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Old 20-07-2013, 13:10
bluewomble88
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I'm so confused.

After spending almost 20 years using Windows machines I'm giving serious thought to buying my first MacBook at Xmas. I'm doing so because I will be starting a Digital Design course in January and it is taught on Macs. Rather than travel there to practise during the week I want to do it at home with a MacBook and by signing up to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Anyway, I have absolutely no idea what I'm looking for to do the job. With Windows machines I understand the differences in processors, RAM, and operating systems. With Macs I'm totally lost as I've deliberately swerved Apple machines until now.

So, what should I be looking at? There seems to be a vast difference in price from around £800 to over £2000.

Many thanks for your advice.
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Old 20-07-2013, 13:32
Gormond
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I would say a MacBook Pro would be most suited but I wouldn't buy one until it gets upgraded to Haswell as it's not had an upgrade in 404 days!

Have you considered an iMac? the larger high res screen would be an advantage.

The MacBook Air 13" would be a decent buy too but I would go for the 1.7Ghz processor if you go down that route.
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Old 20-07-2013, 13:38
Maxatoria
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Depending on your technical skills you could obviously buy one with the minimal ammount of ram and upgrade it yourself for a lot less than just getting it delivered fully loaded up

but don't forget to get applecare as for the official price of a spare part you could probably buy a small island in the carribean and make sure your home insurance will cover you should you drop it/lose it at the college etc

if your PC is meaty enough you can run OSX in a VM but its not the same as the fully fruity experience
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Old 20-07-2013, 13:47
Dark 1
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So you're okay choosing a Windows laptop of which there's a billion-and-one different combinations, but when when it comes to choosing a Mac laptop of which there's basically only about 5 choices, you're flummoxed?

Okay, if this is being done at home, do you necessarily need a laptop? Why not a desktop? Only 2 choices here; one with a built in monitor (iMac) and one without (Mac Mini).

But if you definitely want a laptop, which of these characteristics is most important to you?:
[LIST][*]Portability[*]Battery life[*]Wired interfaces[*]Large screen size[*]High resolution display[*]Built-in DVD writer[*]Gaming capable GPU[*]Large built-in storable capacity[/LIST]
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Old 20-07-2013, 13:56
Gormond
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So you're okay choosing a Windows laptop of which there's a billion-and-one different combinations, but when when it comes to choosing a Mac laptop of which there's basically only about 5 choices, you're flummoxed?

Okay, if this is being done at home, do you necessarily need a laptop? Why not a desktop? Only 2 choices here; one with a built in monitor (iMac) and one without (Mac Mini).

But if you definitely want a laptop, which of these characteristics is most important to you?:
[LIST][*]Portability[*]Battery life[*]Wired interfaces[*]Large screen size[*]High resolution display[*]Built-in DVD writer[*]Gaming capable GPU[*]Large built-in storable capacity[/LIST]
I thought that too... Also Apple tell you the full specs of all their products so it's not difficult to compare.

If your used to comparing things like processors then you can easily do that here too.
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Old 20-07-2013, 15:07
TheBigM
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Are you using any applications other than Adobe Creative Suite? Ultimately your course will be teaching you how to use the applications with digital design, OS stuff like application launching and file system matters less. Unless you are also going to be using Mac-specific applications, you will be fine using a Windows PC for practising.

IMO your choice is a macbook pro or imac if you go down the apple route.
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Old 20-07-2013, 16:09
myromeo
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I've got a 13" 'basic' macbook pro with 16gb upgraded RAM for the adobe suite (LR5 and CS6) however I did that myself and only went with 16gb as it was dirt cheap!

For adobe stuff I wouldn't consider a macbook air unless you have an external drive. My wife uses a macbook air and is very limited on storage although does run Lightroom 4.4 with ease (using a USB drive for storage). Also worth mentioning the RAM in a macbook air can't be upgraded (nor can it in a retina mbp actually) and the hard drive used in the air is not a standard drive so is a little more pricey to upgrade yourself.

I would consider :

macbook pro - what size screen do you need? Do you want 'retina' resolution? ALL current mbp's will run adobe suite comfortably although 4gb RAM models you could upgrade yourself as its just standard laptop ram and a dozen screws!

imac - are you happy with being sat at a work station? Very good spec in all models and again all will run adobe suite. Biggest choice is screen size and how much do you want to spend?!

mac mini - cheapest of all options and even £499 basic option will run adobe suite although with 4gb RAM you might want to upgrade it yourself (its just laptop ram again). Flexible as you could use your existing HD TV or monitor and by far the cheapest option, or upgrade to the quad core i7 model and still be under the price of a macbook pro

Any of these can be hooked up to an additional HD TV or monitor using a thunderbolt to HDMI adapter for additional desktop space.

