16GB MacBook: i5 or i7 for data science and visualization?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Saroyan, Jun 7, 2017.

?

Which do you recommend?

  1. i5

    6 vote(s)
    31.6%
  2. i7

    7 vote(s)
    36.8%
  3. Both are wholly inadequate, you want a MacBook Pro

    6 vote(s)
    31.6%
  1. Saroyan macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2011
    #1
    About to order the 2017 MacBook with 16GB memory, deciding whether it makes sense to go for the i7 or if the i5 is enough for my purposes.

    Not a terribly heavy user for the most part, but I'm studying data science in my off hours (background in quantitative social science, used to have SAS and ArcGIS licenses at work but want to go open-source) and will probably want to work with larger datasets when I get the hang of it. Other future use cases are mapping and visualization, and possibly the occasional game of Civ.

    Thoughts? Advice? Most of what I've seen around this question focuses on things like video editing, which I do none of, and I'm not hardware-savvy enough to know how my needs measure up.

    Edited to add, I'd consider getting a home desktop for more intensive uses later on. For now, I want something light and portable to learn on.
     
  2. bbrks macrumors 65816

    bbrks

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2013
  3. Saroyan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2011
    #3
    Yeah, that's definitely an option. I prefer as small and light as I can get away with -- I walk everywhere and like to take it with me, for coffee shop work sessions and such, and with my (now-dead) 2011 MBP that meant accepting some degree of shoulder pain -- but if I can't do what I want with it, portability misses the point. So I don't know.
     
  4. bbrks macrumors 65816

    bbrks

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    Dec 17, 2013
  5. Saroyan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2011
    #5
    An extra pound on one shoulder does make a difference five miles in (I'm a small woman, your experience may vary). The MBP is 1.5x the weight of the rMB. I haven't ruled it out, I just wouldn't do it unless the rMB absolutely can't do the job.
     
  6. mathpunk macrumors regular

    mathpunk

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    #6
    I have been teaching a college level data science course using R on a 2015 base model 12" rMB with no issues at all, and I push it very hard. I think the 2017 m3 model with 16gb would be most adequate for anything that you could do on a laptop. The m3 is actually the latest one that was just released, with a max turbo clock of 3GHz, and it is substantially faster than my old 2015 model.
     
  7. mtneer macrumors 68020

    mtneer

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    #7
    I think bang for buck, the base MacBook Pro should be a good buy. It will be able to do everything you foresee, but will be cheaper than the tricked out MacBook i7 equipped model.
     
  8. c0ppo macrumors 6502a

    c0ppo

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2013
    #8
    You want 12 MB and that is obvious. So buy it. Try it out. If it doesnt meet your needs, return it and purchase MBP.

    I think that this is your best option :)
     
  9. Appleaker macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2016
    #9
    Maybe buy the i7 12" MacBook, try it out with your needs, and return and get the MBP if inadequate. I think that's the best way to know for sure and I wouldn't like getting the Pro without knowing if I could have gotten the much smaller and lighter MacBook.
     
  10. chars1ub0w macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2017
    Location:
    Here, there and over there
    #10
    I have the 2016 12" MB, highest configuration (512GB SSD, 1.3GHz/3.1GHz turbo). If you are running any large datasets, you will be very disappointed in its actual performance. The reason is throttling due to wholly inadequate cooling. In fact I've never seen my 12" MP manage to turbo all the way on up before throttling even in air-conditioned environments. So that 3.1 GHz turbo figure effectively is fictitious. Intel's Power Gadget will tell you Power/Frequency/Temperature of the CPU in real time. 2.4 GHz is reasonably sustainable on mine. Since they haven't changed the design much, you're not likely going to do much better on your new machine than on mine.
    throttling_s.jpg
     
  11. hangkous macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2011
    #11
    My 2015 MacBook slows down when room temperature rises above 25 degrees Celsius. I love the portability, I use it for courses and demos, but it is not a reliable all day productive machine in all environments.
     
  12. bigjnyc macrumors 601

    bigjnyc

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    #12
    Just spend the extra bit of money and get the i7 that way you don’t have to worry about it and you won’t suffer buyers remorse. And if that still doesn’t work out then you will have to consider dealing with the extra pound on the 13”
     
  13. Saroyan, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

    Saroyan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2011
    #13
    Thanks for the advice, all. Ended up ordering the 512/16/i5 last night based on all the doubtful comments elsewhere on here about whether the i7 is even appreciably faster and may actually be more prone to throttling or overheating, but after reading the later responses, seems like that may have been the wrong move.

    Happen to be in the neighborhood of an Apple Store this afternoon so will stop by, get my hands on both, and decide if I should cancel or exchange up front, or keep it for now and get a second computer (to use for serious data work, keeping the rMB for writing in coffee shops and such) by the time I've actually progressed past "getting to be not-terrible at Python and D3" to anything actually computationally intensive.
     
  14. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    The turbo boost spec figures are 3.1/2.7 for single/multi core.....see https://www.notebookcheck.net/Face-Off-Apple-MacBook-12-Core-m3-Core-m5-and-Core-m7.172046.0.html

    Throttling depends what you are doing. See https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...n-about-cpu-throttling.2017759/#post-23986887
     
  15. chars1ub0w macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2017
    Location:
    Here, there and over there
    #15
    Not an apples to apples comparison, but my Dell XPS 13" 9360 (with Ubuntu) exhibits a wonderful thermal design compared to my MacBook 12 (2016). Running the same program that showed throttling on my MacBook on my diagram, the Dell managed to hold onto full turbo boost clock frequency as long as needed. The Dell has a more power-hungry CPU but it does have a fan. Apple should have designed the MacBook to be better able to cool the CPU. Being slightly thicker and heavier, with a better heatsink or a micro fan would allow it to properly cool a 4.5W TDP class processor. And I'd be a more satisfied owner.
     
  16. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    If you want a more powerful, bigger machine with a fan, why not get a 13" MacBook Pro which looks more like the natural competitor to the Dell XPS 13"?
     
  17. chars1ub0w macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2017
    Location:
    Here, there and over there
    #17
    Fair question. I already have a 15" with quad core. But it's an older generation, and too heavy to lug around.

    Unfortunately, the 13" with the touchbar wasn't out when I got the 2016 12". I love the 12" for its portability. I use it for conference travel and prototyping my code. I just wish they had done a better job of designing around the TDP of the intended CPU class (5W).
     

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