Buying a Macbook Pro. Which model?

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  • Buying a Macbook Pro. Which model?
  • d45yth
    Member

    Hi, To cut a long story short…I’m sort of having to buy a Macbook for uni, the main reason being that I’ll be starting to use Final Cut soon (although I do need a laptop too).
    Is the common sense approach still to buy the cheapest, current chipset model with the screensize I want, then upgrade it myself with parts from the likes of Crucial, etc. (16GB RAM, SSD in place of Superdrive, etc.)? If I do do this, is the slightly higher resolution screen in either normal or anti-glare coating worth choosing?
    As much as I’d like a Retina one, I can’t afford one of the higher spec models and the thought of not being able to upgrade doesn’t appeal.
    I can buy through the Apple Education Store to get 15% off, get 3 years Applecover for £60 and I’d be able to get another 3% off the price, ex. VAT through Topcashback. I’ve seen some fairly cheap deals on Ebay and Amazon but I wouldn’t be able to get the cheap Applecare with one of those.

    Anyway help would be greatly appreciated.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    IMO buying the top spec non-retina MBP is actually good value right now (especially with discount) as you get faster processor and more video RAM (neither of which are easily upgradable) plus the extra RAM/bigger HDD. if you are swapping out the SuperDrive yourself for an SSD you will have to sort a caddy/mount thing for it (not just a straight swap). I would definitely go for AppleCare at that price. Yes to upgrading RAM/SSD yourself and yes I have always used Crucial.

    Don’t like the hi-res screens personally as the GUI etc in OSX is not scalable so everything will be tiny. Glossy screen less of an issue than with a desktop because you can reposition the screen more easily! Personal choice though but I would not bother with anti-glare.

    Retina MBPs nowhere near as good value IMO as less upgradable plus only space for one drive inside.

    Premier Icon Sandwich
    Subscriber

    Bear in mind that Applecare will be voided if you change the drive during the guarantee period. It used to be get the minimum memory for your model and then get Crucial to supply the max, saving over £200 for the one I’m using. You’ll get gouged on the HD price though.

    tomzo
    Member

    If you buy through the education store online, the hardware warranty is extended to 3 years automatically for free, the apple care for £60 that you buy on top is just for additional telephone support…which if you live near an apple shop, imo, isnt really worth it.

    CountZero
    Member

    Hi, To cut a long story short…I’m sort of having to buy a Macbook for uni, the main reason being that I’ll be starting to use Final Cut soon (although I do need a laptop too).

    Just curious, but why do you need a laptop in addition to a MacBook which is a laptop… ❓

    alexxx
    Member

    editor here…. premiere has exceeded fc in recent times… id advise using adobe instead… may also open up the option for a pc laptop?

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    Bear in mind that Applecare will be voided if you change the drive during the guarantee period.

    Technically true although you don’t need to break any seals, etc so the original could be replaced easily enough.

    If you buy through the education store online, the hardware warranty is extended to 3 years automatically for free, the apple care for £60 that you buy on top is just for additional telephone support

    didn’t know that – save your money in that case!

    d45yth
    Member

    Thanks for all of the above!
    It looks like I’ll be able to get 15″ 2.6Ghz model for about £1500. Does anyon think it’s worthwhile chosing the 7200rpm hard-drive? I’d always been led to believe the 5200rpm drive isn’t good…but the 7200rpm drive is really noisy? Ah, decisions, decisions, although it’s nice to have them I suppose! 🙂

    d45yth
    Member

    I hadn’t seen the latest replies when I posted last!

    Countzero – sorry, that isn’t worded well…I haven’t got a laptop of any kind at the moment…so need one whether it’s a Mac or not. My aging desktop can’t edit HD video either.

    Alexxx – I would have really liked to stick with PC based setup…all the editing suites at uni are running final cut though, this is why I’ve been told I’d more or less end up getting a Mac whether I wanted one or not. I can get away without one in my 1st year but it will really help in my 2nd and 3rd years. I also live 25 miles from my uni so don’t want to be travelling back and forth (I’m only at that site 1 day a week). If I lived closer, I would just use the computers there.

