Go big or go home?

How much computer do you purchase?

  • I purchase the highest performance computer I can afford.

    Votes: 23 46.9%
  • Just what I need to get the job done, even though I can afford a higher performance computer.

    Votes: 24 49.0%
  • I purchase the base model, regardless of what I can afford.

    Votes: 2 4.1%

  • Total voters
    49

PROFESS0R

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 30, 2017
224
187
Hi Gang,

I was wondering how many of you used the same purchase philosophy as I do when I purchase computers; I purchase the highest performance MacBook I can afford and then I keep it for a very long time. For example, I kept and used my last MacBook Pro for a little over 11 years. It still works as new, but it was running a bit slow on the analytical software (Stata) I use in my research.

In essence, I purchase the highest performance computer I can afford, EVEN if I do not need the performance under my current needs. My logic is that I will be able to keep my computer longer if I buy the highest performance options available. I am lucky enough after 30+ years as an electrical engineer and now as a university professor that I can afford the highest performance hardware Apple produces.

This said, my latest purchase, a 15" MacBook Pro i9 with 32Gb of memory and 4Tb of storage gave me pause when I clicked to add the 4Tb SSD. The additional cost ($2,800 for me given my education discount) of the SSD was staggering. I must have added the 4Tb drive and removed it 6 times as I watched the total price change and contemplated the purchase. Had the internal storage been user upgradeable, I would NOT have purchased the 4Tb upgrade. However, given that the storage on this computer is not upgradeable, I decided to pull the trigger on the 4Tb upgrade. My hope is that this amount of storage will hold me over for the next 10 years. I work with very large dataset (big data in common terms). I can use external drives, but going to conferences and presenting research results is a pain in the butt when using data on external drives. It is so much easier for me to have internal storage.

So... do you purchase more computer than you need in the hope that you will keep it longer, or do you purchase just the amount of computer you need even though you could afford a higher performance machine?

Joe
 

Bending Pixels

macrumors 65816
Jul 22, 2010
1,243
306
I purchased the base model. My previous MBP - 2013 15" rMBP i7 2.3GHz with 512 SSD - I found I barely used 100GB of the drive space.
 

xxray

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2013
922
941
I purchase the highest that’s still reasonable. For example, I just purchased a 15” 2.2/16GB/512GB/560X. I wanted a 15” screen cuz 13” is too cramped and I prefer the form factor. The 2.2GHz processor is the base but already plenty fast for me and upgrades weren’t significant. 512GB should be enough, I’d prefer 1TB, but I’m not paying for that. 16GB RAM should be enough. I got the 560X because I edit videos and photos and could use the extra graphics power.
 

goslowjoe

Suspended
Dec 22, 2017
125
88
Because of my location, I cannot just conveniently pop into an Apple store or a reseller on a Saturday morning to buy what I want. Where I live, the models available at retailers are also limited. I therefore have to purchase directly from Apple online and have the items shipped across thousands of kilometres. With this effort, I may as well then buy the best I can. My MacBook Pro was the top spec at the time, the 27" iMac was a high specced BTO but the 21" iMac I purchased pre-owned over here - and it cost a lot of money to ship it to an Apple authorised centre to replace the HDD with and SDD.

I cannot see any of them being replaced anytime soon. For me they are an investment, to be fully utilised as long as I can keep them running mechanically and with the available software updates.
 

Sterkenburg

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2016
386
329
I purchase the best I can afford as long as the upgrades will benefit my workflow, but I try to be rational and avoid spending money on stuff I know I won't need anytime soon.
To a certain degree, I think the concept of future proofing is a chimera because of how unpredictable technology is: I could buy more processing power and storage space than I need in the hope they will be useful years down the line, yet I know that by that time some other technology will come out which will make me want to upgrade anyway.

