I am a software developer and I'm considering getting a 15" MBP as my development machine. I would mostly use that laptop to code with Java and I probably won't be playing much on it, so having the 6750M video card is not that relevant (although it would be nice to have, of course).

Would you still consider the 2.2GHz model just for the CPU speed or it is not worth the difference price by itself?

3 Answers 3


I bought a new 15'' MBP just one week ago and I considered the same choices. Finally I took the 2.0 GHz for the following reasons:

  • from the pure CPU point of view this would be an endless pursuit: there will always be a CPU with a frequency a bit higher than what you have; for example you would be tempted to go from the 2.2 to the 2.3 GHz

    • the 2.2 (and 2.3) have 8 MB (instead of 6 MB) of L3 cache, that's my only regret

    • I think it is more useful to upgrade from the 5400 RPM drive to the 7200 RPM, I think there's a noticeable difference

    • if you're a software developer then you should really consider to upgrade to the HD screen

In my opinion, unless your budget is unlimited these two upgrades are much worth their price than the CPU upgrade to 2.2 GHz (even considering the GPU and the cache).

  • 1
    I agree, and that's exactly what I bought: the 2.0GHz, HR screen, and 7200RPM HD.
    – David
    Apr 17, 2011 at 13:09
  • IO performance will make much more of a difference than a minor CPU difference. Take the 7200 RPM or an SSD.
    – vcsjones
    Apr 17, 2011 at 17:28

The price for CPU upgrade is better spent for the screen upgrade and a SSD (from 3rd party manufacturer like Intel or OCZ). A SSD upgrade will offer much better performance boost than a CPU upgrade.

Other note: both the 2.0Ghz and 2.2Ghz have 6MB L3 cache. Only the 2.3Ghz CPU (i7-2820QM) has 8MB cache. The difference between 2.0Ghz and 2.2, 2.3Ghz version is that the 2.0Ghz (i7-2635QM) doesn't support AES-NI and Vt-d.

  • What's AES-NI and Vt-d ?
    – Cedric H.
    Apr 17, 2011 at 19:47
  • I wholeheartedly vote for the SSD. I have a 2008 MBP (C2D 2.6GHz) that I've recently installed an SSD in, and it feels like I bought a new machine. It's the single best upgrade you can make to any machine.
    – roguesys
    Apr 17, 2011 at 20:12
  • 1
    @Cedric: AES-NI as you can tell from its name, is an instruction set to speed up encryption and decryption AES. It makes whole disk encryption more "native".
    – Lamnk
    Apr 18, 2011 at 16:04
  • 1
    Vt-d allows virtualized guest speaks directly with host's IO devices, which is often the main bottleneck of a virtualization system.
    – Lamnk
    Apr 18, 2011 at 16:11

I'm also a software developer and I was considering the same choices. I went for the 2.2 Ghz CPU, simply because I can always upgrade to a SSD drive or get more RAM in the future, but you can't really upgrade the CPU.

I wouldn't really say looking for more CPU power is an endless pursuit - as a software developer you're pretty much always using all the power your machine can give you, so I took more a long-term view.

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