For Photo Editing Purposes which MacBook Pro to buy?

Feb 18, 2014
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My intention is to buy a MacBook Pro with Retina display but cannot decide which to buy; the 13" or the 15". Yes, it would seem that it all depends on what size monitor I want but that isn't the whole story. I now have an iMac 27" desktop and also currently use a Windows laptop (17"). My hobby is photography and I do post processing with Photoshop products and will do so on the MacBook Pro. I travel with several pieces of camera equipment and found in the past that my current laptop is too heavy/cumbersome to travel with. Both the 13" and the 15" Macs are lighter so more appealing. I am leaning toward the 13" because of its compactness but as I look at the processors and the SDRAM I'm having a dilemma about which is better. My current laptop is a 2011 model and has an Intel Quad-Core i7 processor with a speed of 1.73 GHz.

Can anyone advise me on the technology differences between the Dual-Core i7 and the Quad-Corei7? is the Quad-Core that much better? I also would appreciate any pertinent information on the differences between the LPDDR3 SDRAM of the 13" vs the DDR3L SDRAM on the 15". I've tried several searches in an attempt to research these topics but I can't find current information and even though I am somewhat "techy", I'm not nearly that smart!

Thank you in advance for any help/advice.

Cory Cooper

May 19, 2004
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The choice really comes down to a couple of factors: budget and size. The smaller the MacBook Pro, the easier it will be to carry around, at the expense of having a smaller screen size and resolution working area. In the field, that may or may not matter because of the convenience factor.

As the newer generations of processors are released, their computing power and capabilities aren't really related to speed (MHz) as much as they used to be. The number of cores does influence their performance, but at the cost of battery life. The newer revisions of the i5/i7 chips do get a boost because they use faster integrated graphics chips in conjunction with the improved processing routines.

For most computer tasks, there will be limited noticeable speed between a dual and quad-core Mac. The "basic" breakdown is that dual-core Macs are for general users and quad-core is for enthusiasts and high-end professional users. Apps like 3D graphics, pro audio/video production, and high-end gaming definitely benefit from the quad-core machines. General use, most photography/design, text processing, and light gaming are well supported by a dual-core machine.

As for the RAM, here are the basics:
DDRL3 - Better performance, designed for desktops/laptops,
LPDDR3 - Slower performance, very low power consumption, designed for mobile iOS devices where battery life is very important - iPhone/iPad

Historically, the MacBook Pro 15" has been the workhorse and high-end performance portable from Apple. The MacBook Air is the lower cost, long battery life model. The MacBook Pro 13" is in essence the MacBook (until the new MacBook was recently re-introduced), which is designed to sit in between those two models as a general use daily machine - with both good performance and battery life.

It is always best to get as much RAM as you can, versus processor speed. More RAM doesn't necessarily create more speed, but it does allow more apps to be running simultaneously and allows more tasks to be run in memory rather than having to swap back and forth to the disk. With most computers now having SSD/PCIe flash drives, that is not as much of a factor as it had been with actual disk-based hard drives.

So, it is really a very personal choice. I highly suggest taking a trip to an Apple Store or Apple reseller to run Photoshop and other apps you may use on the 13" and 15" MBPs, so you can see the differences in person. I really think you will see that there isn't a huge speed difference between the two models.

I hope that helps a little. Let us know if you have any additional question or concerns.


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