Advice needed: Retina or Classic?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by zeemi, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. zeemi macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2012
    Quick intro:

    Since about 2-2.5 years I'm using a late 2009 Mac Mini as my primary computer (the most basic configuration + a manual upgrade to 4GB of RAM) in combination with a 24inch Full HD screen, but obviously this isn't a high-end machine (and I notice lag in various situations on a daily basis) and I've finally been able to put aside enough money to afford an update.

    For a long time I've been waiting for the 2012 iMac update, as I think that you get the most bang for your buck with an iMac (especially considering the awesome screen you get), but since the release of the Retina MacBook Pro and the update of the regular MacBook Pro I have been thinking more and more about trading in the extra bit of power and screen real estate for the mobility of a laptop.

    I'll still wait and see if there will be an iMac update together with the Mountain Lion update and what the update brings, but unless there is a significant difference in performance, I still tend more towards a MacBook Pro than anything else.

    I have been doing a lot of reading here on the forums and elsewhere since the update/release, trying to decide whether the classical or retina version would be better suited for me, but haven't come to a definite conclusion, even though, at the moment, I tend more towards the high-end classic MacBook pro.

    Now a quick overview what I would like to do with the machine:

    -I work as a freelance front-end developer that also occasionally ventures into web/graphic design and back-end development. This means I work a lot with text-editors, various browsers (mainly Google Chrome though), run local servers (think mamp) as well as Photoshop (and occasionally Illustrator). I also would like to use more VMs, which I don't really do much at this point (apart from a small VirtualBox Windows XP install) due to insufficient hdd space (I have a grand total of 160GB).

    -I do the usual personal stuff you do on a computer, e.g. browsing, watching/streaming movies/serials, listening to music, text editing, (video) chatting, etc.

    -I also like to play the occasional game. I don't have to play the latest and greatest stuff at the highest settings, but it shouldn't go into its knees right away either. This isn't my main concern, but the more power a computer has in this regard, the better. Currently I only play a few mac steam games, but eventually I would like to run windows via bootcamp to have a broader selection.

    Here are my thoughts in regards to Classic vs Retina:

    -If I were to take the Retina Version, I would take the base Retina version. I'm also thinking about upgrading to 16GB, as I won't be able to upgrade later on and I do a lot of multi-tasking, but it's a bit over my ideal budget.

    -If I were to the take the classic MacBook Pro, I would take the High-End Version with the hi-res antiglare screen. Eventually I would like to increase the ram (when and if necessary) and add a ssd drive instead of the dvd drive (also not right away).

    -I love the new form factor of the retina macbook pro. I love how light and slim it is and I also think the improved cooling system is amazing. I don't really need a dvd drive either. I am currently using ethernet instead of wifi for the improved speeds/latency, but this isn't a huge concern of mine (as there is the dongle).

    -The fact that the classic version MacBook Pro is so upgradable is a huge plus. Upgrading ram, hard drive(s) or replacing the battery can all be done by myself at a much better price point. All in all it's much more serviceable (and as I live in a country without an official apple store/just resellers, it makes things a lot easier)

    -I would rather have more than the 256GB storage space that come with the retina by default. I'm managing with 160GB and an external 1TB hard drive at the moment, but it is limiting and 256GB aren't that much more. Unfortunately I really can't afford an expensive ssd upgrade from apple nor can I do a manual upgrade myself.

    -I'm also concerned about some of the performance issues related to the retina display, both in terms of day by day usage (scrolling in safari using the Intel HD4000 graphics) as well as during gaming.

    -Finally I'm also unsure about so many apps and web sites not being retina-ready yet. Obviously this will get better over time, but I feel like I should maybe wait until my next computer update to get a retina enabled computer.

    I'd really appreciate any advice that others that have already made the decision (or are still pondering themselves) can give me.
  2. Southernboyj macrumors 68000


    Mar 8, 2012
    Mobile, AL
    Honestly, I find it extremely hard to recommend the 15" MBP to anyway since for just a little more, you get a much better machine (rMBP)

    As Anandtech wrote in his massive review of the cMBP

    "And when you think about it in those terms, you see where the normal 2012 MBP is flawed - it’s a design that’s rooted in the past, a four year old design with a one year stay of execution. That normally wouldn’t be a problem, but with the future being sold alongside it, it becomes a much more difficult sell. Especially when you consider this: if you were to buy the base 15” MBP and upgrade to a 256GB Samsung 830 SSD and 8GB memory (bringing it to spec-parity with the base rMBP), you’d be approximately $100 shy of the rMBP pricing. That’s $100 for a smaller, lighter notebook that’s just as fast and has a *significantly* better display. If you’re eligible for student discount, that difference is actually zero, because the rMBP has a greater student discount than the base MBP15. The rMBP is pretty pricey, but when you think about it, it’s a pretty good deal.

