15" PB vs. 17"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by drewel, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. drewel macrumors member


    Jun 3, 2004
    I'm within weeks of buying my 1st mac- it will be a powerbook. :)

    Question: Is the 17" too big? What are some of the drawbacks of one or the other?
  2. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    Only buy a 17" if you need a desktop replacement and won't be carrying the Powerbook around much. The 15" is both a great desktop replacement and very portable compared to the 17". And performance tends to be just a little better on the 15" than the 17" (for some weird reason - maybe the extra power required for the screen?).

    Good luck with whatever you choose though - they're both awesome machines!
  3. DJY macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2003
    Canberra AUST
    I also am grappling with this issue...
    and keep changing my mind!!??!?!

    Today was in the Apple Reseller - and if the salesman wasn't as useless as he was, who knows I may have ordered a BTO 15 or most likely 17" then and there!

    I think he gave me a range of incorrect information, didn't have a clue about 2/3rs of my questions, and before I left I was almost going to suggest he become a member in here!

    Anyway - I digress... 15 or 17 - I can't decide...
    the WOW factor is there...
    I didn't really notice much of a weight difference today I must admit - but size wise - quite noticeable...
    Extra real estate vs being able to shuck it more easily into bags...

    decisions decisions...

    oh I have never owned a Mac before either.
  4. yinyang macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2003
    sunny brisbane
    macs are like a bad habit - once you start you can't stop :D

    the 17 does have amazing real estate and would be excellent to watch dvds on etc, but i'm going for the 15 with all the trimmings, and 2X512 ram. now i'm just waiting for an official quote/invoice so that i can hand it over to someone else to pay for LOL!

    have a read of this though if you're wondering about bto or stock standard....

  5. qubex macrumors 6502


    May 12, 2004
    045°042'21.99"N, 009°005'056.57"E
    I got my first Mac in January 2003 and since then it has been an escalating addiction: my girlfriend and I now total five machines amongst PowerMac G4, iMac, iBook, and two PowerBooks.

    I just took delivery of my second PowerBook (a wonderful 15" 1.5 GHz) two weeks ago - and unfortunately my father dropped it the other day and thus the case is already dented... :mad: oh the horror... but I digress.

    I previously had a 12" PowerBook (see my .sig) but unfortunately it proved to be a little underpowered (and consequentially frustrating) for the work I need it to perform. When it came to upgrade, I never even considered the 17" because I simply don't consider it practical. It is just to big and bulky - a desktop replacement in both the best and worst sense of the term (and no, I'd never conciously decided to replace a desktop computer with a laptop if I had a choice).

    As it is, this 15" PowerBook is perfect for what I need and is pretty much my only machine here where I work in China - no Apple desktops here. So I am perfectly satisfied with this machine and I wouldn't trade it with a unweildly 17" even if somebody paid me.
  6. Coolvirus007 macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2004
    I have a 15" and its perfect. Perfect size for portability and its performance is unbelievable. sometimes can't believe I am using a laptop. 17" looks good in a glance but it is way to big for laptop - more of a compact desktop.
  7. aswitcher macrumors 603


    Oct 8, 2003
    Canberra OZ
    I've got the 17". I've had it a week and a half and I find it pretty easy to lug around in my STM Loop backpack. The Crumpler School Hymn makes it pretty easy to handle as well.

    15 vs 17 for size does limit the bags you can use. But look at it this way, its like 0.6kg heavier...say 20% heavier. Thats not a huge amount. 2.5->3.1kg.

    Its only a couple of inches longer and an inch wider. Hardly a big increase for carrying.

    For that you get a signficant chunk of extra screen real estate. Get an A3 sheet and draw out the dimensions to really see how big it is versus the 15.2".

    Anyway its my desktop replacement and seems to performing fine.
  8. netytan macrumors 6502


    May 23, 2004
    Cant believe this is a choice ;), or maybe its just me being tight but if you get the 17" your paying about $200 just for 2" or screen space, and thats it! No extra RAM, or actual hardware differences ectept for this :).

    And if you ask me it just looks out of proportion - its massive, the power button seems lob sided; centered on the 15" model and the superdrive isn't centered either. It just looks wrong to me hehe

    Get the 15", aside from looking better it is going to be easier to handle if you plan on carrying it around with you :).

    Have fun,

  9. Sidm macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2004
    Actually you are paying 100$ for the extra space - instead of 2 RAM chips used in the 15inch (2x256) you have one 512 chip on the 17inch. This upgrade on a BTO w/ the 15inch is worth 100$.


    PS - does the 17" really sacrifice performance-wise?
  10. crowdaddy macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2004
    East Ontario
    There is something about the 17" that makes me go wowwwww. It's shock and awe
  11. LeeTom macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    I would go 15"... That's what I did. It's easy to carry around, even in a smallish army surplus canvas messenger bag, which is what I do. Then, I bring it home and hook it up to my 20" Apple Cinema Display and BAM!
    I love it. Portable when I need it to be, huge when I need it to be.

    Lee Tom
  12. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    Well, in theory it shouldn't - but have a look at some tests and benches. For some reason the 15" just edges out the 17" in many of these. The only thing I can put it down to it the smaller screen space that the 15" has to run, but who knows? Regardless, it's a fairly minor issue in differentiating between them.
  13. Vanilla macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    Not sure thats strictly true. This article in Macworld compares a 1ghz 17" to a 1ghz 15".

  14. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    That's why I used the word 'many' :)

    And these are the 1.5's were comparing - again, not that that should make any difference, but who knows...

