How much better is current 13" cMPB than late-2008 aluminum unibody MacBook?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by max6166, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. max6166 macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    I am thinking of purchasing the current 13" classic Macbook Pro (without retina) to replace my current late-2008 Macbook5,1.

    I thought that since the current cMBP model is 4 years older than mine, it would provide a noticable improvement, but after comparing the specs I am starting to think that the newer model will only offer modest improvements.

    Would someone more experienced with these things please give me their opinion on the major differences between the 2 macbooks?

    These specs seem fairly equivalent:

    • They both have 13" screens with a resolution of 1280x800.
    • They both weigh 4.5 lbs.
    • I have 8 GB 1067 MHz DDR3B in my 2008 MB, while/ the cMBP takes up to 8 GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory.
    • They can take the same HDs and SSDs so no difference in storage either.

    The following specs are different:

    The cMBP has:
    - 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking;4 IEEE
    - 802.11a/b/g compatible
    - Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology

    The 2008 MB has:
    - Integrated AirPort Extreme 802.11a/b/g/draft-n (BCM4322 chipset)
    - Gigabit Ethernet
    - Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

    The cMBP has Intel HD Graphics 4000, while the 2008 MB has an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256 MB.

    My 2008 MB has the 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (P8600).
    The cMBP has 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 3MB L3 cache (3210M).

    So my interpretation is that display will basically look the same, and everything will be roughly the same but the CPU will be a little faster. How much that will be noticeable, I have no idea...

    Is this conclusion accurate?
  2. Tubamajuba macrumors 68020

    Jun 8, 2011
    Done with MacRumors, the trolls have won
    How long are you willing to wait to buy a new Macbook? I have the 2012 (current) cMBP and it's fantastic. The GPU would be a decent upgrade over what you have now, and the CPU would be significantly more powerful. The clock speed doesn't tell the full story; the newer Intel CPUs are technologically much more advanced over the old Core 2 Duos.

    That said, if you wait a bit longer the rMBPs will be better equipped for the same price. Do you have an SSD in your Macbook already? That would give you a good boost for a while.
  3. ixxx69, Aug 13, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014

    ixxx69 macrumors 65816

    Jul 31, 2009
    United States
    You haven't indicated anything about your usage, etc., so that kind of makes it difficult to really say anything about how much of a difference a new one would make to your workflow, but if your current MB is working well, I don't see a huge upside to getting a new cMBP.

    Despite the CPU having a similar base clockspeed, the Ivy Bridge version in the cMBP is significantly faster (like 75-100% faster). However, unless you've identified the CPU as being a bottleneck to your usage, I'm not sure that's worth the upgrade.

    The biggest upgrade you could make is an SSD.

    p.s. I generally don't like to question people too much on why they want what they want, but I'm going to add that I wouldn't consider the cMBP unless I was buying a used or refurbished one. It's a legacy product, the tech is old, and it's just a matter of time before it's discontinued altogether.
  4. max6166 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    My wife's PC died and she needs a replacement urgently. My basic goal is just for us both to have decent Macbooks. If it were just me, I would probably be happy just staying with the late-2008 Macbook I currently use. My wife would also be more than happy with the 2008 Macbook.

    At the moment, I am very reluctant for a number of reasons to get a rMBP. Maybe in a future iteration. They are also beyond the budget I was hoping for.

    If the user experience will be greatly improved going to a 2012 13" cMBP, I think that is my best option for now. It is just very hard to tell from specs alone. Hopefully someone has some hands on experience with similar models and can provide some first hand knowledge.

    The other option I am considering is actually to find an older model between 2009 and 2011 used to tide us over for a couple of years.

    I just need something with 13" display, 8 GB RAM, decent CPU, and that will take an SSD.

    Any suggestions more than welcome.
  5. Menge macrumors 6502a


    Dec 22, 2008
    I noticed a big CPU performance difference when going from my 2008 13" Aluminium MacBook to my current 2011 13" MacBook Pro. I'm betting the current cMBP offers a big improvement.

    I wouldn't buy it, however. It's outdated as it is and on its way out of the product line. Go for a MacBook Air or, if you can, a Retina MacBook Pro.
  6. max6166 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    My wife's usage is very basic, i.e., word processing, email, web browsing, some photo light retouching. She would do fine on my old 2008 MB as is.

