An external monitor or the 13" rMBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by hkim1983, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. hkim1983 macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2009
    This probably sounds like a bizarre dilemma, but let offer some background first: I currently have a 2012 13" cMBP, and aside from the screen, I love this machine. It's quiet, it's powerful enough (for me), it doesn't give me problems, and it's portable enough that I never feel uncomfortable. I have since put in a 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of ram.

    One of the things I was hesitant on before purchasing this however, was the screen of the cMBP. Aside from the eye strain that I get after working with it for extended periods of time, the small working space that I have is a bit uncomfortable for some of the things I do. I was considering buying an external Dell IPS monitor (since it seems to have such wide praise, both from my personal friends and online), but I came to an interesting realization: it would actually cost me more to buy the monitor (23-24" range that is, if I go smaller it's comparable) than it would be to sell my current machine and buy a refurbished retina.

    The case for the rMBP:

    -It adheres to my minimization philosophy of having a single computing device rather than multiple, specialized units.
    -It's cheaper or comparable in cost.
    -Easier on the eyes, even compared to an external.

    -Newer technology that isn't quite mature yet (image retention issues, is this overblown or not?) and U/I "lag" that hasn't been fully corrected by software developers yet.

    The case for the external:

    -Even compared to the 13" rMBP in scaled mode, offers superior working space.
    -I don't have to give up an otherwise perfect machine.

    -Doesn't truly address the eye strain issue, in fact, the dell's anti-glare coating could actually make reading text for prolonged periods even harder.
    -I'll still have to deal with the limited desktop while on the go.
    -It's potentially more expensive.

    This may seem like a straight-forward decision in the rMBP's favor, but are there any advantages of the external, or viewpoints that I haven't considered? The weight/footprint advantage of the rMBP is immaterial to me, although I suppose it's nice. Thanks to those who take the time to respond.

    EDIT: I just want to note that the reduced size of the standard rMBP HD is not a big deal to me. As is, I only use about 50-55 GB of space anyway, and I don't see that expanding any time soon unless OS X balloons up by a massive amount in the very near future...
  2. anarti macrumors regular

    Nov 28, 2012
    having external display for macbook is great. you can get much more workspace and "desktop like" feeling when working with excternal keyboard and mouse.

    remember to put your macbook on something like hirise stand etc, to keep it ventilated and to have screen on better level.

    I was working with external display for a very long time, main screen is on the external monitor and secondary on macbook itself. On macbook I get itunes or email opened all the time and everything else is happening on the external display - it is reallt good setup. highly reccomended!
  3. peixesloucos macrumors member


    Dec 1, 2012
    I have an external setup with my Macbook pro 15 (Late 2011). I use the same logic with the main screen on my 23" LG IPS monitor and second one on my Macbook which stands on Griffin elevator. Actually Macbook is on the left and monitor on the right so cables are also do not occupy any place on my work table.

    I have a question about this setup. When I wake my Macbook it takes longer time than when it is not connected to the external monitor. I enter my password on the main screen. I know that the monitor is also sleeping but is there any tips or tricks to make this kind of setup more efficient (fast).

  4. anarti macrumors regular

    Nov 28, 2012
    I haven't noticed any lag when waking up the laptop. Laptop screen is up straight away, takes 1-2 seconds to wake up monitor as this is in powersaving mode.

    I think if you switch off monitor completely when laptop goes into sleep mode, and then switch in on before opening macbook lid, it would help in terms of speed, but you would get few seconds only.
  5. hkim1983 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2009
    To be honest, I don't really care for the "desktop experience". One of the things I love about my laptop, is that I can disconnect it from my power source on my desk and get the same, consistent user experience working on my sofa or on my bed (as bizarre as this sounds, I'm actually more productive sometimes away from my desk).

    Extending my desktop isn't something I consciously considered before, and would reduce the need to buy a keyboard, although would take up more valuable space on my desk. Something to consider I suppose.

    What I do value however, is the working space an external monitor offers. That being said, I've lately been leaning towards just buying an external monitor rather than replacing this with a retina. Aside from the screen, this laptop is perfect for my needs and has zero problems. Moving to a line that has known hardware "issues" isn't too appealing to me, and even if I do decide to replace this with a revised Retina line later this year or next year, I can still benefit from the additional working space the external provides.

    Thank you for your input though.
  6. anarti macrumors regular

    Nov 28, 2012
    or buy a cheap display :) I think desktop experience at home is priceless. The ability to take your laptop, disconnect all cables and just go is fantastic.

    But again, only when you need it. Otherwise, monitor+keyboard+mouse = great setup:)
  7. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    what hardware issues?
  8. chrise2 macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2012
    If screen real estate is your thing, then a monitor is it. The default settings on the retina give you the same real estate as the non-retina (1280 x 800). Everything is just sharper. You can adjust that of course. I kept it at the default. I use an external monitor whenever I can. I keep using the laptop keyboard and just plug in a mouse.
  9. brig2221 macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2010
    I recently purchased a 13" cMBP, and have it hooked up to a 23" IPS LED monitor.

    As someone mentioned earlier in the thread, I got a stand to put my MacBook on when using it as a desktop replacement (for good ventilation). The largest screen I have ever had using a computer was 17" I believe. Working across 23" is absolutely wonderful!

    I think this type of setup is the best of both worlds. My 2012 MacBook Pro is more than powerful to drive everything I need on a nice 23" 1080p monitor, and it takes about 5 seconds to disconnect it for pickup and use as a laptop.

    I think in a few years I will probably upgrade to a Retina model once all the kinks have been worked out and price has been brought down, but will most likely always use it in conjunction wtih a larger monitor for a majority of use.

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