Going to College: 13" vs 15" (Help!)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by King Apple, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. King Apple macrumors regular

    King Apple

    Mar 17, 2010
    I know this question has probably been asked a million times, but if you can plz help me out, i will appreciate it. I pretty much had my mind set on the 15" i5 2.4 ghz base model mbp up until this morning. I will be going to college and carrying this laptop around everywhere in my backpack. I also need a fast computer capable of streaming heavy videos/video editing/photoshop/gaming/etc. I now am starting to double think myself into buying the 13". The big let down for me is the lack of ix processors in the 13" models, already whined about a million times "life goes on". But, im asking you guys whether the 13" is a better option rather than the 15 inch. Are the i5's really that much faster than the core 2 duos? Are the intel hd graphics something spectacular? Is weight really and issue? How's the sound quality on the 13" vs the 15"'s external speakers? Does the 15" look a lotter bigger "seriously" ?

    All help is appreciated

    Thanks Again:apple::confused:
  2. TheAnoyingApple macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    I was in the same situation. I chose the 15" for these reasons:

    - It has the new i5 chip.
    - Higher resolution screen and size (MUCH more comfortable)
    - Not a lot bigger.


    Seriously, buy the 15"... Its much better.

    Hope this helps.
  3. King Apple thread starter macrumors regular

    King Apple

    Mar 17, 2010
    Thank you for the input, do you know anything about the sound of the speakers in the 13" vs. 15"? Is it really that much louder?
  4. Phatpat macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2003
    Cambridge, MA
    I think the 13" is easier to deal with in random spaces/small desks because of it's smaller footprint.

    It's also a pound less in weight, which is nice since you'll be carrying it around in a backpack (I don't really understand AnnoyingApple's logic on this one)
  5. TheAnoyingApple macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2010
    I really like the 15" speakers but havnt tried the 13" ones..

    What I mean is that really, you are carrying 1 more pound with your whole body... Its like your legs and bag are carrying one pound more so it is not noticeable..
    If he was carrying it in a handbag, then you would notice the difference a little
  6. EstrlM3 macrumors 6502

    Apr 16, 2010
    Will you be living on campus? will you need to be taking your computer to class everyday or just using from home?

    if you plan on using your laptop on campus daily i would def get the 13" if its a dorm computer not leaving your room much grab the 15"

    it doesnt seem like a huge difference however day after day lugging a laptop around there is a noticable difference between 13" and 15"
  7. kellen macrumors 68020


    Aug 11, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    13" for portability and an external monitor for home use. Best of both. Maybe the 15 if you need the dedicated graphics card.
  8. King Apple thread starter macrumors regular

    King Apple

    Mar 17, 2010
    i will be stayin on campus. Are the i5's significantly faster than the updated core 2's?
  9. DeepIn2U macrumors 603


    May 30, 2002
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Hmm hard decision.

    Differences in 13.3" vs 15".

    13.3" Pros:
    CHEAPER CO$T! Right Now with US currency exchange - you're not getting a lot for your dollar when it comes to investment or spending - so KEEP every spare dollar you CAN and invest it. If you PAY for College on loan you OWE that money back!
    smaller space, and use the extra dollars to save and grow for when payment is required.
    you STILL get 320M dedicated chipset that has the SAME 48cores as the 330M GT. Right now the 330M in the 15/17" get 182Gigaflops (up from 142 on 9600M GT) yet nobody knows how the 320M compares so its hard to say. I doubt encoding an HD movie on 15" vs 13" will save you more than 15mins so do you REALLY need to spend the extra $800??!!
    L2 cache is the same in size and memory speed.

    15" Pros:
    slightly faster GPU and great entry price for same hardware in the market.
    weight is negligible.
    you get dedicated audio in/out which may not make a difference for graphics/video editing (sound is not your major concern).
    Core i5 with Speed Boost is sweet candy but only 1 core gets this NOT both when envoked; though 4 threads at once beats 2 any day.
    3 USB ports vs 2.
    equal efficiency on battery power alone.

    Either way you'll do great and you SHOULD ensure EITHER one with AppleCare & on-campus insurance (you DON'T want to eat the pain if stolen).

