Thursday, December 23, 2010

Building ultimate Macbook Pro within tight budget

Almost ultimate configuration for Macbook Pro 2.4GHx

So you want a macbook pro, and you want your macbook pro screams, but you have limited budget, how?

First, you need to determine what you need to do with your macbook pro. For example, I run a dozen of apps simultaneously, and running occasionally Windows XP and Ubuntu side by side using VirtualBox. Both are moderately disk intensive, and requires more memory to make them work smoothly.

In most instances, I need to compile my codes on Snow Leopard, Ubuntu, and occasionally Windows XP, which is very heavy disk-bound tasks.

But I do not want to spend more that I should be, i.e. I wanted to spend the retail price of Macbook Pro 13 inch 2.4GHz, i.e. I wanted to spend just RM3899 at most, but wanted to squeeze the best out from the MacBook Pro.

Here's what I do:

Identify the model. I picked MacBook Pro 13 inch 2.4GHz for its portability, price, and expandability. MacBook Pro allows up to 8GB of RAM, and user upgradable as opposed to MacBook Air which requires factory upgrade upon purchase.

First, I look around for people who recently bought MacBook Pro of the model I wanted, make sure that it is as new, and warranty is still available (in order for me to extend warranty for another 2 years, aka AppleCare).

I found one who bought one but virtually not using since his company gave him a notebook for his work. Battery charge cycle is low, i.e. around 18 times in 3 months time, which is pretty low usage, and the MacBook Pro looks new, complete with box and receipt from the shop he purchased.

It is important to make sure that the selling party is the first person or else you may be in trouble if it is stolen goods (complete box reduce the risk of being stolen goods, often thief will want to sell off quick instead of dressing the notebook up).

I bought this unit for RM3,200, which is around RM700 lower than the retail price.

Next, identify RAM module.

There's a lot of people complaining about after market RAM module for Apple notebook is hard to find as it uses special type of RAM.

This is not true since the day I use my iBook G3. However, you should get your RAM module from reputable store instead of simply walking to any computer shop who will only want to sell you what they have.

Original 2GB X 2 RAM Module

I surfed the net, look for a reputable Mac after market upgrade seller, and bought 8GB (2 X 4GB RAM) from them.

4GB X 2 RAM Module in its packaging

Total 8GB RAM Module installed on Macbook Pro

The price, including freight (I use Priority Mail, cheapest delivery) RM367.15

8GB RAM tested OK in Snow Leopard

Next, identify the hard drive.

Apple supplied 5,400RPM 250GB hard drive which is sufficient for those who have patience to wait, not me.

I have 3 options,

1. SSD (Solid State Drive, expensive, low capacity); or
2. 7200RPM or above hard drive with higher capacity (cheap, but power consumption is higher, means shorter battery life); or
3. Hybrid drive from Seagate, high capacity (500GB), fast mechanical drive (7,200RPM), and intelligent 4GB flash acts as SSD for the mechanical drive.

Seagate Momentus XT (near camera), and Apple supplied Hitachi 250GB 5,400RPM drive

I picked Seagate Momentus XT for its price and speed. Although many complaint that this drive is causing a few issues such as shorter battery life and noisy as compare to the original factory fitted drive, I have confident that Seagate will rectify this fast, as this is a killer product for those who wanted speed at affordable price.

So I paid RM 430 for this.

Snow Leopard recognizes Seagate Momentus XT without glitch

In total, I spent RM3,200 + RM 367.15 + RM430 = RM3,997.15 for the upgrade, and I have now spare 250GB hard drive, and 2GB X 2 RAM module.

I can sell off the RAM module for RM200, which reduce my total investment to RM 3,797.15. Further to this, I sold off my old MacBook for RM700, although far lower than expected, but in total, I actually came out with only RM3,097.15.

And I have a MacBook Pro that screams, virtually no waiting for anything I wanted to do, from booting up to shutting down, from app to app, from Snow Leopard to Ubuntu to Windows XP all running side by side.

No comments:

Post a Comment