Upgraded MacBook or off-the-shelf MacBook Retina?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by kakkerpolakker, Apr 18, 2014.

  1. kakkerpolakker macrumors newbie

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    Apr 18, 2014
    #1
    Hi everyone,

    I'm about to replace my 6-years-old MacBook White (Early 2008) with a laptop. I'm hesitating between two options:
    1. MacBook Retina, i5 2,5 GHz, upgraded to 256 SSD and 16GB RAM, 1590€*
    2. MacBook non-Retina, i7 2,9GHz, which I'd upgrade myself replacing SuperDrive with a 120GB SSD (Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G) and getting 16GB RAM. The total cost (incl. tools and postage for SSD+RAM) should amount to 1614€*.

    * Prices for Belgium, including a 8% discount that my company gets with every Apple purchase. Unfortunately I'm not able to purchase a laptop from any other country

    in favor of non-Retina:
    - faster processor & SSD
    - 2.4x bigger hard drive
    - Ethernet port (no adapter needed)
    - repairable (= longer lifetime?)

    in favor of Retina:
    - great screen
    - faster Wi-Fi
    - better graphics
    - better battery life (7 instead of 9 hours)
    - Thunderbolt 2

    I'll be using my laptop browsing the Web, text editing, almost always having multiple tabs and apps open. I'll occasionally be doing some photo editing (Adobe Lightroom). No gaming, no video editing.

    Now, I'm honestly stuck here. Non-Retina seems like a faster and more durable machine (but is it, actually?). Retina is obviously tempting because of its screen and the ease of not having to change the RAM and SSD myself.

    What are your thoughts on this? Any help would be appretiated...
     
  2. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #2
    The only 2.5Hz rMBP on the Apple in the States is a 13" model.

    So are you comparing a 13" rMBP to a 15" MBP? :confused:
     
  3. kakkerpolakker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Sorry, I meant 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz), 13''
     
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #4
    You made a mistake there. The rMBP's SSD is way faster than the non-retina MBP's SSD because the rMBP is PCIe, the non-retina MBP is SATA3.
     
  5. kakkerpolakker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
  6. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #6
    Those are two different items. Not sure how you do that trade off.

    The rMBP may not be particularly upgradeable....but not repairable? Then how does Apple repair laptops turned in during standard warranty or 3 year Apple Care? Needless to say, get Apple Care for the machine which your company may also be able to get discounted.
     
  7. leman macrumors 604

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    #7
    The retina model is significantly lighter, has better battery life and is also faster for average (as in - browsing the web etc.) usage. It also has the potential to be useful longer, because of the new CPU instructions introduced in Haswell (but that should not dictate your purchase decision). As to the repairability - both laptops are quite similar if you disregard the possibility of failed RAM (which is extremely seldom with the soldered-on RAM in the first place). The rMBP might be more tricky in regards to storage upgrades, depending on whether we will see some aftermarket SSDs for it or not. Apple promised that SSDs in Mac Pro are user-replaceable, and given that they seem to be exactly the same kind as one used in the rMBP, I think that such possibility exists.
     
  8. sb in ak macrumors newbie

    sb in ak

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    #8
    I think it depends on how long you plan on keeping the machine. I usually keep my laptops for 4+ years, so the limited repairability is a bit of a non-starter for me. However, if you're on a quicker upgrade path and want to shell out another $300 for Applecare (I wouldn't touch a rMBP without it) it will probably be fine.

    Of the laptops (including Powerbooks and Macbooks) I've owned (or friends have owned) for the last 10+ years, I've encountered the following fail points: Ram, battery, and hard drives. I just had a ram module fail on me last year. I was able to diagnose the problem and the DIY fix was easy and cheap, and it didn't mean sending it in or taking it into a company. I don't care if the soldered Ram doesn't fail that often. Neither does the other stuff. Bottom line: it can fail, and when it does, I want to be able to replace it without canning a whole logic board.

    These repairs mean a lot of money with the new models if you don't get Applecare (and even that is $300). This piece of mind is worth a lot more to me than a faster SSD connection.

    The fact is that Apple has slowly been erroding the repairability and fixability of their machines for over a decade, and now we're in a place where even their pro models can't be easily modded. Not to mention they are removing options. We're stuck with what is essentially a larger Macbook Air instead of a Macbook Pro now. The old unibodies were plenty thin and had respectable battery life for a desktop replacement.

