Welcome to the MacNN Forums.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > MacBook Pro - with Retina or without?

MacBook Pro - with Retina or without?
Thread Tools
Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: Apr 2007
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 29, 2013, 06:19 PM
 
I currently use a 15" MacBook Pro that's about 4 to 5 years old ... time for an upgrade to a new one. I really like my internal DVD drive and matte display on my current MBP and would like to keep those features, but I'm not sure if it's a smart move or not. I'm wondering if anybody has a strong opinion on whether I should "build my own" MBP from the Apple website so that I can customize it with a Solid State drive (and still keep my internal DVD drive and matte display) ... or buy the slimmer MBP with Retina display and give up the DVD drive and matte screen which I like so much.

I should mention that I don't see myself ever watching movies on my laptop, so I'm not sure how much value a glossy, hi-rez screen has for me.

Another thing I'm curious about is the build quality between these 2 models. Is the build quality of the newer, slimmer models less robust (flimsier) than the model containing the DVD drive ... just for the fact that it's slimmer?

I'm anxious to see your opinions! Thank you.
     
Addicted to MacNN
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: God's Country
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 29, 2013, 11:59 PM
 
Get the customizable non-retina MBP.

The retina machine is completely disposable. It's not user-serviceable. The RAM and hard drive can't be upgraded.

Don't get an SSD through Apple. Buy one third party on Woot (they have them frequently) or Newegg and swap it out yourself..

128GB SSD, $95-$150. Apple's is $200.

256GB SSD, $160-$250. Apple's is $400.

512GB SSD, $390-$530. Apple's is $700.

Don't waste your money on Apple hard drive/SSD or RAM upgrades. They are a colossal ripoff.

ETA: RAM prices through Apple are no longer insane, but buying RAM from Apple means it only comes with Apple's warranty. Buying third-party means you get a lifetime warranty. And yes, I have had RAM fail years after purchase.
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: 888500128, C3, 2nd soft.
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 30, 2013, 06:47 AM
 
If you work primarily with text, the retina display is a HUGE improvement. Watching movies is probably the area where it matters least.

Shif makes good points, but remember that apart from the hard drive and the RAM and the optical drive, laptops have been pretty much "disposable" for decades.
On the retina models, the SSD can be replaced if it fails, and the optical drive is no longer an issue.
And soldered RAM is less likely to be an issue, ever.

You do have to decide ahead of time what you're likely going to be needing, though.

But if you know that, is the added risk of having the RAM soldered in worth the reduced bulk and weight, and the MUCH nicer display?

I say hell yes.
     
P
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 30, 2013, 11:43 AM
 
The Retina display is a massive step up, and while it is not as matte as the matte options of previous models, it is also nowhere near as glossy as the models with a front glass panel - it's somewhere in-between. If you compare it to TVs, the old glossy MBPs with front glass are like an old CRT or modern plasma, while the new ones are like modern LED/LCD without a front glass - if that helps. In any case, I think you should swing by a store and see for yourself.

If you don't want to watch movies on it, what use is the DVD? It's not like software comes on DVDs anymore.

Both of the existing MBPs are of good build quality. On balance, I'd say that the retina model is slightly better as it is more solid - as there are no big empty spaces for optical HDD, it's more of a solid block.

Which brings us to what shif is saying: the rMBPs are not user serviceable. You get what RAM you installed at purchase, and while the storage can be upgraded, you're stuck with specially-made non-standard chips. If you're in the habit of upgrading your MBP every now and then, this might be an issue. If you never touched it, it probably isn't.

In any case, if you're not in a hurry, you might want to wait for the Haswell refresh, which should bring even better battery life to the rMBPs (I don't think the old MBPs will ever be upgraded again).
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Page14  (op)
Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: Apr 2007
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 30, 2013, 01:00 PM
 
Thank you for the replies.

I'm not one to regularly upgrade my computers, so I'm not sure upgrading the RAM or hard drive is too big of a deal to me. That being said, sure it would be nice to know that I can replace parts if need be.

I'm not sure what kind of specs I would need (such as RAM). I used to work as a Graphic Artist and still dabble in graphics every once in a while, but not at a professional level. I have an interest in learning 3D animation also, but I know that having an interest and actually sitting down and doing it are 2 different things. With that in mind, are there any suggestions for how much RAM I should shoot for to reasonably cover myself?

