Macbook Pro Upgrade Advice

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ladylogic, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. ladylogic macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2008
    Hello all! Avid reader, new poster. I'm looking for some upgrade advice.

    I currently own an early 2011 macbook pro, 2.2 GHZ quad core, i7, matte high resolution screen, 8GB ram and a crucial m4 512gb drive installed. Good machine, still a few months of Applecare. Geekbench 3 score of 2568.

    I would like to get more serious about my music making, and have purchased Ableton Live 9 and Logic. My other usage is pretty standard - watching the occasional Netflix show/movie, web browsing, playing The Sims on my Windows partition, using Office.

    Having recently used a 13" computer for a while, my 15" is feeling less than portable. I would like to downgrade in size, but still have the power for multiple tracks.

    I am debating between a few upgrade options, as listed below. I would sell my current machine on eBay or craiglist - it looks like I could get at least $1000 for it, likely more because of the SSD and the remaining applecare (good til March 1, 2014). I also qualify for the .edu discount. The fact that Ableton looks crappy on a retina isn't a big deal because I use an external monitor when using Live. I'm trying to figure out if I am missing any pros and cons from my options/lists below.

    Also some basic questions, the answers to which I am still unsure:

    Quad core vs dual core: How does my current quad core 2.2 i7 compare to the dual core i7s (or even i5s) in the MBAs and MBPs?

    i5 vs i7: Is i7 necessary? I think it is in the MBA, but what about the rMBP?

    Option 1: Stop chasing the latest and greatest and ride this machine until it croaks because it is a great i7 quad core machine. Just take it up to 16Gbs ram.
    Advantages - cost, ability to upgrade to a larger ssd when prices come down. Lovely high res matte screen.
    Disadvantages - weight, portability. Won't get same resale value once applecare expires.

    Option 2: 13" cMBP. i7. remainder of specs basic. $1134.
    Advantages - cheap, can upgrade ram and keep my existing SSD to install.
    Disadvantages - No Haswell? Dual cores? Still pretty heavy. Glossy, non retina screen.

    Option 3: 13" MBA, i7, 8gb Ram, 512 drive. $1749.
    Advantages - Light light light!
    Disadvantages - less powerful processor, crappier screen, can't upgrade drive later, can't get 16GB ram.

    Option 4: 13" rMBP, 2.8 i7 (do I need this?), 16GB ram, 512 drive. $2109.
    Advantages: Also light, but more powerful.
    Disadvantages: Can't upgrade to 1TB later. Expensive machine with i7, ram and drive upgrades. Retina screen problems?

    Option 5: 15" rMBP, 2.3 i7 16GB ram, 512 drive. $2449.
    Advantages: Beast.
    Disadvantages: Not much lighter, expensive, retina screen problems.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    To be honest, I think going from a 2011 Quadcore to a 2013 dual core would be a down grade for YOUR purposes. Also, newer =/ better. Check this out:

    The i7-2675QM is ranked 49th on that list, versus 62nd for the i7-4558U. While it doesn't have direct scores listed, it's important to remember that the 2675 is better than the 2670 and even that beats the 4558U on more than one occasion. Also remember:

    Upgrade ability- You can easily upgrade your 2011 15" to 16GB of ram. What you're experiencing is what I would describe as the 'upgrade itch'. You see all these new machines surfacing and you're tempted to jump on. New box smell, new electronics, new set up. But they aren't always better machines. Out of all the machines you listed, the only one that is an upgrade is the 15" Retina.

    However, how much of an improvement?

    By my calculations using the above link, it's 1.20x the speed in processing power. But it's also about 25% SLOWER in GPU power. So what you gain in processing power, you lose in: upgrade ability/memory and GPU power.

    But let's look at another number: cost.

    Assuming you get $1000.00 for your 15", you would then have to spend $1000+tax to buy the 15" Retina base. You'd be paying 200% to gain 20% in processing power and lose 25% in graphics power.

    Here's what I recommend you do:
    Purchase a 16GB DDR3-1600 kit.
    Swap your DVD drive for a low power (Green or Blue) mechanical drive and set up Fusion.
    Save all your files to an external or iCloud and install Mavericks from scratch.
    Pick up a used 27" Cinema display on Craig's List.

    All of those investments are well under the $1000 cost to actually improve your system to a newer model, give you a high resolution display, faster power and a fresh feeling of a new OS being installed. If you need more mobility, I say you strip out the DVD drive and don't install a mechanical in an optical caddy. Just use one hard drive. The DVD drive alone shaves off around half a pound.

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