13 inch vs. 15 inch MBP Decision?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bowlman23, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. bowlman23 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #1
    I'm debating on picking up a MBP this week, but I'm so torn on which model to get. I'm deciding between the 13" base model or the 15" base model.

    The stuff I'm going to be using it for is email, internet, InDesign, Photoshop and on occasion, some movie editing (with FCE or Final Cut Studio).

    I like the 13" because of the portability and the battery life...but the processor isn't quite as powerful as the i5 and the graphics aren't as good either.

    The 15" is a nice machine and much more powerful, but it's $600 more and that's nothing to sneeze at. The good part is the resale value will be much higher.

    I plan on keeping the laptop for around 3 years. Your suggestions?

    Thanks everyone.
     
  2. Detrius macrumors 68000

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    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    #2
    If you can afford it, get the better machine.
     
  3. peapody macrumors 68040

    peapody

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2007
    Location:
    baltimore, md
    #3
    Depends on where you will be using your mac the most. On the go or at home? To be honest, I take my 15" out all the time to rotations and and to the coffee shop etc. I love having the extra screen real estate, the power and the HRAG screen :cool:. I have had a Unibody macbook before and while speed etc wasn't an issue - I was unhappy with the screen.
     
  4. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    US
    #4
    peapody makes an excellent point -- how mobile do you need to be with the system and under which circumstances will you be doing your work?

    $999 for a base 13" Macbook Pro vs $1700 for a base 15" Macbook Pro (Microcenter in-store prices) is a $700 differential. That's plenty for adding a 24" external 1080p monitor, keyboard, power adapter, etc. to a 13" and having a lot of screen real estate when working from your desk. HDD and RAM upgrades are most economically done after purchase with components you've acquired elsewhere.

    IMHO, 13" is fine for email & web, though a little tight for photoshop -- PS and Lightroom both benefit greatly from an external 1920x1080 monitor.

    Video editing will likely benefit from the i5 vs C2D cpu to some degree; how much time you intend to really spend doing video is something to factor into your decision.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #5
    Go to your local apple store (or where eve else they sell them) and check both out. Ultimately its your decision, and seeing the actual size/weight/performance will aide your decision.
     
  6. britneyfan macrumors 6502

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    Sep 18, 2010
    #6
    I got the 13". Coming from another 15" computer I love it and it's perfect.
     
  7. bowlman23 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 20, 2007
    #7
    I would usually use the machine mostly at home. I like the idea of the portability on the 13" and the price. But, I can definitely see the benefit of the larger screen, and I would love the hi-res display. But it's a definitely bigger, and the price is $600 more (education discount).

    As far as video editing, I could say that it wouldn't be more than once a month or so (at least right now), but I would definitely use it often for InDesign and Photoshop.
     
  8. ajohnson253 macrumors 68000

    ajohnson253

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    #8
    Can't got wrong either way, If you are budgeting yourself stick to the 13" and save your money you wont know the difference. Besides the sizes of the screen. I went from the 13" to the 15". I went with the 15" a week later because I realized the 13" screen was too small for me.
     
  9. duggram macrumors 6502

    duggram

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    #9
    Now that's a trick answer! Which do you think is the better machine?

    I have an '08 15" MBP. It's big, heavy, has a great screen, but it's big and heavy.

    I've had a 13" MBA for about 6 weeks. It has the same size screen as the 13" MBP. For me the 13" screen is enough, but then I travel every week for work, so I am biased toward small, lighter and easier to handle. Besides you can always get a large monitor if want.
     
  10. skiltrip macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    New York
    #10
    I have a 13", and I got it mostly because of the price. The 15" simply wasn't even a consideration at the time because of the price point. I do simple movie editing in iMovie, and for that the 13" works just fine as far as screen real estate goes. But in the CPU area I find it lags a little bit. Little bit annoying. I also use Photoshop quite a lot, and for that I find the 13" screen pretty cramped. I always prefer to use my 23" ext monitor for PS work, but I can't always be at my home desk. My third use and heaviest usage is for audio production with Pro Tools and Presonus Studio One. For this the 13" screen isn't as bad as you'd think, but again the CPU comes up short quite often if I hit it too heavily with virtual instruments and guitar amp sims.

