Which MacBook options to get?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ScottR, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. ScottR macrumors member

    May 11, 2007
    For quite a few years now laptops have been secondary computers for me. Anything that needs real horsepower is done on my iMac; the laptop is used for writing, email access, and general internet browsing. I keep my laptops for a long time--I'm writing this on a late 2008 13" MacBook Al (memory upgraded to 6 GB and the HD replaced with 128GB SSD), 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo.

    More than anything I want portability, so I'm considering one of the 2017 MacBooks. For added usable life, I want to do some upgrading, and I'm trying to figure out what'll be useful. I know the wisdom is to go higher on purchase because you can't add to many options later. (the reason I was going to go with the 12" MacBook was purely portability, now that they've upgraded the keyboard.)

    The choices:
    Storage. I'm leaning to the 256gb option, simply because I don't really store much on my laptop. Almost all of my audio and video are on my desktop; I have almost 47 gb free of the ~120gb SSD of the current MacBook.
    Memory: 8 or 16 GB. I'm inclined to get 16 GB, even though 6 GB works now. I did upgrade the existing one so needing more RAM in a number of years is a reasonable assumption even if I'm not doing heavy work.
    Processor. 1.2, 1.3, or 1.4 GHz, i5 in the lower ones, i7 for the 1.4. Similar issue as the memory: I'm not doing anything intensive, but by gosh my current MacBook feels slow. I might regret not getting an initial boost.

    I was going to kick each of the three options to the top, to future-proof--but I wondered if that was overkill for my needs.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Get a MacBook Pro (not a MacBook).
    Better machine all-around.
    My opinion only.
  3. ScottR thread starter macrumors member

    May 11, 2007
    In what way is it better when pretty much all it would be used for is email, internet browsing, and typing?

    Edit: I do also bring my laptop on trips, and each day transfer photos to it for annotation.
  4. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    If you're only doing light tasks like that you'd most likely be fine with the Air, graphics performance will be a bit better on the MBP though.

    If you do nothing else bump the RAM to 16gb. Looks like the only options for CPU now are the 1.8 i5 or the 2.2 i7, for only $150 I'd probably upgrade there as well. I always lean towards future proofing a bit with these kinds of things though, faster is always better.

    For storage 256gb is right on the edge of usable storage, for some people it's perfect and for some it wouldn't be enough. I put a 256gb SSD in my old Macbook before I sold it and that was enough space for me but I didn't have a big music or movie collection on there. If you're planning to do a lot with photos you might go for the 512 to be on the safe side.

    Hope that helps!
  5. ScottR thread starter macrumors member

    May 11, 2007
    Thanks for the reply. I don't use it for photo storage; I just transfer photos there each day of a trip so I can annotate them, noting what's what before I forget. When I get home they go onto the iMac and its various backup devices.

    I'd considered the MacBook over the Air in part because I'm not a kid anymore and that Retina screen is easier on the eyes. OTOH the MagSafe 2 power port on the Air is attractive--mine has saved my MacBook Al from a few spills.

    I hadn't noticed until now that the base level 1.2 GHz MacBook comes with a m3, and you have to move up to the 1.3 to get the i5.
  6. CrystalQuest76 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 14, 2015
    West Cost A Lot
    Save the money and get a MacBook Air.
    While the MacBook Pros machines are more powerful and will last a long time, it sounds like you don't need that kind of power.

    So many people seem to think that just since they have the money, then they should spend it. Disappointingly, bank executives are actually encouraging this mind set because they pay so little interest on savings accounts. People feel there is no incentive to save. Even though interest rates stink, people should be saving or avoiding buying on credit (which makes things more expensive since credit costs money). Saving money for emergencies is important and not a crime (even if you have parents). Even if you are making lots of money now, things happen (like an economic implosion that results in you getting laid off and many others and not getting a new job quickly).

    63% Of Americans Don't Have Enough Savings To Cover A $500 Emergency: Forbes Magazine
  7. ScottR, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

    ScottR thread starter macrumors member

    May 11, 2007
    Thanks. But just to make sure it's clear, I meant the 12" MacBook ($1299), not the MacBook Pro. I'm not sure the purpose of the rest of your post, though.
  8. Bart Kela, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

    Bart Kela Suspended

    Bart Kela

    Oct 12, 2016
    Of the three built-to-order options (RAM, storage, and CPU -- none of which can be done later), upgrading the CPU is clearly the least beneficial for your anticipated usage. You are not doing anything that requires scads of CPU cycles. More powerful processors tend to require more power, which would be detrimental to battery performance.

    The main argument to increase RAM is that future versions of macOS and applications will likely require more memory. If you are not a multitasker, opting for less memory should be fine, again this depends on your personal usage habits. As for solid state storage, the smallest capacity option is often slower, sometimes by a wide margin. Again, the OS and apps will likely grow in size (storage requirements), so I'd opt to bump up a new notebook purchase from the entry level storage size to the next tier.

    Worrying about future resale value is inane. I focus on buying something that will be beneficial to my needs over the anticipated period of my ownership. Owning a computer is an expense, not an "investment" as some here seem to think.

    I strongly suggest you go to a bricks-and-mortar store (like an Apple retail store) and type on the MacBook for a few minutes since your usage case indicates a lot of typing. I personally loathe the current MacBook's keyboard so I'm holding onto my MacBook Air until hopefully Apple makes a better lightweight notebook with a better keyboard. Like you, I have little need for a MacBook Pro based on my personal usage pattern nor do I want to lug one of those around (I've owned other Mac notebook computers in the past in that weight range).

    Good luck with your purchase decision.
  9. ApolloBoy macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2015
    San Jose, CA
    I think he was trying to lecture you? Really not sure about that off-topic rant either.
  10. ScottR thread starter macrumors member

    May 11, 2007
    Thanks. Good point about the CPU. Maybe worth it to upgrade to the lower-speed i5 over the m3, though?

    I do multitask (which is why I upgraded my old MacBook to 6 GB), though I won't be running big-imprint stuff. I've had Macs since the early 90s and I've pretty much always ended up boosting their memory at some point during my ownership. This is the first time that I can recall buying a Mac where I can't upgrade the memory later, so I was debating what sort of commitment I need to make at the start. The apps I run 80-90% of the time are Safari or another browser, Mail and Scrivener. Sometimes I watch videos, not full movies or the like. And I keep an eye on my home security DVR/cameras, too (via the Amcrest OS X app). I know all the bells and whistles of a Pro are overkill but I want enough base capacity to last me for a good number of years without choking on lack of resources. I can't update my current MacBook to Sierra (not supported) but that itself isn't a problem like running out of hardware resources is.

    I don't recall noting a worry about future resale value. I still have a PowerBook 3400 sitting in the attic somewhere that I power on from time to time (when I'm feeling nostalgic about OS 9), and a PowerBook G4 gathering dust. And a PowerMac G5, too, though it's mainly because I keep convincing myself that I'll do something cool with the case "some day." I don't resell my Macs. .)

    I'd tried out the 2016 MacBook model and wasn't sold on the keyboard, which is why I held off purchasing. They supposedly upgraded the keyboard; I stopped by the local Apple Store on Tuesday and they didn't have the new models on display yet.

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