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Help Me Learn More About the MacBook Pro 17"
October 1, 2009 3:38 AM   Subscribe

MacBook Pro owners... tell me all about owning a MacBook Pro 17". Pros, cons and people suffering from buyers remorse all welcome. A bunch of questions are inside.

I am seriously considering buying a MacBook Pro. I've decided that if I get one I'll want the 17" screen and the 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. I'll also get the anti-glare screen, which I understand is pretty much a necessity.

I won't bother getting 8GB of RAM (the extra 4GB from Apple costs far too much), and I wont bother with the solid state drive (again, far too expensive), opting to go with the 500GB SATA 7200RPM drive instead. I'll also get the AppleCare plan at the same time.

I plan on using it for drawing, writing, surfing the net and playing some games that my current PC is too slow to run (Neverwinter Nights 2, I'm looking at you).

My questions are;

1) In doing my research, I've read a lot of really good reviews for the MacBook Pro but I've really not read anything negative at all. What are the bad things about the MacBook Pro that no-one seems to be talking about? I want to know if there's any potential deal breakers for me here.
2) 4GB vs. 8G of RAM. Does the extra 4GB make a big difference in performance on the MacBook Pro, especially given I plan on using Windows 7 through Bootcamp?
3) Does using Windows 7 (or even XP) pose any issues on a MacBook? By that I mean is there any MacBook specific features that are only usable under MacOS?
4) Are there any potential problems migrating my PC files (documents etc) to the MacBook Pro, even if I use Windows 7? What about my PC games?
5) I'm thinking I may just end up getting third party RAM and a third party hard drive for more space. I assume doing so is frowned on by Apple. Is this something that could affect the AppleCare Plan I'm planning on getting? Can I get around this if I have an authorised Apple repairer put the drive and RAM in?
6) Portability; how cumbersome is it using a 17" MacBook while on the go? Much, or not at all?
7) My experience with Apple when my iPod broke down was quite positive. Will I experience a similar level of good service if my MacBook Pro breaks down, or am I in for a whole new level of hell?

Anything else you MacBook Pro owners feel is worth knowing, let me know. And also, if you bought one and regretted it, tell me why (but let's try and keep the Mac vs. PC fights out of it, if we can).

Thanks in advance!
posted by Effigy2000 to Computers & Internet (37 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
A couple possible turnoffs. I've had a PB 17 and a MBP 17.

-The hi-res screen is standard now. I personally love 1900x1200 @ 17", but many people I know find the UI and text too small.

-It might be hard to use on your lap because of the large form factor. My GF couldn't use on one her lap very well. I didn't mind.

-Its large, slightly unwieldy, especially trying to hold it with one hand, under the arm is fine. Also that makes it no so portable.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:46 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, unless you have money to burn, there is really no point spending $300 on a 0.26ghz bump, nor is getting the 8GB from Apple for $1k. Especially for writing/drawing/games.

Since it sounds like you can afford the upgrades, a much more worthwhile one (that you would actually notice) would to pop in a fast 3rd party SSD like an Intel X25M or an OCZ Vertex.

I have a Vertex in my Mac Mini and it is mind blowingly fast.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:50 AM on October 1, 2009


Regarding third-party memory: I had a Genius at the Apple Store show me where on NewEgg I could buy third-party RAM for my Macbook when I purchased it, and it has had no effect on my (excellent) Apple Care service I've gotten over the last few years. I suspect the hard drive is similar. (Though to be fair, installing RAM in my current Macbook was a matter of removing the battery and one easy to remove memory module. If you have to open the case, perhaps it has a different effect on the warranty? Ask a Genius; they're generally pretty reasonable about answering questions like this)

I have a 15" MBP for work, and I don't like traveling with it. My 13" home Macbook is far easier to fit into bags and carry under my arm. I think I once heard someone at Apple refer to the 17" MBP as really a "desktop-class" computer that isn't really meant for portability like the smaller ones are.

My experiences with AppleCare and the Apple Geniuses have been nothing but positive. AppleCare is totally worth it, but don't forget you can buy it, often at a discount, on Ebay and it'll be just as valid.
posted by olinerd at 4:19 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm writing this on a 17" MBP 2.66 w/ 4GB, matte screen. My primary us of the the machine is for photography work, so lots and lots of Aperture and some photo editing. Otherwise, I do some similar things as you with the exception of playing games. it's a very good machine and the screen is fantastic.

