My Mac Hardware Upgrades and OSX Tricks (Part 1)

PowerBook G4

When it comes to buying a new computer, here’s how to play it… If you want a desktop build your own PC (it’s easier than you think); but if you want a laptop, get an Apple.

  • Buy a refurbished Macbook Pro from the official apple store – the one with the 2nd fastest CPU currently available (super important note: none of this info applies to the new Retina models, because they’re impossible to upgrade – everything is soldered together) . After building my own computer I’ve gleaned that the price for computer parts scales linearly with performance, up until the “#1 best” part, which is always significantly more expensive than the 2nd best. For example if intel’s current line of CPUs included a 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5 GHz i7 CPU, the prices will be something like $100 $140 $180 $500. Don’t pay the “rich person” tax just to have the best one currently available – in a few months it will be 2nd best anyway. Instead, save that money and invest it in upgrades (described in the next post) that will make an actual difference in your laptop performance – I’m talking huge friggin differences. That said, definitely get the 2nd best CPU available (or the best one you can afford), it is the workhorse of your computer and it can’t be upgraded.
  • When you’re shopping for a new laptop only focus on two things: the CPU and GPU (graphics processing unit). Apple, Walmart, BestBuy, Fry’s, they are all guilty of it – their ads and employees make every effort to draw your attention away from these specs, and instead make you focus on things that don’t matter to us, like RAM and HDD (memory and hard disk drive storage) capacity. I think it’s amusing that computer ads never list the CPU or GPU specs (just: “Intel i5!“); instead they try to sell you on the RAM and HDD specs: Frys Computer AdThe reason they do this is because memory is cheap while CPU speed is expensive. So if they can convince you that a computer is worth $200 dollars more because it has a 750 GB HDD instead of a 500 GB HDD, they just scammed you out of $150 bucks. At the same time, they try to make you think an Intel 2.1 Sandy Bridge CPU is almost the same as an Intel 2.4 GHz Haswell CPU (in fact, they will never even mention the microarchitecture). Ohhh but they will indeed try to scam you. Walk into BestBuy, and ask Brendan to help you pick out a computer (there will be a BB employee named Brendan). Odds are, he’ll say something like “Hey man, think about it, 2.1 and 2.4 GHz is only 0.3 different so don’t even worry about that man, they’re basically the same. This other computer though, it has 250 gigabytes more memory, that’s a lot more bro! Do you like pictures? Yes?! Sir, trust me, you will need the one with more memory“. I of course, do the exact opposite of what Brendan suggests. In fact, when buying a laptop I care 0% about the amount of RAM and HDD capacity it has, and shop solely based on CPU and GPU specs. Why? Because I know I’m being overcharged for RAM and HDD capacity from the retailer, and will likely be upgrading both of those things anyway. So, the less RAM and HDD space it has off-the-shelf, the better; and the more cores and faster clock speed the CPU has and GPU have the better. Here’s my equation homebrew equation to help with this comparison – we’ll call it Brads Bang For Buck ( BBFB) score:

BLBB = (CPU + GPU) / (RAM * HDD)

To calculate the “BBFB” for the laptop you’re thinking about getting, first, you’ll need to look up the benchmarks for the GPU and CPU you’re considering. Go to and get the 3DMark06 Score for the GPU. Then head over to cpubenchmark and get the CPU PassMark score. Write those scores down here (along with the RAM and HDD capacity):

GPU 3DMark06: _________

CPU Passmark: _________

RAM Capacity: _________

HDD Capacity: _________

We’re looking to get a “BBFB” above 1.0 and the higher the better. Say you’re looking at a laptop with an Intel Core i7-4710MQ 2.50GHz CPU and an AMD Radeon HD 6770M GPU. Those scores would be …

GPU 3DMark06: __8023___

CPU Passmark: __10056__

RAM Capacity: ___12____ GB

HDD Capacity: ___750___ GB

Now we can finally calculate the BBFB using the standard equation:

BBFB = (CPU + GPU) / (RAM * HDD)

BBFB = 18079 / 9000

BBFB = 2.0

Finally, how interpret this value… If you’re looking at two different laptops, and they are both roughly the same price, get the one with the higher BBFB score! You’ll be glad you did.


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