Food for thought!
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Old 20-07-2013, 18:32
Admiral Star
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I would say a MacBook Pro would be most suited but I wouldn't buy one until it gets upgraded to Haswell as it's not had an upgrade in 404 days!

Have you considered an iMac? the larger high res screen would be an advantage.

The MacBook Air 13" would be a decent buy too but I would go for the 1.7Ghz processor if you go down that route.
He could get a refurbished 13" macbook pro. Would save him a bit of money.
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Old 20-07-2013, 20:04
bluewomble88
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So you're okay choosing a Windows laptop of which there's a billion-and-one different combinations, but when when it comes to choosing a Mac laptop of which there's basically only about 5 choices, you're flummoxed?

Okay, if this is being done at home, do you necessarily need a laptop? Why not a desktop? Only 2 choices here; one with a built in monitor (iMac) and one without (Mac Mini).

But if you definitely want a laptop, which of these characteristics is most important to you?:
[LIST][*]Portability[*]Battery life[*]Wired interfaces[*]Large screen size[*]High resolution display[*]Built-in DVD writer[*]Gaming capable GPU[*]Large built-in storable capacity[/LIST]
Yes, as I explained I've never used a Mac before, not even for 5 minutes. There's no need to be belittling about it.

Yes, I need a laptop.

All that's important to me is it runs Adobe CS6 perfectly, I made that clear in my OP.

Thanks for the replies so far people. However, I'm not much wiser. I still have no idea what the difference is between MacBook Pro and Air, what is considered a good processor speed and type, nor what the operating system differences are. Imagine a complete Mac noob - that's me.
I suppose I want to be confident shelling out a lot of money that will allow me to use every Adobe feature smoothly and will last more than a couple of years (unlike my Dell Windows laptop).
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Old 20-07-2013, 20:20
Maxatoria
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Before going out and splashing a single bean head down to your nearest apple store and have a try of the different machines...see how you like/hate OSX etc

Beware when buying that they are not going to do a refresh of the product line 2 weeks after you spend a bundle so check macrumours etc to get an idea when the next refresh is due so you don't feel a complete idiot

Get applecare as the spare parts for mac's are ludicrously expensive, and if you're paranoid about failures always sell the machine just before its 3rd birthday with a month or so of applecare and use the money towards the next one

If the course is all mac visit the college and have a go on their machines and see what spec they are and if everything seems zippy use that as your base spec and don't be afraid of finding the IT techs and bribing them with a few beers etc so they'll pull out the newer stuff than they leave on the tables so you can have a play
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Old 20-07-2013, 20:24
strictlyfloss
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I'm a totally non-techy Macbook Air owner, I won't baffle you with all the specs and stuff because its way over my head but I do know the following which may help - one of the main differences between Pro and Air is that the Air has a separate disk drive (called a SuperDrive) whereas with the Pro it's built in. The Air is a really beautiful machine aesthetically but the SuperDrive isn't the most robust bit of kit in the world TBH (the wire which connects it to the MacBook has a really flimsy connection) so I'd seriously take that into consideration if I were to choose between the two.
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Old 20-07-2013, 20:33
TheBigM
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Yes, as I explained I've never used a Mac before, not even for 5 minutes. There's no need to be belittling about it.

Yes, I need a laptop.

All that's important to me is it runs Adobe CS6 perfectly, I made that clear in my OP.

Thanks for the replies so far people. However, I'm not much wiser. I still have no idea what the difference is between MacBook Pro and Air, what is considered a good processor speed and type, nor what the operating system differences are. Imagine a complete Mac noob - that's me.
I suppose I want to be confident shelling out a lot of money that will allow me to use every Adobe feature smoothly and will last more than a couple of years (unlike my Dell Windows laptop).
We are highly likely to see a refresh of the Macbook Pro line sometime between August and November, not sure when your course starts, but if you go down the Apple route, delay your purchase as much as you can.

MBPs come in "classic" or "retina". With classic it is thicker, has non-retina screen but is upgradable e.g. upgrade the HDD or the RAM. With retina, the components are glued down and non-upgradable.

MBPs also come in 13" or 15", 15" obviously has a larger screen but also has more 'usable screen real estate' as it is 1440x900 (or retina equivalent) versus the 13" 1280x800.