The machine replaced a 24" iMac as I am moving around a fair amount these days and needed something capable to work with large image files. If I were still working from a primary base, I would still be using a desktop.

I didn't upgrade any of the specs beyond the matte screen. I'll add memory if it ever drops in price from stupefying to just mortifying. I might upgrade to an SSD at some point, but I'll always need some form of external storage to handle the photo libraries.

Overall I'm satisfied with the purchase. It's also a good lap machine for me and great to watch movies on in bed. the only "down" side is that it's hard to find a reasonably stylish bag to lug it around with.
posted by michswiss at 4:19 AM on October 1, 2009


1) Various complaints: the lip of the computer where your wrists go isn't rounded enough. The glossy screen is too shiny. The processor isn't the newest core i7 / core i5 processor. You'll find more various complaints here.
2) 4GB is most likely fine for you.
3) None that I know of.
4) There's no way this can be answered with any degree of accuracy. This link may help you.
5) Unknown.
6) It's 6.6 pounds. This is 1 pound heavier than the 15" MBP, 2 pounds heavier than the 13" MBP. Only you can answer if that's too bulky.
7) No one can predict your future experiences, but mine have been very good with Apple Care.
posted by sharkfu at 4:19 AM on October 1, 2009


2) Don't forget that you'll need to install the 64-bit version of Windows 7 in order to take full advantage of even 4GB of RAM. Presumably once you do, 8GB will be fine but I can't personally attest to this.

3) Not that I can think of. The install DVDs supplied with your OS have Windows drivers for everything, really — audio, bluetooth, video, etc. Sometimes people find gaming performance is a little better if they hunt down the very latest drivers directly from nVidia or whoever, but I don't think it makes a particularly big difference.

4) Provided you're booting natively, rather than using Parallels or VMware, once the drivers are in the only thing distinguishing a MacBook Pro from a PC laptop of identical specifications is the Apple logo on the lid. So, whatever you'd do to migrate one Windows laptop to another applies as it normally would.

5) It's not frowned upon, actually — for the vast majority of Macs, Apple provide explicit instructions about how to do this yourself. It may be slightly different now with the unibody Macs, but the general rule is that as long as you don't break anything then you're fine. Someone might be able to provide definitive clarification on this though.

6) This is probably the only major downside here. It's not so much the weight, but the sheer size of the thing that becomes cumbersome. Obviously this problem is shared by any laptop with a 17"+ screen, but they are big machines. If you're the kind of user for whom portability means shuttling your laptop from your home to an office and back each day, then it's probably OK. If you're expecting to be using it in coffee shops and the like, then it might not be super practical. This is of course a highly subjective decision, and plenty of people manage just fine without issue. I think as a general rule it's fair to say that you'll manage fine if you had a 15"~ laptop previously, but if you had a 13" display you might be in for a shock.

7) AppleCare is very highly regarded and from personal experience, I have never had a problem with it. Get the extended warranty, though — repairs on 17" MBPs are expensive. But yes, AppleCare for Macs is as good, if not better, than it is for iPods.

Seconding wongcorgi's comments re: the processor speed bump and the 4GB/8GB RAM choice. An SSD is a good idea — something a sizeable minority of users do, actually, is take out the optical drive and put in two hard drive, typically with an SSD as their boot drive and a big regular hard drive for storage and as a scratch disk of sorts.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 4:20 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have owned, um... many MacBooks, PowerBooks and other Macs. Many.

I won't bother getting 8GB of RAM (the extra 4GB from Apple costs far too much), and I wont bother with the solid state drive (again, far too expensive), opting to go with the 500GB SATA 7200RPM drive instead. I'll also get the AppleCare plan at the same time.

Agree on all points. Correct decisions all. Even 4Gb of RAM is tons for a Mac, and see below.

(1) Bad points? Not many. The aluminum is a bit scratch-prone. Apple has a 20-year history of flaky power supply problems... but they do replace them for free. That's about all I can think of.

(2) 8Gb is obscene for Mac OSX; you'd never use more than 2Gb for the tasks you describe. I can't speak for Windows 7, but based on history with XP and Vista, it probably chews up more memory, yes. A Windows 7 expert can tell you whether 8 vs 4 is worth the money.

