13" vs 15" rMBP for Uni

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by eskimogenius, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. eskimogenius macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    Hi all,

    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I'm starting in September. Will be purchasing an rMBP in mid-late August:

    1. Top non-custom 13-inch: 2.6GHz Dual Core i5, 8GB, 512GB, Iris
    2. Base 15-inch: 2.0Ghz Quad Core i7, 8GB, 256GB, Iris Pro

    Main uses will be heavy web browsing, Skype/IM, report typing, and watching movies/TV shows in HD. I "shouldn't" be playing light games (e.g. LoL) but do like to know that my mac is powerful enough to do so.

    I intend to be running Windows on it as well, not sure if that should influence my decision regarding 256GB vs 512GB?

    When writing reports, I'd like to have a browser open on the left-hand side and Word open on the right-hand side. Can anyone tell me if they do this on their 13" rMBP and if this is a viable thing to do?

    The main issue I'm having is portability vs. performance. Price is not a factor in this decision.

    Suggestions/advice? Which one should I pick?

    PS. I'm pushing the buy date as much as possible in the hope of a minor spec bump/price cut to the rMBP line, but I must have it mid-late August.
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    It looks like its going to boil down to screen size based on your post - I'd say check both out and see how both are at an apple store. I think the 13" MBP is too small but that's just me.

    I think a quad core is going to be better if you're going to be running VMs as well.
  3. RainCityMacFan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 10, 2007
  4. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    BootCamp/Parallels should have a minimum of 256GB SSD. I think 512GB is overkill, but that is just me. Unless you are storing pirated movies and your family's photo collection on your computer (which should be on an external drive if anything), 256GB will be plenty for a college student. I would instead look into getting a 256GB 13" with an external monitor. This is explained below.

    In general, the 13" screen is a little cramped for two full-sized windows. I personally do not have an issue writing papers/taking notes on my 13" MBA, but that is personal preference, and I am comfortable using hot corners or scaling my windows down to size. It is definitely viable, but it will be a little cramped. I also have an external 24" monitor for when I need any extra work space. I set it up with a nice sound bar so it is also great for watching movies. The sound bar and the IPS monitor cost me $220 total, and at the price point they absolutely rock.

    The 15" is definitely less portable than the 13". On the other hand, it is more powerful, with a quad-core processor and better graphics. Down the line, this will be less important, and the poor battery life will be more prominent. The 15" is a nicer computer (personal preference), but the 13" will most likely be a more functional computer for your needs.

    I would go in to a store and check them out. They are both great computers, and you will ultimately decide whether the extra weight, physical footprint, and decreased battery life are worth the power/screen of the 15" rMBP. Definitely look in to getting a 24" IPS display for the 13" rMBP if you go with that option.


    P.S. Do not get your hopes up for a price drop. Historically, Apple does not do price drops mid/late cycle, especially if there is no update associated with it.
  5. eskimogenius thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    Thanks for all your responses. It has been most helpful.

    I think it will boil down to the dual-core vs quad-core for me. I will deal with the extra-footprint and extra weight if anyone knows whether the quad-core will make a dramatic difference when running Parallels? Also, if I wanted to use FileVault along with Parallels as well, should I take the 13" instead?
  6. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    If you want to keep it on your desk during class, a 13" will be much better than the 15", and even the 13" may feel too big. My 12" PowerBook fits much better on the average university desk than my MBP. Nothing you listed should tax the CPU or GPU enough to warrant the 15"
  7. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    Parallels will mostly tax your RAM. Most every task is slowed some just because you are running two OS's at the same time, but it really depends on the task. If you are web browsing or working on documents then a dual-core will be fine. If you are crunching genomic data, a quad-core machine might be better.

    Short answer: Parallels should not be the determining factor for dual vs quad, your work should be.
  8. eskimogenius thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    That is interesting, I thought Parallels was a more multi-threaded application.

    Is there a common application that is multi-threaded to the point where a user like me would noticeably see a difference between a dual vs quad core?
  9. kupkakez macrumors 68000


    Apr 4, 2011
    One other thing to consider the 15" is obviously more weight you have to lug around on top of your books etc.

    The 13" will be enough to write papers and still look at research on the other side of the screen. I made it through my last bits of college with an 11" MBA and it was okay.