    Bon Chance on your decision - its up to you if spending for the 15" is worth the extra cost now or wait till minor bump next year.
  10. harmonica01 macrumors 6502

    Jul 30, 2007
    Have the 13" unibody 2.4 1st generation and the i7 15" side by side

    For 3 USB I think you have to get the 17", not the 15" as stated above.
    I have audio in and out on both 13" and 15" opposed to above statement as well.

    Weight is distributed in the slightly larger computer and really is not noticeable, the 15" actually feels lighter to me as odd as that sounds.

    If you are going to school and need a good computer to last 2-4 years either are good, the 13" is a little more portable and has slightly longer battery life due to less power requirements. The 13" is great for taking notes in classes in the large 800+ person auditoriums, and powerful enough to hook up large external display to at home/dorm.

    If you are going to be using the laptop as a desktop replacement and need added power for higher up applications then get the macbook pro, hands down. Otherwise the 13" will be more than sufficient.
  11. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    the 15" only has 2 USB ports, it's the 17 that has three. And aside from that, I think the 13" is a better value, honestly. I love mine, and even though the 15 is only a pound heavier, that amount of weight and especially the size can get annoying. I wanted a 15 initially, and I am very happy I got the 13. At most colleges, the desks are unnecessarily small, which makes anything bigger than 13 a pain. Plus you get a 10 hour battery, and the c2d really isn't anything to laugh at. People just like to whine about it. If you need more screen space, get an external monitor with much more screen real estate and decently sized text.
  12. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Plan on playing any modern games?
    Get the 15", it has a much better GPU than the 13".

    Want high resale value?
    Get the 15", newer tech.

    Answer no to both questions & you don't mind spending a premium for older tech?
    Get the 13".
  13. DeepIn2U macrumors 603


    May 30, 2002
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Exactly my thoughts. I LOVE my 13" and I really don't need the 15" screen resolution - the real-estate is given to me by Spaces ;). 10hr Battery life would be AWESOME (I get 3.4hrs now). Portability is KING on 13" and for college life its perfect. I think the GeForce 320M is going to perform VERY well vs the GeForce GT 330M in the 15/17" MBP. Photoshop loves memory and bumping up to 6GB or 8GB if supported will be like heaven. Going SSD right now is VERY expensive but say Christmas 2010 will significantly increase Video Editing/Gaming/Photoshop performance.
  14. KadMac macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2009
    I have to agree. I just picked up the 13" and I love it. I also game and the graphics card has done great for all the games I have thrown at it. For example, I was playing Batman Arkham Asylum and it ran on high settings at an average of 42 FPS. I actually have a youtube video of it up if you want to see it in action. If you really want the extra screen space, get an external monitor.
  15. DeepIn2U macrumors 603


    May 30, 2002
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  16. Claerion macrumors member

    Nov 3, 2009
    I had this same issues. I really started thinking and with a hi res screen 15" vs the base 13" I will be saving close to $1k.

    Also I don't know if you are like me but I can't stand being under the technology curve so I figured I'll buy the 13" which is a great comp use my 24" external monitor and in two years sell the 13" for I'm guessing $300 less than what I bought it for AT THE MOST and buy a new 13" when I'm starting my junior year in college that way I'm always up to date with the current hardware. And if I were to get the 2.44 i5 I'd be stuck with that for 4 years and who knows what else will change in 4 years (usb 3.0 etc) that will be on the 13" which I will have unless I buy the 15".

    Also, I had the same thoughts about the speakers I honesty don't think that there is that much of a difference and I'll prob be brining my stereo with my to my dorm to hook up with the mbp and if my roommate is sick of whatever I'm listing to I'll just put on some headphones.

    Anyways, good luck on your decision.

