macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 13, 2013
Entering college this fall as a traditional freshman, looking at computer choices.. no way I'm buying a windows machine..

I want 16 gb ram and retina, a an air wouldn't be an option. I thought about the 512gb 12 in macbook, but its a 1st gen product, and the 1.2 GHz processor/USB type C are major turn offs for me (maybe one of you has bought one and could persuade me otherwise...)

With that said, I'm either gonna get an optioned out 13 in macbook pro retina with 512 gb storage (I've heard you can live on 256, but to me that just seems too little after using 350/500gb on my 2010 iMac) or the top of the line 15 in macbook retina. I don't really think I need a "top of the line" computer so to speak, but the 13 in geek bench scores seem pretty dismal, and the price to add more storage to the entry model 15 in is only $100 less than buying the top of the line model (after my student discount).. with that said, is the extra graphics processor AMD Radeon R9 worth the $100 premium over the base model?

I also thought about waiting to buy a laptop (since the 2015 update to the 15in pro line didn't update the processor), using my 2010 iMac intel i3 for another year.. buts its starting to get really slow doing anything other than safari or word..

I could also buy refurbished, but there are no 15 in models with 512 storage..

So let me know, buy now or wait for next year (as an apple user for sometime, I know waiting a year isnt worth it most of the time)

and let me know if you regret buying a 13 in and wish you would have gone for the 15 in, or more storage, or both. thanks


macrumors 6502a
Apr 1, 2014
Check first if you need windows, as some courses will only have a windows option for the software they use. That said the MacBook has the performance of a 2011 Air and if you upgrade it a bit you are in 13 inch MacBook Pro territory with way more ports and performance. You are essentially paying a lot for extreme portability.

Is the geek bench score for single core or multicore? Because the 15 inch has a lower clock speed but double the cores so the scores will be very different.

A $100 price difference on a machine that you will spend over $2000 on? Seems like a good buy if you plan on keeping the machine for a while, unless you are on a strict budget.

Skylake will be released in a month (recently announced) so the next MacBook Pro refresh will likely have the newer CPU. It will likely be in the fall though, so the first semester will be difficult unless you plan on using the labs in school.


macrumors member
Feb 24, 2010
Reinstall a fresh copy of the operating system and copy only your data files, rather than perform a time machine restore. Your computer will be fast enough to give you the time to wait for the new batch of intel's processors.


macrumors member
Oct 27, 2014
In our household we have one of each of the machines you are considering. For college, you will want something that has a nice combination of power, flexibility, portability and functionality. No question in my mind to recommend the 13" retina Macbook Pro. You can run Boot Camp or Parallels no problem if you need to run Windows software (I wouldn't do that with my little rMB, except light stuff with Parallels). You can configure plenty of SSD storage, and the 13" rMBP is plenty small and light enough to carry in your backpack or bag to class, lab, library, etc. I think you'd find the 15" to be a little big and heavy in case you need to take it with you - it is a lovely beast of a machine, but a touch heavy and large for much toting around. You probably don't yet know exactly what classes you will take over the next four years, what software you might need, how much moving around you need to do, but you probably want a machine that will handle basically anything you'd throw at it - personally I think that is the 13" retina Macbook Pro. My daughter (not in college yet) but will get one for school next year and I'll either give her my wife's or buy her a new one - likely pretty similar use cases as you will have. Also, they just got updated with Force Touch, new processors, SSD, etc. My bet is that it's a year before the 13" machines are updated - can't speak credibility about speculation around the 15" upgrade to Skylake - unless you're talking with Tim Cook, what anyone says is speculation at this point.
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