Buying a new MacBook Pro: 13 in. vs. 15 in.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bbour38, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. bbour38 macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2010
    I've been waiting for a few weeks for the newly upgraded MacBook Pros to come out to make my first Mac purchase. After they finally came out yesterday, I've been comparing models and played with a few yesterday at the Apple Store.

    I'm currently debating between the base 13 inch version and the base 15 inch version. The 13 inch MacBook Pro is a pretty affordable $1,099 after my student discount, and the 15 inch is a less attractive $1,699. I'd like to get the HD, anti-glare screen, but it's only available on the 15 inch computer for $150 more. In either case, I'd be getting the three-year Apple Care coverage, which is $183 for the 13 inch and a surprisingly more expensive $239 on the 15 inch.

    After adding the Apple Care to the 13 inch MacBook Pro in my cart on, I found I'd be spending $1,282 before tax. The 15 inch, though, will cost $1,938 without the HD, anti-glare screen and an unbearable $2,073 with it.

    I'm leaning toward the 13 inch MacBook Pro because of the price difference, but it's missing many of the new features that came with most of yesterday's upgrades: an Intel i5 processor, Intel HD graphics and a less sophisticated NVIDIA graphics card. However, I'd be saving $600 on the notebook alone by opting for the 13 inch.

    I plan on doing a little bit of photo editing and graphic design with Adobe InDesign and Photoshop CS4/CS5, and I need this computer to last me at least five years. This is definitely an investment for both my college coursework and my marketing job, and I want something fast and reliable. But I also don't want to spend $600 on a high-end processor and a bottomless hard drive I would never use.

    So here are a few questions. What is the biggest difference between the Core Duo and i5 processors, and at what kind of workload would I even notice a difference? Will the HD graphics greatly improve my resolution on photographs, layouts and video? Will the amped up graphics cards handle photos and video with more ease? Is there any reason the 13 inch wouldn't last me as long?

    Thanks, Ben.
  2. Surely Guest


    Oct 27, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Something to keep in mind: you have up to one year from your purchase date to buy AppleCare, so you can put the cost of that off for 364 days......

    And do a search..... there are already plenty of threads here that can tell you about both MBP models....
  3. Daiken macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    Hey mate,

    Sorry if I steal a bit of your thread, but I don't want to start a new thread just to ask similiar question as you.

    I will be starting graphic design class after the summer and was thinking of a 13" MBP.

    My question is just: will CS5 work smooth on the 13" ?

    Thx in advance
  4. Jaro65 macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    If you give it enough RAM it should work just fine. But are you really sure you want to do graphic design on a screen that small???
  5. bbour38 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2010
    Thanks for the help. So if I wait a year to get the Apple Care, will that actually lengthen my warranty, or will I get three additional years after the basic warranty ends regardless of when I pay for it?

    I agree with Jaro. Both the 13 inch and the 15 inch MacBook Pros come with 4GB of RAM and should do fine with Adobe CS5. I hear extra RAM goes down over time, so I'd wait on upgrading to 8GB if you can rather than shelling out $400 extra for it now.

    Surely, I've done some research about the new processors and have checked out some threads in this forum, but I'm trying to get a tangible idea of what I'd be missing. Obviously, there aren't many extensive reviews of personal use since it only came out yesterday, but I'd like to hear some feedback on them before I make a purchase.
  6. breathesrain macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2010
    I have basically the same quandry...The price difference is actually a bit bigger because, since we would just get the standard 13", it's a bit more than a hundred dollars cheaper than the student discount on Amazon (because there's no tax).

    You said you'd be doing "a little bit" of photo editing and all much, exactly, is a little? The whole resolution thing is debatable...since the HD screen on the 15" is under 1920x1080, full HD movies would still be scaled down (but photo editing would be improved, I'm sure).

    I know that's not a complete reply, but I hope it helps a little. the price difference for you would be about twice as much- it'd probably be worth it to buy the low end and just buy an updated version in two years for the same money as buying the 15"...
  7. Apple Expert macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Any type of editing I would go with 15" over 13". Yes 13" is more portable, but not by much. 15" will be easier to work with and much more powerful. Me personally I was going with 13" until yesterday's refresh. 15" with the HD screen sold me. That and having a C2D processor killed it for the 13". To me the 13" is good for home use. That's what my iPad will be for. 15" for all the big boy stuff. :D
  8. Surely Guest


    Oct 27, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    No, it doesn't give you three additional years after the basic warranty ends. It makes it a total of three years. Buying it on day 364 is the same thing as buying it on day 1 (except for the lack of phone support after 90 days, which will kick back in once you buy AppleCare). I always buy my AppleCare near the end of the first year... I never needed phone support.

    Then you'll have to wait another week or two until people post reviews of their experiences with them. They just came out yesterday, no one has really been able to put them to extended use yet.
  9. bbour38 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2010
    You're saying there's a equal or greater discount on Amazon, and they don't charge you tax? I've seen $100 discount on Apple on both these models, but all the prices I posted are before tax.

    When I say a little design, I mean I'm doing taking photos for product brochures and presentations for a small company rather than laying out newspaper or magazine pages. Design is a small part of my job - I'm not expected to create enormous, artsy layouts every day at work. I'm sure designers with the Intel Core Duo did fine before - every Mac I've been on is extremely fast and handles CS4 pretty well.