(3) When you boot with Boot Camp, it is an Intel PC. There's not really any Mac-ness left, other than the actual who-built-it. No Apple software is running, and most of the hardware is made by the usual (if high end) component makers. I have not used Win7 in this way, but WinXP always runs well for me virtually (VMware, Parallels) or when direct-booting.

(4) You're not migrating to Mac, really. You're just installing your games and copying your files to a different Windows computer. I suspect you'll have more Windows 7 issues with games than "Mac" issues.

(5) No, Apple couldn't care less, they just resell third-party manufactured ones anyway. I have bought and installed all my own HDs and RAM for decades. Apple doesn't care or mind, and those two things do not void your AppleCare, no. Buy it with minimum Apple-supplied RAM and replace it with your own.

(6) As above, I find the 17-inch too big and heavy, though it's no different than other 17-inch laptops. Personal preference for me is the smallest possible, which today means an MBP-13. Hell, even that is too big for me sometimes, so I also use an HP netbook (9 inch) for even smaller and lighter tossing around. I do know that 17's (or any large laptop) are hell if you try to use them on airplane flight trays. Fly first class and you might have enough space.

(7) Anecdotally, Apple service/support has always been amazingly good for me (they replace things at the drop of a hat, no charge), and they have super-high customer satisfaction ratings, so I suspect your iPod experiences are valid and common.
posted by rokusan at 4:23 AM on October 1, 2009


I had the last gen MBP and 2GB was still amazing. It ended up getting stolen a few weeks ago so now I have the most recent generation. 4GB doesn't even really show up for me. I don't notice much difference between those computers (for me I was planning on upgrading every 3-4 years, so it sucks it was stolen).

Personally I don't mind the glassy screen. I had my reservations, but decided to get the glossy and it's actually fine, but you should look at what environments you use your computer in. I'm usually inside at the office or at home, no glare, and the colors still stand out and work well. But I don't want to get into this discussion because it's opinion based/audiophile land.

I have always gone with 15" MBP and they have a nice screen size but are also very portable and light.

They new MBP is really nice as it's so solid with the unibody and everything has been redesigned. There really is no such computer in the PC land.

Apple support is AMAZING. I tell everyone the various stories where Apple has completely replaced my hardware with no questions asked because it's the most tangible thing to tell PC people.

Most PC files are readable on a Mac, but you have to be more specific don't you? There is MS Office and the Apple-Office Suite can open and export into those formats.

I don't want to sound like a fan-boy but I can't think of anything negative either.
posted by Napierzaza at 4:49 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


My #1 complaint is a pretty small one. The thing gets seriously hot on the bottom. Like, 'ouch that burned my fucking hand' hot. Also the matte screen wasnt an option when I got mine. Would def prefer a non-glossy screen. Otherwise no real complaints.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 4:54 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Elmer, in my research, when a negative was mentioned that was pretty much it. Anyone else feel the MBP gets too hot? And is this something that only happens when on battery power, or does it happen when plugged into the wall too?
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:17 AM on October 1, 2009


No one seems to have mentioned the non-removable battery in the new MBPs. Some people hate the fact that you can't replace it yourself, carry an extra one, etc. I personally don't give a shit, but it's a thing to be aware of!

As with any apple product, know that they'll release an upgrade in 3-6 months and you will feel cheated. This is normal, and unavoidable.
posted by CharlesV42 at 5:23 AM on October 1, 2009


AppleCare is absolutely worth it, especially for laptops.

Those mentioning the 13": be aware that this is not available with the anti-glare screen, much to my recent dismay. I was going to get a 13" but absolutely couldn't stand the glossy screen, so I picked the 15". As Napierzaza correctly states, it's a matter of opinion, so make sure you get to physically look at both the glassy and matte screens in person.
posted by odinsdream at 5:35 AM on October 1, 2009


Also, it sounds like you're planning on running Windows on it exclusively or at least most of the time. Bootcamp is fantastic. I've set up two XP installations on Mac hardware for my grandfather (his wife said he had to get a good looking computer if he wanted to keep it in the living room, iMac fit the bill). The installation process is very simple, and you get a complete set of Apple-supported Windows drivers on the OSX installation disc. Once you boot into Windows for the first time, pop in the OSX CD and run through the driver installs.