    There are only a few legitimate reasons I can think of to skip the rMBP and get the MBP15, with the most reasonable of them being that you’re very fundamentally opposed to the soldered memory and custom SSD form factor. Another is if you’re highly dependent on a DVD drive and Ethernet and don’t want to pay for or carry around an external SuperDrive or GigE adapter. Or, you have a hard-set $1800 budget and simply don’t care about an SSD, extra memory, or having a good screen (or plan to upgrade them later).

    But here’s my take – the 2012 MBP is a great notebook and a very solid portable system. I just don’t want one. For my money, I’ll either save some and get a discounted 2011 MBP15 or spend a bit more to step up to the Retina. And maybe this is telling, but as soon as I was done with the benchmarking and the major part of the writing for this review, I stopped using the MBP and picked up a base Retina. It’s the future, simple as that."

    Read the full review here.
  3. espiritujo macrumors member


    Sep 19, 2011
    columbia, sc
    I ordered the cMBP last week. Same reasons that you (OP) stated. No buyers remorse here, even though I don't have my system yet :D But I'm sure I will be very happy with it. Granted the Retina has a beautiful display and is a beautiful machine, it just wasn't what I was looking for. Maybe in the next 4-5 years when I need an upgrade, I'm sure there will be a retina Macbook that will be everything I need and more.

    Upgrade-ability was a huge factor in deciding which to buy. I didn't have the money to take up a high end Retina, and I didn't want to be spending that much on a base model retina (256gb? seriously?), so I just stuck with the high end cMBP (with AG screen also). Whatever you buy, I'm sure you will be happy with, though your statement about the 256 gb ssd is very true. Keep that in mind.
  4. prfrma macrumors regular

    May 29, 2010
    How long do you intend on keeping your machine?

    If like me, you change every year or two the retina is a no brainer.
  5. stevelam macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2010
    I have the RMBP with ML GM installed. The lag on it makes it feel like I've barely upgraded from my 2008 MacBook. Photoshop looks horrible on it. Coda, while retina optimized, is slow and laggy.

    There are no browsers properly updated besides safari. have fun testing in fuzzy blurry Firefox/chrome non beta/etc.
  6. ugp macrumors 65816


    Jan 7, 2008
    Inverness, Florida
    I went with the cMBP. No regrets. A buddy of mine has the Retina Model. It is nice but I also need more storage then the 256GB. Having the ability to run 2 HDDs was a big win for me. I also didn't "have" to upgrade the RAM at purchase. I can choose to do so later in a years time if I want to. I typically keep a Mac for 3 years or so before upgrading.
  7. lambertjohn macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2012
    Why don't you go with a Macbook refurb? There's quite a few on the site right now, including several 2010 models. I just bought the 2010 2.8 GHz model with hi-res anti-glare screen, and it's an amazing machine. Fast as the Roadrunner, and the screen is just beautiful! Set me back $1300. That leaves a lot of dinero in my pocket to do other things in life that mean more to me than staring at a silly retina display all day for $2200. Life's too short for that nonsense. But that's just my take on it. Yours will differ, and that's what makes America great!!
  8. Dragoro macrumors 6502


    Nov 27, 2010
    I got the cMBP 15" a couple weeks ago and am extremely happy with it. No regrets on not getting the retina. I prefer the ability to upgrade it, not needing dangles for ethernet nor cds.
  9. Gregintosh macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2008
    Life's too short for you NOT to have a retina display. I'd say spend the extra money and enjoy a great machine like the retina. YOLO. :D

    For the record, after spending a couple of weeks with the retina when I go and look at an iMac or MBA screen they seem really pixelated and blurry. Just overall uncomfortable to work with.

    I must admit, the retina didn't hit me like a ton of bricks initially but after getting used to it, your eyes will notice the difference if you try to downgrade.
  10. lulla01 macrumors 68020


    Jul 13, 2007

    I cant see them keeping the classic design too much longer
  11. emailsfh macrumors member

    Apr 12, 2008
    I did the same, with AG screen, 2.6, 1TB HDD and big plans for 16gb + 512 SSD in the future. You are more likely to have a computer you are happier with for longer with the cMBP, I think. But I like to keep my machines for 4+ years. Plus, you are getting the most mature, and probably last, version of a very solid machine, versus the early adopter downsides of new tech.
  12. Southernboyj macrumors 68000


    Mar 8, 2012
    Mobile, AL
    Now, while I said I couldn't recommend a new cMBP 15" over the rMBP due to reasons stated above, if you could get a refurb from Apple for like $1,300 that wouldn't be a bad deal.
  13. miralize macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2009
    For web development, I hope you consider purchasing the rMBP. You need to make sure that anything you do is future proof for retina, which will become the del-facto standard in the next few years.

