New MBP versus custom build Win PC

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by The Mercurian, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. The Mercurian, Apr 22, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014

    The Mercurian macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Ok so, here is the deal. I do fairly heavy duty statistical modelling that takes ohurs/days to run depdening on what I am doing and for that I need raw processing power. I don't care about GPU particularly.

    Current machine bought in 2012 a late 2011 MBP 15: quad core i7 16GB and Samsung SSD. A good machine for sure, but I'm thinking of selling it for 4 reasons a) it still has resale value and 1 year applecare b) I can get student discount on new mac only for next 2 months or so c) I'm finding it slow on the longer models and its breaking my work flow d) minor point but the loud fans didn't use to bother me, but having seen how quite the new ones are they now really annoy me.

    Anyhow - what I'm wondering is - should I buy a new 15" max spec MBP which has about a 40% improved geekbench score, and much faster SSD, or should I custom build a windows box for raw power (can build a hex core, 32GB RAM for about a third the cost of the new max spec MBP that would be faster) and buy a cheaper lower spec laptop along side it for on the road purposes ?

    Extra considerations: I occasionally do need to take this computer out of the office even if I do have a second laptop - maybe once a month - hence why I bought a laptop in the first place. May even spend some months in another country in the coming year and would need to bring it with me. This would point to new mbp.

    Right now I am in two minds between these options. Seeking wisdom.

    Edit: re software - I have to run some windows programs occasionally and is the most demanding work. I run parallels for minor stuff, but when need all the power boot current machine direct to windows.
  2. bigeasy_uk macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2005
    Leamington Spa, England
    Can the software you use benefit from using the GPU to do calculations? I know quite a few do. If so you could get an external thunderbolt enclosure and stick a high end graphics card in there.

    While it adds a bit of bulk when you need to carry it, it's a lot easier than carrying a tower.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If you'll be spending more time in windows, then it makes sense to go the windows machine route.

    Why not keep your current laptop and then build a windows machine?
  4. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    This, obviously. The MacBook is totally inappropriate for your needs. A custom built PC that's specced for raw number crunching performance is what you need.

    You could get away with a high end desktop class i7 which would trounce a MacBook or go all out for a 6 core Extreme Edition CPU.
  5. The Mercurian thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Unfortunately not (mainly I use R - but also use various other packages none of which have GPU support). That would actually make the decision easier.

    Because I can sell ym current one now and still get good money for it, and similarly I can buy a new one at a discount for the next motnh or two but not after that as student card expires.

    Yeah - I am 50% in this mindset. However I would need to travel with it on occasion (maybe 2,3 times a year) and the thoughts of bringing even a compact desktop box through an airport sounds horrendous.
  6. The Mercurian thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Hmmm meeting today turns out I will travel a bit mroe than I thought and need t bring this machine with me. The choice swings back towards MBP I think.
  7. ET3SW macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Do you actually need to travel with it..Or could you travel with any laptop and remote into the desktop and do your work
  8. The Mercurian thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Hmmmm....actually that is a good point. I'm not 100% sure to be honest. I won't know until the project starts really - however I will no longer have my student discount at the apple store by then - which will save me alot in fact.
  9. agaskew macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2009
    Given that your most demanding use is under windows, I'm not sure what advantage a MBP gives you at all. A custom build windows PC will be fastest for your heavy workloads. With the money you save on a maxxed out rMBP you could also look in to getting a decent windows laptop.
    I think you need to decide on focusing on either speed/power or portability. Anything that falls between the two will be a compromise.
  10. The Mercurian thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Well my most demanding use is in windows, but I don't do that all the time - only occasionally. Honestly it does not seem frequent enough to me to have a machine dedicated just to that - although on the odd occasion when I have to leave the laptop sit for 24hours to crunch something that is super annoying. At least the new MBP would do that in a few hours less.
  11. blooperz macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2013
    Get a high end windows laptop...the macbook just isn't great for what you listed, esp since the graphics card is only sound like you would benefit from a quadro windows machine...that is if your software uses the gpu for modeling (many do) you get the added benefit of being able to switch/upgrade components down the road.
  12. pricej636 macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2010
    Weird advice on an Apple forum, but what about a nice Windows laptop? You can pick one up that will suite your needs and still come out less than a MBP even with your student discount?
  13. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    I'd look at some place like and pick up a laptop. I bought my husband a Sager there.
  14. The Mercurian thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    No windows laptops. Bad experience in the past with reliability. I don't care about GPU - my software does not take advantage of it - this I know (could change in the future I suppose). And you simply won't get a windows laptop to match the computational power of a maxxed out 15" MBP for a lower price. At least I've never seen one.

    There also is the fact that most of my software is platform independent and I can use in OSx. THere are only one or two things I have to do in windows and I'm trying to wean off those.

    But ok this is all good people - making me think, I appreciate all the suggestions.
  15. pricej636 macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2010

    Both of your arguments aren't really valid as to why not a Windows laptop. Reliability comes from what hardware you buy. If you were willing to build a Windows desktop, then you aren't concerned about the reliability of Windows. Plenty of good hardware out there. Most of it isn't sitting on the shelf at Best Buy.

    As for your second statement about raw computing power, you can find faster processors with SSDs in ready-to-ship configurations at Dell and HP, and come out less than $1500 for a business class machine. Faster and cheaper than Apple.

    I love Apple hardware, so this isn't a biased opinion either. Most that purchase Apple computers know there are cheaper and better spec'd Windows machines out there. They buy Apple because they want to.

