Buying first Mac: 15" ($1879) vs. 17" ($2039): Is it really that big of a difference?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by midgetsanchez, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. midgetsanchez macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2009
    So I'm about to buy my first macbook for college, and I've narrowed it down to two models:

    1.) The new 15" unibody MBP with 2.8ghz/4gb/500gb 7200 rpm for $1879 + tax

    2.) The 17" unibody MBP with same specs( 2.8ghz/4gb/500gb 7200 rpm) for $2039 + tax. Glossy screen(I actually prefer it over matte).

    Now, I'm an engineering major but do a lot of casual graphics design just as a hobby. I'm currently using a 15.4" Asus notebook which is wonderful but it's time to switch over(most of the students at my uni use macs, a lot of the software we work with is mac-only).

    Anyway, according to the specs the 17" is only about an inch wider/longer than the 15", so it's footprint is pretty similar - it's not monstrously huge or anything. However, it is 6.6 pounds, a pound heavier than the 15". However, I'll be carrying it around in a backpack so it shouldn't be an issue(I survived all last year with my current notebook which is a 15" asus that actually weighs 6.5 pounds).

    The only real problem is I'm going to be carrying this around a lot, possibly everyday, so if it proves too cumbersome this might be an issue.

    What I think it really comes down to, is value - the 17" is only about $200 more, but you get slightly better battery life, a drop-dead gorgeous 1920 display, an extra usb port I think, and more importantly, an expresscard slot(Apple is retarded for removing this. It's a ****ing standard feature on all notebooks - they could've at least added an eSata port instead so I could have high-speed transfers with my external, but no. By the time apple implements eSata/blu-ray/etc. it'll be 2013.

    Anyway, my question is, should I just go for the 17", or will it prove unnecessarily large/heavy for someone who'll carry it around campus often? I want some input, particularly from other 17" owners - do you find your 17" too awkwardly large or heavy to carry around for day-to-day use?

    So, which one would you go for? The 15" or 17"? Thanks.

    ***By the way, the reason why I'm getting discounted prices is because I have an ADC student developer account.
  2. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    How are you getting those prices?

    EDIT: How do you get a Developer account? Are these prices valid at the Apple Store?
  3. NoSmokingBandit macrumors 68000


    Apr 13, 2008
    ^^Read the last sentence....

    What model Asus is it? Theres a chance that with some minor tinkering you could run osx on it.

    As far as the 15" vs 17" goes i would personally go with the 17" for engineering. The higher resolution is going to be very useful when you are drawing stuff. If you do a lot of drawing/rendering at your desk you might want to get the 15" then spend the ~$200 difference on an external monitor. The color wont be great, but for engineering i wouldnt think color accuracy would be a huge issue. It really just depends on how/where you are going to use it most.
  4. midgetsanchez thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2009
    It's an m50sa(intel core 2 duo 2.5ghz overclocked to 3.0), 4gb ram/500 gb 7200 rpm drive/1gb nvidia card, forgot which). It's about a year old but works great, I did actually install OSX on it to try it out but everyone knows hackint0sh's aren't as smooth(I had a lot of little driver issues here and there which made it a real pain).

    My real concern is just about the bulk factor when it comes to the 17"...I may just have to go into an apple store and play with one so I can get a feel of how heavy it is.
  5. midgetsanchez thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2009
    I don't know if I'm allowed to post this(actually, I don't care, here:)

    I don't know if the link will work for you but try it. Those are developer prices.
  6. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    Nope didn't work. I saw that it's $99 for the student developer thing but I really don't know if it's worth the hassle to save $100.
  7. Feng Shui macrumors regular

    Apr 9, 2008
    Go with the 17". But know that there is a huge difference between glossy and glassy.
  8. midgetsanchez thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2009
    Try this:

    Click on the "ADC Hardware Purchase Program Store" link.

    And the developer discount is HUGE, it's not like the education discount which only gives you $100 off. This is about $400 off, I think, depending on what you get.
  9. Boxer757 macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2009
    Can any college student order through an ADC account? I just ran it all the way through the store and it let me get right up to the place order screen...
  10. midgetsanchez thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2009
    Obviously not, or people would be buying these and re-selling for pretty big profits. If you try to place an order you'll just get an email saying your ordered was cancelled.(I know because I tried). "Dear Developer, We received your web order but we are unable to process it at this time. You do not have Hardware Discount assets to make this purchase from the Developer Store."