There are also two disadvantages in maxing out a Mac:
- Worse bang for the buck due to Apple's price gouging, and terrible depreciation when reselling the machine.
- Getting repairs and replacements for high-end BTO machines is a pain in the neck. Purchasing a stock model ensures that in case of need your machine can get serviced almost immediately.

If after considering the above I still think the investment will pay off, then yeah I do pimp up the config.
 

Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
2,558
1,821
I wouldn't describe myself as a computer nerd, but there's no way I'd buy a 4TB internal SSD at these prices. Hell, not even if it was HALF of these prices. It just makes no sense to me at all. My laptop is a portable device, and I do take it with me often, but I don't need instant access to all of my data.

So I use a NAS at home, connected over wifi. It works great. It's not as fast as internal storage, obviously, but it doesn't need to be. I have fast wifi at home and I'm really impressed with how it all works.

I can also VPN in remotely if needed too, at even more of a performance hit of course. So from a coffee shop with wifi I can still get to all my home documents.

But locally, at home over the wifi, it's great. I have hundreds of gigs of photos and movies on the NAS. I keep my files locally on the SSD while actively using them (perhaps important, editing, categorizing, and pruning photos) and then move them to the NAS when done. Streaming my iTunes music from there or watching movies it's fantastic. I also backup to the NAS too, using Time Machine.

That's all far cheaper than $2,800, and it can be shared with several devices.


And on topic, I'm more a mid-range sort, but my 2015 is a base model (I think) 2.7, 8GB, 256. But buying a new 13" today I suspect it would be the quad core TB 13" or the Air (2018).
 
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puma1552

Suspended
Nov 20, 2008
5,559
1,917
The 2 machines I've bought were completely maxed out at the time - $3100 for the 15", $2400 for the 13 inch at the time. Both going strong still.

I've always maxed processor, RAM, and storage, but max storage was far less than it is today. Today I'd max a 15" in terms of processor and RAM, but I'd be going for a 512GB, MAYBE a 1TB (doubtful though), which would put me in the $3k-$3500 range again.

Unfortunately though, Apple isn't getting $3k+ out of me again until they can produce a machine without major problems known at the time of initial purchase, because a 4 year keyboard warranty does't do me any good on a machine I want to keep 8 years.

Paying $7k for one of these, especially with known issues, is insane IMO.
 

Lioness~

macrumors 65816
Apr 26, 2017
1,187
1,103
I like to future proof the Mac’s I buy.
That said, any insane prices I don’t pay even if I can afford it.
In Sweden we pay lot more for a Mac then you in US. Taxes, and a special electronic tax.
I buy approximately what I think I would need for at least 5-6 yrs.

Internal storage I would never pay what I hear in the thread.
People must have very specific needs for that. Most people don’t.
In a few yrs ext SSD will be half price too
I also have a NAS 18(24)TB for storage & to sync with.
 
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HDFan

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2007
1,489
362
If you consider internal memory, boot drive (ssd size), # of processors and their speed, I have found the SSD size to be the biggest constraint on my (i)MacPros. When the 1 TB SSD was introduced my 512 GB SSD was 90% full. My 1 TB was at the 90% level when I went to the 4 TB on the iMac Pro. A large part of this is due to "if you build it, he will come" philosophy. Libraries which had to be on secondary disks (iTunes, Lightroom, etc.) can now be on the boot drive.

6 months in my SSD already has gone from ~1 TB to 1.5 TB in use.
 

leman

macrumors G3
Oct 14, 2008
9,963
4,550
In essence, I purchase the highest performance computer I can afford, EVEN if I do not need the performance under my current needs. My logic is that I will be able to keep my computer longer if I buy the highest performance options available. I am lucky enough after 30+ years as an electrical engineer and now as a university professor that I can afford the highest performance hardware Apple produces.
Your logic is flawed. The performance difference between base spec and max performing spec is minimal. That 10-15% peak performance difference won't change the ability of your computer to run certain software. If a base 6-core mobile Coffee Lake is too slow to practically run some software suite from 2025, so will be the i9. In 10 years, 512-bit vector operations could be standard capabilities, which would render a 2018 Coffee Lake hopelessly outdated. Some things are more tricky, like storage or RAM size, but even that is less important than what it used to be. Back in the day, when computers came with 2GB of RAM as standard, RAM could be a limiting factor just a short time after. These days, a machine with 16GB of RAM will last for very long time, unless your professional need changes dramatically.

