Seeking opinions on 15" MBP builds

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jimsiff, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. jimsiff macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2011
    Portland, Or
    I will be buying a 15" MBP as a desktop replacement for me and my wife. I'm looking for performance balanced with bang for the buck.

    Common tasks:

    - multi-user
    - mail, calendar, web, banking
    - family photo / video editing (iLife, not pro)
    - light gaming (turn based, not shooters)
    - virtualization for some required Windows apps
    - hobby Xcode developing

    I'm considering the following options (all w/ AppleCare):

    - 15" base model / standard screen / 8 GB RAM (aftermarket)
    - 15" base model / standard screen / 8 GB RAM (aftermarket) / 128 GB SSD (Apple)
    - 15" base model / hi-res screen / 8 GB RAM (aftermarket)
    - 15" base model / hi-res screen / 8 GB RAM (aftermarket) / 128 GB SSD (Apple)

    After reading the AnandTech review, it appears that RAM and SSD are the most noticeable performance upgrades. RAM is a given, and I'm not touching aftermarket SSD.

    Here's my questions:

    - How important is the hi-res screen for our basic usage?
    - How noticeable is the SSD upgrade in reality?
    - Given Apple's SSD prices and unwillingness to certify non-Apple drives, am I better off waiting a year for the SSD market to mature?

    Thanks for your help!

  2. lukta macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2011
    Hey Jim, a higher screen resolution is basically just going to give you more screen real estate. The only negative would be that a higher resolution affects the speed at which your Mac can render games (needing to render more pixels rather than less).

    I don't have an ssd because I need disk space and can't afford the 512gb ssd. Thy basically depends on your budget vs how much space you need. The 128 is affordable but too small for me.

    The low end 15 will probably be fine for your needs, but if you want to bump it to the top end 15 to ensure your games run great then do that.

    Good luck!
  3. Rob9874 macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2010
    I'm new to Macs, but used to work for Intel and have been up on the latest & greatest in the PC world for years. I went with the base 15" standard res, as I wanted to buy in store the first day. Ended up returning it, and waiting the week to get the high res screen. I've been using a 1680x1050 laptop for years, so I couldn't get used to the 1440 screen.

    I too am going to upgrade to 8GB RAM soon. As for the SSD, I don't think 128GB is enough space. I plan to upgrade to SSD later this year, or next year, when prices come down. Since I'll upgrade that later, I went with the 500GB 5400 rpm (didn't want to invest in a hdd I'm removing in the near future). I don't notice any performance hit at all. I'm sure if I had an SSD machine to time and compare, there would be differences. But for now, this feels blazing fast with the 500/5400.
  4. Kyzelios macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2011
    Hi Jim,

    For the usage that you have described I would recommend the 15-inch base model with either the standard resolution display or a high resolution display and 8 GB of memory with a standard hard disk, which will give you an excellent performance-to-value ratio.

    In my opinion, SSD's haven't matured quite enough yet and you're still looking at higher prices at the cost of losing several hundred gigabytes worth of storage space. You would however notice faster start-up times as well as faster application load times, but it's not like we're talking several minutes difference here; therefore in terms of value I'd stick with a traditional hard disk.

    As for the high resolution display, do you have an external monitor that you could connect the computer to? If so, then you could save a little bit of money by going with the standard resolution display. My recommendation would be to visit an Apple Store or an Authorized Reseller to see if they have any of the high resolution models on display so that you could compare them yourself in person, or failing that look at some comparison images on the internet to get an idea of the difference between the two. I have the standard resolution display on my MacBook Pro and find that it's the perfect balance between screen estate and readability, but it really boils down to what works best for your eyes.

    Just my two cents, I'd recommend checking out some reviews online of the different models to get a feel for what you'd be looking at.

    Hope that helps Jim, and best of luck with your purchase, have a great day. :)
  5. TheHoff macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    As Anand has said, the SSD is the biggest improvement you can make in any system. It doesn't just help with boot times or app opening times but it makes a huge difference with virtual machines and multi-tasking.
  6. -C- macrumors regular


    Jul 31, 2010
    Me too - I think the 1680x1050 is significantly better. I was worried about readability because of my poor eyesight but it turns out the hi-res is clearer and easier on my eyes….though it's probably because it's often on my lap, screen close to my eyes. Being able to see the pixels/anti-aliasing on the standard resolution really bothered me. I'm very happy with the hi-res screen.
  7. a.y.n macrumors 6502


    Jul 7, 2009
    San Francisco
    If you are ever gonna use (or code, for you hobby) outside, like at cafes, I would highly recommend going for the antiglare display.
  8. jimsiff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2011
    Portland, Or
    Thanks for all your feedback.

    After some thought I realize 128GB SSD is just too small. I already have nearly 100 GB in family pictures, videos and iTunes. I can't afford a larger SSD drive so I will go with the base drive for now and look at SSD down the road.

    I'm leaning towards the hi-res display. I don't have a spare external monitor, so maximizing native screen real estate is a priority. Also, my past two work laptops have been 15.4" / 1680x1050 and 14.1 / 1440x900. When I got the 14.1, I really missed the larger 15.4 desktop. I'm not sure I'd be completely happy with a standard 15" MBP display.

    I'm leaning towards the glossy display. When I viewed the glossy and matte side by side at the Apple Store, I felt the glossy image had more pop. I also thought the glass display had more torsional rigidity than the matte with aluminum bezel. Any extra bit of durability is helpful. I already have an iPhone 3GS and iPad, so I'm comfortable with the glass screen cover in daylight conditions.

    I think I'm going to order a 15" standard with hi-res display and memory from Crucial tonight. I can't wait!
  9. Kyzelios macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2011
    Sounds like an excellent choice and I'm sure you'll enjoy it for years to come, let us know how it goes once you get it in your hands! :)
  10. ieevans macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2004
    Plano, TX
    I wanted the 2.2 hi-res glossy but after running to two stores that said they had one and didn't I ended up with a 2.3 hi-res anti-glare screen. The retail stores in the DFW area don't carry the glossy hi-res at any speed. I dislike the screen and will be returning it after my online order ships. I ordered a 2.3 hi-res glossy. What? Now that I've had the 2.3 I can't possibly go back :). You'll probably want the pixels and both WOW & Civ V play fine with almost everything on the highest setting. Every computer needs as much RAM as you can afford. Other World Computing has a 16G kit, I can't afford it :) but the 8G kit is reasonable.

Share This Page