Choosing a used or refurbished MBP 15" for video editing, for under $2100

gødspeed

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 11, 2009
226
1
Oregon
My 2009 17" MacBook Pro (3.06Ghz Core 2 Duo, 8GB RAM, 512mb 9600M GT) is on its last legs. It was once the top-end MacBook Pro that money could buy ($2800), but now it can't keep up with editing 4K material from my GH4, crashes often, and just in general is showing its age. This is happening at a bad time where I've had a lot of expenses recently come up, but I can budget as much as $2100 to replace it. Video editing is the #1 priority for me, so please keep that in mind if you have any advice.

I've thought about building a Hackintosh, but the more I think about it, the more I want to have a laptop. I travel a lot, and often work away from home. Really I've built a lifestyle around being able to edit on the go, and I don't want to sacrifice that. And although I am using Premiere and could theoretically switch to Windows, I have invested in other software that is Mac-only. I know that I could afford a much better Windows computer for the same price, but I'm tending to want to stay on a Mac.

This leaves me just the choice between the different configurations of 2011 (non-Retina), 2012, 2013, and 2014 15" Macbook Pros. I am looking at lightly used, seller refurbished, and manufacturer refurbished options on eBay.

Basically, here's what I'm wondering: How much better is the 750M (Late 2013) than the 650M graphics card? How much better are both of these than Iris Pro graphics? And how much better are all three than 2011-year Radeon 6750 graphics? How helpful is CUDA when editing in Premiere (which is only supported on the 650M and 750M)?

How much of a difference does CPU clock speed make for video editing on these quad-core i7 Macbooks? How about the performance differences between Sandy Bridge (Early 2011), Ivy Bridge (Mid 2012), and Haswell (Late 2013)?

I do plan on getting 16GB of RAM, since it's not user-upgradeable.

I don't care as much about the hard-drive, since I plan to upgrade to a 1TB SSD a little later, once I have money to spend again and prices have hopefully gone further down. I also don't care about battery life very much.

Any advice is helpful. Thank you!
 
Last edited:

gødspeed

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 11, 2009
226
1
Oregon
I've narrowed it down to the two latest generations of rMBP 15". I've decided on 16GB of RAM, and I've decided to not worry about the HDD / SSD for now. Which means that the two variables are:

650M vs 750M -- I know these aren't very different, except for that the 650M is 1GB, and the 750M is 2GB. How much does that matter for video editing?

2.3Ghz vs 2.6Ghz vs 2.7Ghz -- How much does this really matter? I imagine that faster clock speeds would make transcoding faster, right? But other than that, any substantial differences for video editing?
 

mad3inch1na

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2013
662
6
I've narrowed it down to the two latest generations of rMBP 15". I've decided on 16GB of RAM, and I've decided to not worry about the HDD / SSD for now. Which means that the two variables are:

650M vs 750M -- I know these aren't very different, except for that the 650M is 1GB, and the 750M is 2GB. How much does that matter for video editing?

2.3Ghz vs 2.6Ghz vs 2.7Ghz -- How much does this really matter? I imagine that faster clock speeds would make transcoding faster, right? But other than that, any substantial differences for video editing?
If you want to know the difference in performance, look at benchmarks, not clock speeds and VRAM quantities. Those are very narrow comparisons.

Here are CPU benchmarks.
http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks

Here are GPU benchmarks.
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GT-650M.71887.0.html

These don't directly reflect real world performance, but are a much better backdrop for comparison. Just as a rough estimate, the baseline 2012 rMBP has a processor that is about 30% slower than the fastest 2013 model.

The 750m is about 25% faster than the 650m. VRAM helps for loading textures, so it can be helpful to have extra for video editing. Real world performance will also be better in general because the Iris Pro is the iGPU, which runs lower intensity applications. It is over twice as powerful as the HD 4000, which is the iGPU in the 2012 model. This is only used for basic tasks like web browsing, so it may not be noticeable. It consumes more power as well, so both laptops are rated at about the same battery life, even though the 2013 model came with Haswell.

I don't own either of the computers, so my estimates are completely based off of benchmarks.

Best,
Matt
 

Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
7,694
2,121
Benchmarks are all fine

If you want to know the difference in performance, look at benchmarks, not clock speeds and VRAM quantities. Those are very narrow comparisons.

Here are CPU benchmarks.
http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks

Here are GPU benchmarks.
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GT-650M.71887.0.html

These don't directly reflect real world performance, but are a much better backdrop for comparison. Just as a rough estimate, the baseline 2012 rMBP has a processor that is about 30% slower than the fastest 2013 model.

