lots of horsepower, and when attached to an external monitor are great for graphic work.

    The newer 27" imacs are fine on their own, and can be nicely calibrated for colour sensitive / print output.
  17. Mosca

    Mosca Mu-43 Regular

    May 27, 2010
    Well, as I type this from my 17" Macbook Pro w/glossy screen (lol),

    I wrote my caveat about the glossy screen after reading, "I'll be aiming for a second hand/clearance...." That tells me that blue won't have a lot of choices, since even though you can get a matte screen, the default is glossy.

    I got my Macbook Pro from MacMall, I highly recommend them for best price and good closeouts/refurb units. When I got mine in the summer of '09, I did have the option of the matte screen, but it was some ridiculous premium, something like $500; MacMall had pretty obviously bought a huge lot of a single configuration, and to get the "deal" you had to take what they bought, which was glossy screen.

    I like this computer. I like Snow Leopard. But I liked Windows, too, including Vista. If it runs Lightroom, Photoshop and Firefox, I'm in.

    One thing I would highly recommend for the aluminum skinned Macbooks is an external cooling fan. The aluminum skin acts like a heat sink and diffuses heat from the processor and hard drive, but it still gets mighty warm on the bottom. Spend the extra $15 and put a fan under there, it's cheaper than the $300 extended service contract.
  18. Sam Roberts

    Sam Roberts Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 18, 2009
    I am considering a second machine in our house and this has helped me realise a desktop would serve me better than a second laptop (As well as the extra "bang to buck" on a desktop, I didn't realise the difference in the screens was so large). I'd say an iMac is on the cards.

    One thing to all potential Apple buyers though - always buy them with the minimum memory possible. Apple charge a fortune for what is essentially un-branded memory (Apple don't make their own, they buy from others and re-badge the memory "Official Apple" and charge you a premium.)

    I've had Mac's since my old G4 Powerbook and it's really easy to change memory, I find Crucial memory good and reliable, as well as being easy to buy and costing sometimes half as much as "Official" Apple memory - RAM Memory Upgrade: Dell, Mac, Apple, HP, Compaq. USB drives, flash cards, SSD at - their online memory config tool lets you input the details of the computer you're upgrading and the size you want in seconds.
  19. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I agree - a lot less expensive elsewhere. I will say though, that I have noticed Apple's RAM prices coming down a lot in recent months.
  20. schmadde

    schmadde New to Mu-43

    Mar 4, 2010
    Thats not quite true. The first Unibody Model (or was it the last non-unibody?) from 2008 or 2009 had glossy screens only. The "non-glare" option was re-introduced first only with the 17" model and later with the 15" models as well. Users who prefer the more portable 13" models are still out of luck.

    Back to the subject: The biggest disadvantage with the MBPs in my opinion is the proprietary power plugs. If you travel a lot with your Laptop I would think about it twice: once you forget your Power Adapter good luck finding a colleague with a matching power supply (usually not a problem with PC laptops). If you lose it, you lose $100 for a new supply (at least in DE, not sure about the rest of the world). Universal power adapters (e.g. Kensington): not available.

    Another source of grief: only 2 USB Ports, no possibility to connect fast external harddisks (FW 800 can't keep up with even the slowest 3,5" HDs available) and the 15" models no longer have an expresscard slot to replace the missing eSATA or USB 3.0 connectors. And the batteries are of bad quality (at least with my 2008 model MBP: My first battery only lasted about 1,5 years, the second is 10 Months old and will probably need to be replaced soon). Heat dissipation is an issue as well, the thin computers get hot quickly.

    Apart from that, they are great machines. Biggest advantages are the long runtime from battery, good resale value and most importantly the availability of OS X.
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