Home > Mac News > Probably Gonna Get Me a Next-Gen Pro

Probably Gonna Get Me a Next-Gen Pro

June 12th, 2012

As background, I am using a 4-year-old Macbook Pro on it’s very last legs. Damaged case (dropped it too many times), optical drive gave out more than a year ago, trackpad button doesn’t work, hasn’t for a while. But it’s also getting buggy and with updated software, gets slow as hell. I am way overdue for a workhorse computer like this.

There were last-minute rumors about the new Retina-display Macbook Pros, that they would be separate from the two existing lines–and the cost would go up to over $4000. And the maxed-out version may well be… but the starter version is within my price range, thank god. I was sitting here thinking I would have to buy a speed bump or fork over way too much cash.

The minimum-spec version:

  • 0.71“ profile, 4.46 lbs.
  • 15.4” 2880 x 1800 Retina Display @220 PPI
  • 2.3Ghz Quad-core i7 CPU (upgradable to 2.7 GHz); no info on Turbo Boost, maybe N/A in slim-profile mobile?
  • 8GB RAM (upgradable to 16GB)
  • GT 650M 1GB GPU
  • 256GB SSD (upgradable to 768 GB)
  • 7-hour battery life (YMMV)
  • 2 USB3 ports (combo with USB2)
  • Dual Thunderbolt ports
  • HDMI port, SD slot, New-design MagSafe (damn, can’t use old ones)
  • Adapters for FW800 & Gb Ethernet
  • Starts at $2199

Presumably, the CPU, RAM, and SSD are upgradable, maybe the graphics chip also. Only one model was showcased, so it may be the one basic design with everything else a la carte. I would be OK with the CPU, but will look at prices (expect: ouch) on 512 GB SSD and 16GB RAM upgrades. Probably, not. So I will have better space management and think about upgrading RAM after 2 years when prices are much cheaper.

I can live with that.

Question is, how long before it can be at my door?

Other news: Mountain Lion will be released in July, for $20. Makes it trivial that it won’t come pre-loaded on the new Macbook Pro. Lots of new features–the iCloud documents looks to be good for me, Power Nap updating during sleep looks nifty as well. I have to look into whether AirPlay mirroring will allow me to throw laptop video onto my iPad easily.

With iOS 6, Siri is being improved with graphic responses, more data on restaurants, entertainment, and sports–and also seems to be able to launch apps. “Eyes Free” will work with cars built with a Siri button; I will be more impressed when a sleeping iPad can wake up when only talked to. Local search going international, meaning I can presumably use it for searching for restaurants and movies here.

Also, it’s coming to the iPad. Strange it didn’t before. If it’s not coming to the iPhone 4, that’s a disappointment. Ah well.

Otherwise, nice enhancements to iOS 6, looks like a lot more integration with Macs (FaceTime apparently available on laptop when someone calls your iPhone?), Photo Stream looks to make it easier to send photos to yourself and others, VIP Mail addresses to highlight email from specified people. Passbook is the new “Mystery” app, it seems–boarding passes, movie tickets, store cards… is this a prelude to an e-wallet for the iPhone 5?

And, of course, Maps. The long-awaited, very cool 3-D capable new mapping app to replace Google Maps, which Google mysteriously updates a lot less than the Android version. Apple has done their own cartography–will new features still not visible on Google Maps now be visible on Apple’s app? It has traffic info and turn-by-turn navigation–in Japan too? Monitors traffic along a route and changes if it senses shifts in traffic speeds. “Flyover” has the much-ballyhooed 3D views, rendered in real time.

iOS 6 ships “in the Fall,” meaning between September and December, I suppose.

I suppose the Apple Store, offline right now, will not open up until way too late–it’s already 4 a.m. here, so time to grab 4 or 5 hours of sleep.

Gotta order something in the morning.

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  1. Troy
    June 12th, 2012 at 04:34 | #1

    10.8 updates 10.7 in-place from the app store, like an app upgrade.

    I’ve been running it since Feb and no major probs.

    I need to think some more about this upgrade, TBH. We have the same MBP from 2008 and mine is still doing great.