I max out the CPU because it is slightly faster on my workflows. These milliseconds add up — for me at least. But I also swap machines every 3 years, since that is usually the time when the CPU tech has advanced enough to make new gen perform even better. I am constantly seeking to improve my tools so that I can concentrate on my work better. Keeping a single machine for 10 years wouldn't make any sense for me.
 

PROFESS0R

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 30, 2017
224
187
Thanks for the detailed reply. I appreciate the time you took to reply.

You focused on only one aspect of performance; the cpu. More important to me (and my logic) is the amount of RAM and Storage. For the work I do, the cpu frequency is less important than the number of cores (my analysis program will use up to 12 cores), the RAM, and the storage. For the work I do, none of these performance aspects are negligible. If, like you, I replaced computers every few years, perhaps these performance parameters would be less important.


Your logic is flawed. The performance difference between base spec and max performing spec is minimal. That 10-15% peak performance difference won't change the ability of your computer to run certain software. If a base 6-core mobile Coffee Lake is too slow to practically run some software suite from 2025, so will be the i9. In 10 years, 512-bit vector operations could be standard capabilities, which would render a 2018 Coffee Lake hopelessly outdated. Some things are more tricky, like storage or RAM size, but even that is less important than what it used to be. Back in the day, when computers came with 2GB of RAM as standard, RAM could be a limiting factor just a short time after. These days, a machine with 16GB of RAM will last for very long time, unless your professional need changes dramatically.

I max out the CPU because it is slightly faster on my workflows. These milliseconds add up — for me at least. But I also swap machines every 3 years, since that is usually the time when the CPU tech has advanced enough to make new gen perform even better. I am constantly seeking to improve my tools so that I can concentrate on my work better. Keeping a single machine for 10 years wouldn't make any sense for me.
 

poorcody

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2013
729
539
I used to buy more expensive models and planned to keep them longer. I've come to the conclusion, though, it's wiser to not max-out and instead buy more frequently. In part because the top-of-the-line models are not linearly more expensive: the higher up the chain you go, the more you are paying "per feature" so to speak. Also, the way technology changes, you really can't future-proof anyway. Maybe an extra 16GB of RAM will add a couple years of life in one sense, but you may be stuck with a non-retina screen for those years, as an example.

Also, when it comes to a 4TB upgrade: at those prices, maybe get a 1 or 2TB and use an external. Not as convenient, but if you don't really need access to all those files all the time, the money you save is enormous, and that external can live-on to your next laptop.

Also, there comes a point where even if you can afford it, putting so much money into a device that is easily broken, stolen, lost, etc. just seems too risky to me.
 
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Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
2,558
1,821
I used to buy more expensive models and planned to keep them longer. I've come to the conclusion, though, it's wiser to not max-out and instead buy more frequently. In part because the top-of-the-line models are not linearly more expensive: the higher up the chain you go, the more you are paying "per feature" so to speak. Also, the way technology changes, you really can't future-proof anyway. Maybe an extra 16GB of RAM will add a couple years of life in one sense, but you may be stuck with a non-retina screen for those years, as an example.

Also, when it comes to a 4TB upgrade: at those prices, maybe get a 1 or 2TB and use an external. Not as convenient, but if you don't really need access to all those files all the time, the money you save is enormous, and that external can be live-on to your next laptop.

Also, there comes a point where even if you can afford it, putting so much money into a device that is easily broken, stolen, lost, etc. just seems too risky to me.

Wise words.
 

