Struggling with which rMBP to purchase

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by abertram, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. abertram, Jun 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013

    abertram macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2013
    Hello MacRumors community.

    I actually drafted up this question earlier, realized it was insanely long, got frustrated, and gave up, thinking I could solve this on my own. It's still long, and I apologize. I did try and slim it down to the best of my ability.

    I am trying to decide whether or not to get a 13" rMBP with 512GB storage, or a 15" rMBP with 512GB storage, both with 8GB 1600mHz memory.

    Some facts
    • I have had apple computers for a while, and my most recent is a mid 2009 15" macbook pro, with upgraded memory, from 4GB to 8GB.
    • I will be going to university as a freshman, this year, and will mainly be using my computer for notes, essays, netflix, the web, The Sims, and photoshop.
    • I am not an avid photographer or videographer by any means, but I do enjoy using photoshop to create graphics and other edited images.
    • I enjoy having the screen space of a 15" computer to have photoshop open and a tutorial in another window, or netflix in one window and microsoft word in another. However, this is not a priority in the slightest.

    I am mainly concerned about price. While I am contributing $1600 to this computer, my parents said they can cover the rest. While I am grateful, I do not want to place too much onto them.

    I am inclined to go towards a 13" computer, so that the price drops, but I have a few questions.

    1. Processor and Graphics Card. I see that in the 13" rMPB there are only dual core options, when in the 15" rMBP, there are quad core options. How important are these? I don't want my computer slowing down when I do things such as photoshop, some games, or when I use iMovie for little things here and there.

    2. Apple Care? I have never gotten it for any of my computers, and none of the apple products in the house have it. We are extremely careful with every device, but I am not too sure what will happen in college, and I am very paranoid. However, even with the education discount, it adds a whole $240 to the package (for a 15" rMBP).

    3. Storage Space? In my mid 2009 cMBP, I have 250GB capacity, and have 110 GB left. If I choose to get 256GB in my new computer rather than 512GB to save money, I am worried that since I will only have around 115GB space, it will run out in the 4 years I am at school. I will of course have a external Hard Drive (1TB), but I do not always like storing things ONLY on the EHD.

    My ideal computer, if I had thousands of dollars, would be a 15" rMBP with this configuration:
    2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
    Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz
    8GB 1600MHz memory
    512 flash storage
    Intel HD Graphics 4000
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory

    However, with tax, that makes it out to 2700, which just seems too much for me.

    I will be okay going to a 13" rMBP however, with these configurations (below), so long as the computer doesn't flake out on me, due to only having a dual core processor.
    2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
    Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
    8GB 1600MHz memory
    512GB flash storage
    Intel HD Graphics 4000

    Will the 13" be okay for me? Or would I need the processing speed of the 15"? If so, I am thinking I should drop something, either storage capacity or apple care. Which would be best to drop?

    If any of you have any tips or ideas, or were in a similar situation to me, please comment. Thanks so much!
  2. GeyservilleMan macrumors newbie


    Sep 26, 2012
    The biggest worry, is it will be an outdated machine by virtue of Haswell processors in less than 2 to 3 months by all estimates of an expected refresh of the MBP line. It seems it would be better to simply get along with your existing machine until we see the actual line up. I'm still running on a 2007 MBP and while it has it's limitations, it's best to LEAP, not just HOP. The new WIFI technology along with the better battery would seem to make it worth it to wait, this short amount of time.
  3. abertram thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2013
    Even if I wait for the new machines with Haswell processors to be released, how will this change my situation? I don't know anything about the upcoming machines, other than that they are expected sometime this year. Am I correct to assume that if there are 13" and 15" varieties, there will be a "better" haswell processor in the 15" than the 13"? Doesn't that just place me in the same situation, 3 months or even more later?

    I really do need a new machine before the end of August, as I am leaving my old one at home, and taking my new one with me.
  4. rfle500 macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2012
    I think your dilemma is between portability and power, rather than cost specifically. You always get more bang for buck with the base model with minimal upgrades, and I doubt most users would feel the difference on a day to day basis with the upgraded models. Comparing the base models (with 256GB storage, the best compromise in my opinion) the 13 and 15 are not that different in price, so it really comes down to usage.

