Which MBP is right for me?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by NoUse4aName, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. NoUse4aName, Jan 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013

    NoUse4aName macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2013
    Hi folks,
    new here and new to the Mac-universe, but I've been a quiet reader for a long time now :rolleyes:

    I've been thinking about getting a Mac for a while and was switching around in my mind between the cMBP, an iMac, 15" rMBP.. anyway, by now I think I'll be best off with a 13" MacBook Pro, non-retina.

    The question is: Which one?

    Here's what I wanna do with it:
    - use it as my main computing device which means browsing the web, text editing, doing presentations via Powerpoint (I'm aware I'll need office for mac but am ok with it)
    - main reason to switch to Mac: use LogicPro! I'm a musician and have moved to a new city, I feel like my next step is keeping track of my ideas and this is really important to me. However, I'm not a professional producer, means I'll probably use Logic a lot, but it'll be a long ride before I'm doing something really complex and intense. Mixing will probably be done by friends of mine, I just want to be able to record, add virtual instruments and create a rough mix via headphones.
    - I'd like to play a game or 2 once in a while. I know dedicated graphics would be better for this, but I'm perfectly fine playing on low settings as long as it's playable and looks nice. I have no interest whatsoever in demanding games like Assassins Creed 3, but I'd love to connect the MBP to the TV, grab 2 controllers and play games like Castle Crashers, Trine or Limbo on the big screen with friends (or a game of Civ5 on a lengthy train ride). Also, since it's pretty darn cold for another month or two, it would be really amazing to clear some dungeons in Diablo3 or Dota2 (on Bootcamp) with friends. Again, this won't have to look too beautiful - the last games I played on a PC have been Warcraft 3 and Diablo 2, I think ;-)
    - watch HD videos and stream those to my FullHD-TV.. I understand the MBP's native resolution is not full HD, but does this mean I'll not be able to watch movies in this format?

    Now, would all of this be possible and with which MBP? The list is kind of resembles my priorities with this machine.

    It is very likely that I'll switch the 4/8GB of RAM to 16GB of RAM a month after buying and will replace the ODD with a 256GB SSD running OSX, Logic and Win7 - so I'm not sure if 750GB HDD instead of 500 and 8GB of RAM instead of 4 would count as an advantage.

    Portability is important to me, but it does not have to be as light and thin as the MBA since I won't carry it around daily. Price is also an issue, I'll be looking into used MBPs in my area with left-over waranty of at least 6 months. With educational discount the base model is available at roughly 1200€ around here, with a bit of luck and patience it can be bought for ~800€ or 900€ including handy programs like Parallels or Office for Mac.

    What do you guys think?
    Sorry for the long text, but I wanted to give you as much information as possible.

    Kind regards and I hope someone's able to help me :)
    I'm really getting dizzy thinking about it :eek:

    edit: snap, I just realized this is probably better suited to go into "buying advice" - sorry, I've been blind.
  2. xShane macrumors 6502a


    Nov 2, 2012
    United States
    Hey, I once asked a similar question, and I've seen and helped answer many more "Which Mac Is Right For Me?" questions, so you're not alone.

    First off, welcome to the forums :)

    In all honesty, I don't see how "low settings but looking good" is possible. It's either low settings, or looking good, but not both. Connecting your computer to a TV is going to demand a lot of resources, which I don't think the 13" is fit for. The same goes for Diablo 3.

    However, since gaming isn't your main intended use, you'd probably be better off with a 13" based on your budget (refurb is the way to go).
  3. Arnezie macrumors 65816


    Oct 10, 2011
    Go to an Apple store and look first hand at the Retina and regular. If you can live with not having a DVD drive then Retina was the hand down choice for me . However I was concerned about the ram upgrade so I went with 16. For me the screen was what pushed me to the 15 retina the 13 regular just didn't look good after that. Also needed a GPU so 15 was only option.
  4. Liquinn Suspended

    Apr 10, 2011
    The big turn off for me with the retina is you can't upgrade it down the road. Which is why I'll be keeping my 13" cMBP and 15 cMBP for some time.

    If you need the retina screen then go for that. :D It's personal preference. :p
  5. C-DAWG macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2011
    While I am not "knower of all" when it comes to computer hardware, I can give you my personal experience. I am a university professor and I have an early 2011 base 13" MBP that is hooked up to an external monitor (for dual screen, the external monitor size is 24" and the resolution is 1920 x 1200) daily. I use the following programs daily: Safari, Powerpoint, Outlook, Word, Garageband, a video recording software program (for recording lectures), and handbrake (my videos are about 10 minutes long). I also play the occasional Steam game. I have upgraded the ram to 16 GB (for my uses this is WAY over-the-top) and the hard drive to a Samsung 840Pro 256 GB SSD.

