15-inch MBP: what processor to choose? (performance vs. cost vs. heat)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Tamasi, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Tamasi macrumors member

    Dec 18, 2010
    Ok guys, I decided I can't/won't wait any longer for the MBP refeshes :) I'm actually quite excited now that I got that figured out. Anyway, now I'm facing a new dilemma;

    I know I want to go with a 15 inch MBP.
    The doubt now is which processor to take, the 2.4, 2.53, or 2.66 Ghz.
    From the one hand I heard the difference between performance of these configurations isn't exactly huge (while the price difference pretty much is). Yet, from the other hand, since the processor is the main component you CAN'T upgrade later on, it's suggested to go with the best, in order to make the purchase more future proof..

    What would you guys suggest?
    Actually, money is not that much of an issue. But heat is (I would prefer a cooler running slightly less performing (and cheaper) MBP, over a fast, but hot and expensive one)

    I am currently considering going with the supposedly 'best' (the i7 with the 512 for the NVIDIA), but I am a bit concerned this configuration might not really be 'worth it', as the performance increase might be minimal, while cost and heat are higher. Especially with respect to heat issues, what would you guys suggest to do? Is the performance of the 512 NVIDIA significantly better than the performance of the NVIDIA's that come with the i5?
  2. pedrofan macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2008
    For most users the cpu speed doesn't matter so get the slower one (they doesn't differ so much in performance, but apple puts carz prices to the faster ones). I've lived with a 2ghz core 2 duo during five years, and it is super fast for everyday computing even today, and even for gaming (I'm an architect and I render with it in 3dstudio and vray without problems). The graphics memory doen's make a difference because I doubt that a 330m can move fluently 512mb of textures and the graphic chip, that is what gives you the performance is THE SAME in all 15" macbook pros. So 256mb is more than a mac need as they are not gaming computers. Upgrade it with 8 gigabytes that cost 100$ (not to apple that rips you with 400$), because it realy worth it for the bucks and get the high resolution display, because the 15" stock macbook pro's display is a little bit grainy.

    In my opinion the best macbook pro for the bucks is the 15" with 2,4ghz i5, high res display and 8 gb of ram.

    And if you want a real, noticeable, amazing improvement in performance, get an ssd drive.
  3. Tamasi thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 18, 2010
    Thank you very much for your elaborate reply!

    What about HD (1080p) movies? Would you notice a difference playing them on a i7 512 NVIDIA instead of on a i5 256 NVIDIA?
  4. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    If you're not consistently maxing out the processor or video ram (something you won't likely do) there's no reason to get the upgrade. The "future proofing" argument is bull. Maybe if you were going from the base i5 to a top end quad i7, that would be sorta valid, but by the time that these processors are outdated, the computer will be long gone. Also, the difference between the 2.4 i5 and 2.8 i7 is only a 400MHz base frequency increase, which is not going to make it more "future proof"
  5. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    not at all. My computer can play 1080p without issue, and it has a lot less powerful of a graphics card than the nvidia in the MBP. Plus video RAM has little to nothing to do with video playback.
  6. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    You don't need video memory for video playback. It makes a difference in some detail settings of games. With 256mb some setting kill performance that only show little performance impact with 512mb.
    Video acceleration of HD video works in smartphones today. Even the Intel GPU can accelerate two 1080p video streams simultaneously. For this you really don't need a good GPU.

    2,4Ghz i5 and 2,66Ghz i7 are only about 10% apart in speed. Usually people cannot feel the difference in speed unless it exceeds 20 or 25%. You would need to look at benchmarks or watch the clock on encoding tasks to even notice.
    But heat is not really that big of a problem. The difference is not that big and almost none existent on low loads at high it just might to be a little louder because it runs at 5000 but 4500rpm. Also even between two different 2,4ghz i5s there are probably noticeable differences in heat output.
  7. tasslehawf macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2003
    Austin, TX
    I don't see a $200 difference between the 2.4 and the 2.53 considering they both have the 256mb graphics card. Go with the i7 for games or hardcore processing (video, audio, 3d).

    I'm going with the 2.4 (upgrade from the 2.53 C2D unibody) mostly so I can get access the 8 gb of RAM and my wife needs a machine so she gets my old one. I'd love to wait for Sandy Bridge, but it's not going to happen now. I'm doing mostly iOS development and some graphic design.
  8. Blu101 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2010
    Best bang for the buck:

    From Apple:
    15" 2.4Ghz i5
    Hi-Res display (glossy or anti-glare = your preference)
    (everything else stock/factory)

    From you (after you get the MBP):
    8GB RAM upgrade (if you need it, i.e. multitasking/heavy apps)
    HDD upgrade to either 7200RPM drive or SSD, whichever works with your budget.

    Result: a great all around work horse.

    Not much to worry with regards to the 330m:


    At some point in time I also recommend Applecare.
  9. Tamasi thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 18, 2010
    Hey guys, many thanks for all your insights.

    A question about the SSDs that Apple uses; are they good quality? (I do know they are not exactly good bang-for-the-buck, don't need an answer there..)

    I can 'upgrade' the 320GB 5400rpm HDD of the base 2.4Ghz model, to a 128GB SSD through Apple at a cost of 270 euros. I know this is most likely not a very good 'deal' Apple is offering here, but the alternative I to me would be purchasing an OWC Mercury Extreme 120GB SSD myself at an approximate equal cost. The HDD of my old laptop is just fine so I can still use that one and don't need an extra HDD. I would prefer saving myself the hassle of having to put OS/X (and subsequently Windows) on a new SSD, and prefer instead just getting the SSD preconfigured and ready-to-go from Apple. The only thing I would then still have to do is putting the HDD of my old laptop in an optibay.

    Not sure if my story is clear?; I guess my question essentially just is; is the 128GB SSD Apple offers as good as the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 120GB?? (also with respect to long-term degradation of performance)
  10. Blu101 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2010
    I can't help you on the SSD part, but you can always use the HDD that comes with your MBP, in this case - the 320GB, as an external backup for Time Machine - all you'd need is an enclosure, and since you already have the HDD, a typical USB enclosure can be found for under ~$20.

    That's what I did with mine.

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