13 vs 15 MBP... Opinions on Screen Size?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by BlackbookGuy, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. BlackbookGuy macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2012
    I am soliciting opinions from those of you who have used both the 13 and 15 inch MBPs. I am aware of the specs and the pros and cons of each model, and in this thread am only interested in the size of the two models.

    I don't have the opportunity to test these things myself, so please respond with actual anecdotes and not guesses or hypotheticals ;).

    1) Can the 15 inch model be easily balanced on chest/stomach while laying on a couch?

    2) Does the 15 inch model become a pain to lug to work every day?

    3) For games (i.e. those which both models are capable of running) and movies, does the extra screen space make it worth the extra weight on the 15 vs. the 13?

    Again, I am looking for anecdotes and not arguments about the merits of each size "in theory" - I know some of us could go on and on about that!

    Thanks for your time.
  2. ano0oj macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2010
    1. Yes, but the 15 is so big that you'll prefer to have it a little lower and not so close to your face.

    2. Not at all, some people complain but I find it very portable and a lot more easier to carry around compared to other 15 inch laptops

    3. Movies are great on a 15, dont really play games but video on this with the bigger speakers are great. Sound quality from a 15 is a lot better than a 13 IMO, so if you're into that then that might be another factor for you.

    I was in the same debate, but the 13 seemed too small for what I do(having multiple windows up, and viewable)
  3. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    You are going to get different opinions because MBP size is a personal thing, so the best thing is to buy one from Apple and return it within the 14 day period if it doesn't work out for you.

    Having said that, I sold my 15" MBP and purchased a 13" MBP because the 15" was too big and heavy for traveling. I always travel with a single carry-on bag and personal item. I solved the anti-glare display issue by using the excellent Power Support anti-glare film.

    The difference in price is also important to me. I got a brand new 13" for $909; a 15" is considerably more expensive. I don't need the quad-core CPU or discrete GPU in the 15".

    I did not get an MBA because its LED backlit, high-resolution display caused severe eyestrain and headaches. I also think that the MBP is more bang for the buck.

    The 13" MBP is used as a desktop computer connected to a high-end 24" NEC display. I'm in the market for another 13" MBP since my wife and I are currently sharing... :D
  4. BlackbookGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2012
    Thanks for the posts. They were exactly what I was looking for - tangible reasons for preferring either model.
  5. Lunchb0x8 macrumors 6502a

    May 2, 2010
    Aberglasslyn, NSW, AU
    I use my 13" occasionally, now that I have an 11.6" asus for work, the MBP doesn't see as much use.

    For when I do use the Mac though, it cops a flogging, I use it to edit video, download and sync music, check email, browse, game, consume media and social networking.

    I find it is the perfect size for lap use, table use and desk use (with a 24" monitor) when I need to do serious work.

    I personally see no need for 15" in my life, although the 13" could do with a GPU upgrade I think.
  6. Davidkoh macrumors 65816

    Aug 2, 2008
    I got a 13" Air and have had the 13" MBP which was great when I was at school but I no longer see a point in having such a small computer, will be getting the 15" MBP. For when I do travel, all the more reason to have the 15" MBP for the bigger screen and possibility to game.
  7. Zeov macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2011
    i carry my Macbook pro "15 to school every day, and usually carry it around town or at the local mall when I'm with family or friends, there is obviously a difference in weight, but its not that bad.

    The gaming difference from 13 to 15 was the reason i bought the high end 15", i can now play everywhere.. i even sometimes go to IKEA to get a coffee and play some games and get some stuff to eat.. its pretty nice :)

    I also got the high res so everything actually feels like a desktop-laptop.. which makes up for stuff that it is a bit heavier than the 13"
  8. jekyoo macrumors 6502

    Sep 11, 2007
    I have both the 13" and 15"

    1) Yes, I casually use my 15" while laying in my bed with it being on the couch. Though I do like the 13" more in this situation, the 15" isn't a killer and doesn't bother me.

    2) YES! 15" is definitely a pain to carry around. I've been carrying around the 15" lately since I recently acquired it and I can definitely feel the weight difference. It is a little more annoying but not too bad. If you want the extra screen size and power (like me), the extra weight 1lb is worth it.

    3) Hmmm, I don't play games but it is nice to have a bigger screen to watch movies. Though 90% of the time, I have the mbp hooked up to an external monitor to watch movies.

    If you're debating between the 13" and 15", I would go with the 15". I feel like people who are even considering the 15" usually regret not getting it after using the 13".
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I've owned both a 15" and a 13" and I'll be going back to the 15" but here's my experience.

    1. I used a 15 MBP while sitting in a recliner - I have to say it was probably a bit easier to use my 13" MBP.

    2. Not really, yes the 13" is more portable give the size and weight, but I've commuted with a 15" laptop for years without a problem.

