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Design Student Needing Computer Advice

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

I know right now that the basic requirements for my computer is met by the 13 inch MacBook Pro (no retina), but I'm debating the merits of the hard drive. My choices are 1 TB Serial ATA at 5400 RPM (I'd prefer 7200, but it's not available for the model) or 256-512 GB SSD. I know the latter is faster, but the $540 price-tag for the upgrade is unattractive.

 

I'm going into animation and illustration, and from what I'm guessing, we're going to be using most of the Adobe Suite from CS6 and a lot of other hefty animation applications. My assumption was to get the highest memory for my hard drive available. However, would it be more cost efficient to just buy the 256 GB or even less and haul around an external memory drive?

 

And last question, but is it even worth it to upgrade to the 2.9 GHz with 8 GB? Would there be a noticeable speed difference? If I just bought the 512 GB SSD and upgraded the 2.5 GHz to 8GB, would that be sufficient?

 

Just trying to be less-broke than I will be anyway from higher education.

post #2 of 2
Definitely get at least 8GB of RAM. The i7 isn't a huge speedup - about 20% or so:

http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/search?q=model:%22MacBook%20Pro%20(13-inch%20Mid%202012)%22%20platform:%22Mac%22%20processor:%22Intel%20Core%20i7-3520M%22%20frequency:2900%20bits:32
http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/search?q=model:%22MacBook%20Pro%20(13-inch%20Mid%202012)%22%20platform:%22Mac%22%20processor:%22Intel%20Core%20i5-3210M%22%20frequency:2500%20bits:32

It's also a good idea to get an SSD. It really helps prevent beachballing when dealing with media files.

Apple does special deals on machines so you can get the 2012 i7 model here for a discount:

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FD102LL/A/refurbished-macbook-pro-29ghz-dual-core-intel-i7

That has 8GB RAM already. 256GB SSD would be ok when supplemented by a USB 3 HDD but 3rd party 512GB drives should fit your budget with the refurb. Either of the following would be ok:

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Electronics-SATAIII-2-5-Inch-MZ-7TD500BW/dp/B009NHAF3I
http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Electronics-2-5-Inch-SATA_6_0_gb-MZ-7PD512BW/dp/B009NB8WTI

The 840 Pro has faster sequential writes and more reliable memory but both have long enough warranties and will last through average computing use. It's a fairly easy install:

http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Unibody+Mid+2012+Hard+Drive+Replacement/10378/1

If you aren't too bothered about the i7, you can also get the i5:

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FD101LL/A/refurbished-macbook-pro-25ghz-dual-core-intel-i5

Then get 16GB RAM:

http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=3D32ED07A5CA7304

and upgrade the RAM along with the HDD.

The refurb 8GB i7 + 500GB Samsung 840 = $1269 + $328 = $1597
The refurb 15 + 16GB + 500GB Samsung 840 = $1019 + $129 + $328 = $1476

Both of these can be extended to 3 year warranties within a year after buying them.

Apple might drop the prices on the 2013 Retina models in order to eliminate the old models. If they do that, the entry point could be:

Haswell i5, 128GB SSD, 8GB RAM for $1299 with BTO 512GB SSD for $500 = $1799.

The above options are still cheaper but the rMBP is lighter, will have longer battery life and PCIe SSD, which is faster as well as dual Thunderbolt ports.

If budget is the priority, the refurb i5 with upgrades would be the cheapest deal.
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