They even throw in support for all the Apple function keys, like volume, screen brightness and eject, complete with the OSX on-screen visuals. Fantastic job.
posted by odinsdream at 5:38 AM on October 1, 2009


Just an FYI, you've come to the wrong place for a critique of anything made by Apple. You'd get much more power, speed, and memory for your money if you just went with a Windows 7 laptop instead, which seems to be what you need, since you're going to be running Windows 7 all the time anyway. Maybe this one, for example. $1050 vs $2500 for the Mac, and it has a gaming video card, even.
posted by Grither at 5:44 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


FYI, my MBP doesn't get hot at all. A little warm sometimes but it doesn't make much difference whether it's on battery or not. Also Grither, enjoy the machine you recommended.
posted by michswiss at 5:59 AM on October 1, 2009


Also, just a heads up, I'm not sure if the boot camp drivers actually support Windows 7 yet. I know I tried on my mini and had all sorts of issues with bluetooth and audio.
posted by CharlesV42 at 6:08 AM on October 1, 2009


Personally, I found the MBP 17" to be too big and heavy to want to lug across campus. I was/am much happier with the MBP 15". If I want a larger screen when I'm sitting at my desk, I just plug my external display into it.
posted by browse at 6:45 AM on October 1, 2009


Everyone's said everything I would say.

AppleCare is 120% worth it. I've had the logic board blow on mine twice (it's believed it was the result of the bad set of NVidia video chips delivered for the model I have), and they took it, nodded, and replaced the board with no cost to me. My SuperDrive just stopped working; I'm going in tomorrow with it and they already told me not to worry, it's covered.

I've said it before but I'll say it again: if you want a really good case for it, you want a Tom Bihn bag, probably the Empire Builder with the Brain Cell. I have one. It cost a bunch. But it's a great bag, it holds the machine perfectly, and it's got all the compartmentalization you'll need (and if you really do need more, they sell them for a rather reasonable price).
posted by mephron at 6:48 AM on October 1, 2009


CharlesV412, the Boot Camp Drivers on the 10.6 disk worked fine for me on my 15" MBP with Windows 7- it's a first-gen unibody. I had bluetooth, audio, and wireless working fine.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:50 AM on October 1, 2009


Legally you'll need the full version of Windows XP/Vista/7. Not the upgrade version. So tack that onto your total ($200).
posted by glenno86 at 6:51 AM on October 1, 2009


Apple Care FTW! Get it!
posted by jgirl at 6:59 AM on October 1, 2009


I had a 15" MBP and the size of that, not the weight, just the physical size was too large for me. The 17" would be entirely too much. That would be my primary caution, if you're the type that would move it around a lot, even from just a table to a chair or couch or bed, that could get tedious.

The aluminum unibody MBPs are well made and a lot stronger than the old aluminum MBP and PB, but they do scratch pretty easily so can end up looking cosmetically rough, even if in perfect function. Obviously, if you are very careful with the computer that will minimize the issue.

A few of the people are recommending the 13" MBP but it doesn't have the 9600M GT graphics, just the 9400M, so the 13" is not a good choice for serious gaming. Note that the cheapest 15" does not have the 9600M GT either, but the higher end models do.

Since you can get a 15" with the same specs as the 17" I'd seriously consider that one for size and portability reasons, unless you really want the 17" and/or need the ExpressCard slot, and portability is not a concern. You can always run an external monitor and even 24" models have come down in price significantly.
posted by 6550 at 7:00 AM on October 1, 2009


The reports of being a better lover after purchasing a MBP is somewhat overstated. The other positives are pretty spot on though. Macs do crash and they do break. But I've found that Apple is better than the other guys in terms of fixing problems with few questions asked. On this current MacBook Pro I've not had any hardware problems at all (which totally makes up for the problems I had with my older MBP... But Apple fixed all those problems for me which helped make me a customer for life).

I've been happy with my 15" MBP systems I've had over the years. Most of the "too hot" complaints came from people with the very first rev of the MacBook Pro with the first Core Duo process. I had one of those and it was like a hot plate sometimes. My newer Core 2 Duo MBP pro system runs much cooler.

The only complaint I've heard from friends with the 17" is it is pretty damn big if you plan on lugging it around all the time. I have the 15" and look wistfully at the 13" or the MBA just for the smaller form factor. It sounds like in your line of work you want the largest screen. But if you're going to be sitting at a desk all day, do what a friend of mine did and get a smaller MBP and a giant monitor.

