Apple newbie shopping for Macbook Pro, need help deciding.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by CSanchez, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2013
    I am an Apple newbie, this will be my second Apple purchase. The first being a IPhone 5.

    I've been doing research and I'm leaning towards waiting for the new MBP's to come out but I'm still shopping around. (Also considering a top tier Windows Notebook.)

    You seem knowledgeable, so I wanted to ask you a question and ask for your opinion. (Any help from other members will be greatly appreciated.)

    From what I've read , the 13 inch Retina is a better computer then the 15 inch Retina even though it has less RAM (8 GB for 13 inch compared to 16 GB for the 15 inch) and a older processor (2.9 Dual Core for 13 inch VS 2.7 Quad Core for 15 inch)

    That doesn't make sense to me, wouldn't the computer with more memory and a "better" processor perform better?

    What suggestions and/or recommendations would you have for a Apple newbie?

    I'm looking for a top of the line notebook, I don't really care about storage since I plan on having a external hard drive as well so 256 GB or so would do. I rather spend my money and upgrade to the best processor and increase the RAM.

    Before I did research I was leaning towards a 15 inch Retina because it's the only way to get the "best" processor ( 2.7 Quad Core I7) and increase the RAM to 16 GB from 8 GB. Otherwise I would actually prefer the 13 inch since it will be easier to travel with and not to mention cost less. But now I've read that the 13 inch 2.9 Dual core with 8 GB RAM outperforms the 15 Inch 2.7 Quad Core with 16 GB RAM?

    I'm so confused and it seems like the more I read the more confused I get lol.

    I'm hoping the upcoming MBP Retina makes the decision easier for me but as it stands I don't even know if I should wait for it to be released.

    What would y'all recommend?

    Thanks in advance
  2. Jameshrcairns, Jan 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013

    macrumors member

    Dec 25, 2008
  3. macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2010
    Hopefully I'm understanding your statement correctly. That said, the 15" Retina is the more powerful computer by far (as compared to the 13" model) due to a quad core processor (13" model only having dual core), and the inclusion of a discrete GPU (whereas the 13" uses Intels HD 4000 Integrated graphics). Both can get the job done, but I'm thinking you are just looking for raw horespower (whether you need it or not), and the 15" Retina model is the clear winner here.

    If you don't care about hard drive space (due to the use of external storage), I would stay with the entry level 256GB SSD, and max out the RAM (16GB) as it is soldered in, and cannot be user upgraded.

    That's the conundrum between the 13" and 15" models. The 15" model offers a much greater value at this point in time compared to the 13" model, and is definitely more capable hardware wise. However, the 13" model has a smaller footprint area, is more portable, and is lighter.

    Reading between the lines, I think you want to get the best computer possible, which in this case, the 15" Retina model is the hands down winner.
  4. macrumors member


    Sep 13, 2012
    Hello! Welcome to MacRumors, I definitely would like to try and help you out with your purchase decision.

    For one, the 13 inch Retina is not a better preformer than the 15 inch Retina. The base models of both, a have 8GB of RAM. This is where it starts to differ, the 13 inch Retina has a Intel i5 2.5 GHz dual-core processor compared to the the 15 inch Retina’s Intel i7 2.5 quad-core processor. The 15 inch retina has four cores at its processor, which makes it more able to preform certain things including more intensive tasks like video editing, photo rendering and so forth, while also being better at every day tasks. The four cores at the heart of the 15 inch Retina is more than the two cores at the hear of the 13 inch retina, thus making it a more powerful computer.

    With that in mind, you’re saying you’re looking toward the “best” processor and increasing the RAM, which is a smart move. The RAM increase in both laptops will get you to 16GB, which is something that is going to be pretty future proof moving forward. However, regarding the maxed out 13 inch’s 2.9 GHz dual-core i5 vs the maxed 15 inch’s 2.7 GHz quad-core i7 is where you’re slightly confused: the 15 inch’s processor is actually more powerful despite being a lesser number/clock speed. You’re talking about the 13 inch's only two phyiscal cores vs the 15 inches four physical cores, not to mention the 13 inch’s processor is an Intel i5 vs the 15 inch’s Intel i7 - The i7 is more powerful than the i5, and the i7 plus the four physical cores really gives the advantage despite being a lower number.

    Wherever you read that the 13 inch Intel i5 2.9 Dual Core retina outpreforms the 15 inch Intel i7 2.7 Quad Core retina is false. The 15 inch retina outpreforms the 13 inch, and here are two resources to go along with it - Geekbench, which registers the average score of a Mac (higher score is better), and a review of the 13 inch with Retina Display from The Verge. As far as the Geekbench score goes, the 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and its 2.7 GHz Intel i7 quad-core scores an average of 13260, while the higher end 13 inch retina MacBook Pro with a 2.9 Intel i5 dual-core scores just 8334.

