(2018 MacBook Pro) 13 inch for portability or 15 inch for power

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by J-wor, Aug 4, 2018.


13 for portability or 15 for power

  1. 13 inch

    41 vote(s)
  2. 15 inch

    34 vote(s)
  1. J-wor, Aug 4, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018

    J-wor macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2018
    I’m looking to get a new laptop to replace my 5 year old gaming laptop and I’m looking to get a MacBook Pro that will last me the next 5+ years. I’m going to college next year in New York City and I need a laptop that is portable seeing as I will be moving around a lot, so either Mac will be an upgrade form my old 10 pound laptop, the 13 inch is very appealing in this aspect. However, I’m a little worried about the graphical performance on the 13 inch due to it only having integrated graphics, which is why I’m considering a 15 inch. Can anyone with a 15 inch comment on the portability of it?

    I was waiting for a quad core 13 inch to be announced so the 13 inch should have a powerful enough cpu for me. I’m debating between the top of the line 13 inch (i7, 16gb of ram) and base 15 inch (i7 2.2ghz, 16gb of ram). I’m going to be using my laptop for music (Logic Pro X, pro tools, notation software), photoshop, video editing (nothing intense), some gaming (again, nothing intense), and school work. The main reason for the 15 inch is the graphics card and larger screen. The 13 inch has enough ram and a good enough cpu for me. It’s mainly the graphics that make me debate the two. The 13 inch definitely has a nicer form factor though.

    I want the 13 inch size, I’m just wondering if the integrated graphics are powerful enough to handle what I need. Is the 13 inch powerful enough to handle what I’m going to throw at it or will it struggle enough compared to the 15 inch to warrant getting the larger laptop. The portability is appealing, but the power and extra screen size of the 15 inch is also appealing. Is the 15 inch hard or annoying to carry around/travel with compared to the 13 inch? If the 13 inch is powerful enough to do what I need and will be able to last the next 5+ years and not slow down too much then I would like to do that. However, if the 15 inch is still very portable and is easy to travel with, then I would also like that because of the dedicated gpu and larger screen. I have been constantly debating this since the new laptops were announced going back and forth between the two, so anything anyone has to say would be appreciated.

  2. Hustle macrumors 6502a

    Jul 29, 2007
  3. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    15” and don’t look back. The screen is awesome. If you like playing games, the 15” is more capable.
  4. azt33 macrumors member

    Sep 29, 2006
    13" - I use Adobe PP and AE on it. The 15" is of course faster, but the portability is really bad... Especially compared to the 13".
  5. J-wor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2018
    Does the 13” struggle when you are working in adobe or is it relatively smooth? This laptop needs to last me 5+ years. The 13” has a much nicer size so if the 15” is a little faster, but the 13” can still handle the same tasks just a little slower, I would take the 13” because of the nicer form factor.
  6. Adeel_ macrumors member


    Aug 1, 2018
    The portability of the 15” is not that bad.

    I have a mid 2010 15” and I did a lot of travel without any issues
  7. Pangalactic macrumors 6502


    Nov 28, 2016
    I think you've just answered your own question, to be honest :D 13'' for portability, 15'' for power, whatever you value more
  8. J-wor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2018

    Is the 13” powerful enough to handle most tasks or is the 15” the one to get if you want something that will last a while and handle what you throw at it, and is there a substantial difference in portability or are these differences not going to get in the way regardless of which one I go with? Basically what I’m asking is which one offers the best of both between the two.
  9. The Mercurian macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    You could get the 13" and if you find you need more GPU power get an eGPU
  10. Patcell macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2016
    Bergen County, NJ
    I have a 2017 15” and I have absolutely no issue with the portability of the machine. Even compared to my previous 2014 15”, the new generation is more easily carried around. And I do value the discrete GPU.

    I have never carried a 13” in the current form factor, but my wife has one and it is noticeably less weight than my machine. I should throw it in my bag and see if I can tell the difference in weight...

    All that being said, given what you intend to do with the computer, my vote is 15”.
  11. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    You and only you have to decide whether screen size is more important than lighter. The 2010-2015 MBP was 4.5-5 lbs. The new ones are 4 lbs compared to the 3 lb 13”. Yes 33% heavier or 25% lighter depending on your vantage but as you said much lighter than your old machine.

    I have a 2012 2.97 lb 13” MacBook Air. I am likely getting a 15” for the screen. I think the extra weight is ok. It is only 4 lbs. I want a larger screen and have wrestled with the weight issue but really want a bigger screen.

    However, as has been said you have to make that choice. I will say with gaming and the music apps you mentioned I think you will prefer the 15” screen, graphics, and power.
  12. Pangalactic macrumors 6502


    Nov 28, 2016

    Power: 13'' does 95% of all the things the 15'' does. The only difference comes in heavy video editing, but since both can handle 4k final cut and even 4k adobe just fine I don't think it really matters. With connectable GPUs, the difference fades even further.

