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Resolved 15" Non-Retina Macbook Pro Help

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by kyle777, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. kyle777, Jan 28, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013

    macrumors newbie

    I am going to be purchasing a new 15" MBP soon and with the help of the forums I've decided against the retina MBP. I have two primary questions about the 15".

    1. I'm deciding between the 2.3 and 2.6 ghz i7 processors and was wondering if there will be any noticeable difference between the two? (Or a refurbished 2.5 ghz i7 processor?)

    2. Also will I notice any difference between the 650M with 512MB or the 650M with 1GB graphic cards? And will I notice any difference between the normal res screen and the hi-res screen?

    I'm going to get 8 gb of ram (and eventually upgrade it to 16gb) and a solid state drive no matter what. I'm going into my sophomore year of college in a broadcasting degree. I'll be using photoshop cs6 a lot (and proabably alot of the master collection), some FCPX, I do minor gaming (Minecraft map making), and the basic Facebook and Netflix stuff.

    Thank you guys for the help!!
  2. macrumors 68030


    1. Not at first maybe in a couple years or if your needs change (more heavy lifting).

    2. Not at first maybe in a couple years or if your needs change (more heavy lifting). I like the high-res screen b/c I want anti-glare

    I love my 2012 cMBP!
  3. macrumors 6502a


    I doubt you'll notice the small processor speed bump - both turbo up to similar speeds (3.3. or 3.6)

    However, if you think you will dock to a large (2560x1440) external monitor - I would suggest getting the model with more VRAM. This will give a much smoother UI experience IMO.

    Bear in mind that a refurb (2011) 2.5Ghz comes with 1GB VRAM and can also boot Snow Leopard (and Rosetta) if you need it (you either need a 10.6.8 clone or the 10.6.6 install DVD). The 2012 models are Lion/Mountain Lion only.

    I have a late 2011 2.2Ghz hi res screen (anti-glare) and am very happy with it (only 512GB VRAM). But in my opinion, Mission Control/animations are not completely smooth when using the HD3000 integrated chip - but it smooths out when using discrete chip.

    I get 8-10 hours writing in Word etc on HD3000, and about 6 hours with the discrete chip enabled. But note that Flash Web browsing will kill the battery life if you enable the discrete chip.

    By the way, I initially found the performance of the 2011 machine to be absolutely terrible (worse than a 2008 early MBPro + SSD) - >2 minutes to boot and fully load the Desktop, and what felt like ages to open apps etc. (this on the stock 5400rpm 500GB Hard drive).
    I cracked it open and installed a Crucial 512GB SSD - the performance now is astounding. Boots in 10 seconds, and apps open instantly.
  4. macrumors newbie

    Thank you very much for all of the help! Do you recommend the anti-glare option? I currently have a glossy MBP 13" and an Asus that is matte. So I'm used to both but I was leaning more towards the anti-glare for the 15".
  5. macrumors 6502a


    I have never been a fan of the glossy displays, so I'm obviously quite biased! Put it this way: I went to the trouble last month of getting a refurb anti-glare 2011 MBpro Fedexed from US to UK so that I could get a SL-compatible computer with a matte display and US keyboard. Such options were possible in Apple UK.

    Lots of people prefer the glossy. But for me? No way. I find the matte is usable in far more light conditions. On the glossy, your only option is turning up the brightness to the max to combat glare, and this hurts your eyes and your battery life.

    If going with refurb, I'd get an early 2011 2.3 or a late 2011 2.5 with antiglare option. Both have 1GB VRAM. Then throw in your own SSD. Or if you don't care about SL compatibility, get a 2012 model.

    You lose nothing by going the refurb route - my MBPro actually had a subtle problem - it would sometimes enter deep hibernation and wouldn't come out - turns out the logic board was faulty, but AppleCare replaced it on the same day I took it in to the Genius bar UK, no questions asked (even though the computer had been bought in the US by someone else and had been shipped to me by a friend!). That's how good the Apple warranty is.

    I've now spent all day working on this computer and it hasn't skipped a beat - currently 14 apps open, 6GB RAM used (out of 8GB), 360GB used on the SSD and no page outs. Awesome. It is by far best computer I've ever used.
  6. macrumors 68020


    Awesome! Yeah, I don't think you've made the wrong decision there.

    Between the 2.3GHz and the 2.6GHz Processors on the current 15" MacBook Pros, you won't notice much of a difference. The only thing different between those two processors is 300MHz, which doesn't matter anywhere near as much in either 2012 or 2013 as it did in 2000. If you were to go with a 2.6GHz model and then upgrade the CPU to 2.7GHz, there's be 2MB more of L3 Cache than you have in the 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz CPUs (which is why it's a $250 upgrade in and of itself). If you are doing lots of video work, the 2MB of Cache makes a difference.