    The Verge’s review of the 13 inch retina machine may help your decision as well: in the review, the reviewer said that the 13 inch retina machine felt a little slow compared to the 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, making the 15 inch MacBook Pro with retina display a better buy. Neither machine is slow, but this is something to keep in mind.

    Either way, I think if you’re going to max out things like processor and RAM, I would go with the 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It’s easily the more powerful computer, and at 4.45 pounds (which is even lighter than the regular MacBook Pro 13 inch non-retina) with a dedicated graphics card, it flies. It would definitely take just about any task you throw at it, intensive or not.

    I hope that helped, and I’d love to answer your questions if you have some more!
  5. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    No, I wouldn't think that would be the case. I have a 13" rMBP with the base dual core 2.5GHz Core i5. It performs roughly on par with the 2.0GHz Core i7 MacBook Air that I had before (which I expected). The quad-core on the 15", even the 2.3GHz model, would outperform either quite handily except on tasks that cannot take advantage of more than a single core (and only assuming nothing else is running in the background). Multi-core processors have been around for several years now, so they can take advantage of that power. The 15" model also has a discrete GPU, while the 13" model has only the integrated graphics standard in the Core i5/i7. As for price, with 256GB SSD and the 2.9GHz i7, the 13" costs the same as the base 15" rMBP that has the same storage and RAM, and better processor and GPU. With the base 2.5GHz i5, the 13" is $1999.

    That said, what types of applications are you planning to run? Perhaps the 13" model will have sufficient power for you. It certainly is more portable (it weighs nearly a pound less). If you are doing heavy video or photo editing, the quad-core and GPU of the 15" would help. If it is mostly office tasks, browsing, and occasional photo editing, and you primarily want the nicer screen, then the 13" would be sufficient. Neither are great for gaming, though the 15" would be better by virtue of its GPU.
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2013
    I don't plan on doing heavy video or photo editing and I'm not a gamer. Really I just want a top of the line laptop, my apartment building recently burned down and I'm having to replace everything I owned including my computer.

    I'm allocating $2000 and possibly a bit more from my insurance claim for a laptop.

    I just want a good computer that will last me a good while (3 to 5 years), I don't normally have $200 plus that I can spend on a computer, so that's my reasoning towards getting the best available model I can .


    Thanks for the replies guys.

    I now understand that the 15 Inch Retina is the better out of the two and I really like the Geekbench site.

    According to that, the Mid 2012 Macbook Pro has the best overall performance?

    I figured that the Retinas would be since it takes more resources for that display.

    I'm thinking now that I should just wait for the new Macbook Pro's to come out, I just which that they came out sooner.
  7. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    The 15" rMBP would be a better value and more likely to keep pace over the next 3-5 years if you don't mind the bigger size. That's essentially the point of the Verge review. For $2199 you get a quad-core and discrete GPU, vs $1999 for the dual-core 13" model with the same storage space.

    As for options, the 16MB RAM option on the 15" would be useful if you plan to keep it 5 years. Newer programs use more RAM. The 2.6GHz option at $100 is also good. I'd skip the $350 upgrade to the 2.7GHz. It just doesn't seem worth it to me for $250 more than the 2.6GHz.

    Depending on the benchmark, the rMBPs will rate higher than the classic models because they come with flash storage standard. The CPU and GPUs are the same, so all else equal (i.e. if you add an SSD to the classic), the classic models will do slightly better since they have 1/4 of the pixels to push.

    As for waiting, the earliest we are likely to see the new models is late summer. Haswell chips don't start shipping until April, and those are just the desktop versions. Mobile versions don't ship until June or July. The main advantages will be power consumption, and a faster integrated GPU. If you are replacing a lost computer from a fire, I'd just get one now. The difference will be incremental.
  8. macrumors 6502a

    A Hebrew

    Jan 7, 2012

    If you read that one guys predictions, remember that they are just that: Predictions. I am still thinking the new MBP will be coming in June.
  9. macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    I don't agree that the 13" is "better" in any way. The 15" is much more powerful and better value overall. The 13" is a smaller machine, and if you really want a smaller machine you're paying for it in terms of performance. If you aren't determined to get a 13" machine then definitely go for the 15.
  10. thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2013
    I know it's only a rumor but when they say the new Macbook Pro's will be announced in June, does that mean they will be available for purchase at that time or simply announced to the public and sold at a later date.

    I was ready to buy earlier today but I'm thinking I should wait now.

    It sounds like in June I will not only get a better product but also get it at a better price.
  11. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    For some people (;)) smaller is better. Sure, it would be nice if Apple crammed in a quad-core CPU or discrete GPU into the 13" rMBP, but for those of us coming from a MacBook Air, the rMBP's screen is reason enough.


