Most "bang for my buck" MacBook configuration

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by mm94210, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. mm94210 macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2017
    I apologise if this has been asked before (I'm sure it has so please hold the fire) but I am really confused about which configuration to go for. After doing tons of research I was going to go for the i7 16gb 256ssd version but I am now not so sure. I purchased a base model MBP non TB (i5, 8gb, 125ssd) 2 months ago and while I love it i wish I'd gone for the smaller form so I'm going to sell it and go for the mb 12.

    I am training to be a teacher so only use office suite, email, browsing etc and occasionally smart board software. I have a monitor and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse so when I'm at home I use those for extended pieces of writing and stream Netflix/amazon video etc. It needs to last me 4 years and some people have been telling me to go for the i7 16gb while others suggest just going for the m3 8gb and that that will be great for my usage. I am aware that these chips on the regular mb (i5 and i7) are not the same as the ones in the pros and that on paper I will have an inferior machine, however I don't want it to feel slow or like I've compromised.

    I guess what I'm saying (like most people probably) i don't have a bottomless pit of money so in a nutshell is anyone able to tell me which configuration will give me the most bang for my buck. Should I just stick at the base model or upgrade?

  2. Mighuel macrumors member

    Aug 27, 2008
    I think you'll be just fine with the base model.

    However if you got a little bit more to spare then go for RAM upgrade to 16 GB. It'll be the most useful upgrade I think.
  3. maerz001 macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2010
    Never heard of smart board but for the rest the base model is enough.
    Without using a virtual machine or other intense parallel processing 16GB is not required for the next couple of years
  4. DHagan4755 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    SmartBoard software is a pig. Bloated crap. Base model should be just fine
  5. mm94210 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2017
    Thank you for your replies. I'm gong to go for the base model and see how I get on. I can always return and upgrade within the 14 day window if it doesn't quite suit.
  6. Wackery macrumors 6502a

    Feb 1, 2015
    if you care about bang for your buck this is the wrong computer
  7. ErnstStavroBlohard macrumors member

    Jul 2, 2016
    Ignore post #6. If you buy last year's model at a heavy discount from a vendor such as Best Buy like many on this forum do, you're getting a great computer with great software at a fair price (without paying the "Apple tax").

    For your usage, I think you'll be just fine with the base model. A 12" MacBook (even the 2015 model) can crunch through office apps like nobody's business.
  8. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    I have many versions, so my experience running them all back to back - CPU makes next to no difference so ignore the i7. Storage can be managed and externally expanded but RAM is always limited. So 16GB followed by larger SSD (512 or bigger).

    Best compromise for me is 16GB 256GB but I'd aim for 512GB model.
  9. rkuo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2010
    Best bang for your buck is a used 2015 or 2016 off eBay or Craigslist or Best Buy, like others said. I agree with others in that if you have to buy new, ignore CPU. I would personally go for RAM if I had to pick one, followed by 512 SSD. Your mileage may vary.
  10. Saturn007 macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2010
    However, the 2016 model has the older, not so good keyboard!

    Better to spend a tad more, and get brand new 2017 from Apple with the educational discount! The extra cost spread over four years will amount to little extra -- perhaps no more than one outing to Starbucks (if you're into that sort of thing) or a dinner out just once a month! Well worth it!

    I'd go with the base model and see if it doesn't suit your needs. Just keep in mind that the first days it could be indexing your hard drive, and you're in a getting acquainted mode, so wait a good week before judging it. I'll bet you will really like it!
  11. jeremiah256 macrumors 65816


    Aug 2, 2008
    Southern California
    Owner of the 2015 MB with the slower SSD and agree - I'm on Blackboard for my classes and no issues with performance. The only time I ran into lag was while using Excel when running a linear regression problem with 800 randomly changing entries. And even then, my results came up 1 second slower than my partner on his MacBook Pro.
  12. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    Best bang for the buck for basic usage is 256 GB m3 with 8 GB RAM.
    I went with 256 GB m3 with 16 GB RAM.
    Next step up would be 512 GB i5 with 16 GB RAM.

    The i7 isn't a good buy because for stuff where you actually need sustained speed, the i7 will likely often throttle.
  13. kindaichi81 macrumors member

    Nov 3, 2015
    16gb is quite a overkilled for the 12 inch macbook. i7 on 12-inch is totally not worth it. If one needs such processing power, he should go for the 13-inch based MacBook Pro without touchbar instead.