    As for the 2.5GHz processor in the refurbished model; make no mistake, even though we're talking about Quad-Core Core i7 processors, the 2.5GHz processor-based machine you cite is actually a high end version of the previous generation, both of Intel CPUs and of MacBook Pros. Of note, the 2.5GHz processor was, for its generation, the same thing that the 2.7GHz version of this generation is now, namely the high-end configure-to-order upgrade CPU with 8MB of cache instead of 6MB like the others in the same generation.

    That all being said, if you wanted to save money, the 2.5GHz refurbished model is probably a fantastic deal and is quite respectable by today's standards. You miss out on USB 3.0, but if you don't care about that nor having the latest Intel CPUs (and mind you the differences between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge are fairly modest), but that might be a very good deal for you given how useful 8MB of cache would likely be with your intended apps.

    Really, long answer short, I wouldn't put much stock between the difference between the 2.3GHz and the 2.6GHz processors in the current machines. It's the 2.7GHz of current that makes the real difference, but for many, that kind of power is unnecessary.

    As far as the VRAM difference between 512MB and 1GB with the same GPU, for the most part, no, you won't notice much of a difference. Some games stress video memory more than others. Minecraft certainly won't. If you plan on doing a lot of color correction in FCPX, I'd opt for the extra VRAM, and thusly either a 2.6GHz/2.7GHz machine of current, or the 2.5GHz refurbished machine you're also eyeing (as it also has 1GB of VRAM). Otherwise, 512MB of VRAM (instead of 1GB) on that card likely won't be all that noticable.

    As far as which display you go with, I'd say you should get a high-res screen. Whether it's anti-glare or glossy is a personal preference. Personally, I much preferred getting a glossy display and then getting a matte screen protector for my own Mid 2012 15" MacBook Pro than I would've simply getting the matte screen, but I like the bezel design better on the glossy, plus I like the idea of having a protective layer of glass covering my LCD panel. But to each his or her own. Either way, the 1680x1050 resolution (which mind you is the same resolution you'd have had with any 20" iMac) is extremely nice and way nicer compared to the 1440x900 of the standard display and is definitely worth the extra money.

    Just be warned that while the machine will take and recognize 16GB of RAM, Apple only supports 8GB. Really, all that means is that a lazy technician at either an AASP or an Apple Store can attribute whatever problem you might have to having an unsupported amount of RAM and tell you to eff off. You should keep your old RAM around just in case.

    As for SSDs, the only annoying thing about using non-Apple SSDs is that Apple only has TRIM support enabled on Apple-supplied SSDs, so you'll have to install and run the TRIM enabler every time a major patch comes out so that you prolong the life of your SSD. No biggie at all, but still an annoyance that you should be mindful of.

    Again, it's taster's choice. I like Matte, and I like the glass bezel (and cover) of the glossy, so I opted for the best of both worlds and got a screen protector. If you can't be bothered with any of that, the anti-glare display is the way to go. Either way, if given an option, I'd go with a 1680x1050 screen rather than a 1440x900, especially if you're going to be doing the kind of work with this machine that you're talking about here.
  7. macrumors 68030


    I absolutely love my anti-glare!
  8. macrumors newbie

    Wow thank you Spectrum and Yebubbleman very much! You two have helped me out a lot!! I'll definitely get the hi-res screen and probably one of the higher end processors. Also, Yebubbleman, thanks for the above advice about ram and SSD cards, I didn't know that actually.
  9. macrumors 68020


    You gonna go for the 2011 refurb or the 2.7GHz current gen? Really, if you're worried about money, going for the former isn't that bad of a concession at all.
  10. macrumors 65816



    I doubt you'll notice the difference in the processors but based on your usage, I would opt for the 1GB video card. When I faced this dilemma last year, I compared the models you're looking at and found the 2.6 to be the sweet spot. I ruled out the 2.3 as it only has the 512GB card and the 2.5 since it has no USB3. Like me, you're going to want fast external storage at some point.

    You can still save money on the 2.6 by buying from the refurb bin and doing your own upgrades. I think you're going to want the high res screen and antiglare. Compare prices at B&H, Amazon and New Egg some of which won't charge tax and shipping, which can easily best the EDU discount Apple offers.
  11. macrumors newbie

    Yeah the 1gb of vram definitely makes me want the 2.6, plus I really want the usb 3.0!

    I think I'll probably get the 2.6 ghz current gen, because of the usb 3.0 and the bluetooth 4.0, and the nvidia graphics!

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