13''or 15'' for engineering student?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by beatitjean, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. beatitjean macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    #1
    Hello,everyone!
    I am a civil engineering student,I'm currently looking for a laptop which can run software like AutoCAD(mainly),Revit,ANSYS fluidly.There's not much of 3D works in my daily usage.Moreover,I want a portable laptop with decent battery life that I can carry around the campus.So the question is:which model should I get?13'' with or without TB,or the 15'' base model?My concern for the 15'' is its portability,for the 13'' is its adequacy of performance and battery life(TB version).
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    15", definitely. The quad-core CPU and 16GB RAM stock will be very, very beneficial for what you need to do. If you get the 2016 model, you'll also get the dedicated graphics card, though the 2015 15" will still be more than powerful for what you need.

    Just to make you aware that Revit only works on Windows, so you'll need to BootCamp your Mac and load up Windows only. I would recommend doing this over running Windows through a VM, so that Revit and your other architecture programs will have full access to all system resources, otherwise it won't run particularly fast.

    Therefore I would recommend getting either a 2015 or 2016 15" MBP with 512GB storage, to ensure ample breathing room for both macOS and Windows 10. The 2016 would be a slightly better option for you IMO, due to the dedicated graphics card and the sleeker form factor (it's practically a 13" Windows laptop to carry around, so you honestly won't be weighed down when carrying it around). Not that the 2015 15" is much of a burden, but the 2016 is super thin.
     
  3. beatitjean thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 27, 2015
    #3
    Thanks for answering!
    Though the 2016 15'' MBP is very thin,it still weighs 4 pounds.I found it is hard to pick up with one hand.But I think 1 pound weight difference between 13'' and 15'' is subtle when you're carrying them with backpack.My main concern is the 15'' battery life,which lots of users say it only lasts half of the time that Apple claims.And I also want to know whether the 13'' can handle AutoCAD through VM without installing Windows?
     
  4. keysofanxiety macrumors G3

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #4
    The 15" battery life isn't as bad as most people are claiming. There have been a few software bugs that are being ironed out and it's much better now. I've seen a fair few comments of people getting 10-12 hours.

    The 13" will very much struggle running AutoCAD through a VM; it only has a dual-core processor. The 15" would fair significantly better -- she's a real workhorse and chews VMs for lunch -- but I'd still recommend running BootCamp for optimum performance.

    Also bear in mind that VMs on any Mac will absolutely sap the battery life due to the high resource usage, so you'll need a power outlet handy.
     
  5. beatitjean thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 27, 2015
    #5
    I will only use those softwares in my dorm room.I just want to make sure I can get at least 6-7 hours battery life on web browsing,typing,watching Youtube in library and lecture room.
     
  6. keysofanxiety macrumors G3

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #6
    Yep; for light usage without running VMs, either machine would be fine to meet the 7 hour battery mark in the library or in your lectures. Just ensure you use Safari rather than Chrome and turn the brightness down from full.
     
  7. Sanpete macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2016
    Location:
    Utah
    #7
    There's been a lot of confusion online about this. The 13" with touch bar has a small battery and is tricky for battery life, but the 15" has been shown to have good battery life all along, even in early reviews. If you keep the screen at, say, 50% (with auto adjustment off so you know what the brightness really is), run Safari with a dozen tabs, do a little Youtube and text editing in a simple program, you may well get close to ten hours. I got over 11 with 17 Safari tabs, Text Edit, and several hours of HD streaming, though I keep the screen lower than most people do.
     
  8. ZapNZs macrumors 68020

    ZapNZs

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2017
    #8
    I think the 15-inch is a better match for your needs, especially since you could find yourself running more resource-intensive projects over time. As the base 2016 has 2 extra physical CPU cores and a GPU that the 13 lacks, it's a big difference. If you currently use or may need to use Windows or Linux in the future, the 15-inch is a great platform for virtualizing.

    Given the work you do, if you choose a base 2016 15-inch and can swing it, upgrading from the Radeon 450 GPU to the 460 GPU is worth the $200, in my opinion. Especially if you move to 3D, this powerful GPU could be the difference in this computer completely meeting your future needs or potentially requiring you to upgrade. Even without 3D, the monstrous GPU that is the 460 could really benefit your currently workload, IMO.

