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laptop decision 2012

It’s been a really long time since I’ve bought a Mac, except for the used 2008 MBA, which was arguably nicer than rev B and C, until they brought back IPS screens and of course Thunderbolt in the 2011 version.

Some thoughts I have based on my own thinking and talking to Scott.

11 MBA with 64 SSD ~$1100
The battery is too small and the screen is for one person only.
Still, it’s really cheap and you can do 8GB, which is surprising.
– If it came with a Core i3 and it was $899 I’d consider it.
– No 3rd party SSD yet.

11 MBA with 128/256/512 SSD ~$1650
Very intriguing to have the world’s nicest netbook. Only $100 bucks less than a 13″? Not really when you add up configurations.
You can do 8GB and 512 SSD, or even a dual-core i7 2.0. That is not a bad processor at all, it sits right under the 2.3 quad-core i7 in Intel’s product matrix, and it’s still a low-voltage model. It’s the best balance of energy consumption and power in the whole mobile CPU lineup, it’s right in the middle of the chart of mobile Ivy Bridge CPU’s (Check it out on wikipedia.)
– With the 2.0 i7, 8GB RAM, and 256 SSD, it’s $1650. Not terrible at all. But not having a SD card slot might kill me personally and the 5 hour stated run-time is a killjoy on such a portable device.

13 MBA with 128 SSD ~$1200
Ok this is not interesting at all, no options other than 8GB RAM. $1200 bucks. Biggest seller no doubt.
– Unfortunately Apple changed the SSD connector again. So it will be a few months for new aftermarket ones.

13 MBA with 256/512 SSD ~$1700
The funny thing is, configured exactly the “super netbook” above, the 11 MBA tricked out, it’s only $50 more, $1700
But you can go further, adding a 512 SSD for 500 bucks, making it $2200.
– Getting kind of expensive but obviously good value.
– HD4000 in MBA may be limited to two screens instead of three by Apple, bummer. But it will do 30 fps in DirectX 11 gaming now, and it’s good enough for video.
– Intel HD4000 video is nothing to scoff at. http://ultrabooknews.com/2012/05/17/ivy-bridge-and-hd-4000-media-capabilities-overview/

13 MBP 2.5 i5 ~$1550
The 2.5 i5 isn’t much better than the ultra-low power 1.7, 1.8 Ghz i5 chips. It still has 3MB L3 cache, and it’s the 3rd lowest processor (not including the sole i3). Apple charges $500 for a 256 SSD here, while you can get one double the size, 512, for the same money, on a 13 MBA. A 512? A cool grand. So that’s horse shit. Even a 256 SSD is $500, so forget it, go 3rd party. A nice OWC Electra 6G 480 Gig SSD is $600. A 240 IS $250. So with 8GB, it’s 1300+250 or $1550 and you get an absolutely worthless 500 Gig 5400rpm drive.
– Can stick a 2nd drive in DVD bay. But not the one they give you, that’s just for backup or installers.
– How’s it feel to have a 2006 iBook screen, more or less? Well, I type on a 12″ 1024×768 screen now, and it’s ok. I have a 30″ Cinema.
– Strangely, no RAM options, you get 8.

13 MBP 2.9 dual-core i7 ~$1750
This is pretty intriguing, as it’s probably the fastest laptop Apple makes, it’s so close to 3 Ghz, insane. You can accept a lousy 750 instead of a lousy 500 stock drive, and you can even throw away another 100 bucks for a 1TB 5400rpm drive. So let’s leave it stock, there are no RAM options again, 1500+ that 240 SSD from OWC, makes it $1750, and you get the 750 Gig drive as a credit I suppose.
– It has a 4MB L3 cache, and it will turbo up to 3.6Ghz. Even the top of the line Retina goes to 3.7. This is the “sleeper” model, for sure, and it’s under 2 grand. Well under.

15 MBP 2.3 quad-core i7 ~$2400
First it’s an insult that they charge 100 bucks for 8GB. So it’s not 1800, it’s 1900. Second, quad-core doesn’t really get us much, probably the 2.5 MBA is faster in everyday things. Third, more insult, still 5400 rpm drives, where are they getting these 2008 new old stock drives? eBay? So you add in a 7200 rpm 750 drive, and it’s suddenly $2050, plus that Electra 6G SSD, and it’s a whopping $2300 and not really fast and it’s the heaviest thing since a Wall Street. I hate this offering the most. It’s old and insulting. Oops, forgot to add the hi-res screen, another 100 bucks, so $2400. Forget it. Jeez only 512 VRAM? Meh.

15 MBP 2.6 or 2.7 quad-core i5 ~$2500
More of the same. Definitely respectable processors, Intel’s 3rd and 2nd best in the line-up. I wouldn’t bother with the 2.7, it’s merely a better binned 2.6 for an extra $250. With a 750 Gig 7200rpm drive and Electra 240 SSD, $2500. So for $100 bucks, you get a respectable CPU, twice the VRAM. But $2500 is $2500, the $2400 2.3Ghz MBP is a rip-off.

15 Retina 2.3 ~$2400
First, they all use “DDR3L”, including the MBA, so forget that. It wasn’t a very creative choice in CPU, they could of used the 13 MBP dual-core 2.9 or even the 2.8 i5 to shave off another 100-150 bucks or so. 16 Gig of RAM is a must, since it’s soldered. It’s like buying a SLR with only a short lens to shoot with. It’s got a nice 256 SSD, presumably Sandforce III like the MBA. 2.3 Ghz seems meh to me considering a 2.5 13 MBP will open webpages faster, but whatever. $2400 with 16GB

15 Retina 2.6 ~$3000
The only thing to say is that the 750 SSD is obviously not worth it for 500 bucks, neither is the 2.7 i7 option for 250 bucks. With 16GB, a cool 3 grand.

So, recap:
11 MBA with 64 SSD ~$1100
11 MBA with 128/256/512 SSD ~$1650
13 MBA with 128 SSD ~$1200
13 MBA with 256/512 SSD ~$1700
13 MBP 2.5 i5 ~$1550
13 MBP 2.9 dual-core i7 ~$1750
15 MBP 2.3 quad-core i7 ~$2400
15 MBP 2.6 or 2.7 quad-core i5 ~$2500
15 Retina 2.3 ~$2400
15 Retina 2.6 ~$3000

I will probably go for a 1700 dollar 13 MBA, maybe 2200 with a 512 SSD. The Retina is interesting but not compelling. Unfortunately, 4 pounds is the magic number when it comes to lightness, and 4.5 is a bit much. The 13 MBP with a 2.9 is very cool, it’s pretty much the 2.7Ghz PowerMac G5 of Unibodies, the last great one of a dying breed. The 15’s are absolute rubbish, and I think it’s always a bit of a risk to buy a totally new model, such as the Retina, and the good one is too expensive. Who pays $3000 for a laptop now-a-days? The 2008 MBA was $4000, I got it for $650 mint last year. A used 11 MBA in the future will be pretty cool, when you can upgrade the SSD.

6 Comments
  1. Hi my friend! I wish to say that this post is awesome, nice written and include approximately all vital infos. I would like to see more posts like this.

  2. Interesante post! Muchas gracias.

  3. Great post. Thanks a lot.

  4. Great article, I enjoyed reading it.

  5. Thank your for this post! :-)

  6. Actually, you can get a second hard drive in all cogfnnuratiois with base model you have to add it yourself (according to iFixit), with the middle line model you can add a second HD or SSD and you can get a dual core i7 (like I did). You get discrete graphics not found in the server model but you downgrade from four cores to two cores. My reasoning is that its the balance between CPU and GPU performance.

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