What's most important for speed: RAM or processor?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by spellflower, Dec 16, 2014.

  1. spellflower, Dec 16, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014

    spellflower macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2005
    I'm shopping for a new MacBook Pro, and I want it to last me for as long as possible without slowing down.

    I'm trying to decide how to prioritize RAM vs. processor speed.

    I mainly use my computer for web browsing, web streaming, word processing, listening to music on iTunes, managing photos with iPhoto, and recording music on GarageBand (though I may upgrade to Logic on my new machine).

    I'm looking at these two options:

    1. Refurb Late 2013 MBPR 15", 2.0 i7 Quad, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD: $1489
    2. New MBPR 13", 2.6 i5 Dual, 16GB RAM, 128GB SSD: $1379 (ed. store)

    Which is a better bet for giving me fast performance for years to come?
  2. Qaanol macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2010
    Between the music, photos, and other media you use, you will definitely want at least a 256GB SSD.

    8GB RAM will be fine, though if you do large editing projects you might want 16.

    It is not worth paying for processor speed upgrades. If you do heavy editing work then a quad-core chip might be worthwhile, but still you’re fine with the base CPU speed.

    Of the two machines you posted, the 15.4″ has way better specs for you. If you prefer the 13.3″ size, then you might also consider:

    3. Refurb late 2013 rMBP 13.3″, 2.4 i5 Dual, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD: $1,159
  3. sebseb macrumors 6502


    May 24, 2014
    Well I would go with option 1 cause of the quad core processor and 256GB SSD. 128GB isn't that much and having to connect external hard drive all the time is gonna be a hassle. The only issue with it is the 8GB ram. Not that it's not enough but 16GB. Also the cpu can turbo boost if it an application needs more umph (power).

    While the second option offers higher ram, it fails at storage delivery and the cpu is a dual core.
  4. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    With few exceptions, RAM is more impactful, as most users never come close to maxing out their processor. However, once you have sufficient RAM to handle your average workload, buying more is a waste of money.
    This should help: How much RAM do I need in my MacBook?
  5. spellflower thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2005
    Thanks - that RAM guide's very helpful.

    BUT: 1GB of RAM was plenty when I bought my first Mac- now it's not sufficient to run most applications. I want my new Mac to keep running well for as long as possible. Since it's no longer possible to upgrade RAM in the future, I need to decide where my money is best spent now for the best results in the future.
  6. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    RAM requirements don't increase linearly. Back when it was measured in kilobytes and megabytes, it was nearly always necessary to have more. Each upgrade that offered more RAM was worth it, but we have hit a plateau. Nowadays, 4 GB has been the standard for new computers for years and is still well more than enough for the average user's basic tasks.
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Option one is the better computer all round

    Quad core bigger screen bigger storage better graphics, 8GB RAM will be plenty for most people for at least 5 years, if you need to ask you don't need 16GB...
  8. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd opt for option 1, you get a quad core processor, larger screen, larger SSD. I can't see any downsides to opting for that model over the newer 13" rMBP.
  9. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    For music production the cpu should be the deciding factor.
    Option 1 will offer you iris pro, quadcore, bigger screen, more/faster storage.
    I think it's a no brainer and I am not sure why your are even considering the 13" at all.
  10. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    Option 2, you can always store files on a NAS drive, I don't really store anything locally on any of mine.
  11. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I'd take option 1. Unless you need the portability of the 13". Both CPU configurations/RAM configurations will be more then enough for you. I think that 128GB SSD might be the most likely limitation — it gets filled up very quickly.

    Btw, there is no clearcut answer to your question. It's like asking "what's more important for car's performance: torque or horsepowers?". The answer is always — it depends on what you want to do with it.

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