How Do You Justify Retina?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by accountforit, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. accountforit macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2014
    Hello all. I have been a lurker here for years, but just created an account.

    So how do you justify Retina? Here is my train of thought.

    You can basically buy a used 13" non-retina current model on ebay for $700-800 in perfect condition (just wait and look and they are there, sometimes less). Slap 16gb of RAM in for $130, and a Samsung 840 PRO 256gb SSD for less than $200 and you have a computer that is comparable to the 13" Retina that costs $800+ less with tax.

    How do you justify that $800 for a comparable Retina? I have almost purchased the Retina 10 times in the past month of research and the following just keeps stopping me.

    - I can't upgrade it in the future

    - If something ever goes wrong with it, I am at the mercy of Apple for even more cost

    - The Retina display is moot if you want the highest resolution taking advantage of the screen real estate

    - increased storage speeds that really won't be noticeable in daily operation over a Samsung 840 Pro

    Where is the value for that extra $800?
  2. disasterdrone macrumors 6502

    Aug 31, 2013
    The screen is swank, it has a very hip shape, it is smaller, lighter, and it is faster.
  3. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    The display is beautiful compared to the old cMBP.

    You don't understand how much thinner and lighter a rMBP is compared to a cMBP until you have them side by side. I just replaced my wife's 15" 2011 MBP with a 2013 15" rMBP and she is elated. No longer is her laptop a brick and it is almost as thin as my 2013 MBA (at the MBA's thickest point).

    The SSD in the new rMBP's is PCIE based so it has transfer rates of 800MB/s compared to SATA's that max out at about 550MB/s (real world use probably wouldn't notice)

    There are two thunderbolt ports which means you can hook a lot of high resolution monitors up to it (running two non-Thunderbolt 1440P monitors is awesome).

    But if none of those things are of interest, then by all means go with a classic MBP. They are still great machines.
  4. carjakester macrumors 68020


    Oct 21, 2013
    i honestly hate staring at any screen that isnt retina. but now i have an ipad 4, iphone 5s and macbook pro with retina. all i need now is one of those 4k tv's.

    the retina display looks very crisp on a computer. the icons on the dock for example pop more than one would think. i love the retina.
  5. accountforit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2014
    So basically the answer comes down to this:

    Those who did buy the Retina believe that a slightly lighter and thinner Macbook with a display that only has benefits at Apples "retina best" resolution is worth an extra $800 (and possibly more in the future with needed repairs you can't do yourself any longer).

    To me, that is almost double the cost and not worth it. You could essentially buy a slightly used iMac or another Macbook with that money.

    I also think people are concentrating on flash storage speeds that you would never notice outside of a benchmark test. Over another comparable Sata 3 SSD of course.

    I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something. Thanks for the replies!
  6. simon48 macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    The SSD speeds can be noticed day to day, boot times for example are better.

    The Retina display works (looks good) at the other settings as well, when change it to give you more screen real estate you are not lowering the number of pixels on the display. For example if you setting it to the largest screen size (every thing is small) you are no longer quadrupling the pixels per object, but the object is smaller so you don't need as many pixels to make it look just as sharp. I run my display at the 1680 x 1050 equivalent all the time and it still looks really good.
  7. durkkin macrumors regular

    Sep 23, 2013
    No you aren't really missing anything, but there is more or less a "novelty" factor that is inherently worth it. Going to college I lug my computer around all day, so a small light form factor makes a big difference. I deal with big files and transferring documents, so PCI SSD speeds do come in to play. I can't stand the resolution of the 13" MBP (why Apple doesn't put a 1440x900 panel in it like the MBA blows my mind), so I bump it to 1680x1050 for max real estate. The screen, no matter the resolution, is gorgeous, and is not fuzzy due to Apple's scaling technique. I like the IO configuration; I don't need Firewire or ethernet and HDMI is certainly nice.