    While using handbrake or steam, the fans ramp up and my temperatures go to the mid-90's degrees C. I do get the occasional stuttering on the external monitor when maximizing or minimizing windows, but it isn't bad enough to really bother me. I've hooked my computer up to a 46" HDTV and have had no problems there either. The main issue that I do have with the computer is the screen and its resolution. I wish I had more screen space. Yes, I am using a second screen and it isn't a huge issue. But, it'd be nice to have a bit larger screen. I wouldn't pay the price premium for a retina display though (and yes, I've seen/used one in a store). The screen resolution isn't too big of a deal though, because I wrote a 300 page dissertation on it (I did this before I acquired a second monitor!) and didn't have any real issues doing so.

    I play guitar and use my mac + Garageband to record ideas. I use a Focusrite 2i2 audio interface hooked up to a Shure SM57 mic directly facing the edge of the speaker dust cap. I think my recordings sound great for what they are. With 16 GB of memory, I'm sure I could add many more tracks than I'd ever want to keep up with. I've never felt the urge to upgrade to Logic due to the cost and how well Garageband works for me, but I'm sure my setup could handle Logic almost as well.

    In short, the better processor of the 2012 model + the fact that you will get the HD4000 integrated graphics means you'll have less of a problem with the stuttering issues that I've found (even the "issues" have never really bothered me). I think the base 2012 13" MBP would work well for your described usage. There is no reason to spend a ton more, if you'll never need/use the additional power. Having said that, I'd love a maxed-out 15" MBP, I'm just not willing to spend the money on one. I have too many other hobbies to support to blow the cash on something that would never be used to its full potential.

    I hope this long-winded description helps!
  6. NoUse4aName, Jan 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013

    NoUse4aName thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2013
    Hey xShane,
    thanks for the warm welcome!

    I'm not a native speaker, so some of my writing may lead to misunderstandings, e.g. the graphics thingie - I was trying to imply that to me mostly every current game looks quite good, no matter the settings. Of course I can tell the difference between great graphics and "at least the game's running..", but as long as the gameplay is kind of smooth I'm not really bothered by lower graphics quality.

    What's concerning me more is the inability of the MBP13" to stream HD videos to a TV, really did not think so!

    As for the Retina, I really don't do graphics design in any way and I don't see me really _needing_ the extra pixels. I also heard browsing looks like ***** on certain websites because they have yet to be optimized.

    I still have the 15" in mind as well, since I've been told that audio editing really benefits from the number of cores and the overall CPU power. Noting this, for the 15" I think the Retina is a really good bargain, since it already has a SSD drive ready (I'm not sure if 256GB is enough space for OSX, Logic and quite possibly Windows though!).

    Budgetwise, I'm limited but not in a bad fix. It's more of a temporary restriction, say I'd have to wait another month for my February paycheck. It's more of a: I don't want to pay a lot of money (a number which might go up to ~1000€!) for something I end up not using. On the same page, I'd hate spending 1000€ if it'll leave me unsatisfied because I should've spent 500-700€ more to satisfy my needs.

    Ugh, this decision is really freaking me out. Since it's that much money I'm really trying to take everything into account and make the right choice!

    edit - C-DAWG, this is actually really accurate in describing what I'm about to do with my future MacBook. Up to now this sounds like the most hands-down, fitting advice (for me, that is!) I've read so far.
    What Steam games do you play? As I said, I'm not much of a gamer, but I'd love to lay back on the couch every once in a while and relax! (just don't want to spend that much more money on it - e.g. getting a console.. not using that enough to justify the spending :))
    Also, good advice mentioning the audio interface. I might private-message you about this a few days down the road if you don't mind!

    I'll still wait around for some more replies of more tech-informed guys and others describing their user experience, but again, thank you very much!
  7. NoUse4aName thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2013
    Hi Ploki,
    thanks for the link. I've already read this thread and it's a good wrap-up, however I found it difficult to apply this to my certain needs as I'm really new to Apple products and not quite fond of computers in general.

    Also, my choice is not mainly about cMBP vs rMBP. To me it feels like there are more factors to be considered and to figure out what I could really need, not what would be nice to have, appears to be really difficult.