The DVD drive had interest to me because I have a fairly large collection of audio CDs that I'd still like to get some use out of. Maybe I just need to forget my collection and move into the digital age. ???

If I go the Retina route, I guess it won't matter what I think of the screen finish as only one is offered. (FWIW, my current matte screen MacBook Pro is the only laptop I've ever owned. It's what I'm used to and I really like it. So that's where I'm coming from with that).

Regarding the Haswell refresh, is it known when this is expected to happen?

What prodded me to ask for advice now, is that I placed an order for the "basic" MacBook Pro with Retina display (8GB Memory, 256GB Flash) from Best Buy Sunday night because it was on sale. I have until August 5th to pick it up from the store. I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem if I simply changed my mind before buying it as it's a stock item for them.

I appreciate your help ... and would love to hear more opinions if anybody has anything to add. Thanks again!
( Last edited by Page14; Aug 3, 2013 at 09:05 AM. )
     
P
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 30, 2013, 03:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Page14 View Post
I'm not sure what kind of specs I would need (such as RAM). I used to work as a Graphic Artist and still dabble in graphics every once in a while, but not at a professional level. I have an interest in learning 3D animation also, but I know that having an interest and actually sitting down and doing it are 2 different things. With that in mind, are there any suggestions for how much RAM I should shoot for to reasonably cover myself?
On the one hand, Apple is still selling rather expensive Macs with 4 GB RAM, no upgrades possible, and it's not too long ago that they sold 2 GB models, so 8 GB ought to be enough. That is also the standard for most Windows builds I see today. On the other, it's now or never. If it were me, I'd probably spring for 16 GB, but if you have it on order, it's not a huge deal.

Originally Posted by Page14 View Post
The DVD drive had interest to me because I have a fairly large collection of audio CDs that I'd still like to get some use out of. Maybe I just need to forget my collection and move into the digital age. ???
No, but you can import it into iTunes now and have it always available - or get an external DVD and import it onto the new rMBP after upgrading.

Originally Posted by Page14 View Post
Regarding the Haswell refresh, is it known when this is expected to happen?
I would have expected it already, to be honest. There have been leaks showing the specs all the way back in June (which is probably also why Best Buy is offering a sale on it).
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: 888500128, C3, 2nd soft.
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 30, 2013, 03:29 PM
 
Current *rumor* is that Apple may be getting a special series of Haswell with significantly better high-end graphics, possibly shipping in October.
     
P
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 30, 2013, 08:04 PM
 
The only thing Intel could do is clock the GPU higher. They can't spin a new chip that fast and if they had something better in the pipe all along, it would have leaked. The problem is the the GPU in the 4850/4950HQ already runs at 1300 MHz max graphics turbo, which is only 50MHz off the top for that GPU anywhere. Intel could bin for efficiency and maybe let Apple have chips with a slightly higher TDP (after all, if Apple is losing the discrete GPU with some 50W or so of cooling needs, they could cool a few more watts off the CPU) to give them maybe 100-150 MHz peak more, but it isn't going to be much. Maybe enough to be undisputably faster than the 650M in the current - they're neck and neck now.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Professional Poster
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2013, 07:31 AM
 

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
Page14  (op)
Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: Apr 2007
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2013, 07:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
On the one hand, Apple is still selling rather expensive Macs with 4 GB RAM, no upgrades possible, and it's not too long ago that they sold 2 GB models, so 8 GB ought to be enough. That is also the standard for most Windows builds I see today. On the other, it's now or never. If it were me, I'd probably spring for 16 GB, but if you have it on order, it's not a huge deal.
Thanks again. I understand what you're saying. The only place I'm aware of that will customize an order for me is Apple.com ... and if I buy through them, I'd be paying more money. If I only had a crystal ball to know if, or how much, I would need more GBs. ???

Originally Posted by P View Post
No, but you can import it into iTunes now and have it always available - or get an external DVD and import it onto the new rMBP after upgrading.
When it comes down to it, I can get by without the internal DVD drive ... I just thought it would be really nice to have. My current MacBook Pro's DVD drive hasn't worked in years, so if I've gotten by without it for all this time, there's no reason I absolutely have to have it going forward. (FWIW, on second thought, my current MacBook Pro might be closer to 7 years old rather than the 5 years I mentioned earlier).