    Because of the shortcomings ive listed I'm definitely considering upgrading to a 15" in 2011 and selling my 13". Fortunately these macs seem to hold their value pretty well, and I should be able to save up the difference as long as the base 15" stays at the 1799 price point, or (one can hope) actually drops.
     
  11. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
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    Boston
    #11
    Thats what I have and I spent the day working, using it. I found the 13" screen to be adequate, and the over all size to be better then the 15". I've owned a 15" Mac since the powerbook days, but this is a nice form factor and the performance is great.
     
  12. AdamRock macrumors 6502a

    AdamRock

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Location:
    Toronto
    #12
    photoshop and stuff would be much better on a core i5 15"

    but if you will be mainly checking mail then photoshop it would be more worth it to get a 13" and hook it up to a bigger screen when photoshopping.
     
  13. mark28 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    #13
    The anti-glare screen is better for photo & video editing so the 15" is best I'd say for you.
     
  14. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816

    calaverasgrande

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
    Location:
    Brooklyn, New York.
    #14
    Th 15" (5.6lbs)is not that much different in weight than the 13"(4.5). It's a bit bigger in size but not a whole lot. The real difference to me is the processor. The 13"s Core 2 Duo is an older architecture that has remained essentially the same while they scaled up the speed of the memory buss. The i5 on the 15" is a newer chip that I believe will age more gracefully as a couple years go by. That's hpw I personally justified buying the 15" MBP a couple weeks ago!
    Also, the speakers on the 15" sound better than the tiny ones on the 13.
     
  15. bowlman23 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #15
    It's so hard to decide which one! The 15" sounds like the better computer, but jeez, $700 difference is a tough sell.

    I guess it depends how long I will keep the computer. If it's one of those things where I would buy one every 2-3 years, it's worth it to go with the 13". If I wanted a laptop to take a long leap, the 15" sounds like the better choice.

    It's really a tough decision. I like reading what people's experiences are. I know it sounds like I'm fishing, but it actually helps me make a decision. It really does.
     
  16. Andyjack macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Location:
    Durham UK
    #16
    Or...

    How about a 13" mbp and iPad for the same money?

    I had the same 15" vs 13" dilemma recently, but once I reached the above conclusion, I was delighted and have never regretted it. I Find the 13" quite capable of supporting my work as a graphic designer using shop, indesign etc (I hook up a monitor when I want to work big), the size and weight advantages in portability work for me (i previously used my employer's 15" so I have compared the two), and having two versatile devices in the house is so much more convenient, as is being able to take the mbp out and about without leaving those at home with nothing to use. This was a big consideration for me as I went from a desktop at home, to a portable solution which I was bound to want to remove from the house. Worth thinking about if this is to be your main home computer.

    I have found my solution a far better use of the price difference than paying 50% more for something a bit faster and a bit bigger, but essentially doing the same job for me. Maybe I didn't need the power and you do, just make sure you answer that question honestly and
     
  17. bowlman23 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #17
    I actually have an iPad now. I love it. Especially for the portability. I'm leaning towards the MBP 13" right now because MicroCenter has it for $1000. It's such a good deal.
     
  18. peapody macrumors 68040

    peapody

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2007
    Location:
    baltimore, md
    #18
    An iPad and a 15" is a great combo! Especially if you pair the ipad with a keyboard and use docs to go to take notes and such for school.

    Of course it is up to you, but from my experiences I could not settle for the 13". Photoshop and final cut has been a pleasure on my 15".

    Just go out and try both machines!
     
  19. Built macrumors 68020

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    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #19
    I have, in addition to my MBP 13, various 13, 15 and 17 inch laptops at home, as well as 2 netbooks.

    I travel a lot and the 13.3 inch is the "sweet spot" for travelling laptops. Big enough to give you enough screen real estate but small enough to fit comfortably on an airplane tray table, and light enough to not weigh down my bag.

    I find the 15 too unwieldy for travel, and the netbooks far too small.
     
