Help: 15"PB or 12"PB??

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by crdean1, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. crdean1 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2005

    I am buying a new pb this week and am not sure which way to go. Here are my options.

    15"pb - 80gb hd, 512mb, 128mb video card

    12"pb - 100gb hd, 768mb, 64 mb video card

    Where will I notice the difference in the video ram and card type, and can someone please give me some good advice as to portability for both (screen size, sharpness, etc.).

    I will be using it mainly for school (office apps., online research at Starbucks, library), iTunes and video editing (home videos using Final Cut). No gaming.

    Thanks for any help. There is a big cost difference and I could use the 12" with my 17" display when at home.

    If it helps, I am moving from a 4 yr. old Dell with a 2.0 gb hd, and 96.0 mb ram. I know, I should be ashamed. I had to load iTunes on my parents laptop, because my Windows 98 wouldn't load it.
  2. mcgarry macrumors 6502a


    Oct 19, 2004
    It all depends on what you want/need:

    the 12" offers you more portability, more battery life, and in your listed config, more RAM and HD, I guess. the 15" offers you a nicer screen and more performance, thanks primarily to (possibly--you don't mention it) its faster processor, better video card, and double the VRAM. And of course, the 12" is cheaper (though I haven't checked the exact prices with your BTO options).

    You can always upgrade the RAM later in the 15", of course, so I wouldn't let that sway this. The biggest differences I see are the nicer video card and screen (large, but also with better available resolutions) in the 15", vs. making a priority of portability and/or savings with the 12". The performance difference should not be huge overall, but the video card options in the 15" have much better reputations than the aging Go5200 in the 12". How much you will notice this depends on what you're doing with your laptop. My 12" rev. c drives a 17" CRT with no perceivable problems, but I don't do anything too graphics-intense; I use my 12" for all the things you mention (though iMovie instead of FC) and it does fine, but a 15" would do some of them better. Others here can give you better advice on the exact differencee.

    You also don't mention whether you're going ComboDrive or SuperDrive... is that under consideration? Lastly, the 15" has some nice and potentially useful features that can make this a no-brainer if you decide you must have them: backlit keyboard, PC Card slot, FW800. In sum, the 15" is more computer for more money, the 12" less for less. What you should get depends on your needs, desires, and budget, but I hope this post has summarized the important differences.

    Here's the latest Macworld test numbers, comparing performance. There's also already a wealth of knowledge and opinion in this forum of course, on this and related topics.
  3. riwanami macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2003
    Tokyo, Japan
    I've never used a 128mb VRAM Powerbook, but I have compared a 15 inch PowerBook and 12 inch Powerbook side by side, both with 64mb VRAM. I noticed that the 15inch had a slightly brighter display. However, I found both screens to be very sharp, especially compared to my ThinkPad.

    EXCEPT FOR FINAL CUT, I think a 12inch Powerbook will suite you well, especially for office apps, internet at Starbucks, iTunes. For word processing, I never really found a widescreen to be that useful.

    However, for Final Cut, a widescreen is a must. If you have an external display, this may remedy this issue. Also make sure you get an external Hard drive for editing videos. It will put less stress on your PowerBook, and prevent it from performance problems down the line especially during rendering.
  4. Solafaa macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2004
    Daddy said not to talk to strangers
    My GF just got a nwe 12" PB, its really nice. Its very light, and the battry life is great. The screen size in the 15" is a better but if you want a portable computer then go with the 12". If you dont have a desktop i would recommend you go with the 15".
  5. crdean1 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2005
    I would be looking at the superdrive option, for the 15" it would run about $2400 with tax, and for the 12" about $1800.

    My biggest concern is running final cut. I really didn't want to spend more than $2000, but I might stretch it a little bit to get the better features and more VRAM. I want to keep this computer for at least 4 or 5 years. I appreciate everyone's feedback, I guess I have a decision to make.

    Does anyone out there use Final Cut on a 12" (and a seperate display), and if so, how has it worked for you?

    Thanks again.
  6. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    if you are not playing games, don't bother with 128 MB VRAM. (note that FCP lists nothing about the VRAM in its hardware requirement.)

    take that out of the consideration, if it helps.

    as for portability, you need to go get hold of both and compare on your own. personally, i own a 12" PB and despite its low resolution screen, i pretty much cannot tolerate any laptop that's any bigger. others think 15" is fine, i don't. so it's very a personal choice.
  7. Eevee macrumors 6502a


    Aug 10, 2004
    New Haven, CT
    Best way is to test drive both 15 and 12 " PB at your local Apple Store. That's how I decided between the 15 and 17" Try some applics there and carry it around the store.

    Get the 128 VRAM if you have the extra $. Nice to have.

    Or get the 12" PB and a 17" display.

    But go and test drive the 12 and 15.
  8. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    I'm using a 12-inch with a external screen, the only problem is the the machine runs a bit hot when using two screens, but a stand like iCurve or iceStation fixes it.

    Performance wise the 12 inch will be par with the 15 inch (at same clockspeed) except gaming and 3d progs.

    A 12 inch with a decent 17 incher is still cheaper then a 15 inch.
  9. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005

    I was in the exact same position that you were in... trying to decide between the 12" and the 15". I eventually chose the 15" because I felt that with the extra screen real-estate and the 128 vram, not to mention the higher RAM upgradeability (1.25GB versus 2.0 GB) gave me enough sense of being able to "grow with the computer a bit" (don't know how else to call it) that I was willing to sacrifice some portability.

    Basically, what it came down to for me was portability versus future potential. Here's the system I went with...

    15" Powerbook
    1.67 GHz G4
    512 MB RAM (+512 mb with RAM from Crucial for like $95)
    128 MB VRAM
    100 GB Hard Drive

    Cost me $1999 with my student developer discount, and $2168ish including sales tax.
  10. riwanami macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2003
    Tokyo, Japan
    I'm running Final Cut Express on my dad's 12 in PowerBook, which has1.33Ghz with RAM at 768MB. I think the problem with mine is not the amount of VRAM, but RAM, lack of a dual processor, and relatively slow hard drive. If you are going to use Final Cut Express or FCP on any Powerbook, I would seriously max out the RAM. The Final Cut will run fine on the 12 inch Powerbook, but I have two serious complaints:

    1. The PowerBook's display is way too small to have all the windows in Final Cut. Since the 12inch display is not a widescreen, it's difficult to see the timeline bar and the canvas all crowded or overlapped in such a small screen. If you are going to have an external display, this will solve this issue.

    2. Rendering simply takes forever with on a PowerBook. This will be the same with either the 12inch or 15inch powerbooks. Expect letting your powerbook sit and render for hours if you are working on a long video project. As for editing small clips or few minutes of family video clips, I doubt you'll have that many problems. As I said in a previous post, make sure you edit your videos on a relatively fast external hard drive, and not your Powerbook's internal hard drive.
  11. crdean1 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2005
    I would like to thank everyone for their feedback, I think I'll try to go for the 15" and not use a seperate display. The external HD would be better with the firewire 800 I guess for editing home videos. You guys/gals have been very helpful.


  12. crdean1 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2005

    Thanks everyone. I am typing from my new 15" pb (1.67 stock). I am very happy, now just need to download all my cd's into itunes and start havin some fun. This is my first mac.

    Lovin it,


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