I7-4870HQ vs 4980HQ (vs 6700HQ)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ACD0236, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. ACD0236 macrumors member


    Nov 2, 2016
    Hi there, I am currently running a Mid-2012 model 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina with the 2.3 GHz I7-3615QM processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD and a GeForce GT 650M GPU (1 GB of dedicated memory).

    I use it alongside a 32 GB iPad Air and a 64 GB iPhone 6, and at home I connect it to the Thunderbolt Display as I need to work with radiological images, 3D representations of anatomical structures and large tables for data entry of clinical studies, so I'm not considering to buy anything else than another Apple product... and this is also because I haven't been disappointed a single time after five purchases (gone is an iPhone 5S now being used by my mother).

    I have been waiting for the new model, but... no, you won't read disappointed thoughts about the 2016 MBP (though I really can understand them, because I am too not convinced by the newer models). I am trying to look at things from a technical point of view, but being ignorant about the details I decided to kindly ask for your help in discerning the pros and cons of different versions.

    I already decided not to replace the cooked battery of my 2012 MBP and to leave it at home as a desktop, hooked up to the Thunderbolt Display and with a wired Ethernet connection. To replace it as a mobile workhorse I am thinking of choosing between two versions of the now-discontinued Mid-2015 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina, as my usual seller is beginning to discount them.

    They come in fixed configuration, so I can choose between the following.

    • I7-4870HQ (2.5 GHz) + 16 GB RAM + 512 GB SSD + AMD Radeon R9 M370X (2 GB GDDR5).
    • I7-4980HQ (2.8 GHz) + 16 GB RAM + 512 GB SSD + AMD Radeon R9 M370X (2 GB GDDR5).
    • I7-4980HQ (2.8 GHz) + 16 GB RAM + 1 TB SSD + AMD Radeon R9 M370X (2 GB GDDR5).
    Prices are, respectively, 2199 CHF (2263 USD); 2599 CHF (2674 USD); 2999 CHF (3086 USD). The first and less expensive one would normally sell for 2499 CHF (2571 USD), so I'm looking at a 12% discount. The second and third have a "SALE" badge on their product page but their price did not vary from the one I saw before the new ones came out (maybe it will drop in the immediate future).

    To put things in perspective, Apple offers me, between others, the following comparable configurations.

    • I7-6700HQ (2.6 GHz) + 16 GB RAM + 512 GB SSD + AMD Radeon Pro 450 (2 GB GDDR5).
    • I7-6820HQ (2.7 GHz) + 16 GB RAM + 512 GB SSD + AMD Radeon Pro 455 (2 GB GDDR5).
    • I7-4770HQ (2.5 GHz) + 16 GB RAM + 512 GB SSD + Intel Iris Pro Graphics.

    The less expensive new model comes in at 2919 CHF (3000 USD), while for the best equipped new-generation MBP Apple asks me 3149 CHF (3236 USD), while the previous-generation offering (the last one listed), is sold at 2589 CHF (2661 USD), which puts it out of comparison, even if I spec it to be comparable with the first three offerings... and this not even considering I can't order it with a dedicate video card.

    That said, my question are the following.

    • Is there someone that would out of pure kindness explain to me what the technical and practical differences are between the fourh-generation Intel i7 processors and the newer, sixth-generation ones that one can have if he gets the 2016 MPB?
    • From what I appreciate, the RAM of the newer models is rated at 2133 MHz versus the 1600 MHz of that on the older models. Anyway, does this imply a difference in operational smoothness or some other peculiar advantage in choosing the 2016 MPB, which has the 2133 MHz-rated RAM, versus the 2015 model, which sticks with the 1600 MHz one?
    • Since I don't know jack about GPUs, may I ask you which performance and usability differences should I come to expect between a Radeon R9 and a Radeon Pro? Where are those products located in the product range of AMD?
    Since I need those ports and I don't like the idea of dongles hanging around my laptop and my backpack (neither I think they would last a lot being displaced all over two different hospitals and my house), I think I would be more than happy to order the 4870- or 4980HQ-equipped Mid-2015 MBP in the 512 GB SSD version (a bump up in storage would be useful, since I store a lot of radiological images - and a 30 GB music library - on my current 256 GB SSD which is showing its limits).

