Which Mac do I get!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ProctorPh.D, Aug 16, 2015.

  1. ProctorPh.D macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2015
    Hello everybody,
    I'm going to be starting my Ph.D in Maths in October (I'm a British Student fyi), and I know that I'm going to get a MacBook Pro 13inch retina, but I'm just a bit confused on what hard drive size to get? I'm a bit miffed that the skylake processors aren't coming out till the new year but hay-ho.

    I'm going to get the top specs, i7, and RAM, but the 256GB is an extra £200. I want to have software like Matlab, Mathematica, LaTex, stuff like that but I was just a bit unsure about how much room left on the hard drive I will have after the OS and the extra software mentioned above.

    So I guess my main question is:
    Will I have enough hard drive space on the 128GB MacBook Pro for the OS and the extra mathematical computation software, and a few extra documents, or should I bite the bullet and pay an extra £200 for the 256GB hard drive?
  2. Vesuvio Cat macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2010
    Always go for more. You'll appreciate it down the road. I've never had a computer and thought "boy I wasted money on all this disk space." I just bought a full spec MacBook Pro with 1 TB of space and I'm sure I'll use it all.
  3. throAU, Aug 16, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2015

    throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    I'll disagree with that to a point.

    As soon as you go for an apple machine that is not an Apple-defined spec, the price shoots up a heap.

    Pick one of the 3 default specs Apple use, maybe the middle spec and you'll save a boatload of cash. Cash you can put aside to upgrade your machine to the new equivalent tier in 2-3 years instead of 3-4 - and you'll have a better CPU/GPU/faster storage, etc. than if you max out a machine today - for roughly the same total spend or less, definitely less if you sell your old machine for a reasonable amount after 2 years. You'll also maintain warranty coverage.

    Unless you NEED the spec today, don't modify one of the 3 tier specs Apple provide. Buy it when you need it and sell your old machine, you'll get an upgrade across all specs, not just RAM/CPU, the upgrade will be way bigger and it will probably cost less anyway.

    On the current 13' rMBP the i7 is a total waste of time. It is essentially the exact same CPU as the mid-tier i5 with 1 MB more cache, and performance will be within 5-10% on CPU bound applications. Unless you are running a job that has your CPU pegged at 100% for minutes at a time on a regular basis you will probably not notice the difference.

    That said, 128GB is not worth skimping on.

    256 GB will give you a lot more headroom for not much more money. Given choice between i7 or 256-512GB SSD, get the bigger SSD.

    All the above is why I picked up the i5, 512GB spec off the shelf.

    I considered a max spec 13" BTO, but it was going to be $3700 AU, and I'm pretty confident I could buy the spec I bought, sell in 2 years to recoup a bunch of (RRP on mine was $2300 or so, so say $1100-1200), and buy another one to upgrade in 2 years for that - end up with new machine with warranty, new CPU/GPU, etc.
  4. meson macrumors regular

    Apr 29, 2014
    If you have the budget for a top spec'd. 13", I would get a base model 15", and appreciate the extra screen real estate and quad core processor. At 4.5 lb. the 15" machines are not heavy. I've been lugging around 4.5 lb. machines since the 12" PowerBook G4 days and my arms haven't fallen off :). Also, in regard to portability, I doubt you'll be doing much note taking on the machine in math. If you've figured out a quick way to take mathematical notes on a laptop, I'd love to know.

    I'm working on wrapping up my Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics. On my end, the majority of my work is in experimental analysis, and a 13" machine handles the work just fine, and when I need to work on more complex projects, it gets farmed out to the experiment's grid. I imagine that your local work will be significantly more cpu intensive than what I do, and the extra computing power of the quad core will be beneficial, provided that you code your analysis well enough to take advantage of the cores.

    For hard drive space, I would recommend at least 256 GB. 128GB will get cramped very quickly. With 256 GB, you can rest assured that you will have plenty of space for the OS, applications you use, and data for current projects. You will likely find a need for an external drive if you have a large media library, or like to do any sort of photo/video editing.
  5. Rusty33 macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2011
    well put - you've really hit the nail on the head!
  6. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    You'll be fine with the 128GB. You'll only run into storage issues if you want to store a lot of videos or music locally.
  7. T5BRICK macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2006
    I want to point out that the i7 upgrade really isn't worth it for most people. The performance increase you get is tiny, and it's a $200(usd) upgrade. The i5 processor will do everything you want just fine.

    I'd go for the 256GB model. 128GB just doesn't seem like enough. Especially if you ever have to run Windows.
  8. derickk macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2015
    Just get the base model of the 13" MBP with Retina Display and Force Touch. Then just get an external hard drive. Which is way more cheaper and practical.
  9. throAU, Aug 16, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015

    throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    If CPU is a concern, as above the i7 (in the 13" !) is not significantly different from the i5 like in previous generations. Compare the spec on ark.intel.com if you like. i did.

    If CPU is a concern, go for the 15" machine (and double the number of cores) rather than spec up with 13". You'll get 16 GB of RAM, to.

    128GB vs. 256GB - you get more than double the space to use, as the OS and a few apps will take up probably half of a 128 GB drive - if you had 256, you'd have 190 GB free vs. say 64 for a machine with a reasonable selection of apps installed.

    I went for 512 and glad I did because occasionally i'll use the mac to store a lot of high res media while away from my NAS. I could get by with 256 pretty well, but 128 would be tight.

    A few apps, a reasonable iTunes library and i'm using 100 GB day to day myself (400 GB free). The spare space comes in handy - and its much quicker than a USB hard drive. I copied 260 GB of data in under 45 minutes over the network the other day during a class. To get it off the machine and onto USB hard disk took a lot longer than that.

    I can spin up a few lab virtual machines, etc. as desired and not need to micromanage my space.
  10. jterp7 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2011
    main limitation for 15" laptops is if you do a lot of flying and don't do first/business class. The 15 rmbp literally takes the entire tray haha.
  11. ProctorPh.D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2015
    Thank you for all your help!
    Having mulled it over, I think I'm going to go for the entry level 15inch retina: one reason is it's cheaper than the top spec 13 (by £9); I would appreciate the larger screen, because at the moment I'm currently using a Lenovo s20, which has a tiny screen; and mainly, I will have twice the cores; 256GB storage; and 16GB RAM, which I was looking for.
    Once again thank you for all your help, If I have any mac related problems in the future I will definitely be posting again.
  12. davegoody macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2003
    Reading, Berkshire, England
    Disagree with this. Bought my wife a new 13" rMBP, with 8GB RAM and only 128GB of storage - Mainly because I bought a new 15" rMBP with a TBD and only fair that she has a nice new shiny toy too. Regretted it almost immediately. She has very modest needs compared to the OP, with email, a few pics etc and a few apps, it is creaking at the seams. 128GB is FAR too small size for the OP's needs, they look at 256GB as the absolute minimum, don't skimp on storage - I agree with some of the other posts that the 15" is perhaps a better deal all round.

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