    Premier Icon mboy
    Subscriber

    Regarding HD speed. Back when everything was SATA I running a 7200rpm drive over a 5400 made quite a bit of sense, it was approximately 33% faster for read speeds and it was very noticeable.

    These days, even a 7200rpm drive is going to be a massive performance bottleneck. The processor, RAM and everything else in a new machine is running sooooo much faster than an old machine, that to stop the HD being the bottleneck in performance, you’ve got to fit a bloomin’ fast SSD. Otherwise it’s like having an American muscle car, with a 500bhp engine, but leaf spring suspension, crossply tyres, and drum brakes. It’ll look cool and make a lot of noise, but a Lotus with a 1.8 litre engine but sticky tyres and race bred coil over suspension will run rings around it on a track.

    FWIW I’d buy a 15″ MBP, probably the base one as its not worth an extra £250 for a jump from 2.3 to 2.6 processor IMO, bung 16GB of crucial RAM in there, and with the money you’ve saved off the processor, invest it and a bit more on a 512GB Crucial M4 SSD. I wouldn’t bother with running a 2nd drive in a caddy, I still find the optical drive quite useful myself.

    TheDTs
    Member

    Have you checked the refurbished store?
    Always got mine there, generally a good saving.
    Went to local apple store to compare and the chap in the shop confirmed that what I was looking at on the refurb website was better value than what they had in store. (quite refreshing, from a sales person)

    MrSmith
    Member

    Mboy has it. Don’t pay extra for the fast drive just get an SSD from samsung/crucial and fit it yourself same for the ram (you can fit 16gb) 15in is the right choice due to 4cores and the extra graphics. I can playback native 5dIII footage (no proxies) on my 13in MBP with only a few dropped frames but the 15 should take that in its stride.
    I would go down the caddy route (I don’t need DVD) or some kind of thunderbolt scratch/media drive in the future.
    I need to get a 15in now as the 13 will not run Davinci resolve.

    alexxx
    Member

    Get a 512 m4 SSD.

    Also agree with Crucial Ram.

    I don’t however agree with matching Uni’s standards with FCP. They are both very similar NL Editors and Premiere currently has the edge as FCP has been dumbed down.

    Adobe to Adobe intregration is great and it’d be a real shame if you were to go FCP in my opinion…

    At the end of the day it’s only a simple tool – your creativity is what’s really important.

    I’d save the cash – get a PC alternative and spend the spare cash on a good IPS monitor like a pair of 24″ dells and a nice keyboard / wireless mouse for docking.

    alexxx
    Member

    If your feeling geeky then go down the hackintosh route… That’s what I do and I run Premiere on it.

    Macbook wouldn’t be the end of the world.. they are built quite nicely but I can’t justify the price tag that Apple stick on their glossy products…. (says the man who just bought a iphone 5)…

    MrNutt
    Member

    I was dicking around with all the possible options that you’re also facing, to be honest I just saved some cash and went for the 15″ Retina and I’m bloody glad that I did.

    d45yth
    Member

    Arghhhh! I wish I’d never asked! So many options! Thanks for all the replies. 😀

    Alexxx – I agree with what you’re saying, the thing about FCP is that it’s what I’ll be getting shown how to use and will have support for if needed though. The degree I’m studying for is to do with outdoor media, the video editing is only a part of it and as such, isn’t something I can see myself doing professionally. I’m much more interested in being outdoors, either filming or taking photos, rather than being sat in front of a computer screen. Not for more time than I’d be outside for at least.

