MacBooks forum


Minimum MBP requirements for Graphic Design?

by adelinamz / July 4, 2012 6:45 AM PDT

My son is starting a graphic designs program. I was looking at getting him a powerful $2000 MBP because I understood it to be necessary in order to be able to adequately do design work. However, I am reconsidering since a few years from now technology will have advanced even further and he can get a top-of-the line one then, when he will presumably be beginning his career. So... what would you say the minimum requirements would be? I assume a 15" screen is a necessity? Can he do fine without a hi-res display? Looks like something less than $1000 won't be possible. This is the least expensive 15" refurb: $1359 for

Refurbished MacBook Pro 2.2GHz Quad-core Intel i7

Originally released October 2011
15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, 1440-by-900 resolution
4GB (2 x 2GB) of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
500GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm
8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD-R DL/DVD-RW/CD-RW)
Intel HD Graphics 3000 and AMD Radeon HD 6750M

Thanks much for the advice!

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All Answers

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Actually the entry level is much lower.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 4, 2012 7:07 AM PDT

If you look at the current 1200 buck MBP it handily outperforms what a student got 4 years ago.

It appears this student might be gunning for the highest end model in hopes of playing video games too.

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You already asked this
by Jimmy Greystone / July 4, 2012 7:26 AM PDT

You already asked this, and responded even, so it's not like you didn't see the comments people gave the last time. So it seems like you're fishing for a specific answer in order to justify what you want to do, which kind of begs the question of why you need anyone else's approval to do something nice for your son either now or at some point in the near future.

Just do whatever it is you want to do, and rationalize it to yourself as quite simply doing something nice for your son. You don't need a bunch of other people telling you it's a good idea. Who cares what we think? You shouldn't. There are plenty of kids who will be in the same classes as your son who would wish their parents would get them a laptop either when they started school or as a graduation gift.

That all said, I would wait until AT LEAST his second year. First off, your first two years of college are typically just repeating high school at an accelerated rate. It's full of a bunch of gen ed crap that you have to take to get the requisite GPA and credits needed to take the degree courses. So he probably won't need a laptop at all for those, let alone some high end thing. Second, there's always the possibility that he will get there and find that graphics design isn't for him, or maybe some other major just kind of calls to him. There's even the possibility that he will decide college itself isn't for him, or maybe that specific school isn't a good fit for him, and then he goes some place else which emphasizes the PC version of programs instead of Mac... There are just so many different ways things can go sideways during that first 1-2 years of college that I'd consider it rather foolish to buy anything until you're reasonably certain things are going to go the way you think they are. If by the end of the second year he's still committed to the idea of graphics design, and at whatever specific school he's planning on going to right now, you can look into laptops then.

By that point I would expect that even Apple's fairly deep product development pipeline has started to run dry of things that Steve Jobs had a hand in, and Apple is well into its inevitable backwards slide. Especially with the way Apple has been kicking the graphics market in the teeth of late. First there was the Final Cut Pro X brouhaha, the extremely long wait for a Mac Pro refresh, and then to call what they finally did release a letdown would be a serious understatement. Adobe's relationship with Apple has been rather frosty at best ever since Steve Jobs decided to ban Flash from the iPhone. Don't get me wrong, I'm one of the biggest flash haters around, but to have the CEO of Apple running around publicly badmouthing one of your flagship products doesn't exactly make for a good working relationship, now does it? So it may very well be Apple's fortunes will be on the wane again, and the wind is blowing in the Windows direction once more, making this whole discussion of which Apple laptop to buy rather academic (pardon the pun). Then again, maybe it'll be stronger than ever, and you'll be able to take advantage of one or two additional refreshes of the hardware in the interim. Either way, your best strategy would be to wait.

