Planning your next Macbook purchase

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by MCAsan, May 5, 2014.

  1. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2012
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #1
    We see no end to the threads that are asking which laptop model to purchase and which options (dedicated GPU, amount of memory, type and amount of internal storage) to purchase as part of a new laptop or as an expansion for an existing laptop.

    There are two major limiting factor for many purchasers, cost and form factor. Many can only spend a max of $x.xx no matter what their technical requirements are for the laptop. And some folks can not, or do no not want to, carry around a large and heavy device. Granted large and heavy are subjective. After carrying a 17" laptop with two HDs, a solid state 15" rMBP seem small and light to me. ;)

    Both the size and cost range vary with the model range from 11" Macbook Air to 15" Retina Macbook Pro. As we can see the cost will range from $899 for the basic 11" Macbook Air to over $3000 for a Retina Macbook Pro with fastest CPU, GPU, max memory, and max internal storage.

    What contributes to the price/cost? Several things you need to consider:
    • Screen size: 11", 13", 15". Yes size matters.
    • Screen type: Retina or non-Retina. Retina will cost more in a case where the same size screen is available in both types.
    • CPU cores: The basic is a 2 core processor with a quad core being more expensive. Selecting this option is about know what apps you need to run and how much data you need to crunch.
    • CPU core speed: The faster the CPU the faster the performance of the OS and apps. But depending on the apps you are running, you may not experience a real benefit. Again, you need to know your use case.
    • Dedicated GPU: The lower costing laptop use the integrated Intel graphics processor. The higher costing rMBP model will have a dedicated GPU chip to do a faster job of graphics/video handling. So the question is will you do run apps like extensive photo editing or perhaps video editing, or heavy duty gaming that could benefit from a dedicated GPU.
    • Memory: The basic amount ranges from 4GB to 16GB. And on newer Macbooks memory is soldered in and can not be upgraded by the user. So this, like the CPU and GPU topics need to be dimensioned for your use case. Personally I would tell everyone to order a minimum of 8GB in any Macbook. It adds a small percentage to the overall cost.
    • Storage: The new MacBooks are all solid state with SSDs for storage instead of spinning platters. The larger the SSD, the greater the cost. But at least you can now get replacement SATA-based SSDs for the 2012 MacBooks (from Transcend) and PCI-e based SSDs from OWC (and maybe others). So we do have options on increasing the internal storage to 960GB-1TB range if needed later. I am changing out the 768GB SSD in my 2012 rMBP for a 960GB SSD.

    So all the things that drive the cost, the only item that you can change in the field is the storage. On your Macbook order, you need to get the screen size, CPU, GPU, and memory the way you will need it for the years you plan to keep the machine.

    In real world economics one of the basic laws is: Cost rises to meet income. In the same way in computers, the work load from the OS and apps over time rises to meet the computers's resources (screen, CPU, GPU, memory, storage).

    Understand your use case (for computer resources) and add 25%. ;)


    Happy computing!!!! :D
     

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  2. therealseebs macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    #2
    One of the major shifts has been Apple's move away from swappable parts; it used to be you could get a MBP with plans to upgrade RAM or hard drive later. Now, RAM's soldered in and hard drives are sort of specialized parts, and you can't easily swap them. So knowing what your requirements are likely to be later has become a lot more important than it used to be, as there's no real upgrade path for RAM, for instance.

    ... Me, I'm dreading the days when my 2012 MBP gets too old to use, because the current Retina displays are really bad for me, so I have no clue at all what I'll use then. I may go back to running Linux or BSD on a PC for portable stuff just because Apple won't sell a machine I can use. :(
     
  3. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #3
    I have no plans to replace my 2011 MBP. Since I've maxed the memory and installed a SSD it's plenty fast for my needs for a few years. Unless it dies or can't run the next version of OS X I will stick with it.
     
  4. mtneer macrumors 68020

    mtneer

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    #4
    In your perspective; what's wrong with the current rMBP's?
     
  5. ShiggyMiyamoto, May 6, 2014
    Last edited: May 6, 2014

    ShiggyMiyamoto macrumors 6502a

    ShiggyMiyamoto

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Location:
    Just outside Boston, MA.
    #5
    OP, awesome and comprehensive post! I am indeed on the market for a new laptop as I do travel a few times a year and I'd like to have something more powerful than my tablet and phone to do stuff my tablet and phone cannot do. I'm torn between a BNIB (Brad New In Box) top-spec'd MacBook Air 13" and a top spec'd from October 2013 refurbished rMBP 15". I in no way am ready to get either of them at the moment, but this thread really helped me plan for what I want once I have the money.

    A question though if I may: can the Intel HD 5000 handle 1080p video editing in such apps as Adobe Premiere Pro CS6? I don't expect it to export a project super fast. When I travel I like to document my trip with video, and it'd be nice to splice the clips together when I have down time between events on the trip. I know the rMBP I mentioned above can totally do what I just mentioned, but the MBA 13" is attractive to me for its weight and battery life.

    Thanks!
     
  6. MCAsan thread starter macrumors 601

    MCAsan

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2012
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #6
    Glad the post was of help. I can't comment on the impacts of using Premiere Pro. I don't do any video work other making a few movies with iMove from video clips and stills from my camera. Mostly I work with still image photos. So I have to leave that topic for others. The folks in the Apple store may be of help as they may be able to comment of using Intel 5000 for Apple Final Cut Pro X. I guess the resource needs for both apps might be similar.
     
  7. ShiggyMiyamoto macrumors 6502a

    ShiggyMiyamoto

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Location:
    Just outside Boston, MA.
    #7
    Thank you for your response. I found this: http://www.sonnettech.com/product/echoexpressse2.html and I think later down the line when I can afford it or when it gets less expensive I'll get that and plop in a GPU if I need that kind for additional power.
     
  8. Count Blah macrumors 68030

    Count Blah

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
    US of A
    #8
    You and me both. Luckily mine is maxed out with ram and pretty maxed out on storage. So I hope to use it for many years still. Apple doesn't care about us anymore, sadly.
     

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