Opinion 8gb touchbar model vs 16gb non-touchbar

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by aromatase, Jun 8, 2017.


Which would be better price:performance for heavy multi-tasking / overall speed

  1. 13" MBP without touch bar with 256gb SSD + 16gb RAM ($2.4k)

    33 vote(s)
  2. 13" MBP with touch bar with 256 SSD + 16gb RAM ($2.8k)

    11 vote(s)
  3. 13" MBP with touch bar with 512gb SSD + 8gb RAM ($2.8k)

    5 vote(s)
  1. aromatase, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

    aromatase macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2017
    Dear MacRumours members,

    I have a bit of a theory crafting question, trying to maximise bang for buck.

    tldr; 8gb touchbar model, or 16gb non-touchbar for better value when multi-tasking.

    I'm trying to 'future proof' for lack of a word, and I've used my Macbook Air 13" (mid-2012) 128gb/4gb ram. I'ts been great and has lasted me 5 years really well.

    Towards the end however, I found it slowing down when alot of programs are open. I mostly have chrome 70+ tabs open (mostly journal articles) 10+ pdf's on preview, and 6-7 programs (word, excel, endnote, evernote, chrome, safari, finder, activity monitor). I will also in the near future, be anticipating using Parallels to do some 3D modelling work. I don't game (have a basic gaming PC for that) and don't do much video editing. I feel my needs thus lie in Ram, rather than SSD storage space.

    I'm upgrading to the new 2017 Macbook Pro 13", and have actually purchased the 13" touch bar model + 512gb SSD/8gb ram, but am thinking of returning it.

    However, I feel I would prefer 16gb ram, over a larger SSD.

    Here are the options:
    13" MPB without touch bar: 256gb SSD + 16gb ram + 2.3gHz dual-core i5 (turbo boost up to 3.6gHz) --- *no touch bar*, slightly inferior integrated graphics, 2 ports only for $2419 AUD (with education discount)


    13" MBP with touch bar: 256gb SSD + 16gb ram + 3.1ghz dual-core i5 (turbo boost up to 3.5gHz) --- *has touch bar*, slightly superior integrated graphics, 4 ports for $2849 AUD (with education discount)


    13" MPB with touch bar: 512gb + 8gb ram + touch bar + 3.1ghz dual-core i5 (turbo boost up to 3.5gHz) --- *has touch bar*, slightly superior integrated graphics, 4 ports for $2849 AUD (with education discount)

    I don't feel $430 is worth it for a touch bar + increased processor + 2 ports. Playing with the touch bar, I don't find I use it, and prefer hard keys for (brightness, volume) only two things i use - and the touch bar drains a little bit of battery too!

    If my end goal is likely running lots of apps, mostly multiple tabs + many word documents + pdf Thoughts :)

    I feel having 16gb of ram, in a non-touchbar model is more value, than a larger ssd/touch bar model.

    Kind Regards,
  2. eviljack, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

    eviljack macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2013
    The difference between the 2 models isn't enough to justify the price. I am in agreement with you that the touch bar is useless. The ntMBP would be my pick. I have a laptop with a 6th gen i7 u series cpu (exactly the same i7 cpu used in the previous ntMBP) and 16GB of ram and judging by your usecase it would more than powerful enough to handle the load you are planning on putting the notebook.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    The Touchbar based MBP uses a faster processor so that will give oyu the best speed, so if you're looking for the fastest model the TB based one will be it..
  4. smallcoffee macrumors 65816

    Oct 15, 2014
    North America

    Also I wouldn't recommend buying a new computer without 16gb of ram. I also, personally, don't think the 512 SSD is worth it unless you're a professional photography or similar.

    The touchbar for me isn't much of a factor in the buying decision either way, but I do like having touchID
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Agreed, its not the reason to buy that model, but rather what else is included, i.e., faster processor.
  6. aromatase thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2017
    Thanks for your responses/votes so far guys, appreciate it. How important is processor for multitasking....honest opinion, since it states it turboboost up to 3.6ghz (higher than the tbMB does!)

