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Recommendations for a MacBook Pro for general personal use


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I already have a Mac Mini as my music server. I also own a 2007 iMac that I plan on giving to my grandson. I want to replace that with a MacBook Pro and would like opinions and recommendations. I'm am a real light duty user with no gaming, no heavy duty video or graphics processing just basic home use. My work laptop is a 13" screen and I think that would be fine. I will probably make the purchase from Best Buy.

 

Im not interested in the Air.

 

Basically what I see is a "standard" MacBook Pro with a 500GB hard drive, 4GB RAM and with an optical drive for $1045. Then there is the retina display unit with 256GB SSD (I was thinking the 128GB might be too small) and 8GB of RAM but of course no optical drive at $1450.

 

Plus

 

At the local BB they have a couple of demo/floor models of the retina unit both in the 13" ($1044) and the 15" ($1591)

 

And

 

The BB salesman said all of them were $50 to $150 off the new retina models because the new MacBooks are being announced in September.

 

What do you think. Any real reason not to go with the cheapest until with optical drive and no retina display or are there other considerations?

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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Myself I'd go for the better display over the optical drive. You can always add an external optical drive if the need arises.

Mac Mini, Audirvana Plus, Metrum Hex NOS DAC w/Upgraded USB Module-2, UpTone Regen Amber, Pass Labs INT-30A Amplifier, B&W 802 Diamond Speakers, Shotgun Bi-wire Kimber 4TC Cables. Headphone setup: Burson Soloist Amp, Audeze LCD-3 Headphones.

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People love the Retina display, but Apple did away with the FireWire connectivity, along with the optical drive on that model. If you are using the MBP as a music server, the FireWire connector is still more economical and commonly available for a reasonable price than the newer Thunderbolt interface. You can upgrade the built-in 500GB HDD to a 128GB SSD for about $100 if you do it yourself, and keep the old 500GB drive as an external backup unit.

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I use a 15" Macbook Pro (Late 2008 model). I've upgraded to 8 GB RAM, a 256 GB SSD, removed the optical drive and replaced that with a 1 TB HDD, and I couldn't be happier. The extra real estate on the screen is really important to me. I use this as my "main" general purpose computer and the screen lets me enjoy it both at home without a monitor and traveling. That said, a 13" screen size is a little easier for travel so if you travel a lot, I'd go with the 13". But I use mine at home mostly and have an iPhone that gets a lot of use while traveling so the MBP stays in the hotel mostly, so the 15" is well worth it.

 

Best,

John

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

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Personally I prefer the 15 inch Retina display and recommend going with 8Gb not 4Gb.

Installation of a SSD is fairly trivial for the Macbook Pro, so I agree with the last line of WWaldmanfan's comment.

 

BTW there are Thunderbolt-to-Firewire and Thunderbolt-to-ethernet adaptors as well, if this is a need for you.

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star

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My vision with eyeglasses is only 20/30, and I spend hours daily reading and writing text on the computer, so I need the sharpest screen I can get. I found my mid-2012 15-inch Retina MBP a nice improvement in sharpness over my previous 17-inch early-2008 MBP. I can read text with a smaller font size on the 15-inch Retina than the old 17-inch, so I can fit the same amount of text on the screen.

 

A Firewire-800 adapter for either of the two Thunderbolt ports on the 15-inch Retina is only $29 (made by Apple).

 

I believe the Apple Store and Best Buy have 14 or 15-day refund policies.

 

Beware that there is no straightforward means for upgrading the internal storage (hard drive or SSD) of the 2014 Retina MBP. The people recommending such upgrades probably are experienced only with older MBP's. The Retina MBP (as well as 2010 and later Airs) uses a proprietary storage card. The only compatible SSD upgrades are OWC's Aura and Transcend's JetDrive, and they are priced high because there is little competition. Also, these two vendors have not yet released SSD upgrades for the 2014 Retina MBP, which uses a different storage card from previous Retina MBP's.

HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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People love the Retina display, but Apple did away with the FireWire connectivity, along with the optical drive on that model. If you are using the MBP as a music server, the FireWire connector is still more economical and commonly available for a reasonable price than the newer Thunderbolt interface. You can upgrade the built-in 500GB HDD to a 128GB SSD for about $100 if you do it yourself, and keep the old 500GB drive as an external backup unit.
The optical drives are very unreliable in MacBooks - even from light use, the drives have died in all but one of the MacBooks/Pros I have purchased. I would rather use an external drive if you need one.

 

The older screen is much worse than the Retina Display - it's not an IPS panel, suffers badly from glare without the laminated display, and the resolution difference is significant.

