Understanding performance specs

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Jonastp, Sep 5, 2015.

  1. Jonastp, Sep 5, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015

    Jonastp macrumors newbie


    Sep 5, 2015
    Hello everybody!

    I'm Jonas, and i have a refurb 15'' macbook from 2010. I'm living in Hong Kong for the next month, where the mac computers are 400€ cheaper then my hometown in the Netherlands! I'm thinking about upgrading.

    I study to be a car designer, so I need to be able to have some processing power. My 2010 mac always did just fine, I used to have a windows partition with Solidworks (very heavy 3d program) on it, but now it can't really handle it anymore. Photoshop and another graphic program at the same time is OK now, but not fast. I don't edit video, just draw digitally with a wacom.

    This is my 'ABOUT' page of the current computer.
    MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010)
    Processor: 2,4 GHz Intel Core i5
    Memory: 8 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
    Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M 256 MB
    With a spinning harddisk with 320GB, and 106GB free.
    All i changed about this computer is that I put extra ram in it.

    To the point:
    what notebook can i buy that will stay most up-to-date (in speed) for the next 5 years?
    Will it be really much faster then my current computer?
    (I don't care about display size or quality, I have an external display at home. Portability is a plus)

    13'' macbook pro
    - What makes a mac fast? The fact if it's i5 or i7?
    - Does 1tb or 500gb make a difference for speed?
    - Can i put in RAM from a 3d party?
    - Is the 15'' one faster?

    macbook air maxed out
    - Could this be a option? It has i7 and 8gb ram!

    The new macbook
    - Will it have processing power?

    Thank you for reading this, i hope my question is a bit clear!
  2. Jonastp thread starter macrumors newbie


    Sep 5, 2015
    This is the difference for approximately the same price! the macbook pro can still be upgraded on Ram and i7 but that makes it much more expensive.
  3. dangerfish macrumors 6502

    Aug 28, 2007
    An i7 will be faster than an i5. Will you notice the difference? Hard to say. Probably not. If you want the biggest bang for your buck, make certain that you get an SSD and not a spinning HDD. You can't upgrade RAM in the Macbook or Macbook Air. You can upgrade in the MBP. You can buy aftermarket RAM so you don't have to pay the Apple premium. The 15" MBP has the option of a discreet graphics card. If you are doing design, you will probably want that. Your current Mac has a discreet graphics card. I would say that you would NOT want the MB or MBA if you are doing design. You want a computer with a discreet graphics card.
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    1) there is a bit of a difference between a 13" screen and a 15" screen real estate.
    2) all things being equal, the i7 is a better CPU than an i5. However not all things are equal.
    3) SSD is always faster than a regular hard drive.
    4) RAM - latest version of Macbook Pro the RAM is cannot be upgraded so purchase with RAM installed as needed.
    5) Retina display on MBP - subjective but more people find it a positive.
    6) Video/GPU - Nvidia vs ATI - Some apps leverage each. Consider your apps and what they can exploit.
    7) Quad vs dual core CPU - Quad is usually overall faster, however many apps dont take advantage of multi-core.

    My take - you really can't go wrong getting "more than what you need now." Perhaps a rMBP, .2.5 i7 CPU, 512 SSD, and either 8 or 16 gigs RAM would keep you in good shape for at least 3 years. The real challenge is that software changes as well as OSX and you just don't know how power hungry they will be. It would be sad to get one that fits well now but is a touch challenged later or sluggish. Best luck on whatever you decide to buy.
  5. tdhurst macrumors 601


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
    Get the MBP if you only have access to one computer. I've tried to use both an 11" MBA and a MB as my only computer, the size/weight plusses didn't offset the other sacrifices.

    The MBP will also be the most "future-proof", though thinking anything in tech is future proof is no more than wishful thinking.

    But seriously, the 13" MBP will have a longer effective life than either of your other two options.

    The RAM can't be upgraded but the SSD can, so I'd get 16 gigs of ram and no more than 256 SSD if that's possible. 512 and bigger SSDs are only getting cheaper and faster.
  6. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68030


    Nov 8, 2014
    Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
    I would definetly opt for the 13" MacBook Pro with retina display. Other two options can not be even compared to it for many reasons.
  7. z31fanatic macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2015
    Mukilteo, WA USA
    First, forget about the maxed out Air. $1750 and you still get the $5 TN panel. Maxed out Air is the worst value in computing history.