    If you're a college student I'd pay the $99 and set up the account so you can get the hardware discount. It's a little bit of a hassle but definitely worth the savings. Oh, and I don't think you can combine the developer discount with the back-to-school free iPod promotion(I might be wrong though, does anyone know?)
  11. Sneakz macrumors 65816


    Jul 17, 2008
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    No, you can't combine the free iPod deal with student ADC hardware discount.
  12. Boxer757 macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2009
    Yeah I thought that might be a little too good to be true :p Thanks for the info, didn't mean to jack your thread!

    I'll definitely look into setting up an account. I don't really need the ipod touch so that's not a big deal to me. Where would I go to set up the account? I couldn't seem to find any info on the apple website :confused:

    Anyone know if I could still get applecare at the student rate? Maybe by going to a physical apple store and buying it afterward? I noticed it was ~$350 in the ADC store and ~$240 in the education store.
  13. admanimal macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2005
    Slightly OT, but I just faxed in my student verification materials this long did it take for them to activate your membership after you did this?
  14. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    Ah not really worth it then...
  15. midgetsanchez thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2009
    I still have to mail in mine depends, supposedly it takes a couple of days from what I've heard, up to a week...

    I know someone asked for a link for buying student developer accounts before so here it is :

    I think it's definitely worth getting $400 off. The 17" starts at 2499 on the regular retail store, but starts at 1999 on the developer store. That's $500 off (400 when you factor in the cost of the account). So, uh, yeah, it's definitely worth it. I don't see why anyone would think otherwise.
  16. Boxer757 macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2009
    Thanks for the link! Looks like it could be a pretty sweet deal.

    I agree the $400 definitely looks worth it to me.
  17. admanimal macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2005
    Plus the membership will include, at the very least, a copy of Snow Leopard when it comes out, so that's at least another $30 you are saving (or more depending on whether they send us the full version of Snow Leopard and/or Leopard as well).
  18. eVolcre macrumors 68000


    Jan 7, 2003
    I posted this in another thread but it applies here as well and may help you decide.

    I just got back from the Apple store to help me make the same decision. My current laptop is also a 17" 1st Gen MBP. I love it but like you, it sometimes gets too large to carry around. But, I have traveled all around the world with it over the last 3 years and HAVE taken it to work every day for a year. It's large, but doable. Before I saw them in person I had convinced myself to get the 15" because it seemed more portable. To be honest, the difference isn't that great between the 15" and 17". If I could take the 15" around I can take the 17".

    The other aspect was screen real estate. I've gotten used to having two Safari windows open next to each other or a browser and a Word document. I do a lot of research and writing and this helps me be more efficient. You can't do that on the 15". This is tough to describe without pics but ..

    17": A full browser and a Word document fit next to each other with a little room to spare.

    15": 25% of the browser was hidden behind the document

    13" 40% of the browser was hidden behind the document.

    This is a completely unscientific and subjective approach but it helped me compare.

    My conclusion ... the 15" doesn't cut it for me. It's so close in size to the larger one that its not truly portable. The screen resolution is also too low. If my browser is going to be hidden anyway and I'll be using Expose/Spaces for my workflow, then I may as well drop down to the 13" or the MacBook Air.

    The final aspect is completely subjective. The 'lust factor'. I've realized I don't like the current designs. The black keys and border are generic and don't give me the same 'I wanna buy it' feeling that the old ones did. Keeping that in mind, the 15" is just too blah. Not sexy and portable, not thin and large. The 17" does have some lust factor. Its the thinnest 'large' laptop on the market and the screen is something else! On the other end - I don't like the 13" MBP either. The MBA is something that is unique.

    That's my opinion. Keep in mind that my main consideration is the screen resolution. I haven't decided which way to go yet. All I know is that the 15" is out of consideration. It's either the 17" or one of the smaller ones. The 17" compared to my machine has an incredible screen that does make me want it. I might even keep my current machine. It's being overhauled by Apple and meets my needs. I like the old design. I also couldn't get used to the glass trackpad. It was too hard to push it!

    It's not worth it. The slight difference in size and weight doesn't make it any more portable than the 17". It's going to feel cramped. You're going to have to get used to it and if that's the case, may as well go fully portable and get the 13" Others can chime in on the graphics card etc.


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