To wait for not to wait... cMBP vs. rMBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by PatientWaiter, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. PatientWaiter macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2013
    Hi everyone,

    I know there are countless topics on this, but I was hoping to get some advice from those out there more knowledgeable than me regarding my specific situation.

    I'm looking to purchase a new Mac notebook. My current notebook is a 2006 first-gen Intel processor MBP, 2.16 GHz Core Duo, user-upgraded to 2GB RAM. The computer has been a workhorse for nearly 7 years, but she's definitely shown signs of not being able to keep with the times. Programs are incredibly slow to load, processes take forever, multitasking is impossible, and precious hours of my life have been wasted entranced on the spinning rainbow wheel. It's a sad state of affairs when you turn to your iPhone for YouTube videos because you know the computer can't handle them.

    Money is an issue - however - I buy computers to go the distance. I can't afford nor do I have the time and energy to continually buy/sell to keep with the times. I need future proofing, while still maintaining some sort of budget (e.g., less than $3,000.)

    My list of pros and cons are very much like everyone else... the SSD is a must, and my guess is that the cMBP will be discontinued or re-designed soon. The retina screen will likely become the new standard, yes? My concern is that I don't want to buy a system that will look incredibly outdated in 5 years - think projection TV vs. LED TV. The lack of user-upgradeable/replaceable parts in the rMBP scares me... solder comes apart, parts die, and I don't want to be at mercy of a "genius". BUT, the sheer speed, capability, and weight of the rMBP is extremely appealing to me.

    I'm a musician and hobbyist photgrapher. I have a large library of WAV/MP3's and need storage space outside of externals. I need processing power to see real-time slider input from Aperture and/or Lightroom for 16 megapixel RAW files (something my current system cannot handle.) I prefer a quality screen to get the most out of photo editing (an additional monitor is not an option). I need a CD drive for reading, burning, and playing audio discs.

    So as I see it, my options are:
    1) Buy 15" cMBP. Spend extra money to user-upgrade SSD and RAM. Perhaps increase SSD in a few years when prices have come down to increase storage.
    2) Buy 15" rMBP. Spend a LOT of extra money on maxing out RAM and SSD. Spend close to $4,000 with tax/applecare. Yikes.
    3) Wait another 6(ish) months to see what happens with current cMBP line and hope retina prices come down.

    Any thoughts out there?

    TL;DR - Professional musician/hobbyist photographer needs fast system with large SSD, while staying with a musician budget of around $3,000 or less. Current system is 7 years old. New system needs to be future-proof for at least 5-7 years for financial reasons. Needs advice!
  2. B..., Mar 25, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013

    B... macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    If you buy the rMBP, definitely max out the ram but do not the SSD. There is currently one aftermarket SSD for the new shape from OWC. Expensive now but prices will go down. You also do not need more than 2.4 GHz processor. So $2199 + $200 for 16 GB RAM + Applecare + (either 512 GB SSD or wait for aftermarket to go down) + tax= about $3000. If you get both 16 GB RAM and 512 GB, just get the high end model for $2799 + tax and Applecare (I would buy 512 GB SSD aftermarket to avoid paying Apple's overpriced SSD prices). Throw in a Samsung external drive for $30.

    Or wait if you do not need a machine now to see if prices come down.
  3. Ledgem macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    I'm a hobbyist photographer but not a musician, and my goal is to run my system for at least five years - so we have at least two things in common :) I use a cMBP with a secondary monitor for photo editing. I have a 3rd generation iPad, and I will say that the retina screen of the iPad occasionally reveals flaws that I missed on the other two screens. My guess is that the retina display on the MBP would be similar. But is it critical? Not really. I've gotten by just fine with photo editing on non-retina screens thus far, and if you're into printing (I like to print big), print is always more forgiving than even non-retina digital displays. The current MBP screens are fine; retina would be nice, but it's not a necessity. That's a luxury that your budget should determine, and you should consider the trade-offs.

    As far as "future proofing" and cost-saving versatility, the cMBP has the edge. SSD prices are constantly dropping and SSD technology just gets faster and better. The SSD in the rMBP can be swapped out, but it uses a non-standard form factor (the blade design, as opposed to the standard 2.5" drive) that is currently only available from OWC - and it's expensive. By comparison, the sky is the limit for the cMBP. You can even go the optibay route and replace the DVD drive with a HDD for increased on-board storage capacity, using a smaller SSD for your OS and programs while storing your photo library and soundtracks on the secondary HDD.

    I went with the cMBP over the rMBP because I wanted that ability to swap out the RAM and hard drive. If Apple had released the retina screen with a cMBP body, or a rMBP without soldered parts, then the story would probably be different.

    One final consideration for cost savings is where you buy what system. Apple offers refurbished systems with the exact same warranty as a new system, and reviews on them are very good: they are basically as new, only with an occasional scratch somewhere on the outside (and no original box). When a refresh for the MBP line occurs then some resellers like MacMall offer the previous generation with a nice discount, knocking off anywhere from $100-300. If you can afford to wait and don't absolutely need any of the features introduced with the "latest and greatest" then it may be an option to consider, whether you go with the retina MBP or standard.

