2013 rMBP or Refub 2012 MBP and save $1K?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by MUrhino, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. MUrhino macrumors regular


    Jan 6, 2003
    Okay, here's the deal (and feel free to make fun of me during the advice giving process): So I passed down (i.e. sold for like $400-500 bucks) my old PowerBook G4 to my folks 8 years ago. Needless to say, they're tired of it taking 2 minutes to open a Safari page and are ready to upgrade. I have a 2009 MacBook Pro with maxed out RAM (8GB) and had to throw a SSD in after the stock HD failed. I haven't had any problems with it, and it's been able to keep up just fine. Now, I don't do any "pro" work, but every now and then I like to dabble in HD video and would like the ability to smoothly edit video and hi-res photos. My other uses are the basic OS, iTunes, iPhoto, Movies, GarageBand, Office Suite, Windows 7 on Bootcamp for work apps and Command & Conquer games...nothing crazy.

    In trying to figure out what was best for them, I decided to once again "give" them mine after swapping out SSDs to a smaller size for them (240GB, they only use 50GB of 100GB now), leaving me with the Crucial M4 500GB SSD I bought for it.

    Now, I've already purchased (and have been using for the past 5 days) the maxed out version of the recent Oct 15" retina MBP (2.3 Ghz/512SSD/16GB RAM/Nvidia dGPU) at a discount of $200 for the education/mil/fed employee discount. Total after taxes for that was about $2600 bucks. I'm not made of money, but it wouldn't necessarily hurt me financially...I'm just having a bit of buyer's remorse in justifying it. I used my past two laptops for 4+ years, but the last MacBook Pro could probably keep up with my needs for another year or two.

    I was considering returning this one for a 13" retina model, but think I can get a better deal with a refurb 15" from June 2012. It's a 2.3Ghz Quad-Core/4GB Ram/500GB HD, although I would swap the stock HD with the Crucial M4 SSD and upgrade the memory to 8 or 16GB. With the 16GB of RAM upgrade the price comes to $1572 after taxes...saving about $1000 by getting a machine that is about 1.5 yrs old. Technology wise it seems pretty good...same RAM as the current models (although Apple doesn't advertise it), 1600MHz bus/memory (same as current models), graphics are better than what I had but worse than new models, has BT 4.0 but lacks 802.11AC (not that I plan to buy an AC router soon), has USB 3.0, upgradeable RAM, optical bay to 2nd HD if I want later, replaceable batteries (not glued in like current model, although I'd get 7 hrs instead of the advertised 8...I can live with that).

    Trying to look at this as objectively as possible I figured out the cost of ownership of each model over a 4 yr period, not counting that Crucial M4 SSD, as I'm keeping it one way or another (either in the refurb unit or as an external drive).

    The Oct 2013 retina cost $651/yr or $54.25/mos.
    The June 2012 refurb cost $436/yr or $36.34/mos.

    Breaking it down it's easy to say "oh, it's only $20/mos more for the new tech...get that!" That's what one friend said, but what do you guys think?

    Other factors to consider...I can keep my current bag/small sleeve for the same form factor. It's primarily a desktop replacement, sitting next to a 24" LED Cinema Display. I travel with "work" all over the world, sometimes an ethernet connection is required, but it's rare. HDMI is great, but I've only wished I had it a time or two.

    Is there a huge difference between the two processors? Current 2.3 Ghz Quad Core i7 w/ turbo boost to 3.3 Ghz "Crystal Well" vs. Refurb 2.3 Ghz Quad Core i7 w/ turbo boost to 3.5 GHz "Ivy Bridge"?

    So, for $1k I'd get the retina (which is nice, but not necessary at normal sitting distances), HDMI (which I won't use regularly), lose ethernet/audio in/optical drive/user upgrades aside from HD, but see a big jump in performance. I ran the black magic speed test for read/write and both pegged the needles, with Write at 711 MB/s and Read at 732 MB/s. My old system ('09 MBP) posted speeds of 207 MB/s and 265 MB/s respectively.

    Lots of info there...sorry, wanted to be thorough so thanks for reading! So how about it? Should I keep the current beast or return it and get the refurb...or go for a new 13" retina (had to throw a twist in at the end :D )
  2. FrozenDarkness macrumors 65816

    Mar 21, 2009
    Wouldn't your best bet be last years rmbp for probs around 500-1000 less?
  3. MUrhino thread starter macrumors regular


    Jan 6, 2003
    I haven't checked MacMall or anything before you suggested it. Last years rMBP isn't available on Apple's refurb/clearance website, but MacMall does have it.

    Regarding the refurb I was looking at on Apple's site, it is cheaper than MacMall.

    Regarding last years retina, it looks like there's more graphics memory, but that soldered RAM really ups the price. If I'm keeping it for 4 years, getting the max RAM just makes sense. Am I looking at it wrong? That takes last year's retina machine up to $2300...for that price I'd rather keep the current machine with newer processor, etc.

    Does the new PCIe SSD connection improve the transfer speeds enough to warrant the retina price? (I've got plenty of external drives btw: one portable WD and an OWC drive that isn't so portable...not to mention a Time Capsule). Two are used as backups, so I'd like to use that M4 SSD...or sell it I guess.
  4. FrozenDarkness macrumors 65816

    Mar 21, 2009
    Well it really depends on how urgent your usage is. I personallyno longer see a point in purchasing a non-retina MacBook Pro. I would browse craigslist or ebay for 2012 retina still under AppleCare. Definitely go for 16gb of ram and maybe just 256gb internal ssd if you have so much external storage options.

    I don't really care about the new PCI-e ssd tbh. I think last years model being upgradable ssds are more attractive since there are no aftermarket for the current gen.
  5. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    I think it really depends on what you value - the mid-2012 non-Retina models were very much like the 2012 Retina models from a processor, graphics, and other internal hardware standpoint. If you don't care about the screen, and would rather have more upgradeability/tinkerability, go for the refurbed 2012 MBP.

    If you had to pick between rMBPs, get the later one - the battery life and PCIe SSD are great upgrades and the machine sort of grew into its own with the Haswell upgrades, especially with the demands of the Retina display.

    That being said, I think all three options would be fine machines, so it's really what fits with your budget and your personal preferences...
  6. jlc1978 macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2009
    I agree - if your current machine is fast enough then a 1 year old rMBP will be as well, and once you've used the retina display you will not be happy with the non-retina display.

    As for 4 vs 8 GB RAM - what does your usage of the 8GB look like today? More RAM is always nice but doesn't necessarily translate into any noticeable performance improvement.
  7. MUrhino thread starter macrumors regular


    Jan 6, 2003
    So there isn't much difference in overall computing power between the June 2012 MBP vs. the Retina? If so it seems like I'm paying the extra cash for the retina/HDMI/more Graphics RAM. I guess I'm indifferent towards the optical drive vs. HDMI right now. Any idea if the memory is faster in the new model over the June model? If not, I'm leaning towards saving $1k and getting the refurb. The retina looks great, but once they trickle down to the rest of the hardware lineup, surely the price will also fall.

    As a side question, any idea where you can find last years retina with applecare from a reseller? Is that even an option? Thanks everyone!
  8. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    That's correct - at least from what I remember upon the release of those and the info from MacTracker. Even if you want HDMI, you can always use a Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort <-> HDMI adapter on the non-Retina model. I think memory (RAM) might be the same, but someone else can correct me if I'm wrong. Storage would be the same if both had SSDs, as the 2012 Retina models used the blade SATA drives (not PCIe).

    It also looks like graphics RAM is similar on all but the cheapest 15" model...

    As for where you can find it, I'd keep an eye out on Apple's Refurb store.

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