13 in v 15 in... could use some advice!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by uncletoby, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. uncletoby macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2010
    hey -- i've been agonizing between ordering the 13" or 15" MBP. i've read so many threads and can't decide. you guys are so informed and have much more experience with these machines, so i figured i'd lay out my situation and maybe you could help tip the scales for me.

    currently own:
    2008 black macbook 2.4 ghz core duo, upgraded it to 4 gigs ram myself. done me good but it's getting worse for wear, keyboard is ratty, cracks around the wrists, etc. also i don't know if webpages have gotten more demanding in recent years, but this thing went from lightning fast when i bought it to spinning wheels at unpredictable times, heating up out of nowhere, etc.

    what i use my computer for:
    fairly heavy webbrowsing, downloading and watching video, word, itunes, have a couple of windows programs i run in parallels on coherence mode, not too demanding but i can feel the drag on my system sometimes.

    i am *not* a gamer. but, civ5 is coming out next tuesday and i must be able to play this game. it's a tradition with me. the minimum and recommended specs are at this link:


    the demands of civ5 tend to point to the 15". i can get the top end one, with the i7, and the better graphics. plus, i really like the matte screen and feel it could let me use it better outdoors, around light, etc. plus i figure the extra power is overkill for my daily needs, but it's gotta help keep operations crisp, keep the spinning wheel at bay, right? i'd pay just to avoid those random 30 seconds where you have to stare at the screen while the computer decides it has some mysterious business it has to handle...

    BUT - the 15" seems like overkill if civ5 is the *only* reason tipping it over the 13". i prefer the smaller size of the 13" and the lighter weight. tho i played a bit with a friend's 15" and found it light and comfortable on my lap (and chest for super-lazy mode), the 13" is only that much lighter and more comfortable. i carry my laptop around town every day. i rely on it for entertainment and worn on several cross country flights a year. and, i *think* the 13" should be able to run civ5 in bootcamp at lower settings at least. i can't quite tell though...

    but... my first new computer in two years and i get the same processor with a tiny clock speed bump? seems dinky.

    i don't know... any thoughts? i think if i knew the 13" could play civ5 reasonably well and it wouldn't be a struggle, it'd clinch it. but if it just kinda sorta pulled it off, with gameplay laggy enough to make it unpleasant, and the system itself just felt like an aluminum repackage of my 2008 blackbook, i'd feel disappointed. i feel like i could grow used to the 15"'s size.

    money isn't an issue here. i was even considering ordering with a SSD until i read tons of posts on the subject and concluded i was better off upgrading on my own when better drives came out. (thanks for that.)

    again, thanks. i know aspects of my dilemma have been discussed in different threads but i could really use a "summary judgment" from you wise folk.
  2. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2007
    The 15 sounds like the way to go (I have the 13"). Better for video. If you're worried about the weight, then consider dumping the extra crap you carry around and get a lighter carrying case. It's only a pound heavier. Also, I've noticed a good computer backpack makes the weight difference fairly negligible. And with these, you can also leave the charger behind.
  3. Jaro65 macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    If you like anti-glare screen and think of using your machine outdoors, the 15" MBP should be high on your list. This is also one of the reasons why I need anti-glare screen.
  4. mattb2003 macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2010
    Having tried out both the 13 and 15, here is my input:

    13" integrated graphics card just wasn't cutting it for me. I also didn't like the glossy display - I had a glossy display on my old Dell, but for whatever reason, the MacBook seemed to be so much more reflective. I think the glossy looks amazing at first glance, but after using it for a few days in a row, my eyes just couldn't take it anymore.

    I opted for the 15" with the anti-glare and haven't looked back since! The screen is amazing and I haven't had a problem with the 256mb graphics card. You can set it to use the integrated as well for power savings. Nice to have the choice.

