1. iMore Question's Avatar
    Hello all,

    As the title suggests, I am in need of a new MacBook Pro with retina display for next year, as my school requires an apple laptop. I currently have a 2011 MacBook Air, and although it was amazing for three years, my need for more strength and power has grown. My price range is from $1500-$2200 and I am interested in both the 13inch and 15inch models, yet I lean towards the 15inch model. I will be using my laptop for school work, gaming (Minecraft, Empire Total War, Civilization 5, Amnesia and other games related to these genres and sizes), and graphic editing (YouTube, IMovie, and photo editing softwares). If you have any other questions, please comment below! If no questions, could you please explain pros and cons of either models and uses for them and also which model (upgrade as well) would be suited for me?

    Thank you so much,


    P.S: I have read the reviews relating to these subjects on this site.
    06-21-2014 07:55 PM
  2. Algus's Avatar
    Unfortunately, only the most expensive SKU of the Macbook Pro offers discrete graphics, which is nice to have if you are playing computer games. If your 2011 MBA is still holding up well, you may wish to consider an iMac as you can stay within your budget while still securing that discrete graphics card. You can then use your MBA on the go and even use a remote desktop client to connect to your iMac remotely if you need to do some work that is to sophisticated for your MBA.

    Why do you want discrete graphics? A discrete graphics card supplies its own RAM, which means it doesn't borrow anything from your machine. It also generally supports features and capabilities that integrated graphics chips do not.

    If buying a new laptop is your only option, I would recommend going with the 15'' MBP. This has less desirable Iris Pro Graphics but fortunately Iris Pro is quite sophisticated for an integrated graphics chip. It also comes stock with a quad-core i7, which you'll want for any video or graphic processing you need to do. Grabbing the 16 GB RAM upgrade is a smart buy, even though it will put you very close to your budget max as you'll want the extra RAM for doing anything graphics intensive since an integrated chip like the Iris Pro "borrows" system memory. All that extra processing juice is also useful for games like the Total War series if you like running battles with the unit scale size turned way up.

    Your cheapest option (that would remain worthwhile IMO) would be to go with the 13'' MBP w 128 GB storage. You can still configure this unit with a quad core processor and 16 GB RAM but it has an even weaker Intel Iris IGP.

    All of these units will be able play your strategy games well enough, though you will have to start nerfing graphics settings on newer games as you downgrade your graphics solution.

    Finally - one thing that sucks about MacBooks. The RAM is now soldered to the machine which means it is NOT upgradeable by the end user. You'll need to get the RAM you want now (and I strongly recommend maxing the RAM if your budget allows). If you do go with an iMac, it is more amenable to end user upgrades.
    DrivenMuffin likes this.
    06-21-2014 09:03 PM
  3. DrivenMuffin's Avatar
    Hi Algus,

    Thank you for the great reply! I made an account on here because I think this is a nice community.

    I am interested in the 15" laptop option, but would I need the 16GB RAM when playing games and graphic editing? Will it affect how I do these RAM-mongering tasks? I feel like having the 16GB RAM would be amazing, as you said I have lots of juice for how I want the laptop to perform. Yet, the price is cutting it close..

    I am also kinda interested in the 13" laptop option. With 2.8GHz dual-core, and 16GB RAM, it will perform well when it's needed. But, like you said the graphics would be lower, and the processor would be a dual core, rather than quad-core.

    I think I am going to choose the 15" line because you can't customize your laptop after market, the bigger size and updated power is just immense compared to my 2011 MBA (MBA has great power at the right price and size), and due the great new Iris Pro graphics, which will make everything look crisp and clear. I am not sure if I should push and stick with the extra RAM or not.


    06-22-2014 05:45 AM
  4. Algus's Avatar
    I think that people on tech forums usually overestimate the amount of RAM needed but that is because we are usually power users and like to get the most out of our machines.

    8 GB is a solid amount of RAM that will allow you to run multiple apps at once smoothly. Integrated graphics chips like the Iris and Iris Pro reserve some of this RAM for themselves and the amount they get is based on your total installed RAM.

    So suppose you have 8 GB, well the system reserves say 512 MB, now you only have 7.5 GB RAM (I don't know what the Iris and Iris Pro take offhand). Buying more RAM not only helps your graphics by giving the chip more to play with but helps the system as well.

    Buying extra RAM now will also help prolong the life of your machine. 4 GB is standard now for an entry level device

    You will no doubt be fine with only 8 GB as OS X is optimized really well. 16 GB is a smart buy though if you have the budget.

    The great thing about Apple is that their devices hold value very well because of their popularity so if you pass on the 16 GB but decide you want it in 2-3 years, you could easily sell your 8 GB machine and buy something better.

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 using Tapatalk
    DrivenMuffin likes this.
    06-22-2014 07:01 AM
  5. Arktos's Avatar
    Hey Bud, welcome to iMore! So, a few things to consider:

    1. The 13" MBPr is lighter and smaller than the 15" (obviously) so if you plan on toting this thing around campus you may want to consider that.

    2. Since you are purchasing a model that is going to have integrated graphics, spending the extra cash on better internal components rather than the extra 2" of screen real estate may be a better solution for you. Not only can you upgrade your processor, storage space and RAM, you are also doing so on a smaller display which could make a difference in performance.

    3. Don't forget that the sticker price isn't the final cost!

    Configure - Apple Store (U.S.)

    This setup is for the 13" MBPr, a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. With taxes and AppleCare+ the total should wind up somewhere in the ballpark of $2,175.50.

    Oh and don't forget to apply your student discount! Should bring your cost closer to $2,000. Enjoy choosing your Mac and good luck at school!
    DrivenMuffin likes this.
    06-22-2014 09:59 AM
  6. DrivenMuffin's Avatar
    My quick reply got wiped two times, so this is going to be very brief. Do I truly need the apple care program? I calculated both models with upgrades, taxes, and apple care, and the difference is around 300-400. Without apple care on the 15", it is only around $35 more than the 13" with apple care and all. So basically, my choice depends on if I need apple care.
    06-23-2014 12:26 AM
  7. Algus's Avatar
    Apple Care is a pretty amazing plan. If you have a store near you, it's super easy to have any issues that crop up taken care of. Especially if you are planning to travel with the laptop at all, it is something I recommend considering.

    You get 90 days of phone support and one year of warranty coverage out of the box though and technically you can purchase Apple Care any time during that one year warranty (among other things, Apple Care extends that phone support and warranty coverage to three years). So if you're not feeling it now but 6 months down the road you are having a lot of trouble, it could be worth it to add it to your device.

    I wouldn't characterize Macs as having an unusual degree of problems (at least not more than computers from other vendors) but sometimes with tech you get a lemon. It's one of those things where the service is absolutely worth it if you need it but if nothing ever comes up, that's a couple hundred bucks you didn't need to spend.
    DrivenMuffin likes this.
    06-23-2014 05:31 AM
  8. DrivenMuffin's Avatar
    Well said, I am going to go with the 15" MacBook Pro! Thank you so much for helping me choose my laptop!
    06-23-2014 06:32 AM

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