Macbook Pro vs. PC?
August 27, 2011 9:32 PM   Subscribe

ANOTHER mac vs pc buying mefi post...But not the usual reasons. Help? Thanks! :D

I need an upgrade from my $550 laptop that I bought a little over a year ago for DJing. Shits just barely packs enough juice to run Traktor, I also produce and the laptop can't cut through an Ableton work flow past a single synth line, so I'm stuck on my desktop for such work. :)

I'm the one that will be paying for it. Not parents. :D I have a job at a computer repair shop, I like Windows 7 much more than OSX, I would almost certainly nuke and install Windows 7 on it if I end up getting one. Right now I barely have any bank, I'm sitting on about $300. I work 9 hours a week and make $9/hour. I get a check every 2 weeks.

I obviously can't just buy the thing all up front, but after some quick math, I believe i have the means to pay off a 12 month finance. I would buy the thing off of amazon for $1700. I would basically give up a whole check every month to pay for it, which I believe I could manage. My parents would probably chip in every now and then, obviously since this thing will be my "college laptop", they are saving $1000 on me begging them to buy me one. I would then also have 2 laptops both of decent value, and a desktop that I can sell. So...I shouldn't end up in deep shit w/ the sharks. :D

Many computer illiterate people go Mac because they don't know how to take care of a Windows computer. Loads of people that walk into our store and abandon their PCs in favor of a mac because they are fed up with viruses and how slow they get. I could have fixed both easily if they weren't convinced its impossible, but w/e. I see the other positives to buying a Mac, in about 3 years, I can still sell it for a large part of my money back. Try doing that with a PC! :D I can easily get the same thing for about $1000 in 3 years, it will probably drop to about a $500-600 value, while the macbook will sell for around $1500 in the future.

If my resale estimates are a load of shit, or you think I better steer clear of a mac. Say something! :P

I need to do a pro and con list for myself, might as well do it in here. :P

High resale value
Will last a long time if I take care of it
Macbook=sexy :P
Won't last as long
Bad resale value
I'm not buying into OSX
I have to finance for a mac.

Talk to me, whats your take? Thank you so much. :D
posted by NotSoSiniSter to Work & Money (30 answers total)
Response by poster: I should include, I'm 17 and my birthday is September 7th. I'm a senior in highschool. :)
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 9:40 PM on August 27, 2011

Where are you getting that resale estimate from? Seems way too optimistic based on a cursory search for used macs.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:57 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nobody is going to pay $1500 for a three-year-old used Mac.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:01 PM on August 27, 2011 [9 favorites]

Ehh, I don't get it. If you want Windows, just get a PC. Why put yourself in debt just for a shinier computer?
posted by Aiwen at 10:13 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

What exactly is your question? It sounds like it's a terrible idea to go into debt for this.

I'm the biggest Mac advocate you're likely to hear from, but I don't see the upside here if you would never use OS X. It sounds like you have your mind made up about that. (Please drop the "computer illiterate" bit, though; makes it hard for at least one person who would otherwise want to give you advice to take you seriously.)

There are PC manufacturers that have build quality that at least rivals Apple; Sony and Lenovo come to mind. Others have addressed the resale issue. ($1500 for a $1700 laptop is insane, even six months after the fact.) If "image" means enough to you to go into debt to pay for it (at 17!), who are we to stand in your way? (Debt is debt, whether you have a plan to pay it off or not.)
posted by supercres at 10:21 PM on August 27, 2011 [5 favorites]

Buying a computer you can't afford based on its higher resale value is a bad idea. You don't want a Mac and you can't afford one -- so don't get one.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:27 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

I also have problems seeing a question here. But anyway: don't buy a computer on credit unless the work you do with it is going to pay it off straight away. By which I mean a handful of weeks, not a dozen months.

Not to mention that if you're DJing, you're running the risk of spillage, droppage, bumpage, stealage and lots of other -ages, and even if you're careful, you're not going to sell it on for as much as one that has been gently carried to the local coffee shop and back.
posted by holgate at 10:31 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're too computer literate to waste your money on an Apple. If you want a PC, just get one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:55 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I love my macs as well (and seriously, computer illiterate? I'm a freakin' software / web dev and can out geek you any day, young 'un) but well, your resale estimates are full of shit, as you say. You cannot resale a 3 year old, well worn mac (pro? air?) for $1500. Check ebay if you don't believe me -- the highest 2008 MacBook Pros are currently listed for around $1000.

Going into debt for a computer is a fantastically bad idea, because they lose their value so quickly. You will owe more than any laptop is worth for the entire time of the loan. If you drop it or whatnot, you are royally screwed and will be stuck giving up half your salary for a dead computer.

On the other point -- If you want Windows, get Windows. Yeah, macs are rock-solid in terms of build quality, but good windows machines exist as well. I don't know what they are right now, because I'm now squarely in the Mac camp (you know, being computer illiterate and all) but a similar question for good, cheap laptop was asked just this week.
posted by cgg at 10:58 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

DO NOT buy a Macbook Pro to use for Windows most of the time. Other than the oh so smooth case, it will be an inferior experience to an equally spec'd Thinkpad T series from Lenovo.

