13" 2.7 with 8GB RAM or 15" 2.0 with 4GB RAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bpzahl, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. bpzahl, Mar 9, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011

    bpzahl macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2011
    Hi folks,
    I'm planning on getting a new laptop in the next few weeks and wanted to ask for some advice. I've been reading all the reviews about clock speeds etc but as a non-techy person I'm not sure how to interpret all the information! I thought maybe someone could just give me a bit of advice.
    I have a limited budget and am purchasing from the UK. Budget is around what the 2.0 GHz 15" would cost.

    My question is whether I should get the 13" 2.7 GHz dual core but upgrade the RAM to 8GB, or to get the 15" 2.0 GHz but get the 7200 RPM 500GB hard drive (at the same price as the 750 GB hard drive).

    I realize these are entirely different bottlenecks to the speed but I have no idea how they would relate to the tasks that I need to run; thought folks on here might have a better sense of it all than I do.

    I will need the MBP to multitask between MS Word, Excel, Endnote, Adobe Acrobat, Mail, web browser, and Parallels + Win XP + PASW (the new SPSS statistics software). My PASW datasets are not huge, probably 500 odd cases with about anywhere between 100-300 variables. I'm a grad student so this is going to be my primary work computer. I will also be getting a 22" external monitor so display is less of an issue - I prefer portability. The 15" will be stretching it for me in terms of portability but if it's a significantly better computer for what I need to do, then I'll live with it. I don't play any games :p

    I don't do anything like heavy photo/sound/video editing. I sometimes do a tiny bit of graphics design but nothing beyond Photoshop Elements at this point. I guess if I had the machine and software I might try to edit some home videos of my kids but this is primarily a computer to finish up my PhD on! (Am currently using a 5+ year old Dell Latitude, and fearful of its capability to take me through to the end!)

    What I can't figure out is whether the quadcore would make a difference for these tasks, particularly when I run Parallels/WinXP/PASW. I've heard that some software don't even make use of all the cores so I don't know if the quadcore would be superfluous.

    I also read here (http://tech.spotcoolstuff.com/configure-new-apple-macbook-pro) that the 13" i7 isn't that much faster than the i5 and not worth the price difference; wondered if anyone had thoughts on that too?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  2. tersono macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2005
    I'd go for the 15" The extra screen real estate is useful, it's generally a more capable machine, and you can always upgrade the RAM later if you find yourself needing it.
  3. eaf7s macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8B117 Safari/6531.22.7)

    Either would be fine. I ran SPSS [for mac] intensively for years on a core 2 duo 2gb RAM machine ;) so any of the new options should suit you just fine.
  4. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    That's a tough one. Between the two, I think I would get the 13" and upgrade your RAM aftermarket. You'll pay less than half for the RAM than you would buying from Apple, plus it's a simple installation. VMs will be slower on a faster processor if they don't have enough RAM, so I think that's more important. Plus it's not like the 2.7 is any sort of slow, in fact it's actually as fast as the highest-end CPU offered in last year's 15" and 17" models.
  5. adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
  6. Naimfan Suspended


    Jan 15, 2003
    I'd go with the base 15". Faster, quad core, bigger screen, dedicated graphics, etc. And you can't add those things later on, as you can with RAM and hard drive.

    Much better value. Alternatively, get the base 13" and max it out.
  7. CFoss macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2011
    Tough decision... in the end, I would go with the 15", and upgrade the RAM down the line. You can always upgrade the RAM, but you can't upgrade the CPU/Screen estate. Plus, the MacBook Pros have been confirmed to support up to 16GB RAM. It's unlikely you'll ever need that much, but again, it's an option. RAM will constantly get cheaper and cheaper too.
  8. MarineUAV3K macrumors newbie


    Sep 8, 2010
    Definitely go with the 15" Quad Core i7. You'll never look back...

    I previously had a 13" MBP w/ upgraded ram (8GB). Granted, it was the old Core 2 Duo processor, but I regretted not having the screen real-estate afterwards. Now I have the 15" MBP w/ 2.3GHz Quad Core i7 and despite the premium I had to pay for it, it's worth every penny. I'm an engineering student that regularly uses AutoCAD and other engineering applications running on Parallels, and the 15" MBP definitely has the power to handle the tasks I throw at it, whether its intensive 3D design software or high-end gaming. The baseline 15" MBP w/ 2.0GHz QC isn't far behind in terms of performance either.

    I would definitely choose the 15" MBP. Even though you say you're not concerned w/ screen real estate because of the external monitor you're getting, if you're really concerned about mobility, I doubt you're going to cart around the monitor as well. Therefore, you might as well get the 15" MBP, and if you really do need more RAM, then you can upgrade it later yourself for a lot cheaper than what Apple will charge you.
  9. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    13". the OP already has an external, so that's not an issue. it comes down to if he need a quad-core, and he doesn't.
  10. neteng101 macrumors 65816

    Jan 7, 2009
    Base 13" instead of the 2.7, and add SSD instead plus 8GB if desired. The difference between the i5/i7 on the 13" isn't worth the price difference at all.
  11. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
  12. Treeman574 macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2011
    QLD, Australia
    I had a similar choice when getting my mbp. I decided to get the base 15" simply because I use high level graphics and hope to keep this computer for 5+ years.

    In short the 13" would be fine for your needs and don't waste your money upgrading the ram from apple. The 15" isn't that much bulkier, (I currently take it with me everyday) and the extra screen size is nice.

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