Greg Ferro - Work to Live

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New Apple MacBook Pro - Mid 2012- Which One Am I Buying

Lets start the process by pointing out that I have a 17" MacBook Pro that I purchased in August 2009. That’s three years of heavy usage including constant travel including international and without any significant problems. I haven’t had to reinstall my OS or perform any major work in the lifetime of this machine except to install some upgrades. About 18 months ago I upgraded to 8GB of RAM and six months ago installed a 256GB flash drive and fitted a DriveBay to hold 500GB HDD instead of the DVD drive.

If I’m really honest with myself I don’t truly need to upgrade but my working life would certainly be improved with some more speed. I run a lot of applications to accelerate my regular activities and the CPU is baselined at about 15%. Three years is long enough for a laptop and it’s time to pass it on to a family member.


I'm expecting to buy this MacBook for another three years. Might be wishful but I've owned just two MacBook Pro computers in the last six years. Unlike my previous Wintel laptops which I replaced every 12 to 15 months, the long life and robustness of the Apple MacBook's has served me well and saved a lot of money overall. While a MacBook Pro is expensive to purchase, the technical specification is very high.

So I’ve done some careful checking about what upgrades are possible - Answer ? None. In this article from iFixit it describes that none of the current models are user upgradeable. RAM and SSD is soldered directly to the motherboard.

I currently have 8GB RAM and this is constantly swapping so it’s not enough for my needs. I have a 256GB SSD which is full. And there is a lot of data on the 500GB HDD. Therefore the 256GB SSD isn’t enough to last the three years and I need the 512GB.

Conclusion: Have to buy 16GB memory to last the cycle. Have to buy at least 500GB SSD. I don’t need to explain why SSD is such awesome sauce.

To Retina or Not to Retina

The model with the Retina display is probably better. I have an iPad 3 after previously owning an iPad 1 and the change to the high resolution display hasn't changed my life as much as the reviews would suggest. It's certainly nice and pretty but I haven't noticed any functional improvement in reading or usage. However, I'm currently using a 17" and the extra screen space is very valuable for split screen viewing which I use constantly using SizeUp (although I'm tempted more and more by Moom). Therefore I find it hard to consider using 13" - it's just too much of a change to my workflow.

There are four models of 15" MBP shown on the Apple Store.

  1. The 15" MBP with 2.3 Ghz has a max of 8GB RAM. Can't consider this unit.
  2. The 15" MBP with 2.6Ghz Core i7 with 8GB RAM/ 512GB SSD is £2519.00
  3. The 15" MBP Retina with 2.3 Ghz intel Core i7 16GB RAM doesn't have an option for 512GB SSD. That counts that unit out. £1959.00.
  4. The 15" MBP Retina with 2.6 Ghz Core i7 with 16GB RAM / 512GB SSD is £2459.00
In fact, the MBP Retina works out cheaper that the non-Retina model for the configuration that I would like to have.

The CPU upgrade to the 2.7Ghz Intel Core i7 is £240 which is about 10% of the unit price. That’s a lot of upgrade that I can’t justify since I can’t work out what the different CPU chips are. I’ll go smaller on CPU since I’m heavy on RAM and SSD.

Size and Weight

The Retina Display MBP is much smaller and lighter than the traditional unit. The MBP Retina is 1.8cm and 2.02 kg compared with 2.41cm and 2.54kg. That's 25% difference. And compared to the MacBook Air (1.7cm) it's almost the same size.

I’ve found that the 17" is both a benefit and weakness. I appreciate the size when working at a desk and editing audio or using multiple windows, but the weight and size means that it’s hard to move around. I have to great care not to impact it against train/plane doors (and people).

[caption id="" align=“alignnone” width=“825”]NewImage The MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air are much smaller. Probably since the SSD doesn’t need the extra space.[/caption]


[caption id="" align=“alignnone” width=“429”]NewImage The MacBook Pro with standard screen and hard disk drive is much thicker and heavier than the Retina model.[/caption]


AppleCare Protection

Yes, I buy this to extend the physical warranty to three years. Because a laptop is portable it suffers from physical limits. I've needed to use AppleCare for each computer just once, and made a single phone call. This was worth it. Both times I was fixing minor problems such as battery failures (first computer), Firewire failure (just before selling first computer).


I'm getting the Apple MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter so I can use my existing 24" Apply Display.

I’m seriously considering a 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display. When purchased at the same time as a MacBook Pro the Apple Care includes the screen. And I’d like to have a bigger screen because my eyes are getting old. In the back of my mind is that Apple may release a Retina quality display in the year ahead.

I’ll Wait a bit Although Apple rarely has problems when shipping hardware on day one, this has happened in the past. My entire business depends on my computer and having a flaky systems 1 doesn’t work for me. I’ll usually wait a week or two before ordering after then announcement.

The EtherealMind View

So it looks like the 15" MacBookPro Retina with 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD is the right deal. I'm off to check my piggy bank and/or make some money so I can get it ordered.

  1. Such as Microsoft™ Windows™ ……. ↩