13 inch vs 15 inch. Practicality of it for college student?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by person123, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. person123 macrumors member

    Jul 2, 2010
    Hello all, I've been reading up on macrumor forums and it seems to me a large portion of people are interested in or currently have a 15 inch MacBook pro. Im a big tech guy but have never owned a macbook, but I'm looking to buy one now for college. I know the 15 inch is the powerhouse of the Pro line and I know people use it for video editing and such, but I don't think everyone who has a 15 utilizes it for professional reasons. Im going to be casually using my Mac for PowerPoints, notes and online homework as well as some media consumption. Does the 15 inch offer any substantial benefit? I'm really curious as to why it's the choice of many people. Would y'all recommend it over the 13 inch?
    Im sure the smaller is more portable, but is there any noticeable difference between the two if it's used for pretty low power tasks? And what about 8gb ram, is that sufficient to have PowerPoint, iTunes, safari and iMessage open? Thanks
  2. swein1992 macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2015
    I currently have the 2012 retina 15" version and I carry it to campus everyday. To be honest, it is a bit on the heavy side. 13" would be perfect in the portability department.
    As for performance, my MBP has 8gb of ram but I never notice any lag or stutter. It is still running blazing fast. For your purposes, you should be perfectly fine.
  3. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I would lean towards the 13" model. It is more than powerful enough for the workload you describe (overkill, in fact) and the lighter weight and smaller footprint will really be appreciated as you carry it around with you every day.
  4. BondFancy macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2016
    I'll play devils advocate, I'm a college student purchasing the 15", is it overkill for what I need it for? Yes. However, I don't have a desktop computer so for the extra screen real estate it is worth it. I am switching from a 5.2 lb 15" laptop to the 4 lb of the new 15" so for me it's an upgrade in portability regardless. At the end of the day do you prefer portability or screen real estate? If you have a desktop I'd suggest the 13", if you do not have a desktop get the 15". If price is a big problem get the 13". If longevity is a priority get the 15".
  5. npolly0212 macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2015
    You will want the 15"
    being a current college student, the 13" doesn't cut it for me. Struggle in order to have more then a single window open since the screen isn't all that big. Also not powerful enough for some stuff i do for computer science
  6. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    15" is terrible for carrying around or fitting on a desk vs a table
  7. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I would add a monitor (with usb-c connection) at my desk for more real estate when necessary.

    I work professionally on a 12" Surface Pro, and with today's high resolution screens and quick switch trackpad gestures I rarely feel pinched for space when working on job sites.
  8. BondFancy macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2016
    Eh debateable, depends on your classroom seating. If it's tiny desks or chair rests yes, but if it's stadium seating with tables it's not an issue.
  9. boast macrumors 65816


    Nov 12, 2007
    Phoenix, USA
    What powerful stuff do you do in CS? And does your school not provide server farms?
  10. GoldfishRT macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2014
    I'm a college student as well and I specifically got rid of the 15" because I was sick of carrying it around. It's fine if it's the only thing you're carrying with you but on top of books and other ****, after a 12 hour school day, it would get old.

    The new 13" would be my choice. Hell, if you like the keyboard and don't want to buy a monitor or anything like that I'd suggest a 12" MacBook.

    I bought an iPad to handle most of my on-site school computing next semester after I finish up the coding program I'm in.
  11. BondFancy macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2016
    Get your books in PDF form :p
  12. protoxx, Nov 1, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016

    protoxx macrumors 6502a


    Oct 10, 2013
    13" for a college student taking to class, to library, etc. big difference. There will be times you will leave the 15" behind.

    If you want a bigger screen you can have a monitor/tv back at dorm to connect and have more area when you need/want it. Could add a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for more flexibility.

    If you have a ipad you can utility like duet to have the ipad be additional screen. If you don't have one the price difference between the 13" and 15" would go along way for the cost.
  13. xb2003 macrumors 6502


    Jan 18, 2016
    Ima college student and I love my 15. I also own a fairl decent PC I built mainly for gaming, but I didn't bring it to college. This is the initial reason I went with the 15. I carry it and my 9.7 iPP everywhere. I'm also a big(er) guy, so a heavier backpack doesn't bother me.