    Like I said - minor issue, shouldn't really be a factor in choosing between them. But you know what they say about small things... ;)
  15. Nemesis macrumors regular


    Jan 2, 2003
    Perth, NY, LA, London, New Delhi
    Glad to see

    Aswitcher, I'm glad to see that you've finally got your PowerBook. Great machine isn't it? For me, it's the ultimate computing experience -- I've seen and used zillions of computers, but this one is simply -- unbelievable!
  16. cb911 macrumors 601


    Mar 12, 2002
    BrisVegas, Australia
    i wouldn't let a small peformance difference greatly influence your choice of either a 15" or 17". in reality you won't really notice it, unless you like to sit around all day running benchmarks on your Mac. :p

    it also depends what you want to do with it. i use my 15" PB as my only computer and take it everywhere with me, to college etc. but i do mainly PhotoShop and soon video editing work, so i would have liked to go with the 17" (if money wasn't a barrier). but then again i've got 1.5GB RAM in my 15". :D so i guess your budget has a big say in which model you go for.
  17. Bhennies macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2004
    NYC & Baltimore
    Good to see you finally got your PB, aswitcher, sucks about the DOA before. Anyway, I'd say 15" all the way (as you can see in my sig. I'm biased :D)
  18. OziMac macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2003
    Too right ;)
  19. wide macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2004
    you do get a lot more screen space on the 17 inch powerbook, but the 15 inch powerbook...looks nicer. when apple designed the powerbook (titanium) originally several years back, they certainly tried the 12.1 inch, the 14.1 inch, the 15.2 inch, and a 17 inch. they found the 15.2 inch screen to be the most appealing, so that's what they used. thus, the 15 inch powerbook looks cooler (a friend of mine was hired by apple to tell them which of those designs looked coolest).

    the performance difference will be marginal, and i doubt it has to do with the screen size but rather luck (i.e. who put it together, which factory made the parts, etc). you really can't judge two computers by the same manufacturer if they have the same parts. apple uses the same technology for each computer, so each computer ought to act the same.

    also, both the 15 inch powerbooks and the 17 inch powerbooks have one major flaw: their screen warps, even out of the box. you will certainly notice it with the 17 inch powerbook more than the 15 inch powerbook, which is another reason not to get a 17 inch powerbook. also, many people have complained about one of the 17 inch powerbook's latches not working anymore.
  20. furrina macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2004
    In tha 212
    It seems to me that when the first PB revs. came out, the 17" was the pro machine, with a bigger screen but also faster processor, just more powerful in general. I think it was sort of meant to be a "desktop replacement." The 12" was the portable "travel size" and the 15" seemed almost like a compromise (also it was the last to receive the aluminum case update).
    I think they were smart in noticing that people who wanted a desktop would actually *buy* a desktop, and the 17" didn't have the portability that the others wanted in a laptop.

    So it seems the 15" really evolved into a "sweet spot" for people who wanted pro power in a laptop. In the rev. C they loaded up the 15 with a faster speed and the best options (graphics card, video ram, etc.) so that the 17" really isn't the noticably more powerful machine anymore.

    I think the only thing at all that you are giving up with the 15 is 2 more inches of screen real estate. And to me that's not worth the slightly ungainly (it looks kind of slab-like to me) and larger size. I think if screen size is important, you should get an external display -- esp. since the powerbooks can work in both mirror and display mode (not sure if that's the right term?) meaning you can use it as a clamshell with single monitor, or across 2. You can get CRTs really cheap and even good non apple flat panel 20" displays for around $800.

    I would say the 15" is the best choice for power and portability, with a large external display if the screen size is an issue.
  21. Calvinatir macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2003
    i LOVE my 17!! I carry it everywhere and i have NO regrets at all! the 17 is amazing!
  22. Penman macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2004
    I love my 17". I have 2GB of Ram and my other half has a 15". The proportions on hers do look nicer but when you start working the 17" shones through. The extra resolution on the screen (still not enough!) makes a big difference for running multiple aps and at the end of the day the screen's veerything. Most people wouldn't use a 15" screen on a $700 PC let alone a $2000 computer.

    Finally the screen's not just bigger - it's a different shape. The 15" is 16:10 and the 17" is 16:9 (or the other way around). The chips are the same now but they're not the same machine. I tried to save and go to 15" after my Rev. A 17" but it just feels too small screenwise now. I'd buy a 19" if they made one!
  23. aswitcher macrumors 603


    Oct 8, 2003
    Canberra OZ
    And for a desktop replacement this is a big issue (pardon the pun). 17 means you get at least the 15 space clean AFTER application bar and buttons, and the dock are taken into account.
  24. DJY macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2003
    Canberra AUST
    I appreciate all your comments guys!
    Keep em coming!!!!

    I still like the idea of the 17" I think...
    as if I'm going to switch - I figured I may as well (for only a couple of hundred bucks extra) add the complete WOW factor!

    aswitcher you raise a good point - useable screen space after dock / bars / application frames etc... Mmmmm

    maybe I should go visit the Mac1 store again!
  25. Penman macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2004
    Not a bad thought. It's really in the screen. One thing I note is that the people who swear 17" is too big tend to be people who don't own one. Guessing what it's like to lug around and doing it are different things. Closed the sizes are really similar (15-17) and aside form a narrower choice of bags you're still hauling about 6 lbs with you if you have the 15". 1.2lbs seems pretty trivial and most people I know don't normally hike with their PB (Apple don't really address that need - the 12's small but not compared to Wintel alternatives).

    It was the 17" as well that cause the 'wow' at launch and it's interesting to note that the Windows world's embraced that size with more gusto than widescreen 15" - probably beause 4:3 15" and 16" screens still tend to offer better resolution. Apple really needs to offer better resolution on the next revision. It's weird to be be as low comparative to the competition.

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