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Macbook Pro vs. Macbook/iMac (Mid 2008)

For my first Mac, I chose to buy an iMac to replace my desktop. Later this fall after the new rumored Macbook series comes out, I will be picking up a Macbook to replace my notebook. Before making the purchase, however, I had originally wanted to buy a Macbook Pro as my one and only computer, hooking it up to an (existing) external 24″ monitor for use at home. Read on to find out why I changed my mind.

I evaluated several major points that finally made me switch to the Macbook/iMac setup from the Macbook Pro.

2 Is Better Than 1
I need 2 computers. As someone who depends on the computer for work, play, and communication, I cannot afford to not have a computer for the week or more it would take to fix a major problem should one arise. On this point alone, the Macbook Pro as my only computer is insufficient for my needs. Clearly, a notebook (to take to school and other places) and a desktop (for power and comfort) is the way to go. Having two computers also means you can store your most important data in two places, creating an extra backup (but you should still have a real backup solution as well). The only downfall here may be syncing issues, but look for a future article to cover some good solutions.

Macbook Pro and iMac?
If I need 2 computers, surely a Macbook Pro and iMac combination would work. It would, but it would also cost a lot more without providing the same amount of value. The Macbook Pro is already more expensive than the 24″ iMac that I chose, while being less powerful. I do not need 2 powerful machines, as I am not running a production studio. I just need one powerful machine to handle things like games, video editing, etc. So then you might ask, why not a Macbook Pro and a Mac mini? (Besides the mini being prohibitively expensive and not updated for a year.)

Mostly Home Use
I thought back to my usage patterns and discovered that most of my computer time is spent at home at the desk on the desktop. I mainly use the notebook at school, but that is only to take notes and use office programs, hardly power-hungry tasks. At home, it is much more comfortable to use the big screen, full-size keyboard, and mouse of the desktop computer. This being case, it makes more sense to spend a bigger portion of the budget on the desktop computer, and make it the more powerful machine. Otherwise, it is good money going to waste. An added bonus with a less powerful (and power-hungry) notebook is that it can be smaller and lighter as well.

Macbook Almost Matches Macbook Pro
Despite being much cheaper and supposedly less powerful, the Macbook actually almost matches the Macbook Pro in the current generation. The key differences a home user would care about (besides looks) are the Macbook’s lack of a dedicated graphics processor and a smaller screen. The integrated GPU on the Macbook is not a problem for me, as all of my notes and documents are written in 2D. The bigger screen and resolution on the Pro (15.4″ vs 13.3″) is nice, but still not good enough for maximum enjoyment and productivity (tether it up to a monitor and you might as well use a desktop). Both sizes are fine for office work as well, with the smaller one being easier to carry around.

Macbook Pro’s Problems
Recently, there have been news of nVidia G86 and G84 chips being defective, causing them to overheat and die early deaths. Of course, nVidia have denied this, but Dell and HP have both been issuing “updates” for the defects. The Macbook Pro uses one of these chips in its 8600M GT, and there have been rather high reports of problems relating to the GPU as of late. While this also factors into the decision not to get a current generation Macbook Pro, it does not affect my overall choice as I am planning to wait for the next generation of notebooks before buying anyway.

New Macbook Revolution
The above comparison of the Macbook and Macbook Pro will soon be obsolete if the rumors of the new Macbook features are to be believed. These include a touch-screen, glass trackpad, air-like design, price drops, non-Intel chipsets, and more. Until Apple releases the new products (expected in September), nobody knows what they will actually be like. I am eagerly awaiting the news, and should have a new comparison write-up available after they are out.

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