    3. Yes, most definitely, the 15" has a better GPU that games can take advantage and the larger screen is a huge plus. This is why I'm upgrading, I need more screen real estate.
  10. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    1. Depends how large you are.
    2. Depends how much of a wimp you are
    3. Depends how blind you are/what games you play
  11. grahamnp macrumors 6502a

    Jun 4, 2008
    Not sure how you balance a laptop on your stomach.

    15" is the screen size for getting things done, this includes gaming. 13" is too small for anything IMO and is a compromise made for size. Just my 2c.

    Unless you play very simple or old games, the 13" is not much of an option.

    The 15" isn't all that much heavier than the 13". Not in practice anyway. The 15" is relatively light for a mid size laptop whereas the 13" is heavy for a small one.
  12. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Eat more, and don't go to the gym.
  13. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I have an MBP 17" (Heavy beast) and an MBA 13" The 13" screen on the MBA is very nice, and the weight factor does come into it. If I could and I have posted this before, I would have a 15" Air with 8GB RAM and a large SSD.

    Given that that seems unlikely for now, the Pro is still the portable of choice for work. The 15" is substantially less weighty, and has of course RAM options and a large HDD.

    If I could only buy one, I'd have the MBP.
  14. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    I feel the same way. On a desert island I would choose the Pro.

    Assuming there is wifi there :eek:
  15. takeshi74, Feb 29, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012

    takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    Anecdotes don't matter. You can collect all the anecdotes you want but it's your preference that matters. Not sure why so many don't seem to grasp that popular != what's best for you. I'd say:

    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. Yes

    But, as with any subjective matter, YMMV based on your preferences. If you don't want to make a decision based on hypotheticals and you can't check out the options for yourself (which doesn't make sense -- we all find time for what's important to us so if you can't find the time then hold off until you can) then do what was suggested above and pick one. You can always return it if it doesn't work out for you.
  16. danmcg macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2011
    CRAP. I have an extension in Chrome that it "Pull to Refresh" and it just whored me...

    I wrote a nice long post detailing how I use the 13" and 15" that I have. scrolled to the top and it refreshed the page and it's gone. Stupid extension.

    1) The gist of it was 15" is fine on my lap and reclining on my couch.
    2) I have carried the 15" to work with me for a year with no regrets.
    3) Not a gamer, but I'd venture to say that bigger is better up to a point (which we don't hit with current gen MBP.

    We (wife and I) take the 13" on the plane to watch movies due to it being a little easier to carry when we have both options. I don't have any issue with mine when it just me and I travel a lot for work.

    I'd say get the 15" and use it for a couple weeks. If you like it then keep it. If it feels to big then go and check out the 13" MBA since you are already int hat price point with the 15". I think that is a better choice (not knowing you needs, just basing on screen here) because it it closer to the res of the 15".

    Either way you are going to enjoy your new machine. I always have regardless.
  17. BlackbookGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2012

    Not sure where the frustration in your reply was coming from, but I was clear that I wanted opinions, i.e. subjective replies. I wanted to know how other people felt about these questions. Why does that bother you?

    You say check for myself, but I don't think the Apple store would really appreciate me laying on one of their tables and trying to balance the computers on myself. Likewise, if I asked if I could carry one around for a few hours (much less weeks) to determine if its annoyingly heavy, they also might take issue with that.

    Anecdotes are important, and I think everyone understands the principle behind "YMMV", which is parroted a lot around this place. It wasn't necessary to repeat it here. You also don't need to remind me of gravity or entropy...

    The only helpful thing you added in your post is try out one and return it and get the other if I am not satisfied. Good advice, but its annoying to change computers with all the backing up and etc.

    I'd like you to consider not pushing your "YMMV" attitude on a similar post next time, as its not helpful. It seems a little lazy to return a product just because I didn't take the time to research it thoroughly, no?
  18. joshuaginter macrumors regular

    May 19, 2011
    I bought a 15" MacBook Pro in 2009 for university. I thought buying big would futureproof my laptop setup for four or more years. Of course, I ended up being wrong. Within two weeks, I realized I did not want to lug my laptop around. The tables in my classes were too small to put the laptop on and type out my notes. Combined with textbooks, my backpack was frustratingly heavy.

    All of the physical aspects aside, the 15" Pro was great for battery life and screen space on the go. However, I still found I needed more screen space for spreading out reading documents, writing papers etc.

    In the long run, I sold the 15" Pro, bought an 11" Air (which I sold because I needed more storage and a longer battery life) and ended up with a 13" refurbished MacBook Pro. I also picked up an external display to fix the display size issue.

    So long story short, the 15" I found to be too heavy and I needed more screen real estate. I grabbed the 13" and an external display and all problems are fixed.

