Is there a simple but meaningful performance index for comparing various generations of MacBooks, and their different configurations, with a focus on everyday graphics and web development work?

I will eventually be looking for a successor to my current work MacBook. I feel like I need as much performance as possible, but the top of the line 15" MBP is too expensive so I'll have to look at a more lightly configured 15", a 13" model, or go one or two generations back.

I would like to find out how well those options would perform compared to my current 2011 model.

I have tweaked my current MBP with more RAM (8 instead of 4 GB) and an SSD, though, so I'd need an actual benchmark program as well as a results table for the various models, so I can measure my machine's actual performance with the tweaks installed.

Is there a benchmark/index that I can put to use?

My typical work day sees

  • Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign open, often with huge files
  • A fat but indispensable Web IDE (phpStorm, the main battery drain for some reason)
  • Chrome with loads of tabs, Safari/other browsers for testing purposes
  • Skype, Mail, Scrivener, Calendar almost always open
  • HDD and Network intensive helpers - a backup service, dropbox, FTP....
  • 1
    I suspect only the first point involves heavy performance and the only useful benchmark is running those apps on large files 9and I suspect of they are really large files you ned more memory but Activity monitor should show if you are swapping)
    – mmmmmm
    Jun 26, 2016 at 11:20

1 Answer 1


Well for benchmarking you can download GeekBench or check out the benchmark scores for Macs.

My story: I still have my i5-2.5Ghz Macbook MD313 (2011) and I upgraded to 2x 240gb 560mbps SSD in RAID 1 which get speeds up to 800mbps. Then I upgraded my RAM to 16gb. It only has 512mb integrated HD3000 GPU and this 2011 machine outruns my 2013 i5-3.2Ghz 27" iMac with 8gb RAM and without SSD.

My advice:

  1. Get a 15" non-retina (around 2012-2014) that has at least a 1gb dedicated GPU (2gb would be awesome), eg. the AMD/nVidia series and not integrated Intel ones.
  2. For having 10+ apps open at a time, I highly suggest you upgrade your memory to 16gb, anything above late 2011 can handle 16gb RAM.
  3. Make sure it can support SATA3 and get a SATA3 SSD with speeds around 550mbps read AND write. (upgrade is easy)

The GPU will help with your Adobe suite (enable 'Use Graphics Processor' in Preferences). The RAM will help with 10+ apps open and leave most stuff in memory for faster opening etc without clearing memory that often. This will also help with Adobe suite as you can set how much memory it should use, the more the merrier, right? And the SSD will obviously help with opening/closing applications and read/write to and from files faster.

Upgrading older devices with latest products helps me out financially significantly!

  • Great. Will check out the benchmark, and thanks a lot for the very helpful specific advice! It sounds sound, and very reasonable price-wise.
    – Pekka
    Jun 26, 2016 at 10:50
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    My pleasure, I've done a lot of upgrading, already ordered my OWC upgrade kit for my iMac lol so if you have more questions, ask away! :)
    – emotality
    Jun 26, 2016 at 10:53

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