    With my 40yo eyes I doubt I can see the difference between retina and not, anything closer than 20″ to me is blurry anyway. Have to check one out at the mac store I guess.

    Under the hood though, the Ivy Bridge + Kepler CPU/GPU upgrade looks very compelling. This should get you through to 2020, assuming you don’t drop the laptop so often.

    What I like doing is running clamshell closed, and this will be GREAT for that.

    8GB RAM should be enough. Hope Apple doesn’t customize these like they do the battery.

    Same thing with the SSD. Going all-SSD is no prob. Recommend getting a TB USB3 drive (or 3) for rotating backups. Time Machine works great for this.

    No iOS for any of my iOS devices (sad face). Then again that part of the preso was a real snooze-fest so maybe no biggie.

    No Apple TV, though Macs displaying onto TVs via AirPlay is an interesting direction.

  2. Troy
    June 12th, 2012 at 04:54 | #2

    Looking at the store, my initial take is that the 2.3Ghz retina is a better deal than the 2.6Ghz model, paying $600 more for 300Mhz and 256GB of flash is pretty tough.

    Making do with the 8GB RAM (16GB is +$200) and 256GB flash until prices come down in a year or two seems like the best strategy, but only if the RAM and flash is user-upgradable . . . have to wait for the tear-downs I suppose.

    Apple offers the non-retina version @ 2.6Ghz for $2200, same price as the 2.3Ghz retina.

    Since I run clamshell closed so much (and my eyes suck anyway) I think I’ll be going with this. Should be easy to upgrade the RAM and change the hard drive to SSD in a year or two, but again we’ll have to wait and see. . .

    What I really want from Apple is just a double-size Mini with Ivy Bridge & Kepler for $1000.

    iPads are the laptop replacement, Apple. Get with your own program!

  3. Troy
    June 12th, 2012 at 05:20 | #3

    Maybe the low-end new 15″ is the best deal?


    shows the prices and port differences.

    this is 4GB vs 8GB on the other 2 choices

    10% less CPU top-end (but pegging a quad-core CPU is tough to do and the real-world difference, even if it is 10%, isn’t that big a deal for me at least).

    I like the 500GB hd option on the el-cheapo. Pull that out after the AppleCare expires for an SSD. Upgrade to 32GB while you’re at it (mmm, my 80s brain says “RAM disk!”).

    Ah, I see the 2.3Ghz option limits the GPU to 512MB RAM. Actually, that’s still good enough.

    So for $400 between the 2.3 and 2.6Ghz old-school MBPs:

    300Mhz CPU headroom (2.3 vs 2.6)
    4GB RAM (4GB vs 8GB)
    250GB HD space (500GB vs 750GB)
    512MB graphics RAM (512MB to 1GB)

    Paying $100 for each of these I guess is reasonable so I’ll go for the 2.6 option on the old-school MBP.

    For an additional $600, the top-end gives you:

    512GB flash instead of 750GB magnetic (512GB flash is $400 at newegg)
    no internal optical
    ~20% less weight and 25% less volume
    no ethernet/FW 800/audio in jack
    one more TB port
    “retina” display


  4. Troy
    June 12th, 2012 at 05:26 | #4

    I guess it’s down to the 2.6Ghz old-school vs the 2.3Ghz retina then?

    Same price!

    The 10% better CPU on the old is no big deal.

    Same memory, 8GB.

    750GB magnetic vs 256GB SSD

    optical in the old is again no big deal, but it might be possible to use the space to install a 2nd SSD drive, like in the current MBPs.

    1GB of RAM for the retina, 512MB for the old.

    Dammit, 2.3Ghz retina looks to be the best way to go.

  5. Luis
    June 12th, 2012 at 09:00 | #5

    Price is high but I’m willing to pay a lot for something I use 20 hours a day at times.
    This is an excellent point. I use this at home and at work, all the time.

    However, I note a few things now that the store is up. For one, Apple is being an ass in trying to shove people to the higher purchase: the “low end” Retina Pro has no options for SSD upgrade–meaning that if you want a bigger drive, you have no choice but to get the faster CPU also. Which sucks big-time, as that’s what I was hoping for. Frack.

