13" i7 vs. 15": is either better for clamshell mode?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by neilw, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. neilw macrumors regular

    Aug 4, 2003
    New Jersey
    It's time for a new work laptop, and I'm thinking about lobbying for a new MBP instead of the standard Dell POS. My only concern is that I'll be running in clamshell mode the vast majority of the time (driving a single 1920x1200 display), and I can't tell if either
    1. I should pay attention to anecdotal reports of excess heat and whining fans when running clamshell, or
    2. one model might be "better" than the other for clamshell mode.

    My machine should be running fairly lightly loaded most of the time, but on occasion I will drive it hard. The one thing I can say about the Dells around here is that they stay pretty quiet even when running hard and hot. I (and my neighbors) won't be happy if my fans are whining all the time at the office, though of course it would be OK on an occasional basis.

    Unfortunately there's no one around my office that runs clamshell mode to consult with, and I'm an iMac user at home, so I can't do any first-hand testing.

    So, would either the 13" i7 or the lower 15" model be more likely to run quieter? The quad-core is the main appeal of the 15" for me, otherwise the 13" would be perfect. Any thoughts? Or is this whole thing a non-issue?
  2. DTF macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2010
    I use mine (15") everyday at work connected to an external 20" monitor. I almost always have windows running in parallels through the day. Some days I close the lid and just use the external monitor, other days both. I have never heard the fans whine at all in either mode. When they do fire up they are no different than a dell I used to have.

    It does run cooler with the lid up. If you just want to use the external monitor only you can keep the lid up and put a small magnet on the case just below the left speaker. It makes the Mac think the lid is down, works like a charm.
  3. -tWv- macrumors 68000


    May 11, 2009
    I use my 15" in clamshell mode almost exclusively and have never had any issues even with gaming and video editing. If the fans do get up to higher speeds they really aren't that loud. Either model will do the job, you just have to decide whether you want the extra screen real estate.
  4. doh123 macrumors 65816

    Dec 28, 2009
    you have a perfectly good screen yet you don't want to use it...? you can use the built in and the external display like dual monitors. You can even set the external to be the primary monitor.
  5. neilw thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 4, 2003
    New Jersey
    Yes, I could.

    In general, though, I find working with asymmetric multiple monitors to be somewhat uncomfortable. Maybe I'll try it again when I get the new machine. Certainly, though, there has been no reason to waste my time with it with my current Dell and its very crappy (compared to my big monitor) screen.

    Thanks for the responses, I think I'm satisfied. Still need to decide if I want the 15"....
  6. Fastball32 macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2011
    The 15" would be a Quad Core vs Dual Core for the 13".

    Also, the 15" would have a dedicated graphics card.

    The 15" would be more powerful, but it could also run hotter, but I think the rare audible fan noise would be a small price to pay for the better overall performance.
  7. Artagra macrumors member

    Sep 6, 2007

    Can't speak to the experience with a 15", but I use a 13" i7 2.7ghz early 2011 plugged into a 2650x1440 27" Dell display as my daily driver, in clamshell mode.

    Generally, it's a great setup. I don't do anything crazy demanding, and generally only hear the fan spin up on flash videos (oh flash, I hate you) and when running the odd demanding application. Even in summer (JHB, South Africa, no aircon, so it gets warm) fan noise is not an issue for me.

    I can identify with the whole un-symmetrical screens thing. I used to use the 27" and the built in display on an HP screen + laptop stand, and while the extra real-estate was great, I found I was getting a sore neck in certain situations, and found that the smaller secondary screen felt "wrong".

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