Buying help

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jtinch, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. jtinch macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2011
    I know there's tons of these, but I need help from the pros. I am about to purchase my first Mac at best buy with the 18 month financing. I have ruled out the new iMacs (as awesome as they are) because I could really use a new laptop for school. I am wondering if it is justifiable to get the 15" retina MacBook Pro? I want to start blogging and editing photos and videos. I am more than willing to purchase a USB external drive.
  2. Forerunner macrumors member

    Dec 24, 2012
    Could you be a bit more specific in your needs, uses, budget, etc? There are hundreds of posts like yours on the MacRumors forums. Perhaps a bit more clarification would help.
  3. el-John-o macrumors 65816

    Nov 29, 2010
    Hi there!

    The 15" Retina MacBook Pro has a lot of neat features, but you pay a lot for it. For starters, you said you'd like to edit photos. The IPS panel on the Retina display will be more color accurate than the TN display on the non-retina model, which will present you with some opportunities. Also, photos should always be edited at 100% 'zoom', to prevent distortion from cramming several pixels into one. When you are working with high resolution DSLR images, this can be difficult. The Retina display allows you to fit more pixels at a 1:1 ration, which will be an advantage.

    There are also some disadvantages. For example, upgradability is limited and expensive. The RAM CANNOT be upgraded, and the SSD can only be upgraded using some very expensive options from, presently, only one company (OWC). A non-Retina MacBook Pro can have 16GB of RAM thrown in it for under $100 (when using third party, like Crucial), and has all sorts of options for Hard Drives and SSD's, and can even use a second hard drive in it's optical bay with a third party bracket. Some don't like the pixel doubling, which is a feature in which apple 'increases' the size of UI elements so that they aren't tiny on the high resolution screen. (The resolution is similar to my 27" display, but crammed into a 13 or 15 inch display, that means things get real small without pixel doubling!)

    I went with the 13" non Retina MacBook Pro myself. My wife is a professional photographer, and I do some of her post-processing work now and then on my mac. I use a 27" Cinema display for that. Even an IPS laptop display is not really acceptable for professional level results, unless you calibrate it each time you sit down to use it because new locations offer different lighting, and can make the calibration useless. So, I don't need the retina display, I just hook it up to the 27" ACD. In fact, for the price, you can pretty much get a Retina MacBook, OR a MacBook and a 27" Cinema Display or Thunderbolt Display for about the same price. I then took my MBP and mounted two 256GB SSD's in RAID 0, and added 16GB of RAM. I chose the 13" over the 15" because I prefer that size for portability. The 15" gives you an i7 CPU, a discrete GPU, and a higher resolution display. There are definitely advantages to the 15" model other than screen size, but I was wiling to give those up for portability. I have a more powerful desktop for when i5/onboard graphics are not an acceptable combination.

    I think you need to evaluate whether you really need the retina display. Personally, it was just too costly for me when I don't really NEED the display. In addition to the display, it would have cost several hundred dollars more to configure it the way I wanted.

    To Compare (I'll use 13" figures just to keep it even);

    My 13" MBP: $1199
    2x 256GB SSD's: $300
    Optibay + SuperDrive Enclosure: $60
    16GB of RAM: $70
    Total: $1630

    A 13" Retina MBP: (Remember we are now forced to stick with Apple upgrades, as the third party is limited due to the design of the rMBP)

    13" rMBP: $1699
    512GB SSD (similar to my 256GB x2 RAID setup, which appears as 1 512GB HDD:) $800
    RAM: Stuck at 8GB, cannot be upgraded

    Total: $2500

    So, you see, there was a big price difference for me, and a price difference that was not worth the retina display. Is the price difference worth the retina display to you? That's up to you! You, of course, don't have to upgrade it at all, but be aware if you DO intend to beef it up, the cost disparity becomes even more. In the end, I basically spent as much as a 'maxed out' 13" rMBP, but I gained 8GB of RAM and a 27" high resolution IPS display in the process, which was a better solution for me.

    Also, a word to the wise on the Best Buy financing, make sure you pay it off plenty early. At 18 months and one nano-second, they charge you with the interest for the entire 18 month period. It's probably in the high 20's. If you spend $1600 on that Retina MacBook Pro, owe just $1 on the last day and forget to pay it, you will suddenly find next months bill to have a balance of over $400. Yikes! It's no big deal if you pay it off early though. If I were in your shoes, I'd budget to pay it off in 12 months, things can happen, especially in this economy. Give yourself plenty of cushion.

    Hope I answered your questions. I hemmed and hawwed over the Retina model too but in the end, I really decided it wasn't worth it. Is it cool? Yes. Does it have it's uses? Absolutely. But in the end, it was not a cost effective way to augment my setup.
  4. jtinch thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2011
    I am a student so Internet and word processing of course. I am willing to pay at the most $2000. Light photo editing and video editing are my needs. I want this to be my primary computer though.

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