    I plan on upgrading my 2008 model with a 2012 MBP soon and then it's probably onto a different company after that dies. Sad; I've been a Mac user for the better part of 30 years.
     
  9. leman macrumors 604

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    #9
    As I said before, RAM failure is less likely with soldered-on RAM than with socketed RAM modules. So this invalidates your argument. A CPU or GPU or a capacitor can fail as well - and those are as difficult to replace on the classical MBP as on the rMBP. Battery replacement - no real difference between the models. And yes, the storage failure/replacement is a concern with the rMBPs.

    Its not Apple, its the entire industry. Same has been happening with the car industry nor decades now, btw. I see this as progress, to be honest. I am much happy with the machines as they are now. Of course, a sealed computer like the rMBP has serious drawbacks and requires a network of reasonably-priced service centers to be reliable. There is a certain financial component as well. But quite honestly - with the new machines I get much less eye fatigue and don't have to carry around as much. Well worth the few bucks for me which I might need to spend more on a upgrade/repair compared to the previous MBP gen. That said, a 13" rMBP costs around my monthly rent for my small student apartment. Not exactly a huge investment in my book.

    Which options are they removing? The new models are faster and more portable than the older ones, in addition to having better screens and better battery life.

    You should always pick whats best for you. Blind brand loyalty is silly. If Apple does not delivers what you want - why should you give them your money? Just keep in mind that most laptops will likely feature soldered-on RAM in not so distant future.
     
  10. sb in ak macrumors newbie

    sb in ak

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    #10
    Not sure how soldered Ram invalidates my argument, if it can still fail. Besides, soldered Ram locks you into a configuration for good.

    Moral of the story: I guess I'm of a dying breed who likes to open the hood and play around, as well as keep my options open, which is why I may give up on Apple here eventually. They don't seem to be catering to my kind anymore.
     
  11. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #11
    I would be willing to bet in a couple years we will see not only RAM soldered in but flash storage also built into the logic board.
     
  12. leman macrumors 604

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    #12
    Well, its not like these machines will ever fit more then 16GB ;) RAM is so cheap now that many just slap a ton of it on and forget about it.

    I used to build my own computers for over 8 years and I spend 5 of them with Gentoo as my main operating system. I know how much fun tinkering is. However, I think that what was necessary few years ago is becoming obsolete now. Take RAM for example. RAM used to be very expensive, so expandability was important. Nowadays, you can max out your hardware easily. And this will become even more common when DDR4 arrives. Or the CPU - upgrading it used to be a viable way to get a better computer. Nowadays, a CPU actually worth upgrading to usually means a completely new platform with new socket etc. Computers are becoming so ridiculously powerful that sealing them up is slowly starting to be more convenient for both the manufacturer and the user.

    I have written about this on multiple occasions on the forums, but I'd like to repeat it again. I believe that the technology is moving more and more towards integration. In the pursuit of speed and power efficiency, we need to minimise both the size and the distance between the components (electrical signals might travel with the speed of light, but a modern CPU can actually perform a large chunk of operations in the time the signal needs to cross the few centimetres between the CPU and the RAM). So in the future we will see more component stacking - RAM will be directly stacked on the top of the CPU die or somewhere very close. This way or another, I believe that RAM as a detachable component is nearing towards the end of its life. This has happened to mathematical coprocessors and much of the chipset logic (which is now part of the CPU) already.
     
  13. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #13
    Yes, the non-retina MBP will be slower than the retina MBP even with a fast SSD.

    The best SATA3 SSD (Samsung 840 Pro 512GB) can only do around 520MB/s read and 450MB/s write on a non-retina MacBook Pro. Meanwhile, the 512GB SSD in the retina MacBook Pro can do 750MB/s read and 720MB/s write.
     
  14. dmccloud macrumors 6502a

    dmccloud

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    #14
    The failure rate for the soldered RAM is much lower than for socketed RAM. With the socketed RAM, you have a lot more potential failure points (the contacts on the RAM, the RAM socket, the leads between the RAM socket and logic board, etc.). It comes down to complexity = catastrophe. Also any electronic component can fail - but in this case, the soldered RAM of the MBA and rMBP has a significantly lower failure rate than socketed RAM found in other machines.

