How to spec a 13" Macbook Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Untouchable49, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. Untouchable49, Jan 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016

    Untouchable49 macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2016
    Hey guys!

    I'm making the switch, taking the plunge, stepping out into the unknown that is OS X. However I could use some assistance regarding the specs of my machine.

    I'm a med student, and hence my use will be limited to research, writing summaries and watching youtube clips. Maybe some very light photo editing as well (more like drawing an occasional arrow on already existing pictures).
    In my spare time it's more of the same really. Browsing, streaming music, movies and sports, and just maybe some Diablo III once a week or so. I am somewhat of a tab whore though, so I'll be running 30+ tabs simultaneously most of the time.

    I have already decided on the base CPU model (i5 2.7GHz DC) but I have qualms regarding RAM and SSD. Ideally I would like 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD, however I'll have to pay equivalently 2050 usd (with educational discount from the swedish apple store) to get that model which is a little steep. Other options are 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD for 1756 usd or 16GB RAM and 128GB SSD for 1815 usd (found a used 256GB PCIe for 175 usd, considering purchasing it for added storage).

    What are your suggestions?

    Edit: the 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD model is 1579/1699 usd with/without edu discount, with a swedish keyboard on us apple store. Too bad they don't ship to Sweden...
  2. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Feb 5, 2007
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    My mantra, often rebuked by the 4 vs 8 crowd, buy all you can get, you won't regret it, ever!
    I wouldn't consider a Pro 13" / 15" without 16 GB of Ram, it's a pro for G*** sake, let it loose,if that breaks your bank, go with the capeable 13" Air
  3. Untouchable49 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2016
    Thanks for the quick response!

    The premium option would kinda break my bank, but as you can see I'm still considering it. The Air is a no-go unfortunately. I love the retina screen and the fact that it lacks force touch is a deal breaker for me, that word explanation function would be a huge time saver and very convenient while reading heavy litterature!
  4. McScooby macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2005
    The Paps of Glenn Close, Scotland.
    I'd probably wait for the refresh if splurging that kinda cash which'll break your bank, you may get more bang for your buck when it hits, check out buying tips section.
  5. nottorp macrumors regular

    May 12, 2014
    Refresh or no refresh, max out the ram. You cannot upgrade it later, and it will do the most for the laptop's longevity.
    As for the "256 Gb PCIe", assuming that's a SSD, I don't think you can replace the SSD with something 3rd party in 2014+ macbook pros. Maybe something pulled out from another rMBP. Still, you can (inconveniently) add storage via external solutions, but you are stuck with the ram that you ordered.
  6. Untouchable49 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2016
    Got it, thanks. 16 GB would be future proofing since I doubt my current needs require that much RAM? Yes, the PCIe is the SSD currently used in Macbooks and it has been removed from another rMBP. Sorry for being unclear! I looked through the iFixit guide for SSD swap and it didn't look that difficult, although I'm not sure wether switching the SSD would void my warranty?
    Yeah, that would be ideal, my gut feeling is the base model might have 256 GB after the refresh. However I'm sitting here with a zenbook that is dying on me. It randomly shuts down, and occasionally it's not even possible to turn it back on. So there is a rather urgent need for a new one. Maybe I would manage holding off until March, but since I don't really know when the refresh is coming it probably isn't an option unfortunately.
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Your use case would run fairly well on 4Gb RAM, 8Gb will be absolutely fine, just make sure you have click to flash and adblock installed on your browser (use safari as chrome is a resource hog on OSX) and having all those tabs open won't matter so much. Have you thought about a refurb???
  8. Algus macrumors regular


    Jun 8, 2014
    I suppose software bloat could require 16 GB RAM in 4+ years. It is certainly possible and has happened in the past but at this point 8 GB is more than most users need and should remain so for some time. Evaluate how long you believe you will be hanging onto your MacBook Pro but unless you are doing something that requires large amounts of RAM (ex. running virtual machines) there is a good chance your money will be wasted with so much RAM.

    The internal SSD can theoretically be upgraded but this is cost prohibitive (the part is proprietary and only available from other MacBooks) so it is not something I would count on. If external storage (USB drive, SD card, etc.) will work for you then great, otherwise I'd definitely put my money towards storage first.

    I run 16 GB in my Mac mini and 8 GB in my Macbook Pro. In day to day usage there is no discernible difference between the two machines. The Macbook is actually a little faster owing to the proprietary flash memory being faster than my Mac mini's SATA SSD. The only time I ever take advantage of that extra RAM in my mini is when I'm running virtual machines.
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I don't see in your stated usage a need for 16GB of ram, I'd go with 8GB, you'll be fine.
  10. Untouchable49 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2016
    Yeah, my current laptop is running with 4 GB RAM and faring pretty well. I don't know what click to flash is, but I'll look into it. Thanks! I'll miss chrome, but I was planning on using safari due to the Force Touch capabilities. I've looked into getting a refurb, but unfortunately the swedish version of doesn't provide that service and a swedish keyboard is essential to me.
    The bolded part (plus possible resale value) is the reason I'm considering the 16 GB alternative. I have 3.5 years to go on my education, so I would like it to last for a minimum of four years but the longer the better of course. I don't know what virtual machines is, so I doubt I'll be doing that :D

    I know getting one of those SSDs is tricky, but I already found one that would fit, which is why I mentioned that option :)
    Thanks for your input, I'm leaning more and more towards 8 GB RAM/256GB SSD!
  11. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    That SSD you think you've found, do check to make sure it is not for the 2012 and early 2013 rMBP, OWC and Transcend made drives for the models in those years but the late 2013 onwards has NO third party SSD's available.
  12. McScooby macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2005
    The Paps of Glenn Close, Scotland.
    & of course, the other option is to avoid the latest and greatest, get the still available 2012 13" MBP without retina & upgrade to 16GB RAM & at the moment 2TB SSD when you want as user replaceable, in the future, the video card would prob let you down, but compared to my 2011 core i7 MBP it certainly holds it own!
  13. Untouchable49 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2016
    Yes, I have looked it up and the model is suited for the 2013 and onwards models. How ever, I was too late to pull the trigger on that one so that is no longer an option.

    Nah, I prefer the slimmer model for portability reasons. And the force touch is a feature I really want. But thanks for the advice, I appreciate it!
  14. flr macrumors member

    Sep 30, 2013
    You don't need 16GB of RAM. But I would definitely recommend a SSD of 256GB. I'm doing casual photo & video editing, browsing with 30+ tabs in 4+ windows and heavy gaming (with an external GPU) and I have never needed more than 8GB of RAM.
  15. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    8GB RAM, 256GB SSD. Done.

    More SSD if your budget allows.
  16. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    Wait for the next update. They may lower upgrade prices a bit.

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