Help deciding 13" or 15"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by lbhskier37, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. lbhskier37 macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2011
    I'm really torn between getting a refurb 15" base MBPr or a refurb 13" MBPr w/256gb. I waited for last Monday hoping an announcement would cause another price drop in the refurbs, but now can wait no more. My current notebook is a crappy Gateway first gen i5 so I know either is going to seem like a huge upgrade. My notebook almost never leaves the coffee table, so portability it's much of a factor. It's main use will be for surfing the web and paying bills. I do a bit of photography so 2 or 3 times a month or so I will be running Lightroom and maybe Photoshop Elenents. I never game, and video editing is maybe some home movies once a month. My main beef with my current laptop is space when running Photoshop and the slow speed of working with large RAW files. What's everyone's opinion on a 13" for occasional photo editing? Is the $250 extra worth it for the 15" in my case?
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    For me the there were two major difference between the 15" and 13" MBP.

    First was the screen size and I found working in photoshop and Lightroom way too limiting on the 13" laptop.

    The discrete GPU is going to give you better performance especially on a retina MBP because it's more powerful to push those pixels.

    If mobility is a major criteria then the 13" wins in that department being smaller and lighter but overall I think you get more bang for your buck with the 15" rMBP
  3. dazlicous macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2011
    I go 15"

    Discrete GPU, Quad Core and the bigger screen size would be better from photo work plus it's almost house bound so portability isn't an issue
  4. mslide macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2007
    I went with a 13" but mainly because I care about portability and don't need a discrete GPU. If I wasn't traveling with it every day, I probably would have spent the extra for a 15". I also had a 13" for 6 years prior to this one so I'm sort of used to the small screen.
  5. EricT43 macrumors regular

    Oct 5, 2011
    I had a 13" for about a year and sold it for my current 15". Even with portability factored in, I like the 15" much more. The extra two inches of screen makes a huge difference. And like others have said, the performance is better as well. If the price difference is only $250, I'd say go for the 15" for sure.
  6. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    I think first you need to determine your priorities. Do you want the bigger screen or more portability? That should be what determines your choice.

    I'll disagree with everyone above. I've tried both the 15" and 13" retinas. Even in programs I use like Lightroom for photoediting, I see basically no difference with the GPU. And when that GPU is active it really affects battery life. The quad core in the 15" is faster but in many tasks I don't see any benefit from it (depends on how multi-threaded the app you are using is).

    I find the 13" way more portable and much easier to use as a laptop (like using it on your lap), so I went with the 13". I can carry the 13" and an iPad mini in a smaller bag than the 15" and with equal or less weight. The charger is a also a bit smaller and lighter.

    So if portability is more important to you than a bigger screen, the 13" hands down.
  7. Mercmanman macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2012
    Exactly my thoughts. The 13 has great battery life, and in using Aperture regularly, it holds its own just fine. Of course the 15" is faster for processor bound work, but unless you really hit the photoshop blurs and advanced stuff in high volume, you wont see a difference. I take thousands of photos per month using Aperture and a Canon 5DMk3 camera, and the 13" is my machine of choice for that, with final work and a master library stored on my iMAC
  8. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    Exactly. I got the maxed out 13" and in some programs it actually felt a tiny bitter faster than the 15" simply because the program didn't take advantage of the quad cores. In a benchmark the 15" is way faster than the 13" but personally I don't run benchmarks, I run the apps I use all the time. ;)
  9. lbhskier37 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2011

    Do u run Photoshop in the standard 1280x800 mode or do you use one of the scaled resolutions? My Gateway is 1366x768 and using Photoshop Elements 9 is a pain at this resolution. Several if the menus don't even work correctly at that resolution, and I have to constantly pick a choose which toolbars to hide just to have enough room. I've never seen Photoshop on a Mac so I don't really know if it's better optimized for the resolutions. It sounds like you don't have any problems or complaints about it.
  10. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    I think Photoshop in 1280x800 is too small. But using the 1440x900 resolution is fine. That's the native resolution of their 15" laptops so it works well.
  11. jabbr macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2012
    I was debating this for the longest time.... I kept going back into best buy and comparing the two. The main thing I noticed is that the 15" display feels much more immersive when you use it for a bit and then switch to the 13". The thing that keeps putting me off from the 13" is how useless its native scaled 1280x800 seems. 1440x900 is the bare minimum I feel comfortable with, but I found myself using 1680x1050, though UI elements are quite small. When you jump back to the 15" the 1440x900 native resolution feels great, but the max scaled 1980x1200 is wonderful as well and I can see that setting being very useful for working with lots of sliders and such in Lightroom, Photoshop, Logic, etc

    I actually found myself preferring the footprint of the 15". It just stays put on my lap better, and honestly doesn't really feel any heavier because the weight is more dispersed. It is definitely way more lap-friendly than the 15" cMBP.

    I'll be using my machine for photography, music production, programming, and school work (writing and CAD). While I love how portable the 13" is, it does feel slightly toyish after adjusting to the 15", especially at its super cramped native-resolution. I just can't see myself editing photos on the 13" for long periods of time, even though I use to do that on my old 13" cMBP.

    It's really funny, I was so excited for the 13" to come out because I thought it would be the perfect laptop. For a lot of people it would be perfect, but I think anyone wanting to do serious photography work should consider the 15" because those 2.1" inches makes a big difference. I'll carry my 15" with me everywhere just like I did with my old 13" than weighed slightly more.

    You can definitely use the 13" for photography and design work, it's just going to be a much more intimate experience haha. The only way I'll consider the Haswell 13" is if apple manages to include a quad-core CPU and the option for 16gb of RAM.

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