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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

New MacBook Pro: i5 vs i7 and other questions


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scarreddragon

 
Member Since: Feb 07, 2011
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I searched but didn't see a similar question to mine, but apologies if I missed it.

I'm planning on buying a new MacBook Pro 15" in August, when the MacBook's have (hopefully) been refreshed, the new OS is out, and the back-to-school deals are out in abundance. However i want to get a handle on the price now to plan for it.

My question is, which of the following would be better to get overall:

The 15" 2.53 GHz i5 MacBook plus a 8GB memory upgrade

Or

the 15" 2.66 GHz i7 with the upgrade to 2.8 GHz i7 but no memory upgrade?


The price with the education discount and exchange rate is about the same. I realize that this might be a bit moot when/if the models are refreshed and the specs changed, but in general I guess my question boils down to is it better to have a higher memory, or a higher GHz processor? Are they about the same, or does it depend on what you are using it for?

Just to give background, I usually have about 10-15 different programs open at once including a ton of safari and firefox tabs, with iTunes etc. playing, sometimes a movie in the background, bittorrent, and the like. My current MacBook is a bit slow for so many things going on all at once. But I don't use Photoshop or any heavy editing software, nor do I play HQ games all that often. So all these upgrades might not even be necessary. It has to last and be as fast as possible for 4 years, when I upgrade again though so I figure I might as go as high as I can afford!



And another, somewhat related question: My current computer is 4 years old in May. It has a 2.33 gHZ intel core 2 duo processor and 2 GB of memory. It isn't unibody, was before they had the black keyboards out, and the screen is matte not glossy. It has a slight ding on the front left corner. If I went for the recyling program, would I get anything for it?

I have been thinking of either a) giving my mom the old computer, or b) recycling it and using the money it brings in to buy her an ipad. I have to feel her out to see which she'd prefer (she's not tech-savvy at ALL so I don't know which she'd like using better), but if I'm only going to get a small amount of cash for it I figure she'd appreciate the computer just fine. However if I can comp or mostly comp the cost of an ipad, then I'd rather get her something new Any opinions?
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ClockworkWorld

 
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The memory upgrade is best done after buying your Mac. Apple charges way too much for their RAM. Go to Crucial or something, it's MUCH cheaper. Spend that money on the i7 for sure if you're trying to decide between one or the other. You can't change the cpu later, but you can always add RAM (and for far less!!)

Late 2010 iMac 27 inch  2.93GHz i7 16GB RAM 2TB HDD
2011 Macbook Pro 17 inch Glossy  2.3GHz Quad-core i7 8GB RAM 750GB HDD
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chscag

 
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More memory is better as the difference in CPU speed won't be noticeable in most cases. However, do not order memory from Apple unless you like overpaying. Order the memory from a reputable third party reseller such as Mac Sales or Crucial.

When you get ready to buy, post back. The MBP line will probably be upgraded before the new OS X Lion is shipping.
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BrooklynMac87

 
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hey ClockWorld, i am a complete NOOB and will be buying my first MBP soon and seem to have the same kind of questions and concerns as the original poster... can u explain the Crucial process? i just checked out the site, i see they are selling an 8gb kit for about $98

Computer memory upgrades for Apple MacBook Pro 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 (15-inch DDR3) MC372LL/A Laptop/Notebook from Crucial.com

so i would purchase that and then... ? haha it's probably a stupid question i know, but who puts it in? can i open the MBP myself and do it? although i wouldn't trust myself doing that
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ClockworkWorld

 
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Right, you get the kit that's right for your EXACT machine. When you get it, open up your MBP owner's manual. It has very detailed instructions straight from Apple on upgrading your RAM (as well as the hard drive) safely, and properly Just take your time, and follow the instructions exactly and you'll have no issues And if you do have issues, stop, don't go further, and post back here, someone will surely have an answer for you No such thing as a stupid question! It's always best to ask when talking about working on a machine you just dropped $2,000+ on!!

Late 2010 iMac 27 inch  2.93GHz i7 16GB RAM 2TB HDD
2011 Macbook Pro 17 inch Glossy  2.3GHz Quad-core i7 8GB RAM 750GB HDD
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Zoolook

 
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Mac Specs: 15" MacBook Pro, i7 2.66Ghz, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD; iPad 3, iPhone 5

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It's hard to say without knowing what the new Macs will bring, but they're almost certainly going to be based on Sandybridge, meaning they'll be similar to the current CPUs, only slightly faster, cooler and possibly (although unlikely in my opinion) actually sport 4 real cores rather than 2.

An i5 will deal with anything you can throw at it right now, unless you're transcoding 1080p 3D video on the fly or something. Having said that, I recently also had the same choice you do and went for the i7, because it genuinely 'felt' faster. It's rare that one CPU architecture can actually feel more responsive than another of the same generation - usually you need a benchmark to notice - but the i7 is something special.

