Retina Model vs Non-Retina Model: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dougaha18, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. dougaha18 macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    Hello MacRumors friends,

    I'm buying my first MacBook Pro. Can you help me weigh the pros and cons of these 2 models?

    I see the hardware is basically the same other than the screen resolution and the storage type.

    Both have the same graphics, same RAM clock speed 1600MHz (low voltage for retina, regular for non-retina)

    Both have a 2.6/2.7GHz quad core i7 option.

    Non-Retina is upgradable internally after purchase, Retina is non-upgradable after purchase.

    I can upgrade the resolution 36% to 1680x1050 on the non-retina, which is still very high for a 15.4 inch screen.

    I like that I can go ahead and add a SSD whenever I want and its sad that I can do it on the retina model and if I want to upgrade I have to do it right away and it's a lot more expensive to do so.

    Can anyone offer any opinions on these comparisons? They are both very similar computers and I want to see if the extra money for the retina is worth it or not or if I'm missing something in my comparisons.

    Thank you
  2. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    What apps will you primarily be using?

    Does size/weight matter?
  3. C4FF macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    Here's my thoughts on the subject. If you plan to upgrade to an SSD later down the line, take into consideration the cost of an after market SSD (of the size you would buy).

    If the MacBook Pro you are going to buy + SSD of your choice is more than the retina, buy the retina.

    I did exactly this. I compared buying the 15" MBP (non retina with 1gb GPU) + 512GB SSD and it came out at more than just going for what I really wanted, which was the Retina MacBook Pro!

    Of course if you cannot afford all the money in one go then firstly, perhaps a MacBook Pro isn't the right option for you anyway. But more importantly, wait! It's not going anywhere!
  4. bigalow macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2012
    I'm not sure if it matters to you - but I can't find information about the audio port ('headphones') also doubling as a digi optical out (toslink). Can anyone confirm this as another difference between the two?
  5. dougaha18, Jun 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012

    dougaha18 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    I am primarily using Adobe CS6 Web and Design Premium

    Size and weight isn't that important.
  6. C4FF macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    From the tech specs page:

    Stereo speakers
    Dual microphones
    Headphone port
    Support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone
    Support for audio line out

    So, no optical out. But you could use the hdmi connection for optical audio anyway.
  7. dougaha18 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    You're right. In the end, if I bought a SSD at 512GB the price wouldn't be much different. What's your opinion on RAM? Will I regret not upgrading? I'm multitasking with CS6 and I know 16GB is a lot, but not being able to upgrade in the future sucks.
  8. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    I would get the 16GB option since as you said there's no possibility of upgrading that.

    OWC says they are working on new SSDs that will support the 2012 Air and the Retina Macbook Pro, so there's a good chance you'll be able to upgrade the SSD down the road.
  9. C4FF macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    I have been using 8gb for a couple of years in various machines and I rarely get over 4gb being active.

    Right now I have all my usual stuff open (a fair lot) and 2.44gb is active, that's all.

    Maybe if you had a serious workload going on you would hit 6? Correct me if I'm wrong people.

    Anyway, just buy the retina dougaha18, you know that's what you really want! :D
  10. underblu macrumors regular

    Apr 19, 2010
    IF size and weight are not important and you are using it primarily for Adobe graphics I would lean toward HiRes AG display. It's a proven MBP design from Apple. While the MBPR is very cool I think they have sacrificed upgradability for portability. Not a bad trade if your on the move with your laptop everyday. The retina display provides a big resolution boost but how this super high res display ultimately plays out with real world applications has yet to be seen.

    Therefore if I needed a dedicated workhorse machine with a proven design I'd go for the HiRes MBP, If I was a bit more adventurous and wanted cutting edge cool I'd go for the Retina. In a nutshell if it is my main business machine HiRes all the way If it is more for personal use the Retina model is damn nifty.
  11. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    You need to to take wired into account too, not just active. On my 16GB iMac, the total of wired and Active is 8.03GB with the following apps running: MAS, Mail, Safari, Chrome, iTunes, BBEdit and a 2.5GB VM in Fusion. You're actually better off looking at the total of Free and Inactive memory (along with page outs) as that's memory that's not currently being used - if the total of Free + Inactive is low and Page Outs is high then you would benefit from more memory.

    I had 8GB on my MBP and regularly had 3GB+ of swap in use with a ton of page outs. I upped it to 16GB and the difference in performance has been night and day.

    For the cost of the additional memory, I personally just don't think it's worth compromising bearing in mind you can't upgrade it later
  12. C4FF macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    To be honest ram cache management is a bit out of my technical knowledge, I just know I've never seen the free ram get under 3gb left of 8 :)
  13. dougaha18 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    I can wait to see what the new screen resolution is like and if it makes a big difference. I will be constantly on the go with it for design classes, but size and weight are not an issue.
  14. dagamer34 macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Houston, TX
    Having an SSD reduces the need for more RAM since it can read far faster (500MB/sec).
  15. dank414 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
    dougaha18 a graphic designer using Adobe. I'm one myself and I can easily kill 6gb of ram by opening couple programs.. and it's sort of an essential you're going back and forth.
  16. dank414 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
    I've been asking the same question myself.. first thing I look at is the monetary value.

    You're looking at $2800 or $3000 (this is assuming you'll want 16gb ram, ~500gb ssd, hi-res display, both at 2.6ghz). So it's $200. Physical difference is the size, weight. It's ~1 pound less and ~.2 inch smaller (for 2-3yrs). Screen spec is awesome, we don't need to cover it. 2880x1800 ftw.

    The minus
    DVD drive (I don't use it and i'll carry a usb one when absolutely needed)
    Upgrade (ssd/memory)

    Rebuttle on the minus
    I don't know if 32gb (16gb x 2)memory is available or not (couldn't find on newegg), but it'll be a while before it's cheap or out.. 16gb just hit around $100. I would assume 32gb is 2-3yrs away. You might be getting a new system by then. Same goes for ssd, corsair m4 just hit $400 range for 512gb on sale. I doubt you'll see ssd plunge in price that quick (maybe 1-2yrs).

    It's always nice to have more, but unless you're crazy rich (we wouldn't be having this conversation), the idea of upgrading more might not be ideal while you own the new mbp.

    So it's $200. For me, I've convinced myself is that in a year or two Apple will stop the production of the 'old (new)' version and i'll have some remorse because I don't have the newest looking toy and nice res. Then $200 doesn't look bad and my back might thank me for not lugging an extra pound a day.
  17. Kasalic macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2011
    It is a difficult one, but from my point of view I purchased a 15" AntiGlare refurb and I for one am happy with this update as I can honestly say that I would not have spent the extra on a Retina model.
  18. barbarino macrumors newbie

    Sep 8, 2010
    I would the say the new air intakes of the RMBP are interesting in that if you can now probably close the lid and and work with in a vertical stand like a bookarc without too much overheating.
  19. Nostromo macrumors 65816


    Dec 26, 2009
    Deep Space
    I suppose the retina display is glossy only.

    I also wonder about heat issues with the thinner model, as the processor and the RAM is the same as with the classic.
  20. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    75 percent less glossy, if compared with the Late-2011.

    The retina has a much quieter, more efficient cooling system (click to enlarge):



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