    If I were you, I'd raise my budget and buy the 15" with the i7/16/512/dGPU configuration. You'll appreciate the bigger screen and power for Solidworks and Photoshop.
  8. Jonastp thread starter macrumors newbie


    Sep 5, 2015
    Thanks for all the advice! It's quite clear that i have to go for the MBP :)

    How do i recognise the discreet graphics card on the apple website? Is it the expensive 2700€ 15" macbook pro?

    Now i chose a 15" and a 13" for about the same price. When i look at the specs, I only see that the one has a bigger screen and the other one a bigger SSD. Which one would be faster?

    Kind regards,

    Attached Files:

  9. z31fanatic macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2015
    Mukilteo, WA USA
    The 15" in your last post is the base model without the dedicated graphics.
  10. Jonastp thread starter macrumors newbie


    Sep 5, 2015
    That one starts at 2200€, even in hong kong. It's over my budget.
    I think I might re-install my 15'' 2010 MBP, and only run my sketching programs on it, and keep it with my large screen and A3 wacom at home (where i need performance). And buy a macbook for when I'm travelling or studying engineering (where i just need to see pdf's, ibooks and email).

    My only problem is that I'll have two computers with files on it, which i need to share sometimes. I could use dropbox, but I only have 15gb. Is the 'airport capsule' only for time-machine backups or also to store files from both computers?
    If so, I don't need to buy the big SSD macbook.

    What do you think?
  11. svendobbelaere macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2012
    Why don't you try to upgrade your current MacBook Pro with an SSD first? Just get one tomorrow in Hong Kong and try it for a week. Worst case scenario just return the SSD after a week and buy a new laptop then.

    I would get a 512GB or 1 TB ssd, it's the best thing to happen to computers in the last decade IMHO (actually, I'd want the 2 TB samsung, but ok ;) (our Mac Mini has a 960 GB Sandisk SSD, was 310 euros including tax here in Belgium on Amazon a while back).. I bet it will make your laptop feel new again. Just get an external USB case for your current drive and you can access all your files.

    The beauty of your laptop is that it can still be upgraded. I wish I had kept my classic MacBook pro sometimes, instead of getting the Retina MacBook pro, since I'm still waiting for a larger SSD to become available. Oh well.

    Now, regarding your question on having two computers and what to do with the storage. My wife and I run our own business together, and we have iCloud drive (we use a single apple ID), which keeps her laptop, my laptop and our Mac Mini server in sync. We have the 2 GB plan. But try upgrading to an SSD first.
  12. h9826790, Sep 8, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2015

    h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    It depends on your workflow if able to use multi-core, if YES, i7 is definitely faster. If NO, then the i5 may be faster in some case. However, if you looking for something can stay for the next 5 years, better to go for i7, there will be more and more multi-thread (or even GPU accelerated) software in the next few years.

    Unless you can fully utilise the i7's processing power, I don't think there will be noticeable speed difference to your current computer. However, going from HDD to SSD is a huge difference. So, YES, you can feel the difference, the new one will be much much more responsive even though there is not much difference in CPU single thread performance.

    What makes a mac faster depends on your workflow. Some one required more RAM, some one required faster CPU, and some others may require a better GPU. Also, the cooling system can greatly affect the overall computer performance.

    Bigger HDD / SSD should be faster in general, but should not be noticeable, especially in this new PCIe SSD.

    Some model allow you to upgrade the RAM by yourself, but not all. So you better double check it if you have this plan. And for photoshop, this software can easily benefit from 12G RAM or above, so you may go for 16G RAM as a start.

    I personally won't go for the MBA because it's cooling system is not design for heavy duty, especially if you may connect an external monitor, the fan may stay at max speed, but the CPU still works at 95C all the time (which will eventually lower the CPU clock speed to avoid overheat, that means, your computer will run slower).

    In terms of processing power, the new Macbook is the worse, if you care about this area, don't pick the new Macbook.

    Anyway, welcome to Hong Kong!
  13. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    The 13" and 15" MBP use different chips, and the latter are definitely faster than the 13" models. Also, chances are you won't feel a difference between i5 and i7 chips, as it comes down to software supporting specific hardware features of the i7 in order to have a major real life effect. The i7 is worth it for Photoshop though.

    I would never recommend the retina Macbook for heavy production work, such as Photoshop.

    If you want power, get a MBP, and preferably a 15" due to the better processors.

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