Which upgrades to make on new MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by rsamo, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. rsamo macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2005
    I am looking into buying a new 15 inch MBP and was planning to make some upgrades to the base models, but wanted to get the most value for my money. Please rate the following options in terms of performance improvements given the cost. To give a little background, this will be my personal machine. Generally the most extensive tasks are editing and managing large iPhoto and iMovie libraries on a daily/weekly basis. I also want this to be my primary machine for at least 3 years.

    a) Double RAM from 4 to 8 GB - $360
    b) Hard drive speed 5400 to 7200 rmp - $45
    c) Hi Res Display 36% pixel increase - $90
    d) Video card 256 to 512 MB, .13Ghz increase and move from i5 to i7 - $150
    e) .13 Ghz increase still i5 - $60

    Please rate the following options in terms of upgrade order (1-5) and share your thoughts/suggestions. Note the prices are those I would pay to have Apple make the upgrades. I know some (particularly the RAM) are cheaper third party, but I don't want to void the warrany on a new machine.

  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    a) Get it from 3rd party. Replacing RAM does not void your warranty. 2x4GB goes for less than 150$ nowadays

    b) If you don't want to upgrade the HD on your own, then it's a good option. It's only 45$ anyway

    c) Definitely get it. This is something you can't do later own

    d) Don't get it

    e) Don't get it

    So, 2.4GHz i5 with hi res screen and 500GB 7200rpm HD. 8GB of RAM from aftermarket
  3. miata macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2010
    Silicon Valley, Earth
    A lot of these are personal preference, but I would follow the order of your list. You can get very reliable 8 GM RAM for only $150 or so from OWC, so that would be a the top of my list. But I tend to keep a lot of apps open at the same time -- especially the MS stuff which seems to like RAM.

    If you plan on keeping most of your photos on the internal drive the faster and bigger drive would be priority #2.

    The CPU upgrade will have negligible impact, but if you have $60 why not?

    The display is a personal preference that depends on eyesight, usage, external display, etc.

    Someone else can comment on the graphics updates.
  4. RKpro macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2008
    The higher resolution screen would be at the top of my list.

    Then, I would an SSD. But since you're working with a lot of media, you would need a high capacity model, which is mad expensive. So a 7200rpm model will probably be better value.

    Ram upgrade, like others said aftermarket is less expensive. You can get the stock 4GB, and decide later if you need more.

    I don't think you will notice difference between the two i5 models.
  5. sbddude macrumors 6502a

    Sep 27, 2010
    Nor Cal, USA
    Upgrade the RAM and hard drive yourself. Even the hard drive from 5400 RPM to 7200 RPM is not a good deal. Instead you could buy a 7200 RPM drive and put the 5400 RPM drive in an external case. Or you could get a SSD.

    For the 15 inch, the high resolution upgrade is definitely worth it.

    You may want to consider a 17 inch instead. The default config already has the high res, better GPU memory, faster processor (2.53), and upgraded hard drive to 500GB rather than 320. As a bonus you get expresscard and 3rd usb port. Expresscard will come in handy if you are planning to keep the machine since it will allow you to add things like usb 3.0, etc.
  6. rsamo thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2005
    Thanks to all for the quick replies. I'm not sure why I was under the impression changing the RAM would void the warranty. The only internal modification I've ever done before was replacing the hard drive in my iMac G5. For the most part that went smoothly, but for some reason it took like 30 seconds to wake up from sleep mode each time after the new hard drive was installed.

    If I upgraded the RAM on my own are their any difficulties or glitches in performance I need to be aware of? I assume the base 4 GB is 2x2, could I take the standard memory out and replace the 2gbs I have in my Macbook from early 2008? How do you determine if RAM is compatible from one machine to the next?

    I haven't thought about the 17 inch because I was thinking it would be to wide. I do alot on my commute to and from work each morning and there isn't always a lot of room. I will check it out at the store though, just to get a better feel.
  7. rebby macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2008
    When it comes to my MBP, I want all out performance. That said, here is how I would proceed.

    a) Don't do it. If you find that you need 8GB go the route that others have suggested, 3rd party at about 1/3 of the price. Wait a few months and the price will drop even more.
    b) Unless you need more capacity (or have another compelling reason to go w/a 3rd party solution), go with the 7200rpm upgrade from Apple.
    c) Go with the highest resolution display that you can stand in it's native resolution. The only reason not to get the high res display would be if you have a vision issue and prefer the lower resolution. This is not something that you can upgrade later though so I'd error on side of higher res (although it wouldn't be native, you can always step a high res display down if needed).
    d) Like the display, CPU upgrades can not come later. I always upgrade to the fastest CPU that makes economic sense. In this case, for $150, the video memory and bump to the i7 makes sense.
    e) n/a (see d).
  8. rebby macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2008
    Difficulties or glitches, none. Just be sure to buy the correct memory (speed, type, etc). I use the "memory advisor" at crucial.com and go from there.

    Chances are you won't be able to swap memory from an older device. Memory is always getting bigger, better, faster and you'll want the correct type for your new system for maximum performance. Additionally, as you'd learn from the memory advisor, Macbooks support dual channel memory access so you're best off installing your memory in matching pairs.
  9. RKpro macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2008
    If it's a plastic macbook from 2008, then it has DDR2 memory. Which is not compatible with DDR3 memory used in newer models.
  10. Rizvi1 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2006
    Laurel, MD (Baltimore, MD / Washington, DC area)
    I just got my 15" 2.4ghz i5 w/ Hi-res a couple months ago. I went through two rounds of returns actually because I wanted to save money via refurb but thought you had to get a maxed out MacBook Pro in order to have the hi-res. It was a confusing mess but finally, I now have the bottom of the line i5 - but w/ hi-res just like I wanted
  11. nygfan80 macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2010
    Do you like it? I just ordered one yesterday (hi-res) with an Education Discount. I thought about going the 2.66mHz route but after reading all the reviews and opinions, I went with the base model. To go along with this computer, I ordered a ram upgrade and 128gb SSD. For the extra $300, I could have went all out. I guess, I am kind of second guessing myself, but I always do.
  12. Rizvi1 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2006
    Laurel, MD (Baltimore, MD / Washington, DC area)
    yeah, I went with the base because while the better models are better, ultimately, it seemed the verdict was that it doesn't justify a higher price. I think I've read that that SSD is worth it to get from Apple but the RAM definitely isn't. You're better off upgrading that on your own. I'm looking to max out from 4gb to 8gb and I'm looking to pay $100-$120ish depending on which sale I Go with

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