The Adobe application will be the same on Windows and Mac.

You will want a powerful laptop. You can get a Samsung Series 7 (Chronos or regular) for half the price of an MBP. If it costs less then perhaps it won't matter if it doesn't last as long.

http://www.johnlewis.com/samsung-np7...ver/p231820501

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/laptop...FSGWtAod5XkA3w

These ones have some pretty powerful graphics cards in them.

One could argue that the MBP will suffer lower depreciation than the Samsungs and you could replace them more regularly.

The MBPs will come with high quality IPS panels (the retinas do anyway) with good colour accuracy and gamut.

Unless you're doing photo work where the retina's extra resolution will be valuable I would recommend either a 'classic' MBP or a Samsung Series 7 Chronos. One advantage of the Chronos being a Full HD screen vs 1440x900 gives you more working space.
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Old 20-07-2013, 21:08
!!11oneone
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The 'middle' 13 inch non-Retina Macbook Pro is the best value of all of them.
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Old 20-07-2013, 21:35
Gormond
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Yes, as I explained I've never used a Mac before, not even for 5 minutes. There's no need to be belittling about it.

Yes, I need a laptop.

All that's important to me is it runs Adobe CS6 perfectly, I made that clear in my OP.

Thanks for the replies so far people. However, I'm not much wiser. I still have no idea what the difference is between MacBook Pro and Air, what is considered a good processor speed and type, nor what the operating system differences are. Imagine a complete Mac noob - that's me.
I suppose I want to be confident shelling out a lot of money that will allow me to use every Adobe feature smoothly and will last more than a couple of years (unlike my Dell Windows laptop).
You started your OP by saying you understand the difference in processors and now your saying you don't?

Apple use the exact same processors as everyone else and there are loads of benchmarks from sites like Anandtech comparing the new MacBook Airs to the Pros.

Also if its just for CS6 then why not stick with a Windows machine?
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Old 21-07-2013, 01:45
cnbcwatcher
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I'm a totally non-techy Macbook Air owner, I won't baffle you with all the specs and stuff because its way over my head but I do know the following which may help - one of the main differences between Pro and Air is that the Air has a separate disk drive (called a SuperDrive) whereas with the Pro it's built in. The Air is a really beautiful machine aesthetically but the SuperDrive isn't the most robust bit of kit in the world TBH (the wire which connects it to the MacBook has a really flimsy connection) so I'd seriously take that into consideration if I were to choose between the two.
The Retina Macbook Pro doesn't have a SuperDrive built in either. I have the external SuperDrive for my Air and it seems to be fine. I could have bought a Samsung optical drive, but I thought the official Apple one looked better and I would be less likely to get lynched by the Apple fanboys in Starbucks I have got lynched over my Samsung phone though
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Old 21-07-2013, 03:07
mred2000
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Also if its just for CS6 then why not stick with a Windows machine?
Yep, barring a couple of slight menu changes, Adobe software is practically the same on both Win and OSX. I used to use Apple computers at college/uni and a Win PC at home for years before I could afford my own Apple machine for home use...

I'd recommend sticking with what you've got until you know what you're doing... Try out a few Macs at college and maybe at a Mac store to get an idea of how OSX runs. You don't want an unfamiliarity with an OS to be something that keeps tripping you up when you're trying to do stuff.
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Old 21-07-2013, 10:29
Dark 1
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Yes, as I explained I've never used a Mac before, not even for 5 minutes. There's no need to be belittling about it.

Yes, I need a laptop.

All that's important to me is it runs Adobe CS6 perfectly, I made that clear in my OP.

Thanks for the replies so far people. However, I'm not much wiser. I still have no idea what the difference is between MacBook Pro and Air, what is considered a good processor speed and type, nor what the operating system differences are. Imagine a complete Mac noob - that's me.
I suppose I want to be confident shelling out a lot of money that will allow me to use every Adobe feature smoothly and will last more than a couple of years (unlike my Dell Windows laptop).
Not belittling. Just teasing. Sorry about your sense of humour.

As others have said, a Mac is a PC to which hardware wise, there's little difference. And you say you already understand hardware. So with only a few Mac laptop models to choose from, it should make things much easier.

Basically, Macbook Air (MBA) is light and portable, Macbook Pro (MBP) is more 'featureful', and Macbook Pro Retina has a super-high resolution screen.

