EDIT: This thread has been edited from its original version! EDIT: As for the 'non-gaming' 6490 vs 6570 question (the main one for me), I've moved to: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=12076312#post12076312 Low End 15: 2.0 i7-2634QM (geekbench ~ 8800*) 6490M (256mb, ...) 500GB $1799 ($1699 for students) High End 15: 2.2 i7-2720QM (geekbench ~ 9900) 6750M (1GB, ...) 750GB $2199 ($1999 for students) Processor: Both of these CPUs seem quite capable, so, this probably won't be the deciding factor, but the 10% speed increase to the 2.2 is something to weigh in. (Note: Both have 6Mb of cache.) Video Card: The main purpose for my MBP will be to make music, but I also do art and would like to experiment with a variety of video/graphics stuff including flash, video editing, 3d-modeling/graphics/animation. I'd also like to be able to do real-time video processing, where, for example, I take a live video feed and project it in weird ways (at a music show, in a way that reacts automatically to the music ... ). I've never had the set up to do some of this stuff, so I don't know how active I'll be; I'm not really concerned about making video editing 7% faster; I'm more concerned that, say, the 6490 will just not be able to (fluidly) handle task X, limiting what I can and can't do. Although I have been enlightened some, I'm still not quite sure what exactly, aside from video games, the GPU really does. As has been explained below, the GPU has 'traditional' responsibilities, like rendering 3d images (as in games, and i'm guessing this is what GPUs were originally used for), but, thanks to OpenCL (and friends) GPUs are also used more generally now, to do other types of 'graphics processing' which can be used in video editing. (Though currently implementation is limited.) But, I'm still not sure what a GPU means to me and your thoughts on the following questions continue to be very appreciated (by me and, no doubt, many other MR users with similar questions). Aside from games, when is a good video card important? Will I notice the difference between 6490 vs 6750? Do you need a good video card to do this? http://www.vimeo.com/channels/dff2010#10224739 Is OpenCL a reason to consider investing in a better GPU? Storage: The difference in hard drive space seems essentially irrelevant, except that it makes upgrading to an SSD (from Apple) cheaper, if you plan on that. personally, i think my plan might be to stick with the stock HDD, then maybe buy an SSD later and do the 'optibay' thing; SSD for OSX, HDD for recording. Price: As you can see, the difference in price is $400, or $300 for students. Which to Buy? I was really hoping for a 1440x900 13". I wouldn't be writing this had that materialized, intel GPU or not. I realize the stock MBPs are insanely popular machines, but at the stock resolutions, text on the 13" and 15", coupled with Apple's 'true-over-readable' font smoothing, is, to me, almost unreadable. It's so fuzzy, I can't understand how this is not an issue to people. (I'm also used to my 12" 1440x900 Thinkpad, with Windows 'readable-over-true font smoothing.) (I know you can zoom in on the mac, but that doesn't quite make me happy.) Anyways, I think I need a high res screen, which or course requires the jump to the 15", a wildly different price range. I will certainly put the quad core to use, but once I'm spending ~ $2,000, I'd like to make sure I'm getting a 'complete' production machine (for my needs), video power included. I can afford either machine, but will I see enough of a difference in performance to justify the extra $300? *************************** Thermal Paste ???!!! Should I be worried about this?: iFixit teardown discovers 'gobs' of thermal paste in new MBPs: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook-Pro-15-Inch-Unibody-Early-2011-Teardown/4990/1 Users report similar findings and dramatic temp drops after clean up: EDIT: RECENT THREAD: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1105643&highlight=thermal EDIT: OLD THREAD (2006): http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=199840 *************************** Other references: Macworld review of the 2011 MBPs, including some GPU tests: http://www.macworld.com/article/157931/2011/03/early2011macbookpro.html Barefeats (so far, nothing comparing these two comps, but maybe soon): http://www.barefeats.com/ Thanks, MR!