macbook pro + external screen for photo editing

Started Jun 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Veteran Member • Posts: 8,324
13" non-R MBP 2.9GHz i7 + SSD + 27"

Tom_N wrote:

Another option might be to get the 13-inch non-Retina MBP, then "load it up" with 16 GB of RAM and a large third-party SSD. (Both the RAM and the HDD bay are user-serviceable on non-Retina MBPs.)

This is exactly what I did, and I'm very happy with it. 13" non-Retina 2.9GHz i7 with 16GB RAM and a 512GB Vertex 4 SSD in the optical bay for OS, apps and (referenced) Aperture libraries, driving a 27" NEC PA271 display. All images on TB RAID backed up to USB3 RAID. Laptop in clamshell mode when docked on desktop. This sucker is a pocket rocket. I run hundreds of 10-21MP RAW files per job through Aperture on this without so much as a hiccup. The money saved on the MBP bought a lot of extra peripherals. And, with a SSD + HDD onboard, I've got 24/7 backup on the road.

One note, the HDD and optical bays are user-serviceable, but they're not intended to be. Getting at 'em is a bit of a chore and voids the warranty.

If you're not processing absolutely huge photo workloads (lots of D800 files, huge panoramas, etc.), it may not matter too much that the 13" models have dual-core CPUs and integrated graphics.

Yes, for high-volume D800 RAWs, quad-core helps, and a new Mac Pro would be better.

One drawback of the 13" non-Retina model is that the screen has only 1280 x 800 pixels. This is enough for Web browsing and writing papers, but I have seen people comment that it is a bit cramped for using certain photo programs (e.g., Lightroom) on the go.

Whether Retina or non-, 13" is small. That said, I recently processed about 3,000 images during a 6-week trip without difficulty. Aperture in full-screen mode works really well on smaller displays.

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