Laptop for CAT-work

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by EliasM, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. EliasM macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Location:
    Brussels
    #1
    I'm in the market for a new laptop. It would also replace my Mini as my main computer. The MacBook Pro would probably be best, but I also like the new MacBooks. As I am a translator, I use my computer a lot with CAT-tools (Computer Aided Translation), especially Wordfast Pro. I also always have a dictionary, a browser and my e-mail open. These programs use a lot of memory and large translation memories. My current Mini (late 2012, 2,5 Ghz, 4 GB) occasionally has a hard time dealing with this. From time to time, I type faster than the letters appear on my screen.

    What should I look for in a new computer? I guess memory and processor speed, or am I overlooking something? I suppose 8 GB will be better than 4 GB, but what about the processor? Can a MacBook deal with CAT-tools? Any tips would be appreciated.
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    At an absolute minimum I'd suggest the 13" Retina MacBook Pro.

    To ensure perfect performance and longevity for the future, a better choice would be upgrading to the 15" rMBP. It's a powerhouse and is guaranteed to handle anything you throw at it.
     
  3. EliasM thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2013
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    Brussels
    #3
    Thanks for your reply. I was indeed thinking the rMBP would be best.

    However, if I compare the 13" and the 15", I'm a bit lost. In theory, 2,9 Ghz (13") is better than 2,5 (15"), but quad core (15") should also be better than dual core (13"). And 16 GB (15") should be better than 8 GB (13"). But what does that mean for my usage? I would require the 500 GB storage, so the price difference is not negligible.
     
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #4
    To be honest what you describe can be performed by any of apples laptops, it's not that intensive for a modern computer. I don't think any of the apps you describe use much in the way of multi cores as long as you have 8gb of ram to load the translation libraries too it shouldn't matter on CPU too much at all.
     
  5. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #5
    CPU clockspeed is near enough irrelevant when gauging performance these days, unless you're comparing the same model CPU with different clockspeed. There are so many other factors that affect the CPU's performance like pipeline, transistor count, fabrication node, bus speed, cache, processor generation ... the list goes on.

    The best thing to do if you want a decent reflection of how powerful a CPU is would be to type in the model of CPU into http://cpubenchmark.net/ for an accurate idea of its performance. The higher the number, the better the CPU.

    Just for a bit of perspective, the 3.1GHz i7 CPU in the 13" is the Intel i7-5557U, which has a passmark of 5000. Whereas the 2.2GHz i7 in the 15" is the Intel i7-4770HQ, with a passmark of nearly 9000. That's insanely powerful -- so you get a lot more performance on the entry-level 15" CPU than you do with the top-level 13" CPU.

    I really can't recommend the 15" rMBP enough. Price and form factor/size aside, it's incredibly powerful and is guaranteed to handle anything you can throw at it.
     
  6. EliasM thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Location:
    Brussels
    #6
    Thanks for your replies.

    I understand the 15" would be best and would probably last longer than any other one. But it's also far more expensive, and it would be much harder to loose it (risk of theft/damage). I still don't quite get what does specs mean in practice, and what's more important: the CPU or the RAM, or both?
     
  7. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    London, UK
    #7
    Do you have an SSD in your Mac Mini? For your usage, putting in an SSD and upgrading the RAM to 8GB would be a far more cost-effective than getting a new computer.
     
  8. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #8
    Just add 2*8GB RAM and see how it performs.
    You just have to un-screw the bottom and replace the modules.
    If it's still slow, adding an SSD will help even more.
    It will cost far, far less than a new computer and should be good for a few years.
     
  9. EliasM thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2013
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    Brussels
    #9
    Thanks for the tips. I didn't think the RAM on late 2012 Minis was still upgradeable, but I'll look into it. No SSD, old-fashioned spinning HDD. I might indeed go for an upgrade of my Mini and add a laptop to be more mobile.
     
  10. r6mile macrumors 6502

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    London, UK
    #10
    In that case absolutely upgrade the Mini, it's a great machine with a lot of power left in it. The Mini is very easily upgradeable (it takes upto 16GB, though I suspect 8GB is more than plenty for your uses), and you can add an SSD without too much difficulty. The great thing is that there is space for the SSD so you can keep the spinner as well (I would then recommend configuring the two as a Fusion drive so you can let OSX work out where to place files). I highly recommend the OWC kit, which comes with all the cables and tools you need http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIYIMM11D2/ (do check whether your Mini has the current drive in the upper or lower bay by following the NOTE on that page). As for the drives, the Samsung 850 EVO is probably the best value SSD out there, the 256GB version in particular.

    I've performed both of those upgrades on my parents' 2012 i5 2.5 Mini and it runs great now, hopefully for many years to come.
     
  11. EliasM thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2013
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    Brussels
    #11
    Great advice, thanks! Now do you know of any tutorials on how to do that?
     
  12. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    London, UK
    #12
    1. Install the SSD in your Mac Mini using the OWC kit and instructions
    2. Clone the contents of your existing hard drive to an external hard drive, using Carbon Copy Cloner for example
    3. Boot into the external drive (by pressing Option on start-up).
    4. Create a logical 'fusion drive' using the terminal commands in this tutorial http://www.techrepublic.com/article/pro-tip-how-to-create-and-disable-a-fusion-drive/. It's quite simple.
    5. While still booted into the external drive, clone its contents back into your new fusion drive.
    6. Now just restart your computer, and it should boot from the fusion drive.
     
  13. EliasM thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Location:
    Brussels
    #13
    That sounds like something I should be able to do. I already ordered the RAM (16 GB) and shall install it tonight. If that speeds things up enough, I'll leave it at that. If not, I'll upgrade my hard drive as well.

    Thanks for everyone's input!
     
  14. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #14
    There are are different opinions on whether it's a good idea to create a Fusion drive.
    IMO, the Fusion drive is a relic from a time when 128GB SSDs were the utmost anyone could afford.
    How much "hot" data do you actually have?
    If it's anything below 512GB, get a 512GB SSD and be done with it.
    Creating a Fusion Drive requires disassembling the whole Mini (and moving the hard drive into the lower slot), while just replacing the hard drive with the SSD is a rather easy thing to do.
     
  15. EliasM thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 16, 2013
    Location:
    Brussels
    #15
    In case any of you were wondering, I just installed my new RAM (4 GB upgraded to 16) and the difference is definitely noticeable. I'll try this for a couple of days to see if that does the trick, and if not I'll upgrade the HDD to an SDD - no Fusion drive.
     
  16. blwest78 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2016
    #16
    A macbook pro 13" is essentially a mac mini with a retina display. Integrated graphics, dual core cpu, soldered ram (unless you have an older mini). You won't see much difference in performance except for a faster ssd and only a little with a clock increase. e.g. 30% clock increase doesn't equal a 30% overall increase in performance.
     

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