    Not sure if this helps, but this has been my experience...
  5. TopHatPlus macrumors 6502

    Aug 1, 2010
    Southern Ontario
    hello, you must note with the 13" the graphics cards use shared memory, they do not have there own. From the specs you linked to it should the game, maybe not on absolute max graphics but i have not played a civ game in years. I own the 2010 MBP i7 with the 512 MB gpu and it is quite heavenly. I can play SC 2 with all the graphics set to high. The 15 " really is not that heavy and it is the same thickness, it is 2 inches longer and 1 inch wider. So for portability its really minimal, its just screen estate for gaming, the 15" in glossy is AMAZING i love it so much it just makes the games pop out at you so much more. As far as the rest of your uses either computer will do fine but if you want to urn them all at once the i5 in the 15" will do a better job. I would recommend you go to an apple store and just pick them up and just take a good look at which one fits the bill, and the budget.
  6. bamf macrumors 6502

    Feb 14, 2008
    I was in the same spot as you - I had an early 2008 15" MBP with the 2.4 C2D processor. I really wanted the 13" form factor, but I couldn't justify getting almost no processor bump and spending that kind of money.

    The 15" 2010 base i5 has been spectacular for me. I did put an SSD in it (and used the optical bay for a storage drive), and I have to say this is by far the best computer I've ever owned.

    I bumped it to 8GB of RAM as well for all the Fusion VMs I run. Really it's a spectacular machine. I can't say enough about it.

    Go 15", you won't be disappointed.

    And unless you really feel you need the higher end 15", save your money and put it on an SSD. I know you said money is not a concern, but the value proposition in upgrading to that i7 isn't really there unless you are doing very specific things - which your usage profile doesn't seem to indicate (to me).
  7. citizenal macrumors regular

    Apr 25, 2010
    I was in a similar situation as you. Went with the 13 but after a while the small screen was starting to annoy me. Apple refreshed their systems and I was able to return my machine 46 days after purchasing it. I went with the 15 and have never had a problem. I did bump up the specs to the core i7 w/ high res anti glare and have been extremely happy. The bigger size isn't so big compared to other computers. I do have a hp envy 17 and that thing is massive and I would never just carry it around without a case like I do the mbp 15.
  8. itripped macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2010
    I'll do you one better: I have the faster 13" and when the Civ 5 demo drops (a week from Tuesday) I'll be installing it.

    I can report back to say if it's playable or not. If that's your only concern, I'd wait to hear the feedback and go from there.
  9. uncletoby thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2010
    hey -- thanks for all the advice. i ordered the 15" i7 last night. saturday delivery. also ordered a OWC data doubler with a 120 gig mercury extreme pro drive (couldn't resist) and 8 gigs of crucial RAM, both to install myself.

    it's gonna be a great setup.
  10. bamf macrumors 6502

    Feb 14, 2008
    You will be thrilled with that machine. Good upgrade choices too.
  11. mk1ap macrumors member

    Aug 22, 2009
  12. stylinexpat macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2009
    I had the older 15" MBP and bought a new 13" MBP. When I had the 15" I used to think that they battery life was very poor and the weight along with size of the computer was just too much for jugging around. If the computer is just sitting at your desk the 15" with the high resolution screen is the way to go but if you want something with better battery life that is easy to carry around I would opt for the 13".

    Having had both now I would recommend buying the 15" MBP with the high resolution screen and carrying around an Ipad or X201s for the road.
  13. yishiang macrumors member

    Oct 21, 2008
    I would recommend the 15", just for the fact that it is using a newer processor, whereas the 13" is now the only apple laptop that is still using the older C2D.
  14. Morrius macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2007
    I'm in a similar situation. I've got a mid 2008 13" MacBook (the aluminum unibody) with a 2.4 Intel Core 2 Duo. I play a lot of World of Warcraft, and I'd like to play Dragon Age on it too.

    As much as I like the portability, I can't justify spending money on something that doesn't boost my processor. The 15" MacBook Pro looks sexy, but I'm not sure if it's worth spending $1,800. The laptop never leaves my apartment, so weight isn't that much of an issue.

    Is it worth dropping that much money to go from "works good enough" to a monster?

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