    I currently have a 2010 MBP, and I find that it's still works very well for all tasks relating to my academic work (paper writing, programming, rendering, video editing) and that's on an old dual core Core 2 processor. The lack of screen real estate does impact writing specifically, but efficient use of multiple desktops helps a lot. When I upgrade (I promised my wife I would get 10 years out of my current machine) I will probably go for the equivalent of the rMBP 15", as its about the same weight and extreme portability it not essential.

    If portability is not a major consideration I would recommend the base 15" model. The power of that machine will probably give a longer shelf life, and the screen real estate is better. With regard to the storage, flash storage is expensive and in reality university work is unlikely to generate GBs of files. The main culprits are video and music, so if you expect your collections will expand significantly over the next few years then I would worry about extra storage, otherwise I would not worry. If external storage is a real concern then an external drive is very cost effective, and a Dropbox subscription is also a possibility, with the advantage of data security in terms of backup included for free.
  5. iancflam macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2013
    For the current rMBP 13", the HD4000 struggle with the high pixels of display so I'd say it's better to wait for the Haswell refresh. (I bought and returned one as I worked on PDF and it took seconds to load/zoom and display correctly...)

    The 15" base rMBP at Apple refurbished costs around $1500 and it has dedicated graphic card and quad-core. It's only 2kg, more screen estate coz you have been using 15" I'd suggest it with applecare (if available with student discount).

    If no rush definitely wait for the 2nd generation of rmbp.....longer battery hours (+10), and a more powerful intel display (+40%)
  6. sonicrobby, Jun 25, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013

    sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    I had a 13" MBP a few weeks ago, and it kind of struggled for me. I have a large iphoto and itunes library. Ususally I had to wait a good minute for them to fully load, but even then, scrolling on iphoto would get a bit choppy. I now have a quad core 15" rMBP and boy can I tell the difference. What used to take a minute to load now takes seconds. I think a dual core processor is something that can, and probably will, get frustating in the future. So for this id recomend getting the quad core option (15")

    Every new Apple product comes with a standard 1 year warrantly. I believe you have the option to purchase AppleCare later, you dont exactly need to get it right away. (not 100% sure if its true, but pretty sure). After about a month or two in college, you can see what kind of environment youre in and make a decision on Applecare then.

    I feel ya there, I personally dont like having things only on external devices. If youre out and need a file NOW for whatever reason, and dont have your EHD with you, well youre screwed. My personal feeling is that Im more comfortable with a 512GB SSD, but in your case, you can move your older material to the EHD; so once you finish your freshman year, you move that stuff over to the EHD and make space for sophmore year.

    On an overall note, watch the apple refurb store. You can save a WHOLE lot of money for a just-as-good, or even better, quality product (in most cases the refurbs go through multiple extra tests to make sure they requalify for resale as opposed to new ones).

    -Here is a refurb 15" rMBP with 512GB SSD and 2.6Ghz i7 ($2020) :
  7. dan1eln1el5en macrumors 6502


    Jan 3, 2012
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I don't believe that the refresh is 3 months's more likely to be a very soon refresh with just the CPU upgraded and perhaps moving SSDs from SATA to PCIe as a "quiet update" - usually a tuesday
  8. abertram thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2013

    Yeah, I have been reading a lot of reviews on the 13" rMBP, and found complaints of sluggishness. I too have many, many photos, as well as songs, so this could become problematic.

    I think I can deal with a 256GB hard drive. I like your idea about moving stuff over to the EHD every year. I also have a bunch of pictures on my computer now that I can move to the hard drive. Even though it's not something I like doing, these pictures are ones I hardly look at, so that could free up space for me.

