13" vs 15" MBP: Are the extra 2 inches worth it?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by happidane, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. happidane, Jan 15, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2015

    happidane macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2011
    Hello fellow mac owners.

    I currently own a 13"rMBP from summer14 (Before that a 15" maxed out MBP2011, sold it because I wanted the retina experience).

    I'm on my last semester of the bachelor (going for the masters afterwards), and I'm often (almost only) working away from home, thereby making the laptop my main and only monitor. Wondering if I will gain some productivity in being able to handle multiple pdf documents and/or word documents side by side. Would it be worth gaining those 2 extra inches of real estate, and thereby be able to run at higher resolution? Running 1440x900 now on the 13inch. It will cost me alot with selling the 13" and buying the 15", but it's an investment towards my degree so every little gain in productivity counts.

    The upgrade would 'only' be for the larger screen. Don't really need the extra horsepower, but of course that will increase it's longevity.

    And yes, I've been researching a lot on this subject, but everyone is making their choices/advice based on horsepower, whereas I'm really only making the choice based on screen real estate/productivity.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Ladies over to you!!!!

    Unfortunately only you can tell that, we really can't say I am fine on a 13 inch but I rarely have a lot open and don't really work on multple PDF's.

    This really is one of those times where only you can decide what you need and wether it;'s worth it...
  3. happidane thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2011
    I'm aware that what I'm asking advice for is really up to personal preference.
    But I'm seeking people who have been asking themselves the same question, or have been working on both platforms and discovered the two inches to make it superior in productivity, or discovered that they actually were able to perform the same on both a 13 and 15inch macbook - and it all came down to the thought of "bigger is better" :)
  4. davegoody macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2003
    Reading, Berkshire, England
    Any woman will tell you that the two inches make a difference

    Seriously though, the 15" is (for my uses anyway) a better proposition.

    I did however come from a 17" MBP (still my main machine) - and the extra screen is very nice. Depends on your need of portability though. Typically the 15" has a discrete video card so performance can be better on the 15"

  5. BGBUXA macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2012
    External Monitor

    I have a 13" macbook pro, and I like to have extra screen space when I am multi-tasking. I have found that using an external monitor was helpful.
  6. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    As already previously stated, it's entirely a personal choice. For my wife, yes the 15" is required. She doesn't need a quad core processor, but 15" is what she has determined for her preferences. She finds it easier to use iPhoto, surf the internet, work on documents, email, etc.... Even with her 15" rMBP. Myself, I prefer the portability of a 13". Which is why I have a 13" MBA (although will probably transition to a 13" rMBP or the new 12" rMBA when/if it is released).

    The 15" isn't much worse to cart around than the 13", but it can be a bit of a bugger in tight places (i.e. airplanes, trains, car, library cubbies)... So just keep that in mind that you will give up some freedom.
  7. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    The more the merrier as far as pixels are concerned. Don't have a rMBP but have the older 15" MBP with high res display (1680x1050) and much prefer it over the 13" I had before or an 11" MBA which is convenient but not the most productive. Both my home and work desktop computers have two displays and I've worked that way for more than 10 years now. There has been plenty of research out there showing that increasing the pixels increases productivity.

    If you work mainly at a desk, consider buying a separate monitor for your rMBP instead of a 15" rMBP -- you will get even more productivity gain and it will cost less. the 13" rMBP will also be easier to lug around for mobile use.
  8. Mikael H macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2014
    If you expect to lose money on the deal, it's not worth it from a pure economical reason. It's will not be an investment toward a degree, but a cost on the way to it.

    I agree with @talmy: Get an external monitor (1900x1200 or higher res) and a comfortable keyboard/mouse-or-trackpad combo, and use it as your primary screen, with the laptop's built-in screen as a secondary monitor. Also, learn how to use Spaces, if you haven't already.
  9. imaccooper macrumors 6502


    May 29, 2014
    North Carolina
    I think the best way to answer this question is to balance the portability of both devices alongside the extra screen space. For me, I really need my laptop to be portable so 15'' was just a little too big to carry in a bag and use in dozens of random locations. It sounds like you will need some portability also which leads me to suggest the 13" is the better option. Also think about the added weight of a larger device (even if it is only a slight difference). Although a couple extra inches of screen space could be handy upon occasion, it does not make me want to give up the portability and lightweight aspects of the 13".
  10. happidane thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2011
    Thank you all for the great responses.

    Some of you mentioned adding an external monitor, which I already have connected to the mac when I'm at home. But as I mentioned for the next half year, I will be spending 70% of my work time away from home, thereby making the macbook's screen the one and only.

    The question boils down to if I will see (and feel for that matter) a productivity gain in writing reports, by having additional real state. Also, I'm not just making this change for fun, as it will cost close to 1000usd (living in Denmark) to make the switch.
  11. cruisin macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2014
    If your eyesight is better than average, you can set the 15 inch MacBook Pro to 1920x1200 and fit two windows (websites, documents, etc) side-by-side easily. I also use BetterSnapTool to handle the dividing of the screen. If you buy a bag for the specific size, it is very portable (in my opinion). The 15 inch runs 1440x900 originally, so you can have the same resolution but have everything slightly bigger.

    The 15 inch has better speakers, as the 13 inch has to send the sound through the ventilation holes. It also has a slightly better Iris card, but that might not affect you much. You also officially lose 1 hour of battery life because of the bigger screen.

    I don't like small screens so I would never recommend a 13 inch if you can't use an external monitor. The 15 inch will be difficult to use in cramped locations (like on a plane) but for general usage when travelling I have not found it to be too big. I think it depends on preferences but for me I would get the 15 inch version. Are you finding it difficult to use two windows at once? That might help answer your question.
  12. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    It's subjective. That being said, given the differences in horsepower, the 15" will last you longer than the 13". I will say that if you get a 13", make sure you max out the RAM. For either machine, make sure you get one size of storage larger than you think you'll need (to ensure that you never run out).

    Also, check out the Apple Certified Refuribshed Mac section of the Apple Online Store (which is often cheaper than the educational discount pricing). You might find a 15" that is cheaper than the 13" model of your choice costs new.
  13. tdhurst macrumors 601


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
    It's not the screen size, it's the resolution

    Not for me. The quality of the screen was the most important part, so the extra money wouldn't be worth it to me.
  14. Mikael H macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2014
    Unfortunately, Scandinavia has not been blessed with (official) refurb stores.
  15. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013

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