MacBook Pro: Faster processor or faster drive?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by artynottechie, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. artynottechie macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2010
    I am buying a new MacBook Pro, need a 500 GB hard drive, and will be using Aperture and Adobe Creative Suite 5 very frequently. My budget is firmly fixed, however.

    I can afford EITHER the 2.4 GHz i5 processor with a 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drive OR the 2.54 GHz i5 processor with a 500 GB 5400 rpm hard drive, but not a machine with both the faster processor and the faster drive.

    Which do you think will give me better performance? Why?
  2. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    You won't notice a significant improvement with the faster processor (so long as the video options are the same). HOWEVER it's a lot easier to later upgrade the drive (easy) vs. the CPU (impossible). If you're going to never upgrade this machine I'd buy the 7200 drive, it will be noticeably faster. If a year down the road you will have funds to upgrade the drive maybe even to SSD then I'd get the faster processor.

  3. Brien macrumors 68030


    Aug 11, 2008
    I went with both when I bought my MBP in 2008, and from doing that, I can tell you that while the 7200rpm drive made a larger difference, getting the fastest CPU they offered at the time has allowed me to have a 2-year old computer that's still comparable to the news ones.

    So, I'd upgrade the CPU and, down the road, buy a 500GB 7200rpm drive off newegg.
  4. GadgetGeek71 macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2010
    Wherever I May Roam
    Go with the faster drive. You will only notice a difference between those processors is if you benchmark them. The 7200RPM runs hot and is noisier. though!
  5. evilalien macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2009
    That difference in CPU clock is negligible. If you can, either go Core i7 for hyperthreading, or get an SSD instead of a HDD and get some cheap USB attached storage later on.

    SSD will be your biggest bang, but not without risks.
  6. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Agreed. The 133MHz speed difference between the two is so small that even with video rendering, the difference would be almost negligible. The 7200 RPM drive would give you much more of a performance increase than the CPU upgrade. And if you want, you can buy your own 7200 RPM drive for less than half of what apple charges you, and you get the stock drive as an external. I just picked up a 320GB WD Scorpio Black for $60, and a 500 gig drive is probably about $70, although WD doesn't make a 500GB 7200 RPM drive. Then pick up an enclosure (don't get a super cheap one - you get what you pay for), and install OS X on the new drive, wipe the old one, and use it for backups.
  7. anon.ymous macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2010
    Just to clarify, ALL of the i series processors have both turboboost and hyperthreading except the base i3 in the new iMacs which does not turboboost and quad core i5 in the iMacs which does not hyperthread. All of the i-series on the MBPs do both.

    But agreed that a SSD or a the 7200 will be better for performance. You'll probably get less battery life with the 7200 and since it spins faster it's more prone to mechanical failure. The clock speed between the i5s is so small that any performance difference will be pretty negligible. I would even go so far to say that a SSD would give you a more noticeable improvement than the i7 would with the stock 5400 drive.
  8. colonelsanders macrumors member

    Jul 11, 2008
    SLC, Utah
    That's good advice. If you're constrained to the $1,999 price point then consider the following.

    15inch, i7@2.66 GHZ, 4gig ram, 128gig SSD, nVidia 330m 512 all for $2,039

    ... Check out the Apple refurb store.

    This way you get the better processor, GPU, and HD at a pretty damn good price.

    If you choose to save money you can get a refurb i7 with the slower 5400rpm HD for $1,869.00. I would then go to newegg, buy an SSD, buy an external FW 800 case, put the internal 5400rpm drive in the external case and put the SSD in the MBP.

    just a thought...
  9. artynottechie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2010
    Thanks for easy to understand advice!

    Thank you all very much for your extremely helpful advice, which was intelligible even for a non-techie like me. I have chosen the faster hard drive. By laying out the issues so clearly, you have made me very comfortable with the decision.

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