    I have no clue what it would be like to have the computer laying on top of you. I prefer an iPad for that.
  19. tim1000 macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2014
    today the trend is smaller...alot has changed in the last few years,
  20. friedkimchi macrumors regular


    Aug 13, 2011
    I prefer the 13 myself. Easier to carry and lasts longer [battery] which was one of the main reason for buying it in the first place.

    I might be an odd ball, but I actually prefer watching movies on my Nexus 7 FHD. Just lay down under the covers and watch movies till I fall asleep.

    Planning to get a 27" external monitor for coding work soon though. 13" is just barely enough.
  21. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Nov 2, 2008
    I was considering both in the last couple weeks.

    Ended up going with the 15" because a little more future proof (as if any computer is truly future proof. Something new is always coming). quad core i7 vs dual core on the 13".

    Also, it was 1 pound lighter than my 2010 15" model. So I did lose some weight there, which was something I wanted to do.

    So far, I haven't seen much of a difference. A little faster, but I haven't pushed it hard yet. Since I restored from backup, it looks the same as my old one.

    I generally use it on my lap in a recliner. If in bed, prop it up with my legs. I think a 13" I would be holding it closer.
  22. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    Although I'm aware that this is a thread which was begun in 2012, since at the moment I actually do have one of each size -- 13.3" rMBP and 15.5" rMBP I can offer my anecdotal experiences, too. I initially purchased the 13.3" rMBP back in 2013 to replace my first-generation MBA and I found, when viewing specs and such, that an rMBP would suit my needs more than another MBA would have done, plus the rMBP had the retina screen; as someone else said I felt I was getting more bang for my buck. I found that I loved the rMBP so much not just for its portability and flexibility in use but also because with the SSD rather than a "spinner" HD it ran circles around my 2012 iMac. I decided that when Apple brought out a retina version of the 21.5" iMac that I'd go for that, too, with a speedy SSD and such (the 27" iMac is just too darned big for me, the space I have available, and my needs). So Apple finally released the 21.5 iMac with retina screen -- and the specs were disappointing. SSD was not standard, for one thing. I compared the tech specs with those on the versions of the 15" rMBP and realized that in the long run I'd be better off simply buying a 15.5" rMBP that already had the specs I wanted and the costs would be about the same by the time I had Apple put together a BTO iMac with retina screen and ship it to me. Faster, too -- walked into the local Apple store, bought my 15.5" rMBP, brought it home and that was that.

    I had been using the 13.3" as a desktop replacement some of the time by positioning it on a TwelveSouth stand but had found that the screen real estate was just a little too small, especially when watching movies or doing other things. The SSD made it so much faster than the 2012 iMac with its 5400 rpm spinner that I found myself neglecting the iMac and using the 13.3" rMBP instead. That machine is great for traveling, too, and it has gone with me on trips with no issues whatsoever. I also will be using it in the bedroom more now, positioned on my lap while I sit in a chair, feet propped up on the bed. I've never tried lying in bed or on a sofa with any computer on my chest -- instead, I use the iPad Air 2 when needed in situations like that.

    I'm retired so don't commute to work everyday, with or without a laptop in hand, but definitely the 13.3" is lighter in weight than the 15.5" rMBP and that is the machine I prefer to carry with me when traveling or even just going over to a friend's house and needing a computer with me. Portability? 13.3" wins hands down.

    As a desktop replacement machine, the rMBP wins -- the larger screen real estate provides better viewing and the discrete graphics available also make a difference as well when doing graphics-intensive tasks. There is flexibility in the knowledge that if I decide I do want a larger screen at some point it will be simple enough to pick up an external monitor somewhere. The two USB 3.0 ports and the two Thunderbolt ports plus the SD card slot are handy to have, although since I'm pretty much wireless everything (keyboard, trackpad, mouse and printer) unless I plug in an external drive for backup purposes I don't really need to have anything attached to this machine. At some point I may want to add a more-or-less permanently plugged-in external drive to add more space if that starts to become an issue.

    In the end each of us needs to assess our priorities and how we will be using a computer and what features and functionalities are more important. After I finish setting up my new 15" rMBP I will be selling the 2012 iMac and this will be an all-portable household when it comes to computers. The 15.5" rMBP offers the kind of flexibility and functionality that most meets my current needs by being useable as a desktop replacement in the main living area while also still being portable enough to take with me somewhere if the need arises. The 13.3" rMBP offers real portability and will be the machine that travels with me on trips and around to friends' homes as needed, as well as serving as the secondary computer that lives in the bedroom and that I use at night.

    I know that this is a hard decision and it would be a matter of weighing the pros and cons, the benefits that each size laptop has to offer and taking into consideration the ways one would be using the machine on a day-to-day basis as well as for situations such as traveling.

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