    After looking at the Mac options again, I’d been considering the 2.3Ghz Retina package (same price as 2.6Ghz non-Retina) and paying an extra £215 for the 2.6GHz upgrade and 16GB RAM. Then later on buy an external SSD, the only problem with doing that is if the 256GB disk would be enough in the meantime? I’d only be editing video at home/uni, so could leave the extra disk at home and make use of the increased portability for photography stuff/trips. I would need to sell my body for a few months to do all of this mind! 😯

    bokonon
    Member

    Save the cash, get friendly with the tech staff and book the shit out of the uni edit suites – use the money to buy more booze/bikes/holidays in spain.

    d45yth
    Member

    bokonon – Member

    Save the cash, get friendly with the tech staff and book the shit out of the uni edit suites – use the money to buy more booze/bikes/holidays in spain.
    Ha, I would love to follow your advice. I’d much rather have my own gear though. I was having to borrow photography gear from the uni’s media stores and having to take the stuff back on my days off! (as I’ve said above, I live 25 miles away). I soon got sick of that, sold some bike bits and bought all my own gear. I haven’t much else to sell now though, the two bikes I’ve got are needed for some videos I have planned.

    thebunk
    Member

    Have to say the normal pros look like poor value next to the Retinas and Air models. Only thing is I’m not sure how upgradable the retina pros are? How about using an SSD for local editing and moving stuff off to an external drive?

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Leaving the Mac thing aside…..

    Video editing on a 15″ screen regardless of the resolution will be a PITA (high res tiny tiny windows). Budget for an external screen (or 2)
    HDD Space will be premium so look at a couple of external drives – does the mac do E-Sata or USB 3?
    Also is the RAM upgradable in these ones? If not Max it out.
    How many cores/chips are in it?
    For the playing about I do I much prefer a desktop with lots of Ram & processing with a proper keyboard & mouse and huge screens.

    MrSmith
    Member

    does the mac do E-Sata or USB 3?

    USB 3 and e-Sata via a thunderbolt adapter (LaCie etc) or straight to a thunderbolt drive with a pass-through if you are using an external monitor.

    codybrennan
    Member

    Re: the educational discount- daughter would like a Macbook, and tbh, I am happier supporting Macs than I am PCs.

    How do Apple get the buyer to prove they are in education?

    d45yth
    Member

    thebunk – the Retina’s aren’t upgradable at all. I don’t think you can even upgrade the memory. You’re supposed to spec them as you want them from the off…could be a coincidence but seems clever on Apple’s part to stop folk upgrading with non-Apple parts! The normals pro’s still have two drive bays too, which is a major advantage for some. I can’t see how you think they’re poor value either…they have way more storage space (albeit slower) and a superdrive built in, for less money. What’s the point of having a low spec Retina if you can’t upgrade it after a year or two? (It would seem I now know have a good idea on what I’ll be going for!).

    d45yth
    Member

    codybrennan – How do Apple get the buyer to prove they are in education?

    It’s easy if the ordering is done at uni through their network. You can do it over the phone though, they have a number for parents buying for their kids too (probably using your daughters student reference number).

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    could be a coincidence but seems clever on Apple’s part to stop folk upgrading with non-Apple parts!

    not really it means you have to buy a new one sooner or pay the premium for the upgrades.

    Premier Icon mboy
    Subscriber

    How do Apple get the buyer to prove they are in education?

    Order connected to the university network. Apple store online gives approximately 15% discount to HE students (about 5-6% for FE students).

    Or ring them up.

    I don’t however agree with matching Uni’s standards with FCP. They are both very similar NL Editors and Premiere currently has the edge as FCP has been dumbed down.

    Adobe to Adobe intregration is great and it’d be a real shame if you were to go FCP in my opinion…

    At the end of the day it’s only a simple tool – your creativity is what’s really important.

    I’d save the cash – get a PC alternative and spend the spare cash on a good IPS monitor like a pair of 24″ dells and a nice keyboard / wireless mouse for docking.

    You’ve totally ignored the most important factor of the whole thread here. The OP is going to NEED to use FCP on a Mac for his degree. Buying anything else, regardless of if it is better or not, is totally moot. I need a Mac with Logic Pro for my degree. Sure, I could use a PC with Cubase, or Ableton, or Pro Tools, or Reaper, or even a Linux box running Ubuntu studio to do what I need. But when the course is written around a certain bit of software, I’m not going to do very well if I don’t have a machine running that software myself too!

    thebunk
    Member

    Apple student discount Useful if you want to buy for a student or HE employee without being on their network. 😉

    MrNutt
    Member

    erm, you don’t have to work in tiny windows with the retina.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber


