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Macbook Pro or a high end PC laptop?

by slashed2ice / February 22, 2011 8:50 PM PST


I can't decide whether to go for a macbook pro or a customized high-end PC laptop. My resource intensive use will be limited to mainly photo editing - generally have Nikon ViewNX, lightroom 3 and photoshop CS4 opened up side by side (basically 3 heavy photo editing applications together).

I'm also into gaming, but not hardcore gaming. I do like to play the occasional Tomb Raider, racing and a few war games (call of duty / 'conflict' series).

I am putting down the specs of both laptops, please advice which machine would stand up to the test of time considering future upgrades to softwares as well as games!

Macbook Pro - $1,799
Processor - Intel Core i5 - 2.4GHz (2 Cores/4 threads) 3MB L3 Cache
RAM - 4GB (2x2GB)
Display - 15.4 inch glossy widescreen - 1440x900
OS - OS X Snow Leopard
HDD - 320 GB SATA @ 5200rpm
Video Card - 256MB NVidia GeForce 330M
Battery - standard

Dell XPS 15 - $1,400
Processor - Intel Core i7 - 2.2GHz (4 cores/8 threads) 6MB L3 cache
RAM - 8GB (2x4GB)
Display - 15.4 inch B+RGLED Truelife display 1920x1080
OS - Windows 7
HDD - 500 GB SATA @ 7200rpm
Video Card - 2GB NVidia GeForce GT 435M
Battery - 9 cell


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Have you used an i7 laptop?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 23, 2011 2:03 AM PST

The quad core i7 so far is one hot laptop with no battery time worth noting. If you wanted to compare these laptops on HARDWARE ALONE, stick to the i5.

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i7 laptop
by slashed2ice / February 23, 2011 12:48 PM PST

Hi Bob,

Thanks for taking time to post. I haven't used any i7 processors.

I'm sorry I don't understand your comment - are you saying that i7 quad core heats up and drains the battery fast, or i7 quad core is an attractive (hot) processor.

I understand that from an OS point of view, Microsoft have recovered pretty well from their Vista fiasco, but the snow leopard still beats the pants off its nemesis.

I'm just wondering whether the high end hardware with windows 7 will perform better than the low end hardware with OS X, for my kind of usage.

I can't really configure the macbook pro - whatever little i can, comes with a hefty price. For example if i go for the 8GB RAM upgrade, it'll cost me $400 more. There is no upgrade available for graphics card. So i'm not sure if the latest games coming in will run on the mac, and even if they do, not sure how will they perform.


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That's why I asked.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 24, 2011 3:17 AM PST
In reply to: i7 laptop

Many think that the i7 is the speedier CPU but they miss reviews about heat and battery time. This is why I asked you to see if such matters.

For some that edit video they are using this as a desktop so heat and battery times are not an issue.

GAMERS tend to fall in the the heat and battery don't matter. In fact I'm finding they don't care for reduced life spans either so go right ahead with the i7 now that you know.

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Photo editing versus Gaming
by slashed2ice / February 24, 2011 6:07 PM PST
In reply to: That's why I asked.

Thanks again Bob.

I know what you mean there. i7's pace at which it does things quickly has a toll on the temperature + battery life. My best guess is that the 2GB NVidia will suck the battery dry quickly as well. I may have to go for a spare 6-cell battery for travel.

Macbook pro on the other hand will give me a better performance (even with an i5) when it comes to normal browsing and photo editing.

Let me see, Dell has launched new range of XPS laptops. Sounds a bit interesting!

Any other suggestions are still welcome as i still have some time to decide Happy

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Here's my advice today.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 24, 2011 10:54 PM PST

As tech changes, so will my answer.

Today I like the i5 machines with SWITCHABLE GRAPHICS. That way you get the best of both worlds.

As to going past 1GB Video RAM I can't see anything good there except the consumers may fall for that.

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Get RAm from here.
by klor5 / March 4, 2011 8:03 PM PST
In reply to: i7 laptop

If you want extra RAM don't buy it from Apple.Bye the way I have 6Gb of RAM in my MacBook Pro and never seem to use even 4Gb of it.

If you want extra RAM check out "Macsales(Dot)com.They're based in Woodstock Illinois and have some great stuff,not just RAM.

On older MBPros' like mine (Late 2007) you can upgrade RAM without voiding the warranty,Apple even give you instructions on how to do this in the little book they supply with Macs.You might want to check if this is still possible with the newer models.

