Identifying the bottleneck to plan hardware purchase

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Glmnet1, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Glmnet1 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2017
    I have a 2011 15" MBP 2ghz 4 core i7 with an SSD, only 4gb of RAM and a broken dGPU.

    I'm planning to replace it at the next hardware refresh but I'm still not sure with what. I'm not sure if I should try to get a more powerful CPU such as the base 27" iMac or if even a base MBP 13" with external monitor would be fine.

    I use it for software development and light photo editing. Often multitasking a lot, running scripts, exporting/importing data from dbs, compiling apps, installing packages etc. Nothing as taxing as video editing which is all the reviews/comparisons seem to talk about.

    I already know that the 4gb of RAM is often causing slowdowns and I'm planning to get at least 16gb.

    At other times it get really slow, mouse is jumping, the fans are loud but memory pressure is green and the CPU usage stays at around 40-50% with various processes taking up to 60%.

    Is this the CPU throttling? What else could cause the slowdowns instead of using closer to 100% of the CPU? Would I notice a difference between a 13" MBP and a base iMac (with SSD)?

  2. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    Going from a 2011 machine to ANYTHING current will be a huge and noticeable difference, if you got a base 27" it would be massive overkill.

    Bottleneck wise, the system is likely suffering from RAM as that is rather low. However the system is balanced, and these things scale accordingly. If you put 16GB in that system then it won't run 4 times faster, as the CPU would be bottlenecked. Likewise if you upgraded the CPU but left 4GB RAM, then the RAM would be bottlenecked... Etc...

    From your current usage (60%), you've still got life in the machine. So by all means upgrade, but consider how much of an upgrade you want to pay for.

    A MBP and an iMac represent different things and aren't really comparable. A base 13" compared to a base 27" iMac is a significant difference. Of course a MBP would be fine for you, if portability is the main concern, but if it's power then you'll want an iMac. Have you considered a 21" iMac? I use a maxed out one at the office, still cheaper than a comparable 27", and more than capable for my needs.
  3. Glmnet1 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2017
    Thank you for your answer!

    Great :) I'm looking for the best setup to keep for a long time, ideally as long as my MBP. I'm not sure what my job will require in the future which is why I find the 27" tempting.

    In terms of budget, they are similar because MBP 13" + monitor and peripherals costs about the same as an iMac 27" and a cheaper laptop. I'm shared between the simplicity (one machine) and upgradability (eGPU, external monitor) of the MBP setup and the specs of the 27" but I'm not sure if it's needed. I guess I'll buy both and compare to see if I notice a difference, then return one of them.

    I need a laptop but I won't be carrying it a lot. 1-2 times a year when on vacation and once in a while to work from the couch :rolleyes: I don't need something powerful there.

    No matter which setup I get I want a 27" 4k/5k monitor, the screen size and resolution is my #1 priority as it has the biggest effect on my productivity. 21" is too small IMO.
  4. Sam Luis Obispo macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2006
    Going from 4 Gb to 8Gb on a 2011 13" MBP dropped the memory pressure and noticeably improved the running of programs like EXCEL and Civ5. Before upgrade, Excel would constantly pause while loading a new formula into memory. The slow response was just irritating. Some of the extra ram is apparently assigned to the Intel HD3000 video ram (hence the improvement to Civ5). Absolutely no regrets upgrading ram!

    If not mistaken, that system will not be able to be upgraded to the next operating system. Upgrading ram to 8 Gb (or 16 Gb) is not an arm and a leg; however how long will you be continuing to use that system? There will be security updates for the next three years...
  5. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I don't see how you can compare current performance on a 2011 15" MBPro with a bad GPU to a new (2018?) MacBook Pro with specs that are yet-to-be announced.

    Best advice I can give:
    DON'T buy a 2017 design. The problems with the keyboard are destined to become a bigger problem for Apple than the bad GPU's of "RadeonGate".

    Wait for the 2018's if you can.
    Even when they're announced, I would refrain from buying one right away.
    Wait a month or so until the "early user reviews" come in.

    If they DON'T fix the keyboard with a complete re-design, that would be a BIG "red flag" to me.

    The only "new" Apple laptop I would recommend right now is the 2015-design MBPro 15".
  6. Ampidire macrumors 6502


    Feb 1, 2007
  7. Glmnet1 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2017
    I'm trying to see how the specs of a new machine will help my workflow. Based on everyone's answer it seems that it's not easy to estimate due to the large gaps in performance. I'll try different Macs when they are refreshed and base my decision on that.
    Thank you! I plan to follow all of your advice.

    I'm not interested in the 2015, unless I could find a really good deal on it, which I'm not actively looking for. IMO no matter how flawed the 2017 are a 3 year old laptop is not worth $2000.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 13, 2018 ---
    Yep, I used that and it saved my laptop :) I notice the performance drop in even day to day usage from the loss of the dGPU and I can't use my external monitor anymore so I'm really looking forward to a refresh.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 13, 2018 ---
    Yeah I thought about it but I don't want to invest more on that aging machine. Maybe I should have done that along with the SSD upgrade but now it's too late. If I go the iMac route and keep it it will be for a very limited usage and the 4 Gb would be fine. I'd probably replace it in 3 years when there's no more security updates or if it completely breaks.

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