is newer always better? (late 2011 vs mid2012)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by stlphotog, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. stlphotog macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2010
    Well my trusty 1st generation Macbook Pro finally gave up the ghost. So now that upgrade I was going to make "someday" is going to happen in the next few days.

    I found a good price on the late 2011 2.8 i7 13" with 4g ram, but the 2012 2.9 i7 13" with 8g ram AND usb 3.0 is only a few hundred dollars more. So I'm wondering if the difference is worth it.

    -Will I notice that much of a speed increase?
    -How much better is usb3.0 really? As a professional photographer I do transfer a lots of large files (up to 16g at any given time) so transfer speed is very important to me. Plus my card reader is actually usb3.

    I've read all the benchmarks, but am interested in real world experience with the 2012. Sadly the retina model is not an option at this time. I might consider an ssd upgrade down the line though.

    Any thoughts on the 2012 performance?
  2. Orlandoech macrumors 68040


    Jun 2, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT
    USB3 is significantly better than USB2 if you transfer to externals frequently, and much cheaper than Thunderbolt which is pointless without an SSD.

    Ivy Bridge also offers HD4000 over HD3000 which is a big difference too. The CPU performance wont be much difference from Ivy to Sandy Bridge however.

    1600MHz to 1333MHz RAM isnt that big of a difference either, but the 2011s can accept up 32GB RAM up to 1600MHz just like the Ivy Bridge, however the biggest DIMMs you can buy is 8GB atm, so 16GB would be the max for the time being.
  3. sweetbrat macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2009
    Redford, MI
    If the price difference is only a couple hundred, I'd probably go for the 2012. I'm not an advocate for "newer is always better," but in your case it makes sense. You said that transfer speed is important to you, so USB3 would likely make a big difference. The speed increase from the CPU won't be noticeable, but the speed increase from USB3 definitely will be.
  4. hayden21 macrumors member

    Apr 14, 2008
    I use this site a lot when trying to figure out the performance difference between model years.

    I would honestly suggest going with the older model, the performance gains really aren't worth the extra few hundred bucks. I would say the biggest impact in USB 3.0, but keep in mind that you peripheral have to support USB 3.0 to take advantage of the benefits otherwise is just defaults to the highest supported of the devices. (ie. I have a lot of USB 1.0 and 2.0 external drives).

    Also, those laptops can only accept up to 16GB of ram and thats true of all current MacBook Pros. This has more to do with the limitation of DDR3 to 8GB per DIMM than what can be supported by the logic board or OSX.

    I would honestly recommend that you spend the couple extra hundred bucks and find a used late 2011 2.2 i7 15" MBP. It shouldn't be too hard to find one for around the 1500 you'd spend on the current 2.9 i7 13" and you would see a lot more performance gains especially because you get dedicated graphics. Just my 2 cents.
  5. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    USB 3.0 is a lot better.
    Controllers are cheap like nothing else so you find it on almost any device.
    Firewire is dying (being phased out) and has expensive controller. Try finding an Firewire equipped external HDD they cost quite a lot more. Thunderbolt is insanely expensive and outside of docking stations or external GPUs not worth it.

    A modern 2.5" HDD reaches about 110MB/s max. down to 60 on the inner most tracks.
    USB 2.0 limits it to some meager 35MB/s max often even lower.
    FW800 manages about 75MB/s but it is really not worth it unless you already have the FW capable devices.
    USB3.0 controllers have been shown to handle some 280MB/s today and more in the future. It is more than enough for even a simple RAID setup.

    For a card reader it won't change much as most SD Cards don't even reach USB 2.0 speeds. Memory cards are really quite pathetic in speed. For them it makes no difference.

    Some Flashsticks are much faster but most of the cheap ones also do fine with USB 2.0.
  6. hayden21 macrumors member

    Apr 14, 2008
    Agreeded, USB 3.0 is way faster than USB 2.0. I also agree the only real benefits are with external drives vs. standard flash drives/memory cards. In real world environments transfering data via a hard drive on USB 2.0 to 3.0 is roughly 4 to 5 times faster. When dealing with standard memory the difference is only a few seconds, you'd have to have high speed memory cards to see a big difference.

    USB 3.0 is clearly the better choice and will be standard, the question is whether the difference is worth the few extra hundred dollars or would that money be better spent on a better perfoming computer. You'd be the best judge of that.

    I might suggest that you take your sd card reader to the store and test it out in real world conditions and see if its worth it to you.
  7. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Agree - agree - agree.

    USB3 is your clear winner.

    The rest... ONLY if you are Photoshop power user.

    "is newer always better?" Technically 98% Yes, assumes no factory defect, Best Buy - NO. Am the guy who always buy last year's product because (1) Cheaper, (2) Let them work out the bugs first, why do I want to spend my valuable time troubleshooting their stuff.
  8. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Faster CPU, GPU and USB3. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. The question whether its worth the money to you (but thats something you have to decide).
  9. stlphotog thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2010
    Thanks for all the help guys! You've given me a lot to think about.

    Just to clarify one thing, I shoot the fastest compact flash cards available (read/write 90mb/sec) and use a USB3 Lexar professional card reader I also archive thousands of photos to my banks of external drives weekly. I've always preferred firewire 800, but it seems that USB3 is the way of the future.

    All of my time machine backups of my 24" imac are in Snow Leopard. Will I be able to restore it onto a new laptop with Lion?
  10. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    Sure. Would be really stupid if that wouldn't work.
  11. billycuth macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2010
    I happened to have purchased the '12 MBP 13 2.9 ghz 8 GB... It is a REALLY NICE machine and one that I would keep if not for the week sauce graphics processor. It is very fast for a dual core. If you don't do a decent amount of gaming and like portability this is a GREAT model.

    I upgraded to the 15, and opted for the 1 GB Nvidia Geforce GT 650M video processor. Though I gotta say, I am not quite sold on that either. I am in the process of trying to bootcamp windows onto it for games to see if that will make my experience better. If not, that one is going back too.
  12. Orlandoech macrumors 68040


    Jun 2, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Sounds like you're just an indecisive person.
  13. billycuth macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2010
    Not really.

    The 13" ran civ 5 pretty decently actually to my surprise, but there were some major bugs when running higher settings.

    So.... I opted to go to the more powerful version with a better GPU option. I expected BETTER performance, and I actually got worse performance.

    Though, I will admit, this being my first Mac purchase ever, I am a bit paranoid about making a mistake, because these things are not cheap. I also don't want to go back to PC though.
  14. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009

    How so?

    From the moment you started Civ5, or not until after playing for a while?
  15. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    Sounds justifiable in terms of a need for USB 3.0.

    Honestly I would go with the 2.5 GHz model and upgrade to 8GB RAM via aftermarket to close the gap on the price even more.
  16. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
  17. MaxPower72 macrumors 6502


    Aug 15, 2012
    Chicago, Illinois, Crooks County
    I agree
  18. billycuth macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2010
    zooming in and out on the 13 was smoother. sliding around the screen was also smoother. And I could run high settings for everything except leader scenes. from the very first turn.

    I just finished bootcamping the computer with windows 7 and I can happily report that all is well now. I can run it on the 15 in high settings with 2X AA and it runs flawlessly. I am much happier now!


    Also, the 13 never crashed. The 15 was crashing left and right.

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