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Have you used an i7 laptop? reply
by JamesGillespe / February 27, 2011 12:15 AM PST

Dear, i am using an i3 and have never used an i7. but i tell you that it is one hell of a machine. It is fast, responsive and never gets jammed. Always compare cost and advantage. one advantage of mac is that it is time tested however top end laptop can't be that reliable (usually) so it is like having a safe bet.

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i3, eh?
by slashed2ice / February 27, 2011 3:14 AM PST

Well I've never really looked at it because i3 only came with the 13inch macbook pro and i'm looking for a 15/17inch. Now i don't even know what's the scene - all 15 and 17 inch macs are with i7s now and i guess they've switched all 13 inches with i5s/i7s.

My only concern with macbook is that i don't want to repent later for not having a good games support, even after spending more money. Still thinking....

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MBPro should do games just fine
by klor5 / March 4, 2011 8:18 PM PST
In reply to: i3, eh?

I have a late 2007 15" MBPro 2.4GHz Core2Duo,6Gb RAM,5,400 RPM HDD and an NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics card with 256MB SDRAM.

I can run Call of Duty:Modern Warfare,Quake 4,unreal tournament and everything on Steam.I can run on medium to high settings and output it to a 24"Dell monitor (1920x1200) with no problems whatsoever.

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If you wait till the second generation
by orlbuckeye / February 25, 2011 12:33 AM PST

i7 the battery life will be better and it will run cooler. The Intel graphics processor is on all i7 processors and it will be able to switch between using the Intel built in GP and the discrete card. It will conserve power by turning things off and on that drain power based on if the resources are need for the task your attemping. The first generation i7 is more powerfull then the i5 and the power is 100% at all time so there is a cost for that power in what Bob says in heat and battery life. The second generation i7 turns that power off and on based on what you are doing. The i5 (any generation) will be cheaper then the i7 (any genration) and the i7 will be more powerfull but most user it will be overkill.

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The new Macbook Pro
by orlbuckeye / February 25, 2011 1:28 AM PST

has a i7 processor.

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i5 and i7
by slashed2ice / February 26, 2011 11:57 AM PST
In reply to: The new Macbook Pro

Thanks guys for stopping by! Really appreciate your help here.

Macbookpro comes with an i7 processor but that's with 2 cores and a price i can't justify!

Apple's solution for switching between GPU and intel graphics doesn't notify the user when about the switch. So, I may be using an application that probably doesn't require the GPU (for example lightroom for editing photos) and yet the GPU may still be on, even when lightroom may be running in the background while i browse the Internet. Its a neat solution, but for most folks testing that machine, it didn't last for more than 5 hours of battery life.

Bob, I like the point about the 1GB GPU. I need to dig more and find out how much GP memory should be sufficient for me. Dell has come up with new 17inch laptops with 3D screens that seem to have 3GB GPUs and RAM extendable upto a crazy amount to 32GB (i think). Now that's a machine that I know for sure I don't need. But when they are able to offer it at a price of a macbook pro - makes me wonder!

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i7 on macbook
by slashed2ice / February 26, 2011 12:09 PM PST
In reply to: i5 and i7

Wow, just after posting this, i went to the apple website and saw that there are new macbook pros - now with quad core i7s AND..... wait for it..... AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB GDDR5

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i5 and i7 - New $$$
by rongeee / February 27, 2011 5:36 AM PST
In reply to: i5 and i7

Yer, but did you see the price for the 15" over 2K ++.
I've looking at a Sony i7 and it's specs are good (except the power supply) and I like all the interface possibilities.

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New $
by slashed2ice / February 28, 2011 1:20 AM PST
In reply to: i5 and i7 - New $$$

Agree with you there. It is expensive - and going back to my first post - i can get more advanced hardware on a Dell, still at a lower price than a macbook. I have never used a mac machine but i've been told that its one of the best machines. Like they say - "once you go Mac, you never go back".

I don't mind saving up a bit more but i just need to ensure that i get the bang for the buck, and that's the advise that i'm seeking here.

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Two subjects here?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 28, 2011 2:41 AM PST
In reply to: New $

One is about hardware. Yes you can get more HARDWARE for the buck elsewhere than Apple. Apple does have some features I rarely see elsewhere such as the 1,000 cycle battery. I wonder if you are comparing everything.