    Usually new Macs are available soon after announcement (sometimes the next day). That said, the lower prices could be primarily on the 13" models. The 15" rMBP is already fairly competitively priced compared with the classic models.

    What do you plan to use between now and June? If cost is a factor at all, note that there are plenty of refurbished 15" rMBPs from Apple's website, including some with upgrades. They sell for 15% less than Apple's sticker price.
  12. thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2013
    I actually prefer the 13 inch, I just wish that I could upgrade the RAM to 16 GB and possibly get a better processor.

    It sounds like the one in June will have a better processor with the Haswell. I don't know if they will increase the RAM but I hope they do.

    Cost is a factor but at the same time I know I'm going have to pay Apple prices. I just want to make a smart purchase. I don't mind paying 2500 plus for it. What I want to avoid is paying that and then having a big price drop just a few months from now or being able to get a superior version of the same model for the same price. In this case it's more about the upgrades it will receive then the price.

    Kind of like you would avoid buying the 2012 model of a vehicle when you know that in 2013 it's going to have a body style change.

    As far as the refurbished products, I generally try to avoid going that route but I will look into it. Depending on what warranty Apple offers on it's refurbished products, it might be an option.

    As far as what I will be using from now to June. The answer is nothing as of yet lol, I have a Iphone 5 and I'm thinking about getting a Kindle Fire. The RMBP would be mainly for leisure. I don't need it for work or business purposes, just want a notebook that will last me a good while.
  13. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    Apple refurbs are just like new, except for the box. They come with the same 1 year warranty as new machines.

    Haswell will be a big deal for the 13", since it will significantly boost the integrated GPU. I can't see Apple ever putting a discrete GPU into the 13" rMBP. The 13" MacBook Pro has always used integrated graphics (first from NVIDIA, and then later Intel). Most of the CPU improvements to Haswell are focused on power consumption. If you are looking for a 13" as a keeper, then waiting for the update may be a good idea. Note that the 13" rMBP was just released in October, so it is possible they will wait a little longer before refreshing it. However, it's also possible it was just released later because of yield issues on the display. The classic MPBs were all updated at the same time (June 2012).
  14. thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2013
    Do you think the 13 inch Retina's will have the option to upgrade the RAM to 16 GB?
  15. macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    So you basically want to pay for bragging rights and a long lasting laptop? Not that I'm criticising, I did the same a few months ago when I bought my 15" rMBP.
  16. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    In 2013? I'm guessing it isn't likely, but it's possible. Only Apple knows. The 2010 and 2011 MacBook Airs were limited to 4GB (up from the original 2GB). 2012 didn't change much except the processors and USB 3.0, but they did add an 8GB option.

    The thing to keep in mind is that Apple typically doesn't like to have lots of configurations as it makes supply chain and distribution management more difficult.
  17. thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2013
    Lol, not really bragging rights.

    Yes on the long lasting part.

    I've had a "top tier" at the time HP Notebook followed by a "top tier" Sony Vaio. The first one was $1700 and the latter was $1300 and that's a sale price on both. Both of them started giving me some type of trouble within the year and neither lasted more then three/four years.

    I have friends with Mac's and it just seems like they last forever.

    I am not a Apple lover nor am I a Apple hater. I've had several Ipods but only bought a Iphone recently, a Iphone 5.

    I normally wouldn't spend $2000 on a notebook, I'm usually the guy that would buy a Windows notebook with better hardware for a lower price then the Apple.
  18. throAU, Jan 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013

    macrumors 68040

    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    The CPUs are the same age, they are simply different power consumption levels.

    The bigger machine has a more power hungry, faster CPU.

    From the sounds of it, for your usage, pick the form factor of retina machine you like (13" ?), buy it, and move on.

    8GB will be enough, and speculating on future apple machines will mean you never buy one. They ALWAYS have something new coming. Buying the brand new machine on release day means you're first to encounter all the bugs, also.
  19. macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2013
    Unless you are going to be carrying it around on a daily basis, I'd go for the 15" retina model and max out the RAM. You can skip the processor upgrade form 2.6 to 2.7 as according to figures it will only make a performance difference of roughly 2%. Not worth it for $250.

    It kind of like looking at a $100k sports car that goes from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and paying 10-15% extra for an option to bring that number down to 5.5 secs.

    Only worry I have with the retina is whether the IR issues have been fully resolved.
  20. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 1, 2008
    Frisco, TX
    Pretty much this.

    Don't worry about what's coming if you need/want something now. There's always better/faster just around the corner. But these current spec'd Macbooks are killer.

    I have the 15" rMBP and LOOOVE it. I still can't get over how cool the retina screen is. It's like text and letters, etc, are painted on.

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