MacBook, MacBook Pro, or wait?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by estabya, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. estabya macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2014
    I am wanting to pick up a new laptop within the next few months for work and school. I am going back to school in the fall to get my bachelors in computer science (I currently just have an associates).

    Right now I work (half in office, half remotely) doing software development (primarily Python and JavaScript). I'm mostly using Jetbrains IDEs and VIM. My current setup consists of a base model 2014 13" MacBook Pro. I have an LG 34" ultra wide monitor at home and two 23" monitors at work. My current machine is plenty fast, but I want something a bit lighter and with more storage.

    The systems I'm looking at are the base model 2016 MacBook Pro without touchbar or the 2016 1.2ghz MacBook. I would probably prefer the Macbook for the larger storage, but I'm concerned about how powerful the CPU is. I am also considering just waiting a couple months to see if they release a new MacBook. Any insight or advice? Thanks in advance!
  2. Bart Kela, Feb 4, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017

    Bart Kela Suspended

    Bart Kela

    Oct 12, 2016
    Since Apple usually does not change pricing mid-cycle, I don't see any advantage of you buying now plus you claim your current computer is "plenty fast." There is no fiscal advantage for you to purchase now.

    No one here knows what Apple's release calendar is but it is reasonable to expect at least some refreshed notebook model to appear before the new academic year begins (September for many here in North America).

    Personally, I'm not keen on buying the first generation of any Apple product (like the new MacBook Pros). Admittedly I'm not a developer nor do I know the resource requirements for Jetbrains IDE, but I certainly know that VIM requires almost nothing in terms of computing resources. Also, since you are working with interpreted scripting languages like Pyton and JavaScript, those shouldn't be a deciding factor either.

    My hesitancy between the two platforms (MacBook and MacBook Pro) would be the keyboard. As a programmer, you would be using that input device quite a bit and yet you show no awareness that the keyboards of the two devices are considerably different than that of the device you currently own (which is barely over two years old).

    For this latter reason alone, I would say that you are not sufficiently prepared to make a judicious and well-informed decision for your particular situation.

    None of us here know your finances, but it would seem that you may want to save more money so you have a wider range of purchasing options when the time does come for you to give your money to Apple.
  3. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Although you don't absolutely need killer CPUs for development these days, and you could probably get the job done on the cheapest machine available, I think both of those choices are a little lightweight in the CPU department if you want any sort of flexibility or future-proofing. Remember, the MacBook Pro non-TB is really a "MacBook Air with Retina Display" with a relatively low-powered processor.

    Although the MacBook isn't going to break a sweat just running VIM and Safari, but I wouldn't be so sure about a chunky Java-based IDE like JetBrains. Then, if you're developing, pretty soon you're going to want to run virtual machines for testing or running servers, chrome with lots of tabs for testing web apps etc. Also, pretty sure it only supports a single external display.

    If I'm reading the Apple site correctly, the 1.2GHz MacBook is $1599 or you can configure the non-TB MBP to 512GB SSD for $1699 - its certainly worth the extra $100. However, don't forget the dongles you'll need to connect your displays & charge at the same time (only two i/o ports that have to do everything is really limiting)...

    However, if your current system is doing the job, I'd start saving for a "touchbar" model - not for the touchbar itself, but for the extra CPU/GPU grunt and connectivity. Or look out for a good used/refurb deal on a 2015 model with more SSD space.

    Also - as the previous poster suggested - get to a store and try out the keyboards on the new models, as they can be divisive. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised and had to cross them off the list of things I hate about the new MBPs.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "The systems I'm looking at are the base model 2016 MacBook Pro without touchbar or the 2016 1.2ghz MacBook."

    Have you thought about a 2015 MacBook Pro?
    Might be a good choice "between" the above two.
    Has 2.7ghz CPU, full complement of ports, fine display -- still a very viable Mac.
  5. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    There's not really much of a difference between the TB/non-TB though - if you're going to spend more for extra processing, the 15" makes much more sense.

    Anyway OP - I'm a comp. sci. student, and have the 2016 non-TB MBP...but I'm considering trading it for my wifes 2015 rMB (m5/512GB). The rMB is surprisingly capable, and going back and forth, you can absolutely tell the difference in size/weight when using them.

    Both are very nice, but I really love the size of the rMB. I would suggest trying it out first, and if it doesn't work for you (even though the 2016 model is faster than my 2015 model), then go for the non-TB 13".

  6. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    That rather depends on whether your workflow supports multi-cores: if you look at the single-core geekbench results, there's more difference between the 13" TB and non-TB than there is between the 13" TB and 15" TB. Obviously, on the multi-core, the quad-core 15" thrashes the dual-cores. Also, with the 15" you're paying a premium for the discrete GPU, which isn't going to be a big deal for development.

    So, for video & graphics stiff (which tends to be multi-core optimised and/or uses the GPU) then yes, the 15" is a clear winner. For developing in scripting languages, though, it might not be such a big deal (now, compiling big, multi-file C/C++ projects can benefit from quad core).

    The other big issue is connectivity - if you use any other peripherals, the rMB is horribly limited with a single USB-C and the non-TB is pretty limited with 2xTB3 (which have to do everything from charging to external displays - OP says they have external monitor at home and dual monitors at work). Unless you really don't use much in the way of peripherals you'll be dependent on either carrying dongles/hubs around or buying duplicates for home & work.

    However, you're quite right - as I said, a rMB has more than enough grunt to run VIM and a web browser & do comp sci. assignments, and is absurdly portable. The question is, what else do you want to do with it?
  7. digitalpark macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2017
    I'm with Fishrrman...I purchased a 2015 BTO MacBook Pro that was manufactured in November 2016. As a photographer with multiple slide and print scanners, printers and other peripherals, I just couldn't justify having 1000 dongles hanging out of my MacBook Pro...if I went with the 2016. I got 16GB Ram, 3.1 processor and a TB SSD. It's all I'm going to need for years. You might consider it...price was much better also.

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6 February 4, 2017