    Personally I won't recommend anyone to get the 12-inch unless one requires the Super light weight and form factor. One thing is the processing power, which it will become a bottleneck anytime faster than one who owns a MacBook Pro. The performance has been improved over time to date. However, comparing to the processing power of MacBook Pro, it is still no fight. Secondly, the screen of 12-inch is actually quite small to work for serious tasks, 13.3 inch is a better size with balance form factor and weight and everything, I will recommend 13-inch 2017 MBP anytime. Personally I came from 2016 m5 macbook and now I am now on 13-inch MBP with touchbar 2017. I am more than happy with it.
  14. EugW, Sep 1, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017

    EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    I had an old 13" Pro. I am so much happier with the 12". The 13", even the current ones (which are lighter than mine), just seems so awkward in comparison. We each will have difference preferences, and my preference is for portability.

    As for processing power, that is not really a significant issue for me for my laptop. More important is RAM. Occasionally I run a whole bunch of business apps with lots of images, lots of background browser tabs, and a bit of Photoshop thrown in. None of these really tax the CPU that much, but they can chew up RAM. Actually, 8 GB is usually OK, but it's not absolutely ideal in all situations, and I'd personally much rather have more RAM than a faster CPU. This is especially true going forward, since RAM usage increases with time, and the RAM in these machines is not upgradable. (I tend to keep my laptops for a long time, partially because as mentioned, CPU power is not the main concern for me.)

    To put it another way, considering that 8 GB is the MINIMUM amount of RAM you can buy in any Apple laptop these days, it shouldn't be surprising that even on a 12" MacBook, 16 GB isn't necessarily overkill for everyone. This is especially true if you have more than one user, or if you use VMs or stuff like that.
  15. kindaichi81, Sep 1, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017

    kindaichi81 macrumors member

    Nov 3, 2015
    My past experience with my ex 2016 macbook m5 is that the bottleneck is the cpu and not the memory. 8gb ram is really more than sufficient for general tasks unless one runs VMs on the machine. But if that is the case, 12-inch macbook the processing power will not be able to cope well due to the throttling.

    I had used the macbook for one year, I could say that I had faced the bottleneck issues on the processing power quite often even with not heavy metal tasks but just multi-tasking. This is the main reason I switched to MacBook Pro as I can foresee I will have issues with the processing power in near future.

    Secondly, the single port will become bottleneck soon as well and most importantly the USB-c port is not even gen 2 and no thunderbolt 3 supported which it is not future proof.

    Thirdly, the Retina display on it is ok but it lacks of the p3 Color gamut and 500 nits brightness on the MacBook Pro which it is quite a difference in terms of screen quality.

    In addition, I compare the 2016 macbook m5 to the 2015 retina MacBook Pro base model 256gb version with base clock rate of 2.7Ghz, it is few times snappier than it.

    Lastly, the main deal breaker in my 2 cents is that the price point between the two MacBooks are way too closed which it makes the 12-inch macbook kind of overpriced based on what one will get from it. Other than ultra slim and light form factor, the 13-inch is certainly better bang for bucks.

    One more thing is that the resale value of 12-inch macbook is a lot poorer than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, worse part is the market is a lot smaller for resell which it is much harder to find buyer despite the already Low price tag.
  16. KUKitch macrumors 6502


    Jan 10, 2008
    I'd support this range, and to add that my aunt has a 2015 model and I've used it a fair amount and found that it performs quite solidly for the general work you've mentioned... as an aside she is also a teacher
  17. rkuo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2010
    I agree if you are buying the notebook as your primary computing device you should be a little wary of just getting the 12" Macbook. In fact, the quad core on the 15" Macbook and dedicated GPU are the real leaps in performance.

    As a secondary computer, however, the 12" macbook is excellent. I would not actually try to run the type of workloads the macbook is bad at on it anyway. I also love the poor resale values as it means I can pick up a portable Mac for a reasonable price. :)
  18. kindaichi81, Sep 1, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017

    kindaichi81 macrumors member

    Nov 3, 2015
    13-inch MBP can already serve a lot of ppl well. 15-inch is good for heavy users who do the video or photo editing.

    12-inch MB yes, good for secondary computer, but certainly not for those who uses it as main driver.

    in most cases, i believe, most ppl will only have one main driver laptop or one main driver desktop at home. so second computer option may not applicable for most ppl

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