Buying a MacBook Pro: spec advice please?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Loren E, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. Loren E macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2010
    Hi all, I have been working with a 13 inch macbook the last few years. I am getting more into serious photography, and taking some video as well, and because I just got a camera that I will be taking all RAW images with, I want to move up to a macbook pro 15 inch with the matte screen. I will need to work with the latest version of photoshop, as well as maybe aperture or light room, and will be working with lots of large RAW image files as well as some video files from the same camera. The macbook has been getting really bogged down as of late, had it for almost 3 years.

    So I know I want the 15 inch macbook pro with matte screen, but here are my questions for specs, as I want to know in which cases it will be worth it more me to shell out the extra money and where I likely would not need it and be spending money I don't have to!...

    -i5 or i7 processor?

    -2.4, 2.53, or 2.66 Gzh?

    320 or 500 gig hard drive?

    246 or 512 mb NVIDIA?

    Thanks in advance for any advice! I am not sure what the practical differences would be between these options for my applications and want to spend money only where I am going to end up being glad I did! Thanks -LE
  2. Stvwndr219 macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2009
  3. BigBeast, Dec 2, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 3, 2010

    BigBeast macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2009
    Core i7 is the model you should choose- with a large SSD and a backup HDD. It just so happens that this is the model I own and would possibly sell.;)
  4. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    2.4GHz i5 is sufficient and the difference between it and i7 isn't great but if you have the $, then you can go for the i7.

    Get the stock HD and get 750GB or 1TB from aftermarket. Costs a lot less too
  5. Accelerometer macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2008
    You would be better off going with 2.4Ghz saving yourself enough money to get, Hi res matte display, 8GB RAM and 500GB HDD.

    The performance between the 2, as it stands won't differ greatly so stick with the i5 and treat yourself to a few extra goodies!
  6. slicktor macrumors member


    Jul 4, 2010
    I went through something similar as well deciding between these models, but i took the advice of people on this forum and went with the base model i5 but with the hi-res matte screen.
    Its awesome! Use the money you save to buy something else like a external monitor or something ;)
  7. uMBPi728 macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2010
    Glendale, Ca and Berkeley
    Ok, you're a photographer, just like me may I add, and we both need a lot of processing power for RAW images (or lots of JPGs). Doing filters and layers will tax your system if you don't have the best specs for your needs.

    Get the i7 (not the i5), there's a lot of threads that will sway you to the i5 but don't think about it. Read the threads, I won't mention reasons here and you decide.

    Get the 4MB stock RAM and upgrade to 8 later when you can afford it, but the sooner the better. (I can open 20+ RAW images at once and a few very large PSD files full of layers (+729MB) without much issue with 8GB). [I don't think you'll have anywhere near this much open at once, but being well within the RAM ceiling gives a lot of leg room to have other apps running: Aperture and/or LR, whatever.]

    Out of your processor speeds you selected, get the 2.66 Ghz. If you can afford it, 2.8 comes in handy despite what others think of it's paltry speed bump.

    Get the stock 320 HDD and get a 500GB/1T aftermarket HDD and use the 320 as an external backup (images).

    Get the 512MB nVidia option. Get the AG option. An external monitor is highly recommended.

    With my uMBP, my work flow is based on scripts that I run via PS/Python/Actionscripts and the application of filters. The faster I can open/save an image is a plus and processing images goes much faster when you have a system that's up to the task.

    Let's face it. Some upgrades are expensive especially if you're on a budget but it all comes down to your needs and if you value your time: faster workflow means a better experience…and you get your projects done sooner.

    I've made some specific changes to my stock uMBP that has made me realize that I cannot go back to anything slower…I value my time too much.

    Hope your choices fulfill your needs,
  8. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd go with the i5, the performance increase of the i7 (and battery hit) are worth the cost increase. You'll not get that much more processing power and depending on the application the hyper-threading will not really come in to play that much.

    Take Aperture, it will rely more on the GPU for raw processing then Lightroom, so hyper-threading there will not be much value. I've used both and I don't believe Lightroom is setup to take full advantage of hyper-threading, so again the 1,000 increase your paying is not providing solid concrete benefits.

    In both cases, you'll be better served to take that 1,000 dollar price increase that apple will charge you for the i7 and increase your ram and use an SSD
  9. Loren E thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2010
    Thank you all for the advice so far! Much appreciated! Hmmm decisions decisions.....

    BigBeast do you have the matte screen? Would you send me an email at if your computer is a 2010 model?

    Maflynn you mentioned a $1000 dollar increase, where does this number come from? I see only a couple hundred max to go from i5 to i7, still significant money for me but not $1,000!

    Thanks !
  10. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    i5 used in MBPs does support Hyper-Threading. The only difference between i5 and i7 is the clock speed and i7 has 1MB more cache.
  11. Boston007 macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2010
    I was in the same situation 5 years ago. Listen to Mel but I BOLDed his mistake sentence.
    Get the stock 320hdd, get a 1G external HDD.
    - Depending on your workflow, dump your RAWs on your MBP. Filter out what you want to keep, delete the rest.

    - Immediately BURN these RAW images to a disk if you wish to keep them or if they are very important. When I was on photo jobs, those pictures I always BURNED at this point, then backed them up to an external HDD.

    - Run your workflow of the images to completion. Keep a set of small JPGs if you want locally and copy the rest to the external HDD as the backup. Delete the RAWs from you local drive.

    RAW files will take up so much memory it makes no sense to keep them on your MBP HDD. OFFLOAD THEM after you've completed done working with them.

    I would go for an i7, 4g RAM but upgrade to 8g after, and the clock speed doesn't really matter IMO.

    Photoshop loves RAM LOL

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