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by adelinamz / July 4, 2012 9:23 AM PDT
In reply to: You already asked this

Thanks! Actually, I've rephrased the question because what I'm trying to figure out now is what the minimum requirements actually are. (and by the way, he's not into video games). Also, yes things certainly can go sideways at college and they already have for him (tried industrial design and realized he hates to draw and that it otherwise is not for him). It's clear a design career of some sort is in his future as he's very creative very into graphic design, photography, and enjoys making music videos. These are the things he'd use his laptop for. Non-school uses would be mainly watching netflix--nothing too demanding. Also, the program he's doing involves design courses from the start (mixed with the "gen ed crap"). Also, I can't wait--that is, I have to buy some type of laptop because the one he had met a sad demise a few months ago and I just learned from his advisor that the design classes fill quickly due to the # of available computers. Therefore, overrides are given to students who can bring a laptop to class. Of course, the classes he needs for the fall are full and he's had to get overrides.

So back to deciding on a laptop.... I'm thinking a larger screen would benefit design work as would hi-res... so I'm looking at 15" ... don't know about the rest. I suppose the reality is there's no such thing as an inexpensive MBP! Entry level for a new MBP is 2.3 GHz and 4GB for $1699 ... is that enough for his needs? I was going to seriously consider refurb, but a friend of mine just told me about a horrible experience and, given the education discount and current $100 gift card offer, it looks like the difference in price between this entry-level 15" and the refurb in my original note is about $300. Is the new graphic capability and i7 hard drive worth the extra $300? It sounds like you don't think much of the latest release?

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So then see the earlier section
by Jimmy Greystone / July 4, 2012 9:51 AM PDT
In reply to: clarification

So then see the earlier section about not needing our approval to do something nice for your kid. Whatever you buy will be outdated in a year or two, so there's no point beating yourself up about it... And then there's the laptop vs no laptop argument, where it could be argued that something is better than nothing.

But if you're already friendly with his adviser, get him/her to send you over a set of specifications that the department recommends and make sure to meet or exceed those.

And no, I really don't think much of Apple's latest refresh. It's just adding high resolution displays and making an already difficult to repair unit even more difficult to repair. Plus now the RAM is soldered directly to the MLB meaning if you find you need more later, you're SOL. Then there's the fact that the battery is now a part of the case. The high res displays cause some people to lose control of their bodily functions it seems, but I guarantee you that if you set up two units side by side, the majority of people would never be able to tell which was which. Plus, that high res display comes at the cost of Apple taking a few shortcuts in the way of the construction of the housing that make them a bit more fragile than previous models. The new MBPs take everything that sucks about the MBAir design and adds a few new stupid tricks of its own, then rolls it all into a single unit.

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Holisitic setup
by gadgetlover04 / July 25, 2012 8:52 AM PDT

Graphic design is generally not that power intensive. For school, I'd probably recommend getting a 13" Macbook Pro/Air with 8GB of ram, then buying an external monitor for at home/dorm use and an external hard drive (because it's necessary for this kind of work). That way it'd be portable enough for school use with the benefit dual monitors (which is a BIG plus) when at home. Such a setup would cost less than $2000 (probably $15-1700, depending on what you're looking at) and the monitor can be used for years past the first laptop.

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More question, less answers
by msgale / July 27, 2012 11:25 AM PDT
In reply to: Holisitic setup

Do those who are running the graphics design program have any recommendations? Have they arranged any student discounts? What applications will the computer be used for? Maya, 3dsMax and Photoshop are resource hogs, Flash not so much. I have no idea about Final Cut. I do run Photoshop and Maya at home, for awhile on a 15 inch laptop, but much perfered it on my dcesktop 1920 x 1200 24 inch monitor, I cound actually see what I was doing.

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Good advice but too late
by adelinamz / July 29, 2012 4:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Holisitic setup

Thanks! That really does seem like a good idea, but I've already bought the laptop. I received a reply from the school adviser who said I should get the best system I could afford so I bit the bullet. Hopefully it will serve him well for several years before needing to replace it.

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