my 15" rMBP experience -- Internet vs reality

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by emt8q5, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. emt8q5, Jan 10, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013

    emt8q5 macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2007
    I've spent the past few weeks obsessing over my planned upgrade from my early 2008 Penryn 15" Macbook Pro to my next machine. Ultimately, I decided on a 15" Retina Macbook Pro (2.3GHZ, 16gb, 256SSD). I'm a self-admitted gear-nut. Whether we're talking about a car, a camera, a TV, a coffee maker, or new bed sheets; I enjoy the ritual of doing my research and arriving at what I consider to be the absolute best purchase decision. I want to share my experience and thoughts as they relate to this purchase.

    My usage patterns would fall under moderate power user. I enjoy photography and use Lightroom and CS6 for RAW photo processing. I'm a commercial construction consultant and this is my primary machine, so I'm frequently digging into to very large PDF construction plans. I also dabble in marketing and digital media consulting and find myself creating the occasional small business website (nearly exclusively wordpress) and marketing material (brochures, business cards, letterhead, etc..).

    My initial plan was to purchase a mid-2012 cMBP because I felt it was the best overall option. Further research and several visits to the Apple store changed my mind. If I was going to upgrade, the only option for me was the 15" Retina.

    The prospect of buying a current gen 15" Retina caused a good amount of anxiety for me. My research indicated some potentially alarming issues; namely UI lag and image retention. If you spend any time on this forum or others, you know what I'm talking about and you've likely seen the endless commentary on it.

    Ultimately, I wound up buying my rMBP on ebay. It was a custom built 2.3/16GB/256 week 48 production model (mid november). It was unopened (still shrink-wrapped in original box) and came with applecare.

    UI lag and image retention were my two major concerns. Here are my thoughts after using the computer for several days:

    Image Retention
    This was my biggest concern. Of the 4 15" Retina's in my local apple store, this terminal command identified 3 of them as LG displays. Using this test All 3 LG displays demonstrated very noticeable Image retention after having the checkerboard up on the display for 1 minute, 30 seconds. The samsung display did not have any noticeable image retention. Using this apple serial number lookup tool I was able to see that all 3 LG Retinas with image retention were early model production, with all three machines being manufactured in June or July. The rMBP with a Samsung display was manufactured in August.

    Research on my part seems to indicate that the newer production date LG panels may be working fine now. Furthermore, my conversations with the apple store manager as well as an Apple Online Store Executive Relations employee I spoke to left me confident that if I had IR issues, they would be addressed to my satisfaction.

    Ultimately, this was a non-issue for me. My week 48 BTO rMBP wound up having a Samsung screen. This was a big relief to me.

    2.) User Interface Lag
    The UI lag issue also had me concerned; though not as much as the IR issue. I was able to compare a 15" rMBP right next to a 15" cMBP in my local apple store. I tested scroll performance in safari on Facebook and I also tested OS animation performance by corner-resizing a blank Safari window with the mouse. I confirmed both machines were running OSx 10.8.2 and the latest version (6.0.2) of Safari.

    The bottom line is there was minor--but still noticeable--lag present on the retina macbook pro when compared to the cMBP. The lag was minor enough that I was willing to move forward with the purchase. Furthermore, while I'm no engineer; I do believe the issue is a software issue, not a hardware issue. This gives me hope that the issue will eventually be improved to the point of being a non-issue(perhaps with the upcoming 10.8.3 update). As it stands right now, I do not feel the UI lag is a serious issue of concern. In fact, I don't believe I would have noticed any UI lag had I not been doing a direct, heads-up comparison of the two models.. Taking into consideration the other benefits of the retina vs classic MBP, barely noticeable UI lag is a compromise that I am personally willing to make.

    It is also worth noting that when hooked up to my Dell 24" IPS (U2412) display at native resolution of 1920x1200 there is absolutely no UI lag on the external display. The culprit is the Retina's scaling algorithm. While the possibility of a permanent hardware inadequacy is not ruled out, the fact that there has already been significant improvement in the issue with the release of 10.8.2 combined with the promising reports from the latest nightly builds of webkit leave me very confident that the issue will continue to improve. And it won't take much improvement for the issue to disappear completely.


    I'm very pleased with my purchase. I am in a position where I need a new machine today. Not this summer when the next revision is rumored to be. I am confident I've made the best decision possible, and I am content. Particularly as I suspect Haswell will be more of an incremental--at least for the 15" model--then an evolutionary update.