    To me, I would definitely say it is worth it, but others might not feel the same. If money is an issue, by all means go with the classic MBP. No one will look down on your or make fun of you for not having the latest and greatest. They're solid machines and there's no need to spend hundreds more for a computer that to you is just not worth it.
  8. Wishbrah macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2013
    Paying $800 less for outdated technology in almost all aspects is a choice. It depends on what you value more...$800 or newer tech.

    Need vs want, etc.

    I would factor in buying new from Apple vs buying used from some random guy. That is worth something to me. Not everybody takes care of their stuff.
  9. accountforit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2014
    I never accept this argument and I think it's foolish every time I hear it. This so called "new technology" that you are purchasing in the Retina will be "outdated technology" in a few months when an update is released. That $800 can be turned into $20,000 while your "new technology" will lose you money.

    As a matter of fact, I would bet that 90% of this forum could manage to get by just fine with a 2009 C2D Pro. That really old technology is still able to perform today's tasks.

    On top of that, this "outdated technology" (current non-retina) is almost just as fast in processor operation, and the actual real world performance of a good SSD compared to the flash in the Retina is unnoticeable. A benchmark is what is telling you it's faster. Not your boot up time.

    I have ran an ebay business for 8 years. There are no worries in protection, reading between the auction lines, and getting a good deal.

    To each their own though. Some people are really paranoid about ebay.
  10. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I justify it because the increase in screen quality on a lighter and smaller computer outweighs the ability to upgrade that I probably won't do. Seriously what kind of upgrade could I do that would substantially increase the performance? Odds are if I need more performance, I'm better off selling this computer and getting a better one.
  11. iKrivetko macrumors 6502a

    May 28, 2010
    First of all, 800+130+200 does not equate to 800
    Secondly, let me break it down for you:

    TN 1280*800 vs IPS 2560*1600
    4.5lbs vs 3.5lbs
    HD4000 vs Iris
    Battery life
    7 hours vs 9 hours

    More than that, a used machine is a pig in a poke and you will have to tinker with it yourself, as opposed to buying and using it right off the bat.

    One has to be out of his bloody mind to even compare these two.
  12. kfmfe04 macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010
    I, too, was concerned about the lack of upgradeability, but after some thought, I think RAM is the only part that needs to be maxed out. The USB and Thunderbolt ports are fast enough for additional storage should I ever need it.

    ULTIMATELY, I think a lot depends a lot on the expected lifetime of your mbp.

    I am currently quite happy with a 2009 13" mbp (upgraded with SSD, but bought new at the time), but like you, I have been tempted more times than I can count for buying a new mbp with a Retina display - I think I can hold out until the end of 2014 or maybe early 2015.

    In other words, I only buy a new machine once every 5-7 years because I prefer to buy one of the better models at the time (but never the top models - those tend to be overpriced - I also prefer to buy the second or third round of a new model, after Apple has worked out the kinks). I will pay more for a Retina simply because I think the machine should last me another 5-7. However, if you are used to getting a new machine every 2-3 years, then maybe the older model is ok, but you can do the math yourself and see which way works best for you.
  13. accountforit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2014

    800+130+200 = 1,130 (that is worst case scenario)

    Comparable Retina = 1,825 with tax

    So worst case scenario is a $700 difference. Best case is a $8-900 difference.

    Yes, you will have to "tinker with it yourself". When is the last time you made $700-900 for ten minutes worth of work?

    It's ok. If you feel that the display, weight, and slightly skinnier form is worth almost double the price then so be it. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Performance wise you aren't going to notice a thing no matter what you do.
  14. Robisan macrumors 6502

    Jan 19, 2014
    @accountforit Perhaps another way to look at this is cost of ownership. If you intend to keep either option until they are useless (have negligible resale value) then a $600 ($1,699 vs. $1,100) difference is a lot. However, if you're going to want something new(er) in 1-3 years I think that $600 premium will shrink considerably. What is your $1,100 5-6 year old non-retina going to be worth three years from now? What is a new rMBP going to be worth in three years? I suspect your net cost of ownership may be pretty similar.
  15. accountforit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2014
    Truthfully, I don't think the Retina has an advantage in this department. This is another fact that is discouraging me.