    And don't expect to get away from soldered components if you do leave the Mac behind - Intel is making certain versions of its Broadwell CPUs soldered to the logic/motherboards:

    Source confirms soldered-on Broadwell CPUs (Tech Report)
     
  15. kakkerpolakker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 18, 2014
    #15
    Well, that's precisely what I see as a great disadvantage of the rMBP. It seems like a computer for 3 years, period. Even if I did spend an extra 249€ on AppleCare, which is how much it costs in Belgium, what happens if RAM or battery fail after the 3 year mark?

    Btw. I'm not sure that getting AppleCare in many European countries makes as much sense as in the US, since the warranties here are usually not 1, but 2 years long.
     
  16. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #16
    I was under the impression that while mathematical coprocessors were integrated for basic needs, mathematical coprocessors for computational heavy tasks can still be purchased from companies like AMD and nVidia under the "GPU" or "Dedicated Video Card" branding.
     
  17. leman macrumors 604

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    #17
    Haha, true, but that was a completely different (and also a later one) development ;) As such, I have little doubt that at some point GPUs and CPUs will also fuse to one physical unit.

    ----------

    Well, you can always get a battery replacement. Sure, if a component on a logic board fails, you are looking at a quite expensive repair bill - but how is it different from a chip/display/power circuit failure on the non-retina model? In that regards, every laptop is a computer for three years.

    P.S. I don't really see much point in owning a computer owed three years anyway, you can always sell it close to warranty expansion period and get a new machine. If you go for the base model every time, you will probably even save money compared to buying max spec - and you are always under warranty. I put around 40 'insert your $ equivalent' on my savings account every month, which is more then enough to get me a new machine after around 2 years - subtracting the money I an get from selling the old one. I believe thats quite a good 'leasing' option, given that my phone+internet bill costs over three times as much...
     
  18. kakkerpolakker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #18
    Well, I've had my MacBook White for almost 6 years now, had to change HD once, add extra RAM. Other than that this machine has been working flawlessly. Sure, it's a little slow, the battery lasts for only 1-2 hours... While it's high time I bought a new laptop, I'm happy (and impressed!) that the old one has served me for 6 years! And why shouldn't I expect the same from rMBP, branded as "the best computer Apple ever made"?
     
  19. leman macrumors 604

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    #19
    I am sure that it will do absolutely fine for 6 years and even more - the chances are quite high. But there is always a chance that something will go wrong - its simply the way modern complex consumer electronics works. And there is nothing special about the components Apple uses. Your Macbook worked fine for 6 years - great! We have an 14 years iMac in the cellar which is on 24/7 and still works like a champ. But other people have their machines having logic board failures after few years. In the end, its up to just luck.

    Personally, I don't feel comfortable with having a computer which is outside the warranty (because its a ticking financial bomb). And secondly - you might be happy with your Macbook, and yet a three years old MacBook Air is at least two (possibly more) times faster. Using an old machine is ultimately an impairment for your imputing experience, unless your usage only consists of checking emails (in which case there are much better and cheaper options out there).
     
  20. Anitramane macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Remember, the cmbp can raid 2 of those and be faster than rmbp…
     
  21. Hieveryone macrumors 68020

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    #21
    If I was you, I'd go for the retina man. I have one and it's the best computer ever IMO. You'll love the screen and battery life.
     
  22. sb in ak macrumors newbie

    sb in ak

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    #22
    I can see the advantages from a space saving and speed standpoint, but this particular argument continues to hold little sway with me. Socketed Ram is fairly reliable as it is (in my nearly 30 years of using Apple machines) and in the rare instance it fails, I walk down to the computer store or go over to Newegg/Amazon and buy a replacement for under $50.

    Look, the new rMBPs are great, you don't need to convince me. But they do seem like a continuation of the throwaway consumer electronics society. We've been trained into drinking the "it's progress" koolaid, and in a lot of ways it is. But that's just one way of thinking, and it's a way of thinking that gets you to buy expensive computers far more often. Recycling isn't necessarily environmentally friendly, either. Call me a curmudgeon, I guess.
     
  23. chrfr macrumors 603

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    #23
    In the US, Apple will replace Retina Macbook Pro batteries out of warranty for $199. Presumably Apple offers the same outside of the US.
    We also have a flat rate repair service available for out of warranty repairs.
     
  24. mtneer macrumors 68020

    mtneer

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    #24
    Does the replaced battery come with its own warranty?
     
  25. chrfr macrumors 603

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    #25

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