    A small good point, and completely unexpected: Apple is selling MagSafe Adapters, so I don’t have to throw out my two current adapters.

    So, should I “settle” for 256 GB, my current amount which I feel is already crowding me (I do lots of image and video saves and edits), and instead depend on storage management and external drives?

    Or should I pay the extra… what does it come to, $680 (!!!) for the faster CPU (future-proofing) and 512 GB SSD.

    I have to research whether the SSD is swappable or not, as you said. Frack. I find it very hard to really justify the extra cost. I don’t need the CPU upgrade.

  6. Troy
    June 12th, 2012 at 09:23 | #6

    USB3 will really help you out here I think, rotating old projects off the SSD onto cheap hard drives.

    There should be speed tests soon on USB3 transfer rates, and I expect them to be better than FW800 maybe.

    Then there’s the hub idea:


    “The eSATA Hub Thunderbolt Series lets you connect eSATA drives to a Thunderbolt-compatible Mac. Connect up to two drives to the Hub, which connects to the Thunderbolt port on your new Mac. It’s the perfect solution when you’re using eSATA drives, but have upgraded to a Mac without ExpressCard/34 slots.

    Our MBP’s HAVE ExpressCard/34 slots!!!

    Though they’re buggy and not recommended for use with eSATA cards, alas.

    But the only way to back up TBs of data is TBs of hard drives, one off-site and rotated in with the others regularly, so some sort of dock solution (with easy swap of the HD media) is the best way to go, but thus far I haven’t seen any trustworthy USB 3 docks on the market.

    Or should I pay the extra… what does it come to, $680 (!!!) for the faster CPU (future-proofing)

    10% speed bump is really zero future-proofing. The good news is that the next generation of CPUs is going to focus on graphics, so with the Fermi GPU you’ll be way ahead of that.

    The way things are going I don’t think Ivy Bridge will be obsoleted for a while. Then again I don’t have the demanding editing apps you have.

  7. Luis
    June 12th, 2012 at 10:57 | #7

    Looks like the SSD is swappable. Also, I just cannot push myself to spend *that* much on an extra 256 GB (the CPU upgrade being of minimal influence).

    I’m ordering.

  8. Luis
    June 12th, 2012 at 12:20 | #8

    I have the order queued up, but have a question for a sales rep, so am on hold now (figure everyone is calling about now).

    Need to ask them if the computer comes with a Magsafe adapter; it is listed as an option in the order, but have never heard of a computer being sold with the power cable as an “option.”

    Got on with a rep before I could finish this. Alas, no English-speaking reps available. I *think* the guy said that a MagSafe power cable comes with it; the “accessory” option is, he seemed to say, a second cable option. Also, I did note different wattages–45W and 85W. Don’t know what that’s about…

    I placed the order, but am calling again to make sure the Education Store order went through, or if they need independent verification.

    I ordered the 16GB of RAM–I often have a dozen apps open, including memory hogs like Safari, so that’s a no-brainer for me. Got the US Keyboard, of course–can’t stand the Japanese keyboard, especially with the tiny little space bar and weird placement of stuff like the minus sign, at-mark, and quote marks.

    I also ordered a MagSafe old-to-new adapter, allows me to use my current power cables work the office and for backup. Also got a Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter, figure that it will be necessary in the school’s computer lab, which (ironically) has no WiFi. Story for another day.

    Also splurged and bought the AppleCare plan. Figured that it could come in handy, especially as this is a new form factor, and thus could be prone to unexpected failures.

    They give me a delivery estimate of June 30 to July 7, but Apple does have a history of giving conservative estimates, so who knows.

  9. Luis
    June 12th, 2012 at 12:41 | #9

    Another nice point: as an educator, I get the discount, and it’s not bad–almost 10%, that surprised me. Essentially, I am taking it as a discount on the AppleCare from 27,000 yen to 10,000 yen.

    Waiting for callback from Apple’s English rep. Called me back once before–during the 5 minutes I popped in the shower, almost immediately after I placed the request. I called and requested again, the guy said the rep would call back after finishing his current call, so am waiting by the phone–now 45 minutes later, of course no call. I hate that crap.

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