Originally Posted by P View Post
I would have expected it already, to be honest. There have been leaks showing the specs all the way back in June (which is probably also why Best Buy is offering a sale on it).
I probably could hold out until the Haswell models are released, but not sure I want to play the waiting game (without knowing for sure when it's coming). There always seems to be something right around the corner worth waiting for. At some point, you just have to pull the trigger, ya know? These decisions never seem to come easily.
     
Mac Elite
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: suburban Chicago
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2013, 11:31 AM
 
I, too, am in the market for a MBP, to replace my late-2008 unibody MB. Love the computer, but it's time for an upgrade. I dithered and considered the retina/non-retina issue back in May (thinking -- silly me! -- that new models would be introduced in June) and finally decided on the non-retina. I LIKE taking my life with me, including all my files. I like the drives. For me, assuming I can get one with a "regular" hard drive and then they aren't killed soon, it fits the way I live and work.

That said, come ON, Apple. Introduce new models already. We're way past due.
     
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2013, 11:31 AM
 
To me, the answer is simple: get the Retina MacBook Pro. The high-resolution screen makes a huge difference if you work with text and photos a lot. Since you mention in one of your post that you're a former graphics artist, I think this will be a big selling point for you. Moreover, the Retina's screen is leaps and bounds better than your 2006 MacBook Pro (I've also had a first-gen MacBook Pro).
Originally Posted by Page14 View Post
Thanks again. I understand what you're saying. The only place I'm aware of that will customize an order for me is Apple.com ... and if I buy through them, I'd be paying more money. If I only had a crystal ball to know if, or how much, I would need more GBs. ???
If I were you, I'd definitely upgrade the RAM.
Originally Posted by Page14 View Post
When it comes down to it, I can get by without the internal DVD drive ... I just thought it would be really nice to have. My current MacBook Pro's DVD drive hasn't worked in years, so if I've gotten by without it for all this time, there's no reason I absolutely have to have it going forward.
You can always get an external DVD drive if you need one. Ever since removing the DVD drive from my machine (it houses an SSD in its place), I have needed my DVD drive three, maybe four times tops.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Addicted to MacNN
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Online
Reply With Quote
Jul 31, 2013, 04:57 PM
 
While the fact Apple has recently sold models with only 2GB RAM means they are going to have to keep them running usably for a while, I advise everyone buying a non-upgradable machine to max the RAM if they can afford it.

I'm going to need to replace my 2008 MBP reasonably soon and even though it has two drives in it at a combined 900GB or so (and only about 10GB free at any given point), I wouldn't consider the non-retina model any more. That screen real estate is just too good. Throw in that it is thinner, lighter and has better battery life and its a no brainer, unless you worry about the price. Which I should, but I won't.

I removed my DVD drive years ago and I rarely miss it. That said, I have an external as well as numerous other machines I can share from.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Page14  (op)
Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: Apr 2007
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 3, 2013, 09:00 AM
 
Thanks everybody for your input. FWIW, as of this writing, I think I'm just going to let my Best Buy order cancel out. I don't want to go into a purchase like this as undecided as I am. Plus, I have a lot of outside distractions going on over here right now, where I'm not sure I'll even get a chance to drive to the store for pick-up in time. So anyway, thanks! (Whatever I end up doing, I'm leaning to at least upgrade the memory to 16GB).
     
Mac Elite
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: suburban Chicago
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Aug 3, 2013, 10:01 AM
 
A question for those of you with retina machines. Where do you put all your stuff? I have a 500 GB hard drive with about 300 GB free. This is because this is not my main machine, plus I have my "documents" folder, so to speak, on dropbox. But the space on the new machines is pretty limited unless you spend lots more money. Do you put everything on externals? I think that would drive me crazy. But I'm not sure. It doesn't seem to be an issue for lots of people, including my own daughter, who has a 2012 MacBook Air.
     