The 750m is about 25% faster than the 650m. VRAM helps for loading textures, so it can be helpful to have extra for video editing. Real world performance will also be better in general because the Iris Pro is the iGPU, which runs lower intensity applications. It is over twice as powerful as the HD 4000, which is the iGPU in the 2012 model. This is only used for basic tasks like web browsing, so it may not be noticeable. It consumes more power as well, so both laptops are rated at about the same battery life, even though the 2013 model came with Haswell.

I don't own either of the computers, so my estimates are completely based off of benchmarks.

Best,
Matt
This is great as a starting point but to be honest you will get better value out of a 27 inch Imac refurb for 4k rendering, and a mac pro is really the tool for the job.


http://store.apple.com/us/product/G0MS5LL/A/refurbished-27-inch-imac-34ghz-quad-core-Intel-Core-i7


http://store.apple.com/us/product/FE253LL/A/refurbished-mac-pro-37ghz-quad-core-intel-xeon-e5
 

mad3inch1na

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2013
662
6
This is great as a starting point but to be honest you will get better value out of a 27 inch Imac refurb for 4k rendering, and a mac pro is really the tool for the job.


http://store.apple.com/us/product/G0MS5LL/A/refurbished-27-inch-imac-34ghz-quad-core-Intel-Core-i7


http://store.apple.com/us/product/FE253LL/A/refurbished-mac-pro-37ghz-quad-core-intel-xeon-e5
Considering his lifestyle is centered around editing on the go, a desktop is not very practical. Portability has always come at a premium, but there isn't really a work around for that unless he changes the way he works. I do agree that a cMP would definitely be the best desktop solution, or at least a more viable option than a hackintosh for his purposes. There just isn't a substitute for a laptop if portability is a necessity.

Matt
 

gødspeed

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 11, 2009
226
1
Oregon
Thank you for your responses. I think I've decided on going with a 2013 or 2014 MBP, mainly for the 750m. Doubling the amount of VRAM is sure to have an impact on my video editing, especially as I plan to use CUDA heavily.

One last question: I understand that officially, the SSDs are not user-replaceable. However, I have come across sites that sell replacement SSD kits for the newest MBPs. How difficult are these to install? I am fairly tech savvy. (I've built custom PCs, I've replaced the HDD and RAM in my 2009 MBP, I have tinkered around with camera and sound recording electronics, etc.)
 

grizfish

macrumors member
Nov 22, 2011
33
0
Pardon me, but I missed the part where you stated the speed of your HDD.

Install a SSD in your MBP and you will be amazed with the increase in performance. They have no mechanical latency or seek time. It's not just speed, but reliability that increases. A slow drive will choke the CPU waiting for large data files to be accessed.
 

gødspeed

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 11, 2009
226
1
Oregon
Yes, I am aware of the huge benefits of an SSD. Unfortunately my issue with my MBP (which has an internal 500GB 7200RPM, and a 1TB 5400RPM) is not a disk speed issue. I know this because I can edit much higher bitrate 1080p footage without problems, but 4K drags it to its knees. Beyond this, I have frequent kernel panics, 20 minutes of battery life (I know it's replaceable, but I don't want to invest in such outdated hardware), the keyboard backlight is messed up, and other issues. I have many reasons to update to a newer MBP :)

I've decided to use a credit card, and go beyond $2100 if necessary. Here are the options I've narrowed my search to:
Current 15” rMBPs from Apple Education Store: http://store.apple.com/us-hed/buy-mac/macbook-pro?product=MGXC2LL/A&step=config#
2.5Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M: $2300
2.8Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M: $2480
2.5Ghz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 750M: $2750

Refurbished 2013 15” rMBPs from Apple.com:
2.3Ghz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 750M: $2500: http://store.apple.com/us/product/G...-23ghz-quad-core-intel-i7-with-retina-display
2.6Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M: $2200: http://store.apple.com/us/product/G...-26ghz-quad-core-intel-i7-with-retina-display
2.3Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M: $2040: http://store.apple.com/us/product/F...-23ghz-quad-core-intel-i7-with-retina-display

Used on eBay:
2.3Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M (L2013, exc+ light scuffs only): $2000
2.3Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M, (L2013, exc+ used only once): $1950

Of these, the refurbished 2.6Ghz for $2200 is the one I am leaning toward. I am also considering the 2.3Ghz with 1TB SSD for $2500, but am on the fence about that. I could definitely use the space, but paying an extra $300 and then loosing 300Mhz is tough to swallow. Which brings up my next question: How big of a difference does 300Mhz make for typical video editing?
 

