Why I went for the top 15" rMBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Mikeyswen79, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. Mikeyswen79 macrumors member

    Mikeyswen79

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    #1
    I thought I'd share my reflections on why, after weeks of deliberation, I decided to go for the maxed out 15" rMBP.

    TL;DR: Even though investing in a top of the line laptop is expensive, the returns it gives on user experience, quality of life, and workflow make the investment well worth it and make future purchases of laptops in the same line way more financially accessible even if your future self is financially struggling.

    It all started when my beloved 11" MBA (Mid-2011 Model) endured screen damage. The LCD basically cracked in multiple places which were at first invisible. However, as pixels around the cracks began dying, my computer began to look as if it had bruises. So I knew it was time for a new one.

    When I bought the 11" I basically wanted to combine my desire to budget wisely with my desire for a computer that was as fast as possible. And so I bought the 128 GB MBA 11" with maxed out RAM (4 GB) and and a maxed out processor (1.8 GHz Intel Core i7).

    I'm the type of user who probably mimics other students with any Apple computer: I have multiple desktops dedicated to various frequently used programs (Word, Pages, Preview for PDFs, Notes, Reminders, Calendar, Messages, Safari with several tabs, and of course Finder). I also tend to use Aperture frequently, as well as music software not unlike Logic on a rarer occasion.

    I thought the Air was handling all this pretty well, but when it broke and I was forced to buy a temporary 13" rMBP with even 8 GB RAM and the 2.4 GHz processor, I noticed how much snappier everything was. All my documents opened and loaded quicker, Safari is now like a rocket, and my overall user experience is that much better.

    Also, having a bigger screen allowed me to make better use of my space in all my various desktops, and so I have been a way more efficient student than I was on the 11".

    And so after toying around with various configurations, I figured I might as well go with a maxed out 15" even if I am not a graphics designer or video editor working with intensive software all the time. After all, it was just a slight jump from the configurations I had been toying around with before. My experience is so much smoother, and I am so much more organized, that this technology almost pays for itself in terms of quality of life. In part this may have to do with my having ADHD (the real deal kind) and my struggles with organization and my mesmerization with big flashy things like a 15" retina screen, but the point is this new computer really gets me in an excellent work flow.

    The other way I have thought about this is that, even though it was indeed expensive (~$3,000 on the student discount) I have basically jumped up to Appel's upper tier of laptop offerings and made it tremendously easier to buy newer models in the same price range as they come along, so long as I sell my current 15" around the release of its newer rendition and keep it in top notch shape.

    I was already doing the same for my Air (before the Air I had a Macbook), usually selling the older model and having to pay $200 or less for the most recent edition. In addition, I had never bought a $1000 laptop before and had nothing I could sell to make that kind of money. So I simply worked until I had the money and made the investment. From then on, I never failed to sell that $1000 for an amazing price (~70-80% of its original value), so I decided that I should try to replicate this process in the upper tier of Apple computers and make another big investment.

    I don't know how much I'll be able to sell a maxed out rMBP for, but it will make future laptop purchases much more accessible since I will only have to pay a fraction of the total cost to make up any cost difference. With certain types of technology getting cheaper (I noticed SSDs dropped in cost a bit this year), this small gap might even close itself.

    In the meantime, I have the privilege of enjoying a top-performing machine that really does even the simple task of browsing, loading a 200 page Word document, or even the occasional intensive photo, video, music, or graphics editing session better.

    I understand that there are very important economic and status implications that come into being when one buys a laptop like this, but for me what is at stake is simply quality of life. By no means do I hope such a purchase to come off as pretentious, though I know some will inevitably interpret it as such. However, As a very not well-to-do student in a field not known for its financial return (humanities), I nonetheless hope that this new tool will help me do what I do better. The quality of work and life that it brings makes the initial investment well worth it.
     
  2. isephmusic macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2012
    #2
    selling a maxed out macbook is really hard to do. i cant even find one close on craiglist of ebay. then you have to wonder why would anyone buy a maxed out laptop from last season ?

    you know ? lol people buy refurb from last season because the price drop is now below the entry level of the latest launch
     
  3. Starfyre macrumors 68020

    Starfyre

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    Nov 7, 2010
    #3
    Dont forget about fan noise and heat from 2.6.
     
  4. neteng101 macrumors 65816

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    Jan 7, 2009
    #4
    How could you even afford this purchase then? Or was it your parents money you spent? ;)
     
  5. john123 macrumors 68000

    john123

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    Jul 20, 2001
    #5
    If you enjoy it and want it, then by all means. But your logic in these two paragraphs just doesn't hold up. In no way have you made it easier to buy newer high-end models in the future. The extra ~$1000 you sunk into this purchase will depreciate much more rapidly than the "core" of the computer itself. If you put that $1000 to work in the future, you'd be able to get a much better laptop (or laptops) for a total net cost that's lower.

    Like I said, enjoy your purchase...but the finances on it absolutely do not compute.
     
