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SSDs and RAM: Help w/ buying a Macbook Pro

TalkaTalka Registered User regular
My old Macbook Pro has been great to me, but after four years of use it's stopped working, and the cost I've been given for a repair from both the Apple store and a third-party second opinion has been around $1,300. So instead of spending 1.3k to fix a four-year old laptop, I've gone on the market for a new Macbook Pro. I've got a few questions that you folk may be knowledgeable about.

1) Are solid-state drives in a Macbook Pro worth it yet? If not, and considering that the Macbook Pro line is due for an update, might they be worth it soon? I'm assuming shelling out for a SSD would mean a machine that would run quieter, load faster, and last longer, but with sacrifices made to storage size and cost. Does anyone have any experience with solid-state drives?

2) Is 8GB of RAM ever necessary? Right now the default option for the Macbook Pro is 4GB, with an option to double that for $600. I'd be going through a third party, so I could likely get the extra RAM for maybe $300. I tend to multi-task quite a bit, and my old laptop became noticeably and annoyingly slower at those times. But that was with 2GB of RAM. Has anyone ever found 8GB to be necessary for a laptop?

(Bonus question! The Macbook Pro is approaching a refresh. It's about 60 days overdue, actually, and there are a few rumors it could even get the refresh this coming Tuesday. This means I'm forcing myself to use the library until the refresh happens. However, this has been a huge pain, so I've been debating shelling out $300 for a cheap netbook if the refresh isn't announced. Does anyone have any experience with these kinds of things? I've spent some time with a few of them at my University bookstore, and they just seem so slow/small that I'm afraid I'd be throwing money away on something that would only frustrate me. Is it easy to get used to these things, or should I just stay away given my initial impressions?)

tl;dr: What have your experiences been with SSDs; how much RAM is too much RAM; and are cheap netbooks as shitty as they look?

Talka on

Posts

  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    1) Are solid-state drives in a Macbook Pro worth it yet? If not, and considering that the Macbook Pro line is due for an update, might they be worth it soon? I'm assuming shelling out for a SSD would mean a machine that would run quieter, load faster, and last longer, but with sacrifices made to storage size and cost. Does anyone have any experience with solid-state drives?

    Depends on what you mean by "worth it". Hands down they will improve the overall speed of every aspect of your computer significantly. They are also way more expensive for less space. Will a MBP update do anything to this particular computer feature? I doubt it. You're better off buying the MBP without it and putting one in yourself anyways.
    2) Is 8GB of RAM ever necessary? Right now the default option for the Macbook Pro is 4GB, with an option to double that for $600. I'd be going through a third party, so I could likely get the extra RAM for maybe $300. I tend to multi-task quite a bit, and my old laptop became noticeably and annoyingly slower at those times. But that was with 2GB of RAM. Has anyone ever found 8GB to be necessary for a laptop?

    Absolutely not, for any normal use. I believe Anandtech or Toms Hardware did an article not too long ago where they benchmarked Crysis or something on 3, 6, and 12 GB of RAM. The difference from 3 to 6 was relatively small and the difference from 6 to 12 was nonexistent. Unless you have some specialized program need, 4GB is plenty.
    (Bonus question! The Macbook Pro is approaching a refresh. It's about 60 days overdue, actually, and there are a few rumors it could even get the refresh this coming Tuesday. This means I'm forcing myself to use the library until the refresh happens. However, this has been a huge pain, so I've been debating shelling out $300 for a cheap netbook if the refresh isn't announced. Does anyone have any experience with these kinds of things? I've spent some time with a few of them at my University bookstore, and they just seem so slow/small that I'm afraid I'd be throwing money away on something that would only frustrate me. Is it easy to get used to these things, or should I just stay away given my initial impressions?)

    I don't think I've ever said a nice thing about a netbook, but some people like them. I would gauge how inconvenient your life is. The 8 month release schedule has been pretty reliable the past few years.

    Scrublet on
    subedii wrote: »
    I hear PC gaming is huge off the coast of Somalia right now.