    I have looked at the refurb store before, but aren't the retina models 2012 models, rather than the early 2013? I, like many others as well, am waiting for the Back to School sale to start, whenever that may be. Since the BTS sale doesn't apply to refurb macs, I wasn't thinking of getting one. If however, the Back To School sale isn't really "good," then I will probably think about getting a refurbish mac. What really is the difference though, between the 2012 rMBP, and the 2013 rMBP?
  9. abertram thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2013
    Forgive my ignorance, but I have little to no knowledge really of processors and such, so what else besides a change in power consumption will the Haswell processor do? I read some articles that showed benchmark results of a 13" rMBP with a supposed haswell processor. The score with this computer was only around 1000 points higher than that of the current 13" models. Is a 1000 point difference that good? I also have heard that even with the refresh, the 13" models still may be dual core, rather than quad-core. What would I be getting besides better battery life? (And wi-fi and a more powerful display? Are those because of the Haswell processor?)
  10. triplenick macrumors newbie


    Aug 7, 2011
    New York
    I'm actually in the same exact situation as you. If you live next to an Apple store or a retailer that has usable rMBPs on display, I highly recommend that you go to the store and play with the laptops.

    I've visited the Apple store on 5th Avenue, as I live right next to it, and I think, for college, that a 13" rMBP is more than enough. Even though the 15" rMBP is only slightly less than a pound heavier than the 13", I felt a difference. The specs are sort of insignificant for me, as a dual-core is more than enough for my needs, and it seems like it'll be fine for your needs too.

    The Haswell processors will make more of a positive difference in performance for the 13" than that for 15", but, again, for your needs, this difference is marginal.

    Given the rumors and speculations, the main upgrades to consider is the faster SSDs, the better integrated graphics, and slightly more battery life. I doubt that better displays will hit the rMBP this generation.

    I recommend that you wait until you can no longer wait. I'm waiting until mid-August before I make my decision.
  11. abertram thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2013
    I do live by an apple store, and have tried out their products. They all seem fast, and great, but that's because they don't have everything my computer would have, such as PS6, running alongside other programs, so it's hard for me to simulate what I would be doing, and test how fast my computer would be.

    I have until about mid-August as well to make a decision. I could purchase my computer after that in my new town, but I'd much rather be able to focus on setting it up at home, rather than once I'm at school.

    Thanks for the help everyone!
  12. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    The only difference a a very slight CPU boost, so 2.4GHz (2013) vs 2.3GHz (2012) for the base model and 2.7GHz (2013) vs 2.6GHz (2012) for the upper model of the 15" retinas. I didnt even realize there were 2013 models until a week ago. But as far as I know, this 0.1GHz processor bump, and a slight change in the model numbers, is the only difference between the two.
  13. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    If I were in your shoes, I'd look at a refurb Retina like this. Due to the option of fast external storage plus you haven't filled what you presently have, I'd go with the 256GB drive, ie don't splurge for the 512. I don't like extended warranties but this machine could get bumped around quite a bit. If the steep price of Applecare is a bridge too far, check with your credit card company, many will automatically double the manufacturer's warranty.

    Also, the new 13's are expected to bring much better battery life so if you can wait a bit longer for the refresh you can weigh the higher cost of the new model against the further discounted 2012 MBP.
  14. vpitman macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2012
    I'm finishing my MSE, and I ordered a new rMBP as soon as they were released. I have the quad-core 2.6 model with 8 GB RAM and 512GB drive. I keep my iTunes library (music and movies) on a Thunderbolt drive. I installed about 110 GB of software and documents from my old Mac, and I've added about 300GB in the last year, mostly from various projects and research related to my degree. I have to record a lot of video and incorporate it in a lot of my work. I also have a 27" Apple display, and when I'm doing research, the 15" display is very cramped. I've had to do a lot of work while traveling, and it can be a hassle with a15" screen. I wouldn't want to think about having 5-6 research articles, a pair of spreadsheets, and a couple of Word documents open on a 13" screen! I spread that out on the monitor and expand the size of my paper, then sit back and use a wireless keyboard and track pad to write. Honestly, if you're going to write, I'd buy the 15" for the difference in screen real estate. I'd get the fastest one you can, because you can't go back and upgrade. You can always add more hard drive space. ITunes takes about 8-10 seconds to load, using the Thunderbolt drive, and I have a big library, I think about 3 times what you said you had.

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