    Marco Arment puts it great here
  14. Hamilton1963 macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2010
    The screen on the new rMBP is nice but the screen on the MBP is not bad at all, it looks great. I asked myself this question: "Why do I need a thinner high end rMBP that will cost me $3059.00 that is not upgradable at all when I can get a late model 2011 17" MBP with a 27" Apple Cinema display for $3,000.00?" I ended up buying the 17" with the 27" cinema display, then I installed a Crucial 512GB SSD and a Crucial 16GB memory on it. My MBP flies like a super jet, I'm super happy with my decision, no regrets at all. :cool:
  15. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    You said you mostly use a 24" external display. If so, then you'll be fine with a cMBP. If you intend using the portable as a portable, there's no competition you want the Retina.
  16. stevelam macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2010
    Sorry but that post was pretty useless advice. Really? You need a $3000 computer to make retina assets? Any competent designer can do this with CSS and very general knowledge of how retina display works.

    And it's completely off base about being similar to designing iOS apps. Its nowhere near the same. The experience of touch screen is vastly different from traditional computer usage. Whereas retina websites on desktop are pretty much exactly the same as your run of the mill website but just prettier. That's all.
  17. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2006
    You cannot replace the cMBP battery yourself either; it is cheaper to have done by Apple compared to rMBP. Also, if you max out the RAM, I don't see this as being an issue in terms of upgradability. I am in a similar situation. I am really wanting the retina, but the number of people reporting issues has me concerned.
  18. ZacT94 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    The problems that you have heard about are a lot more uncommon than you think, it's just that more people talk about it. I have the base rMBP and I absolutely love it! I haven't had any of the problems that have been talked about and I find the rMBP to be fantastic. Sure it's a little pricey, but it's worth it.
  19. gngan macrumors 68000


    Jan 1, 2009
    There's no classic MacBook Pro in the market unless you are buying some ripoff from China. There's only MacBook Pro and Retina MacBook Pro in Apple's website.
  20. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    The reg MBP is consider "classic"
  21. gngan macrumors 68000


    Jan 1, 2009
    Of cause i know that.:cool: I can call my rMBP (regular MBP) too. Or maybe TILEMBP (Thirteen Inch Low End MacBook Pro).

    If people refer to retina MBP then add a 'r'. It's just crazy people have to add a 'c' in front of MBP when 'MBP' is used for few years. It's understood that MBP = the old MBP and rMBP = retina MBP.
  22. jbolden1517 macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2011
    I'd lean towards the rMBP. But let me respond to details.

    I'd focus a lot more on that. It is not a little bit of extra power, it is ton of extra power on a desktop. You are sacrificing a lot in terms of cost. If mobility is only a maybe, or a sometimes need you are far better off buying a desktop and something like a used laptop, a windows laptop and putting most of the money into a desktop. That being said, there was an old expression that with a laptop you are paying 30% more for 30% less computer.

    Most people love mobility, and gladly pay a steep penalty, if you don't need mobility though the desktop world is fantastic. Forget the iMac the used Powermac market are terrific terrific machines with oodles of power compared to any laptop you can buy and for less money.

    For photoshop I think the retina is terrific, the screen real estate really helps working with things with lots of pixels. For VMs you are going to want lots of ram since its generally best to hard partition your memory for VMs. Though its unclear what you are doing with VMs. That really really matters, virtualization are the two things I see that are really going to define your machine.

    With gaming again Windows would be better. The SSD will help. Obviously the big thing is the video card and they have the same video card. The retina with 4x the pixel density is going to tax the card much more heavily. I'd say for the reasonable near future the cMBP is probably a better gaming machine. Though again, a desktop would crush either.

    The 16g base is the machine I bought.

    OK. What about getting the 128g SSD and a 1.5t external laptop drive (like the seagate) with the cMBP? That gets you the speed and the performance. SSD vs. HDD pulls down your performance more than anything else we are talking about. You aren't comparing remotely similar machines once you do that.

    No laptop is really all that upgradable. More ram a better harddrive, after that you are better off selling. Absolutely 3 years from now you'll be able to get SSD much more cheaply. On the other hand the ram subsystem is what it is. The motherboard and CPU are what they are.

    Yep I agonized over this one myself when I picked the base model over the $600 upgrade. But for the $600 delta I can buy all of a nice cloud solutions, a nice external solution and USB3 memory. A terabyte SSD gives me something to look forward to in my next computer.

    I'm not finding it that much of a problem. You limit application choice in exchange for quality. To a great extent a willingness to do that is why you buy Apple in the first place. If choice is more important than quality, Windows is the better option.

    So for example I use Microsoft Office less than I would. If I have to use it for an extend period of time, I just an external monitor. But Libre Office is fine for retina. I'd rather be on Chrome / FireFox than Safari. But within a few months I'll be able to switch back if I want to. All the Omni stuff looks great.

Share This Page