I assume you've looked at Apple's website:
http://www.apple.com/uk/why-mac/compare/notebooks.html

As for operating systems, there's only one. The current version. Buy one now, it'll be 10.8. Buy one later, it may be 10.9.

You say you want something that runs CS6 perfectly. For that, you need to define what is your definition of 'perfect'? There's no "this model runs it, this one doesn't". All Macs will run it. But like any PC, it's a matter of degrees of what you're prepared to compromise on.

What I was trying to do was to get a handle on what laptop characteristics you think would be more important to you. Because some of those things mean other things have to be compromised on.
[LIST][*]Portability[*]Battery life[*]Wired interfaces[*]Large screen size[*]High resolution display[*]Built-in DVD writer[*]Gaming capable GPU[*]Large built-in storage capacity[/LIST]
One caveat as others have touched on though, only the MBA has been upgraded since Intel launched their latest CPUs. By the time you come to buy, the MBP may have been upgraded too. However, there may be other spec changes which may affect your priorities too.

…or you could forget the whole thing and get another Windows PC.
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Old 21-07-2013, 10:48
!!11oneone
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I refer you back to my single line post. The middle 13 inch is the best value. There's a jump of a few hundred quid to get the same spec in a 15 inch machine, so you need to decide if that's worth it. I use the 13 inch as my 100% main machine, as with easily flippable desktops I can have lots of things full-screen and go between them.

The top 13 inch isn't worth the extra money for the small boost in power, and the bottom one isn't really worth it. Also remember, both RAM and HDD are user-upgradable in the Pro machines later, but are not in the Air or the Retina machines.

Retina is, in almost all cases, unnecessary and you'll barely notice.
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Old 21-07-2013, 11:04
Gormond
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I refer you back to my single line post. The middle 13 inch is the best value. There's a jump of a few hundred quid to get the same spec in a 15 inch machine, so you need to decide if that's worth it. I use the 13 inch as my 100% main machine, as with easily flippable desktops I can have lots of things full-screen and go between them.

The top 13 inch isn't worth the extra money for the small boost in power, and the bottom one isn't really worth it. Also remember, both RAM and HDD are user-upgradable in the Pro machines later, but are not in the Air or the Retina machines.

Retina is, in almost all cases, unnecessary and you'll barely notice.
I still stand by that it would be a poor buy ATM as it hasen't been upgraded in over 400 days so its due an upgrade any time now. Also the screen res 1280x800 for a laptop of that price is terrible, especially when all the competition are going 1920x1080.
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Old 21-07-2013, 12:12
!!11oneone
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Yes, the refresh is due any moment and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens any day now. But if it doesn't this summer, it's unlikely to be refreshed this year.

Sadly, I had to buy one a month ago as my earlier one died and I couldn't wait with work to get it fixed. But I wouldn't have bought one now if I could've afforded it.
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Old 21-07-2013, 12:59
jonner101
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You can get a new macbook pro 13 inch for about £850 now off Amazon

It's the perfect size for portability, you can easily update the ram and hard disk and has good battery life ( I get 5 hours still on a 2011 model sandy bridge model )

It can be used in desktop mode by attaching to a monitor, keyboard and mouse easily enough.

I'd go and see one in a store to see if the display resolution is ok for you.

The other thing is that macbooks have much better re-sale value than most other makes as well so if and when you don't need it anymore just sell it and you will get a good chunk of your money back.
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Old 21-07-2013, 17:12
cnbcwatcher
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I still stand by that it would be a poor buy ATM as it hasen't been upgraded in over 400 days so its due an upgrade any time now. Also the screen res 1280x800 for a laptop of that price is terrible, especially when all the competition are going 1920x1080.
Yeah but you don't know how long it'll be until the update. If my Macbook Pro snuffed it tomorrow I would either try and get it fixed or just go ahead and buy a new one. I wouldn't wait for any updates.
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Old 21-07-2013, 17:18
whoever,hey
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OP, a MacBook IS a PC.
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Old 21-07-2013, 18:09
coachtrip_fan99
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Op - whatever you decide, make sure to check out the apple educational store for a substantial student discount.

The one caveat to that is that you will probably only be able to access it from your college internet connection
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Old 21-07-2013, 19:56
Gormond
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Yeah but you don't know how long it'll be until the update. If my Macbook Pro snuffed it tomorrow I would either try and get it fixed or just go ahead and buy a new one. I wouldn't wait for any updates.
The OP said he needs one for his course in January and that's who my comment was aimed at.

In it's current form the Mac Pro is way over priced IMHO.
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