    Portability: 13'' is better but not THAT much better, neither of them is bulky and can be easily used during taxi rider or in plains and on trains. In terms of battery life with light usage 15'' comes ahead since it has a larger battery and CPU/GPU consumption does not go up by that much.
  13. lishaoalox macrumors member


    Jun 17, 2018
    I always go for 13". Since I don't need such power by 15" and is a weight-hater.
    While on business trips, I've found much more convenience with the 13".
  14. Howard2k macrumors 68020


    Mar 10, 2016

    I have a 2015 13” and love the portability.

    But the new 15” is barely bigger than my currnet 2015 13”. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say “really bad” portability for the 2018 15”
  15. Macdaddi69 macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2018
    I'm stuck in the same boat as you... I feel your pain! My brain is also exploding! I've been thinking about 13'' vs 15'' for over 2 weeks already!

    I'm also upcoming college student and I also value portability since I'm planning on using my laptop in lectures.
    I'm debating between almost maxed out 13'' (besides ssd, I don't need more than 1 TB) vs more expensive version of 15'' on apple website but with 1TB SSD upgrade. The price difference is around $200-300 with student discount. I've never had 15'' laptop but having a larger screen sounds very good. BUT at the same time portability is very important. I feel like 15'' is not that much heavy, but it's more awkward to use in public places (Starbucks, library, school,etc) I'm not planning to do any intensive 4k editing... More like browsing the web, working with word documents, powerpoints, watching movies (which is better on larger screen), a little but of photoshop and eventually play some easy games such as CSGO and Rocket League.
    it's also very important for the laptop to last long time... I don't know if it's stupid to spend almost $3000 on 13'' or not...

    I feel like we are in similar situations. Let's hope we can both make a right decision.
  16. wchigo macrumors 6502


    Apr 6, 2015
    As you mentioned gaming, the 15" should be a no-brainer at that point. Also, the machine is around 4lbs, which is 60% lighter than your 10lb gaming laptop you're moving on from. From that perspective, you're becoming much more mobile.
  17. J-wor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2018

    I agree with you on basically every point. The 15” has what I need, but the 13” inch still has a lot of power and can handle a lot of what I’ll be doing. It’s not the weight of the 15” but, like you said, the size makes it a bit awkward to use in certain places that would be perfect for using the 13” in. I’m going to be using the train a lot at college and also flying quite a bit between college and home and for those instances portability is very important, so the 13” will be much nicer to use. However, I will appreciate the larger screen of the 15” and extra power when I am sitting at my desk and the larger form isn’t an issue.

    What I’m thinking of doing is getting the 15” and then if I need something that is smaller, getting an iPad Pro to use in those situations. Or I can go for the smaller 13”, which can do the majority of what I will need and get an external display and eGPU later for when I need it. This decision has been annoying me for the past couple weeks, but I need to make a decision soon so that pain won’t be around for much longer.
  18. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    I had always used 15" laptops until I bought a MacBook Air in 2010 and never looked back. My post recent laptop is a 13" 2017 MBP. For me portability was more important, especially since I have a much more powerful desktop to do the real heavy lifting.
  19. J-wor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2018
    I know you have a desktop for your heavy lifting, but what is it that your 13” can’t handle that you need the desktop to do? My laptop is going to be my only computer so that’s why this decision is difficult for me. Portability is important to me, but I don’t want to risk being restrained by the 13”.
  20. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    Mainly gaming (it's a PC) I also prefer to do my video editing on the PC. Two large monitors and a real mouse make it easier and more enjoyable.
  21. SBruv macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2008
    If gaming is a priority, you’re going to be disappointed with either, but less so with the 15”, obviously.
  22. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2015
    Maybe I overlooked it, but what are you going to study? Depending on your major, one or the other might be preferable.
  23. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    My 15" is quite portable, I've been using 15" laptops on and off for many years and I've not had any issues. I've tried and use 13" in the past and yes, they're small/lighter but giving up that larger screen has always resulted in buyers remorse for me.
  24. hajime macrumors 603

    Jul 23, 2007
    Between the base 13" and 15", which has less heat/noisy fan issue and have a better battery life?
  25. Patcell macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2016
    Bergen County, NJ
    For those deciding between the Pro's, remember Apple's no questions asked return policy (I don't think it varies much from country to country). In the US you can return a laptop to Apple at any time within 14 days of delivery, so you can try one of them out and see if it fits you needs.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 5, 2018 ---
    Well, less heat is probably the 13". I have the 15" and the fans are always running, although not audible until I push it pretty hard. It is silent under simple use (web browsing, youtube, Netflix, productivity apps, etc), but the fans are always spinning. My wife has the 13 inch and the fans do not run under the previously mentioned uses - not that they are silent, they actually are not spinning. The fans only kick on when you start doing more intensive stuff. I like that about the 13" model.

    For me though, absolutely no regrets in going with the 15" Pro. My occasional game and 4K video edit benefit heavily from he dGPU. My wife is a professional photographer though, and her 13" has absolutely no problem with heavy Lightroom/ Photoshop work. They may be a bit faster on the 15", but the portability won out for her.

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61 August 4, 2018