Are Processor upgrades ever worth it?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Mikeyswen79, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. Mikeyswen79 macrumors member


    Aug 17, 2011
    I'm considering either an MBA 11" or rMBP 13." The processor upgrade on the MBA from 1.3 GHz dual core i5 to 1.7 GHz dual core i7 seems somewhat insignificant, while the rMBP can jump from 2.4 GHz dual core i5 to 2.8 GHz dual core i7 seems to be a little bigger of a jump. But are upgrades like this worth the $140-$270?
  2. ukchris macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2010
    My personal preference has always been to buy memory first, processor second. I just ordered a 13" rMPB and opted for the base processor but 16Gb of memory. Just my two cents.
  3. MrTemple macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2013
    Canadian Pacific North Wilderness
    Do yourself a favour and keep a CPU monitor running. I like Menu Meters as it will show a history of all my CPU cores' usage right in the menu bar.

    When you do monitor CPU, you'll realize that you probably run your CPU at its max so very, very infrequently.

    Processor speed alone is one of the least important benchmarks for me. A 5-10% bump in CPU speed usually comes with a 5-10% bump in overall machine cost, but really only affects a fraction of a percentage of my use.

    All else being equal, 5-10% CPU gain is a very, very minor gain in overall system performance (and this holds true through the life of the machine, unlike memory and storage).

    For me, the 15" rMPB had a ~7% CPU gain for about a ~7% increase in cost. I'd see that CPU gain about 0.01% of my usage, so it was a no brainer to stick with the lower CPU and put the $200 towards something useful.
  4. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    It's worth it if you're running stuff that makes effective use of an i7 processor.
  5. MrTemple macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2013
    Canadian Pacific North Wilderness
    ...and running that *a lot*.

    Honestly, count the number of minutes a month that your CPU is fully tasked. Now multiply that by 0.07.

    That's the time-savings a month by going for say the 2.6ghz CPU from the 2.3ghz (according to pure-CPU benchmarks like Geekbench).

    Only that time savings is not quite accurate, is it?

    Chances are you're not waiting for that handbrake encode or that render to complete. Chances are, whether it takes 120 seconds or 111 seconds, you're doing something else (reading websites, etc), and aren't sitting there staring at it like the endless final seconds of the microwaved lunch.

    Chances are you only come back to those extremely CPU intensive tasks, well after they've completed. In such a case, the CPU savings is entirely moot.

    I pin my CPU maybe a hundredth of a percent of my usage of my MBP (YMMV). Of that time, I am never sitting waiting for it to complete.

    If like me, you let those CPU-intensive tasks sit idle for several seconds/minutes after they complete, then you will notice practically zero difference with a 7% processor bump.

    And if that's the case, spending an additional 7% of the *entire cost of the Mac* would be foolish.

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