Which MacBook to buy? Programming and General use.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mackstein, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. mackstein macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2012
    Hi everyone!

    First - I know there're few similar threads, sorry - but... it seems like they are not the same case (I saw that usually everyone is looking for low-cost). And I'm also sorry if this post will be a long one, just trying to be specific...

    I'm about to start my "programming career":
    1. iOS apps (which means Obj-C/X-code) - used my friends' Macs till now
    2. Android apps (based on Java, as you know...)
    3. some Web development (HTML/CSS/JS/HTML5)
    <4. I might use my "Adobe Suite" knowledge (Ps,Dw,Ai) as well, for re-design apps,small UI changes, but it's not the main deal>

    As for other uses - Web,Watching movies,Office,maybe some Gaming (FIFA,BF,COD)...

    I will probably use Windows (by Parallels or BootCamp) as well.

    So.. What have I heard from people so far:
    1. Take the MB-Air...
    (then from someone else..)
    2. Don't take the Air (1.It's weaker. 2. 13" screen might be to small)
    3. Don't take the retina because of the compatibility issues with non-native resolution programs (that is 99% of current apps and programs).

    So here's my options as I see it:
    1. MB Air - Fully upgraded: - 2.0GHz i7, 8GB RAM, 512 SSD.
    2. 15" Retina MBP - 2.6/2.7GHz i7, 16GB RAM, 512 SSD.
    3. 15" MBP - 2.6/2.7GHz i7, 750 7200rpm HDD or 512 SSD from apple or upgrade by myself to 512 SSD <I guess - Crucial>, 15" Hi-Res screen <AG or Glossy).

    A. In general - I would like to hear your thoughts, developers like me in particular.
    B. Should I consider 13" MBP as well <I guess it depends whether you agree with the guy who told me 13" is to small for my uses or not.. would like to hear your opinion>
    C. Should I upgrade the CPU to 2.7GHz? Is this realy necessary?
    D. Is there any importance in my case to AG or Glossy dilema or it's just personal preferences? (I know that movies/pic on the glossy look better but I like the AG more..)
    E. Anything else relevant you can add...

    Thank you in advance for reading this lllloooooooonnnnnnggg message and for helping a very confused person...

    Good Day,
  2. BruceiD macrumors member

    May 1, 2012
    A 13" is a possibility since you could buy an external display (a cheap one perhaps).
    In my opinion if money isn't a problem: macbook pro retina.
    If you want to save some money: Macbook Pro non retina 15/13" base model and do the upgrades yourself (RAM and SSD).
    It depends on the money you are willing to spend.
  3. mackstein thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2012

    1. buying an external display is not an option at the moment.
    2. can you explain more why did you recommend the retina?
    3. I guess my willing to spend is "mid-high". I won't buy the base configuration but I won't buy the high-end either. I will add the extra cash if it will be necessary.
  4. Epic Xbox Revie macrumors 6502a

    Epic Xbox Revie

    Jun 15, 2010
    Washington, D.C.
  5. mackstein thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2012
    Well... In my current PC laptop I have 320GB and I find that not enough. It's almost full (and not with junk), and I use an additional 500GB external drive that is half full (with all my pictures and videos and other projects) so if I can, I want the largest SSD I can afford (the 768 upgrade on the retina is just too expensive).

    Why are you asking? I'm open to hear other ideas.
    Lets say I will take 256SSD and buy an external drive, what will be my gain?
  6. Epic Xbox Revie macrumors 6502a

    Epic Xbox Revie

    Jun 15, 2010
    Washington, D.C.
    The external drive is much cheaper, and you could afford a higher processor and RAM. (If cost is at issue)
  7. BruceiD macrumors member

    May 1, 2012
    Well I recommend the retina because it's future proof and it's saves you from having to order other compartments such as SSD and RAM. A MBP non-retina will lose it's value if Apple releases more retina computers in the future.
    If I were you I would chose this model:
    -Retina 15" MBP
    2,3-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3,3 GHz
    16 GB 1600-MHz DDR3L SDRAM
    256 GB flash-storage

    And buy an external hard drive USB 3.0, it's just ridiculous to get 512GB SSD built in in my opinion because its' so expensive. (So hard drive TB = $200 more or less).