    And thoughts on which model will have the highest battery life?
  7. eviljack macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2013
    The importance of the cpu depends on what you are multitasking. E.g if you are browsing the web while rendering something in the background. If you just have multiple tabs open then the cpu really isn't in use since tabs in the background are really just idle processes which don't really consume cpu cycles. It depends what you want to do with it.

    The ntMBP has the better battery life since it has the slightly larger battery and more efficient processor. (15W vs 30W) The TouchBar would also drain the battery more since it is a second screen to power.
  8. smallcoffee macrumors 65816

    Oct 15, 2014
    North America
    Battery life I would guess they are all pretty much the same. For multi tasking it's great. I have multiple Xcode workstations open, safari with about 10 tabs (including one playing video content), mail, iTunes, full screen iBooks, and all sorts of other random windows open or programs running without any issues. Multi tasking won't be a problem on any model. But the more power the better.
  9. Beau10 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 6, 2008
    Downtown San Diego
    nTB had significantly more battery life (~2 hours) in the 2016 model due to the lower wattage proc + 10% larger battery - would assume the same for the 2017.

    Also the processor speed is not necessarily faster for the TB - the 2016 2.4 ran about neck and neck with the 2.9 TB, both around 7800-7900 in geekbench. I think you're correct that the turbo boost is the important figure for anything that's not a heavily sustained load.
  10. Pangalactic macrumors regular

    Nov 28, 2016
    The non touchbar model is far superior, you get a couple of hours of extra battery life and actually useful keys for a lot less money. The CPU performance difference is around 3%, so pretty much almost negligible, in daily use you will never even notice it. If you want to do some hardcore video editing with let's say Premiere Pro or After Effects - just get an external GPU for it.

    16GB ram is good though :)
  11. ZapNZs, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    The i7 in the non-touchbar model appears to be potentially a decent bit faster than the base i5 in the touchbar model. I'm waiting to see more, but it appears there is a 500 Mhz difference between the two (someone would need to confirm this as I am not 100% here so don't take this as fact because I may be wrong.) How much this means in the real would probably depends on workload.

    For your usage, I think you will benefit from 16GB of RAM. Tons of open tabs + VMs consume a lot of RAM. My MBP with 16 does this better than than my MBP with 8, but some of this also has to do with a quad core versus dual core CPU.

    For your usage, a nTB with the upgraded i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM might be more useful for you than the touchbar, and the premium that the touchbar brings would, IIRC, just about cover both upgrades.
  12. aromatase thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2017
    Thank you, that's a great point.

    I'm surprised the nTB had almost 2hrs worth.

    I decided to return the touch bar MBP, have settled on 16gb ram. Just deciding whether to further upgrade to the better cpu.

    If anyone's interested, energy tab on activity monitor at 100% stated ~7:00 battery, cycle 1 of battery.

    I'll post what I get with the nTB mbp. I hope somewhere around 8hrs plus...

    Speaking of which, what is everyones opinion on draining battery dry each use, vs, using it plugged in. If it's at let's say 40% after casual use through out day, do you have to completely drain it?
  13. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    For *heavy* multitasting, the touch bar model without questions. It has higher-tier CPUs which offer better sustained performance under load. But I'm not sure that what you describe constitutes heavy multitasking.
  14. aromatase thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2017
    Thank you! That's a good point.

    I plan to use it mostly in clamshell mode + USB c monitor 4k (when they drop in price) with a Bluetooth mech kb and mouse (Logitech mx anywhere).

    Will have a secondary display either daisy chained or through a USB dock...

