13" powerful Macbook Pro, non-Retina best value option?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by alexjholland, Feb 13, 2016.

  1. alexjholland macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2011
    Hey, having just bought a 1TB SSD and brand new 3TB HD for my mid-2010 iMac 27" i7, both installed internally, my girlfriend and I have decided to apply for jobs in Singapore and Australia.

    I've planned this and the required move to a Macbook pro for some time, although we've since decided to leave sooner!

    I'm pleasantly surprised to see my five-year old iMac with its brand new 1TB SSD for boot and fresh internal 3TB drive for storage could be worth around £1,000, second-hand, judging by eBay?

    I need a machine predominately for audio production whilst away (recording guitars with an interface), with some video editing of our travels too. At present, I have a 1TB internal SSD boot disc which has about 150GB free and I keep my GoPro videos on another disc, so it seems 1TB internal is required.

    Picking a Retina 13" with an i7 processor, the obligatory 16GB RAM and 1TB of SSD storage is £2,129.

    Whereas picking the non-Retina model with an i7 processor (albeit a generation earlier, I believe?) and leaving the hard disc and RAM at base, is £1,019.

    I could then get a Samsung 850 EVO 2.5@ hard drive for £229 and 16GB RAM from Crucial for £61.19, for a total of £1,309.19.

    So, I'd be spending £819.81 for a Retina screen and a later version i7 processor?

    The second option of maxing out a non-Retina Macbook pro looks much better value to me. Additionally, I believe upgrading the SSD and RAM wouldn't void the warranty?

    In either case, I'll get an external portable drive for keeping my GoPro films on and possibly a large desktop drive (kept hidden in our apartment) for Time Machine backups. I'd also likely buy a moderately-priced LCD screen in whichever country we're in, plus a keyboard and mouse.

    What do you guys think?
  2. robvas macrumors 68020

    Mar 29, 2009
    If you don't want the slimmer size or Retina screen, by all means stick with the classic model.
  3. leman macrumors 604

    Oct 14, 2008
    You are looking at about 5-30% difference in CPU performance (depending on application and workflow), about 100% difference in GPU performance (which is relevant if you are using GPGPU accelerated applications) and of course 2-3 faster SSD. In addition, the retina model has (obviously) a better screen, better battery life, better connectivity and is also substantially lighter. So yes, its a big difference in the price, but it also kind of make sense.
  4. happyfrappy macrumors 6502

    Oct 14, 2007
    Location eh?
    You can replace the HDD/RAM but you'll need to re-install those if dealing with AppleCare troubleshooting/mail-in repair. Since you'll be dealing with the headaches of moving, it just means carrying extra "parts".

    I own a 15" cMBP, a major wall you'll hit with Intel HD 4000 graphics is if you plan to use an external monitor larger than 1080p may it be clamshell(external mouse+keyboard) or 2nd display is it'll be much weaker as Turbo mode of the CPU will reach the thermal limit faster and a cooling pad is a necessary evil(Australia temps is much worse for notebooks). Lack of a dGPU on the 13" means less accelerated program boosts you enjoyed on that iMac.
    Gap between i5 vs i7 on Ivy Bridge is fairly slim as both are dual-core, an i7 just offers a slightly better thermal limit.

    Downgrading from an iMac/desktop to a 13" notebook will be a huge downgrade, chances are the iMac had a GPU which accelerated a chunk of video editing tasks with a quad-core i5/i7.
  5. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    The non retina is the model that was sold back in 2012. It's 4 years old tech. I wouldn't buy one, personally. Great computer, poor value as the price hasn't gone down since then.
  6. treekram macrumors 6502a

    Nov 9, 2015
    Honolulu HI
    Just to be clear - the 2010 iMac i7 is quad-core, the i7 in the 2012 13" MBP is dual-core. For your needs, I think this would mainly affect video encoding. So if you do a lot of video stuff, you'll take a hit. But whether it's a big deal or not depends on a lot of factors. If you use Handbrake, which really just does encoding, you'll be slower because it uses all of the CPU cores. I use Adobe Premiere Elements on my 2012 quad Mini (which uses the same HD4000 as the 2012 MBP) and when exporting, it does the same. If a program doesn't use all the cores, you won't notice much of a difference. I have no problem viewing a 1920 x 1080 video in real-time with Premiere Elements but the computer can't keep up sometimes when I scroll through the video timeline. I'm guessing a better GPU would help here, but it's no big deal for me (it's all for personal use and I make use of probably 5% of the features in the program). Because it is an Adobe product, I can't easily try the program on my 2012 non-Retina MBP to see what difference the quad-core makes outside the encoding.