Having said that, 8GB of RAM is also noticeably better than 4, especially if you run a virtual machine or just like to leave all your apps open without rebooting or closing anything (like me).

In the end, you can decide closer to the time. If someone put a gun to my head and made me choose between the two, I'd get the i7 and 4GB of RAM and upgrade the RAM later on. You cannot upgrade the processor without extreme difficulty and expense.

Oh... and one thing you didn't mention - the biggest speed boost you'll get will be from an SSD. I really hope Apple reduce the price of these, because they're awesome.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.
- Joan D. Vinge

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BrooklynMac87

 
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thank you, you're awesome! haha. i was thinking of upgrading to 8gb ram from Apple themselves but $400?? no thank you! i will be taking your advice instead, thanks again
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ClockworkWorld

 
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Sure no problem! Yeah, that $400 dollars is better spent on other goodies (well, the $300 left after buying your 8GB upgrade from elswhere )

Late 2010 iMac 27 inch  2.93GHz i7 16GB RAM 2TB HDD
2011 Macbook Pro 17 inch Glossy  2.3GHz Quad-core i7 8GB RAM 750GB HDD
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BrooklynMac87

 
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oh and one more question, do any of you know what the student discount is on the $2,199 15 2.66 GHz inch i7 model? that will surely help out as well!
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ClockworkWorld

 
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I'm pretty sure regardless of the time of year, the student discount is only $100 regardless of what Mac model you get. It might change, I'm not sure as I'm not a student, but I think that's usually what it is. Not much, but it's something!

Late 2010 iMac 27 inch  2.93GHz i7 16GB RAM 2TB HDD
2011 Macbook Pro 17 inch Glossy  2.3GHz Quad-core i7 8GB RAM 750GB HDD
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scarreddragon

 
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Thanks for your helpful answers! I know I am posting early, but ever since I decided to buy I've been checking the apple site everyday just for kicks. I don't know how I'm going to wait for August, it is kinda already torture and it is only February. At least right now I'm waiting for the updates though... after they come out it is going to be even more difficult. I'm going to have ban myself from apple online at that point...

Do the apple stores normally have both the i5 and i7 machines out and about to try? I will take your word that it is faster, but it would also be cool to try it out myself as well. And I have heard that apple really overcharges for memory, but how easy is it to take apart the new unibody-esque laptops? My old laptop has screws, so when I replaced the HD it was pretty easy to do it myself. My old old PowerBook even had a seperate panel to open for the memory, which was nice. However that is a great point you bring up, that I can always replace the ram later but can't change from i5 to i7, and possibly get a tech-savvy friend to do it.

Also, BrooklynMac87, when I checked yesterday for the mid model 15" i5 the discount was about $150, but the higher end i7 and the 17" were $200. I think the discount is up to $200, but it depends on the computer model you're looking for

I would love to get an SSD, but $1500 for 500gigs is NOT cheap, even if I probably could afford it by August if I start saving now and get a good exchange rate (woo, exchange rate!) but there is no way I'm getting less than 500 gigs. I hate having to use externals for basic things like pictures and music just because my current computer doesn't have enough space >.<

My boyfriend wants me to get a MacBook Air instead of a MacBook Pro, but I think that is just because he wants it for himself to play with!
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ClockworkWorld

 
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Yeah, it's always hard to wait!!! But you never know what will come out by the time you're ready Waiting might be an advantage for you, you know?

The Apple store nearest to me, usually has at least one of every model available out for display. Not always, but almost. Chances are if you go in, you'll be able to play around with an i5 and an i7. But it really depends on the tasks you'll do as to how much/if at all you'll notice the faster processor or even more RAM. For example if you just do light photo work or web browsing, word processing, listening to music, etc. you won't notice much difference even with the very basic model vs. the most expensive, as far as speed goes. If what you do only uses 2GB of RAM for example, you won't really notice if you have 4 or 8. But if you do some heavy duty stuff, gaming, HD video editing, lots of multitasking, etc. then you'll really notice the differences

The new laptops are still very easy to add RAM and a new hard drive to. There are screws on the bottom and a cover that comes off. And there are very detailed instructions in the owners manual that comes with it, for changing those two things. And yes, just keep that in mind When we bought our computers at least (it may be different now) The i5-i7 jump was the same price as 8GB of RAM in the MBP. We got the i7, and spent 100 dollars or so on the RAM upgrade elsewhere (from Crucial).

You can always get an SSD later The prices will eventually drop.

Awww, tell him to get his own Macbook!

Good luck!

Late 2010 iMac 27 inch  2.93GHz i7 16GB RAM 2TB HDD
2011 Macbook Pro 17 inch Glossy  2.3GHz Quad-core i7 8GB RAM 750GB HDD
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