DO NOT go into debt to buy a frivolous item. It's frivolous because you don't need it to provide for your basic needs.

DO NOT purchase an item on credit assuming you will be able to sell the old item you are replacing for a specific amount. Sell the old one first, and with cash in hand, buy the replacement.

DO NOT factor potential resale value of an item highly into the purchase of any thing. It can be a plus in one direction, but it should not be counted on in any way for a frivolous item.

DO NOT continue with such short sighted ignorant statements about the whole Mac vs PC debate.

DO NOT start down the path of consumerism at your young age. Learn to use and value what you have.
posted by fief at 11:43 PM on August 27, 2011 [21 favorites]

My take is that your resale value on the mac is an absolute fantasy. You are infatuated with something you can't afford, and your ability to think clearly has gone out the window. I am not a computer expert and have never owned a mac of any variety, but I can see that the Macbook Pros selling for about $1700 on Amazon are all 13 or 15" models. And then I can go to eBay and see that 2008 13" and 15" macbook pros sell in the range of $366-$1100, with the higher-value computers having been upgraded with more memory, better hard drives, etc. After paying eBay and PayPal's fees, those sellers net about $323-$970. Some sellers may offer their old computers at prices in line with your estimate, but nobody is buying.

Going to debt for a recreational purchase tends to spoil the fun of whatever you're buying. If you want to enjoy your new computer, pay cash for it and own it outright from the start. Heck, take your $300 and buy one of those PCs being abandoned by your shop's dumber customers; don't become one of those dumb customers.
posted by jon1270 at 4:48 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm the one that will be paying for it. Not parents. :D I have a job at a computer repair shop ... I'm sitting on about $300. I work 9 hours a week and make $9/hour. I get a check every 2 weeks.

If you only make $81/wk before taxes and you somehow managed to save $300, someone else is already paying for your food, shelter and probably the car you use to get to your job. Until you can cover all your expenses, those people are covering the majority of the laptop - To say otherwise is just an accounting trick.
posted by Orb2069 at 5:29 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm a big mac fan all the way, having all here like macbook pro, 27-inch iMac, G5, G4, and other older macs all standing around and being used by the kids. The only way you can really get money back from selling a mac is having the 1st generation of any of the older mac models... some geeks like me always spend money on those. But at the moment I believe it is no longer so for the new models to have a high value in the second hand market. I don't see at all if you buy a mac now and already think to re-sell it later why you should go for a mac at all. Either you can afford it and will enjoy it for a long time to come or you cannot and should not make debt to buy it. And that is very much the same for any PC. Come on guy... making debt to buy a computer is not a good idea. If you run a business, like me, then one computer extra can mean more money... but for pleasure... don't do it. Just don't!
posted by TolkienLibrary at 5:38 AM on August 28, 2011

This is a very odd request. As far as I can tell, you identify two primary arguments for getting a MacBook Pro.

1) Does not require the skilled care of a Windows PC
2) Loses almost none of its resale value over three years.

1) is apparently not a concern for you, as you prefer Windows, believe that you are competent to maintain it and will install Windows 7. 2) is clearly incorrect. Beyond that, why do you want one? Looking at your Pros:

High resale value (relatively, yes, but not to the extent you believe)
Durable (yes, but if you drop it off the edge of a table or a DJ booth it will not be significantly more likely to survive than another premium brand)
Will last a long time if I take care of it (yes, but the same applies to pretty much any current high-specced laptop - my 2008 MBP still does everything I really need it to apart from modern gaming)
Macbook=sexy :P (indubitably, so it's really down to how much you want to spend on a sexy laptop)

Ableton will run, I think, on pretty much any fairly current non-netbook laptop processor - you don't need a 2nd-generation Sandy Bridge to run it. If you're serious about using a laptop as your main production environment, it's possible that you should be thinking more about the sound card than the processor - MacBook Pros used integrated Intel HD Audio, which is probably what you should expect to get off the shelf.

There's nothing wrong with paying extra for sexy. I pay extra for sexy. But I'm not 17, and I'm not relying on keeping my part-time job and hassling my parents to make the payments on my sexy.

In your case, perhaps a decent compromise might be something like an HP Envy? It's still a lot more laptop than you seem to need, but it's pretty enough, a lot cheaper than your MacBook range, and saves you having to get hold of a copy of Windows 7 and probably pay for extended AppleCare as well. Your parents will probably not see HP as a "luxury" brand, as they might Apple, so if you can get a few bills from them and raise some bank from selling your desktop and current laptop, you might be able to cover it without going into debt.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:56 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

In a similar situation, I once bought a certified refurbished ThinkPad. It was awesome, cheap, and it worked great. I abused the thing atrociously and it soldiered onward until someone actually sat on it (IIRC).