    Based on what you want to use the computer for I don't think you are going to notice a huge difference with a quad core. I'd save the money and just get the dual core option. Unless obviously of course you want the bigger screen (15" rMBP).
  10. eskimogenius thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    Thanks for all the replies again I'm leaning towards the 13" now, but just another thing, are the speakers noticeably different in quality between the two? I'd imagine the 15" with speaker grills will have better sound, but how much better?
  11. Rileyx2 macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2012
    One vote for 15"

    Having shopped for a new MacBook Pro after the Haswell refresh, I felt like the 15" was a (little) better machine for the price.

    I don't recall hearing much of a difference between the speakers on the 13" versus the 15", but I like the setup/grilles on the 15" more. Less stuff for the sound to go through/bounce off of = better in my head.

    In terms of multitasking, I had a non-Retina 13" and disliked how much I had to resize/flip through open windows in order to be "comfortable". With the higher scaled resolutions on the Retina 13", this may not be so much of an annoyance for you. Definitely test this out when you get a chance, as it made the difference for me.

    An external screen is a GOOD idea. I have one and could not imagine a) writing & researching at the same time or b) watching movies/TV without it.
  12. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I can't answer for parallels but I found VMware Fusion to be able to take advantage of my quad core MBP. I can dedicate a couple of cores to my VM and leave the rest for OS X - this way both operating systems are performing nicely.
  13. Naimfan Suspended


    Jan 15, 2003
    I'd go 15" - I just find the 13" too small to work on for very long.
  14. Master123of macrumors member


    Nov 8, 2012
    Yes. You can change the resolution if you need more space.

  15. eskimogenius thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    Thank you very much for that.

    I think I'm gonna buy the 13". Now to just figure out a case/bag. :)
  16. anaqvi786 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2013
    At iOS planet
    I have the 13 inch exact model you are talking about. Right now, you are making the right decision, you will love the portability for University. The configuration has a lot of power but a good amount of portability for your needs. Make sure to shop in the education store (brand new) or a refurbished model to save a few hundred dollars if you want to. Its better to save for stuff like iTunes purchases.

    So you said you will be getting a bag and case, let me make a few pointers:

    -If you get a speck case, make sure to clean your mac every month. A lot of people I know (and myself included) report black mold on our MacBooks from keeping the case on. So if you get a Speck case, remember to clean it as the mold can damage the aluminum on the MBP itself and you don't want that to happen

    -Make sure to get a case that will protect your MBP from drops if you are not the careful kind of person. If you get a simple snap on case, that might do the job but it can crack if a drop is really severe. It is better to have a broken case than a broken laptop however, just my opinion

    -If you are going to get a rubberized case, try to handle it with care as the rubber coating rubs off easily on some cases. I am mainly talking about my speck case.

    -If you will get a bag, get one designed for your MBP and some extra room for your other devices like an iPad if you have one. This way, you won't have to carry an extra bag for one

    -Buy both a case and a bag/sleeve - This way if your bag drops or if you have keys in the same bag, the MBP won't get damaged.

    Hope this helps, I am sorry if my post is too long
  17. eskimogenius thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    Thanks Ali, your post wasn't long and has been quite helpful. I actually meant to get a bag/sleeve. I hate cases, I'm not getting one as I'm not nuts about scratches on it.

    My bag currently has a huge sleeve thats designed to fit a 15.4" laptop. I'm not really sure what to do now:
    1. Put the 13 rMBP into the 15.4 Sleeve Bare
    2. Buy a new backpack designed for 13 rMBP
    3. Buy a sleeve for the 13 rMBP to put into the backpack

    But I'm thinking of leaning towards #3. Thinking of getting something like this:

    And putting that in the backpack, and then when I intern for experience as part of my degree, I'll most likely get something like this:

  18. anaqvi786 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2013
    At iOS planet
    Glad my post helped. Since you are getting a booq case I found a 10% off coupon, it is KMG10. Copy and paste that in for 10% off (some people told me it worked, so I am assuming it still does ;) )

    Use AR13 for free shipping, and AR14 for $40 off when you buy any bag/backpack and iPad case/MacBook sleeve together in the same order from Booq.

    No, I am not a salesperson ;)

    Hope this helps
  19. eskimogenius thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2014
    Thanks for your helpful post again, however, I wished the free shipping coupon could apply to me because I live in Australia and shipping is a whopping $60, almost the price of the bag itself.

    Looks like I'll just need to find another bag.


    In other news, I decided to pull a trigger on the Macbook Pro 13" 256GB but with the 2.6Ghz upgrade. :)
  20. anaqvi786 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2013
    At iOS planet
    Congrats on ur purchase, you will definitely be happy with it.
    As for a bag... eBay is probably a good place to buy it. You probably can end up with an awesome deal. Good luck :)


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