How out-of-spec is the non-retina MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Kashchei, May 5, 2014.

  1. Kashchei macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2002
    Meat Space
    I have an old Mac mini that works fine, albeit a bit slowly. I'm ready to make the jump to a laptop and I had my eye on the non Retina MBP. However, I know that it is 2 years old. I would like an SSD, but the prices remind me of the price of HDD back in the late 80s--best to wait until prices come down. Is there any reason that this machine is so out-of-spec that only a madman would buy one? I'm planning on putting in more RAM myself and a larger, faster HDD myself if that influences your recommendation.
    Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.
  2. Meister, May 5, 2014
    Last edited: May 5, 2014

    Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    It is definitly not that out of spec.
    However it has ports and features that are somwhat obsolete in a modern laptop, like a DVD drive and ethernet.
    It is also significantly heavier, thicker and has lower battery life.

    If you prefere a macbook that has loads and loads of cheap storage, then the cmbp is for you.

    It eventually boils down on how much you are willing to pay and what your priorities are.

    Where i live the cmbp is 950€ new and the base rmbp is 1150€ new. So the cmbp is much cheaper.
  3. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020


    May 16, 2013
    Kansas, USA
    Would you consider the MacBook Air as an option? You can get 256gb of flash storage for the same price as the slower cMBP. I would weigh 8gb of ram and whatever size ssd you want against upgrades you would make. With the MBA you get newer ports, flash storage, and amazing battery life for a decent price since it's non-retina.

    The refurbished store is also a good place to check for deals.

    Not saying the cMBP would be a bad purchase, but there are alternatives to save money and get more modern specs.
  4. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    I recommend that you look at the prices of a 15" non-retina from 2012 or 2011. You get a quad core Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge, upgradeable ram, upgradeable storage, you can still remove the optical drive and you get a 1680x1050 resolution screen. Sure, it's not that light, but it's not that heavy either. With the optical pulled out, it's still a nimble machine and the mag charger is still considered light compared to Windows chargers.

    If you find one still on warranty, (They were selling them in 2013 as well) you can throw Apple Care on it and it'll be fine.

    The refurbished Apple store has a 15.4" non-Retina for $1449. Of course, they also have a 13" Retina refurbished with Haswell, 8GB and 256GB flash for $1269. I'm sure in the Marketplace here you can find a 15" classic for less than $1200 if you use those Refurbished prices as a bargaining chip.
  5. The Mercurian macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    You would be better off buying a macbook air.

    The cMBP has slower WIFI for a start. It also has a lower display resolution at 1280x800 - whereas the 13" Air has 1440x900. That might not sound like much but it is actually something you notice in terms of screen real estate.

    The Air also has much better battery life (13" Air - 12hours, cMBP - 7 hours).

    Yes you could buy a cMBP and put in an SSD - but the machine does not have PCIe - so your SSD will not reach its max speed and will run slower than the SSD in a Air.

    The 8GB RAM 256GB SSD Macbook Air is a beast of a machine really and should be good for a number of years - and where I am only cost €80 more than a 4GB cMBP - much less than the cost of buying an extra 4GB and SSD for the cMBP.

    In terms of resale value the Air will probably hold value better if you wish to sell in a couple of years.

    In short - yes it would be mad to buy a cMBP :D

    If you want to save a few €$¢£ then you have options - student deals, the refurb section on the Apple website - third party deals - there was a story on macrumours recently that there are alot of third party deals on 2013 macbook airs since they released the new one.

    The other slightly cheaper option is the 11" Macbook Air. I used one for a while travelling and it was amazing. Although be advised it has a widescreen format compared to all the other macs laptops - takes a bit of adjustment if you are used to the usual format.
  6. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    I agree. Buying a machine with a HDD these days is just plain stupid. You'll most likely not notice any speed boost at all, over your current Mac Mini, unless you get an SSD.
  7. nando4 macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2009
    The lack of upgradability in the current MBPs means they are now consumable items with a definite performance lifespan. Means a steady stream of upgrade income for Apple :(

    Seems you'd ideally want cMBP RAM/HDD upgradability in the newer Haswell series which Apple isn't prepared to deliver a product to do.

    Might be unfashionable on a Mac forum to suggest PC alternatives but have you looked at PC alternatives instead to meet your requirements? If don't mind Windows instead of OSX then why not?

