rMBP 13" vs. non-retina MBP 15"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by excitedstate, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. excitedstate macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2012

    Given my budget, I have determined that I can either get the 13" retina MBP with i7 CPU upgrade, or 15" non-retina MBP w/ 8 GB of RAM.

    Basically, it boils down to dual core with SSD, or quad core and discrete graphics with hard drive.

    I don't do image/video editing or gaming. I am a physics grad student who runs Mathematica code for my research. It's not all that heavy-duty -- my longest codes take 15-30 minutes to run, and those are rare. Other than that, word processing, web browsing, and creating keynote presentations. I carry my computer around occasionally, but it spends most of its time on my desk or in my living room.

    I am leaning towards the rMBP. Will the quad core/GPU speed increases from the 15" non-retina be enough to offset the faster SSD and the 2 pounds of weight savings?
  2. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Work out if your tasks are IO bound or CPU bound.

    If they are CPU bound, and Mathematica is multi-threaded (I've never used it, but i'd be very surprised if it is not) then the MBP 15" will be significantly faster (once the app/data has been loaded from disk). Ditto if the app can take advantage of OpenCL or CUDA - the discrete GPU will help with that.

    If the app is mostly IO bound (lots of read/write to the disk slowing it down) the 13" machine may be faster.

    But i'd suggest that by the sounds of it, for your workload the 15" will probably be faster (up to 2x or so due to CPU core count alone - potentially much faster than that if OpenCL or CUDA is used). And if it isn't faster today, i'd bet on Mathematica running faster on it in future due to the higher core count and faster OpenCL / CUDA capable hardware.

    Also, if your app is memory capacity hungry, the 15" non-retina can be expanded to 16gb today and possibly 32gb in future when 16gb modules are available.

    Depends i guess on whether teh 13" will give you "acceptable" performance. The screen is certainly nicer and it is definitely more portable :D
  3. Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
    You can always add a SSD to the 15 whenever funds are available. Also can upgrade RAM yourself which is much cheaper.
  4. excitedstate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2012
    From what I understand, the SSD will increase my computer's performance more in "everyday" tasks like booting and launching applications, while the quad-core will only really matter for CPU intensive programs. Is this correct?

    How can I tell what's limiting my code? Run the code while watching Activity Monitor?
  5. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

    Jun 29, 2011
    you are correct and yes you can try that, but its dependable on the hardware that you are using to do this. if its too old, you will run at 100%, if its not too old, you are still running this at 100%
  6. dmk1974 macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    I was also comparing the 2012 13" rMBP and the 2012 15" cMBP, but just bought the 15" because I got a great deal on it. It definitely is a LOT bigger and heavier than my 11" MBA, but the 15" is a much more powerful machine and I rarely leave the house with even my 11" MBA (desk, couch, bed).

    I have an SSD and RAM as well that I plan to install into to the 15" cMBP. Hopefully the size and weight aren't too bothersome since the beautiful screen and power are why I got it.
  7. Rosenlicht macrumors newbie

    Dec 14, 2012
    For me the 15" MBP was getting to be a hassle carrying around everyday in my backpack. Not the weight or anything like that, just the fact that I always had to squeeze it in and work around my books and all that nonsense.

    I've had the 13" rMBP for about a week now which is much easier to deal with, but am looking at the 15" rMBP since it is much more powerful and not too much more expensive and the 15" rMBP is slightly smaller, maybe a third of an inch, then the 15" MBP.

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