15" MacBook Pro large enough for graphics work?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by milky23, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. milky23 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2005
    I'm a college student who plans on immersing himself in graphic work (mostly in Photoshop and Illustrator) for the next few semesters. Hopefully at some point I'll make it into the graphic design program at Savannah College of Art and Design. That said, I currently own a 20" iMac Core Duo. I often visit home which makes it a pain to lug my iMac to and fro, and am looking to sell it and replace it with a laptop. Here's my choices, then.

    1) 15" MacBook Pro - Nice and portable, but will the screen resolution be big enough for graphics work? What do you guys think?
    2) 17" MacBook Pro - This would be the ideal choice, ultimately, but its fairly expensive. If I could get away with using a 15" MacBook Pro, I would. Again, would 1440x900 suffice for Photoshop work? I'd be working primarily with 300dpi files.
    3) MacBook w/ 23" Cinema Display - I'm worried about this idea. While I have ultimate portability as well as a sweet screen to use when I need it, I'm worried that the MacBook's underpowered video performance will come back to bite me.

    What are your thoughts?
  2. Cybix macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2006
    Western Australia
    i have a 15" MBP, i dont think it's big enough for graphic work. but then, neither is a 17".

    I'd be hitting up the shop for a 15" MBP and one of apples Cinema Displays.

    planning on the 30" myself soon (i do some hobby photo work as well as web dev, sys admin, etc)

  3. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    A 15" should be sufficient although 17" would be better.

  4. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    I use a 15" MacBook Pro for graphics design and I find it to be just fine. If the 17" is too expensive for you then the 15" should be just fine for graphics work. I would not suggest the MacBook + 23" Cinema Display because the MacBook doesn't have a big enough LCD to do a lot of graphics design on, and getting a 23" external monitor is not really worth it when you already have a 20" iMac which you could do the work on instead.
  5. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    i would very strongly recommend against attending SCAD; it is not a good design program and not a good school, regardless of what they want you to believe. you should do your research before attending there.

    on topic, the $ difference between a 17 and a 15 is minor. you can use either, and barring a slight size and weight increase, the 17 would be better. do not get the MB.
  6. redeye be macrumors 65816

    redeye be

    Jan 27, 2005

    I would go for the 15", nice and easy to take everywhere (including school).
    When money is available buy an external monitor to give you the screen size you like working on.
    Every screen will be to small ;)
  7. heehee macrumors 68020


    Jul 31, 2006
    Same country as Santa Claus
    I dont think it's large enough for doing graphics work, but IMO, either is a 17". Get a cheap external monitor if you can. :)
  8. CmdrLaForge macrumors 601


    Feb 26, 2003
    around the world
  9. brad.c macrumors 68020


    Aug 23, 2004
    50.813669°, -2.474796°
    I would agree that no laptop will have enough screen real-estate, if you feel the need for space. That said, I have the 15" MPB, and happily sacrifice pixels for portability. It's not too hard to practice palette economy when working in InDesign or Photoshop. (I'm really looking forward to improvements in Illustrator's workspace in CS3 for this exact reason.)

    The advantage of making the jump from the 15" to the 17" depends on which model you are considering, and how much you value the incremental improvements as a whole. If screen size is all you care for, stick with the 15" base model, and get an external monitor.
  10. milky23 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2005
    thanks for the feedback so far.

    I would love to get the 15" MBP as well as an external display, but the problem is, I am a college student. I'm poor :)
  11. heehee macrumors 68020


    Jul 31, 2006
    Same country as Santa Claus
    Get a MB and an external monitor, unless you are doing video or 3D, there is little difference between the MB and MBP.
  12. likeavaliant macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2006
    i have a 15 inch MBP and I do design work. I dont use an external. It's perfect for school. Chances are you wont be creating huge images right off the bat, so a 15 will do you well. Along with the portability, you cant go wrong. A 17 inch is just too big to carry around all the time, no matter what people will tell you. Try taking it to a lecture...
  13. iSee macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2004
    Yeah, get the 15" MBP. It will be a bit cramped since you are used to the 20" iMac, but it will be OK. As time passes and your design work gets more intensive, then get an external monitor to go with the MBP. (I'm assuming that you'll find it easier to scrounge up a few extra $ for a monitor if you don't have to do it at the same time you have to pay for the MBP).

    When you go home (or otherwise want to work away from your desk) you'll still be able to handle the 15" because of all your practice using the MBP w/o a monitor. And, if you get really comfortable with the 15" you can forgo the external monitor altogether.
  14. eddx macrumors regular


    May 12, 2005
    Manchester, UK
    Depends what display your coming from. I used a 19inch lcd before upgrading to my 15inch MBP. Resolution was large on the MBP so I found it fine.

    I am studying a degree in graphic design and use Illustrator and Photoshop everyday without problems. I think that the 17inch is too heavy and a bit showing off for college / university. Most students on my course use MacBooks but thats too small for me.

    I nearly went for the MacBook with a Dell 24 but decided I wanted the bigger laptop screen of the 15inch and better graphics.

    You should get the MBP 15. See how you like it, you can always take it back after a week or two if you really hate it. Then save for a 20-24inch Dell or Apple display. Thats what I am doing and that is my advice for all design students. Enjoy your degree and don't think about it too much, just get the MBP and start enjoying it now.
  15. brad.c macrumors 68020


    Aug 23, 2004
    50.813669°, -2.474796°
    Of course you are. That's what wil fuel the fond memories of your college years later on in life when you are raking in the big bucks. :)

    The title question has been answered by more than a few people, but whether or not you can afford an extra monitor is something between you and your student loan officer ;). Buy one when you can, but until then, the 15"MBP will get you by, with the graphics power to expand on.

    Which 15" model are you looking at? If money is skint, I assume it's the base model plus maxed RAM?
  16. Erendiox macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    I would recommend against this. An external monitor is a great idea, but a CHEAP external monitor is not. Keep in mind you'll want a quality screen for graphics work. Color accuracy is important. You'll appreciate the investment in a quality display. :)

    As far as the size of the 15 inch, IMO, it's big enough to do graphics work, but that's because i'm used to my 12 inch iBook :rolleyes:. None of the laptops are an ideal size really. You'd want at least 20 inches for working comfortably. If you're going to be doing work on-the-go, the 15 or 17 inch will both be excellent contenders. I would recommend a 15 inch and an external, but that costs quite a bit of money, and i'm quite familiar with your financial situation, being a college student myself ;). If I were you i'd spring for the 15 inch and try and save my pennies for a good display. The dell displays are actually very good and quite a bit cheaper then the apple displays. 15 inch plus something like this would be my recommendation. You can often find good deals on the dell displays if you shop around. Good luck :)

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