I think half of your income per month is too much for a computer. I'd be leery of financing, too. I'd just save up some more money and then buy something with cash, were I you.
posted by ZeroDivides at 5:56 AM on August 28, 2011

There's something wrong with your current laptop if it doesn't run Traktor and Ableton. Clean out bogus software, make sure the hardware is OK, and better soundcard or soundcard driver.
posted by krilli at 6:48 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: ahhh. :/ Just got WHIPPED. D:

Definitely should have looked at actual resale values...I was basing shit off of work, and how much we have sold apple computers for. Yes...I'm full of shit...and a little extra.

Thanks for the beating...better for me in the long run. :D
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 7:09 AM on August 28, 2011

Supercres: Sony's laptop build quality sucks. The screen flexes, the power buttons fall off. They're really badly built and designed.
posted by I-baLL at 8:47 AM on August 28, 2011

Don't neglect to account for the cost of a retail Windows 7 license. The OEM license (can't reuse it on different computer) is for at least $92.

As someone who buys only Apple computers, I strongly recommend going for a PC. Sony can be pricey and infuriating. Go for an HP or a Lenovo.
posted by identitymap at 8:52 AM on August 28, 2011

Response by poster: I have been looking at the HP envy 14 for a while. I'm pretty solid on the choice now. :D I can get my sandy bridge proc for $1150. :D I should probably sell some shit and save up instead of financing. :D
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 9:04 AM on August 28, 2011

Even with the somewhat better resale value, Macs are more expensive than pcs. I recommend looking for more work so you can afford a laptop that will meet your needs. Yard work, more hours at current job, ask neighbors if they need a room painted, etc.
posted by theora55 at 9:09 AM on August 28, 2011

High there. I'm actually a DJ who has used Ableton for gigs for years and a somebody who did windows desktop support for a living, so I think I know what I'm talking about.

A couple of things.

Windows laptops suck for a variety of reasons for using ableton live. There are problems with hard drive seek speeds on many windows laptops, especially if it's moving or vibrating, the latency is terrible, the audio drivers suck, they crash, and so on. You do NOT want your laptop rebooting while you're in the middle of a gig, and I've seen it happen with DJs using windows -- I've also seen problems with hard drives thrashing and causing audio to skip, etc. If my only option for DJing is a windows laptop, I'll just use CDs. I just don't trust them.

You do NOT need a brand new macbook to run ableton and traktor. My (now) 3 year old macbook ran Ableton flawlessly for years, and the only reason I replaced it with an Air was that I spilled coffee on it.

Never borrow money to buy a computer. You'll end up making more in payments than it would cost you to buy it new by the end of it.

I can't emphasize this enough, you do NOT need to spend a lot of money on a new macbook to DJ with. You can get a used black macbook for about $500 and buy a $200 USB or firewire interface for it, and I promise you, it will be rock solid for gigs. A friend of mine knocked my macbook onto a concrete floor during a gig and the music only stopped long enough for me to plug the cables back in.

If you buy a macbook, you'll want to run OSX, not windows. What makes Macbooks great for audio is CoreAudio and the hardware and the fact that the two were designed together. If you change one or the other, you're not getting the most out of the laptop.
posted by empath at 5:14 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Replace ableton with traktor above, everything I said applies to both equally).
posted by empath at 5:15 PM on August 28, 2011

laptop can't cut through an Ableton work flow past a single synth line, so I'm stuck on my desktop for such work. :)

I think you will be stunned at the difference in what you can do with a macbook vs a windows laptop with the same hardware. You might even want to try installing hackintosh on your windows laptop and see if you get a significant performance increase. I really can't emphasize enough how terrible the windows audio drivers are compared to OSX.
posted by empath at 5:19 PM on August 28, 2011

It's true what Empath says, the Core Audio system in OS X is very good and well integrated. I have only seen very nice latency figures and low processor usage with different audio interfaces in OS X (if the audio interface has drivers to begin with.) On Windows it's a bit hit-and-miss.

However, do try installing ASIO4ALL. This is an alternate audio-interface driver for Windows; I'm 90% sure that it's going to make Ableton and Traktor fly on your current machine.
posted by krilli at 8:30 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Borked link. Here's ASIO4ALL.
posted by krilli at 8:31 AM on August 29, 2011

However, do try installing ASIO4ALL. This is an alternate audio-interface driver for Windows; I'm 90% sure that it's going to make Ableton and Traktor fly on your current machine.

In my experience, it fixes the latency problem, but can cause problems with audio cutting in and out. I'd rather deal with latency, personally.
posted by empath at 10:01 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Heh, me too :) Did ASIO4ALL in any way adversely the functioning of the old audio drivers? If it does, then I'd be careful with it. (I've only had great results with ASIO4ALL though.)
posted by krilli at 11:10 AM on August 29, 2011

Well the problem with ASIO4ALL is that it removes all buffering, so you're a lot more sensitive to things like hard drive seek times. For some reason that's never been an issue on macs for me, but has been a problem on every windows laptop I've tried to play more than 2 tracks at once on.
posted by empath at 12:36 PM on August 29, 2011

But did it mess up the old drivers? (You can still select the other driver types that were there before for the audio apps to talk to, right?)
posted by krilli at 1:44 PM on August 29, 2011

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