I had the 2GB memory for a while and when I went to 4GB the biggest change I saw was in running Windows Vista, XP, and Win7RC in VMWare. It went from painful to similar performance to my work Windows machine. The Win7 RC I have in VMWare does the stuff I need it to do quite well. If you do upgrade it 8GB it will be to support Windows not really because your Mac OS X session is demanding it. But if you're going to play games and other things that will peg the processor GPU you'll want to run Win7 in Boot Camp.
posted by birdherder at 7:00 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a MBP 15" (2.66GHz w/ 4GB DDR3), glossy screen. I haven't had much problem with the glossy, though I'm usually at a desk or coffee shop, not outside or competing with overhead fluorescent lights. I've also heard that the "matte" screen is disappointing.

1) Something that got me ruffled up, was FW800 and Display port. NO ONE besides apple makes devices with display port or FW800 ports yet. Yes, I'm lugging around an embarrassingly old DV camera, but I needed to get 2 adaptors for it. I also have two display adapters, one to HDMI for the TV, and a VGA for my screen. These are $20 from Apple, $10-15 from 3rd party. They only have a lifespan of 1-3 years. Yay. I also wish there were a few more USB ports, but I got a 7 port hub for my desktop. After getting those extra purchases figured out, no complaints with function or hardware.

Oh, ok, one more nit-picky thing, I'm usually using an external mouse, so when I go back to the trackpad, I'm not used to the 2 finger pinch and pull. I'll accidentally make web browser text smaller, when I meant to 2 finger scroll instead. You can disable this function.

2) Someone may be able to answer this with more technical knowledge, but in my experience no. 4GB should be fine, and I frequently render video and 3D. If you think you might need to upgrade in the future, spring for fewer and bigger sticks, leaving slots open.

3&4)Your files should be fine, obviously windows .exe files won't run in OSX (unless you get parallels or somethin'), and you'll need mac versions of software that open any specific files you're moving. I'm primarily a Mac person, but I do have Windows 7 release candidate installed with boot camp. I occasionally play Steam games, and performance is great. The one thing that really bothers me using windows is a lack of multi-touch track pad function, and it seems like the fans run really high all the time. My mac is usually silent when in OSX, but Windows gets everything spinning up loudly, no matter what processing is going on.

5) Also, yeah as explained above, removing/adding HD and RAM is a "user serviceable" repair and won't void your apple care. It's dead easy in the MBP too. A few latches, and 2-4 screws is all it takes. Obviously, apple care won't cover non-apple products.

6) The 17" is smaller than most comparable 17", but it's still quite large. I went from a 17 to a 15, and can't tell the difference screen wise. To me, if you're going for a laptop, it may as well be more portable. Get an external display if you're needing the extra space. (which I do)

7) Luck of the draw. As with most customer service, persistence and courtesy will get you far. I know a few people who had their lemon PBG4s completely replaced, for free, after 2 or 3 times sending it in. Apple Care is vital.

As for price, I think it's totally worth it for an Apple laptop. The manufacturing, form factors, design and materials are all the best. I love how strong and solid the unibody feels, love the magnetic power cable, battery indicator light, great speakers, light sensors, keyboard backlight, isight, etc etc. No laptop out there competes, even a high end sony vaio. If we were talking desktops, I'd completely concede that Apple may not be worth the price.

Of course, the best part is not running Windows. :)
posted by fontophilic at 7:31 AM on October 1, 2009


Regarding 6) portability, six months ago I walked into the Apple store intending to buy the 17" MBP. I ended up buying the 15", because the 17" seemed too unwieldy. If you plan on making a daily commute with your laptop, or ever using it on your lap, you might want to look at the 15".

I love my 15" MBP. The only negative thing I can say about it is that I wish it had the matte screen, but in practice the glossy screen doesn't bother me as much as I feared it might.

Go with 4 gigs of RAM. You can always add 3rd party RAM later for less money.
posted by paulg at 8:06 AM on October 1, 2009


Regarding heat issues, it does get warm, but I have not noticed a "burned my fucking hand" level of warmth. I have a feeling it might get hotter if you have "high performance graphics" enabled. I haven't noticed any heat difference between battery and AC.
posted by paulg at 8:10 AM on October 1, 2009


I have the 17 MPB. 3Ghz, matte screen, 500GB hard disk. 4 Gigs of ram. It's ~2months old. I am running OSX 10.6 and windows 7 RTM.

