Customized $1799 rmbp 13 vs Base $1799 rmbp 15 (both late 2013). Help!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dbgt, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. dbgt, Jul 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2014

    dbgt macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2014
    So this is my "problem".

    I have always been a Windows desktop (build your own) user. In my 26 years I have only owned 1 laptop (windows) that i bought in 2005 and used it until 2010.

    I currently live in Japan as a PhD student and I need a notebook! I have been researching for months about different options and I concluded that as far as notebooks go Apple seems to make the best overall ones .

    I have been trying to decide for weeks which macbook pro to get. I can get a customized i5 2.6 ghz dual core, 16 gb ram, 512 gb ssd macbook pro 13 for $1799 with student discount or the base 15" model (i7 2.0ghz quad core, 8gb ram, 256gb ssd) for the same price with the student discount.

    I have read and read tons and tons of reviews and forums but still cant 100% decide. I have went to the Apple Store twice and play with both models and i just seem to like both! (for different reasons of course). Yesterday i pulled the trigger and ordered the customized 13", paid in cash but the order has still not been processed (maybe because its weekend). I dont feel 100% convinced of my decision and I keep thinking and thinking "What if..., What if..."

    I brought from my home country my desktop computer which i built almost 3 years ago (wow time passes so fast!), so I have a powerful pc at my home here in Japan (i5-2500k quad core @ 4.1 ghz, 16 gb ram, gtx 570, etc).

    The macbook will be most of the time sitting at my desk in the University -probably connected to a 27" monitor (maybe the Dell U2713HM as I am planning to get it if I get the 13 mbp)-. Of course I will use it on my trips to conferences, and different parts of the university, so portability and battery time is very important i think.

    As a PhD student I will use it to read a lot of papers, researching, presentations, some specialized software for comparing and analyzing CT scans (which i think is not very demanding), extreme multitasking, VM windows, probably sometimes HD video watching.. and some amateur video and photo editing occasionally.

    I also want this notebook to last me (in good condition) at least 4 years as that is the duration of my PhD.

    13 Pros:

    more ram and ssd

    15 Pros:

    Quad core (future proof)
    Iris Pro
    Bigger screen

    I have read that in this cases the "smart decision" is to go with the 15" but i just love the portability of the 13", is it worth paying the same amount of money of the base 15" for a customized 13"?? do i need quad-core?? will the dual core be very laggy in 2 years?? will the 15" be really that different to carry around??

    I keep asking myself this questions over and over


    cant decide.......

    Would love to read more opinions about this.

  2. Orr macrumors 6502


    Oct 8, 2013
    Both of your choices are excellent machines. In terms of portability (specifically footprint), the 13" is as good as it currently gets. The 15" is very light and thin for its size, but it still has a significantly bigger overall footprint.

    The Iris Pro in the 15" has significantly more power under the hood, which if you are running demanding multi-threaded programs frequently will be better. For standard usage, they will be nearly identical and both should easily be fine for at least the next 4 years.

    Personally I think it comes down to how much you anticipate taking it on the go. If it's a daily thing, I'd probably lean towards the 13", but if it's only a few times a week and it will primarily be your desktop replacement, then the 15" is ideal.

    For the amount of $ you're shelling out, I'd much rather have the 15" for the additional power and screen-size. Either machine will easily handle all your programs and both are top notch.
  3. cruisin macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2014
    For this workload it seems that it does not matter which one you choose as none of these tasks are especially demanding for a modern laptop. The 13 inch has officially 1 more hour of battery which could help for presentations. For my 15 inch, if I turn down the brightness I can get around 10 hours (compared to the official 8) of Word and light Safari use (no HD videos). Avoid using Flash and Chrome as they will drain the battery much quicker. Your use may vary. Also, you might enjoy a second monitor more vs. a 2 inch bigger screen since you mentioned researching and comparing CT scans.

    This is where you need to see if you need the ram or the quad core. Personally I would prefer the ram and the storage, as the CPU usually is fine for many tasks and you didn't mention rendering or a high CPU usage app.

    The GPU is really important if you use OpenCL or need better graphics for games. People do play Skyrim on the MacBook Air (weaker than Iris), so the Iris graphics are not terrible just not the absolute best. HD video will work for sure.

    A SSD is a much bigger boost to multitasking than the CPU in my opinion. If you never used one, now you will wonder how you put up with a mechanical drive. Your VM will eat some of your storage as will your media stuff (photos, iTunes, etc.) and school stuff, so maybe this will help with a decision.
  4. AxoNeuron macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2012
    The Left Coast
    I bought the base rMBP two years ago and I have loved it ever since. Quite the amazing machine. I don't think I would have done well with the 13", could never stand the low resolution display. But it is your personal preference, you would get double the storage with the MBA you customized.