    Where are you going to school?
  17. ano0oj macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2010
    in college and was in the exact debate as you. I literally waited at the apple store for a good 2 hours the morning the new i5 was released to make my decision on whether to get the 13 or 15.
    i chose the 15 because of the bigger screen for the most part. whenever I'm studying i like to have multiple windows in view because i'm never only just studying from one document or site. the 13" didn't allow for this at all...with the dock visible at all times(my preference), window sizes became way too small and i couldn't imagine having multiple windows side by side.
    I asked them to put the 13" and 15" side by side, the 15" isn't THAT much bigger when closed and made the biggest difference with overall workspace and screen size. the additional speakers are pretty sweet and are loud enough to be heard even in a crowd.
    Sure, it's almost $8-900 more, but you won't regret it. You might regret it with the 13" but if you get the 15" i guarantee you won't look back. I have zero problems carrying it around and honestly doesn't make my backpack weight a hassle
  18. butterfly0fdoom macrumors 6502a

    Oct 17, 2007
    Camp Snoopy
    I'd say the 13", unless you really need the faster processor or more powerful graphics of the 15". Depending on how old your school is, even the 13" could dwarf the desks in the lecture halls.
  19. Dr. Scientist macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2010
    I wanted to get a 15" for college but I really can't afford the i5.


    I'm thinking of getting that one instead.

    Anyone think it's a good idea? I mean, I won't be seeing an i5 for a while, so it doesn't really matter. I won't be doing hardcore stuff on the laptop, so the 320M is negligible. The only thing that really matters is battery life, really. But 7 hours is still pretty good.

    Any thoughts?

    If I didn't get this 15", I would get the baseline 13" with maybe a hard drive upgrade.
  20. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    The truth

    Well you didn't specify your major but if you are ever going to have to deal with excel spreadsheets often then the 15" or 15" High Res is highly recommended. Take it from an older guy that went back for grad school (MBA). I'm dying for more screen res and my blackbook isn't cutting it.

    It all depends on your needs. Processors don't mean .... most of the time. It is your productivity and area of study that really determines screen size. If you are an English major or non digital arts, the 13" is fine. If you are business, science, or digital arts then get the 15".

    Unfortunately you can't buy a Macbook Pro 15" for under 1699. Thank uncle Steve for that :eek:
  21. wisty macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2009
    13'" + a cheap 24" external monitor, and a drive to backup your docs.

    Depends on your major, and if you want the GPU for graphics work / games, but a 13" C2D will easily be fast enough for web browsing, office, medium-weight graphics editing, etc.

    i5 is faster, but it's not like Pentium 4 vs Core Duo.
  22. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    I would be more inclined to the get the 13 inch 2.66GHz MacBook Pro instead. With an education discount, the price is only $50 more than the refurb you're looking at. For the extra $50, you'll get a smaller screen BUT you'll have a faster Core2Duo processor, a bigger HD (320GB vs 250GB) and a better graphics card.

    OR, for $1199 ($1099 with ed discount), you could SAVE money, get a roughly equivalent 13" macbook pro with the same hard drive space and only a bit slower CPU than the refurb you're looking at, but still get the better GPU.

    In both cases, you'd be giving up the 15 inch screen for a 13 inch, and you'd lose the SD card.

    While this is true today, how long do you expect to keep this laptop? 1 year? 3 years? The entire time you're in college?

    Most people I know want their laptops to last 'till they graduate and get a job, at the very least. In that time, you may find that the software you run a year or two in might demand a bit more from the computer than when you first started out. The 320M might make the difference. If this thread is any indicator, there's a surprising number of programs that prefer to run with a good graphics processor. And you should also bear in mind that if and when more software packages start to make use of Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL, a better GPU will come in handy.

    On the other hand, a bigger screen might be really important to you, and the 9400m isn't so bad in the here and now.
  23. King Apple thread starter macrumors regular

    King Apple

    Mar 17, 2010
    Thanks for all the help guys.

    -I will be playing heavy games
    -Heavy Photoshop/Video Streaming/Editing

    But at the same time, I need a good sized portable laptop.

    Eventually, the 13"'s will have ix processors won't they?

    Also, is the screen on the 13" really as small as everyone exaggerates it to be? Or is that just a myth?
  24. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    13" screen isn't super small, but it depends on how far away you sit really. The only problem I see is heavy gaming. To be totally honest, you don't want a Macbook at all for gaming, they just don't cut it for the newer stuff. At the very least, you need the base 15" to play games at any sort of decent detail settings.
  25. Pavia macrumors regular

    Jan 22, 2010
    15" has enough battery to last a day of college. 13" is too small.
    End of story.

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