    If the pricing of the 2016 is a bit too high, a new/refurbished/certified 2015 15-inch with the AMD R9-M370X GPU would also be a good choice, in my opinion, as it is another very capable laptop and one you will be able to find for a deep discount (especially in the coming months as Apple begins to prepare their refurbished stock to switch over to the 2016 models becoming their most common refurb year.)
    (The 2015's CPU is arguably comparable to the 2016, as there isn't a huge difference between their performance...BUT, in your case, I think it is worth aiming for the 460 GPU of the 2016, and the 2016's faster SSD may also give you a considerable benefit.)
     
  9. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2015
    #9
    I am an engineer as well. I graduated with my masters as a design engineer (kind of a mix between mechanical engineering and some industrial design) this past August. In the last 3 years getting my degrees i used a late 2013 2.6 GHz i5, 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM for a wide range of programs, including Matlab, Maple, Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign and various programs in a Windows VM including Creo (ProE) and it worked just fine. I was very happy I got the 13" instead of the 15" due to the portability. I also biked more than 20km every day with it, so portability was very important to me.

    I actually got a 2016 15" to replace both the 13" + a 2009 27" iMac that I have but I ended up selling the 15". I simply don't work with the 15" version, even though I would love to. I much prefer the 13".

    As a side-note, by GF has a 2014 13" MBP and she is an architect. She is also quite happy with it. She used to have a 2011 15" but also prefers the portability over the power.

    Just my $0.02 :)
     
  10. Mobster1983 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    #10
    I would recommend the 15". The additional screen real estate is key when working on projects. Also, if you can afford it, get the upgraded graphics card and processor. When you get into advanced 3D rendering, you will appreciate it.

    The weight of the 2016 is much less than the 2015 model, so this alone is worth it. I also prefer the new keyboard and trackpad.

    My battery life with screen brightness around 75% is 10-12 hours in the usage you described.
     
  11. beastmode16 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    #11
    As an engineering student i can tell you i see people run programs like these on macbook airs, i was fooled too into thinking i needed the max spec 15 inch pro at the time. And now i have this huge computer that is heavy once you put a hard case on it and a sleeve ( which is what most students do since the amount of commuting can be hard on a laptop) honestly i think you would be fine with the 13, i regret not getting the 13 because its so much more portable. So my opinion would be to get the medium or max spec 13 and just use that.
     
  12. beatitjean thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 27, 2015
    #12
    --- Post Merged, Feb 8, 2017 ---
    I saw some videos from Youtubers like MKBHD claim that the 15" battery life is worse than the 13".And I heard that lots of users had fixed the battery issue on the 13" by updating to 10.12.3.But the 15" hasn't shown any improvement in battery life by doing so.
     
  13. Mindinversion macrumors 6502

    Mindinversion

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    Oct 9, 2008
    #13
    The biggest problem with battery life complaints is that the majority of people think a 10 hour estimate means 10 hours REGARDLESS of what you're doing... whether it's light web browsing or heavy processing workloads.

    OBVIOUSLY if you're pushing the CPU to it's limits your battery is going to go down faster than a . . . wait, that's not a PG anecdote: backpedal mode....

    a lot faster: it'll go down a lot faster than if you're just listening to music via headphones with the screen off.

    As for CAD, I've never actually used it myself. . . but isn't CAD one of those programs where, if you have dual xeon 167 cores and 128 GB ram, it'll suck it all down? I see CAD cited all the time as a reason to upgrade to the 15" [or any higher end computer for that matter] but you'd have to gauge for yourself just how much the price vs performance translates.
     
  14. beatitjean thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 27, 2015
    #14
    I read tons of reviews about the 13" with TB.Most of them claim that the 13" can handle the tasks like FCP video editing,PS just fine.AutoCAD requires less GPU power than FCP does.The concern is its ability to handle AutoCAD through VM or bootcamp.I know Apple optimizes OSX and its softwares to cover the fact that the MBP is underpower
     
  15. maerz001, Feb 8, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017

    maerz001 macrumors 6502a

    maerz001

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    #15
    U have to install Windows first. U can't run any Programm without an operating system. Or I misunderstood ur question.

    I run AutoCAD on a MacBook Air 2012 13" via VirtualBox. It's totally ok for 2D and some easy 3D stuff. With Textures, shades and Rendering it gets very slow... so I think u only need a 15" when u are doing very serious stuff.

    Regarding battery life. There is a thread with almost 100 pages...
     
  16. beatitjean thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 27, 2015
    #16
    I was thinking about HP spectre X360 which has i7 7500U GPU,16G ram, 512SSD.One of the best Windows ultrabooks.But I just love the design of the new MBP so much.Besides,the screen on the MBP is much better than the full HD secreen on the Spectre.Still,the spectre X360 is very portable and powerful enough to handle those windows only softwares.
     
