Confused about which model to buy

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by matt3526, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. matt3526 macrumors regular

    Mar 7, 2011
    Hi all,

    I have been a windows user for 10+ years but now I have decided that I want a mac and I am not sure which model to get. I am studying physics at uni and so I need something that I can take into uni with me easily. I also need to run simulations in Matlab and Maple, as well as the usual surfing, writing documents etc. I have the funds to buy the top spec 15" Macbook pro but I am not sure if this will be overkill, plus it will be bigger and heavier than a 13". I do however, like to play the occasional game. I don't care about running games on ultra at 720p, but being able to smoothly run steam games would be nice. Can the 13" handle this, or should I invest in the 15"?

  2. Derango macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2011
    The gaming is going to be what forces your choice here. The 13" gaming performance is fairly sub par with even moderately recent games.

    I might be leaning towards the low end 15" if I were you. Depends what specific games you're looking at playing.
  3. Tconroy135 macrumors newbie

    Feb 13, 2011
    I have the 13" and it is not a gaming machine. I do play Amnesia and Half-Life 2 on it, but anything else I would go with the 15", the high-end 15" is the best of all 3 models for gaming.
  4. matt3526 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 7, 2011
    Thanks for your replies,

    The kinds of games I am interested in playing are Football manager, Civ 5 and maybe a bit of black ops via bootcamp. It would be a shame if the 13" couldn't handle these as the price difference for the low end 15" is more than a ps3.

  5. Derango macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2011
    I don't know if the 13" is going to handle civ 5 as well as you'd like it to and black ops is (Edited this bit) going to be a little on the pokey side.

    The low end 15" will handle those games on mid to lower settings. The high end 15" will chew them up and spit them out while asking for seconds.

    So it's looking like your choice is going to be if you're cool with saving a little bit of money in exchange for lower settings in games or if you're willing to buy in to the upgraded video card for the full performance. I'd steer well clear of the 13" in your situation.

    EDIT: Looks like black ops wasn't as awful as I thought it was. Good thing I double checked

    It's still not's doable if you REALLY want the 13"
  6. skye12 macrumors 65816


    Nov 11, 2006
    Austin, Tx
    I think the low end 15" is the sweet spot for performance vs investment.
    And the 15" screen is a lot nicer.
  7. Joontheduke macrumors newbie

    Feb 28, 2011
    Me similar specs you have. I've purchased 15'' 2.2Ghz 4GB 750GB after giving serious thoughts on which to buy. I rather looked for future proof considering my specs. It actually is way beyond my needs for now but I think I would not be so much behind even after 3-5 yrs later...I hope;)
  8. michael.lauden macrumors 68020


    Dec 25, 2008
    I haven't had a problem playing any game on mine in low-med quality.

    If you are running 'simulations' - it depends on how processor intensive they are. If you're into 'gaming' get a console. Game devs hate the pc market (piracy) and higher quality will definitely be obtained for way cheaper.

    With the 'size' thing. I really just don't get this (except with the 17"er). I carry around a camelbak backpack (w/o the bladder for school/traveling). I usually have 2 sketchbooks, my MacBook, pens/pencils/etc, 2 notebooks and usually a textbook at school - or minus the notebooks/textbooks if I'm anywhere else. I can't see the huge difference between a 13" and 15" in my scenario.

    I mean. I have a backpack. Is it really that much LESS portable? Same argument I have against an iPad in my case
  9. Lock macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2007
    I’m in the same boat as you, and I’m also stumped. The base 13” model would be fine for 95% of what I do, but I like to play the occasional game, especially when I first get a new computer and there is the novelty of playing newer games at decent settings.

    The 600$ difference (cdn$) in price means that, as you said, you can pick up a ps3 or xbox (and a small lcd and several games) along with a 13” mbp.

    I’m tempted to go that route mainly because I don’t really like the idea of gaming on a pricey laptop that is my #1 computer. It seems like too much strain and too much risk. And, I guess, if the 13” mbp breaks anyway, at least I’ll have something to do while it’s being repaired.
  10. adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    Get the I7 13" - you will see benefit in your work and gaming as the I7 can overclock itslef more than the I5 and since the GPU is linked to CPU speed you get better gaming performance.

    You have been warned though, the 13" mbp is not a gaming machine.

    also I went from 15 to 13" and love the form factor, so much more portable.
  11. yycguy macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2009
    I agree. Get the 13" i7. I just picked up one on Friday and it is pretty speedy. You have 14days to try it out and take it back. If worst comes to worst and you get the 13" and decide it is not for you in a month, you can sell it for almost what you paid for it and get the 15"er. Unfortunately it will cost you extra though.
  12. ThaDoggg macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2010
    Peterborough, Canada
    Get the base 15" with a high res screen. Since you game you can make use of the extra screen estate when on the go and the dedicated graphics card is a definite plus.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  13. matt3526 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 7, 2011
    Thanks for all of your help. Gaming would not be a big part of the mac experience for me as I have a ps3 but it it always nice to be able to play a few games when I am sitting in an airport etc. Would it be fair to say that games that ran on the 2010 13" would run on the 2011 13" or will the base 15" be required for this? I only ask because it seems like (according to youtube) most old-ish games run pretty well on the 2010 13". By old I mean Arkham Asylum, Splinter cell conviction etc. It seems to me like everything else I need the mac for will run fine on the 13" so the final thing holding up my decision is to game, or not to game...
  14. hushmartin, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011

    hushmartin macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2009
    I was pretty much in the same place as you, had a 2k max budget. I just got the 13" i7 on Sunday. I'm might upgrade the ram to 8gb, but it's not a pressing need or anything. I'm very confident that this thing will handle pretty much anything I decide to throw at it. I really heavily considered the 15", but in the end the smaller size and weight won. This will play any games you might have used on earlier 13" MBPs, no problem.

    Anyway, If I were you, I'd do what I'm doing and try the 13" i7 out for a couple weeks to see how it works out. If it doesn't, trade up.
  15. ifeelgood macrumors newbie


    Mar 7, 2011
    Hi all! Is there any really noticeable difference between mpb 13 core i5 and core i7? I mean in gaming and in graphics productivity. I'm in the same place - going to get the 13" but can't decide which config to choose.
    I play games only occasionally so I don't really care about the GPU performance but it'll be nice to play Steam games like HL2: Deathmatch and maybe Starcraft 2
  16. Tears Apart macrumors 6502a

    Tears Apart

    Jun 10, 2009
    Outside Closer
    Top end 15'' won't only allow you to play better, but also make the general performance better.

    Go 15'' 2.2 high res if you can, you won't regret it.
  17. matt3526 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 7, 2011
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. I think I'll go for the high end 15". That way I know it will be able to handle everything I throw at it and should last many years.
  18. artomes macrumors newbie

    Dec 30, 2008
    Great choice I think thats what ill be doing as well.
  19. AppleMacFinder macrumors 6502a


    Dec 7, 2009
    13" low end OR 15" high end
    Because 17" is for professionals, and low end 15" is quite a weird choice at the moment.

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