15" rMBP as a Desktop Replacement


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 10, 2007
Has anyone have any experience with using a laptop such as a 15" rMBP as a desktop replacement? I currently have a 13" MBA I use for portability and I have this 15" rMBP I want to sell but can't seem to... so I'm thinking about just keeping it.

My main concern is not about power but if keeping it plugged in all the time would damage the lithium ion battery.


macrumors 68040
May 17, 2008
I had a macbook from 2009, it spent most of its lifetime plugged in ever when its sleeping. My battery life is 54% after 5 years, after 5 years you should upgrade you computer anyway (rarely I hear of 7 years lifetime as a main

The problem with the new rMBP is that they have non-replaceable batteries, so i am not sure what happens when they die.


macrumors 6502a
Aug 20, 2013
My main concern is not about power but if keeping it plugged in all the time would damage the lithium ion battery.
An easy yet effective way to keep your battery in good health (in addition to using it from time to time) is to unplug your computer when you're not actively using it--i.e. when it's sleeping or powered down.

Just set a reminder for yourself to cycle the battery down to 20% or so every week or two, don't force-feed it power when it's not needed, and it will have a long, happy life.


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 10, 2007
Sounds good guys.

If I don't find a buyer come August or so... I'm keeping this baby. [Or I might keep it anyways since using an external monitor and my MBA is hurting my eyes]

I wonder if there are any with a similar setup like mine.


macrumors 68000
Jul 5, 2002
Modern LiIon batteries are far less (if at all) impacted by being constantly hooked to AC than former battery technologies (probably charging logic also has improved).

I am running my 15" rMBP as desktop replacement for nearly 2 years now. It's plugged into a switchable multi-socket extension lead and shut down after finishing my work (with SSD imho there is no need for sleeping in desktop replacement mode).

Every once in a blue moon I use it as a mobile machine and run the battery down. So far the battery has 98% health and ~24 cycles. Hence I'd say there is absolutely no problem for your intended use scenario.


macrumors G3
Oct 14, 2008
It does not really matter what you do to your battery, it will at any rate last somewhere between 2-3 years. Replacing the battery is quite cheap, so I don't think its something worth being concerned about.


macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2011
I replaced my iMac with a 13-inch rMBP and 27-inch Monoprice monitor, and havent looked back.


Staff member
May 3, 2009
My rMBP is a complete desktop replacement - I have an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. It works great :)


macrumors 6502a
Nov 5, 2013
Been using 15" MBP's as practically as desktop replacements since I got my first one in 2007. In my experience batteries for the pre-unibody machines seem to take a bit of damage if you don't empty and re-charge them every now and then while the unibody machines' batteries actually last longer if you don't empty and recharge them.

I usually don't consume the battery down to the end of it's duration very often, so last time I checked the battery health on my 2011 Macbook Pro (think it was January this year) it was something along the lines of 96%, which isn't bad for a machine I took into active use in the April of 2011. However it did see a period of weekend only use when I was in the army. As for my 2007 (pre-unibody) machine the battery just flat out died in 2009 and I've been much more careful with the replacement batteries (on my second one right now).


macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2011
I decided to get the maxed out 15" rMBP so that I could replace my desktop. I haven't noticed a compromise in performance so far and I'm not too concerned about battery issues. I use it as a laptop as much as I do a desktop so I don't think I'm leaving it plugged in too often. As others have stated it shouldn't really matter in this day and age but if you are concerned just pull the power lead out when you remember and plug it back in when you're on about 20%.


macrumors 68030
Aug 15, 2010
Southern California
Absolutely. Before I had an iMac I used a MacBook Pro with one of those Henge Docks for a few years and it was a great solution.

Also, at work I use a MacBook Air connected to an LCD Monitor, keyboard and mouse and it works great as a desktop :D


macrumors 65816
Oct 2, 2012
The 15" rMBP is faster than the current Mac Pro in single core performance and in multi core performance it's faster than some older 8-core Mac Pro's. I would say it's a pretty good desktop replacement. Just deplete your battery every month and the battery should stay in good health.

Unless you do gaming, then it won't be a desktop replacement ofcourse.


macrumors 6502
Oct 6, 2013
I'm actually using a 13-inch MacBook Air for everything I do, and it handles everything really well actually. Though I just got introduced into casual gaming, and now my fans finally became audible :eek:


macrumors 6502
Jan 8, 2011
13" or 15" laptop is not a desktop replacement but 17" is. anyway there are less 17" laptop out there right now. :apple:
I believe OP (and most everyone in this thread) is talking about the raw power of the machine, and then hooking it up to an external monitor. Even 17" is woefully small these days, and the resolution that most 17" laptops run at are hard for some to read.

OP: I've been using my late 2013 rMBP as a desktop replacement since I picked it up in December (and a 2010 MBP as a desktop replacement before that). My setup right now is two external displays with the rMBP closed, but I've also done 1 external and the rMBP open on a mStand. Either way, it's served me very well, and I can even play some older games just fine in this setup (Diablo 3 in specific).


macrumors 601
Jul 20, 2006
Mannheim, Germany
I tried with a 15" rMBP but after 6 months I bought an 27" iMac. Sure I could just buy a Cinema display, but I found that to be cumbersome, having to plug the laptop in all the time. Especially the resolution change when going from "mobile" mode to desktop with the monitor connected, would bother me a lot. Windows do not keep their position and lots of resizing would have to be done..
Another factor to consider is that a laptop needs to be configured with energy saving in mind. So, I had lots of programs that I would normally configure to start with the OS, configured them not to start...Also think about Safari plug ins that you would normally disable when mobile just to save some energy but would like to use when connected to power..
Another issue for me is having to connect my external drives to my Macbook all the time. Sure, someone could use a NAS or a Time Capsule (which I also have), but the overall speed cannot be compared to Thunderbolt or USB 3...
Overall, the compromise was big for me, so I ended up selling the 15" rMBP and getting a 27" iMac. Much better for me!
I also got a 13" rMBP to use as a laptop...

Generally I believe computers should be used for what they were actually made for. A laptop is a laptop, and it will always have its limitations..


macrumors 68030
Jan 10, 2007
I'm considering doing the same as the OP. I have an 08 Mac Pro and a 2013 13" MBA. I am toying with the idea of going down to just one machine. In the office I'd have a Henge dock (when they release the horizontal dock). Dual monitors are already set up in there.

For the rest of the house, go mobile. Use the AppleTV in the living room or bedroom as an extended desktop when needed. Already have the wireless keyboard / trackpad.

I have a Synology 5-bay NAS to handle backups and Plex to serve media. All I need to do is move everything from the MP and put it on the NAS.

My Mac Pro has served me well over the years, but is finally starting to show its age. And it is nowhere near as power efficient as a rMBP.


macrumors 68020
Sep 23, 2013
Upstate, NY
My rMBP is a complete desktop replacement - I have an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. It works great :)
Yep, my 13" is a desktop replacement and I don't even use an external monitor or keyboard. Just a wireless mouse. I actually haven't had a desktop system in over ten years. Just laptops. Desktops take up too much space and are just sooooo 1990s. :D