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Old Jul 19, 2014, 01:19 PM   #1
dbgt
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Customized $1799 rmbp 13 vs Base $1799 rmbp 15 (both late 2013). Help!

So this is my "problem".

I have always been a Windows desktop (build your own) user. In my 26 years I have only owned 1 laptop (windows) that i bought in 2005 and used it until 2010.

I currently live in Japan as a PhD student and I need a notebook! I have been researching for months about different options and I concluded that as far as notebooks go Apple seems to make the best overall ones .

I have been trying to decide for weeks which macbook pro to get. I can get a customized i5 2.6 ghz dual core, 16 gb ram, 512 gb ssd macbook pro 13 for $1799 with student discount or the base 15" model (i7 2.0ghz quad core, 8gb ram, 256gb ssd) for the same price with the student discount.

I have read and read tons and tons of reviews and forums but still cant 100% decide. I have went to the Apple Store twice and play with both models and i just seem to like both! (for different reasons of course). Yesterday i pulled the trigger and ordered the customized 13", paid in cash but the order has still not been processed (maybe because its weekend). I dont feel 100% convinced of my decision and I keep thinking and thinking "What if..., What if..."

I brought from my home country my desktop computer which i built almost 3 years ago (wow time passes so fast!), so I have a powerful pc at my home here in Japan (i5-2500k quad core @ 4.1 ghz, 16 gb ram, gtx 570, etc).

The macbook will be most of the time sitting at my desk in the University -probably connected to a 27" monitor (maybe the Dell U2713HM as I am planning to get it if I get the 13 mbp)-. Of course I will use it on my trips to conferences, and different parts of the university, so portability and battery time is very important i think.

As a PhD student I will use it to read a lot of papers, researching, presentations, some specialized software for comparing and analyzing CT scans (which i think is not very demanding), extreme multitasking, VM windows, probably sometimes HD video watching.. and some amateur video and photo editing occasionally.

I also want this notebook to last me (in good condition) at least 4 years as that is the duration of my PhD.

13 Pros:

Size
Weight
Battery
more ram and ssd

15 Pros:

Quad core (future proof)
Iris Pro
Bigger screen

I have read that in this cases the "smart decision" is to go with the 15" but i just love the portability of the 13", is it worth paying the same amount of money of the base 15" for a customized 13"?? do i need quad-core?? will the dual core be very laggy in 2 years?? will the 15" be really that different to carry around??

I keep asking myself this questions over and over

mmmmm

cant decide.......

Would love to read more opinions about this.

ありがとう!

Last edited by dbgt; Jul 19, 2014 at 03:12 PM.
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Old Jul 19, 2014, 02:09 PM   #2
Orr
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Both of your choices are excellent machines. In terms of portability (specifically footprint), the 13" is as good as it currently gets. The 15" is very light and thin for its size, but it still has a significantly bigger overall footprint.

The Iris Pro in the 15" has significantly more power under the hood, which if you are running demanding multi-threaded programs frequently will be better. For standard usage, they will be nearly identical and both should easily be fine for at least the next 4 years.

Personally I think it comes down to how much you anticipate taking it on the go. If it's a daily thing, I'd probably lean towards the 13", but if it's only a few times a week and it will primarily be your desktop replacement, then the 15" is ideal.

For the amount of $ you're shelling out, I'd much rather have the 15" for the additional power and screen-size. Either machine will easily handle all your programs and both are top notch.
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Old Jul 19, 2014, 04:21 PM   #3
cruisin
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Quote:
read a lot of papers, researching, presentations, some specialized software for comparing and analyzing CT scans (which i think is not very demanding), probably sometimes HD video watching.. and some amateur video and photo editing occasionally.
For this workload it seems that it does not matter which one you choose as none of these tasks are especially demanding for a modern laptop. The 13 inch has officially 1 more hour of battery which could help for presentations. For my 15 inch, if I turn down the brightness I can get around 10 hours (compared to the official 8) of Word and light Safari use (no HD videos). Avoid using Flash and Chrome as they will drain the battery much quicker. Your use may vary. Also, you might enjoy a second monitor more vs. a 2 inch bigger screen since you mentioned researching and comparing CT scans.

Quote:
extreme multitasking, VM windows
This is where you need to see if you need the ram or the quad core. Personally I would prefer the ram and the storage, as the CPU usually is fine for many tasks and you didn't mention rendering or a high CPU usage app.

The GPU is really important if you use OpenCL or need better graphics for games. People do play Skyrim on the MacBook Air (weaker than Iris), so the Iris graphics are not terrible just not the absolute best. HD video will work for sure.

A SSD is a much bigger boost to multitasking than the CPU in my opinion. If you never used one, now you will wonder how you put up with a mechanical drive. Your VM will eat some of your storage as will your media stuff (photos, iTunes, etc.) and school stuff, so maybe this will help with a decision.
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Old Jul 20, 2014, 08:51 PM   #4
AxoNeuron
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I bought the base rMBP two years ago and I have loved it ever since. Quite the amazing machine. I don't think I would have done well with the 13", could never stand the low resolution display. But it is your personal preference, you would get double the storage with the MBA you customized.

Also, it's painful that Apple no longer puts a discrete GPU on the base retina MBP. If you intend to do anything with all those pixels the discrete GPU is a must.
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Old Jul 22, 2014, 12:47 PM   #5
dbgt
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Thank you very much for your replies! you all gave very good points, i think tomorrow i will go again to the apple store.... my macbook pro 13 is expected to arrive between the 26 and 28, im thinking hard if i should stick with it or cancel the order
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Old Jul 22, 2014, 02:26 PM   #6
mad3inch1na
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbgt View Post
Thank you very much for your replies! you all gave very good points, i think tomorrow i will go again to the apple store.... my macbook pro 13 is expected to arrive between the 26 and 28, im thinking hard if i should stick with it or cancel the order
You may want to consider getting an 8GB/256GB 13". It will most likely serve you just as well as the maxed out version.

If I were spending the same amount on both computers, I would opt for the 15" just because the screen and the power outweigh the 1 pound weight difference for me. It will have a better resale value as well.
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