To buy MAC Book Pro now?
March 8, 2010 11:51 AM   Subscribe

To buy a MAC Book Pro?

I'm ready to buy a MAC Book PRO, 15.4 inch, the low end or high end model. I don't consider the mid range a good option as a small extra investment will get the high end. BUT do I need the high end? There's $500 price difference between low and high.
Also, MAC Rumors recommends not to buy right now as an update is expected. Is it really worth waiting? What does the hive mind think?
posted by LivinginYes to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you wait to buy, you'll be able to get what is now the "high end" model for the "mid-level" price, and the "mid-level" model for the "low end" price, perhaps lower. If it were my money, I would wait, if I didn't need a laptop right now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:55 AM on March 8, 2010

You don't tell us anything about your requirements, so it's impossible to say if you need the high end. If you have to ask, the answer is probably no. Wait until after the update and pick up a high-end model they're clearing out or a lower-range model with new and better specs.
posted by Dasein at 12:02 PM on March 8, 2010

I most definitely agree with BP and Dasein, if you can wait, then yes, it is always worth waiting for an Apple update that is overdue. At the very least you'll save money because you can buy the current models on clearout, or you might find that the new models have significant upgrades that you feel are worth the extra money.

Since Apple doesn't lower prices over the life of a specific mode, if you buy now, you're paying the price that was appropriate almost a year ago. If you can hold off, it's generally worth it, especially for a premium-priced product like an MBP.
posted by dnesan at 12:15 PM on March 8, 2010

First things first, MAC is a cosmetics company. Apple makes Macintosh computers, commonly called Macs.

Tell us more about your reasons for needing a new laptop. That will help decide which model is best for you.

I just upgraded to a new MBP, 2.53 GHz processor/250 GB hard drive/4 GB RAM standard. 1 GB was standard on my old Mac, which I had upgraded on my own to 4 GB. I use mine for live and studio music production, mostly, plus photography editing.
posted by emelenjr at 12:16 PM on March 8, 2010 [7 favorites]

Do you anticipate using video-intensive programs, like film editing or high quality gaming? If not, go low end, but put some money into doubling the memory (1GB to 2GB, or 2GB to 4GB) -- you can do that after you buy the laptop for less than $100. When you generally think of high performance (snappy navigation, running lots of programs, etc) memory is the variable that matters.

I bought my macbook pro in summer 2007. I grabbed their higher-end model, but never pushed the computer to its aboslute limit, even when editing audio and messing around with iMovie, and it's still running strong. The lower end new macbooks are better in pretty much every spec category than my three year old, even-a-bit-too-nice model. I think you'll be quite happy for a while -- at least until search engines are three-dimensional, or something.

So, in summation: go lower end, grab memory, maybe even use some savings on a nice AppleCare plan or external harddrive. And just go for it now -- newer models and planned obsolescence drives the industry, but apple makes good machines, particularly with the macbook pro line, that can stick around several years without breaking too much of a sweat.
posted by elephantsvanish at 12:22 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, if you look at it today, the differences are:
       Processor        Hard drive      Video card                  Price (Apple Store)
Low:   2.53GHz          250GB           GeForce 9400M               $1700
Mid:   2.66GHz (+5%)    320GB (+33%)    Low + GeForce 9600M 256MB   $2000
 Hi:   2.8GHz  (+10%)   500GB (+100%)   Low + GeForce 9600M 512MB   $2300
(RAM is 4GB across the board, upgradeable to 8GB)

The difference in processor speed is minimal. For hard drives, it depends on your needs, but you can upgrade the drive on any model. So the big thing, if you have to buy today or if you want to buy a current-generation MBP once the new ones have come out, is the video card. So you'll have to see if the apps you want to run can take advantage of a faster video card (games certainly will; Photoshop CS5 is supposed to), and if so, whether or not getting the 512 MB is worth it.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:37 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Shop based on screen size, then upgrade the RAM to at least 3gb. Definitely max out the RAM as much as you can afford.

The Pros are really best suited towards folks who are gamers or who are doing some heavy lifting. Adobe Creative Suite, any of the video editing packages, 3D games, and virtual machines (parallels, etc) running heavy duty software will benefit from the extra power, but for casual use there's very little difference among any of the Intel machines.

My wife's 3.5 year old macbook still works fine for web browsing, listening to music, or doing work in MS Office. For editing a thousand 12+ megapixel RAW files with both lightroom and photoshop open, while listening to iTunes and having 20 firefox tabs open? Not so much.
posted by paanta at 12:47 PM on March 8, 2010

Seriously, wait until they update or you'll be kicking yourself.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:49 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, but it feels so good to buy just after a major one's come out.
posted by Dasein at 1:11 PM on March 8, 2010

Core2duo is at the end of it's product cycle. Barring a drastic changeup, they will almost certainly update the MBPs with i5s or i7s. Wait a little while.
posted by tremspeed at 1:12 PM on March 8, 2010

Make sure to check out the refurb page. I got one even cheaper than I could have with an educational discount (read: something like $400 off) and it's been great for three years.
posted by Madamina at 1:17 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Or you'll be waiting forever. There will always be an upgrade around the corner.