    Honestly, you already have your mind made up. You've shot down a Windows desktop due to portability, you've shot down a Windows laptop for the reasons already discussed. You're not going to travel with an iMac. So what are we talking about here? :D
  16. The Mercurian thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    My experience of windows laptops (Dell's, Acers, HP...something else I've forgotten) has been HORRENDOUS - everyone single one given problems and only one last longer than 15 months. My experience of mac laptops (apart from the whitebook) has been fantastic. Would build a windows machine for the flexiblity (i.e. I can stuff two CPUS a hard drive and some RAM into a box for blistering speed if I really want to) - but would not buy a windows laptop unless it was a very cheap and small machine for travel (i.e. not as a main machine costing €500 or less).

    People say this to me but when I ask for examples can't provide them (ok bear in mind I am in Europe not US - pricing is different here for macs and windows). So I ask you with an open mind - post me some examples please because I can't find them :)

    Fair point. I do have a bias - not denying that :)

    No I've not decided 100%. Yes I am leaning towards the MBP - perhaps heavily. But I am listening to opinions and may change my mind - this is just how I think - stick with the best hypothesis until someone proves an alternate is better :D At times my mind is swinging to building a pc honestly
  17. p3ntyne macrumors 6502


    Jan 10, 2014
    Sydney, Australia
    Definitely go for the custom PC - the price to performance ratio is heaps better and it suits your needs better.

    One thing, however, is that I don't see how it would be a third of the price of the rMBP unless you were to use a FX-6300/6350 (bad idea...) The top spec rMBP is US$3299 and on Newegg, an i7-4960X alone is US$1049.99.

    Once you add the case, PSU and other accessories it'll be about $2500 (which is still better than the rMBP but limits your choice for the "ordinary" laptop.)
  18. The Mercurian thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Basically top spec MBP would end up costing me about €3000 (but I would sell my existing one for about half that). A friend helped me price a build on Core i7-4930 that worked out about €1050 (with the most basic out of date graphics card imaginable - fine for my purposes for now). I should say he speaks Dutch and this was through a Dutch website - I couldn't match that on English language websites.
  19. pricej636 macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2010
    I don't disagree with this, for the most part. My wife kept going through Windows laptops until I spent some more cash and got her an HP ProBook. Better build quality and an excellent warranty to go along with it. Her machine is rather basic as she didn't need very much, but it was also only $600 US. Two years later and its still in very good shape and works perfectly.

    Check out Dell and HP on the business side of their websites. Hp probook or elitebook, for example. They tend to lean more heavily on CPU power and not as much on GPU, as many consumer models do.

    The point I was trying to make is that you WANT a MBP. There is no other reason for you to get one other than you WANT one. You haven't stated anything that would make me say "oh yeah, you NEED a MBP for what you are wanting to do"
  20. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    Depends if you need the portability of a laptop.
  21. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Go buy a Dell Latitude. When it breaks (a few years ago, Consumer Reports said most laptops have a 33% failure rate) the next business day on-site warranty should fix you up, no matter where you are in the world, and if you get the accidental damage protection, it'll fix you up even if you drop it off of your car.
  22. Joelist macrumors member

    Jan 28, 2014
    Don't forget that the rMBP has a PCIe SSD that is double or more the speed of SATA SSDs. If your software is I/O intensive that will make a difference. It also has gigabit WiFi.

    So a custom built box would need similar components to be a true comparison.
  23. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    We also had a ton of problems with laptops, even high end Dell, Sony, Hp, etc. The Sager laptop I bought for my husband has been great. I highly recommend Sager. The company we bought it was an online only store and the computational power can certainly meet or exceed my MBP. Windows, in general, isn't optimized to run on a MBP but it can. If I had to use windows a good deal of the time, I would get rid of my beloved MBP and get a Windows laptop. Running Windows on my MBP is annoying and I prefer not to do it.
  24. The Mercurian thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Yes for sure will check. I mean I have looked before and been dissappointed bu I'll take another look.

    Haha - yes there may be an element of truth in this

    Thanks for the suggestion but the one make I will not buy under any circumstances is a Dell. I've had them before and never again. If I were to buy windows my preference would be for Lenovo.

    YES ! You see I have been thinking this but not said it yet - thanks for putting words on it. Some of the stuff would be I/O intensive. It is a factor.

    I have to I've not really paid much heed to gaming laptops since I don't care about graphics but I'll look this up
  25. The Mercurian thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    Yeah so just been on HP website looking at various options (hard site to navigate incidentally) - and no nothing there matches the rMBP - at least not matched spec for spec - the HP ends up more expensive every time.

    Quick look at Dell - cheaper options yes but can't match the MBP spec - not in terms of hard drive. Also they are massive bricks with DVD drives. Also also they are Dell.:mad:

    Lenovo - you can match the spec - but again by the time you match the 1 TB SSD in the MBP and 16GB RAM you end up over €3000

    Sager - interestingly I had not heard of them before. Perhaps because there is no reseller in my country. Closest thing I can find are Clevo laptops (seems to be the name used in Europe ?!?!) - and those not in my country either. Anyhow ordering from another country might cost a little bit less then the €3000 of MBP matched spec for spec - but I can't find out what the warranty is on any of the reseller websites (the €3000 figure for the MBP includes 3 yr AppleCare). Honestly it might end up marginally cheaper but buying brand name i never heard of from another country and not clear what the warranty would be a non runner. Edit: ok finally found one with clear warranty details - 1 year only and only in country of reseller - definite no!

    Sorry - windows laptops by the time you spec match them with high end rMBP (CPU- fast corei7 with same cache,1TB SSD, and 16GB RAM)- including AppleCare - they cost as much or more - IF you can spec match them. I've yet to see an example otherwise!

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