13" vs. 15" Retina MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by erickk42, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. erickk42 macrumors newbie


    Jan 4, 2013
    Yes, another 13 or 15 inch macbook pro thread :p

    I'm going to be heading off to college in the fall, and I'm gonna be buying a new computer. My current computer is a white plastic 2008 MacBook, so it's time for an upgrade.

    Here are the machines I was looking at: the top spec 13" with the 2.8GHz processor upgrade, 16 GB RAM upgrade, and 1 TB upgrade

    or the top spec 15" with only the 1TB upgrade

    with the student discount, the 13" at my configuration is $2,509, and my configuration of the 15" is $2,849

    I work a lot in Photoshop, Illustrator, and sometimes Dreamweaver. I use a Wacom Intuos tablet for my digital arts that I of course use with Photoshop. My internet usage is very heavy and I'm going to be in Pages and Keynote a lot too. I also have a massive music library and hopefully in the future, use my new computer with the TRAKTOR mixing software along with the mixing console. This is going to be my main machine so I want it to last me a really long time and not get slow with future OS updates and the like.

    I'm unsure if the processor upgrade on the 13" is something I even need, and how the Intel Iris preforms as opposed to the dedicated graphics on the 15".

    I'm unsure if the 15" might be overkill, if the top spec is even necessary with my needs, and how the quad-core compares with the dual-core in terms of daily usage, Photoshop, and other apps.

    Portability wise... I know the 15" is significantly bigger when compared to the 13", but I guess I would get over it over time.. I will be taking it daily to class and stuff, but the performance would outweigh the size, I think.

    My main points are longevity, performance, and of course storage.
    I really do want it as soon as school starts, so I really don't want to wait until whenever the newer ones are released..

    I hope I can get some suggestions and advice from y'all! Thanks :3

    (Also, is Apple Care worth it??? Especially with these non-user upgradeable machines, should it be something I should get?)
  2. sdimas macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2014
    I will also be going to school in the fall and just purchased my first macbook over a week ago. I went with the top 15" with no upgrades, but I got a great deal on it at Best Buy: $2230 + a $210 in store credit= ~$2000 total with tax.
    I haven't used the dgpu at all. I am even able to play Borderlands 2 on the highest settings with the igpu and it plays perfectly, I barely notice any difference in performance for this game with the dgpu.

    I have yet to do something that will greatly benefit from the dgpu, but I'm planning to try some video editing and see how that goes.

    My current iTunes library is around 70gb of music only, but I am slowly trimming that down because I don't listen to a lot of it.

    I wanted to get the 1tb upgrade at first, I even made a thread about this and was advised to just stick to either of the stock configurations. I think this is a perfect configuration.

    There is almost no loading, all apps in the dock open before the first bounce is completed.

    I think I will also purchase a low end 13" air or pro later on for times when I need the portability over power.

    I think you will be happy with the top 15" configuration.
  3. X Cruz 187 macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2011
    " student discount, the 13" at my configuration is $2,509, and my configuration of the 15" is $2,849 "

    I would never buy a 13.3 for $2,500 w/ integrated graphics enough said.
    15.4 in my book!
  4. erickk42 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 4, 2013

    Hmm.. Yeah from what i've been searching, the Iris graphics are pretty good for most things, and that the dedicated GPU takes a while to kick in... its still good to have though :) I think lol
    about the 1TB upgrade... my gut's telling to stick to that.. the fact thats its non-upgradeable sucks so yeah i'll get the terabyte..

    Whats really selling me about the 15" is the screen size and the config..

    thanks! :D


    yeah thats true... i'm kinda leaning toward the 15" because of that GPU :) thanks!
  5. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    512GB is really more than enough storage. I am not saying you couldn't find a way to fill up 1TB, but it really is not worth $500 no matter how you spin it. The upgrade is a complete luxury, so if you want to spend $500 so you don't have to use an external drive once a month, it is your money to spend. If you really want tons of crazy fast storage, you can get a thunderbolt enclosure and a 1TB Crucial MX100 SSD for under $500 total. I would really just get a 1TB HDD external drive and a USB 3.0 enclosure though for about $120. I can almost guarantee you that even if you fill up your whole drive, 80% of it you won't touch more than once a month. You could get a really nice 27" 1440p IPS monitor for under $500 instead!

    The dGPU on the rMBP is about 20% faster than the iris pro, so especially for any 3D graphics work, there is some appreciable difference in power. The dGPU in the iMacs can be up to 400% faster, so it is all relative. The other poster that mentioned the iris pro handled BL2 on max settings may have been a bit overzealous. Even with the 750m active on 1080p High graphics with some settings lowered, you won't even touch 30 fps. It isn't a bad graphics card, but it does have limits.

    Also, realize that you are just starting college. You will most likely not need more than the power of a chrome book to get through your lower div courses, let alone the power of a $3000 computer. It sounds like you are involved with some really powerful software that you get a lot of use out of, which is great. Just realize that the computer you are looking at is insanely expensive, like literally the cost of a Mac Pro. And it is about 1/10 as powerful. When you get a laptop, you pay a huge premium for the cutting edge of power, so sometimes it is healthy to step back and consider what you are paying for. Honestly, you could find a used 2012 15" rMBP 16GB/512GB model that has about the same performance (within a 10% margin) for literally half the price because the 2013 upgrade was such a disappointingly small upgrade. It is exactly the same computer externally. I am not saying you should necessarily get the 2012 model instead, but you are going to be paying about $1500 extra for a 10% speed bump and a bigger hard drive. You could buy a 4.1 cMP, put in SLI gtx 760s, a 512GB SSD, a few 1TB HDDs, 32GB of RAM, and even a new CPU. And you could have your laptop to boot.

    TL;DR: There are a lot of ways to spend your money. Just because you found the most expensive option doesn't make it the best one. If you are set on getting that computer, I am sure it will be great. Will it be $3000 worth of greatness? Maybe, maybe not.

  6. erickk42 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 4, 2013

    Thanks for the great insight Matt!
    Well yeah, now that you mention it, the terabyte upgrade might be too much.. I've never used thunderbolt but I do know thats its super fast and I think having an external drive is a good trade off. Your monitor suggestion is great! My current one is really old and kinda makes text blurry so maybe its time for a replacement :)

    I'm not really doing any 3D work like Maya or 3Ds Max or anything, so I probably don't even need that dGPU.

    Even though I do like that nice and big 15" screen, I probably don't need it either... The 13" and a good monitor with the extra money sounds like a good setup.

    The more I think about my usage, other options, and all these prices and configurations... the top spec 13" (as is) seems like the better choice.

    Thank you again for your reply! :D

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