    I actually do pretty well on my 2008 MB as well. If I installed an SSD, I am sure I would be fine for a while longer. I am a programmer and web designer.

    So if the 2012 cMBP is not going to be mind-blowingly better, than I think I should consider even earlier models.

    I was planning on buying the 2012 cMBP refurbished. I would not be adverse to buying used from a reputable source. I am in Canada by the way.
  7. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    Get the base mba 2013 1.3/4/128 on a discount.
    It will blow any of the other machines mentioned here away!
    By far the best bargain for your budget and useage!
  8. MTL18 macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    Hey, perhaps some numbers will help. Check out these Geekbench single core scores:

    Mid 2012 13" MBP: 2522

    Late 2008 13" MB: 1298

    The 2012 is also RAM expandable to 16GB, SATA III for SSD, and has USB 3.0.

    Even though it isn't retina, it is a lot better than 2008. If this fits your budget the best, it will perform very well for a 2012 computer and has upgradability in the future.
  9. capathy21 macrumors 65816


    Jun 16, 2014
    Houston, Texas
    You mentioned 8GB of ram earlier. If this is her usage, 4GB would be enough for her for a long time. As Meister said, a base model MacBook Air is the way to go for her.

    A 2013 refurbished base model MBA can be had for 600-800 usually, sometimes less.

    She has no use for a pro machine especially since you aren't considering a retina.
  10. max6166 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    Please forgive my ignorance.

    The MBA has a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor.
    My 2008 MB has a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (P8600)
    The 2012 13" cMBP has a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 3MB L3 cache (3210M).

    Wouldn't the 2.4 or 2.5 GHz processors be much faster than the MBA's 1.4 GHz?


    That's true. But I was initially hoping to get something new that met my needs and then pass down my current machine to her.... ;)

    I work all day and night at the damn computer, yet somehow she seems to always get the better equipment. :confused:
  11. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    Actually, it's more like 2.5 i5 > 1.4 i5 > 2.4 C2D

    Clock speed means almost nothing in 2014 except when talking about similar chipsets and architectures. Plus, those are simply base clocks speeds. Those don't include tons of other factors that determine CPU performance.
  12. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    It's not as simple as counting the MHz. You are comparing different generations of CPUs. The 3rd Gen i5 in the cMBP and the 4th Gen i5 in the MBA can do more processing per tick of the clock than the C2D in the uMB.

    On pure CPU scores the cMBP will be the quickest, followed by the MBA with the uMB bringing up the rear. In real world use the PCIe SSD in the MBA will make it much more responsive, plus it can turbo to 2.7GHz when required.

    The cMBP is a bad buy compared to the MBA, unless you need the optical drive or the Firewire/Ethernet ports. It's a two year old machine aimed at Education, even with the recent price cut making it appear slightly more attractive.
  13. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    the mba processor is next gen haswell and turbo boosts up to 2.7ghz.
    The ssd is pcie and will outperform anything you can stick into the old mbp.
    The gpu is Hd5000 the next generation of hd4000 in the cmbp.
    The batterylife is about double, the weight half.

    In your real life performance the mba i5/4/128 will pulverize the older mbps mentioned here.

    Please go to a store and give it a good testrun yourself.
  14. max6166 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    Thanks everyone for helping me out. Your input has been extremely helpful in de-confusing my tired brain after days of reading up on the latest models.

    I am going to follow some of your suggestions and do a little more research on the MBA and rMBP, as well as another idea that popped into my head during the discussion.

    I would greatly appreciate you keeping an eye on this thread as I will likely post again very shortly with a few more questions. :)
  15. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    Highly agree. Plus with the MBA you get the SSD, which definitely improves the entire experience whatever you do.

    I upgraded from a white 2.2ghz 2007 MacBook to a 11" 1.4Ghz Core 2 Duo MacBook Air in 2010 and it was noticeably faster. I'm sure it would have lost out at video encoding but otherwise app/os startup was much faster.

    With that said, I cannot in good conscience recommend a non retina Mac anymore. I've had one for 3 days and I can't use a non retina display anymore. I would highly recommend you consider this refurb retina model-

    Which is $80 cheaper than a new cMBP. Apple refurbs are normally always flawless.
  16. meson macrumors regular

    Apr 29, 2014
    This spring, I went from an early 2008 13" MBP to the base 13" cMBP. Aside from the graphics card, the specs of my machine were identical to your unibody machine.