 

Firewire devices can be connected via Thunderbolt adapters - but who uses Firewire these days?

 

The weight difference and battery life improvements are pretty big too. I would not buy the non-retina MacBook Pro. Every time I use our older 13" Pro it just feels old compared to the newer Retina Pro.

 

The Retina MacBook Pros were just updated with the Haswell refresh CPUs, so I would not expect another update for at least six months.

The MacBook Airs may see a retina update later in the year with lower-power Broadwell parts.

 

I would not buy a computer with less than 8GB of RAM today.

Even for light use, 4GB is not enough, and you cannot upgrade the retina models at a later date.

(which reminds me - I need to add more ram to the non-retina Pro we have here)

 

The extra real estate on the screen is really important to me. I use this as my "main" general purpose computer and the screen lets me enjoy it both at home without a monitor and traveling. That said, a 13" screen size is a little easier for travel so if you travel a lot, I'd go with the 13".
It's worth pointing out as well that while the Retina models offer display scaling options, the quality is terrible when you do this.

The 1440x900 and 1680x1050 scaled options are unacceptably blurry on the 13" Retina we have here.

 

I was very annoyed by this, as it means that the 15" went from having a 1680x1050 display (if you bought the high resolution upgrade) to 2880x1800 which only offers 1440x900 workspace. (OS X only renders natively at 1x or 2x so the resolution is halved)

 

Same thing with the 13" - the 13" Air has a 1440x900 display, but the non-Retina Pro is only 1280x800, and the Pro is 2560x1600 (1280x800 workspace)

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Beware that there is no straightforward means for upgrading the internal storage (hard drive or SSD) of the 2014 Retina MBP. The people recommending such upgrades probably are experienced only with older MBP's. The Retina MBP (as well as 2010 and later Airs) uses a proprietary storage card. The only compatible SSD upgrades are OWC's Aura and Transcend's JetDrive, and they are priced high because there is little competition. Also, these two vendors have not yet released SSD upgrades for the 2014 Retina MBP, which uses a different storage card from previous Retina MBP's.

 

Bob, I thought I had read that the current MBPs with HDD also came with a spare internal SSD slot. Not correct?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Bob, I thought I had read that the current MBPs with HDD also came with a spare internal SSD slot. Not correct?

 

Never mind, I now recall I had read that about iMacs, not MacBook Pro.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Why not the Air? The better battery life persuaded me as a "light duty user"

 

+1

 

I upgraded to 250G SSD and 8G RAM with a 13 inch screen and couldn't be happier with the sound via Audirvana and the performance with mail, safari, excel and word ... if you are a light user and travel a bit like me I would highly recommended you revisit the Air as an option.

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

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I really appreciate the replies and comments. I think I am convinced to go with the retina display with the SSD and opt for an external optical drive. Other than the processor differences I can't say another reason for wanting MacBook Pro over the MacBook Air. I still feel the 13" will meet my need. I will look,at the 4GB vs 8GB RAM but the one thing I'm still unsure of then is can I get away with the 128GB SSD vs the 256GB SSD. My old iMac has a 250GB HDD and that always seemed plenty. I doubt I'm using 50GB on that device.

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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I really appreciate the replies and comments. I think I am convinced to go with the retina display with the SSD and opt for an external optical drive. Other than the processor differences I can't say another reason for wanting MacBook Pro over the MacBook Air. I still feel the 13" will meet my need. I will look,at the 4GB vs 8GB RAM but the one thing I'm still unsure of then is can I get away with the 128GB SSD vs the 256GB SSD. My old iMac has a 250GB HDD and that always seemed plenty. I doubt I'm using 50GB on that device.

 

Between the two, I feel that the 8GB versus 4GB is more important, especially if you want to run players that upsample, for instance. Of course 256GB would be nice too, though if you would want the extra space for music/data, external storage (drive, USB stick, SD card if the computer has a slot, etc.) should work just fine. I would go for 256 (or 512) myself, but that's because I like having multiple operating systems (e.g., Mavericks and the Yosemite beta).

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I am not a mac fanboy, but I have used Apple products sine the Apple II!

 

I'd recommend the 13" Retina display Macbook Pro. I don't think the Air is worth it for general purposes, and the new Macbook Pros are very light and have long battery life. I'd get at least 500GB for a solid state drive, and as much RAm as you can into it - as there is no upgrade path for them once you own one.

 

THe display is wonderful, to these ageing eyes, the extra cispness makes it easier to read smaller type.

 

I have the 15 inch model and love it. I thinkt he 13 inch is good, too. Horses for courses on that one. I never worry about sales on them because the last $50-150 aren't so much the issue as the first $1000. ;-)

 

I'd avoid the Air, and go for the retina.

