I’m really having a hard time deciding between different models of MacBook Pros. It’s not just a conflict of options but between different facets of my personality.

On the one side there’s the part of me that has been looking at tech specs since he was a teenager. The numbers matter and the notion of paying more for less is difficult for him to deal with.

For the same price one could get a Windows-based laptop with far superior hardware. It could play games and stuff!

Then there’s the other bit of me that clears its throat and points out that such hardware fails quickly, overheats, and generally can’t realistically be used for any sort of heavy gaming. A desktop is suitable for gaming, a console is good too, but a laptop just cooks itself.

It’s interested in an appliance that can be relied on. It wants to do video work and needs a nice environment for that. It’s interested in finding the best compromise in terms of form factor, battery life, and speed.

At this point I should perhaps point out that the 13” late 2013 MBPs have Intel Iris graphics cards. The 15” ones have Intel Iris Pro, or NVIDIA GeForce GT 750Ms.

Now given the additional power requirements I clearly don’t want a dedicated NVIDIA card. It’d be great for gaming but as that isn’t the machine’s primary purpose I think we can sensibly take that off the table.

That leaves a choice between Intel Iris (5100) or Intel Iris Pro (5200). That’d be easy normally but unfortunately the Iris Pro is actually… uh… not that bad. It’s pretty good in fact. From what I can see it’s actually about on par with the graphics card in my current desktop (a GeForce GTX 260).

The Intel Iris GPU on the other hand is only about 40% weaker – but how much of an issue would that be on a machine not for gaming? Furthermore how would it compare when teamed with an i7 processor? (an optional upgrade)

Next we must factor in the screen resolution that these would be played on. Unlike my desktop the effective resolution of a 13” MBP is either 2560*1600 or 1280*800 while the 15” sits at 2880*1800 or 1440*900.

The reason for multiple resolutions is Apple’s “Retina” displays. Basically they render in an effective resolution of 1440*900 but each pixel is actually four pixels. Either way rendering at the lower resolution should look fine when gaming – providing either ~50% or ~63% fewer pixels than my display.

So even though the GPU would be weaker on the 13” MBP the processor would be better and the screen smaller (and thus asking less of the GPU). Tempting…

Perhaps this helps illustrate the conflict it generates in me!

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