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Macbook Pro 2011 Advice. Reliability and 15in or 17in?

Discussion in 'Apple Forum:' started by richimgd, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. richimgd

    richimgd Member

    Hi guys,

    I'm thinking of investing in a new 2011 MacBook Pro. I’m writing this post to see from other designers if they also own a MacBook pro, preferably the 2011 model and why they made the decision on the spec, and how they find it on a day to day basis in different working environments etc. It would be to use as my main system as I don’t have my own laptop already so I’m thinking it would be a good investment in case I do any freelance work in future where I would be expected to bring my own computer, and also if I need to meet with a client and go through a project anywhere etc. Theres been times where I really could have done with a laptop for these very reasons. I have a pretty decent 24in monitor that I can use as a second screen while I am working at home, otherwise when I am out and about I would need to rely solely on the MacBook’s screen. The type of work I do is mainly graphic and web design, so using all of Adobe Creative suite and also potentially some Windows virtualisation such as VM Ware although I don’t know how necessary this would be now. I also use Cinema 4D and occasional do video work, so it would be nice to have the power there if needed.

    The spec I am looking at is either:

    MacBook Pro 15in
    Apple MacBook Pro Hi-Res Antiglare 15.4" Quad Core i7 2.2GHz 8GB 500GB

    · Display: 15.4" Widescreen Hi-Res Anti-Glare (1680x1050)
    · Memory (RAM): 8GB 2 x 4GB
    · Hard Drive: 500GB HDD 7200rpm
    · Integrated Graphics: Intel HD 3000
    · Dedicated Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1GB GDDR5
    · SD Card Slot: SDXC
    · CPU: Quad Core i7 2.2GHz

    Approx. £2050

    Or, MacBook Pro 17in:
    Apple MacBook Pro Hi-Res Antiglare 17" Quad Core i7 2.2GHz 8GB 500GB

    · Display: 17" Widescreen Hi-Res Anti-Glare (1920x1200)
    · Memory (RAM): 8GB 2 x 2GB
    · Hard Drive: 500GB HDD 7200rpm
    · Integrated Graphics: Intel HD 3000
    · Dedicated Graphics: AMD Radeon 6750M 1GB GDDR5
    · SD Card Slot: SDXC
    · CPU: Quad Core i7 2.2GHz

    Approx. £2220

    I am interested in the high resolution antiglare screen as one thing I don’t like about macs is the glossy screens; also the ram upgrade would be done at a store which works out half the cost of Apple ram but with the same spec as Apple. As standard Apple supply the system with 2 x 2gb of ram modules so an upgrade later would mean getting rid of 4gb of perfectly good ram and buying 2 x 4gb modules. Apple don’t let you have 1 x 4gb of ram with a view to adding another 1 x 4gb module later, it would seem.

    Does anyone use a 2011 MacBook pro? Are there any problems with the OS and reliability? I have read a few stability issues, but not sure if these are now ironed out with an update, or if they were even that serious?

    The other main question I have is, does anyone recommend which size would be best. I am having trouble deciding what would be best. Is it a bit overkill getting a 17in? Obviously the 17in is bigger, has the extra pixels, but do you lose some of the portability? It’s hard to make this decision without having day to day experience using the system. Would a 15in model be a good balance in productivity and portability? The added screen size and resolution of the 17in model looks very tempting, but with the high resolution option on the 15in model, it looks like it could be a good balance even if I needed to work away from home without a second monitor. I have seen both the 15in and 17in MacBook’s in the store, but I haven’t actually seen the 15in high resolution screen in the flesh.

    Has anyone worked on the 15in high resolution screen and found it nice enough to use or do they wish they had chosen the bigger 17 in screen?

    Any other comments or advice? Should I buy a PC? ;-)

    My plan would be to also upgrade to a SSD about a year later or so if the performance and price gets a bit more appealing as I know the hard drive would be the bottle neck until then. Perhaps I would get rid of the DVD drive and put in a SSD to use as my system drive… If this is indeed possible to do with either the 15in or 17in model?

    If you have read all this, cheers and I will hopefully get your feedback.

    Cheers :icon_smile:
  2. JohnRoss

    JohnRoss Member

    I might be misunderstanding, but this sounds as if you are planning on using the Macbook for serious work, rather than for just taking to clients. In which case, I'd say don't - if you've got that sort of budget, get an iMac for home, you can get a brilliant 27-inch for 1400 quid now. Then spend the difference on a second-hand Macbook for taking to clients. I had a two-year old 15" one in my hands recently (never let family or friends get the idea you know how to fix computers) and it was lovely, good performance, video, graphics, etc. You could partition the hard-drive and put Linux and/or Windows on it as well as Mac, so as not to have to use emulation, which always sucks.

    Iomega does nice external SSDs for varying prices, I doubt whether you'd be able to put an internal one in, but I could be wrong, often am.
  3. richimgd

    richimgd Member

    I would also potentially be working freelance in-house, although at the moment I work full time. So would need the power and the portability - I know I am paying a premium for it.

    As far as I know you can buy a SSD drive and add it to replace the HDD inside the MacBook, assuming it is the right physical size and formatted with the OS on. I'm sure I read somewhere you can also remove the DVD drive and replace it with another HDD or SSD although if this is possible I'm not sure if it would void warranty.
  4. djb

    djb Member

    Well I use a 15" and my boss has a 17" and having had them side by side (and picked them both up) I think you’d be mental to pay the extra money for a 17".