    Something like a 14" Dell E5440? Gets Haswell ULV battery life, 900P *matte* LCD, eSATAp ports and the goodies that make the cMBP attractive - upgradable RAM and HDD/SSD + optical drive. Some with a GT720M, expresscard slot and touch LCD. It's NBD warranty eclipses Apple's standard offerings. Priced lower than Apple stuff, especially at the Dell outlet/ebay. REF: Dell E5440.

    Oh.. some PC notebooks allow RAID-0 across it's drives. Once configured you get performance beating the pcie SSDS in latest MBPs (6Gbps+6Gbps SATA-III vs x2 2.0 10Gbps pci-e). Furthermore, the eSATAp port in say the E5440 allows large bootup storage to be attached externally. USB external storage, as used in MBPs, is usuall problematic in booting Windows.
  8. MrGimper macrumors 603


    Sep 22, 2012
    Andover, UK
    Just for completeness....

    The 13" cMBP had a screen resolution of 1280x800.
    The 15" cMBP had a screen resolution of 1440x900.

    The 15" had an option of a hi-res glossy or anti-glare 1680x1050 display. So you'd have to find one specifically with that screen if you want it.
  9. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    This is definitely a legitimate argument, but this is not like the old days where there were clear performance advantages when upgrading every 2-3 years. Most of Apple's target audience, and indeed computer users in general, can get along just fine on systems that are currently 4-5 years old. You don't need a quad-core Haswell, 1 TB of SSD storage, and 16 GB of RAM to browse Facebook and YouTube.
  10. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

    Jun 24, 2012
    While I am one of those people that wouldn't hesitate to upgrade and repair a laptop (the number of 12" Powerbooks I did for friends, including things like changing the display inverter, is countless), but I think you are enormously overestimating the number of people who actually upgrade their laptops (or their computers in general).

    The main reason that Apple went the route it did with the rMBP is because of all the things you gain by making it that way (weight reduction, battery size increase, rigidity, manufacturing simplicity) the downsides (end user upgrade problems) affect such a small proportion of their user base that it's effectively not a downside from Apple's perspective. It wasn't done to ensure that people upgraded every couple of years - I doubt it has had much of an impact on those figures at all - but because all the benefits it brings to consumers, the majority of which never even consider upgrading their own hardware.
  11. Kashchei, May 6, 2014
    Last edited: May 6, 2014

    Kashchei thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2002
    Meat Space
    Thank you all so much for the advice. You are the reason I love MR so much: one can get expert advice simply by asking. I am a basically a desktop person, but more and more I've tried to use my iPad to run keynote addresses at business meeting and I've never gotten it to work. So I don't really care about the laptop size since it will be hooked up to my monitor most of the time. I just want something portable with the highest specs possible. I think the MBA line looks ideal for salesman, but that's not how I will use this machine--I really couldn't care less about battery life since my presentations are only ever an hour. I am tending towards the quad-core non-Retina MBP so that I can install 16 GB of RAM and a 7200 drive.

    With this new information, does my choice sound logical?

    P.S. Perhaps I just don't understand the machine, but another hesitation about buying a SSD machine is the decision of what to put on it and what to keep. I currently have just under 700GB of files on my mini's drive. And advice on what and how to put on a 256 GB drive. Finally, the MBA seems severely underpowered to me, with chips not even breaking 2 Ghz. Doesn't this speed bump drive everyone crazy? If not, let me know--I really don't want to but an out of spec machine, one I'm only going to upgrade once to get it where I want it.
  12. Qaanol macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2010
    I personally will never buy another laptop with a spinning-platter hard drive, and from what I've heard from others I am not alone. More than RAM, more than GPU, far more than CPU, the speed of an SSD makes a computer fast and responsive. Startup and shutdown, launching applications, opening and saving files, everything is zippy.

    If I were you, and I know I'm not, but if I were, I would strongly consider the refurbished 13.3" late 2013 retina MacBook Pro with 2.4 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, and a 256 GB SSD, which Apple offers for $1,269 in the USA.
  13. Marty62 macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2010
    Berlin formerly London
    Yes, absolutely - check my "sig" below, my late 2011 MBP is a screamer
    with 8gb and a samsung EVO SSD, absolutely worth every penny.
    I have TB/FW800 and I do use the optical drive believe it or not !!
    I push it quite hard with Audio apps etc and it has been really fantastic.
  14. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Oh course you could make the same type of argument about the rMBP: It has so few connectivity options you may as well as call it an iPad Pro. There's no blu-ray player, no ethernet, and if you plan on using it as a desktop replacement you're not going to have a good time.
  15. The Mercurian macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012

    Eh the only thing you say that convinces me you should get the non-retina MBP is your 700GB of data.

