I am a designer and I use an iMac 27" late 2009 with Intel i5, ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB and 12 GB of RAM.

I will start traveling a lot, so I need a 'secondary computer' and I am considering a Macbook Pro Retina 13" [i5 2.4ghz, 8gb, 256gb], but I am afraid of the performance compared to my iMac.

So, my question is...

The Macbook Pro Retina 13" performance is good enough for front-end designers?

I usualy use Photoshop, some code editor, localhost server, Spotify and Chrome at the same time. Will I have some delays or it will handle okay?



If you can handle going from a 27" screen to a 13" screen (even though it's retina, the 'apparent' resolution is set quite low), then the rest of the system is fast.

Of course, you would want as much RAM and SSD as you can afford (you can't upgrade it later), but there is nothing to worry about with the CPU or the SSD speed.

In fact, the SSD alone will make it seem SUPER fast compared to a 3-4 year-old iMac (assuming it didn't have an SSD in it also).

If you needed an external GPU, then your only laptop Mac option these days is the top-end 15" Retina MBP, but that's larger and quite a bit more expensive than the 13" models.

  • sorry, but your are partially wrong: A later upgrade of the SSD is possible. – UsersUser May 26 '14 at 8:24
  • There are third-party solutions available, but this does not mean that I am 'wrong'. Apple do not support the installation of third-party devices, and as such you may run into trouble if you needed a warranty repair, but had swapped out the SSD for an unsupported third-party solution – Scott Earle May 26 '14 at 8:26
  • Your answer: "you can't upgrade it later" are wrong! In a case of needed repair you could swap the SSD back to the original one. So my comment: If you don´t need at this time a large SSD lay back and save your money. Later you could swap the SSD. Differently to the RAM (which is soldered to the logic board) the SSD is swapable. Please have a look at iFixIt – UsersUser May 26 '14 at 8:40
  • I know that third-party solutions exist, but they are not supported. I am not going to advise someone to go for an unsupported solution, and so said "you can't" as a basic comment. Of course, the OP can go and check later, and find that he could upgrade to an unsupported third-party SSD at a later date, but my advice still stands: get the biggest you can afford from day one. – Scott Earle May 26 '14 at 8:49
  • Sorry, but I couldn´t find any documents from Apple that declares that a SSD upgrade are not supported. Surely Apple will not support the third-party SSD. And: A SSD upgrade from Apple will costs a lot more as a third-party SSD. – UsersUser May 26 '14 at 9:04

It depends on your precise using of your iMac. Normally the 13" will fit but if you want a little more power you should think about the processor upgrade to i7. If you´ve more demands to the graphic card you also should think about the 15" because of a better retina graphic card (Intel Iris Pro Graphic instead of Intel Iris Graphic) or a second graphic card.

Highly recommend is a upgrade to the max RAM: 16GB.

If you don´t need a large SSD at the moment lay back and save your money. Later you could swap the SSD. Differently to the RAM (which is soldered to the logic board) the SSD is swapable. Please have a look at iFixIt

You could compare the details on the technical specs site.

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