Calling all Apple Fan Boys… STOP! Put your credit cards down and do not buy the newly released MacBook Pro with Retina display. I know it’s hard to keep yourself from throwing wads of cash at Apple (believe me, I suffer from the same disorder), but the Macbook Pro with Retina display is probably not the best investment of your money right now. I’ll try to make this brief…
Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display is a wonder of modern engineering, this is not to be disputed. That being said, just about everything Apple cranks out these days is “a wonder of modern engineering,” but that doesn’t always mean it’s the right engineering for your needs right now. To get a decked-out MacBook Pro with Retina display, you’re looking at spending nearly $4,000. With a price tag like that, you should step back and ask yourself if there is a better way to spend your money… or is there a way to spend a fraction of that and be just as satisfied with your purchase? I asked myself these questions, and the answer was yes in both cases; more specifically, the answer was to upgrade my early 2011 MacBook Pro with the following:
1. Replace primary hard drive with solid state drive: Crucial 265GB M4 – $203.84
2. Replace super drive with a large capacity hard drive: Hard drive caddy + Seagate Momentus XT 750 GB – $157.46
3. Max out Ram: 16GB OWC memory upgrade – $157.99
The total cost of upgrade… $519.29, or just about 13% of the cost of a fully-loaded Macbook Pro with Retina display. If you want to level the playing field here, let’s just say for argument’s sake that my MacBook Pro is still worth about $2,000, which would make the grand total $2,519.29 after upgrade or roughly 61% of the cost of a cutting edge, fully-loaded, Macbook Pro with Retina display. Well, after using my newly-upgraded machine for just a few hours, I can tell you that I’m happy with my decision to save a significant pile of cash by opting for the upgrade instead of the new machine. This thing screams! Take my word for it and please don’t make me embed various screen shots of speed tests. If you’ve experienced a modern OS running on a solid state drive then you know what I’m talking about; you owe it to yourself to experience sub 30-second boot times and apps that open almost instantly, including Adobe CS and Office.
So, is upgrading right for you? If you like to stay current, then I’d say you go for the upgrade, as long as your computer can run Mountain Lion. If it can’t, then you’re probably ready for an entirely new machine, so lucky you!… here comes a MacBook Pro with Retina display. Well, not so fast! You can still save some cash and have an insanely fast machine by getting a new, non-Retina display MacBook Pro and perform the upgrades I outlined above. Also, after doing my homework, I really don’t think the Retina display is ready for users that demand raw horsepower from their machines; I came to this conclusion because of this insanely thorough review from AnandTech that covers everything from soup to nuts… it’s worth the read. To summarize, the MacBook Pro with Retina display can sometimes lag and/or chug along when attempting to drive all those pixels in high demand situations, which is something you don’t expect from a brand new, state of the art machine, but that’s the price you pay for Retina.
Even if you’re intimidated by the prospect of cracking open your old MacBook Pro or sacrilegiously defiling a brand new one, I highly recommend giving it a shot; there are plenty of YouTube tutorials like the one below to guide you through the process. If you have any trouble, feel free to pester me on twitter @joecorbett, I’ll do my best to help you with any of your questions. Once you’ve got your optical drive replaced you can start making use of that storage by dumping your iPhoto Library on it, and most importantly, moving your iTunes content over as well, both of which will free many gigs on your primary drive. Good luck and happy upgrading!
Header Image from : MP-R care of deviantart.com