    Everything else points to Macbook air 11" in my book. In terms of power - for everyday use, surfing the internet, Office applications, watching the odd video, it is more than powerful enough. Its also fantastically portable and great ot use on a plane. To give you a perspective on this - I use a 2011 quad core high end 2.5Ghz 15" MBP with 16GB and a SSD fitted usually. For a month travelling last year I used a 1.3 Ghz 4GB 128GB 11" Macbook Air. In actual practical everyday use the Air was way faster. Why ? Because the SSD is stupidly fast in them. Yes if you want to do heavy duty stuff, like video editing, heavy statistics, then quad core is important, otherwise no. Normally I do crazy statistics myself - and here the 15" blows away a macbook air. But I didn't do this on the road. The only app I had that really struggled on the Air was Dragon Dictate speech recognition - and that was because of 4GB Ram not processor speed.

    Two questions for you:

    1) What software do you run ?

    2) How do you feel about an external drive for storage ? (I understand if you don't want that - I'm not keen on it myself)
  16. Kashchei thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2002
    Meat Space
    I know I added this question as an edit, but how do you decide which files to keep and which to store at home when purchasing a 256 GB SSD. The speed appeals, but the limited storage does not.
  17. The Mercurian macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012

    Are you near an apple store ? Go into one and ask to play with the different machines and see the difference for yourself. Try rebooting them side by side, opening lots of files at once and so on.
  18. Kashchei thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2002
    Meat Space
    I primarily use the standard apps--iWork, mail, safari--along with music notation software (Sibelius) that is taxing on processors. I also use dreamweaver for my websites.

    I'm fine with external storage--I wouldn't need everything in my iPhoto and iTunes libraries at all times.
  19. nando4 macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2009
    The pcie SSDs in the mid-2013 rMBPs will max out at x2 2.0 (10Gbps) on the interface. A SATA-III SSD, as used in older MBPs with an optical drive, has a 6Gbps interface. So you'd looking at up to 67% more speed with the newer gear. However, those pcie SSDs use a M2 form factor with far less board space to hold NAND than the 9.5mm used in the older MBPs so SSD capacity is reduced.

    Meaning, an older MBP with 2.5" drives can have significantly more SSD capacity due to large volume AND still get pretty good performance. If large storage capacity is desirable then they are a better solution than the newer rMBPs.
  20. The Mercurian macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Ah ok well I cannot speak to the demands of Dreamweaver or Sibelius then so possibly ignore my pro macbook air advice :D

    If you are fine with external storage then you might be better off to split your data between internal and external storage. Although personally I like having it all in one place so I understand you might not want to do that.
  21. MyiBill macrumors 6502

    Feb 8, 2012
    It hasn't been updated in years, not worth buying. $200 more for the retina is more than worth it.
  22. Meister, May 6, 2014
    Last edited: May 6, 2014

    Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    My desktop doesnt have a blueray player either and i have never used ethernet with it. Discs and cables went obsolete a decade ago in western countries.
  23. Naimfan Suspended


    Jan 15, 2003

    Ignore the naysayers - the Mid-2012 15" MBPs are still enormously capable, and with 16 GB RAM and an upgraded drive it's not going to be embarrassed by any currently available MBP - the differences in CPU are just not that dramatic.
  24. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    Indeed and if you ditch the optical you can choose your own split between speed (via an SSD boot drive), and capacity (via an HDD). And you will also likely see an improvement in battery life once the HDD stops spinning and you just run on the SSD.

    And if I need more storage 2TB 2.5" drives are coming along for when my HGST 1TB is full (don't see that for a while yet). :D
  25. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

    Apr 11, 2014
    I feel like it will be a classic. Something you would see in a museum as it is iconic IMO. I would definitely go with the retina unless you have to have a CD drive or something. Or use a lot of the ports not available. Is it outdated from a hardware perspective? Not particularly. I mean the processor is good, it doesn't have an SSD but everyone acts like they didn't use HDD for the last 15 years and enjoyed it!

Share This Page