    I use a 2560x1440 monitor with my Mini (again, with the same HD4000), which is the same resolution as the 2010 27-inch iMac. It drives the monitor fine for my use - up to 1920x1280 30fps videos, no games. As others have pointed out, if you to use larger or multiple monitors, you may want to consider the Retina models. I haven't connected my MBP to an external monitor yet (haven't had the need to). The Retina has a better quality display, but you'd have to make that comparison yourself.

    I would agree that list Apple prices for the 2012 models are high. If you have access to Apple-refurbished models (I don't know what the availability is outside the US), those are cheaper. A lot of people swear by them. I bought my 2012 MBP non-Retina Apple refurb in December - it was manufactured a month earlier. It was $270 off the list price. Here in the US, the base model is almost always available, the i7 model is less available.

    Finally, the battery replacement by Apple for the Retina computers are $199 in the US, for non-Retina computers it's $129 (installation included). It's difficult to change the Retina batteries and is best left to Apple. You have to open the computer to change the battery for the non-Retina computers but it's not difficult to do (in others words, non-Apple batteries are an easy option if that's what you want). It will hopefully be a few years before you need to change the battery but this should be a consideration. There have also been issues with the Retina screen, much of it fixable by Apple if within the warranty, but also the Retina screen is more fragile (it doesn't have a glass protective layer).
  7. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2011
    Thanks for all your comments.

    It sounds like, if I don't want to feel like I've downgraded from my iMac, I should stump up for the top of the range 15" model with a dedicated graphics card and quad core processor, at £2,500?

    That would behave far more like a desktop, when connected to a monitor and peripherals, without being too cumbersome?
  8. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    Go to everymac.com and check geekbench scores for both models. It'll give you a ballpark idea of the raw computing power of both. Higher number is better.
  9. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2011
    Ok, here we go - my iMac against the i7 15" Retina MBP, 13" Retina MBP, 13" non-Retina MBP and 13" Air.

    I chose 32-bit for each (one model I could only find 32 bit for), sorted in descending order of multicore and picked the top score. I've also marked single-core scores separately.


    So, looks like they all outperform my mid-2010 iMac i7 on single-core score, with the Macbook Air and non-Retina MBP in joint second, not far behind the Macbook Pro 13 and 15" Retina models.

    On multi-core, the 15" quad-core pulls way into the lead, with my mid-2010 iMac a solid 3000 points behind and the three dual-core Macbooks all another 3,000-3,500 points behind again.

    It appears that single-core really doesn't have a huge range of difference. However, on multi-core clearly anything quad-core smashes the competition - especially with the newer i7 (against my own).

    Is there really this little difference in performance between the top-level Macbook Air 13" and Macbook Pro Retina 13"?

    On the basis of these numbers, I'd easily take the Air over a 13" Macbook Pro Retina.

    I can't believe the Air would handle video encoding in Final Cut Pro X as well as a 13" Retina though?
  10. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    The SSD in the non-retina machine will be 1/3 to 1/2 the speed which will make a significant difference.

    The CPU is 2 generations older, the thunderbolt ports are old generation and it has no HDMI port (which is annoying). The cooling in the retina machines is far better. The battery life on broadwell is much better.

    Whilst the CPUs may both be "i7" that doesn't really tell the full story.

    Geekbench is a very rough benchmarking tool by the way.

    The Broadwell CPU in the 13" retina has a much faster GPU, VP8 decoding in hardware, better cache and new vector instructions (AVX2).

    Geekbench doesn't measure any of that, however new software may start using a lot of that, and if it does will make further significant performance gains over Ivy Bridge.
  11. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Yo are right it won't those benchmarks will be making use of the turbo on the CPU and the air will not be able to turbo for so long with its slim chassis and worse cooling. Also the IRIS graphics in the pro make for a faster render time etc in FCPX the air doesn't have a 16gb option either and by the time you spec them out past the basic spec the air is not much different price wise.
  12. MarvinHC macrumors 6502a

    Jan 9, 2014
    Shanghai, PRC
    I am a big fan of the 2012 13" pro due to its upgradeability, but it has to be said that it feels very heavy and bulky compared to the retina (and even more compare to the Air). Also, the battery life is not so great. So if you plan on carrying it around a lot, keep that in mind.
    Other thing I would say: If you decide for the 2012, check out refurbs or second hand, they are going quite cheaply these days.
    If you buy a new one you might also want to hold back until you are in Asia. If you go to Australia, make a stop over in HK and get it at a much better price there, even Singapore is cheaper than Europe.
  13. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Also, if you do gopro video processing, check out the benchmarks for cinebench for both CPUs if you can find them, the older CPUs lose out a fair bit vs. geekbench.

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