    Also, it's painful that Apple no longer puts a discrete GPU on the base retina MBP. If you intend to do anything with all those pixels the discrete GPU is a must.
  5. dbgt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2014
    Thank you very much for your replies! you all gave very good points, i think tomorrow i will go again to the apple store.... my macbook pro 13 is expected to arrive between the 26 and 28, im thinking hard if i should stick with it or cancel the order
  6. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    You may want to consider getting an 8GB/256GB 13". It will most likely serve you just as well as the maxed out version.

    If I were spending the same amount on both computers, I would opt for the 15" just because the screen and the power outweigh the 1 pound weight difference for me. It will have a better resale value as well.
  7. dbgt, Aug 1, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014

    dbgt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2014
    well, last sunday i got my macbook pro 13 (i5 2.6ghz, 512gb, 16gb ram) after waiting 9 days for it, and then only 2 days after Apple updates the entire line!! the only thing that changes in my configuration is the processor i5 2.6ghz to i5 2.8ghz....

    As stated this is my first mac and I like it very much so far, I think it is enough for my needs (now), but I am having a little bit of buyers remorse.... Because after ordering the laptop from the Apple Online Store I found i could get them much more cheaper from other online retailers or from auction sites (Yahoo Auction is very popular in Japan). I could get a new high end 15 macbook pro (2.3 quadcore, 512gb, 16gb ram, gt750m) for just $100 more of what I paid for my current configuration!!! and no tax, $2100 total. I spent $1999 for my mac ($1799 plus tax)

    and to make things worse Apple updates the line just 2 days after i got my mac :confused:

    I really like the form factor, size of my current mac and im satisfied with it.... Do i need all that power from the high end 15? No, of course not, at least not now, but knowing I could get it for almost the same price I paid for the 13 makes me feel bad... I think $2000 for the 13 is just not worth it. (and of course i think the 15 will be more future proof)

    Probably the smartest decision would be to return this mac, and order the high end 15 from yahoo auctions, what do you think?

    or return it and get the updated 13?? but i dont think its worth it for just 200 mhz increase ..... or just stay with this mac .... mmmmm like I said, im satisfied with my mac and its enough for all my needs now.... but this buyers remorse is all the time in my head!
  8. cruisin macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2014
    If you feel 2.6GHz to 2.8GHz is noticeable for what you will use it for, 2.3GHz will make things worse. To add confusion, the i5 and i7 chips self over-clock (Turboboost). My 2.6Ghz idles at 1.2GHz, but a single thread can go to 3.7GHz. If it was colder in the room, it would go higher.

    I personally went for the 15 with better graphics because i wanted more screen space, and the graphics at the time were essentially free once you add ram and CPU (the two configurations were the same price).

    If you plan on keeping the Mac for a while and don't mind the bigger size, then the 15 would be more useful. You don't really need a high power CPU, so the 15 would be a better choice, in my opinion.
  9. dbgt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2014
    Sorry i didnt quite got what you meant, i said that 2.6ghz to 2.8ghz will probably DONT make any difference, why will 2.3ghz make things worse?

    But anyway, back on topic. I have been thinking VERY hard if I should return my mbp 13, I have to decide in this days as the return policy will finish. I like very much the form factor of the 13 and have had no problem so far.., but i could get a much more powerful laptop in every way for just $100 more... this thought is killing me.

    Any other comment or opinion?

    I have 4 options now:

    Get a USED mbp 15 high end (2.3ghz quad, 512gb, 16gb ram, dgpu) for $100 LESS ($1878) of what I paid for my mbp 13 ($1981)

    Get a NEW mbp 15 high end (2.3ghz quad, 512gb, 16gb ram, dgpu) for $100 MORE ($2085) of what I paid for my mbp 13 ($1981)

    Replace the 13 with the updated one (2.6ghz to 2.8ghz)

    Stay with my current 13, forget about everything (difficult) and be happy.

    What do you think??
  10. cruisin macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2014
    Sorry if it was not clear previously. You said you wanted to replace the 13 to the slightly faster model. I think you will not notice the difference between the two, but if the 200MHz is an upgrade for you then the slower 2.3GHz will be a problem. If you just want the 2.8GHz, then go for it, I totally would. And you can order a 3.0GHz model too, just to make things harder. :D

    To make things easier use a spare external drive and setup time capsule on it. Then when the newer one comes in you can restore and everything will be put back, it's really nice. And it works across different Macs so if you spring for the bigger model it still works. A nice timesaver.

    I think the 13 vs 15 boils down to how portable you need to be. The 15 fits nicely on most desks. Neither fit well on the tiny lecture hall desks but the 13 will have the advantage. The 13 will be better traveling on planes. The 13 pro is slightly smaller (width & height) than the 13 air. The 15 has better sound. The 15 is 22% heavier. What I'm saying is that the 13 is better if you need to travel with it or work in cramped locations. If you just use it on desks with plenty of space and the extra weight is acceptable, then the 15 will be better.

    Has this helped?

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