 

 

I already have a Mac Mini as my music server. I also own a 2007 iMac that I plan on giving to my grandson. I want to replace that with a MacBook Pro and would like opinions and recommendations. I'm am a real light duty user with no gaming, no heavy duty video or graphics processing just basic home use. My work laptop is a 13" screen and I think that would be fine. I will probably make the purchase from Best Buy.

 

Im not interested in the Air.

 

Basically what I see is a "standard" MacBook Pro with a 500GB hard drive, 4GB RAM and with an optical drive for $1045. Then there is the retina display unit with 256GB SSD (I was thinking the 128GB might be too small) and 8GB of RAM but of course no optical drive at $1450.

 

Plus

 

At the local BB they have a couple of demo/floor models of the retina unit both in the 13" ($1044) and the 15" ($1591)

 

And

 

The BB salesman said all of them were $50 to $150 off the new retina models because the new MacBooks are being announced in September.

 

What do you think. Any real reason not to go with the cheapest until with optical drive and no retina display or are there other considerations?

--

Audio System: Mac Mini (w/Roon) -> USB -> NAD Masters M51 -> Ayre K-5xeMP -> Ayre V-5xe -> Thiel CS3.7's

 

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Hi Mike -

 

My next Mac laptop will be the Air, so long as they come out with a model that has a Retina display on it. :) The weight, battery life, and general "it gets out of my way and lets me do what I am doing" of the Air has convinced me. But I do love that Retina display, which is why we have two MBPs right now.

 

The optical drives on all our Macs have been reliable and lasted for years and years with troubles. Heck, I have a Jan 2005 Mac Mini and the DVD drive in it works perfectly. I have no doubt that an external DVD or (dare we hope) Bluray drive will work just as well.

 

I would, however, wait to purchase until the new units are out. Apple usually gives better specs for about the same money. Oh, the Barclaycard 6/12 months no interest purchase plan is good. Just be sure to pay it off before the promotional period expires. :)

 

-Paul

 

P.S. If you can't wait, it is worth the cost upgrade to get a model an i7 Processor in it.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Hi Mike -

 

My next Mac laptop will be the Air, so long as they come out with a model that has a Retina display on it. :) The weight, battery life, and general "it gets out of my way and lets me do what I am doing" of the Air has convinced me. But I do love that Retina display, which is why we have two MBPs right now.

 

The optical drives on all our Macs have been reliable and lasted for years and years with troubles. Heck, I have a Jan 2005 Mac Mini and the DVD drive in it works perfectly. I have no doubt that an external DVD or (dare we hope) Bluray drive will work just as well.

 

I would, however, wait to purchase until the new units are out. Apple usually gives better specs for about the same money. Oh, the Barclaycard 6/12 months no interest purchase plan is good. Just be sure to pay it off before the promotional period expires. :)

 

-Paul

 

P.S. If you can't wait, it is worth the cost upgrade to get a model an i7 Processor in it.

Thanks Paul. I think I missed the fact the Air didn't have the retina display and from everyone's comment so far that seems to be a key element.

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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My next Mac laptop will be the Air, so long as they come out with a model that has a Retina display on it. :) The weight, battery life, and general "it gets out of my way and lets me do what I am doing" of the Air has convinced me. But I do love that Retina display, which is why we have two MBPs right now.

I've read similar comments elsewhere, but surely adding a retina display to a MacBook Air is a MacBook Pro with Retina (with lower powered processor).

 

Is 200g (difference between Air and Retina) really significant Paul? And surely the battery life you get with the Air is due at least in part the lower power required for non-retina display.

 

Eloise

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I've read similar comments elsewhere, but surely adding a retina display to a MacBook Air is a MacBook Pro with Retina (with lower powered processor).

 

Is 200g (difference between Air and Retina) really significant Paul? And surely the battery life you get with the Air is due at least in part the lower power required for non-retina display.

The MacBook Pros have much faster hardware in them - the 15" model even has the option of adding an Nvidia GeForce graphics card.

 

The lines are starting to blur between them though.

 

I would hope that the next generation 13" Pro will gain a quad-core CPU, which would help differentiate them again.

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I do not know if the Retina display has that much to do with the battery life or not, though that seems to be a reasonably supposition. The MPB and the Air are much closer, but the weight difference does seem to be noticeable, at least to me.

 

I've read similar comments elsewhere, but surely adding a retina display to a MacBook Air is a MacBook Pro with Retina (with lower powered processor).

 

Is 200g (difference between Air and Retina) really significant Paul? And surely the battery life you get with the Air is due at least in part the lower power required for non-retina display.

 

Eloise

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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