    So let's do the math:

    Retina 15" with 16GB RAM, 2,3-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 256 GB SSD = $2399

    Non-retina 15" with 2,3-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 4 GB 1600-MHz memory, 5400-rpm HD 500 GB = $1799 + high res screen = $1899 + 240GB SSD (349,99) +16GB RAM (169,99) = $2418,98

    So that's a difference of $19,98, Retina is cheaper and while the Macbook Pro retina has a better Video Card en better screen.
    And if you absolutely want more storage:
    = Only $109

    Hopefully I calculated everything correct..
    I hope this helps you and keep in touch so that we know which decision you make!
  8. mackstein thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2012
    Thanks a lot!

    Now, I have few question:
    1. So what about all the "99% 'non-retinized' programs" problem? Just swallow the "blurry" pill?

    Why not to go on the higher CPU? (I think that I can afford unless it's useless to my requirments)

    You've helped my a lot!
    I'll wait to see if there are another opinions here and decide... Will let you all know... :)
  9. BruceiD macrumors member

    May 1, 2012
    Well you can always set the screen resolution a bit lower for now and when most apps are updated you can enjoy the 2880-1800 screen ;-) (Which I think won't take more then just a few months).

    Well obviously a higher CPU is better, no doubt about it but I don't really know whether you need it. And it's not that big of a difference in my opinion, 2,3 GHz -> 2,6 GHz isn't that impressive to pay $ (unless you absolutely want 512GB SSD).
    But as I've mentioned before I think it's a waste to pay the extra $400 (but that's just my opinion). The SSD will already make the Macbook super fast.

    Just a note here: My dual core i3 processor iMac from 2010 with a regular hard drive and 12Gb of RAM runs pretty much most apps very fluently so I guess a Quad-Core with an SSD will already be epic!
  10. er2429 macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2009
    I've been in your same situation and I'm also a web developer (Rails and Python) and iOS Developer. I ended up going with the 13" MacBook Air.

    The Air has been fantastic for almost everything, and substantially cheaper than the Pro. The screen has not been a problem in terms of size. To me it's more about resolution and the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro at the time I purchased had the same resolution (1440x900), unless you upgrade your Pro.

    The only place it falls down is when using some of our Automated Testing Suites like Cucumber and Selenium. These are the only type of programs that I've come across that stress out the Air. I run tests probably 100-200 times per day and each time it takes a few seconds to load/run. On the MacBook Pro it's a few seconds faster, depending on how large the test is, due to the higher clocked Turbo Boost on one or two cores. The time adds up eventually, so even though it's a bit more expensive, it actually might be one of those scenarios where your actually more productive by upgrading. Also, if you're going to spending time in some of the Pro apps like Photoshop or other Adobe products, they generally require a more beefy CP/GPU for a better experience, but again not required.

    If I could go back in time, I would have probably made the same decision, because in 2011 there were not that many differences between the Pro and the Air, however with the introduction of the Retina Pro there are enough differences to make the extra $1000 or so worth it to me. I'm incredibly excited about the display, especially the Retina scaling. When I'm on the road I would love to be able to run my Retina Pro at the equivalent of 1920x1200 and have a ton of real estate to fit everything on one screen as opposed to moving around in Mission Control, but also have the ability to bring the display back down to the optimal for Retina for when I'm plugged into an external monitor and sitting farther away from the laptop. These are a bit nit picky, but would be such a killer user experience for me.

    I think Retina is going to become the norm for Apps in very short order, by next year everyone will have a "Retina" app. I think this is only temporary, so you'll have to deal with that for the time being.
  11. mackstein, Jun 21, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2012

    mackstein thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2012

    Thanks everyone!

    As for now it seems like the Retina, because:
    a. A friend, great developer, told me that 13" is too small if you don't have an external screen (so No MB-Air or 13" MB-Pro). He also mentioned that iPad dev is realy annoying on 13".
    b. Quad core. and not dual core of the air.
    c. The resolution will allow me to have more tools on screen during dev.

    a. 8GB or 16GB RAM? (I tend to choose the 16GB for the upcoming future and because of the fact I want windows to run also)
    b. 2.3/2.6/2.7GHz processor? (I thought that the upgrade from 2.3 to 2.6 will make a difference but people are keep telling me it won't. I guess the decision will be determined by the next dilema)
    c. 256 or 512SSD? (512 Pros - 1.I love space 2.self future upgrade isn't possible. 3.higher processor. 4.Cons - $$$...). I will buy an USB3 external HDD anyway...
    d. I know my self and I'm not the guy who replace his laptop every year. Actually, my laptop is almost six years old so I feel it will be better to invest the money today rather than buy a new Mac next year...

    Just a little help needed from you guys...

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