    This expensive flash storage is fairly new technology. In a few years, a 256gb storage capacity is going to be looked at like a 250gb HDD these days. Well maybe not as worthless, but think about it. In a few years, new Pros will probably start off with 512gb flash and all these computers will small unchangeable drives will be the least sought after. You could always pay more for the 512gb now but why pay more now for future resale value?

    There are people on ebay selling core 2 duo 2009 MBP's for close to $700 at times just by upgrading the RAM and HDD to 8gb and 1tb. It costs less than $130 to do this and increases resale to those who can't do it themselves. You aren't going to be able to do this with the Retina. This is what is going to kill the options. You have what you have.
  16. Zeov macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2011
    the 13" classic (non retina).. is outdated, bulky, and has a terrible screen resolution.. it was a great computer in 2010, it is a great computer now, but not compared to the Retina.

    yes, upgradeability is a good argument, and if thats the only thing that you care about, then you should go for it.
  17. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2013
    Your basic premise is flawed as a brand new machine never compares that well to a second hand one in value...

    As for trying to skew it even more by adding on every possible bell and whistle to make the difference in price stand out even more just makes it look like a desperate rationalization. Not only that, but the Samsung 840 genuinely pales in comparison with the PCIe SSD's they're putting into the current machines and the new machines come with both faster CPU's and GPU's.

    If you really want to compare retina-to-non-retina I'd recommend that you instead use a second hand early 2013 machine as it's also seen some depreciation in value due to being second hand and it's practically got the same CPU and GPU as your mid 2012 machine.
  18. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Oct 19, 2011
    That calculation is very one-sided. You are comparing the very cheapest way of obtaining an older model to the full retail price including tax of the retina machine.

    The base cMBP is $1200 in the Apple store, and will be more expensive than the retina once you include an SSD upgrade.

    Lets say we could benefit from the education discount, which brings the cMBP to a more reasonable $999, and say we want a reasonable config with 8 GB RAM and 256 SSD. This would cost somewhere in the $250 - $300 range, leaving a marginal price advantage over the $1400 rMBP.

    If you want to argue based on a $700-$800 cMBP then the most fair comparison would imho would be to look for rMBPs in the refurbished store (although personally I would highly prefer the refurb store over anything ebay). I would expect that you can get a $300 discount compared to full retail. This might leave you with a price advantage of $300-$500 if you really want to go with 16 GB.

    I guess for most people,
    - a better screen
    - faster CPU
    - better battery life
    - lower weight
    - faster GPU
    - faster storage
    - an incredibly much better screen (yes this point counts twice imho)
    - full Apple warranty on all components, no tinkering
    would be worth paying a premium in the $300-$500 range.

    If the cMBP is what you want, and you don't care for any of the above, then by all means go for it. But I think the rMBP is worth its cost for most people.
  19. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Well, all of this has been said above, but let me reiterate.

    $700 + $130 + $200 = $1030, and that's the lowest you can get in your config. Around $1100 is more likely. For a computer without warranty.

    A new 13" rMBP with the comparable configuration is $1,699.00. So its less than the $800 difference you claim. Not to mention that you can get it cheaper in a refurb store or if you are a student. With full warranty, of course.

    That extra money gives you: a lighter computer, faster CPU/GPU, a much better display, more battery time and a warranty.

    You can't really upgrade your cMBP either. 16GB RAM is the max it will ever have; true, you can put a new SSD in, but its quite likely that the rMBP will also get upgrade options soon.

