Help speccing a new machine?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Broric, May 22, 2019.

  1. Broric macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2009
    So my Late-2013 15" Retina MBP is dying and I've been waiting around a year for the announcement of new machines and it's time to upgrade.

    I'm hoping people can advise me on what to go for.

    Things that annoy me about my current machine:
    • 16GB of RAM seems insufficient - I run a windows VM and this struggles
    • 512GB (fusion?) drive is always close to full
    Because of these I'm planning to go for the 1TB and 32GB option.

    I assume colour is irrelevant, space grey looks a bit nicer so I'll go with that unless there are any reasons not to?

    I don't see a reason to go for the 5GHz over the 4.8GHz cpu so will go with the 4.8 GHz unless anyone can explain why that's a bad idea?

    Graphics is where I'm struggling, the Vega20 seems like a big jump over the 560X (for not that much cost) and seems like it future proofs the whole thing for longer. I use the machine for photography, coding and some light gaming (but the gaming is mainly restricted by the performance at the minute).

    That ends up as:
    • 2.3GHz 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz
    • Retina display with True Tone
    • Touch Bar and Touch ID
    • 32GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory
    • Radeon Pro Vega 20 with 4GB of HBM2 memory
    • 1TB SSD storage
    Any reasons why any of that is a bad idea? I get the UK education/university discount if price is a factor in anyone's advice.

  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    You don't need 16GB of ram, and it's a 400 dollar up charge (non EDU USD)

    Future proofing is a marketing term to get you to spec up and buy more computer then you need. Do you really need an i9? How slow is your 2013 MBP. I suspect the base model will be more then enough. If you're close to capacity with your current storage of 512GB, then yes by all means jump up to 1TB.
  3. Broric thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2009
    My current machine is extremely sluggish and as soon as I open a windows VM with 4GB of RAM it then struggles. I really feel like I'd benefit from the extra RAM.

    Do I really need an i9? I don't know, hence this post :)
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Are you running multiple Vms at that same time? It could make sense to boost the ram up then. Its your money and your decision, you don't have to justify your choices, I'm just trying to point out that the performance hit may be something other then ram and you could save a bit of money.

    I think the i9 is overkill and the 2018 MBP had thermal issues, with the 2019 adding two more cores, I have to think its going to be even more thermally constrained.

    I think any model is going to be a big step up from what you have and you don't need to get top of the line. Just pricing out your desired configuration (Apple's education store, but in USD) is 3,800 prior to taxes. That's a lot of money - I'm not sure what else to say other then you're spending just about 4,000 dollars on a configuration that would cost about 1/2 of that in the PC world.
  5. Broric thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2009
    Don't get me wrong, it's very much appreciated.

    Even the base model is over £2k so I'm not that bothered if I end up spending £3k for a machine that gets a lot of use as long as it's capable. Storage and memory seem to be the big two things but then I thought I may as well go for the better graphics/CPU unless there's a good reason not it.
  6. mick2 macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2017
    On the question of RAM, no need to guess. Fire up your current machine with the windows VM, and use it until it you get the slowness you mentioned. Then load up Activity Monitor in the MacOS host and look at the memory pressure graph. What colour is the graph?

    - Green, or mainly green with occasional yellow, your system is not RAM limited
    - Mainly yellow or red, you would likely benefit from an increase in RAM.

    Its likely that with just a 4GB VM on a 16GB RAM machine, unless you're doing something unusual (and you'd probably already be aware of this) the graph will be green. If the slowness is in the Windows VM rather than the host MacOS, try giving the VM more Ram (6 or 8GB) and try the above test again.
  7. Stephen.R macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2018
    Regarding ram: IMO if you’re already BTO, get as much as you can afford. You can’t add it later and it’s often the first issue with a machine a few years old - slow due to increased memory requirements (god help you if you try to run Electron apps)

    CPU wise, I wouldn’t specifically upgrade from an i7 unless you really know you’re going to need the extra cores.

    Graphics wise I have no input - I’ve run two 4Ks from the 555x in mine without issues, but I don’t play games of edit movies or stuff.

    SSD unless it’s a company purchase or you really can’t handle an external drive, I’d probably suggest just get the base and then get either a TB3 or USB3.1 SSD.
    --- Post Merged, May 22, 2019 ---
    Oh and vm wise: what hypervisor are you using? Some (I’m looking at you Virtualbox) are just woeful in performance regardless of RAM or SSD.
    --- Post Merged, May 22, 2019 ---
    Oh and I forgot - the only advice I have on colour is this:

    If you like Space Grey, and think "hey great I can get a heap of Space Grey accessories and they'll all match like the Aluminium accessories all match the original MBP colour"... prepare to be disappointed.

    I like the Space Grey, and I tend to pick it for most things I buy, but every device I have from Apple that's called "Space Grey" (iPhone 7, 2018 MBP15, 2018 Mac mini, Magic Mouse/Keyboard, iPad mini 1, iPad mini 5) is a different shade of "dark metallic grey".

    It doesn't bother me, but if you're looking for that "everything matches" style, don't expect it. I can't even imagine the differences with 3rd party accessories. The anodising process is not an exact science I guess.
  8. Broric thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2009
    That's a good point I meant to ask. Will current docks/case still work on the new model? Or will I be waiting a while for docks, cases, etc?
  9. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    2 things I've never regretted spending the extra money on are storage space and RAM. If you are the type of person who sells your computer after a couple years it may not be that big of a deal but if you are the type who ends up using it 4 years or more it will end up being a nagging thing for years to come. I can't tell you how glad I was to splurge on the ram for computers I still am using from 7 years ago. With that said it's your money and these items can get pricey quickly which is why i have chickened out in the past with the upgrades at times.
  10. pshufd macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I only got 512 GB of storage on my 2014 MacBook Pro and hated plugging in an external SSD. I ordered a 512 GB SD card for $90 last week and plugged it in and performance is surprisingly good. It's just to store my video library. 1 TB would be ideal but those are $400 right now. I expect them to come down quite a bit in the future. I do wish that I had more RAM but I have two MBPs and can partition my applications between the two of them.

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9 May 22, 2019