Bill Morefield My thoughts, discoveries, and occasional rambiings.

January 16, 2012

Six Months with a MacBook

Filed under: apple — Tags: , — Bill Morefield @ 10:58 pm

Back in July I started using a MacBook Pro as my laptop. A month later I’d become pleased enough with it to move over to it full time. Now that it’s nearly six month into the change I thought I’d add a few thoughts on the current state.

Not all was perfect. In fact I found that, as with most basic laptops, the included hardware didn’t last too long for my needs. Memory was my first problem and 4GB just wasn’t enough.  I’m surprised how much RAM the computer uses in just normal use with a few of my normal programs (Firefox, Outlook, etc.) running. I really wanted 16GB in the laptop, but the cost of that back in September was too prohibitive. I settled on upgrading to 8GB which works well most of the time. In fact even with 8GB I sometimes see the computer bog down when running a 3GB virtual Windows computer.  Memory prices on 8GB chips have finally dropped to the range I decided to buy that to put in.  The upgrade will be here in a few days so I’ll not later how it works.  That would also open up Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere among other apps I still have to rely on my desktop for.

I still need to run Windows applications on the go making VMware Fusion a necessity. I migrated my old laptop to a virtual machine which worked great, except that my old system was already slow and in desperate need of a reinstall. As always a virtual machine works slower than native hardware so the resulting VM was painful to use. I did a few test installations of Windows and finally found a decent sweet spot. It turns out a 3 GB VM running 32bit Windows 7 gave me enough to run Visual Studio 2011, my plugins, web servers, and other tools pretty snappily. I actually feel comfortable  

I also found hard drive space getting tight after a few months. So right before Christmas I took advantage of a good sale (especially surprising given the recent price increases) to upgrade to a 500GB drive. I chose one of the Seagate Momentus XT drives that includes a small amount of flash memory giving you a bit of a hybrid between the high speed SSD and high capacity storage. The speed jump is noticeable after a couple weeks usage. I would have liked to look at the larger (and faster) 750GB Momentus, but couldn’t justify the cost difference.

Overall I’m quite happy with the Mac hardware.  I’m still undecided if the price difference between it and a similarly configured PC is worth the change.  I still believe Windows 7 is  as good of an operating system as Mac OS.  The hardware is well designed and the upgrade of both the hard drive and memory were easier than in many PC laptops I’ve dealt with.  I also notice the reactions when you pull out a MacBook in a coffee shop are noticeably different than with a PC and mostly in a better way.  I’ve had people start a conversation with me about the MacBook while sitting and working.

One thing I’ve been less pleased about is the software situation on the Mac, but that’s another post.

1 Comment »

  1. […] I mentioned in an earlier Mac post, I upgraded my MacBook Pro with a larger 500 GB hard drive.  I made the move by cloning my […]

    Pingback by Adding Recovery Partition to Lion Install | | Bill MorefieldBill Morefield — February 3, 2012 @ 8:13 am

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