    No matter which way you go, you're going to love your upgrade. Enjoy!
  4. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    I would suggest that you get the 2.7 ghz 15" rmbp with 16 gb of ram and the 512 ssd. 512 gb is plenty for a boot drive, and you can extend that with USB 3 external hard drives\ssds and eventually thunderbolt RAID configurations once they come down in price. Alternatively, wait about 3 months and get the new revision, if you can wait.
  5. Count Blah, Mar 25, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013

    Count Blah macrumors 68040

    Count Blah

    Jan 6, 2004
    US of A
    For you, I would go cMBP with the upgrades GPU to 1G of VRAM.

    1) right now, the max RAM for the cMBP is 16 Gigs, but that is most likely because single 16Gig RAM sticks have not come out yet. I'm guessing the cMBP will be able to handle 32 Gigs eventually.

    2) if you are doing serious video work on your machine, you are most likely hooked up to a monitor anyway.

    3) Your options for storage are going to wider than for the rMBP. The SDD drives in the rMBP are a unique size/shape, so only a few expensive options will be available for you.

    Or you could wait a couple months longer and see what Haswell brings to the lineup. But if you have/really want to buy now, I would go cMBP.

    **** - Oops, scratch #2. Retina might be the way to go then. Max out to 16 Gigs of RAM, and hope it's enough in 2+ years.
  6. B... macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    He said a moniter is not an option. I agree that if you do not WANT a retina, there is no reason to get one. cMBP has SuperDrive and better upgradability but lacks good cooling and a retina screen.
  7. PatientWaiter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2013
    Thanks all for your feedback so far. Really great information and makes me feel better about moving forward.

    My question is, how sure are we that there will be another revision? Considering the latest rMBP was released in February, is there another (possible user-upgradeable?!) rMBP in the works for this year? Or is there a revision of the cMBP line... (possibly to include new screen and SSD?)

    I got kinda burned the last time I pulled the trigger early on this MBP Duo system (MBP Core 2 Duo released 100 days after I bought the Duo, over 6 years ago. No exchange possible.)

    I will admit that I've visited Apple Stores and drooled as I shut down/startup the rMBP and watch them boot faster than I can find my credit card.
  8. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    The Haswell Intel chips for the rmbp are being released sometime in the late May-early June range. It follows that Apple would release a new rmbp based on the new chips within a month or so. However, this is all of course speculation based on trends and roadmaps. Any other details concerning other improvements to the rmbp are also just going to be speculation until it is actually released.
  9. B... macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    Personally, I think that Apple will either discontinue the line or just not update it. If they do, the c's will not have an SSD or a better screen (that would bring it close to a rMBP). If they do discontinue, you could get it shortly after online at a great price! Either way, I think you should wait but be forewarned that it might be awhile (at least August).
  10. Orlandoech macrumors 68040


    Jun 2, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Wait.... forever.... so we dont have to see these threads, over and over, and over again... and a few more times, plus 100 more times, for the next decade.
  11. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    I used to think $400 was too big of a price difference between the cMBP and rMBP, but I'm not so sure any more. I really doubt Apple will drop the cMBP price at all but I can see the rMBP coming down a little bit, $1999? Until that happens the cMBP will be around. There are a lot of people out there that will spend $1500 but not $2000.
  12. B... macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    By online I did not mean Apple, I meant like Amazon and such. I think it is also possible that they will just not upgrade the cMBP's. About pricing, remember that the Air is more powerful than ever and is as much a prosumer laptop as the 13" pro.
  13. tharitm macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2009
    Why not wait till July for the WWDC as Apple will most likely refresh the MBP? As its almost April already. Besides you are planning to spend around $3k and why not buy the most recent model?
  14. B... macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    WWDC has always been early June. New processors are early June. Therefore no computers at WWDC.
  15. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

    Jun 29, 2011
    not to mention actual logic and economics.

    but in terms of user upgradable RAM thats not going to happen.

    I also dont believe that 16gb sticks are going to be available, DDR3 is EOL
  16. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    If you can wait (which it does sound like it..) why not not wait and see? If the update doesn't come or it sucks - you can buy the older gen models at a nice discount. If it is worth getting the latest and greatest.. you were going to spend the money anyways.
  17. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

    Jun 29, 2011
    thats the best advise if you can wait, the refurbs are going to flood when the new ones hit, and well its as close as it can get in a win win situation
  18. urkel, Mar 25, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013

    urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    I owned an rMBP15 and its a fine machine, but the thing that just kept eating at me is how there's almost zero "future proofing" on this model. Memory is soldered. Storage is proprietary and overpriced. And the ONLY appeal is that Retina screen, but even that isn't a long term value in that we are paying a high premium for a screen that is unique in 2012 but will be standard in 2013/14. So that means the resale value will absolutely plummet faster than any MacBook ever.