  17. Sanpete macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2016
    Location:
    Utah
    #17
    Don't know what MKBHD says, but tests with controlled conditions (e.g. Notebook Check, Ars Technica), along with reports here, tend to support Apple's claims and then some for the 15". The 15" probably doesn't have as good battery life as the 13" without touch bar, which has great battery life--maybe that's what MKBHD was saying. But it's definitely better than the 13" with touch bar for most things. (There was no need for improvement from an OS update for the 15". I tested mine with 10.12.2, and it was already very good.)
     
  18. beatitjean thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    #18
    Don't you feel a 4 pounds laptop is a little bit chunky?Since I've never owned a ultrabook.I can't tell how much of a difference in terms of portability between a 3 lbs and 4 lbs laptop.My last laptop is over 8 lbs,and it's a nightmare to carry around with my backpack
     
  19. Mindinversion macrumors 6502

    Mindinversion

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    #19
    You end up sacrificing portability for performance. Honestly, I wouldn't use anything under 4 core/8 thread and a dedicated GPU if I were going into Cad, especially the 3d side [like I said, I don't use it, but I kind of sort of understand how intensive it can get]

    If you want to do that on a dual core 15w processor like in the HP Spectre it may work, but you're going to extend your work times considerably.

    I almost hate to recommend this due to their hit and miss quality control, but have you considered something like the 14" Razer Blade? Granted, it's in the 4lb range, but you get a LOT more horsepower for the price, and can get a 4k IGZO screen on top of it. There's also the Blade Pro 17", but if 4lbs is heavy to you, you'll balk at the 7.5lb weight. Still, 4k screen, 32 gig ram, GTX 1080. . . . .Raid 0 SSDs...

    Just don't try to play Heroes Of The Storm on it or it'll shut down randomly [not heat, hardware incompatibility]
     
  20. Sanpete macrumors 68020

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    Nov 17, 2016
    Location:
    Utah
    #20
    Sure, the 15" isn't as fun to carry and set on one's lap as the 13". That extra pound matters to most people. But like you, I came from a heavier one, a 6-pound 17", so the 15" is a big improvement in that respect!
     
  21. beatitjean thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    #21
    My current laptop is a Terran Force X599,(i7 4790K ,16G ram,GTX 980M)it's definitely a powerhouse which can handle CAD easily.But it weighs 10 lbs with accessories.Because I'm going aboard for my master degree,and I don't want to carry two computers.So I kind of want a laptop with good portability and decent performance as a main machine.
     
  22. kartcrg macrumors member

    kartcrg

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    Dec 7, 2016
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #22
    Hey mate, I run a little product design firm and my maxed 15" runs some of our workflows in most CAD apps okay. I was hoping it could be a main machine for me because I travel a lot but there's no way. It is sufficient for basic design work / changes and such but it can heat up pretty quickly depending on exactly what I'm doing (especially when using an external monitor). I wouldn't consider using it for ray tracing or complex sim stuff. That said, I have a few 12 core Mac Pros and they're not enough either. Starting to look at z840s..
     
  23. smirking macrumors 65816

    smirking

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    Aug 31, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #23
    Yeah, you'll get 6-7 hours easy. I have a maxed out 15". I'm a developer and I run some power hungry stuff on mine and it's still getting 5 to 6 hours. I'm doing things like crunching 2+ GB databases on it. When I'm just surfing, it's on track to give me around 9 hours of battery life.

    Also keep in mind that some background apps can surprisingly drain a lot of power and they can do it without triggering the "Using Significant Energy" warning. I was only getting 5 hours until I disabled a bunch of background apps. I stopped loading a few background apps that I suspected as my battery killers and my battery life shot up immediately.
     
  24. beatitjean thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 27, 2015
    #24
    The 15'' seems like a better choice.But I don't have the budget to upgrade the GPU to 460.I can only choose between the 13'' TB base model(Maybe with 512G ssd) and 15'' base model.Hence the price of Apple products in Australia is significantly higher than America.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 8, 2017 ---
    I've seen lots of classmates run CAD with 5 years outdated windows laptop.Not sure why MBP can't handle it with faster CPU,SSD.
     
  25. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

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    Apr 11, 2014
    #25
    The 13" IMO is more portable by a long shot, but if I was an engineer doing fancy stuff I would definitly get the 15"
     

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