    Call me crazy, but I've run my MBA 2012 base model through a Dell docking station d3100. Powering 3x 1920*1200 24 inch screens (1 landscape, 2 portrait). Don't need so many monitors now though.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 9, 2017 ---
    Interesting.. Not that I disagree, it seems that it keeps boiling down to ram vs cpu argument. Ssd speed is minimal difference. I think ram, seems to be a more important component in having several programs, or insane chrome / safari usage (yes, it's crazy, but by mid afternoon, will have 70+ tabs open..)
  15. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    To be honest, I would test the configurations side by side before making any predictions. If your usage is simply having multiple memory-heavy applications open, chances are that 8GB and 16GB configurations would perform more or less the same. In your scenario only small amount of RAM needs to be active at a given time (as you usually only work with one/two tabs or apps at the moment). All other apps in the background are not really running actively and their RAM can/will be compressed/offloaded by the OS. With modern SSDs, thats very fast and the tab switching animation is likely to hide any latency that comes with swapping.

    But of course it all depends on what the apps do in the background etc. etc.
  16. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    In that case, I would definitely return the TB model for a nTB with 16GB of RAM and maybe the i7 CPU, since you can't use the TB once you start using clamshell made! With the work you do, the gains of the i7 are IMO financially justifiable, and the i7 in the nTB appears to be a very capable processor that may actually be faster than the i7 that was used on the flagship TB model the previous year!
  17. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    There's no way I'd buy a $2000+ computer with only 8GB of RAM.

    Also, unless you are constantly pushing the CPU to its limits, the higher watt CPU in the touchbar won't feel faster.
  18. aromatase thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2017
    Great point, I agree. nTB/16gb ram/256gb ssd/i5 is likely the best bang for buck imo.

    Very basic 3D work, maybe some 3D animations later, I think the i5 should be enough.

    Does anyone have recommendations for a decent priced USB-c monitor? The lg 27inchs are a bit too pricey, and I don't like the appearance of the stand. I'll likely be mounting it in my monitor arm. Looking for a single cable to MacBook Pro with wireless charging. USB hub from monitor.
  19. Jimios macrumors member


    Nov 7, 2015
    You mentioned Parallels, so 16GB is basically required.
    The difference in CPU performance between the nTB and TB models is barely noticeable for the usage you describe.
    So you should go for the 16GB model, unless you really, really need the touch bar or those 2 additional ports.
  20. emir macrumors 6502a


    Apr 5, 2008
    I'm also very indecisive on my upgrade. I have been using a mid 2010 15" i5 MBP this past 7+ years surprisingly. Swapping out the DVD with and SSD helped elongate life a lot back in 2012. Now it is definitely time for an upgrade and I think I'll go with the 13" this time as I carry my laptop to and form work every day. I find the new MBP to be very expensive and want to get best bang for buck.

    My use;
    - Heavy spreadsheet work.
    - FCPX for YouTube video editing.
    - Running two websites.
    - Occasional photoshop

    I am doing a fair amount of FCPX work even with the 2010 MBP. I want my FCPX performance to increase dramatically after 7 years obviously but touchbar is useless to me + no touchbar = bettery battery life. So do you guys think nTB 13" with 256GB storage and 16GB ram is good for my use? I was even thinking of going with the 15" TB but I still find it to be an only marginal increase in power for the price + I lose mobility. So top spec 13" or no TB 16GB ram i5 13"? OR am I completely wrong and should I go with the 15" TB Radeon?

    Help me macrumors!!!
  21. Christian 5G macrumors 6502a

    Christian 5G

    Jun 16, 2010
    Orange County, CA
    What are the distributions of ports? I know touch bar has 4 in total ( two on each side). Does non touch bar all of the versions only have 2??
  22. triple-tap macrumors 6502

    Feb 18, 2013
    I'm not a huge fan of touchbar ( still find it a bit gimmicky) but I think the 16gb would be a better asset down the line.
  23. Coco Nuts macrumors member

    Coco Nuts

    Jan 1, 2016
    16 GB RAM is sweet, but it has an impact on battery life, no?

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