classic MBP 15": base or high end?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by EwanMcTeagle, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. EwanMcTeagle macrumors 6502


    Mar 26, 2012
    Lodz, Poland
    I'm planning on getting the classic 15" MBP as a desktop replacement sometime around Xmas. And I'm not sure which model to choose.
    As a reminder:
    Base model:
    2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
    Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
    4GB 1600MHz memory
    500GB 5400-rpm hard drive1
    Intel HD Graphics 4000
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 512MB of GDDR5 memory
    + high res
    PRICE: 1899$
    + SSD 128GB - about 180$*
    + 8GB RAM - about 80$*
    = 2160$

    2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
    Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
    8GB 1600MHz memory
    750GB 5400-rpm hard drive1
    Intel HD Graphics 4000
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory
    + high res
    Price: 2300$
    + SSD
    TOTAL= 2480$

    [DIGRESSION] * Polish prices.
    I live in Poland where the base model goes for the high end model's US price, so I'll definitely be buying in the US - though I have to wait for the opportunity, that is when my friend will be visiting, probably around Xmas (he brought me my 13" MBP on his last visit in May).
    So the purchase date is determined by my friend‘s travelling schedule☺ If not Christmas then his next visit will be somewhere around April/May 2013 and I don't want to wait that long. First of all I'm inpatient about getting new computers and other electronic gadgets:), second of all I will be learning Creative Suite intensely this summer/autumn, so it’d great to have the machine for Xmas. Plus I don't know how much longer my Hackintosh will work. It's already 6 years old and SATA I HDDs are sometimes failing (they're unplugging themselves). Still have SATA II with OS on it, so it will keep on going if it has to, but it has only 320GB and that's not enough for me - music, movies alone take up 300GB already on the SATA I drives.

    SET UP:
    I plan to hook up the MBP to my 24" Dell monitor, buy a dock (Book Endz seems the best, but it's too expensive, so I'll have to go with Henge or Book Ark ) and swap in an SSD in place of the HDD + get a HDD dock to keep and use the original HDD. Hopefully SSD prices will drop even more by Xmas.

    I'm getting more and more into Creative Suite (inDesign, Photoshop in near future, the rest of the suite in some later future hopefully). Now I'm just learning, but I would like to do some more serious stuff later on.
    The Hackintosh manages CS better than I'd expected - it's not flying, by any means, it seems stretched on its capabilities, but it doesn't crash and its Nvidia GeForce 256MB gets the job done, though it doesn't handle simple games from AppStore too well:) Go figure...:)

    Back to the point:) Like I've said I wil be using the 15 incher as a desktop replacement (like to keep my dekstop and laptop separate:) with the 13" as an on the go/light stuff machine for Internet, Word, basic music editing - I like to meddle with my MP3s in Audition:) etc.
    Therefore I want to ask you guys for your expertise, because I can't get to a decision:
    • will the base model be enough for the things I want to it to do (Creative Suite) and how long do you think it will last (technologically, so to speak)? Will it be 2 years or 5 years?
    • Or is it better to get the higher end with 1GB graphics (slightly better processor, a bit more HDD space, which is not crucial, but still it's always nice to have more of it)?
    Should I get the cheaper model - put in 8GB RAM and swap the HDD? Or should I get the high end - swap the HDD only?
    Are the graphics and processing power that much of a difference between the 2 in terms of Creative Suite and do they make the machine that much more „timeproof“?

    PS. The price difference is significant for my budget, but not overwhelming – I have some savings and I’ll save up some more. Plus when spending that much amount of money those 300$ won’t make my budget go „the Greece way“ and since I want the machine to last a significant amount of time (5 years would be optimal) its acceptable. I also hope I will earn some money with it – not for a day job (to make a living out of it and with it), but getting some additional income for savings account would be sweet. Therefore I want to make a good decision and not regret
    • getting less long term deal
    • overpaying (getting too much in terms of what I need).

    Therefore I would really appreciate your advice.
  2. Aodhan macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2012
    I went with the non-retina 2.6GHz with the 1GB 650M, and I did not get the high resolution display. Like you, I primarily use mine as a desktop. I have it in a BookArc, connected to a 23" Dell monitor. I prefer 1440x900 when I am using the built-in display, and my external monitor is 1920x1080. Because I almost always have it connected to that external monitor, it didn't make sense to me to pay extra for the high resolution display. I definitely wanted the 1GB GPU over the 512MB, though.

    If you think you will be using your computer without the external monitor very much, it's probably worth it for you to get the high resolution display anyway. You really want the 1GB 650M over the 512MB though.
  3. dw3bb10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2008
    Christmas is over 5 months away, and there may be a new model out then.
  4. ugp macrumors 65816


    Jan 7, 2008
    Inverness, Florida
    I went with the standard high end model. I love mine. Been able to handle anything I have thrown at it so far. It was nice with the standard HDD and then threw in a SSD and it's blazing fast now. Start-up in 9-10 seconds.
  5. definitive macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    Here's how I did it:

    1) From Newegg (free shipping and no taxes):
    a. Base cMBP - $1799
    b. Samsung 830 256GB SSD (during 24 hour sale) - $190
    c. Corsair Vengeance 16GB DDR3 PC1600 RAM - $120
    d. External SATAII/USB3.0 2.5" HD case - $17

    2) From B&H (free shipping, but with taxes):
    a. AppleCare for MBP 15" - $265

    I have an iMac, so I don't need a 24" screen at the moment, but I am planning on getting rid of it some time in the future since the MBP outperforms it. Might get a MBA + a 24" IPS screen instead.

    Only thing I need to find now is a decent messenger bag for the laptop.

    System boots up in ~5 seconds after I press the power on button, and loads everything very quickly.
  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd go with the base and upgrade yourself.

    The only downside is the GPU has 512mb instead of 1gb. Not sure of that's a major issue for you
  7. EwanMcTeagle thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 26, 2012
    Lodz, Poland
    Thanks for your reply☺ I will have very similar set up as you have, using the mbp in the clamshell mode mostly, but since the high res is only 100$ (and since I’ll be paying close to 2000$ for it anyway) then I want to have even though I may take it out only now and then.
    My main dilemma is about that graphics card difference.

    Let’s say I like to plan ahead☺ Mostly the budget matters plus my friend from the US needs to know ahead as he will also be looking out for that specific model I choose and maybe he’ll be able to find a better deal – want go give him specific specs☺ ahead.
    But thanks for the sarcasm anyway;)

    That’s what I’m hoping for with the SSD☺

    Very nice setup. I have my eyes on the exact same SSD model (the 512GB is still too much for my budget). Although I think 8GB of RAM will do me just fine, though the 16 is a thing to consider. Thanks.

    Like I’ve said, maybe not clearly enough, the graphics is my biggest dilemma. My Hackintosh’s 256MB Nvidia takes InDesign and Photoshop rather well, so I’m thinking the base MBP with 512MB will do me just fine. On the other hand I’ve been just playing around with the CS so far, just some basic stuff, getting to know the software before I start taking lessons. So the devil kicks in here: since you’re spending loads of money on the machine anyway, then maybe it’s better to spend some more on the high end model that will eat CS for breakfast and will be able to do so for another 3-5 years instead of biting my teeth in 3 years wishing I had gone with the high end instead of the base to save those 300$... Will be grateful if anyone could elaborate on that subject. First of all it’s a significant amount of money and second of all – I have to have good arguments for my wife as to justify spending that much on a computer☺

    Thank you guys for your replies.

Share This Page