    I use mine for everything you describe, occasional gaming, and audio work: DJing and recording mainly. Coming from a desktop with 3 24" monitors, I don't find the differece between the 13 and the 15 all that significant. It is nice for a program like Logic or Mainstage that tries to fit a lot of different controls on one screen.

    Honestly I didn't need to buy the 15. If I had to do it over, I'd still buy the 15. But if for some reason I couldn't buy the 15, I would get along with the 13 just fine.

    In your situation, if you can afford a 15 but don't need it, id consider getting a 13 and an iPP. You can even use it as a second monitor. The 12.9 is great for that.
  14. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    +1 for the portability argument. For your use you won't lose anything by going with the 13". The 15" isn't huge by any means, but there is a difference, and it will fit into a smaller bag for sure.
  15. Batman89 macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2010
    Get a 13" for portability, you're a college student so you'll be moving around a lot.

    Get a monitor for your room/dorm to have a bigger screen when needed.

  16. geachy92 macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2012
    Since the power of the 15" isn't that important to you, just the screen size and its benefits, take the cost difference between the 13" and the 15", buy a 13" and a monitor (keyboard and mouse optional) and you've got the best of both worlds for the same price as a 15".
  17. Mechinyun macrumors 6502

    Jun 24, 2010
    The new 13 inch is perfect for surfing reddit, coping wikipedia articles for term papers, surfing pronhub and making gifs. Just what a college student needs, all for the inflated price of two thousand plus dollars. No problem though, just throw it on the high interest rate credit card you signed up for on your first day or have mommy and daddy pull money out of their retirement so you can walk around with a over priced piece of sht status symbol.
  18. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    You could always buy a monitor for your desk and probably still come in at under what the 15" would cost. I have a hard time fitting my 15" cMBP in some lecture halls, looking forward to downsizing to a 13" in the near future.
  19. jacob_w macrumors member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Not sure why you are making so many assumptions about college students today. Yes, there are many people like what you described, but I know many making decent amounts of money during the school year picking up freelance work. I do structural analysis for my professor for his research and many of my friends in computer science/software engineering code and design websites for startups.
  20. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    Hmm. A MB Air will run an external monitor, too.

    I'll say it: Most computers you can buy can run almost anything you'll need to do for classwork. The only time you might wish you had more grunt is if you're crunching huge data sets (are you running an atomic particle collider?) or dealing with lots of multimedia editing. The school would, or should be able to, run these things on their own computers, too.

    What I'd be thinking about is screen real estate and portability. (re-reading the thread, I guess this is the common factor)

    Screen size helps when you want to see multiple windows at the same time. My example was using the built-in Split View mode to put the lesson plan in Safari on the left half of my screen and a Pages document for notes on the right. It really wasn't bad on my 13" non-retina MBP, but it would've been nicer on a 15" (and awesome on a long-gone 17").

    For portability -- eh, I can't say personally, because it's been over four years since I switched from a 15" MBP to my 13". Either one is lighter than a stack of books, but the 13" is easier to carry in a greater variety of bags; it's not much bigger than a typical spiral notebook. The new 15" isn't too big, either -- its footprint is barely bigger than my older 13", in fact.

    If you're willing to put up with an external monitor -- moving it ever year/semester, taking up desk space, enjoying it in your room and then not enjoying it when you're not in your room, etc -- get an Air.

    Heck, man, I'd consider a 12" MacBook, but this depends on how many peripherals you have now and whether you're willing to jump into the USB-C world.
  21. blackberrycubed macrumors 6502a

    Feb 26, 2013
    college is to party and have fun.... what you need a MBP for ?????
  22. Mechinyun macrumors 6502

    Jun 24, 2010
    True that, just hungover and feeling salty :/
  23. protoxx macrumors 6502a


    Oct 10, 2013
    Pretending you were in college like 30 years ago.
  24. /V\acpower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2007
    Honestly, i'd suggest buying a 13' and use the money you saved to buy a very nice screen for when you are working at home.
  25. magamo macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2009
    It sounds like you can get by even with 12" MacBook. If you have a desktop or monitor of decent size, I'd say you should get 13" unless you find it particularly important to have a little more screen real estate on the go.

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