Best performance per dollar?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ygiil11, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. ygiil11 macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2013
    While looking for a new laptop to replace my old macbook, I've run into a question that I could not find the answer to. I am not solely interested in finding out which macbook has the best specs, since I can just go to apple's webpage for the answer.

    What I really want to know is which macbook provides the best performance per dollar? I admit, I have terrible management skills and keep several applications running at the same time. A typical session on the computer would be using the following:

    1. 10+tabs on google chrome
    2. facetime actively video chatting
    3. excel, processing data
    4. statical software (i.e. STATA & R)
    5. microsoft word, office, powerpoint
    6. video streaming (either online or from a local file)

    Don't need to ask me about my wacky behavior; all I want to know is which macbook is going to give me satisfactory performance the cheapest.

    The older version 13" macbook pro with its 2.5GHz i5 and 4GB is hundreds of dollars cheaper than the 15" 2.0 OR 2.3 GHz quad core i7. I obviously can upgrade harddrives and RAM but what I can't do is upgrade processors. So to pay $1,000+ for a 15" macbook pro 2.3GHz instead of the older 13" is more or less for the processor upgrade.

    Can someone give me some guidance/opinion on this matter and help me decide which to get?
  2. Livewings macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2012
    All MacBooks have horrible performance per dollar.
    Windows notebooks are far superior in this area.
    But what you get is probably is worth it.
  3. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    If performance per dollar is the only criterion, then I kind of have to agree with Livewings here. Regardless, any MacBook Pro or MacBook Air model will be more then enough for things you do - you can just get the cheapest one which has enough storage space for your purposes. Don't even bother with upgrading the CPU.
  4. ygiil11 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2013
    I am unsure of what you mean. Wasn't livewing suggesting that all apple laptops wouldn't do me any good compared to other PC laptops in terms of performance?

    I have a 2011 basic macbook pro model that is not a 100% functional due to monitor problems. That being said, I have the 2.3 GHz i5 with 4GB ram and its not really working out. All my programs lag and slow down and sometimes even freeze. I doubt that a macbook air with 1.3GHZ processor will do me any good...
  5. sholzer macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2013
    Get a top spec 15" rMBP

    I love spending other people's money
  6. john123 macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    Always nice to see a fellow stats nerd around here. I'd actually suggest a slightly more appropriate way of thinking about things: marginal performance per dollar, rather than average. I say that because the slopes of improvement per dollar spent actually vary quite a bit across the different product lines, and it's quite possible that what you really want is the best bang for your buck given certain constraints.

    It sounds like you don't care about the screen size, so the question is more about what size data sets and programming you're doing in R and Stata. (All the rest of the junk you mentioned can be done on any of them without a problem.) As you know, R can be rather slow, especially for loops and recursive stuff. If you do a lot of that with big data sets, the 15" might be worth it, since the multicore package for R really comes in handy. In terms of bang for your buck, though, the base models virtually always will win. The exception would be if your programming is so intensive that it runs for long periods of time, and that's a bottleneck to your productivity, in which case the CPU upgrades are worth it.

    If you don't care about some slow operations (or you don't end up spending a lot of time running processor-bound ones), and your data sets aren't very large, then the 13" will definitely win in terms of bang for the buck.
  7. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Well, its quite simple actually simple. If all you want is get as much processing power for as little money as possible, you should get/buy a cheaper PC and either use Windows or Linux. With a Mac, you will ultimately pay more for the same level of performance - but you will also get a lighter/better build computer with great ergonomics/battery and so on and so forth.

    It would seem that your laptop is broken somehow ;) I am also fairly sure that the 1.3 Ghz MBA will beat your 2410M at single-core number crunching - as, essentially, both R and Stata (unless you use the MP version) make a fairly poor job of utilising modern CPUs - note that I am talking about common tasks like doing regression analysis etc., not about hand-coded simulations which are easy to speed up with packages like multicore/parallel.

    For office work, it absolutely does not matter what modern Mac you use - they are all good enough. For light statistics analysis, both the 13" rMBP and MBA should be fairly close. If you actively use time-consuming sampling methods AND a software package which can benefit from multicore processing, then a 15" model could be worth a look. Another thing about the 15" model is the huge L4 cache - although I don't have one here and can't test whether it would benefit my R workflows.

    Anyway, I am ranting - John here already wrote everything there was to say. I should get to sleep ;)
  8. jz- macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2013
    Have you checked using Activity Monitor how much RAM you're using? (page outs, swap, etc.) If "All my programs lag and slow down" on a 2011 MBP while multitasking, it's quite likely that you would benefit more from extra RAM than a faster CPU.
  9. stephenfisher macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2014
    My mid-2010 MBP had started to get bogged down and laggy as well. Just upgraded the HD to a 512 gb SSD (only $200 on amazon for new crucial mx100) and it turned it back into a beast. Would def recommend focusing on getting more RAM if you're multitasking, at least 8 GB, and an SSD if you can swing it. Super easy to install in the unibody MBPs.
  10. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I detect a large misunderstanding of computer performance here.
  11. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    If you're getting graphics glitches you probably need your cpu reballed, they get very hot those chips even in the 13 inch. Should cost about 150 bucks tops, and with an ssd depending on how much space you require and 8gigs of ram and your 2011 will have a new lease of life for the fraction of the cost of getting a new one. That's by far my best performace per dollar tip for you.

    Or go and buy a new one and sell your old one that's breaking down on Craigslist..

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