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Deciphering Macbook Pro specs (updating laptop time)

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Mathew Farrell
Deciphering Macbook Pro specs (updating laptop time)
on Dec 7, 2018 at 7:31:53 am

Hi all,

I'm at the frustrating as hell point of updating my macbook pro. Frustrating, since I haven't been happy with laptops since pre-retina days when I could unscrew the back flap and swap out ram and hard drives to my heart's content.

To that end, I'm looking at pre-touchbar retina machines. pre-touchbar so I can replace the shitty internal SSD with a bigger one for a few hundred bucks.

I'm wading through ads and specs now, trying to get a grasp on what's what. Most of these machines are an i7 quad core, of something between 2.2 and 2.8Ghz, 16GB Ram and various graphics cards. Some have newer ports (thunderbolt versus thunderbolt 2, etc). Otherwise, they seem to be near identical to me.

Can anyone weigh in on practical differences - for example, is an older 2.8GHz i7 machine faster than a new 2.2 gHz i7, or is there more to it than that? Would you preference more graphics card ram over a few points of processor speed? Would you place much emphasis on TB2 ports or any of the other holes on the side?
As I can't change it later, I'm looking at 16GB ram machines. I don't think that's negotiable.

Any advice, opinions, or spruiking of gear for sale are welcome.

Mathew Farrell

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Paul Dickin
Re: Deciphering Macbook Pro specs (updating laptop time)
on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:28:40 am

All these are over 3 years old, so the condition – and what's available to you – will determine your choice.
Mac OS Mojave has just made pre-2012 Macs obsolete (mostly because of GPU shortcomings), and next year's Mac OS promises to make further changes.
Will these changes make the nVidia GSince 2015PUs in the 2012-2014 MacBook Pros obsolete?
Since 2015 Apple has only used AMD Radeon GPUs, so even if the nVidia GPUs survive another year into 2020, obsolescence is on the horizon.
For that reason a 2015 MacBook Pro might be a better buy – unless you can get a good condition older one for a significantly cheaper price.

Since you do video, then a discrete GPU will make the most difference – with at least 2GB VRAM if you want to run video grading software like Resolve. Even NLEs will benefit from more VRAM.
The dGPU will mean that you will get a faster CPU.

Another thing to factor in is the cost of larger replacement hard drives for these machines, as they use PCI interface blades – fitting a bigger one comes at a significant cost:

I faced the same choices as you, but in the end got a much newer MacBook Pro 15" because I think it better to move over to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, and spend money on new peripherals.
Rather than throwing money at soon-to-be-obsolescent old generation kit.
And because the laptop I got was the best-condition/best value one I could find locally...

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Mathew Farrell
Re: Deciphering Macbook Pro specs (updating laptop time)
on Dec 10, 2018 at 10:41:34 pm

Much obliged, Paul, that all makes good sense.

I think we have to be very careful about being slaves to the OS upgrade path - It's an easy way to obsolesce older but perfectly serviceable machines. I do conceded it's not always possible to avoid (FCPX was a good example).


Mathew Farrell

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Mike Rogerson
Re: Deciphering Macbook Pro specs (updating laptop time)
on Dec 11, 2018 at 3:35:40 pm

Having just purchased a new (2018) MBPro build to order with i7, 16Gb RAM & 1Tb drive, I can assure you the speed difference over the older Thunderbolt MBP with removable SSDs is significant!

I like you, was upset when Apple started to solder the RAM & now SSD to the motherboard, but as long as you spec the best you can afford, I don't think you'll be sorry.

Just as a guide, I bought a Samsung 1Tb SSD as a backup, and via Carbon Copy cloner, it only took 50 mins to backup 500+ of data, whereas before, it would take hours over Thunderbolt, and a day over FireWire!

Enjoy your new MacBook whichever way you decide to go.

Mike R

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