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I'm shopping for a 17-inch MacBook Pro and trying to figure out my minimum specs.

From the Apple website it appears these are the two procesor options...

2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with 6MB shared L3 cache; or optional 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with 8MB shared L3 cache

Do the additional .1 Ghz and 2 MB of cache make the 2.3 Ghz model noticeably faster?

(I do understand that HD access is usually the biggest bottleneck, but for my particular tasks CPU speed does make a difference.)

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Can you give a little more insight into your problem set? Otherwise it'll be "ssd, ssd, ssd" :) –  Art Taylor Sep 24 '11 at 21:30
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"Noticeably" faster? No. Absolutely not. As was said by many here, put that money towards an SSD or more RAM. –  cksum Sep 24 '11 at 21:43
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Certain tasks will notice the cache increase, but be sure you want all that heat day in and day out. If you buy a V8 engine, it uses a lot of gas even you don't need it often. See Marco Arment's recent i7 blog entry –  bmike Sep 24 '11 at 22:30

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Even in CPU-intensive tasks, the difference is going to be more of the "noticeable in synthetic benchmarks" variety, rather than "I see it in the real world" variety. I'd save the money and put it first towards an SSD option, then more RAM.

Processor speed is almost flat these days, so minor bumps aren't worth the money.

My very aging MacPro got a new lease on life when I replaced the boot disk with an SSD earlier this year. There's nothing better for improving perceived responsiveness.

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Completely agree. An SSD and topping out your RAM breaths new life into older Macs far batter than a few MHZ ever could. –  cksum Sep 24 '11 at 21:45
    
The asker is not talking about an older Mac are they? –  l'L'l Sep 24 '11 at 22:58
    
@ioi Doesn't matter. An SSD and an abundance or RAM helps any system. I don't have to tell you that a system is much more than its processor ;) –  cksum Sep 25 '11 at 2:01

Without knowing what you intend to use the system for, the increase in performance is going to minimal, even with the turboboost. For the difference in price you should the money into more RAM. Also, configuring it to with an SSD will have noticeable performance over a standard HDD.

Here's comment from someone who purchased the 2.3 Ghz model:

A very small minority will need this, for whatever reason, and for them it is worth it. For everyone else, do not bother and get the 2.2. The extra money is better spent elsewhere.

I have the 2.3, HR AG, but got a good deal so am sticking with it.

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The difference (however minute it is) will only be seen when the process is the bottleneck, and it's pushed to 100% load. If ur just using part of the CPU's potential (like in pretty much every situation apart from video rendering) you'll notice no difference except for in your wallet.

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