    PSN: TheScrublet
  • travathiantravathian Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Run quieter? I don't normally hear the hdd in my laptop.

    Load faster? Definitely, the hdd is the weak link in every computer. How much faster and whether or not that speed increase is noticeable in your normal use, and whether or not it is worth the price, well, that is pretty subjective. The OS will certainly load up faster, but most normal apps you won't see the difference. Apps that thrash the hdd like games, saving/loading a database/movie or encoding a movie can benefit from a SSD.

    I have a pretty high end gaming rig and with 6gigs of ram I have never come close to using all of it at one time, despite having multiple games running in the background while watching a video. So yeah, I think 4gigs is plenty for 99% of users out there and will be plenty for quite a while.

    Netbook, find someone who has one and ask to use it for a couple hours. Totally not my thing, but I know people that love them.

    travathian on
  • 0blique0blique Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    More memory is always useful, but I would never buy it from apple because their prices are WAY out of line with competitive vendors. I'd suggest avoiding upgrading it until you need it. Same thing with hard drives.

    As for netbooks, it depends on what you expect out of it, but I really like mine (a wind u100) and was even willing to switch back to windows to use it, since it offers advantages in size and weight, and battery life. For me, the lower resolution screen, smaller keyboard and the slower processor were not big issues, but as with all things, you rmileage may vary. If you are looking for something to tide you over, you may or may not be satisified with it, depending on how well you could adapt to using one. I'd suggest at the very least going to a store and playing with one, or borrowing one to use it for some routine tasks to see if you like it or not.

    0blique on
  • psychotixpsychotix __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2010
    1) Are solid-state drives in a Macbook Pro worth it yet? If not, and considering that the Macbook Pro line is due for an update, might they be worth it soon? I'm assuming shelling out for a SSD would mean a machine that would run quieter, load faster, and last longer, but with sacrifices made to storage size and cost. Does anyone have any experience with solid-state drives?

    Depending on the SSD yes! I'd go with an OCZ drive with indilex controler for the best results, they make one for the make.

    Now, do you get your monies worth, err... no. As SSD's do far faster in RAID, and at that point need a controller to get their full speed, you really aren't getting your monies worth out of them. Yet it will remain the single item that will make your computer vastly faster.

    As for last longer, that's really hit or miss. SSD's, other then the several thousand a pop enterprize level that you can't even buy, have had firmware problems, speed decay problems, or just flat out failures. Even the might intels. Consumer SSD's are really high end server grade tech done on the cheap. If you want the real thing, don't skimp and go with an intel MLC, or OCZ vertex MLC, if breaking the bank isn't an issue, go with the SLC options from either.

    I've worked with them at work and use them at home.
    Absolutely not, for any normal use. I believe Anandtech or Toms Hardware did an article not too long ago where they benchmarked Crysis or something on 3, 6, and 12 GB of RAM. The difference from 3 to 6 was relatively small and the difference from 6 to 12 was nonexistent. Unless you have some specialized program need, 4GB is plenty.

    Crysis benchmarks are bullshit, other then for benching GPU stress tests. Though I do agree with your end point, but also gaming + mac, not a good benchmark for a mac or why you'd use one. If you want to use a mac for creation purposes, then yeah, the more ram the better, if not, then 4gb is enough for any computer today, hell you can "get by" with less. RAM stress issues should not use games as a metric.
    I don't think I've ever said a nice thing about a netbook, but some people like them.

    Some of the ion ones are good, for a specific purpose.

    psychotix on
  • ClipseClipse Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Talka wrote: »
    My old Macbook Pro has been great to me, but after four years of use it's stopped working, and the cost I've been given for a repair from both the Apple store and a third-party second opinion has been around $1,300. So instead of spending 1.3k to fix a four-year old laptop, I've gone on the market for a new Macbook Pro. I've got a few questions that you folk may be knowledgeable about.

    1) Are solid-state drives in a Macbook Pro worth it yet? If not, and considering that the Macbook Pro line is due for an update, might they be worth it soon? I'm assuming shelling out for a SSD would mean a machine that would run quieter, load faster, and last longer, but with sacrifices made to storage size and cost. Does anyone have any experience with solid-state drives?

