Need help choosing a new system

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by md550, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2012
    Hi all,

    First time poster but long time reader here. Apologies in advance for the long post.

    I'm having a really difficult time choosing a new MacBook.

    Currently I have two systems:
    21.5-inch iMac (Late 2009) with a Core 2 Duo E7600, 4GB Ram, 1TB HDD.

    13-inch MacBook Pro (Mid 2009) with a Core 2 Duo P8700, 8GB Ram (installed earlier this year) and a 250GB HDD (non SSD).

    • I don't do any gaming
    • I don't do any video editing however I do sometimes use Adobe applications (particularly Photoshop)
    • I work as an IT Professional so I use my MacBook Pro for web browsing, email, software development (using Eclipse, XCode etc. with application servers such as Glassfish) and documents/spreadsheets. It is almost always connected to an external 22" monitor.
    • I use a Windows 7 Virtual Machine (using VMware Fusion) on both systems for FX trading. At the moment the iMac really struggles with this due to only having 4GB of RAM.

    Ideally I'd like to purchase a new MacBook to use at home and at work. I'd continue to use an external 22" monitor at work and will also likely purchase a 27" monitor to use at home.

    At this stage I'm considering either the 13-inch MacBook Air (with the i7, 8GB Ram and 512GB SSD) or the 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina (with the 2.6, 16GB and 512GB SSD). I really love the portability and design of the Air but it doesn't provide the option of a quad core CPU or 16GB Ram. Additionally, the fact that it doesn't contain a dedicated graphics card concerns me as I will almost always have it connected to an external monitor.

    The 15-inch Retina looks like a great machine, however it is obviously a lot more expensive than the Air. I'm also very concerned about all of the complaints regarding the image retention problem as well as the fact that a lot of applications/websites aren't retina compatible yet. I don't want to buy a Retina display machine if I will be constantly frustrated that my existing applications (particularly my FX trading software which runs on my Windows 7 VM) look blurry - it kind of defeats the purpose of having the retina display.

    Another option I have considered is to purchase an SSD for my current MacBook Pro as a temporary solution and wait for the 2013 Haswell upgrades for the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. However, if the new machines are released in June/July I wouldn't purchase until December/January as I like to wait until all issues are ironed out.

    As you can see I am quite unsure about what I should do and would really appreciate any advice.

    Thanks very much.
  2. macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2012
    Hi md550,

    I think the Air will work for you just fine. The only two points of concern are the ones you mention: the lack of a dedicated graphics card and the inability to upgrade to a quad-core processor. In reality, and since you won't be gaming, the lack of a dedicated GPU shouldn't be a problem for you. Now, it'd be superb if you could have a quad-core processor, but the fact that you'd buy an Air with 8GB of RAM and a speedy SSD drive might actually compensate for the lack of a more powerful processor.

    Having said that, there's absolutely no question that the 15'' rMBP is a more powerful machine. It comes with a lovely processor, 8GB of RAM and a pretty good dedicated GPU as standard. You do mention your concerns about the image retention problems a large number of users have been complaining about, but I don't think you should let this deter you from at least considering the rMBP.

    In conclusion, if I were in your shoes I'd go for the rMBP, as it really is a fantastic machine. If you do run into image retention issues, you could simply return the machine and perhaps go for the Air instead. All things considered, I think it's worth taking the risk.

    I hope that helps.
  3. macrumors 68020


    Aug 13, 2011
    This might not be what you were hoping to hear, but it seems to me like you could benefit greatly simply by upgrading your current machines. Your iMac has a RAM maximum of 16GB. So if your primary reason for wanting to get a new machine is for the sake of your Windows 7 VM running better, then just upgrade the RAM. My wife's machine(same exact model as yours) has 8GB of RAM and she allocates 4GB RAM to Windows 7 via VirtualBox and she has no issues. You can even get a 16GB RAM kit from OWC for $99.

    Instead of getting a new MacBook to replace one that's working just fine, upgrade it to an SSD like you were hoping to do. You can also go through OWC to get a 512GB like you wanted and shouldn't have to pay more than $500 for it. You might also consider a smaller capacity SSD in the ODD bay and still get the same performance boost while maintain a good amount of storage capacity.

    The 16 GB RAM upgrade will give your iMac new life and extend its usability for quite some time, especially if you aren't using it for GPU, CPU, or RAM intensive applications.

    This option drastically cuts your costs while at the same time maximizing your ability to continue your work.
  4. macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2012
    Image retention is waaaay over stated. I can replicate it but in real use its non existent.
    Went from core 5 to current 15" pro. The retina screen is not as big a deal as I'd hoped. However the SSD , memory bump and quad processor make it an amazing machine to use.
    By the time you chip up an air to close to mb pro specs the pro isn't a whole lot more expensive.
    However the lightness of an air is desirable. Since I've started using an iPad for most of my stuff I find the 15" pro is a whale as a lap device. However the iPad can't replace the computer.
    If the 13" screen isn't too small for your work, it may be the better choice. I'd want the performance of the i7 processor though. Battery life is another consideration. I'm getting 8 hours on the pro and the iPad. I love that as opposed to 2 hours on my windows laptops past.
    Battery life, weight, as important as performance now I've experienced them.
    Retina display on the iPad made a big difference esp in newspaper articles. Retina on the 15" screen wasn't such a big deal. The ghosting issue is a non starter.
    Hope that helps.
  5. macrumors 68020


    Aug 13, 2011
    What have you decided?

    I know you didn't receive very much advice, but I was wondering if you had made a decision regarding your future computer purchase. I hope all is well.
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2012
    Thanks all

    I have decided to hold off until I am in a better position financially and perhaps wait for the Revision 2 of the Retina machines.

    Thanks everyone for the advice.

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