    The same is true for your used cMBP (which probably doesn't have any warranty left)

    And with the cMBP you are locked to the low resolution on a TN panel. With the rMBP, you can at least comfortably work using the 1440x900 resolution.
  20. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Personally I don't need to justify my purchase. I needed a tool to get my work done, and the rMBP was the best fit. If you think the screen or the SSD are not major factors to buy the rMBP then move on. Its not the computer for you.

    we're talking about a computer, not lining up a marriage for life :) Many people only keep their laptops for about 3 years anyways, so its not like most of are locked into a long term relationship
  21. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    It is amazing how everybody starts salvating when a benchmark post high sequential speeds.
    To say they pale in comparison is just laughable.

    Here is a 700MB/s read speed PCIe SSD.
    and here is how it does in real world practical tests compared to other SSDs.
    Most of these tests especially booting are entirely read performance bound and the

    Most of the PCIe speed benefit is nothing more than a placebo. Application performance cares about IO and random read speed and that is no worse on the SATA 3 drives. When you unpack archives the high read/write helps but as soon as there is any compression or other data manipulation involved the mobile CPU will limit the throughput.
    Copying big files is not that often done on the same drive and as soon as an external is involved that one is likely the limit. On the same drive you still save such a small amount of time you would barely notice if somebody exchanged the SSD for an SATA 3 one secretly.
    The benefit of this PCIe SSD is vastly overrated. It is still the same generation of controllers just with optimization for higher max throughput on that end which in turn to hurt other metrics a little.

    Try some real comparisons like installing an application on both and SATA 3 will do just as well. The CPU is the limiting factor in most of these situations on a notebook. In any real world test those PCIe SSDs are about equal in some tests they may even loose by a small margin. They won't make any notebook feel faster in any case.
  22. Some1onE macrumors newbie

    Jan 23, 2014
    Well, I think you need to see it from another perspective.

    (I know everyone is tired of all the car comparisons but I’m going to do it anyway.)

    Your statement is like comparing a 2year old Toyota with a brand new Mercedes.
    No offence for the Toyota, it is a very good car and if you do some upgrades it might even have a few comparable specs with the Mercedes.
    And to be honest, I am completely happy with my 2 year old Toyota because it does have everything i want a car to be.
    To me the Mercedes is not worth the extra money.

    But the fact remains that driving the Mercedes would be a completely different user experience than my Toyota.

    Same thing with the cMBP, you might do some upgrades but cannot get the user experience from a rMPB.
    The weight difference, the retina display, battery life, faster CPU, faster storage might not be worth $500 to you.
    But to some users (like me) it is worth the higher price. Because all these “little things” (from your perspective) make it a completely different experience to work with.
  23. accountforit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2014
    Well thanks to everyone who replied and provided input.

    I am still on the fence and not sure what I plan to do.

    I have an iMac as well that I seem to not be using as much lately simply because I don't like being tied to my desk, but I haven't been able to tell myself to sell it not knowing if I will miss having that larger screen if I need it. Seems like a waste to keep it.

    I think my lifestyle is now leaning more towards a Macbook Pro and nothing else. Maybe I'll have to sell off what I have and buy a maxed out rMBP. Who knows?:D
  24. DiCaprioAngel macrumors 6502

    Jul 12, 2013
    New York
    I bought the rMBP because I wanted a Macbook and it was the newest one out. I love the screen, love how fast it is - much faster than any laptop I've had in the past that was Windows based. It all boils down to what you feel is a justifiable price for a laptop. I wanted the newest one because I'm that type of person. I don't like to buy old technology - especially if I'm expected to make it last a few years. That's just my opinion, though. I buy new because I want new. I could deal with the older if I wanted to, but I don't. That's my choice. My dad is even baffled that I spent this much money on my laptop, but I don't regret it because it's what I wanted and I know it's going to last me well. Not many people are keen on the non-upgradability of the newest laptops, but it doesn't bother me because I had it all maxed out anyway. I don't know, I guess it's just one's preferences and what they need in a laptop versus what is practical and easier on the wallet.
  25. SVTmaniac, Jan 23, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014

    SVTmaniac macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2013
    Discretionary income. I buy what I want, not outdated technology.

Share This Page