  6. Starfyre macrumors 68020

    Starfyre

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    Nov 7, 2010
    #6
    I think it should be more about lasting a longer period of time so you dont need to upgrade as opposed to being able to more easily sell it.

    I just hope with the 2.6 Ghz, the fans/noise/heat wont have a huge effect, which it might.... but under student discount its only 180 bucks difference, so even with depreciation, its not as big of an effect compared to other aspects like the SSD. If PCIe goes away and a faster standard comes out next year... depreciation will be even more major.
     
  7. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    May 28, 2005
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    Pa
    #7
    I'm pretty sure this "snappiness" you talk about is all in your head. I cannot tell the difference between a low end mac from 2011 and a high end mac from 2013 (or even a mac with a spinning HDD from 2009 once Safari is in RAM).
     
  8. Mikeyswen79, Oct 27, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013

    Mikeyswen79 thread starter macrumors member

    Mikeyswen79

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    Aug 17, 2011
    #8
    Fair question. I managed to do it through work-study combined with a buying and selling process of several rare finds (like limited edition 3DSs) that I would sell at a profit (sometimes items like that can double in value, it is quite bizarre).

    I by no means claim any expertise in regards to technology depreciation, I'm just a lay enthusiast who happened to catch onto the fact that people really will pay a lot for old Apples. On this note, I'm not sure if your claim is as dramatic as I sense because I certainly was able to sell my MBA with its upgraded RAM and processor taken into consideration for a final asking price of about 70% its original value, which took a hit from the damaged screen (surprisingly only a $100-200 drop for $300-600 worth of damage unless one knows how to remove just the LCD). A part of this may have been the fact that base model MBAs came with 64 GB SSD and mine had a 128, but even if you isolate the prices of used 128 GB MBAs you can see that mine did fairly well. I must also admit the student discounts continue to make my enjoyed success easier. If I start going for tax-free weekends or buying Apple gift cards at 80-90% their value on eBay, I might even be able to completely close the gap.

    I can see depreciation taking place on the SSD since prices on SSDs seem to be dropping. Thus far they haven't dropped dramatically enough for me to be too concerned.

    At the very least, am I right to assume that, by your reasoning, my selling and buying every two years or so would at least make the most sense for base models, then?
     
  9. neteng101 macrumors 65816

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    Jan 7, 2009
    #9
    Good for you then - if you earned it, enjoying and rewarding yourself is not a bad thing at all. You've made quite the jump from an 11" MBA to a 15" rMBP! :cool:
     
  10. macred macrumors regular

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    Oct 8, 2013
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    LAX & beyond
    #10
    Just an observation, but upon Steve Jobs convincing his followers that iPads were replacing laptops as we entered the "Post PC Era" I've noticed quite a drop in resale values. I buy a new MBP / rMBP each year, they used to sell easily for big money, but now that's changed. As Apple gives up their high profits to be more competitive, it's impacting all of us.
     
  11. Mikeyswen79 thread starter macrumors member

    Mikeyswen79

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    Aug 17, 2011
    #11
    I think the ability to sell upgraded MBPs comes into play because of the lack of upgradeability after market, of course with the exception that the SSD can technically be upgraded provided one has access to the correct kind of SSD (in another topic I asked about this and the repliers didn't seem optimistic that one could find the correct kind). So with that in mind I think there is a good chance I can find the right power user. Maybe the most risky aspect of my purchase was not the processor upgrade but going as far as to upgrade the SSD to 1 TB. The thing is, though, that I find people caring way more about storage space than anything else. Most people don't seem to understand RAM or processing (even I don't have a full grasp on processors as of yet), so I think it will work out ok. If not, no big deal.

    This is definitely a matter that only the most nit-picky will notice with regular use. I think it becomes way more noticeable when using intensive software like Logic. You can imagine the toll having, say, 10 virtual instruments playing simultaneously while you actively record an 11th can have on a processor. It is just nice to have the best guarantee possible that tasks like that go smoothly. There have been so many times where I have tried to record and the program I use has hiccuped precisely because RAM was maxed out and the CPU itself was incredibly taxed.
     
  12. john123 macrumors 68000

    john123

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    Jul 20, 2001
    #12
    I flip my machines every year, and do it for friends and family, so I've gotten pretty good at this and estimating the market. It sounds like you made out well on your MBA sale, but that's the exception rather than the norm. I could go into this in detail, but suffice it to say that I've charted these issues before and always found the depreciation curve to steepen for anything non-base. CPU increases are far and away the worst, while RAM and SSD tend to do better.

    Yup, discounts, credit card incentives, tax-free weekends, and the like help with the flipping game a lot. However, Apple gift cards go awfully close to face value on eBay; I really don't see them anywhere close to the 80-90% level you described.

    Sure. It's a very viable strategy, and like I said, I do it. All I'm saying is that buying the top-end is not the optimal way to maximize your total long-term cost.
     
  13. Mikeyswen79 thread starter macrumors member

    Mikeyswen79

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    Aug 17, 2011
    #13
    Fair enough, I certainly defer to your wisdom here. The processor jump especially will seem insignificant in coming years. There really ought to be a website tracking this kind of stuff for folks who like to flip. I'm sure there already is.

