June 15, 2012

Chad's New MacBook Pro i7 15"

So I was going to bore you with a narrative of the how and why - but the fact is, I got a new MacBook Pro.  No, not the one with the Retina Display.  I don't believe higher resolution was worth a 50% mark-up (aka $1000).  And I still want / need an optical drive, and I like having everything built-in (IE Not an extra USB drive).

A few thoughts before I get you to the spec goodness that you probably googled for that brought you here.  First off, the computer got to me 5 full calendar days faster than promised.  Thank you FedEx and Apple.  Secondly, I am upgrading from a Mid-2010 model - and durn-near every single feature has been upgraded in some way since then.  From the CPU to the USB ports.  This upgrade has answered some long-standing grievances that I have had with Apple for some time (see my 2 previous posts [1] and [2] for more details).  The benchmarks suggest that this computer will be between 2 and 3 times faster than my older one.

After the Specs chart, I've included my thought about the Retina Display models - and why I did NOT buy one.

Now, without any further ado, I give you the specifications on my new MacBook Pro 15" Mid-2012. Enjoy.

The Specifications of Chad's New MacBook Pro 15" Mid-2012 2.7 GHz i7

CPUIntel i7 3820QM Quad-Core 2.7 GHz (Turbo Boost up to 3.7 GHz)
RAM8 GB DDR3 1600 MHz SDRAM (2 x 4 GB) PC3-12800 204-pin
Hard Drive750 GB 7200 RPM Serial-ATA
Optical8x SuperDrive (DVD/CD Burner)
Ports1 Thunderbolt (up to 10 Gbps)
2 USB 3.0 (up to 5 Gbps)
1 Firewire 800 (up to 800 Mbps)
1 Gigabit Ethernet (1 Gbps / 100 Mbps / 10 Mbps)
1 Audio-in
1 Headphone
Flash ReaderSDXC
Screen15.4" High-Res Glossy 1680 x 1050 pixels
CameraFaceTime HD Camera 720p
Height: 0.95 inch (2.41 cm)
Width: 14.35 inches (36.4 cm)
Depth: 9.82 inches (24.9 cm)
Weight5.6 pounds (2.56 kg)
Wireless802.11 n WiFi (a/b/g/n compatible)
Bluetooth 4.0
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 4000 and
NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory
with automatic graphics switching
Dual display and video mirroring:
Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display
and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display,
both at millions of colors
AudioStereo speakers with subwoofer
Omnidirectional microphone
Audio line in (digital/analog)
Audio line out (digital/analog)
Support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone
InputsFull-sized 78-key backlit US QWERTY keyboard
Multi-touch trackpad
PowerBattery life: up to 7 hours
Built-in 77.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
85W MagSafe Power Adapter with cable management system
MagSafe power port
OS and Software
Comes with Mac OS X 10.7.4 "Lion" pre-installed
Mac OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" will be a free upgrade with this Mac when it is released this Summer
iLife '11 preinstalled
[Added note:  iFixit's breakdown is here.
Nagging question answered... It does not have the new asymmetrical fans.]

About the "with Retina Display" models:

First, the naming sucks.  Apple is a company with genius-level marketing skills, but sometimes the way they name things is idiotic, (e.g. "The New iPad" - won't be "new" forever.  "The iPod Classic" - is there anything just called an "iPod" now?  "MacBook Pro" when there is no  "MacBook".  And Mac Mini / Mac Pro / iMac - but no just plain "Mac".)  My suggestion is to "downgrade" the current MacBook Pros to just plain MacBook, then make the Retina Display models the new MacBook Pros.  (Notice, the word "new" in the previous sentence is not capitalized; ergo it is NOT part of the name.)  That would give the world back the familiar "MacBook Air, Macbook, MacBook Pro" structure that isn't just something we're used to, it just makes sense.

Secondly, the thing is impossible to work on.  Now, I'm not one to muck about swapping logic boards or soldering on things, but I do like the option of changing my own RAM, (something I plan on doing to the above detailed MBP in the near future) or replacing a dead hard drive, etc.  The site ifixit (a website I trust and *highly* recommend visiting if you ever need to fix your own computer or device) gave the MacBook Pro with Retina Display a 1 out of 10 in the repairability scale - their worst score ever. The battery is glued in place, the RAM is soldered in place, the screen that Apple is so proud of, is glued into place.  There is no way an end user can replace any of these things. (Not that most end users go around replacing their laptop screens, but still....)  The point is - I don't want to have to relie on Apple to make every minor adjustment to the hardware I want or need.  I mean, they don't even offer 16 GB of RAM on the MBP I bought, although it is perfectly capable of supporting it.

Thirdly, as previously stated, it is far too expensive for what to me amounts to a minor screen upgrade.  I am aware that there are, in fact, other differences.  The addition of an HDMI port is very welcomed and has been sought for. The movement of one of the USB ports to the opposite side makes for a much more flexible and efficient use of space. From what I've seen about the case design, the thinness and the perceived quietness are excellent.  However, the removal of the optical drive and the $1000 premium is outrageous.  The rest of the specs are the same.  For $1000 you get a higher-resolution screen, the perception (not reality) of less noise, an HDMI port, and a Solid-State Drive, whether you wanted one or not.

But Chad, I hear you claim.  There is not a $1000 difference in the price.  There is but a $600 difference....  Once you add the external optical drive ($79) and get the same amount of storage ($500) it is well over $1000.  (When I spec'ed mine out - with the upgraded screen and the slightly faster spinning hard drive, the difference came out to exactly $1029.  So that's why I keep saying $1000.  The exact difference could be much more, or somewhat less, depending on your options.  At no point, however, was the price anywhere near close enough to be worth it for me.)

Full disclosure - if you upgrade a MacBook Pro to an SSD card on the Apple store website, the MBP with Retina Display is actually about $400 *cheaper* - even with the external USB SuperDrive.

So - if you want a device that is trapped as-is for the life of the device, without even the possibility of a later upgrade, one that costs a lot more to shave a sliver of metal off the thickness and throws some more pixels on the screen, one that denies users the choice of any type of built-in optical drive, and one that costs from $600 to $1200 more for basically the same machine - then get a MacBook Pro with Retina Display.  Otherwise, get a MacBook Pro.  I think you'll be glad you did.

And, for the record - you can use the $1000 you save going with the more upgradable, more capable, more intelligently named laptop to buy a 27" Apple Thunderbolt display, and have a *LOT* more pixels than the Retina Display models offer.  Or, you know, a 50" HDTV and an Xbox 360 and a PS3.....  a used car....  a McDouble a day for the next 3 years...

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James said...

This is what I call a desktop replacement. Mr. Smith I need $2400 so I can get one :-(

Chad said...

James, I financed it. You can too. :) Gives you 48 months to pay it off.

Chad said...

Plus - you forgot AppleCare and taxes... yikes!