    Other than that, I feel really comfortable in buying a product I already own (convincing form factor, classic keyboard, ports, same excellent display) with upgraded internals and even more solid performance, but on the other hand I don't want to miss out new or important features.

    I don't make a point about getting the last possible technology... wouldn't it be nice to get sixth-generation versus fourth-generation processors? Yes, but when a seventh generation is already on Intel's website I understand that this will be, as we say here, a fight against windmills.

    And even more important than that, I'm not buying the most recent products if I don't know or understand the technical differences between them and last year's, and am not able to appreciate the added performance from with my day-to-day work with the computer.

    Thank you for you time, have a nice day!
  2. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

    Jul 4, 2015
    I had the same issue so I bought an excellent condition mid '14 MBP with 4980HQ. CPU performance is equal to the 6920HQ according to all tests. I don't care about video games, I have a PC with GTX1070 for that.

    The best part is I have great CPU performance, all the ports I need, a better keyboard, MagSafe and I can even use TB3/USB-C with the only dongle I need to purchase - TB3 to TB2 adapter. I paid only £1100.
  3. Koni17 macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2016
    I felt compelled to make an account just to reply to your message. I was in exactly the same boat as you(live in Switzerland as well, have been watching the prices/market as well). I've been waiting for a while now to update my terribly outdated Macbook Pro (13" 2010), and was also extremely disappointed by the new Macbook Pros. Price wasn't the real issue, it's the fact that the specs are a little outdated, from a technical standpoint it's a very small incremental update(although no one can really speculate here until real world benchmarks start coming out for the 15" touch bar) and 16gb is not enough to future proof sufficiently. One thing that does make a bit of a difference is the SSD on the 2016 MB, it's around 2x as fast on read/write tests in comparison to the 2015 version.

    I like how you've done your homework and have already researched the different options/CPUs from last years model. I think a lot of people who have done their research and are well informed will ultimately be disappointed with a new 2016 Macbook down the road. Once a new Macbook Pro comes out with the specs that they originally wanted, they will surely regret their purchase and buy the upgraded model with 32gb, OLED display, etc.

    With that said, no one knows for sure when the next update will occur, and what will actually be updated. I feel like the 2016 version was delayed due to the touch bar, and refining the software on that end until all the bugs were sorted out. This could be the reason for the somewhat outdated hardware, seeing as how the design cycle was much longer than expected (pure speculation here).

    I would however expect the next version to have up-to-date internals, since they won't be dealing with the whole process that goes along with designing hardware and software the touch bar.

    I ended up buying a mid 2015 Macbook pro 15", 2.8GHz and 512GB SSD. I actually found a good deal on Ricardo with a buy it now price of 1700CHF, supposedly brand new and unpacked. It has yet to be shipped, so fingers crossed that everything is as advertised. If you don't mind buying from a non reputable dealer or buying used, this is definitely a good time to buy the 2015 version. A lot of people are unloading their current Laptops to put towards the newest version. I think the 2015 version will serve me well until I see something that really "wows" me, and at that point, I can sell it for smaller loss than buying new.
  4. ACD0236 thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 2, 2016
    Hi there and thanks for your replies!

    I am not much into buying used because I am quite an obsessive-compulsive type so if I see even little scratches on the beautiful surfaces of an Apple's product (or on the paint of my car, for that matter) I don't freak out but I keep on noticing it forever, so I would rather buy a new product but only based on my mental illness!

    One reason for buying used would be for being able to go for an updated, better MBP of the new design when this will come out (where "better" means "with more significative improvements or a lower price tag"), and this without trashing or losing money on a near-new older laptop. Being completely satisfied with my current 2012 MBP, though, I don't think that I would feel underwhelmed or in need of something new in one or two years if I buy a 2015 now or in the coming months, so this wouldn't be a temporary purchase.

    But other than that, the problem with the ports stays: we lost them with the new model, and we aren't going to have them back... but my iPhone lightning/USB cable will stay, as will the external optical drive, the external HDD, the Thunderbolt monitor and the USB Apple keyboard, which operate with ports not available in the new model... and my desire to keep things simple and don't spend a fortune on adapters and dongles stays, too.