    That's all I've got. I hope this post may be helpful to others in the same position I was in--ready to upgrade, but anxious over all the bad press they've seen on the internet. In my case, I'd happily make the purchase again.
  2. Geoffre macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2013
    Great post. Your thought process and conclusions were similar to mine, and I recently made the same decision you did, and could not be happier. I went in a slightly different direction with mine (going with the 8 GB/512 GB) but the machine itself is incredible. Hopefully some other folks wrestling with a similar decision get a chance to read this.
  3. IGregory macrumors 6502a


    Aug 5, 2012
  4. TC400 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 20, 2010
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    I havent had any image retention issues that i Know of. I don't check therefor I DONT KNOW. I have had some UI lag here and there I think the one I dreamt about but I'm not sure. But opening and closing launch pad and minor things like that its fine. But safari glitches from time to time with flash. Not sure if flash or Safari. And the wake time I think takes WAY to long since it prompts me for my password. Like it shows up then it has to refresh before I can type anything in. Then the mouse and icons appear. But its still a kick ass computer.
  5. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816


    Dec 15, 2012
    Great post and thank you for the link to checking your build week.

    I have a CTO model and it was built in week 52( December ), I have an LG panel and absolutely no signs of image retention.

    I myself have a bit of scroll lag, but that's already been fixed in Webkit's Nightly dev guid, so the next version of Safari should have that fixed.
  6. Spikeywan macrumors 6502

    Dec 11, 2012
    I bought mine just before Christmas. It's a slightly higher spec, so I had to get it from the online store. I'm hoping this will mean it's a late build - the serial number webpage can't interpret mine.

    The screen is LG, but I can't reproduce the image retention issue. There is a slight stutter on some web pages, but nothing to worry about. Maybe it's not as bad on machines with 16Gb RAM.

    I am very happy, too.
  7. tivoboy macrumors 68030

    May 15, 2005

    yeah, good post.

    this was a process and the issue that I have and I think OTHERS have is it should NOT be a process. It should be simply, one is willing to PAY for what apple considers to be the BEST laptop they have ever made, and one shouldn't have to be subject to bad QA, or component manufacturing or having to do the returns dance to get a machine that is exactly what it is billed as, the best.

    It took me two LG returns, which both had issues, low brightness and bad IR on one, to get a samsung that is truly brilliant.

    If one ONLY had the last experience, there wouldn't be any discussion or issues. But, the fact that it took me three tries to get it right - not satisfied but RIGHT or ACCEPTABLE would be a problem for any company let alone apple.

    I'm VERY happy with the machine, the build, the SCREEN, the performance and even the cost/value equation. I'm hopeful that it will be a solid performer for me for several years to come.
  8. rikscha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2010
    I must be doing something wrong.

    I had my machine for some time now and I am still annoyed by the UI lag. It is not minor lag but can be pretty bad. Especially noticeable when launching mission control, switching between desktops, browsing through 1500 albums in itunes. Easily reproduce-able in calender when switching between months. The turning page animation is very laggy and far away of being on par with the iPad experience. it is simply not smooth. There have been some improvement since 8.1 and 8.2 were released but far away from calling it resolved.

    In terms of mission control, if I lunch mission control 3-4 times in a row, it becomes very smooth - some sort of caching is obviously happening.

    but then again browsing specific websites with large content on them or going through iphoto, I often see hiccups in the UI - sometimes as bad as having to wait 1 second before mission control is launched.

    It drives me mad, the machine is probably still the best I ever had but not perfect as I hoped it to be.

    Did reinstalling the whole system help in any way for someone here?
  9. Spikeywan macrumors 6502

    Dec 11, 2012
    To me they're not that bad, but then I came from an old Sony Vaio, so even though I notice the issues, it's still a hell of a lot faster than my old PC.
  10. IGregory macrumors 6502a


    Aug 5, 2012
    The crowd over here in Macworld are particular. :D
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Thanks, OP, for posting such a detailed and informative post. An instructive - and a very interesting - read.

    Meanwhile, I hope your rMBP works out very well for you and that you get to enjoy many years of happy (and trouble free) computing with it.
  12. swerve147 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2013
    I'm similarly happy with my new refurb rMBP purchase. My main concern at this point are temps under load. This is probably the hottest notebook I've ever owned, otherwise (and additionally) I love it :p
  13. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I had a 17" 2011 Pro, when it got hot, it put the reverse thrusters on. What a sound!

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