Which 13 MBP to buy?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by varatep, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. varatep macrumors newbie

    Dec 14, 2013
    A junior in college majoring in Computer Science. I will be looking to do application/web development for my job as well as application/software development for my classes. I am deciding between either the 13 non-retina mbp and upgraded to 8GB RAM or the 13 Retina middle model w/ 8gb ram and 256gb ssd. I will be looking to running parallels or some sort of virtual machine for Windows 8.1 (don't want to bootcamp since I don't want to have to restart every time I want to switch or partition). Will the dual-cores of the 13 inches be able to handle parallels and run decently while compiling/editing (microsoft visual studio 2012)?
    This will be my first MAC and I am looking to getting the special financing option. If I opt for the non-retina, I will not get Applecare until the year is almost over. If I get the retina middle model, I will get Applecare immediately to get the 18month financing option instead of the 12month.
    Is there that big of a difference between the non-retina and the retina? It's ~$340 difference in general after the student discount. College budget here, but I have a paid internship doing web/application development.

    I am also scared of how everything is attached in the rMBP (glued battery / soldered RAM)... wondering if it will last longer than the regular MBP with customizable/movable parts.

    Wanting this next laptop purchase to be suitable/usable/decent for about 5 years into either my graduate school or independent development. The battery life also pleases me in the rMBP.

    Anyone with similar experience in purchasing a mbp?

  2. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    I know a lot of folks will immediately suggest not considering the 13" non-Retina model. To be honest, I was torn last summer between one of these and the MacBook Air and ended up getting one for the sake that I like to do my own upgrades (even if there's only a few things you could upgrade). At the time, Apple also offered some pretty good pricing for those associated with an educational institution ($200 off the model I was buying, as opposed to the usual $50-$100). You can get a discount on either of the current models, so be sure to check on that (http://store.apple.com/us-hed) - AppleCare is much cheaper through this site, too.

    As for the question, it really depends on what you value. The rMBP is a very nice machine with a gorgeous display, and will get better battery life, but if you do like to tinker with hardware, might be a little limiting. The cMBP can take 16GB RAM unofficially, so you could order it with 8GB (Newegg and others are only about $10-$15 less than getting it from Apple) and then get more later on. You could also replace the hard drive with an SSD in the future (which I plan to do once I have some spare cash and settle on a model/capacity). The key with the rMBP is that you should order it with everything you want up-front, since you are kind of stuck with that.

    The machine should last you a long time - I'm not sure for the track record on the rMBP, but my roommate has a cMBP that is 4 years old and still going strong - we replaced the hard drive with an SSD, upgraded the RAM, and got a new battery from Apple and it feels like a new machine. I'm hoping to keep mine going that long, too, especially with some modest upgrades in 3-4 years.

    Furthermore, with Windows - you can actually install it on Boot Camp and then run it as a virtual machine. There are plenty of commercial products, but you may want to try VirtualBox first - it's a free product by Oracle (formerly Sun) and runs on a variety of platforms. I use this on an iMac (2011 model, i5, 4GB RAM) to run Windows 7 alongside Mavericks at work. This lets me reboot into Windows when I need full power, but can also run it in a virtual machine when I just want to check on something or do a little bit of testing or Active Directory work. Officially, the app creates a file for each virtual machine, but you can "trick" it into thinking that your Boot Camp partition is the file - I used these directions: http://phaq.phunsites.net/2011/03/05/sharing-windows-7-between-boot-camp-and-virtualbox/

    Good luck!
  3. varatep thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 14, 2013
    Thanks for the reply. Is there a big enough difference between the 13" and 15" especially for coding and using a virtual machine to justify the price difference? I am trying to stay under the $2000 mark, so the 13" rMBP medium model of $1720 with apple care after education discounts falls under that category.

    Would it also be worth to wait for the 2014 line? I'm hoping that it would have the base model at the same price, but with a quad-core cpu and 8GB ram for the base 13" model. I'm not sure about the RAM requirements for the future as 8GB seems like it's approaching that time pretty soon of where it's becoming sub-standard.

    Choosing between Apple products and models is so teeth grinding.
  4. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    The size difference is really up to you - if you want to spend the extra money and have a few different built-to-order options and larger screen. I previously had a 15" MacBook Pro (an Early 2008 model) and I'm really enjoying the smaller form factor of the 13" model. If you have the desk space, you could always grab an external display for when you're at home and then have a compact machine for on-the-go.

