Retina MBP compared to other high end laptops

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by danwellsvt, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. danwellsvt macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2010
    I spent quite a bit of time comparing the Retina MBP to workstation laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP before deciding on the MBP. Yes, the Mac OS was a consideration ( I don't like Windows and high end laptops are tricky to Hackintosh), but I would have considered Windows if the advantages were compelling enough. The MBP holds up pretty well, even before considering its size, weight and battery life, at least for my use (photography and some video). If I were using AutoCad instead of Photoshop, I suspect the Quadro video cards in the others would be a huge advantage. I didn't look at the Alienwares or other gaming-focused laptops, because they are SO heavy that I would have compared them to an iMac, and many are also very poorly made.

    The MBP I ordered is a 2.7/16 GB/512 GB, for a bit over $3000 (education), and that's what I compared to (with some reference to significantly more expensive pc configurations).

    Processor: MBP and Lenovo are ahead for now, both HP and Dell have promised ivy bridge, but not released them.

    RAM: all others ahead in their largest ( mainly 17") designs - they have 4 RAM slots that provide a legitimate upgrade to 32 GB. Apple's soldered 16 GB is slightly (reliability) superior to 2 slots, clearly inferior to 4.

    Storage: I'd actually say Apple's ahead, but it's a close call. Only Dell offers a 512 GB ($970) SSD, even 256 GB is an expensive upgrade. The others compensate with dual drive bays, so you can run a small SSD and a larger spinning disk. However, the MBP is so much lighter that an MBP plus a 2.5" external drive is lighter than any of it's competitors with only internal storage. The HP and Dell are so heavy that an MBP plus a 2.5" 2 bay RAID is still lighter.

    Graphics: pretty much a tie, except in software that has custom support for Quadro cards. The GeForce 650 keeps up with the "baby Quadros" in the others unless you're running AutoCad or something else that is specifically written for Quadros. The others have expensive options for higher-end Quadros.

    Display - Apple by a mile - the standard Retina Display beats any other standard display ( not all are even IPS), and all upgraded displays with the possible exception of HP's $650 DreamColor display upgrade.

    Ports: Apple - none of the competitors offer any port faster than USB 3.0, making connecting to RAIDs very tricky. All offer a good selection of display and USB ports. I'd rather have two Thunderbolt ports and have to carry an adapter for wired Ethernet than have the Ethernet port built in, but no way to attach a RAID. Thunderbolt is so fast that it can be adapted to pretty much anything else, while nothing else offers a good connection to RAIDs.

    Wireless: others offer built in cell modems as an upgrade, wifi is comparable on all. I don't care about the cell connectivity, other users might.

    Price: Apple - the Retina MBP looks expensive until you get into workstation laptops from anyone else! The Lenovo is pretty close, a configuration that is a couple hundred more than the Mac includes a 256 GB SSD and a terabyte hard drive, otherwise comparable (but with a standard 1920x1080 display). This has 16 GB of RAM taking up all four slots - it's an extra couple hundred to get 16GB in two slots, allowing an upgrade. If you bought a base model Lenovo with the same processor as the MBP and comparable graphics, you could upgrade it with aftermarket RAM and a 256 GB SSD for a couple hundred less than the MBP, and you'd be left with the smaller SSD plus a terabyte hard drive, rather than the 512 GB SSD. The Dell is around $4000 in a vaguely comparable configuration to the $3000 MBP, while the HP is close to $ 5000 with the DreamColor display.

    Size, weight, battery life: Apple by a mile - everything else weighs 6 (Lenovo) to 8 lbs, has short battery lives, and uses huge, heavy 150+ watt power bricks. By the time you have the HP or the Dell plus their power brick, you could carry the MBP, its brick, its Ethernet adapter, a 2.5" RAID and a Wacom tablet.

    Looks pretty good for Apple, although I wish they offered 32 gb of RAM as an option...

  2. surjavarman macrumors 6502a

    Nov 24, 2007
    Youre not even going to use 8gb so why'd you want to have 32gb. And don't say you are cause I don't believe you. 32gb is just for bragging rights
  3. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    Actually, if I were buying a $2k+ computer, I'd avoid all the major brands (Dell, HP, etc) and look into some of the custom built laptop options. You'll probably get better parts and a better price.
  4. danwellsvt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2010
    Editing large (36 mp) image files chews up RAM - even 24 mp files put my 8 gb 2010 MBP into pagefile hell. Aperture and Photoshop will chew up all the RAM you can give them on large files. Look at the tests on Mac Performance Guide - 16 GB is adequate, but barely - 32 would be some really nice breathing room. This machine is aimed at professional image and video editors who will use a lot of RAM.

    As for the small laptop makers, they are mostly using Clevo chassis, which are enormously heavy, get REALLY hot, and are not especially well made. Yes, their desktop processors are very fast, but they are terrible machines - gamers like them because they have enormously powerful video cards, but they aren't great for other things. Give me a MBP, ThinkPad or EliteBook any day.


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