1) I have some complaints. The hard drive has been replaced twice already. The trackpad doesn't work in windows (no right click, often doesn't left click, drivers suck ass) Bluetooth was causing BSOD's so I disabled it in windows.

I've commented on the reliability of the hardware before.

2) Generally, more ram is better. That said, you will save money by buying aftermarket ram and having it installed (or doing it yourself). Apple charges way to much for it.

3) As a rule, Apple's windows drivers suck. They want to punish you for running windows and they do. You'll be ahead of the game if you get the drivers from the vendor (ATI, Intel, etc). In particular, the trackpad is broken and almost completely unusable. I carry a mouse with me to work around this.

4) Most windows documents will work OK, sometimes formatting will get lost. There are fewer games for OSX than windows. You can play games in bootcamp, and it does OK - but the machine gets amazingly, impossibly, hot. You'll want to use an external keyboard.

5) It's actually pretty light and easy to manage. My main complaint is that it can be slippery, but that comes with being sleek and made of aluminum.

6) In my experience Apple's support is better than dell's and worse than IBM/Lenovo or HP.

Final thoughts - it's a decent enough machine. But like all apple products it's 80% awesome and 20% WTF were they thinking.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:13 AM on October 1, 2009


4) Are there any potential problems migrating my PC files (documents etc) to the MacBook Pro, even if I use Windows 7? What about my PC games?

None that I've encountered yet (iMac & MB). Windows on on a Mac is still Windows, so no issues there. Under OS-X I've had no trouble bringing MS Office documents into NeoOffice and presumably, Open Office would work as well. My docs are fairly straightforward, though; if you're planning on migrating fairly complex Word or Excel docs to one those, it would be worth trying it out on a friend's machine first. (But that goes even for moving a doc to another version of the same MS Office program than the one created it.)
posted by TruncatedTiller at 9:10 AM on October 1, 2009


I absolutely love my 17" MBP, but it's certainly not free of issues. For instance:

I've had both a dead battery (just stopped charging one day and then the computer refused to recognize that it was even connected to the maching) and a frayed power cable. Both of these issues seem to be common problems. They're common enough that Apple has extended the warranties on these issues in the past. I was lucky enough to have both replaced under these warranties, but the issues is annoying nonetheless.

I have found heat to be a problem. The metal case conducts any heat very well, and it can definitely get uncomfortable if you insist on having it on your lap. The heat is worse with processor heavy applications (games, video encoding, etc.).

More than anything though a 17" laptop is just too large to be very portable. This is not the computer you'll want if you're going to be moving it around, packing/unpacking, etc. very frequently. It's great if it's your primary computer and stays in one place most of the time, but I've definitely found it to be inconveniently large if I move it around very often.

I'll disagree with the seeming consensus by saying that AppleCare probably isn't necessary. As always with extended warranties, not purchasing is a bit of a gamble that no specialized pieces of hardware will fail immediately outside of the base warranty (logic board), but I've had good luck in that regard.
posted by owls at 9:27 AM on October 1, 2009


I have a 13" MacBook - I bought it with 1 meg of RAM then upgraded with 3rd party. It was super easy to install and I've had no problems.

Get AppleCare. It will pay for itself.

My boyfriend has the 17" MBP and I think it's too damn big for a laptop. It's just a bit awkward to be portable. I think the 15" would be a better choice if you're on the got a lot.
posted by radioamy at 9:38 AM on October 1, 2009


1) My main complaint is the ergonomics of the case. The top edge is very sharp and bothers my hands and wrists in the stock configuration. I've currently temporarily fixed it with a liberal application of painters tape to, quite literally, take the edge off.

The corners of the recess for the latch directly below the trackpad are also quite sharp, and unfortunately, exactly where I like to rest my thumbs if not on the touch pad.

Neither of these issues seem to bother most people, but for me, it kind of soured an otherwise excellent laptop.

I've not noticed any heat problems, at least no worse than any other current gen laptop I've tried.
posted by alikins at 10:41 AM on October 1, 2009


I got the first gen MBP for gaming (WoW), and wanted the 17" screen for the full experience. It works, but I also tend to use mine as more of a portable desktop than an actual Laptop.