    The Apple gift card prospect is a real gamble. I have engaged in it a few times, but the greatest success is usually enjoyed more on the low cost gift cards ($10-25) than the rest. Obviously that takes time and strategizing. I certainly didn't bother to do this for the full amount of past purchases, but if one wants to earn a cool $100 or more and can't make money in a more efficient manner, it certainly is one option.
     
  14. john123 macrumors 68000

    john123

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    #14
    I'm still confused. I went searching for deals on those and didn't find them either. Are you sure you aren't confusing the regular Apple gift cards (for which I never see great discounts more than a couple percent) with the iTunes/App Store cards (which often are discounted)?
     
  15. mankymanning macrumors regular

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    Jul 18, 2008
    #15
    Sorry but how do you know there is increased fan noise or heat from a 2.6?
     
  16. Mikeyswen79 thread starter macrumors member

    Mikeyswen79

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    Aug 17, 2011
    #16
    It can be both. One resource I tend to start off with is http://www.giftcardgranny.com/store/apple/. Note that some of them are iTunes/App store gift cards, but many are really Apple gift cards. I mean don't get me wrong, you really, really, have to obsessively watch these auctions to really succeed at getting more like a 10-20% discount (obviously 10% is more likely than 20% at that), but it does happen, especially when auctions end at good times like during work hours or very late at night. And of course getting a $10 gift card for $9.05 just seems way more likely than getting a $100 for $90 or so in my experience.
     
  17. PeterJP macrumors regular

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    Feb 2, 2012
    Location:
    Leuven, Belgium
    #17
    Just a question because I'm very unfamiliar with your way of working.

    With so many programs open at the same time, I can imagine you want to max out. But I'm not criticizing you. Everybody has his own way of working. I just have a few questions to understand why you want to work this way. Even after 25 years of working in a multi-tasking computer environment, I still always close all the programs I'm not using. More memory helps in this scenario, too, because re-opening a program is instantaneous when it's still in cache. So, when I'm working (say, in Word), I close my browser, except if I need it to look something up. Mail is always closed, except when I check mail. In that case, I close Word and the browser. I feel it helps me focus.

    Just trying to understand how you work because I'm always interested in other ways of working.
     
  18. walkie macrumors 6502

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    Feb 13, 2010
    #18
    If you're computer is a money maker or you study something that requires hi computing tasks buying a maxed out rMBP is the right decision. It's the same thing when it comes to DSLR cameras, only profesional photographers/press photographer will benefit from hi-end models. Otherwise you may never take advantage of that power...
     
  19. Mikeyswen79 thread starter macrumors member

    Mikeyswen79

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    #19
    It is interesting that you ask that, because this may have a lot to do with my having ADHD, which is to say that I have a brain that works differently than many. In general for me this means that I like to complete bits and pieces of my various tasks throughout the day. There will of course be times when I do need to hyper focus on something and will close any distracting programs, but that is the exception or me rather than the norm. For example, I may be composing an e-mail to my professor and then on a whim want to finish editing that photo album I've been working on and/or double-check my notes to make sure I'm not asking the professor I'm e-mailing a question he/she already answered. More complex examples abound. Suffice it to say, my workflow is very chaotic, but for me it is simply the only way for me to actually get stuff done. For this reason, having all these windows open is indispensable. I think OSX is particularly helpful for people who work like me.

    At the same time, much of what I do is really just what a typical student in any humanities field would do. For instance, I just finished listening to a pre-recorded lecture that has a bunch of supplementary documents that one is supposed to review throughout the lecture, including web pages, audio files, YouTube videos, and even a slideshow. At other times I am reading a PDF scanned by my professors from a book all while writing a paper. I think most students do stuff like that, I just have a tendency to take it to the next level.
     
  20. john123 macrumors 68000

    john123

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    #20
    I need to quibble with this just a little bit. Just because your computer is a tool you use to make money doesn't mean that maxing it out is the "right" decision. For that to be accurate, it also needs to be true that the extra specs translate to an increase in productivity.
     
  21. tekmoe macrumors 68000

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  22. Mikeyswen79 thread starter macrumors member

    Mikeyswen79

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    Aug 17, 2011
    #22
    Why not, I'm on a study break.

    • I claimed buying the best possible configuration is worth it both because of the enhanced user experience and the potential for high resellability.
    • Some thought upgrading the processor would take a significant toll on battery life and fan usage.
    • Several experienced used MBP sellers noted that selling an MBP can be more difficult in the era of tablets.
    • One guy noted that the base models enjoy the best resellability while computers that have undergone upgrades tend to not get the same level of return-on-investment (especially true for the processor, less so for RAM and SSD).
    • Some were curious as to why I multitask in such a way as to make good use of increased RAM and processor power. I claimed my ADHD brain almost makes the sort of intensive use of the computer's power a necessity and really does make a difference in quality of life for people like myself.

    I think that covers it!
     

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