    I can tell you that the old machine running Snow Leopard feels snappier than the current cMBP. Running Lion on that machine made it feel slower than running Mavericks on the cMBP. The bottom line here is that as OS X has evolved, a greater and greater emphasis has been put on caching, and with newer versions of OS X, the time it takes to read cache files from the HDD becomes cumbersome. An SSD is well worth the upgrade, which will likely happen in the next couple of weeks for my machine following the completion of a recent project.

    I chose the cMBP, as I still use FW800, occasional ethernet, occasionally use the optical drive, and often use the IR sensor during lectures, all enough that I didn't want a bunch of dongles attached to my laptop.

    In addition, the cMBP comes wit the current generation of Bluetooth, and USB3 which will significantly speed up data transfers, if you have a USB3 external.

    The cMBP was bought out of need of needing a replacement of the older MBP, and a tight budget. I got what I needed at the time, have the ability to upgrade to what I want, and have a machine that will last me for quite some time. Had I been in the market after the MBAs received their update this spring, I would have given one a much harder look.

    The cMBP may still be a machine with older tech, but still fully capable.
  17. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    The current 13" cMBP is more than 2x faster than the 2008 cMBP as far as CPU performance goes and probably 3-4x faster for the GPU performance. The MacBook Air will be just as fast as the current 13" in everyday use, but slightly slower for demanding long-lasting computation. At the same time, the MacBook Air will appear much faster to the user because of the blazingly-fast solid state storage.

    Bottomline: the current 13" cMBP is MUCH faster than your 2008 one. However, it is also true that screen and storage offer barely any improvement at all. I recommend you either an MacBook Air or a used MacBook Pro retina for a better overall computing experience.
  18. max6166 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    Well, I finally decided and have just finished buying a refurbished 13.3-inch MacBook Pro 2.4GHz Dual-core Intel i5 with Retina Display with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. There were a lot of factors that went into the decision, but I am pretty sure it was a good one.

    Thanks again everyone. I was thinking myself in circles and you all really helped me come to a decision. :)
  19. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Great choice. Congrats!
  20. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    Yes, good choice.

    FWIW, that one will be significantly faster. My old, early-2008 15" MBP was upgraded with an SSD, and bumped up to 6GB of RAM, and the newer 2012 15" cMBP I got to replace it a couple years ago (which has also been upgraded with an SSD) flies circles around it.

    You're also talking SATA2 vs SATA3 speeds on the storage end as well, don't forget. :)
  21. Steve686 macrumors 68040


    Nov 13, 2007
    US>FL>Miami/Dade>Sunny Isles Beach>Condo
    Huge difference. I had the same 2.4ghz 2008 MBP you have.

    For one, my 2008 Unibody won't run 720p/120fps videos stored on the internal 7200rpm HDD without choppiness that makes it look like 3fps.

    I can run 1080p/60 and 720p/120 videos off of a USB drive on my current mid 2014 rMBP.

    I know this isn't exactly what you were asking, but it's just to say everything in the last year or so is worth the upgrade from the 2008 in terms of pure power and usability with larger files.
  22. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    The problem on your unibody is not spec related. It's either broken or has a software issue. It should play 1080p just fine.
  23. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    As to the choppy playback, I can play back 1080 MKV files using the H.264 codec just fine, but 1080p MP4 files are still choppy when using the QuickTime Player X playback engine. Once I switch to QuickTime Player 7 or FFMPEG playback they play almost fine, depending on the compression (the more compressed, the ******** the playback).
  24. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2013
    Personally I really wouldn't recommend buying the current non-retina MBP unless they absolutely had to have an internal optical disc drive and for some freakish reason an external one wasn't an option.

    It's basically a 2012 model they haven't discontinued and are only keeping it on the side so that the optical media die-hards who really want an internal optical disc drive don't go nuts.

    If you don't need an internal optical disc drive or FireWire and video out at the same time you should just go with a Macbook Air. Another option would be a second hand Macbook Pro or Macbook Air and save a bunch of money.
  25. Qaanol macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2010
    Yep, great choice. That's the one I would have recommended if I saw this thread sooner.

    Also, if you stick an SSD in your '08, it'll be much faster for your wife. Actually, your best bet is probably to let her use it as-is for a while, then get her an SSD as a present in a few weeks/months. That way she'll experience the difference first-hand.

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