Addicted to MacNN
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Online
Reply With Quote
Aug 11, 2013, 06:47 PM
 
I really wish Apple would build a 'proper' media server box. Whether its a special version of the Mac Mini or based on a Time Capsule, just somewhere to put your main iTunes and iPhoto libraries which will also back them up properly for you and share everything with your Macs, iOS devices and AppleTVs.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: College Station, TX
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Feb 26, 2014, 06:51 PM
 
Just ordered a maxed out 13" MBP w/Retina, including the 1 TB solid state HD. I have a 1 TB external Lacie USB drive that I use for backup and overflow and I might get an external solid state Thunderbolt drive in the near future. Going from 260 GB to 1 TB, I don't predict any issues.
Apple user since 1987
     
Mac Elite
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Middle of Germany
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Mar 6, 2014, 10:18 AM
 
So, why did you switch to the smaller screen, why not a MacBook Air, and why a Retina MB after all? But the non-retina versions are less and less available...
Think a new age is coming.
     
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: College Station, TX
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Mar 6, 2014, 02:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by PeterParker View Post
So, why did you switch to the smaller screen, why not a MacBook Air, and why a Retina MB after all? But the non-retina versions are less and less available...
I know you're asking the OP but I'll answer too. I've had quite a few portable Macs over the years, of varying screen sizes...

9.5" PowerBook 520c (mid-late 90s)
12.1" iBook Dual USB (2001)
15" PowerBook G4 (2005)
13" MacBook (late 2008/2009)
13" MacBook Pro w/Retina (2014)

See, I use my laptop as a primary computer and, for the most part, in my lap. If I was going to set it up on a desk and only occasionally go portable with it, I would probably get a 15" or larger model. If I was using it as a secondary computer or just a fun machine, I might consider a MacBook Air. But as my sole computer, I find the MacBook Pro to be the best option. And let's be honest--the current MacBook Pros are incredibly thin and lightweight so I don't really feel that the size savings of the MacBook Air is worth what you lose in specs.

Just my $0.02.
Apple user since 1987
     
Mac Elite
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Excellent, the sports issue is within arm's reach, I'll be here all day.
Status: Online
Reply With Quote
Mar 7, 2014, 01:07 PM
 
I've been particularly curious about the 1 TB model as well. I have a 128 GB flash drive on my Macbook Air and if I decide to upgrade I'll get whatever maximizes battery life but with a larger flash drive. My concern is that Apple needs to find more dependable suppliers for their hard drives. I had to have my hard drive replaced twice. This has me weary about wanting to load a new assortment of media (e.g. I plan on more HD videos...) to a 1 TB hard drive that may not be dependable.

Also, I've gotten pretty used to the Macbook Air's screen and although the gamut is off a bit, I don't need retina except on my iPod.
This one time, at Boot Camp, I stuck a flute up my PC.
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: 888500128, C3, 2nd soft.
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Mar 7, 2014, 01:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by And.reg View Post
I've been particularly curious about the 1 TB model as well. I have a 128 GB flash drive on my Macbook Air and if I decide to upgrade I'll get whatever maximizes battery life but with a larger flash drive. My concern is that Apple needs to find more dependable suppliers for their hard drives. I had to have my hard drive replaced twice. This has me weary about wanting to load a new assortment of media (e.g. I plan on more HD videos...) to a 1 TB hard drive that may not be dependable.
I assume you're only talking about flash drives, not hard drives (you're mixing the terms)?

There are only two or three vendors in the world that produce the PCIe flash storage used in MacBooks Air/Pro retina: AFAIK, there's Samsung, SanDisk, and Toshiba. There was an issue where SanDisk's firmware would eat drives, making a recall necessary.

This is no different from the way it's always been — there was a massive problem with Toshiba hard drives used in MacBooks about five years ago, and some other firmware-related stuff as well over time.
Apple is rather at the mercy of suppliers, here, and it works to their advantage to not stick with a single one.

The only realistic option here is a rigorous backup strategy to minimize risk of data loss.

Why did your flash drive need to be replaced?
     
Mac Elite
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Excellent, the sports issue is within arm's reach, I'll be here all day.
Status: Online
Reply With Quote
Mar 7, 2014, 01:46 PM
 
First replacement was weird and described here: http://forums.macnn.com/90/mac-os-x/...nd-hesitation/

Second replacement was under the firmware recall I think, October 2013.
This one time, at Boot Camp, I stuck a flute up my PC.
     
   
Thread Tools
Forum Links
Forum Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On
Top
Privacy Policy
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:04 PM.
All contents of these forums © 1995-2014 MacNN. All rights reserved.
Branding + Design: www.gesamtbild.com
vBulletin v.3.8.8 © 2000-2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2