This. Sure, I'd wait at this point because updates are due now, but this whole 'kicking yourself' is really nonsense. Sure, the next version will be better in some regard, but rarely will it make a difference in actual use, unless, as already pointed out, you're pushing its limits. But normal browsing, emailing, light photography stuff, it won't matter if you have this model or the next. The only difference is whether saying you have the latest and greatest is important to you.

But they computer you need when you need it.
posted by justgary at 2:04 PM on March 8, 2010

i3's and i5's dont seem to be that huge an upgrade from core2duos (google reviews of the i3 and i5). i7's might be, but then you're talking high end prices. I think youd be fine with a core2duo for the foreseeable future if you dont want to wait for the upgrade.
posted by jak68 at 2:09 PM on March 8, 2010

Definitely max out the RAM as much as you can afford.

But do not purchase your RAM upgrade from Apple. They charge way too much for something that is trivially easy for you (or a geek friend) to upgrade in about 5 minutes for a lot less money.
posted by Nothlit at 2:51 PM on March 8, 2010

I am waiting to by a MBP, checking,, and the apple refurb store online daily.

It's maddening but as soon as the new ones come out, whatever is left in stock will go down in price, or, conversely, you will get more of a machine for probably the same about of money if you buy new.

So, yeah, wait.
posted by Danf at 3:42 PM on March 8, 2010

I would reccomend that you buy the higher end model off the apple refurb store. The savings are incredible for something that was basically purchased, taken out of the box, and then returned, plus you get a guarantee and applecare.

I just picked up literally the exact same computer refurb for $1000 less. The new MBP's have been out long enough that they are in stock in the refurb store.
posted by shownomercy at 3:44 PM on March 8, 2010

Normally, I'd agree with the others on this - buy a computer when you need it. However, the advantages of the new processors (Core i5, in particular) are pretty significant, so it might be worth it to wait in this case. The core i5 and i7 have a speed boost mode where the CPU can speed up significantly on demand.

Otherwise, yeah, the refurbs are a good deal. Be sure to get the AppleCare, and get it from Amazon at a slight discount.
posted by kenliu at 4:26 PM on March 8, 2010

There are 71 (at this date) pages in a thread at on a supposed "imminent" MBP update, based on Best Buy inventory markings changes. (see here). According to these tea leaves, you'd get a pretty good idea that the configs will change in the near future. But, the problem is, how long do you want to wait? Do you need a machine now or soon? Then get one now.
posted by chookibing at 6:08 PM on March 8, 2010

Hi, independent Apple reseller here.

DON'T buy now. Hell, as we get to the end of every week, I start NOT replenishing our MBP supply because of the high chance that on Tuesday (Apple's traditional new product day), they'll announce an upgrade. I've been doing this for the last 4-5 weeks now. (It's Monday night as I type this, so . . . you can imagine.)

What I can tell you is that the two major wholesalers that most Apple resellers buy from are experiencing slightly constrained supplies of MBPs right now. This is very unusual, because normally, we can get them VERY easily. That's usually the first sign, right there.

Apple is due to update the MBPs any second now. (Selfishly, I bought mine in December, so I hope they put it off as long as possible, so mine remains cutting-edge as long as possible.) If they don't do it tomorrow, they'll do it next week or the week after. It can't be long now.

(begin plug)
And when they do, I'd be glad to sell it to you. We can drop-ship direct to you, and if you don't live in Virginia (where the store is located), you won't even pay sales tax OR shipping! (Actually, you won't pay shipping, regardless.) We can probably work with you on price, too, especially if you get AppleCare.
(end plug)

Anyway, umm, yeah. MeFiMail me or whatever if you're interested and stuff. Thanks.
posted by CommonSense at 9:48 PM on March 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

That last one's eponyveracious.

I bought my powerbook at the end of a product cycle (shit, the end of a whole product line) five years ago, and it's still kickin'. I stand by it. But if I'd waited like two more months I'd have an Intel chip in this mofo.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:46 PM on March 8, 2010

Response by poster: emelenjr, LOL - too right! Thanks for setting me straight. Your comment made my day.

Everyone else, AWESOME, to get your two cents worth. Thanks for taking the time to give it up. Though I still haven't decided...

CommonSense, I live overseas, does the free shipping still stand ;-)
posted by LivinginYes at 7:40 PM on March 9, 2010

Well here are the new MBPs. The clock speeds might make them look slower, but the new cores accomplish more in a clock cycle, and they have hyperthreading and turbo boost.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:18 PM on April 13, 2010

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