    I don't know what 2014 will bring, but the 2013 machines (MacBook Air, rMBP) managed to get some nice little updates in the performance and efficiency departments. We'll probably see something similar in 2014 with the next generation of Intel chips. I wouldn't hold my breath for extra cores on anything but the high-end models.
  5. megamanbnmaster macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2008
    If hard drive space isn't that important, i'd max out ram to 16gb and leave everything else as stock if you're getting a rMBP. I'm a senior CS major who's job IS web development, I've taken classes that require eclipse/android sdk, and I'm doing research in image processing field and I've used my 2011 macbook air for everything with no slowness. I've built and compiled a compiler for a class on it's dual core ULV sandy bridge cpu.

    I use vagrant for headless virtual machines for web dev and I use virtualbox for running Visual Studio and VHDL Synthesis tools. They are a bit slow but I don't really expect much more. Pretty much just edit all my code in vim and then sync with nfs to the virtual machine folder.

    The kicker for me is that my mba has only 4 gigs of ram and it's limiting me quite heavily 2.5 years later. However, I do have to say, on my work laptop, which is a core2duo 13" 2009 cMBP, it runs vagrant for web dev as well and the IT upgraded it to a SSD and 8 gigs of ram and it pretty much runs everything I need to code for work perfectly.

    Unless you're doing hardcore algorithm crunching or image processing, a quad core won't benefit that much (and honestly those work should be allocated to CUDA these days)

    if/when you do get a mbp, check out brew.sh. Homebrew is the most amazing package manager ever for macs and makes any kind of dev so much easier.
  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I see two trains of thought.
    1. the cMBP (non-retina) is more upgradeable in that in the course of time you can up the ram and storage, so that may be more future proof.

    2. the rMBP being a Haswell based laptop has more horsepower to last you the 5 years and technically the storage is upgradeable, albeit expensively. (the ram is not upgradeable however).

    I like the rMBP, because of the screen, and no hard drive to crash if it gets jostled, so if it were me buying it, I'd opt for the rMBP. If you're concerned about running out of space or the ram being to confining then consider the cMBP since that's upgradeable.
  7. mac8867 macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
    Saint Augustine, FL
    I am a professional software engineer and have been using a 13" for several years. My experience has been the SSD is very important to development. As you are already aware, the IDE's we use are heavy resource hogs, and many have lot's of backend IO. The SSD makes that tolerable.

    Memory --- if you will be running virtualization, get as much ram as you can possibly afford. I typically have 3 or 4 VM's running, and 16GB was the only way to get beyond 2 without resource constraints.

    Good luck.
  8. qawsed macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2009
    2.4/8gb/256 rMBP. The SSD is a big improvement in my opinion.
  9. varatep thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 14, 2013
    What are your speculations on 8GB RAM for an application/web developer/comp sci student? I am not as much worried about the space because I'm planning to buy a WESTERNDIGITAL Passport 2TB for backup and all other files that I don't need all the time on the macbook. I also have a self-built gaming Windows Desktop. I've never been a big one to care about upgrading hardware all the time... especially on a laptop so I want to make the initial decision a solid one. Just wondering if 8GB will be sufficient for 5 years to come as an application/web developer. Again, not too concerned about the hard drive space, most likely going for the 256GB as it already comes with the 8GB RAM...

    Has anyone done the special financing option and have experience with Barclay's system? If so, how are they?
  10. Gman021 macrumors regular

    Aug 21, 2012
    Sorry to go off topic here, but is the i7 worth it? In terms of using virtual machines, adobe applications, etc.

    Will the i5 2.4 suffice with 16gb RAM?
  11. megamanbnmaster macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2008

    8 gb is minimum if you want to run 1 VM and i would recommend 16gb as that'll be future proof for the next 3-4 years.

    Like a previous post said, IDEs are huge resource memory hogs (I have to use vim and only open IDEs to compile android apps on my 4gb system) and you want to max out for the future.

    Yes. Unless you're doing video processing like aftereffects or premiere having higher clocked rate isn't really that useful in daily usage. At the very least the 5 seconds you save per minute on full CPU load intensive tasks isn't worth it unless you do it like 24/7
  12. varatep thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 14, 2013
    I actually have a windows gaming computer at home. I'm thinking of just remoting to the desktop at home instead which wouldn't be as taxing on the MBP. Would this be a better route to go than upgrading to 16GB and allow me to stay on 8GB RAM? Given if I DO need a windows computer to use while mobile. Although I do sacrifice the possibilities if I need to compile or edit or use Windows while on the road/moving about.

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