EEzycade

macrumors regular
Jun 29, 2018
182
182
Mesa, Arizona
I purchase what I need. I just bought a base model 13 in MacBook Pro w/touchbar. Quad core which is awesome. It was a refurb model so 1529 instead of 1800(oof). I’m starting college in Jan and might do graphic design. I’ll also be starting a youtube channel so some video editing as well. I’m very happy with my purchase.
 

smirking

macrumors 68020
Aug 31, 2003
2,175
1,585
Silicon Valley
I generally think you're better off going with a mid-tier machine even if you're going to keep it a long time. The performance differential between the mid-tier and the top of the line gets comparatively smaller as time goes along. They're both "outdated" by four years from their introduction. It's just a matter of how much.

It's more complicated now that storage and RAM need to be considered as part of the performance specs given that you can't upgrade these yourself anymore for the most part. I got a 2TB 2016 MBP. That 2TB is already starting to feel small after only 2 years. With a TB3 line, you can have external storage that doesn't suffer from the performance pentalties that external storage used to have so I wonder if I would have been better off with just 1TB or even 512GB and a portable 4TB drive. After only 2 years, 2TB already feels small for my needs and I may need to get external storage anyway. If I have to haul around an external drive anyway, the size of the built in storage matters a lot less to me.
 

LogicalApex

macrumors 6502
Nov 13, 2015
494
434
Overspending for future proofing is a losing game. I don't do it and I wouldn't recommend anyone else to do it either. Especially with where desktop/laptop technology has been heading.

Firstly, the biggest enhancement area on laptops is coming from increasingly energy efficient designs. So you're now getting full workday equivalencies on battery depending on your workload. This will continue to increase and has value overtime that can't be "future proofed".

Secondly, application development has become focused primarily on mobile devices where resources are still very constrained. As a result, we're seeing desktops and laptops last 5+ years without serious performance issues. The trend is for future applications to demand less (or a relatively static amount of) power not more.

Thirdly, Apple is making you pay an insane tax to deviate too much from their "norm". A tax so high you'll lose any serious future proofing margin. The 2018 4TB storage upgrade alone cost more than the base model machine.

I have a lot of storage on my home network (over 50TB) so I can store and access anything on any of my machines and have centralized backups. I like my portable devices to have realistic storage capacities but not so much that I have concerns about backups or data loss if the machine is lost, stolen, or fails.
 
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Chancha

macrumors 6502a
Mar 19, 2014
919
790
I used to apply similar mentality concerning Apple products, particularly BTO upgrades where the practical usefulness is significant or obvious, such as drive capacity. But lately 2 things have changed:

1) Apple products no longer are as durable and future proof;
In the past buying a Mac was an investment, now it is a sunk cost. Even disregarding resell value, just the expectation of a Mac or an iPad to last until it bites is a much shorted time concept than say ten years ago. Part of it is hardware choice that Apple make (ie. planned obsolesce), another part is the absurd price they ask for meaningful upgrades. And then the most critical change is the amount of soldering and glue that makes future DIY upgrading impossible so you have to sunk even more cost initially.

2) Apple itself is employing a ecosystem strategy where it is often better to own multiple devices from them as opposed to just few;
They actively diversify their product lines where for each price point you can find a device to buy, but almost always there is some compromise. For example, in the 17" MBP days if all I needed as a desktop replacement that would be the only machine I ever need. Now they want you to get an iMac if not the iMac Pro for desktop workstation, then even an absolutely top of the line MBP15" is compromised in heat capacity, dGPU power, sub-optimal interfacing in that KB and touchbar etc. So it may be a "wiser" buy if you own both a base iMac and a base MBP 13" to get reasonable experience on both fronts which usually entails a higher investment than putting in just one machine.
 

SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

macrumors 601
Jul 4, 2015
4,484
2,497
Paris
Because of thunderbolt 3 you have more choice than ever. You can get a base model and keep upgrading with eGPU and fast external storage. I wish we had these options years ago. It's everything we were waiting for.