    OK to fit multiple windows into a 15″ screen requires them to be SMALLER than if you used a BIGGER screen. As video editing normally uses multiple windows – timeline, effects, monitor, library of files etc you will either have to constantly swap or use more. A retina higher resolution screen made by LG means you can have more there and have better defined smaller text etc but to fit more in they will be smaller. Increasing resolution works to a point then just becomes harder to work with.

    grantway
    Member

    Go for the 15 inch with Retina display
    Also Flash memory maybe a good idea
    just to speed it up a little.
    Also if you buy final Cut via the Apple store.
    Then make sure you buy the One 2 One with Apple

    Premier Icon soundninjauk
    Subscriber

    I always think you should get the best model you can afford at the time. For video work, unless you’re hanging a large and fast hard drive array off the back (via the Thunderbolt or similar) then I’d recommend either an internal SSD or the 7200 rpm drive, I wouldn’t imagine that the 5400 would be able to keep up with video stuff nearly so well. Apple are also advertising that FCP X has been ‘optimised’ (for what it’s worth) for the 15″ retina display. Plus as much RAM as you can afford.

    As for the whole FCP/Premiere thing, I use both at work and personally I think the skills you’ll learn in one are pretty transferable to the other, they just have different keyboard shortcuts. Premiere does integrate better with After Effects, but it’s not impossible to use FCP and After Effects together by any means. Which version of FCP will you be learning on?

    MrNutt
    Member

    ah I see what your saying mikewsmith, but if your intention is video editing on a laptop you’d be hard pushed to find a better option than the 15inch retina as the higer res means that you can sit closer without seeing the pixels 😉

    Mr_Mojo
    Member

    thebunk – Member
    Apple student discount Useful if you want to buy for a student or HE employee without being on their network.

    Thankyou! 😉 :mrgreen:

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Mrnutt my option would be a cheaper pc laptop and a massive second screen and mouse. The rest on beer. 😆

    d45yth
    Member

    soundninjauk – Member
    Which version of FCP will you be learning on?

    I’m guessing the latest version of Final Cut Pro if that’s the best version? The worst thing is that they were telling us that the uni uses the most professional, up-to-date software…now it seems that this may not be the case!

    Again, thanks for the replies everyone. Maybe I’m going to have to buy a mid-range model and have to do most of my editing at uni…there’s no way I can see me being able to spend 2k+, not without resorting to anything illegal anyway. The worst thing is that even though I have a 4 figure sum (barely) in my laptop fund, I’ll be getting 2.5k early in January as part of my student loan/grant…I do need this to pay bills and buy food though as I’m skinny enough as it is! 😀

    sas
    Member

    Looking back through your posts:

    I can get away without one in my 1st year but it will really help in my 2nd and 3rd years.

    How about wait a year for prices to drop/specs to increase, then get whatever you can afford. Assuming you’re disciplined enough not to spend your laptop fund on something else.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Ah yes for some general info universities lie like everyone else. They will be using what they got a deal on or what the lecturer likes/knows otherwise they would have to relearn.

    Premier Icon soundninjauk
    Subscriber

    There’s a world of difference between FCP 7 and FCP X which is why I asked. FCP 7 is much more similar to Premiere, but I actually prefer using FCP X for straight ‘editing’. It definitely has its limitations though. It’d be interesting to see what you’re taught as ‘professional’ at an institution and then to compare it against what I do day to day (I’m not a professional tv/film editor yet, but I use NLEs every day for editing based work and shortform projects, plus delivering to tape and things).

    I studied Music Tech at uni and was in a fairly similar situation when I started. I used the uni equipment for a year which gave me time to see what I liked, what I wanted and what I needed, and then bought my own mac/copy of Logic etc. for my second year. Worked out pretty well that way, I’d recommend it if you can.

    d45yth
    Member

    I’ve decided on 2.6GHz Retina with 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM…I can get one for about £2075. I may have to dip into my student loan a little bit and have to live off value pasta for a while! I’ll buy an external SSD at Easter and look into some monitors too. Thanks for all the input. 😀

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