I don't mind using it on my lap, but I'm also 6'4" and lanky, so I have plenty of room.

Keep an eye on http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/ for infomation on when to buy.

The only thing that makes me hesitate at recommending a 17" over a 15" at the moment is the lack of SD slot on the 17". I have a PC Card slot on my 17" at the moment, and attaching my camera is a pain - I need either a USB cable, or a PC Card slot reader for the stick. If it was SD ready, I would be MUCH happier. Given the 15" have them, that might be a factor for you.
posted by GJSchaller at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2009


I'll disagree with the seeming consensus by saying that AppleCare probably isn't necessary. As always with extended warranties, not purchasing is a bit of a gamble that no specialized pieces of hardware will fail immediately outside of the base warranty (logic board), but I've had good luck in that regard.

Sure, if you want to bet on it, but laptops are about 90% "specialized pieces of hardware" which, when they break, will cost at least as much as AppleCare to fix.

Consider, also, that your AppleCare warranty covers even superficial things that don't impact the machine function. My mom had her entire keyboard and surrounding tray replaced because there were cracks in the plastic where the lid closed. Completely covered - picked it up the next day, in fact, no questions asked. When her hard drive died a month later that too was replaced. The cost of these two repairs if she had paid for them directly would have been $400, at least.
posted by odinsdream at 11:10 AM on October 1, 2009


Anecdotal, but at the local Fry's, most of the laptops on display have few or no missing keys, but almost all of the MacBook Pros have many missing keys. I don't know if this is a sign of sketchy keyboard quality or just the additional interest (and so touchy-feely traffic) that the Macs generate.
posted by davejay at 11:29 AM on October 1, 2009


Sure, if you want to bet on it, but laptops are about 90% "specialized pieces of hardware" which, when they break, will cost at least as much as AppleCare to fix.

It's a gamble, but I've known plenty of people that don't get applecare, and don't regret it. For 3 laptops straight I decided against it. I had no problems, and with the money I've saved I bought my 4th macbook for pretty close to nothing. But then again I've upgraded every 2 years, so after the first, which is covered, I only have one more. I plan on keeping my latest for 3 years, so I'll be getting applecare.

Just an FYI, you've come to the wrong place for a critique of anything made by Apple. You'd get much more power, speed, and memory for your money if you just went with a Windows 7 laptop instead, which seems to be what you need, since you're going to be running Windows 7 all the time anyway. Maybe this one, for example. $1050 vs $2500 for the Mac, and it has a gaming video card, even.
posted by Grither


Just about every issue I've seen with mbps has been brought up in this thread. I'm not sure how much more critiquing you expect. They're damn good laptops.

The question wasn't "I'm deciding between a pc and mac, which is the better value". The question was "help me learn more about the macbook pro". That's what the answers here have done, except yours.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 1:10 PM on October 1, 2009


I've got a 17" MBP and love it. When I got it, it came with 2 GB of RAM, I bumped it to 4 GB with third party RAM. 8 GB is too expensive, but a 160 GB Intel SSD (snagged a second generation one for $450 when they first hit newegg) makes all the difference.

As for AppleCare, do not buy it now. Wait until right before your warranty expires and then decide if you think you need it. If so, buy it, but buy it from Amazon or eBay or someplace else cheaper. (Never buy RAM or AppleCare from Apple, get them third party cheaper.)
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:33 PM on October 1, 2009


A friend and I bought 17" macbook pros at the same time.

It was his first mac ever. My first mac ever as well.

The keyboard bothered him. I found it the best laptop keyboard I've ever used.

The edges of the case bothered him. I don't notice them.

The heat bothered him. It never bothers me. We both max both cores fairly often (and neither of us max the video card).

We both got the glossy screen and it doesn't bother either of us. I took it outside on a sunny day with a shiny lake behind me. There was a bright reflection of the lake in the screen---and I could still see the contents of the screen better than on any other laptop I've ever seen outdoors. It is a bright screen. The anti-glare screen may be even better for outdoor-sunny-day-lake viewing. I advise looking the screens side-by-side before purchasing. I chose glossy after doing that.

What I am trying to say is, Your Mileage Will Vary.
posted by hAndrew at 12:48 PM on October 3, 2009


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