Future proofing your MacBook Pro?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Scott Sherman, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. Scott Sherman macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2018
    Washington State
    So a couple of things to start. I already purchased my MBP and an external monitor so this is more an academic discussion, for me, perhaps not for others that are still in the process of deciding which options to click when ordering their new 2018 MBP. I just enjoy the banter. Second, I know that there is no such thing as "future proofing" because at least in the current tech curve, there will for the foreseeable future be faster, better, cooler tech to replace the best of the best available at this moment.

    So here's my thoughts. For the non pro or prosumer customer, is it better to purchase a fully spec'ed out MBP with the most you can possibly afford or barely afford or just get exactly what you need (or want) at the time of purchase. I chose the first and upgraded to the top tier 15 inch i9, 32gig memory, 1 terabyte HD best graphic card available and a 5k(ish) usb-c thunderbolt monitor. I probably will rarely need these high powered accessories, but I enjoy the fact that I have them and should I want to play an occasional game or up my editing software and skills, it will be an option. I hope to get about 5 years and still have a set up with some resale value when I am done with it. I think the upgrade curve is slowing down since what is available today seems pretty good. I don't know how much faster or "better" it can get without some significant trade off.

    Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts. If you did buy something already, do you have buyers remorse for overbuying or underbuying. If you are in the decision making process and waiting for all the reviews to come in, where do you fall?

    Not really talking to those who use their computers to make a living. This is more for the non pro who can afford the best, whether they need it or not, which I suspect is a significant portion of the Apple customer base. Just for the record I am in the latter group. No haters please, just hoping to initiate some conversation here.
  2. GoldfishRT macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2014
    I think if say, you can buy what you need for $500 less than a max spec, you should always go for just what you need. My reasoning is this:

    1. While it will cost $500 to upgrade you will not get that $500 back in resale value so purchasing a higher spec machine based on that is silly.

    2. Especially true of processors and storage, buying more than you need will have zero day-to-day benefit on your work and experience of the device.

    3. At the current rate of performance progress, especially as it relates to Intel, the likelihood of any reasonable CPU you buy being the bottleneck of your system performance in 4 years is extremely low.

    4. While that $500 will buy you a modest increase in performance today, that $500 will buy far more performance in the future when it's actually time to replace the device.

    I think future-proofing as a concept is a bit flawed when it comes to computers. I certainly think some people regret buying a low spec config now and then but that's likely because they didn't foresee their actual requirements correctly in the first place. As somebody who knows exactly how I use a computer and have used one, and don't see any fundamental changes in how I use one it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. For instance I have zero interest in making videos of any sort, so the ability to render videos a few minutes faster is worthless to me. Perhaps some people lament this fact but in a lot of ways the computing market has plateaued. 8GB of ram has been the standard for what feels like nearly a decade now and is still the most common configuration of memory. The vast majority of mobile CPUs have only just recently moved past modestly clocked dual cores and all of the CPUs have good hardware decoding of popular video formats and other features that the average person cares about. Basically, the average consumers needs have been met and exceeded by the capabilities of these machines for a long time and so the differentiating factor for longevity is largely battery life and build quality more-so than performance.

    I wouldn't call it a Lamborghini but I have a 5... nearly 6 year old Surface Pro 2 that rocks a very basic ULV i5 and 4 gigs of ram and it's totally fine for what the resume-building-facebook-browsing-netflix-binging-snap-chatting-emailing-video-calling masses do.

    With all of that said I think the only upgrade I'd do on any machine, provided it meets all the needs in the base spec, is upgrade the ram. It's one of those few things I've never regretted having more of 5 years down the line.
  3. unglued, Dec 7, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018

    unglued macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2016
    One thing for sure I don’t have patience for slow computers and that’s what gets me digging deeper in my wallet. Yesterday, I picked up a 1TB external SSD to prepare data transfer when my 2018 MBP arrives, the old Thunderbolt 2 Buffalo drive is slow (5400 rpm) and rubbish, never again.