    So you're suggesting it may be better to get the 13 inch now and buy another 13 inch in two years for the same price as buying the 15 inch now? That seems reasonable since I'd likely have a better processor, RAM etc. in a laptop two years from now, but I really want a laptop that will last me at least four or five years. I think this $1,100, base model 13 inch laptop will last given my experience with how Macs hold up fine, and I'm beginning to think doubling my investment won't generate twice the benefits.

    I'm thinking that if my experience here leads to a really serious, exclusive graphic design job, I may be better off getting an enormous screen or an external monitor and having a serious processor. But from everything I read, a 13 inch MacBook Pro should be able to handle my needs for a while.

    You said you're leaning toward the 13 inch, too?
  10. Daiken macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    For me it will probably lean for the 13" more since this will be my first Mac ever. going to the "bright" side ey :p

    However yes i agree that 15" might be better for photoshop since the resolution, but the portability is really nice. since im going abroad to Beijing to study language I believe 13" will suit better than the 15" ? I'm asking about if it will run smooth (13") on CS5 is because I will be having some graphic design courses. hopefully the 13" will cut it.
  11. Kingcodez macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2009
    Just get the 13 for now and when they finally refresh it to your satisfaction, or ina year with the new 15's, sell it, take a 1-200 dollar loss, and buy a new computer. Simplest route.

    Hell, I'm sure the 15's i5 chip will come down in price too.
  12. M1K3YY macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2010
    thats exactly my situation i had today...should i get the 13in and pay 1200 after taxes...or get the 15in with highres display for 2000... i decided to get the 13in and save 800 bucks.. i plan on building a desktop in a few months for gaming..and just using my mbp for regular computing.. just my two cents
  13. bbour38 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2010
    The 13 inch is definitely better for portability from what I hear, but there is a trade off with screen size and resolution. That's my dilemma - because this needs to be my all-in-on, multi-purpose computer, I need find a middle ground among processing power, resolution, portability and price. I'd never go with a 17 inch because I'd hate to have to lug that thing to class or work, so I'm in between the two smaller models.

    I'm sure CS5 will run fine on either processor, as the Adobe suites have done fine on any processor in my experience. And this Core Duo isn't an obsolete, sluggish processor by any means; there's just something newer on the market. And I guess that's what makes my decision so difficult - I fear I'll either try to go cheap and regret it later on, or blow over $1,000 more and never use half the features.
  14. thechungster macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2008
    This is exactly how I feel, but I think I might end up with the 13" MBP just because I rarely use processor heavy apps and would like the extra portability for working wherever I go.
  15. thewizzy macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    I wonder how well it can run fps games.. that will seal the deal for me.

    Plus, taking a 15'' laptop to class might be too huge, whereas 13'' seems just about right. Although 15'' outside of class...mmmmm...
  16. charlien macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2006
    I upgraded from a black 13" to the middle 15" MBP. I really love it but do notice the bigger size - both the negative and positive. If you want a really portable unit you may want the 13". For graphic design go 15". But ultimately your wallet may decide.
  17. UKBeast macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2010
    For high end FPS games, get a 15 inch..
  18. w4rmk macrumors regular


    Feb 13, 2006
  19. gooter80 macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2010
    I don't want to hijack, but I feel bad about making another this vs. that thread. My only question is what are the real-world performance differences between the two new 13" MBPs? It is a pretty significant price difference (about $250 when you configure with the same HDD) to jump from the 2.4 to the 2.66, so I was wondering whether you all feel it is a worthwhile expense?
  20. Pravda macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2008
    I have the exact same question, i'm not planing on switching to a SSD, going to keep it as is and either buy a NAS or upload all my pics/music to the Cloud.
    All i do is web surfing, emails, listen to music, pics, and word processing here and there. I'm sure this topic has been beaten like a step child, but i just want reassurance. Leaning towards the 2.4 model and thinking with another $250 added to the $250 that i'm saving...... ipad
  21. ahmen9 macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2010
    how about macbook pro 13 mid2010 vs macbook pro 15 mid2009

    I know there are a lot of threads discussing about performance for 2010 models.
    But then how is the performance for 2009 15 with 9600 graphics vs 2010 13?
    Im asking this because I am really confused whether i should go for 13 2010 with 320m or looking for a 15inch with 9600.
    What is the current price for a whole new 2009 15inch macbook pro with 9600? Are they at the same price with 13 2010?

    I m sorry, ts, Just wanna save some space so im nt going to open a thread for this.
  22. thewizzy macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Would like to know as well
  23. Josh.C.123 macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2009
    i though i wanted the 13inch for portability.. but after seeing the 15inch and getting it i have no regrets. i prefer now just using the larger laptop screen as apposed to having to hook up to an external monitor and buying a keyboard/mouse because i bought a smaller 13inch screen
  24. dendritic cells macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Boston MA
    Some benchmarks, maybe it will help a bit? :rolleyes:
  25. satchmo macrumors 68000

    Aug 6, 2008
    I've always found 15" even too small for any graphic design work.

    Instead, connecting a 13" MBP to an external 23" display is preferable. This way you get portability and larger screen size.

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