New Hotness

I just took delivery of a 13” MacBook Pro last week. As I tend to do these days, I got a refurbished one, but got it tricked out with an i5 2.6GHz, 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. The big SSD will be a major plus when dealing with gigabytes worth of photos on the go, and I’m glad to finally be able to store my entire music collection on a laptop for the first time.

When I actually checked the specs of the machine that arrived, I was surprised to find Apple had sent a 2.8GHz i7 (with the other specs being the same as I’d ordered). This is normally a $200 upgrade, but was presumably due to lack of inventory as this model approaches being refreshed. So, as it worked out, I got a $2,958 laptop for $2,324 (inc. California sales tax) — refurb being identical to new with the exception of the vanilla packaging. So if a box is worth over $600 to you, going this route probably isn't for you. This is even better when I think that the equivalent cost of the same machine in the UK would be over $3,800 (a major WTF in itself, but not really helped by the current high exchange rate).

Firstly, I’m surprised I don’t hear about more people doing this as I find it a very affordable way of owning Apple gear. Even taking UK duty into account, cost of ownership becomes very low if you buy refurb in US and then sell in the UK within a year or two while the spec is still reasonably current.

Secondly, and the real reason for this post, is that whilst I’m really liking it so far (especially the gorgeous display) the i7 is undoubtably running hot at times.

I had borrowed a 2.6GHz i5 before receiving this and had been really impressed with the battery life, which for once seemed to be as advertised lasting a full day’s worth of use. Not thinking about charging at all during a day’s use was a beautiful thing, but I’ve yet to make it through a day without needing to with the i7.

Right now, I’ve got nothing but a bunch of Safari and Chrome tabs open, Mail, TextMate, iTunes playing, and a few utilities, and the fans are kicking in a fair bit. To me, this is almost a deal breaker — a warm, noisy laptop is unpleasant, and certainly not what I’d expect from a high-end Apple one. My previous 13” MacBook Air would on occasion spin up the fans for certain tasks (cough, Flash), but generally it was pretty silent.

I’m curious to hear what others’ experience are with the 13” Retina i5 and i7’s in real world use — how battery life and heat is, and if there are any key offenders for this. I’ll have to make a decision within the 14 days whether I’m keeping this, despite the free upgrade.

Despite the title and illusory tones, the photograph comes from a howlingly cold peak somewhere in Utah, but who can argue with a sky like that.