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January 11, 2006

Are you buying a MacBook Pro?

[Update: There are some more considerations about future models at tech ronin...]

I have been asked this question four times already this morning....

The short answer is 'No'.

The long answer is complicated but there are four considerations:
1. I like my systems to last at *least* three years and my PowerBook is 2004 model so it is not due for replacement until 2007 at the earliest.
2. I don't like to buy the *first* of a new form factor. There are usually teething problems that are sorted out by the second iteration.
3. Performance. Yes, I know Stevie claims 4-5x the performance of a PowerBook G4. Maybe (YMMV*). That ain't gunna be as fast as people think (see comments below).
4. No firewire 800 bothers me. I use that to dump my PowerBook to external storage and I *know* that FW800 is faster than FW400 for what I do. Maybe the second iteration will bring back the FW800 port.

Performance: The man (and woman) in the street (apart from risking instant death from a speeding motorist) has been led to believe that the move to Intel is to gain performance - despite all the years of explaining the MHz myth, consumers still fall for the more MHz = more performance. Consider the current PowerPC family - the G5. Top of the line is dual-core, multiprocessor boxes. The mythical-person-in-the-street is expecting to pull these out, wack in some Intel procs and the whole thing will run faster.... Ain't gunna happen. At least not straight away. There is a lot of tuning to be done in the background first - remember MacOS X beta and the performance tuning that had to be done?

Now the claimed performance gain is 4-5x the previous system model - the G4. Note that G4 -> G5 is one performance upgrade, G5 -> dual core is another performance upgrade. So a dual core G5 powerbook (which cannot be done due to heat) would be 3-4x faster than a G4 powerbook. In other words there is no significant gain switching from G5 to Intel - yet**. That means the best target market for the Intel powered systems would be to the consumers who can't use G5s (i.e. powerbook users).

Yes, the new MacBook Pro will appear to be faster than your PowerBook G4 but it will not appear faster than your dual-core, dual-proc G5 tower and that suggests there is still a lot of hard work to be done behind the scenes...

[* Your Mileage May Vary ...]

[** Remember that successive versions of MacOS X got *faster* on the same hardware. This will also happen with the Intel machines]

Posted by Ozguru at January 11, 2006 06:00 AM


5. The new machine is a 15" - we all know Ozg uses a *big* laptop and we all know what that says about Ozg :-)

Seriously, are you suggesting you might settle for a 15" next time?

Posted by: Rofl at January 11, 2006 09:23 AM