    As for your other questions, getting a bit technical for me but I actually think you need to seriously think about whether a mac laptop is right for you if you’re going to be hoiking things out of it like that.
  5. richimgd

    richimgd Member

    I guess it’s the number of pixels you get. The 17in packs a 1920x1200 display, which is 2.3 million pixels. The standard configuration 15in MBP is 1440x900 (1.3 M pixels) which is basically half the screen real estate. With the res upgrade of 1680x1050 that works out about 1.75M pixels. More pixels mean more productivity, but then less portability which is an issue for a laptop. It’s a case of take a slight hit on the portability, but gain a huge screen area to work with.
    What screen resolution do you have on your 15in MBP? Is it glossy, anti-glare? I managed at my last job with the iMacs glossy screen, but I much prefer a matt screen.

    I wouldn’t want to hack anything if it was going to void my warranty, but I would defiantly upgrade to a better value, higher spec SSD in future, it’s just I can’t justify it now. The SSD you'd get is only about half as fast as what you can buy now for the same money severalty. In 12 months’ time I'm guessing you will be able to get even faster and cheaper SSD drives.
  6. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I've just sold my 17inch mbp and replaced it with a 27" iMac & an iPad.

    A17 inch macbook pro is about as portable as a block of flats! It weighs a flipping ton, doesn't fit in a satchel and once squeezed in a backpack, there's no space for anything else!

    If its your only machine and needs to be portable go 15" and buy a second monitor to connect at home. Alternatively, buy a big iMac for home and an iPad to take to see clients, after all you shouldnt ever need to be actually working on anything in front of a client. As for possibly needing to be on site freelancing... If you're required to be working on site the company should have a machine for you to use. In my own experience companies don't like you taking a machine and plugging into their LAN.
  7. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Oh...... Anything that involves opening an apple product to access the internals voids the warranty unless carried out by an ACRS or Apple themselves.
  8. djb

    djb Member

    I don’t get your maths here. I’d make it 75% the size of a 17" and like big dave says, a 17' macbook pro does weigh the same as a block of flats. If you’re after a large screen and a powerful machine you should be looking at something other than a laptop.

    I’ve got the bog standard 15" MBP and it works fine for me, however I had my works computer at home for a few days which is an old 2ghz iMac and I was far, far happier sat at a desk working on that. The only plus side of a laptop is the portability. Again, as Bigdave says, any client who’s office you’re working in should have a machine for you to use. I have very rarely had to take my laptop into work. The few times I have I could quite happily have carried an iMac in. In fact, I do wonder why I bought a laptop - the next machine I get will definitely be a desktop as you get much more for your money and they’re a lot better to work on.
  9. richimgd

    richimgd Member

    Cheers for the comments.

    @ Bigdave I use a 15in laptop for work at the moment (win7), but the bag I have is big enough for a 17in laptop so in theory I may as well be transporting a 17in MBP every day, although I guess there is probably a bit of extra weight also. When I say portable, I mean to carry in a bag to take to work, rather than use on the way on the train etc. I do appreciate that the 17in macbook pro is a bit of a beast and I am concerned about the actual size it so at the moment the 15in model with the high resolution screen looks more suitable.

    I have a decent external monitor at home so can use that as a duel screen. I guess the meeting for clients thing wouldn’t be a primary concern factor, a later purchase of an iPad or other tablet might be better for that as you say it’s just if I needed to show any work to a client I could take the MacBook as is, without messing around transferring files, or exporting stills and then transferring files, making sure I have the latest version of the files on whatever device I am using to present.
    That’s a fair point for freelancing. The last place I worked had a couple of spare freelance machines for when anyone extra was hired temporarily, admittedly they were old G5 macs, so not the fastest ever. The other place I worked on the other hand didn’t and in that case turning up with a laptop with all your fonts would be useful. I was thinking of doing a few short term jobs last year when I was in-between jobs, so having the portability of a laptop would be neat as I would be living at a friend’s house temporarily, so I could have all my projects and resources with me at all times and the ability to work anywhere. It’s just the probability of all work places having a spare machine for me to work on is the question.
    Regarding the warranty, I don’t think I will be taking it apart myself then. Cheers!

    @ djb, I was talking in pixels rather than actual physical sizes of the screens.
    I think I need to go away and think about if I really need the portability as it does come with a cost. I think an iMac would be slightly less portable than a 17in MacBook pro though... :icon_tongue_smilie:
    At the moment I could do with an upgrade, so I thought I could kill 2 birds with one stone, get a MacBook pro as it is powerful, should last and be good for at least 3+ years and give me the ability to have a portable work station for that time which should come in handy, maybe not every day, but enough times for it to be a worthwhile investment.
  10. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I have a mate who runs a very successful agency from just a 15" macbook pro. He had an iMac but decided that he needed to be able to work at home as well as in the office so flogged it.

    I guess its horses for courses. If your mac needs to go everywhere you go then laptop all the way, if not and youve got the desk space iMac or mac pro.
  11. tom thurs

    tom thurs Member

    As for 3D work either should be fine (they're both the same apart from screen size), my old flatmate works for unity and he used to use a the older 17" and that was fine for running 3Ds max, he even made a game on it.
  12. richimgd

    richimgd Member

    Cheers for the responses.

    I will probably wait until next month when Lion comes out. I think I might go with the 15in just to maximise the portability while not taking too much of a hit on productivity.

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