    On a scale of 1 to 10 and 10 being a fully loaded MBP, I usually purchase in the 7 range and it gets me 4-5 years use. It could last longer but I feel it’s a good time to sell it because it still holds good value.
  4. LogicalApex macrumors 6502

    Nov 13, 2015
    Great write up. The only change I would make is to suggest a modest approach to RAM. As this too is no longer as cut and dry as it used to be.

    NVMe SSDs as included in the new MBP and other laptops is orders of magnitudes faster than regular spinning HDDs that were standard just 5 years ago. Most importantly they have insane random I/O performance. Exactly the improvement needed to make paying very hard to notice for the majority of use cases.

    If a user is hard pressed to overspec RAM I strongly advise against exceeding 16GB without a valid use case. 8 GB is still plenty for the majority.
  5. Appledoesnotlisten macrumors member


    Dec 2, 2017
    Let me ask a sort of future proofing question in this thread:

    I need to buy another 15" MBP for 7-10 months. The performance of the 2017 is enough for my needs. I might go for 512, but 256/16 should be Ok.

    Which will hold the most value - 2017 or 2018?
  6. Macbookprodude macrumors regular


    Jan 1, 2018
    Hi, just remember you won't be able to upgrade the memory or processor, at best the only thing you can do to "future-proof" this would be a faster SSD drive, since after 2012 the MacBook Pro's upgrades are very limited.
  7. Appledoesnotlisten macrumors member


    Dec 2, 2017
    I am choosing between 15" 2017 and 15" 2018...
  8. Macbookprodude macrumors regular


    Jan 1, 2018
    Certainly it also depends on what you plan to use the computer for. 2018 and 2017 both have a max of 16GB which is soldered to the board, however I read that there were keyboard issues with the 2017, but if the price is cheaper with a 2017, then go for it.. just be sure its got 16gb of memory as this is the max.
  9. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    Buy cheap, upgrade more often >> best future proof.

    Technology changes yearly, in 2 years, base model 15" will destroy the i9/vega20.
    Same could be said from 2017 to 2018, yet here we are, two more cores on both 15" and 13" first time after 7 years.

    I bought the i9/32gb/2tb/560x before vega was out, and had buyer's remorse, because the storage is not worth it, the i9 is not worth it for multicore performance, and 560X is old tech.
    Fortunately, it was faulty (yay) so i got my money back.

    I should've learned something from "future proofing" (maxing out) my 2012 rMBP. The CPU bump to 2.7GHz meant nothing in the terms of future proofing, next years base model outperformed it, it was wasted 300$, and it isnt worth it in resale.

    Imagine this, you "future proofed" your 2017 15" quadcore, and it's outperformed by the 2018 13" i5 model. If you specifically go for the 15" screen ofc, but else, the new 13" is cheaper and has better performance.

    Anyway, bought two computers with what i got back for the i9. Mac Mini i7/8gb/512gb (will upgrade ram myself) and 13" i5/16gb/512gb.
    Had enough money left over for peripherals.

    Reasoning for Mini: I need the CPU power. Why i picked the i9 in the first place.
    Reasoning for 13": i7 vs i5 is not much of a spec bump and resale value is not going to be any better because of it.
    Reasoning for 512gb internal: 1TB thunderbolt3/nVME drive with same speed as the internal drive for less money than upgrading one of the two machiens would cost... which can be utilised as long as thunderbolt3 is a thing, so, probably will outlast both the mini and most certainly the 13".
  10. Sterkenburg macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2016
    Agree with the general sentiment here. These days, buying the minimum you can comfortably get away with and upgrading relatively often is the best option for most people. The fact that laptops, and particularly Macs, are increasingly designed as non-upgradeable, non-serviceable machines, only compounds this situation.

    Base models (with the appropriate amount of storage) give the best bang for the buck because they suffice for almost every daily task and have the most stable resale value. Of course, performance upgrades are worth it for specific use cases (the golden rule being that "if you really need it, you already know, if you have to ask you likely don't"), but keeping in mind that: (1) the practical gains are often less significant than you'd think (2) your "best of the best" machine is likely to be outperformed by the next base model in ~1 year.

