Macbook Pro Retina Display or Macbook Pro Unibody, that is the Question


The Dilemna

Many of you know that I am an avid photographer and also a Linux fan. Unfortunately, the Linux world does not have the tools that I need in order to do post processing of my photos, so I have been looking at getting a computer for the specific purpose of editing my photos and videos. During this search, I have run across issues that PCs have with calibrating the display so that what you see is what you get. Apple, however, has done an excellent job of providing you a display that is calibrated very well out of the box.

So, I have been looking at Macbook Pro laptops for the past month and tyring to decide whether or not to pay the extra money for the for the Retina Display model or just get a Unibody. My opinion of the Retina Display is that it is no clearer than the standard High Definition Macbook. As a matter of fact, the only real advantages that I see are the built-in flash storage and the fact that the entire Macbook is essentially solid state.

But, you will pay a pretty a penny for the Macbook Retina Display, so I was looking to find a way to get the same performance without the extra cost.

The Macbook Pro Retina Display model that I was looking at has the following features:
1. 2.6ghz Processor
2. 16gb of Ram
3. 768gb Flash storage

And with 3 years of Apple Care coverage, it would run $3,877.00
For those of you with kids in the house, keep in mind that Apple Care does not cover accidental damage.

Since I am going to be editing photography and video, I want as much RAM and Storage as possible; but I am not in a position to spend almost $4,000 on a Macbook that I use for my hobby.

So, I started looking for alternatives and this is what i came up with.

Solution

Best Buy sells the Unibody 15″ Macbook for $2,079.00 and their 3 year protection plan would cover any accidental damage (this is very important to me).

Next, I wanted to see what upgrades I could make to this laptop to put it in the same realm as the Retina Display. I currently use a Samsung SSD 256gb harddrive in my laptop and it is lightning fast. That said, the prices of these drives has dramatically come down since the day that I bought mine, so I could actually get a 512gb Samsung SSD for about $320.
Corsair has a 16gb memory upgrade kit that sells for $95.99 and Other World Computing sells the “Data Doubler” for around $45.

Basically, the Data Doubler allows you to remove your DVD drive and add a second Harddrive to your Macbook Pro. I could then use the OEM 750gb harddrive as a storage device and use the 512gb SSD as my primary Drive, giving me a combined 1.2TB of storage.
The cost of this build, including Best Buy’s Protection Plan, is approximately $2,989.99 saving me over $800!!

For my needs, I think this is the route to go when looking for a editing platform for pictures. Plus, it will be much easier to justify the cost because I am getting a much better value. I will get the performance of an SSD, increased storage capacity and have the 3 years of accidental protection in the case that one of my children inadvertently shortens their own life by destroying my Macbook Pro.

I hope that this helps you decide on which platform to purchase.