    So I went with the cMBP too. For now I 256SSD/1TB HDD/8GB and in 2014 I could extend the computers life by upgrading to 1TB SSD / 2TB HDD/16GB for just a few bucks. If I kept the Retina MBP my upgrade path in 2014 would be to sell the entire computer at a huge loss and rebuy a new one.
  19. swerve147 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2013
    You don't sound like you're in a rush for a new machine. Wait until 3rd Q. Your choices will be much better both in terms of available Mac upgrades as well as pricing on refurbs and discontinued models.

    A 1TB SSD for few bucks? Yeah, right.
  20. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

    Jun 29, 2011
    1tb SSD now is 1.2k or just a little bit less, the m500 with 960gb aint arrived, though its being listed in europe for 700 euros

    2tb HDD only 15mm

    glad you didnt say 32gb of ram, because DDR3 is EOL, I really dont thing 16gb sodimm are going to arrive, I sure hope so, still dont believe.

    In terms of value, I hardly see the loss that you propose, you would off course would have to get 16gb

    But anyway, Im actually not concerned about resale value, what im concerned is how long I can keep that, I never got a new pc because it was feeling slow, always because it broke, it usually takes 2-4years, but I can manage to break it.:D

    But the main attractive point of the retina, aside the screen is the weight, that for some people count a lot.

    For example nec la vie Z

    less than 1kg, I actually wondered if I should by that or not, but 4gb only is kind of deal braker
  21. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    Since you've been to the future then please tell me what 1TB SSD will cost in a two years. Also tell me who wins the World Series 2013 and whether or not Star Wars Ep VII is any good because I got burned pretty bad waiting 6hrs in line for Ep I. :rolleyes:
  22. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    I respectfully disagree and here's why.

    Whether you get a base $2100 256GB/8GB rMBP or the $4000 750GB SSD/16GB/AppleCare rMBP that the OP referred to then they both would depreciate in value due to the high initial cost, low specs and limited upgrade options.

    $2100 - rMBP 256GB/8GB rMBP. This is a passable device for 2012 but consider those specs in 2015. Is anyone really willing to pay $1500 for a used 256GB/8GB Mac?

    $4000 - rMBP 750GB SSD/16GB/AppleCare. While those specs are much better for now and for the next few years, the initial cost is obnoxiously high and over time it will be even tougher to justify. So how much is that $4000 macine going to be valued at in two years?

    But with the cMBP then you are given much more options for using it as todays computer (plop in an SSD, upgrade memory, swap optical for HDD) and in two years when SSD costs drop or capacities increase then it will be very easy to do a few affordable upgrades to keep it current or to make it more appealing to the used market.

    I know people love the Retina screen but IMO its just a bit too ahead of its time because the rest of the specs need to catch up to justify the pricetag. (Thats just my opinion and Im not trying to change anyones mind on that)
  23. swerve147 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2013
    A 1 TB SSD is not going to be "a few bucks", that's for sure.
  24. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

    Jun 29, 2011
    I have to agree concerning the upgrades, but one thing is that we are already at the ''maximum'', since one of the most common upgrades that people do today is to replace the HDD with the SSD, and that presents some problems:

    1) we dont have the referencial, common space used for SSD is still around 120gb, before was still 64gb, the affordability is coming and we made large strides last year, specially crucial (i dont take into real consideration sandforce, they have such a high return rate, rma rates [had to do it twice already] that returning costumers is getting problematic), that may and I think will change a lot in the future, common space would be around 250gb to 512gb+

    2) RAM, we like to throw lots of ram, and usually the highest speed possible, while some swear that makes a ton of difference (I have now in my server 256gb of ram, feeding 2 6 cores opterons, those are rated at 1333mhz ), I dont see the difference there, probably because the poor guy is abused, for some apps there is so much ram you can throw at them.

    Im glad you didnt point the cpu, the performance difference between the different tiers might be equal to the jump from one gen to another, however in the end there is so little diminishing returns when you dont actually need to stay with the top power and so forth

    So sincerely, IF I would buy the rmbp 15 again, I would go for the 256gb , 2,4ghz and 16gb of ram, its possible I would get the 512gb. that should get a good resale value.

    What in the end I want is that the NGFF format really gets in, and that msata is going the way of the dodo

    so that in the end we have more options than the highly custom owc, because lets be honest here, why would I need a 2.5'' size when I can fit 256gb in just a hair over 1'', its 1.2''
  25. PatientWaiter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2013
    So here's another burning question. The current cMBP date since last refresh is nearing 300 days... are the processor and components considered out of date considering the MacRumors Buyers Guide is suggesting to not buy? Or are you all arguing that the user upgrades trumps the 'out of date' philosophy.

    Another factor that I neglected to include is that I have been collecting Apple Gift Cards for nearly two years to help pay for this purchase. It's not going to cover the whole amount, but it should cover at least one-third the cost... but it prevents me from shopping elsewhere other than the Apple Store.

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