Macbook pro 13" + External Monitor vs. Macbook pro 15"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by lakkadshaw, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2010
    Hello eveyone,
    please help me out with this one.
    Should I buy a macbook pro 13" starting model($1200) + External monitor or should I get the macbook pro 15".
    I am low on budget, and for the 15" I will have to expand my budget a little, if it is really worth it($1700) then I am ready to expand my budget.
    Please help me out.
  2. macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2007
    It would be helpful to know what kinds of things you plan on doing with the computer. You might also try searching previous threads because I know this question has come up many times before.
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2010
    I am a computer engg. student.
    I'll be doing C++, Java, Android and Web Development(php, Ruby, Python).
    I never bought a mac before and this will be my first Mac, and as I am buying a Mac will also do programming in Objective-C for Mac and for iPhone.
    Basically I require a computer for programming and internet.

    I have search the forums but I a have found threads regarding to older version of Macbook pro 13".
  4. jordanr1186, Mar 13, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2011

    macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
    simi valley, ca
    I would go with the macbook pro 15" and an external screen from someone else other than apple(unless you can also afford a 27" apple monitor which is beautiful), with an ergotron desk mount for the monitor. Two monitors are wonderful, and helps productivity tremendously. I have a 13" macbook, and I wish I had a 15" macbook pro, but I was on a budget as well. It works, so if you really don't want to increase the budget, a 13" with a external screen will work, because that's what I have. :) I think bigger is always better if you can afford it with monitors.

    My setup:
  5. macrumors 68030


    May 30, 2002
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    I don't know anything about coding … but I'm curious if you can do ALL those on OS X - especially if class is geared to Windows based machines - without issue. If you cannot and require VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop to use Windows then any of the current machines Core i5/i7 will do you well.

    For your budget … I say hold out just a tad - let your dough interest for 30days to help the budget, and keep an eye on the refurbished store pricing you may luck out on the 15" pricing by -$100US.

    Best to get the 15" (low end) and use whatever external monitor you have for now. down the road then get the mount+LCD.

    Currently the Apple Display does not support Thunderbolt (so no daisy chaining the high data speeds), only MiniDisplay port - storage performance using the native drives is at a premium.
  6. macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    Well look you're not wrong. :)

    To the OP: Depends on your work environment. If you're always on the go (working from the library, coffee shops, and etc) then definitely the 15. If you're most often working from home, then you'll want an external monitor no matter which laptop you get. FWIW, even the 13" is heavy enough if you combine it with books and carry it around long enough.
  7. macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2010
    Ditto what Mikey7c8 said. Plus if you're going to be programming on the go and get the 15", give serious consideration to getting high-res, plus maybe matte display as well. My 1920x1200 15" can feel restricted sometimes, particularly while programming android. Having an editor, an emulator, and a window with adb logcat running it in takes up a lot of space.
  8. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2010
    Right now I can afford a core2duo macbook pro 15".

    Originally released mid 2009
    -inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
    4GB memory
    500GB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive 
    SD Card Slot
    -in 7-hour battery
    NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 
    9600M GT with 512MB
    Illuminated keyboard
    which cost around $1,439, the core i7 model(refurb) cost $1,599.00 which is too much, my budget to buy a laptop is of $1200 and I can expand it to $1439 but not till $1,600.
    So should I get a core i5 macbook pro 13"(new) or core2duo macbook pro 15"(refurb).

    And I'll buy a non apple monitor,and jordanr1186 thanks for suggesting a mount it will be really cool.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2010
    I vote you get the new 13" Core i5 MBP. I just switched from last year's 15" (base Core i5) model to this year's 13" base model. The difference in screen size isn't that dramatic. I like the smaller size and less weight.

    The i5 will be plenty powerful for what you need.

    *Edit: Plus the 13" MBP will be $1100, assuming you can use your student discount... (plus tax)
  10. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2010
    Tell me the final answer should I get new Macbook pro 13" low-end or new Macbook pro 15" low-end.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2010
    Peterborough, Canada
    The 13" low end will suffice. Unless you want to play games on it just go with the 13" and invest in a nice IPS external monitor with the money saved.
  12. macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    Can you wait for the Back to School promotion? If so, you'll get a free iPod Touch after rebate which you can then sell and apply towards your computer budget. These are just example numbers, but:

    $1200 for the latop
    $200 for the iPod Touch
    -$200 for the iPod Touch rebate
    -$200 for selling the iPod Touch (YMMV)
    $1000 net cost for your new laptop (compared to $1200 paid for the laptop outright).
    *not including taxes and whatnot if applicable.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Mirai 11

    Aug 3, 2005
    Why not the high end 13 inch?
    Don't be swayed by the bigger screen of the 15 inch and the graphics card.
    The 13 inch will suffice.
    You know it makes sense :)
  14. macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    I use a 13" Macbook (original Aluminum, not "Pro") for programming. I use it with a 22" external monitor.

    I don't feel that a 15" display provides enough real-estate for most programming tasks. It will do in a pinch, and the 13" will do about as well in a pinch.

    So, go with the 13" for greater portability.

    I believe the very latest model (not sure if available yet?) will support two external monitors. I wouldn't try to do any kind of programming with less than 2 big monitors. (I currently use one 22" monitor on OSX and 2 22" monitors on a Linux system. I do all my web browsing, PDF, etc. on the Linux system. I use the Linux keyboard/mouse, linked to the Macbook with Synergy keyboard/mouse sharing software.)

    You can get a Matrox box for older Macbooks that will display across two (or even three) monitors, but I haven't read much good about it.
  15. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2003
    Washington DC
    Get the 13". It will be perfect for what you want.
  16. macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    I use a 15" and a external. But, I use the external only when I am working on my photography, for everything else the 15" is just great. I did have a 13" and it was a bit cramped but still good. If I needed a lot of portability I would get the 13" but I need only occasional portability so the 15" is the sweet spot for my needs - mostly stationary with occasional trips.

    Also to free up some real estate I keep my dock on the side, not the bottom - it really maximizes my ability to scroll.
  17. macrumors regular

    Aug 24, 2009
    I'm a current computer science student. The 13" feels very cramped to code on, but is manageable. If you do most of your work "on the move", I'd go for the 15". If it's mostly going to where you could have an external monitor, I'd go for the 13"+external.

    I've found that the 13" MacBook with a 24" external is pretty much ideal for me.
  18. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2010
    Thanks for your replies!!
    should I get an apple monitor?
  19. macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    The only advantage of a ACD is that it works well as a docking station so you can easily keep you MBP charging... Other than that the monitor you use is personal preference. I prefer non-glossy and not so high resolution as that is much easier on my eyes.
  20. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 1, 2011
  21. macrumors 601


    Oct 20, 2008
    Yes, do. You won't regret it.
  22. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2010
    During which month they provide "Back to School" promotion?

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