2015 15" or 2014 13"


macrumors regular
Original poster
May 13, 2010
So the 13" 256gb is on sale for $1200 and I just bought the new 2015 15" with amd graphics for $2300. Like many, I had been waiting for broadwell for the 15 and after two refreshes it never came. I sat on a 2010 pre retina MBP 15 and its on its last leg and I can wait no longer. Out of frustration I just bought the new 15 recently. After reading more about its specs, I have a bit of regret since it is running 2 year old hardware for both cpu and gpu.

So, I am now considering just getting an older version of 13" for a little bit more than half the cost. I am a graduate student in computer science. Though I mostly do my programming and experiments through ssh and the department clusters. However, I never had a portable laptop or computer before. I understand the specs pretty well but I am a bit skeptical about whether going with slower hardware and screen I would experience slow down during everyday use. The most demanding apps I plan to run are Firefox (a lot of tabs and windows) and video playback on the internal screen. I'll be running some intensive software (photoshop, matlab, etc) occasionally. I can forgot gaming for the smaller laptop so no boot camp and most likely light VM for Ubuntu. Ram would be not a big deal as I do plan to keep the 13 as long as I plan to keep a 15 as my main and only laptop. So I hope I can get some feedback on how this upgrade route sounds. My current laptop has a ssd and storage drive so I'll keep an external slow drive to port my data.


macrumors 6502a
Jan 23, 2013
There are two things to consider. Going from the 15in with AMD to the 13in is a pretty drastic downgrade. I understand you may want to wait for something else but I'm not quite sure why. People that are waiting for the next MacBook are going to be waiting a while.

One, they probably already have a current MBP and Broadwell is only going to be 10% faster, its not a huge jump. People waiting for Skylake will get 15% faster than the current build, still not huge. Because of this people that are waiting now may keep waiting till that gets to be 30% or higher to justify a 2,500 to 3k MBP purchase. You on the other hand do not have a MBP, or didn't so your need to wait is far less than theirs, though it is up to you if you really want to wait longer, and it could be as long as early to mid next year for the next refresh.

Two, if you do downgrade the difference between the 13 to 15 with AMD is again pretty large. Especially if you do any gaming or run emulation software. The main reasons being they 13 uses a dual core CPU's as were the 15 uses a quad core making the chip 95% faster in multi core applications. Emulation software along with most applications these days in the Mac OS are multicore. Example the MBP 15 base with AMD, the CPU gets a score of 13997 as were the 13in gets a 6849. Its a pretty big jump. The 15in also comes stock with 16GB of ram this helps everything on the computer as less information needs to be held in the swap space. It also greatly helps emulation software, as your diving the CPU and RAM with that program.

In closing will the 13 work for you? sure. you could probably even get away with very light gaming. But the difference will be fairly large depending on what apps you run. Not to forget 13 vs 15 in screen size is a much bigger difference that you may think.


Staff member
May 3, 2009
I have a bit of regret since it is running 2 year old hardware for both cpu and gpu.
I understand your buyers remorse, yet the 15" MBP is a great machine and even this Haswell based laptop is very capable.

If you're looking to returning that and getting an older 13" MBP some things to consider (which may or may not matter to you).

The 13" laptop will be dual core, less memory and have a slower GPU, whereas the new 15" MBP is the fastest laptop apple us currently producing with 16GB of ram, a fast GPU and is quad core.

Personally (and I've used both 13" and 15" MBPs) the 15" is a better option and its easier to work with thanks to the larger screen. I can understand the budgetary concerns but there is no reason why the 15" MBP cannot last 5+ years for you. From that perspective its a good buy imo.
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macrumors 6502
May 20, 2015
I'd personally 100% stay with the 15". It is an extremely powerful machine even though the hardware is 2 years old. I'm a heavy power user and i'm not even able to max out my mid-2012 15" rMBP. I may not even upgrade when skylake comes out with a redesign because i'd be blowing all that money for something i'm not even going to take advantage of. Even so I can't imagine the performance gains be more than 10-15 percent of what you just bought. Even if it is....so what? I have at least 6 apps open at any given time with many browser tabs and a Windows 8 and RedHat distro VM running and it doesn't use near all my computers resources. You just bought a 2015 model so it's absolutely decked out. I'd keep it, use it, and enjoy it. We really are getting to a point where specs matter less and less. Not that they don't matter but what use is a little bit faster when the current machine is more than fast enough. Your machine will fit your needs and exceed them just fine. Keep your 15" it will serve you very well. Mine's the best computer i've ever had. Sold my 3930k 16gb ram 2x gtx 680 rig for it.


macrumors 65816
May 22, 2014
Dude you answered your own question. You said you'll be running heavy duty software and you are a CS wonk. Get all the horses you can. 15". I have both. The 13" is way better to lug around. But if you have real stuff you do on it, your 2 cores will always be running at significant load. Which actually will kill the batter faster than a 15" feeling less of a processing load.


macrumors 6502
May 24, 2014
I'm also a graduate student and I connected to University HPC using a 2010 MBP so you really don't need a powerful machine since most of the work in done on another system. And I think people over hyped the Skylake as if it's gonna make any machine obsolete. People.. it's not a gonna have a quantum processor!! It will be a great upgrade but if you need a machine now, get what you want and need.


macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
Specs are totally overrated. The 15" is just as fast as it was before you looked up its specs. If you would have been happy with it not knowing they are 2 years old, then there's no reason to be disappointed now.

It depends on how much you value the 15". Is it $1,100 better than the 13"? To me, it isn't. If I could get my $2,300 back and buy the 13" for $1,200, I'd do it. Your mileage may vary.
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