    Please be sure I've read up on a lot of threads before opening this one, but it's a highly priced investment and I could use some help.
  8. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    Sorry mate, will read it through and try better. :)

    First few points:
    - I favor Keynote over Powerpoint (using iphone as a remote)
    - Logic Pro is kinda deserted lately (i'm a heavy logic user, my main app for the last 4 years, am taking a certified logic trainer test somewhere soon)
    - Games, doable. Retina is better here because it has an over clocked GPU. both 15"ers are fine though, because they both have GFX card. cMBP has to be 2.6 because you'll get 1GB ram, 2.3ghz version of cMBP only has 0.5GB Videoram. 2.3 retina has 1GB videoram.
    - Watching HD video on non-HD display is really a waste of resources. You can watch them, but you'll be watching 1440*900 movie effectively. rMBP can however display fullHD (and more) in all its beauty.

    I'd highly recommend getting a 15" (cMBP or rMBP) if you plan playing games or doing logic, it's just a better machine (has 2 more cores and discrete GPU) and screen real-estate actually does come in useful.

    I personally got the rMBP 2.7/16gb/256gb and my main work is Logic Pro, Max/MSP and few others.
  9. chiguy20002 macrumors member

    Jul 25, 2012
    I have the 13" cMBP, base model. What I like about this is that the RAM and Hard Drive are upgradable. I work on it most of the day, and the 13" screen is fine. If I had the extra cash, I would have bought the 15" cMBP, but I did not. I wouldn't consider a rMBP mostly because of cost, and partially because of lack of upgradability.

    As my 13" cMBP stands right now, it works fine for my needs, mostly using Word, and a few programs in the Adobe Creative Suite. I had Bootcamp on it for a little while running both Win 8 and Win 7, and was able to play Skyrim on medium settings just fine.

    If you want more screen size and a dedicated GPU, then get the 15" cMBP, if not get the 13" cMBP.
  10. NoUse4aName thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2013
    Thanks for all your helpful replies,
    it really helped making up my mind (not yet done though :p ).

    After one night of thinking about it I figured I'd rather spend more now than being sorry about my choice a few years down the road.

    Now, what does this imply (and is my thinking correct?):
    - rather sooner than later I'll be glad about a quad-core processor while working on music production
    - I'll immediately find a larger screen useful when it comes to working with multiple tracks in LogicPro
    - a 256GB SSD will be sufficient for working with OSX & LogicPro (including a few projects?). Win7 is not a priority but would be nice.

    This somehow ties me to a 15" rMBP (especially because of the portability - the 15" cMBP seems massive in comparison!). I still like the upgradeability of the classic version, but 8GB and a 2.3Ghz processor might by far be enough? I find the price jump from my desired 15" MBP specifications to the base model 15" rMBP rather low (clever pricing policy by Apple, I gotta admit ;-)).
    It could also satisfy each gaming need I might build up a few months from now. This, however, is still not a priority.

    Ploki, as most of those questions revolve around Logic, I hope you can help me out here once again :)

    This is really expensive though, so next on my list is finances. I've read a lot of concerns about buying used MacBooks off of eBay since there's no way to tell if it's had water damage.

    The Apple Refurbished store here in Germany offers base rMBPs for ~2000€. There's a certified trader offering brand new rMBPs for 1950€ including 3 years of warranty (which is not AppleCare), Parallels and a set of speakers (priced ~200€ - might sell those via eBay) and its offering a financing option 200€/10 months. Does this sound like a good deal or does it make sense to wait around longer? What are the chances? Would this device be capable of keeping me happy for the next 5 years (I know, it's subjective :( )? Or would a 13" fulfill my needs just the same? Taking into account that I never thought I'd spend this much money on a notebook.

    Almost at the point of finalizing my decision :eek:

    e: chiguy, Skyrim sounds way over the top for my needs, wow. Then again, I have no idea what requirements this game has. Snap, why can't there be a list of cans-and-can'ts for those machines and a more clear budget plan in my head :)
  11. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    Logic projects aren't big, few MB each, and if you work @44.1/24bit the audiofiles aren't that big either.
    I'm currently running 256GB SSD on my retina with logic and it works great, I have most of my running projects on. The audio-oriented ones I need an external anyway because its better for file management (working on an album, that's around 50gb - raw footage 48/24, it will come down to roughly 1gb per song once I edit and clean it up).

    If you want 1GB videoram (for games thats really nice to have) you need to start off the 2.6ghz cMBP, throw in an SSD and you very quickly exceed the rMBP price-tag.

    Logic does look ugly on the retina though.

Share This Page