    Personal example: I bought the i9/32GB/1TB/560X at launch, but in retrospect I openly admit that the processor bump was difficult to justify and that I mainly wanted to scratch the itch of having an i9 in a MBP.
  11. pendragon1984, Dec 8, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018

    pendragon1984 macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2013
    One advantage to buying high end is that it will last longer. Do you want to bother with selling and rebuying every 2 years or every 4? Honestly, I'd much rather not repeat the process all that often.

    I few hundred Mhz doesn't matter. But 4 cores over 2, or 6 over 4 is a big difference.

    Likewise Vega 20 is a good amount faster than the 560X.

    I guess be smart about what you pay for, but a dual core machine won't have the longevity of a 6 core.
  12. LogicalApex macrumors 6502

    Nov 13, 2015
    Buying what you need today and upgrading when you need more is the best financial sense in computing. For instance, you could max out all you want today and then Apple adds FaceID and brings ARM to Mac in 2 years or Intel finally gets to 7nm and battery life improves 50% alongside Apple improving MacBook Pro thermals and you're now plotting an upgrade due to the new architectural changes having real value for you. These are things you can't "future proof" for.

    Tech doesn't last 50 years or longer so you shouldn't buy it like it does.
  13. Sterkenburg, Dec 8, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018

    Sterkenburg macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2016
    That's exactly the point, though. The 4 cores over 2 and 6 over 4 came with a model refresh (with the increase in core number applying to high-end and base models alike), while the pricey upgrades are only going to yield the few hundred MHz.

    Getting Vega20 over base dGPU, or 32GB RAM over 16, has a positive impact for specific workflows, but the general user will not notice any difference, and by the time these factors become bottlenecks the machine will be obsolete anyway. If your usage requires any of these upgrades, you usually know it.
  14. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    exactly. 4 cores over two is not a matter of "few hundred bucks", its a matter of a new laptop generation - so if you update more often and spend less, you're more likely to get a new 4-core over 2-cores when it comes out. If i spent 5k$ on a 2017 15" i couldn't buy a 15" 6-core this year.
    So 4-core/6-core is not about buying "high-end" this time around, its just a matter of buying *anything* this time around.
  15. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "For the non pro or prosumer customer, is it better to purchase a fully spec'ed out MBP with the most you can possibly afford or barely afford or just get exactly what you need (or want) at the time of purchase."

    In my experience, reading the posts here for the past 9 years, the folks who seem to have the most hardware problems with their Macs (MacBook Pros or otherwise) are those who bought "spec'd out" models, particularly MBP's with discrete GPU's.

    The MacBook Pros (and other Macs) that often "last the longest with the least trouble" are those that are "base model" and "mid-spec" models.

    That's my unscientific observation.

    I generally buy my Macs "base model".
    The only time I deviated from this was with my 2012 Mini, which I got with the 2.6 i7 CPU (but "base" otherwise). It's been fine for 6 years now, but has not been "pushed" on a day-to-day basis.

    When I replace it next year, I'll probably get the "mid-level" i5 CPU.

    Another observation:
    I can't see paying Apple's ridiculously high prices for 1tb and 2tb SSDs.
    I'll get either 256gb or perhaps 512gb, and "go external" for additional storage needs.
  16. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    Agreed with everything. Except the mini, i7 is really a better cpu than the i5 since it has hyperthreading. I can see these holding value as much as the 2012 i7 quads did.

    As far as SSDs go, i concur. my refunded i9 had 2TB of space and I was wondering what's gotten into me to order such a large one for more than 1000€. For that money i could get 4TB nVME RAID0 blazing 4gb/s + internal 1TB. Insane.
    I just ordered 512GB this time around.
  17. boast macrumors 65816


    Nov 12, 2007
    Phoenix, USA
    Since I enjoy having the latest technologies more than having something last (when it comes to electronics), I prefer to buy cheap and replace often.

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16 December 7, 2018