yukyuklee

macrumors 6502
Jan 4, 2011
368
40
Boston, MA
Yes, I am aware of the huge benefits of an SSD. Unfortunately my issue with my MBP (which has an internal 500GB 7200RPM, and a 1TB 5400RPM) is not a disk speed issue. I know this because I can edit much higher bitrate 1080p footage without problems, but 4K drags it to its knees. Beyond this, I have frequent kernel panics, 20 minutes of battery life (I know it's replaceable, but I don't want to invest in such outdated hardware), the keyboard backlight is messed up, and other issues. I have many reasons to update to a newer MBP :)

I've decided to use a credit card, and go beyond $2100 if necessary. Here are the options I've narrowed my search to:
Current 15” rMBPs from Apple Education Store: http://store.apple.com/us-hed/buy-mac/macbook-pro?product=MGXC2LL/A&step=config#
2.5Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M: $2300
2.8Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M: $2480
2.5Ghz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 750M: $2750

Refurbished 2013 15” rMBPs from Apple.com:
2.3Ghz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 750M: $2500: http://store.apple.com/us/product/G...-23ghz-quad-core-intel-i7-with-retina-display
2.6Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M: $2200: http://store.apple.com/us/product/G...-26ghz-quad-core-intel-i7-with-retina-display
2.3Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M: $2040: http://store.apple.com/us/product/F...-23ghz-quad-core-intel-i7-with-retina-display

Used on eBay:
2.3Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M (L2013, exc+ light scuffs only): $2000
2.3Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 750M, (L2013, exc+ used only once): $1950

Of these, the refurbished 2.6Ghz for $2200 is the one I am leaning toward. I am also considering the 2.3Ghz with 1TB SSD for $2500, but am on the fence about that. I could definitely use the space, but paying an extra $300 and then loosing 300Mhz is tough to swallow. Which brings up my next question: How big of a difference does 300Mhz make for typical video editing?

Nice homework!
just keep in mind you can always upgrade the SSD and can people really tell the difference in 300mhz? I highly doubt it. The SSD alone will speed things up where you won't even notice. If I were you I would get the 2.6ghz setup for 2,200 My reasoning is there are so many more options for storage upgrades. You can use the extra $300 on something else or just save it. I would also stay away from eBay its only like a couple bucks for a brand new machine (refurb)
 

mad3inch1na

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2013
662
6
Thank you for your responses. I think I've decided on going with a 2013 or 2014 MBP, mainly for the 750m. Doubling the amount of VRAM is sure to have an impact on my video editing, especially as I plan to use CUDA heavily.

One last question: I understand that officially, the SSDs are not user-replaceable. However, I have come across sites that sell replacement SSD kits for the newest MBPs. How difficult are these to install? I am fairly tech savvy. (I've built custom PCs, I've replaced the HDD and RAM in my 2009 MBP, I have tinkered around with camera and sound recording electronics, etc.)
The last time I checked, they are not selling SSD kits for the new PCIE flash based notebooks. I don't know which website you found upgrade kits for, but make sure they are reputable and for the specific model you are purchasing.

Also, in response to your last post, look at geekbench for mac to get a good estimate of CPU performance.
 

gødspeed

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 11, 2009
226
1
Oregon
The last time I checked, they are not selling SSD kits for the new PCIE flash based notebooks. I don't know which website you found upgrade kits for, but make sure they are reputable and for the specific model you are purchasing.

Also, in response to your last post, look at geekbench for mac to get a good estimate of CPU performance.

Good point, thank you. Rather than rely on PCIE SSD upgrade kits maybe coming out in the future and then have to worry about doing it myself, I bit the bullet and bought a refurbished Late 2013 rMBP-15" that's 2.6Ghz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 750M. $2650 including express shipping, which is really quite reasonable considering that I'm getting the 2nd highest spec'd MacBook Pro currently available (after the 2.8Ghz 2014 model).

Excited!! Just for kicks, I used Geekbench to compare the performance between my current 2009 17" 3.06Ghz, and the replacement I just ordered:
32-bit Single core score: 1603 vs. 3325 (2.074x)
32-bit Multi core score: 2766 vs. 12592 (4.552x)
64-bit Single core score: 1739 vs. 3711 (2.134x)
64-bit Multi core score: 3031 vs. 14389 (4.747x)

Since my video editing software is 64-bit and supports multiple cores, I can look forward to an almost 5xperformance boost. And that's not taking into account the much improved disk read speeds from a high end SSD on PCIE versus a 5400rpm HDD on SATA, nor the benefits of running CUDA on the 2GB 750M graphics card.
 
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