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High End PC
by WindowsTeam_Kevin / February 28, 2011 3:06 AM PST
In reply to: Two subjects here?

Just on paper, I like the Dell looks better when you take a look at the i7, RAM, and price of course.

Like mentioned here, i7 might be killer on your batter and temperature. If you don't mind this, than Dell would be great.

One thing you mentioned also, was gaming. Mac probably won't be your best machine for gaming, and the Dell card is better.

For me, I think it's the i7 and the price that is the best selling point. That i7 is truly a beast.

Windows Outreach Team

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by slashed2ice / February 28, 2011 5:16 PM PST
In reply to: High End PC

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for stopping by. Since mac supports windows as well, can i get the best of both worlds from a single machine?

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Battery Life on a mac
by slashed2ice / February 28, 2011 5:14 PM PST
In reply to: Two subjects here?


Thanks again Bob. I rarely travel and even if i do, i don't get a chance to use a laptop during travel. So, battery life isn't as important to me. Although not a game fanatic, i just don't wanna regret later for either not having support or required hardware. I know that i can install windows on a mac using some 3rd party applications, and now since they have come out with a faster GPU, my decision has swung back in favor of MBP. Now starts the saving process.

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you don't need a third party app. to run Windows
by klor5 / March 4, 2011 8:37 PM PST
In reply to: Battery Life on a mac

All you need is Boot Camp Assistant located at Applications > Utilities Folder > Boot Camp Assistant.This method will allow you to run Windows natively on your Mac (ie.The same way it runs on a PC).To choose to boot into Windows you just hold down the option key during start-up,then select Windows option instead of OS X option.Simple.

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My reason for purchasing a new laptop
by rongeee / February 28, 2011 9:47 AM PST
In reply to: New $

I forgot to mention in my earlier post. The reason I need a new laptop IS; My not yet two year old MacBookPro 15" lost both it's USB ports. Apple (plus others) tell me that I will need to change the logic boar to fix it. Cost including labour and local taxes around $1,500.00. The decision not repair was easy (especially now that Apple has released new models. My decision is to Mac or NOT. What's your advice. Before anyone asks, NO I did not have Apple Extended coverage, it was too expensive at the time (now regrets).

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by klor5 / March 4, 2011 8:53 PM PST

When you go in to buy a new Mac,mention several times to the sales person that your on a tight budget.Then when ready to purchase tell the sales person you wan't Applecare.Now ask "what's the best price you can give me for the Mac".Depending on the stores policy,that will likely be between 0 and 6%.

Now say "is that all,really?".Now say "I'm gonna have to think about this,it's a lot of money".Now go for a walk,or walk around the store for a few minutes.Now go back to the sales person and say "how about this(call him by his name if you know it),if I pay full sticker price for the Mac,could you throw in Applecare for free?"

I bet you wouldn't have to try more than three different sellers of Apple goodies before one says OK.

Best of luck.

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There is no difference between a "PC" and a "Mac" laptop.
by white-bread / February 28, 2011 3:35 AM PST

Learn this. Both use amd64/x86_64 processors. Both can run other operating systems. The Apple logo denotes the fact that the hardware is compatible with the OS. there are projects which CNET won't let me refer to because they are afraid of being sued, which allow you to install MacOS to an "unsupported" device.
Are you using this for development? If so, ditch both systems and install a BSD flavor or Linux distro.
Is the name important to you? Maybe buying approved (tested) hardware and installing MacOS to it would be cheaper. Neither Dell nor Apple make hardware.

Before taking anyone's advice here, go to a store and test out a system with the specs you listed.

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by slashed2ice / February 28, 2011 5:55 PM PST


I'm not a developer (although I wish i were). I'm thinking of going with a brand is mainly for a good (or decent) after sales support - which would include the hardware as well as the software that comes with the box.

I'm guessing that you are a developer because i was advised on buying a dell and loading any flavor of Linux, by another friend who's a developer.

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macbook pro
by Pauline Napieralski / March 4, 2011 11:50 PM PST

For whatever it's worth I just sold my 6 yr. old macbook pro (17") and purchased a new 13" macbook pro (there was nothing wrong with the 17" my husband sold it to a college student} I never had any problems with it, so I figure it may be a little more costly but who uses a computer for 6 yrs without a problem. I was concerned going from a 17" to a 13" (old eyes) but the clarity of the screen is great and no trouble adjusting to the smaller size. The 13" is also fully loaded. I use it for games, photography and etc.

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