Does MacBook Pro retina, 13 inch with 16GB of RAM worth it for bioinformatics work?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bnar, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. bnar macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2014
    Hello everyone,

    I want to buy a Macpro with retina display, 13 inch, and 16GB of RAM.
    I would like to know if someone can know if it worth it for bioinformatics work and also as a programmer and a normal user. Surely I won't use it for the purpose of photoshop, media, or video rendering. but my only purpose is to use tools that requires high computation and more than 8GB of RAM.
    And I am also wondering if using such small computers (as called Laptop) to run big tools (that uses more RAM) like what I expect take more than 6 hours for some tool or more, It means it effects battery life decreasing. Is it better to spend a money on a PC rather than a laptop for such purposes and usage?
    I hope I could explain well.

    My very kind Regards,
  2. jamesjingyi macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2011
    The desktops you can buy nowadays can certainly be a bit more powerful (iMac/Mac Mini) ranging to the very powerful (Mac Pro).

    What kind of work is this? I am wondering whether you would be better with a dedicated video card, found in the 15" MacBook Pro?
  3. bnar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2014
    @jamesjingyi, thanks. The work is like simulation and/or DNA sequence alignment and so on. And building application that as you might know better it can also be done with a computer 8GB or even less. The point is if I use a Macbook pro for such work and leave it to run for e.g. 6 hours, I don't find it wise and also for battery life decease. At the same time let me have your opinion if I also think about why for $200 not add 8 more GB RAM, right? one can be satisfied with the rest of life of using it. also if VMachine to be used in case one wants to use Window and Ubuntu at the same time along IOS itself, right? but even this effects battery life and don't know what to do after 3 years when the battery life will be dead.
  4. Earl Urly macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2004
    Get a Mac Pro instead, better bang for the buck and if you don't need the portability it's much better. You can't ever upgrade the 16 GB in the Retina MacBook Pro so if it turns out your data sets in LaserGene or MacVector are huge enough to max out the 16 GB you are out of luck.

    If you use anything like R for statistics then you definitely need a desktop instead. If you want to run Linux or Windows in a VM once again you're better off with a desktop IMHO.
  5. FluJunkie macrumors 6502a

    Jul 17, 2007
    I work at a Bioinformatics institute. Nearly everyone here uses Macbook Pros - either the Retina or the last classic generation with maxed out RAM.

    To be perfectly frank, if it's maxing that out, it belongs on a cluster. Bioinformatics problems tend to come in two varieties - "Can be done on a laptop" and "Machine crushing".
  6. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I just want to add that batteries aren't immortal regardless of cycle count. I have experienced battery problems after several years even when they still held a charge. The worst was a swollen battery. Parts and labor to change a battery is $200, but you're not likely to need it for a very long time. I did experience on my 2011 that if cpu and gpu were under simultaneous load, it would slowly drain the battery even when plugged in. I haven't tested this on either the 2012 or 2013, which may be better.

    Ahh I just really like the way you wrote that:D.
  7. leon771 macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2011
    I use a 2009 Mac Pro (8x2.93ghz) for my bioinfomatics. Does light duty and heavy crunching. Laptops get too hot and throttle down when refolding. I'd get an 8 core 4,1 at the minimum.
  8. pertusis1 macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2010
    I wouldn't worry about the battery life being affected. Expect to get about 2-3 years out of the battery, tops. It will need to be replaced at some point.

    Some interesting points are made by the posters above, especially the bit about 'can be done on a laptop' and 'machine crushing' :D I would say that if you're doing things that require your computer to run full blast for 6 hours at a time right now, you really need a desktop. Suppose the intensity of that processing increases four-fold. You'll be waiting an entire day for your data to process.
  9. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    It looks like you'd probably need a 15" with a quad core i7.

    I'm not sure whether the software you use is CUDA-assisted or not, but if it is, you could consider getting the variant with GT750M.

    Note that with a minimum specs of 2.3GHz i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, both Iris-only and Iris+750M models are priced identically, so the GT750M's sort of a freebie.
  10. bnar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2014
    Thank you very much everyone for your information and being passionate to provide advice and help. :)

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