    As I think about it deeper, I am going more and more towards the 2015 with beefed up specs (2.8, 512 GB, Radeon). At the moment I am oriented towards Digitec, but I'll see if other vendors come out with sales in the coming weeks. Let me know how it went with the purchase on Ricardo!
  5. Fancuku macrumors 65816


    Oct 8, 2015
    PA, USA
    Wait, Apple is offering the i7-6700HQ in European models?

    US models use the 6820HQ and 6920HQ.
  6. BenTrovato macrumors 68030


    Jun 29, 2012
    I think there's more value in the 2199 model. If money is no object I would get the one with the Radeon Pro 455 for 3149. For 1000 CHF more than a quad core 2015 with the dedicated R9 it is definitely a better buy considering the prices compared to the new ones. The new ones never offer the best value, you're paying for the latest and greatest. In a year or two you can upgrade to the newer models with better specs.
  7. ACD0236, Mar 18, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017

    ACD0236 thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 2, 2016
    I got that information on EveryMac, which lists the following:
    • I7-6700HQ - MLH32LL/A - 2.6/3.5 GHz
    • I7-6820HQ - MLH42LL/A - 2.7/3.6 GHz
    • I7-6920HQ - BTO/CTO - 2.9/3.8 GHz.
    I actually don't know if this is correct...
    --- Post Merged, Mar 18, 2017 ---
    I ended up replacing the battery in my 2012 MBP, so I am going to use it another couple of years... when time will come to replace it, I would evaluate a top-spec MBP + 4K display (even if the temptation to go full Surface - with a new, full-spec Pro and a Studio - is present).

    Anyway, thank you for your insight!
  8. monkeydax macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2012
    No the base model i7 2.6GHz uses the 6700HQ too, in all markets and countries.
  9. darksithpro, Mar 18, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017

    darksithpro macrumors 6502a

    Oct 27, 2016
    1. Slightly better battery life and higher synthetic benchmarks to gloat about. In every day use you'll probably not notice the difference.

    2. Makes little, to no difference.

    3. The newer Radeon chips are better and more energy efficient. http://gpuboss.com/gpus/Radeon-R9-M370X-Mac-vs-Radeon-Pro-455 The R455 chip is a little faster than last gen. That would be the one I would get for longevity in that price range.
  10. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    First of all, to your questions:

    1. The Skylake CPUs are faster and more efficient. They have an additional execution unit (which means doing more operations than the previous-gen CPU if the circumstances allow) as well as additional tweaks, and they can also boost faster, which means improved response times. Depending on what you do with your computer, you may or may not notice a difference to the previous-gen GPUs. After all, they are all really fast.

    2. The new RAM is faster and more efficient. I don't think that this in itself will make the operation smoother, but it certainly helps when working with things like video/audio.

    3. The Radeon Pro chips are faster and better (notice the pattern here? :) ). If you work with radiology and use some sort of 3d volume medical software, the new GPUs could give you a boost.

    All in all, the 2016 is a very nice update over the 2015 computer. For a user who doesn't push their machine too hard, the performance differences will be fairly minuscule, but then again, the improved boost on the new CPUs mean better response times and improved efficiency means better battery life on with light use. The only real drawback of the new models is the price. But the improved ergonomy, battery life, display, keyboard and more flexible connectivity makes it more then worth it in my book. For you specifically the new display might be of interest — I can imagine that the improved contrast and brightness might make it easier to work with medical imaging. And finally, since you are here in CH, you can get this little nifty thing from Wettingen: http://www.lmp-adapter.com/en/products/cables--adapters/usb-c/lmp-usb-c-mini-dock

    P.S. Do you work at university hospital by any chance? Because then you could get access to some very nice discounts.
  11. ACD0236 thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 2, 2016
    Thank you for your opinions guys! At the moment I decided to wait and see where updates and prices are going: I replaced the battery (and top case, since it comes with it) on my 2012 and I'll hold on to it another couple of years.

    I didn't know about the improvements in the display department: I thought that the screen was the same as before.

    As for the discounts, being still a student and not yet an university hospital employee I would get the - if I remember correctly - usual 10% offered to education customers.
  12. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Sounds like a wise decision! Also, if you want to buy Apple (or any laptop actually) as a university customer (student or not), watch out for project Neptun sale windows (http://www.projektneptun.ch) — they have very nice offers (and you just missed the spring window).
  13. ACD0236 thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 2, 2016
    Thanks again for the link and the suggestion! Have a nice Sunday!

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12 November 2, 2016