  20. peapody macrumors 68040

    peapody

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    Oct 7, 2007
    Location:
    baltimore, md
    #20
    The MBA 13" is the ultimate "sweet spot" for traveling. Very powerful and fast, and thin and light.
     
  21. Andyjack macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Location:
    Durham UK
    #21
    Sorry, took me that long to retype the rest of my last post, I missed your replies.

    If I'd more cash I would probably have gone for the 15", but once I decided on the laptop/iPad combo, that was it.

    In practice, it works out fine, but it did feel like a bit of a risk at the time.
    I'm not doing heavy stuff with lots of layers on it as it's more to support me in the ideas process when I'm not at my (well, somebody else's!) mac pro at work.
    Maybe by the end of 3 years I'll be maxing out the ram and throwing faster hard drives at it to try and drag it along like a dog that doesn't want to go for a walk (Purchases I can sneak past the better half), but I don't know how much real difference they would make either. For now though, it will do.
     
  22. mickliq macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Montreal
    #22
    I'm pondering the same question. I had a 13" unibody MacBook (equiv to today's 13" MacBook Pro) for a year or so, until mid 2009. It was my first Mac after MANY years of Windows laptops and it was a revelation. I travel A LOT and it made a perfect travel companion AND desktop replacement at the time (with a few 24" external displays hooked up). The only thing I disliked was the low resolution of the 13" display when travelling...

    I had to give up the MacBook 18 months ago when I took on a corporate position that did not support Macs (my wife inherited the MB and still has it!). Since then I have 24" iMac 2009 (with a 2nd 24" display) that I use from Home Office (the 2nd display runs Parallels full-time), and a corporate issued HP notebook (running Win XP!). I never use the HP unless I'm travelling to corporate sites.

    I will be moving "back" to my consulting business and thus will lose the HP (thank god!). I'm now faced with the decision of what to get this time around. The iMac is plenty fast and I probably couldn't go back to a slower C2D (eg the 13" MBP). I run a lot of apps at one time (including Parallels, Outlook Mac/Excel/Word/Powerpoint, Chrome). As a hobby I do a fair amount of media encoding (eg AVI to .m4v/iTunes) to get videos onto the iPhone/iPad, and some iPhoto, but no Photoshop etc.

    So...I find myself at odds over the 13" MBP size (perfect) vs. 15" MBP power/resolution (I would definitely want the 1680 x 1050 hi-res). I've looked at the 15" in-store many times and I cannot really judge the impact day to day when travelling. It's not materially heavier but the size seems LARGE. I remember moving from a Dell Latitude 15" to my MBP and it was like going on a huge diet.

    The ideal solution would be a 13" MBP with the MBA resolution (1440 x 900) and an i5. I guess I'm dreaming. In the interim, I'm left with lots of compromises. Ultimately, I'm sure if I need to buy now (before the next round of upgrades) I'll end up upgrading to the new 13" MBP....

    Any road warriors who have upgraded from a 13" to a 15" for power/resolution reasons and regretted it or not?
     
  23. somology macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    #23
    If you can find one that fits your budget, go Apple Refurb 15". Better investment overall over the long term.

    I was looking at the same setup, but ended up going with a 17", so maybe I am not one to give an unbiased opinion on smaller screen sizes. HaHa. Got a great deal though.
     
  24. shelhed217 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Location:
    VA
    #24
    I travel every week via plane for work, and i recently received as a gift a 15 in MBP to take in place of the company supplied Dell. It is a little tight on the airplane but it fits, i am just careful of the person in front of me dropping their seat back. Otherwise i love it, i think the size is much easier for me to work and play on. I bought the base 15 i5, but i am debating trading it in for the I7 because i am running into processor issues with parallels/windows 7/ and games. Otherwise the performance has been flawless
    Good luck with the decision!
     
  25. Wheeler macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
    #25
    Amen to that- I'm dying for a high res 13- I have a 13 mbp and would trade it for the higher res air if I could get 8 gigs in there.

    If you are going to do lots of graphic work go with the high res 15- I love my 13 but hate, hate doing graphics work on it's screen- just not enough space

    My bro went highres 15 and 11 air, very happy
     

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