    2) Is 8GB of RAM ever necessary? Right now the default option for the Macbook Pro is 4GB, with an option to double that for $600. I'd be going through a third party, so I could likely get the extra RAM for maybe $300. I tend to multi-task quite a bit, and my old laptop became noticeably and annoyingly slower at those times. But that was with 2GB of RAM. Has anyone ever found 8GB to be necessary for a laptop?

    (Bonus question! The Macbook Pro is approaching a refresh. It's about 60 days overdue, actually, and there are a few rumors it could even get the refresh this coming Tuesday. This means I'm forcing myself to use the library until the refresh happens. However, this has been a huge pain, so I've been debating shelling out $300 for a cheap netbook if the refresh isn't announced. Does anyone have any experience with these kinds of things? I've spent some time with a few of them at my University bookstore, and they just seem so slow/small that I'm afraid I'd be throwing money away on something that would only frustrate me. Is it easy to get used to these things, or should I just stay away given my initial impressions?)

    tl;dr: What have your experiences been with SSDs; how much RAM is too much RAM; and are cheap netbooks as shitty as they look?

    SSD's are nice but unless you're either obsessed with battery life or obsessed with gaming performance they're not worth the price premium at the moment. As for RAM, 4GB is good for damn near everything, and given the high prices on 4GB SODIMMs at the moment, I wouldn't bother with 8GB. As for the Macbook Pro refresh... I was expecting a refresh sometime this month (extrapolating from the last couple of refreshes) and it seems like it's not going to happen. I wouldn't be surprised to see a refresh soon; but truthfully if I were in your position I would buy now. I'm a little worried that Apple will switch to Intel's new on-chip integrated GPU in lieu of discrete GPUs for the (lower end) MBP's at the next refresh.

    Clipse on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    If someone is asking in a primarily-games forum how much memory is enough, then yes I'm going to use the hardest core game as a metric in answering that question. Notice the part where I said "Unless you have some specialized program need" aka video/music/photoshop creation/encoding. I definitely wouldn't buy a computer with less than 4GB anymore...it's just too cheap to not do it. I would be interested to hear what the OP means by "mutitasking" to further qualify his question.

    I really wouldn't buy an MBP prior to the refresh. While I think it's likely Apple will offer Intel's new on-chip GPU, I don't think they will remove discrete GPUs from the MBP line. Now the Macbook itself I could see that happening.

    Scrublet on
    subedii wrote: »
    I hear PC gaming is huge off the coast of Somalia right now.

    PSN: TheScrublet
  • lowlylowlycooklowlylowlycook Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Clipse wrote: »
    SSD's are nice but unless you're either obsessed with battery life or obsessed with gaming performance they're not worth the price premium at the moment. As for RAM, 4GB is good for damn near everything, and given the high prices on 4GB SODIMMs at the moment, I wouldn't bother with 8GB. As for the Macbook Pro refresh... I was expecting a refresh sometime this month (extrapolating from the last couple of refreshes) and it seems like it's not going to happen. I wouldn't be surprised to see a refresh soon; but truthfully if I were in your position I would buy now. I'm a little worried that Apple will switch to Intel's new on-chip integrated GPU in lieu of discrete GPUs for the (lower end) MBP's at the next refresh.

    SSDs are not about game performance. At most, they would shorten loading times. A SSD is all about making the desktop sing, e.g. making aps load super fast.

    lowlylowlycook on
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  • Brodo FagginsBrodo Faggins Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    8GB of RAM on a Mac is good to have if you're going to be doing anything involving video/audio editing, or running those apps at the same time. Snow Leopard has support for up to 16 TERABYTES of RAM, so if you're doing anything that isn't office/casual/gaming use (ie workstation use), then upgrade to 8 gigs off a third party.

    As for SSD, I've never used one, so I have no opinion.

    Brodo Faggins on
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  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I think if a netbook will keep you happy until the next refresh you are unlikely to need 8 gig of ram...

    corcorigan on
    Ad Astra Per Aspera
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