Help me decide....13" vs. 15" MBP

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by johnnyjensen, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. johnnyjensen macrumors newbie


    Sep 27, 2017
    Haven't owned a computer in 2.5 years. Had a 13" non-retina MBP before that. Have used nothing but my 6+ and 7+, along with my iPad Air 2 since, and honestly, it's been fine.

    I recently took a job that will require me to work remotely, and with a new baby, we're managing more pictures than we used to. Work said I can either use their ancient 17" MBP or get my own. Me and the wife have decided to get one to have at home.

    My workload for personal use is basic email/web browsing/netflix. If I'm using it for work, I'll be using 3 Chrome Windows each with 6-8 tabs open at a time for 10 hours straight, including making calls (through one of those windows on our softphone).

    I also do very light recording for music. 1, maybe 2 tracks at a time into Logic Pro X. No synths, heavy multitracking, or anything like that.

    Is there any reason to get a 15" MBP? I'm really leaning towards the base 13" non-touch bar version (which I can get from a friend who's an Apple employee for 15% off, and ship to a state with no sales tax).

    I went to the Apple Store recently and pulled up my work setup on it and it worked flawlessly on the 13 and the 15. I know I should get the 16GB of ram, but I'm not sure it's worth it for how I use it.
  2. Cougarcat macrumors 604

    Sep 19, 2003
    For those tasks, I think a 13" will suffice. The 15" is a lot more money with some dubious features, like the touchbar. Keep in mind that the 13" without the TouchBar only has two Thunderbolt ports, and one of them must be used for charging.

    I have a 13" TouchBar (8GB-it's fine) and it ended up being a not-so-great value after I speced it up with the 512 GB I needed. In retrospect I should have bit the bullet and gone with the 15. But if the 13" non-touchbar meets your needs, go for it.
  3. Efrem macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2009
    "Will suffice?" Probably. "Will be tolerable for 10 hours a day bouncing around a total of 20-25 Chrome tabs? Methinks perhaps not.

    I see only two reasons to get a 13" screen versus a 15" screen:

    1. The size/weight of the larger computer is a problem for some reason. That can be anything from carrying it around to working on a seat back tray in an airline economy cabin. If this computer stays home, that's not a problem.

    2. The cost of the larger computer is a concern. If work is paying for this one - that wasn't clear from your post - that shouldn't be a problem. If you're paying for it yourself, keep in mind that its cost may be tax-deductible (in the U.S.), see if your friend can get the same discount on it, and consider a refurb.

    Personally, I'm holding onto my late-2011 17" MBP (8GB RAM, 512GB SSD) as long as I can. I can settle for 15" when the time comes, but going down to 13" would be a hardship.
  4. macs4nw macrumors 601


    Based upon all you've told me, if you don't find the 13" screen size objectionable, you'll be fine with that 13" model.
    If finances allow, go for the 16GB ram, if for no other reason than a bit of future-proofing an un-upgradeable laptop.

    And keep that last fact in mind also when deciding on graphics, storage and processor, in that order.
  5. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia

    - budget
    - do you want a 13” screen or a 15” screen

    it’s not that difficult...
  6. johnnyjensen thread starter macrumors newbie


    Sep 27, 2017
    Well, consider me lucky I guess. Last night on Craigslist I scored a 2016 15” rMBP with Touch Bar (2.6 i7, 16GB RAM, 512SSD) with box, charger, adapters, And a sleeve for $1600. College kid dropping out and needed money to fly back home. Met him at a police station, called Apple, eligible for AppleCare+. Feels pretty awesome
  7. GoDziLLa. macrumors newbie


    Sep 16, 2017
    Newb here. I have a dilemma about this as well. However, I am going to buy new and not from reseller or refurbished. I checked these beauties out at a store and they would be an upgrade all around from my 15" mid-2010 MacBook Pro (nearly 8 years old).

    I'm all about portability and compactness from the 13". However, I am used to the screen size of the 15". Would you think downsizing would make me regret this decision?

    My uses would mostly be basic such as web surfing (multiple windows open at times), iTunes/Youtube music (possibly bluetooth compatible with Homepod), Microsoft Office (mostly Word), mail, syncing photos/music with iPhone. It may sound like all I need is the MacBook but the MacBook Pro offers more ports to help with FitBit and GoPro plugin simultaneously.

    Two last things, I will want to keep this computer long term (5+ years) so is 16 GB RAM appropriate and will 256 GB SSD suffice for the duration?

    Finances will not be an issue but would gladly like to save.
  8. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Yeah you are right any Apple computer will do you just fine performance wise.

    Screen size is so personal that it’s just not a question we can answer many will say they tried to downsize and loved it and just as many will say they hated it and went back to a 15 inch. I love the ergonomics of the 13 inch but to be honest would love a 15 inch as well, especially the new ones they really are tiny.

    Your use case shows no reason you’d ever need 16gb of ram however if you are taking 4K video and lots of Live Photo’s 256gb ssd will fill up fairly quickly.

    You have 14 days to try out whichever you decide to go with first so get the 13 and if you don’t get on with it return it for the 15.
  9. green86 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 27, 2007
    North Carolina
    If you can buy the 15", and don't mind the price, by all means get the 15"


    • It is empirically faster in every way.
    • It has better sound.
    • It can connect to more monitors.
    • It has 4 full speed thunderbolt 3 ports, vs. the 13" TB operating the two on the right side at half speed due to lack of available PCIE lanes.
    • It has more available display space to get work done in.

    And by extension of being faster, it has the potential to last you longer as well.
  10. mpConroe macrumors regular


    Feb 14, 2017
    Arbroath (UK) / Wroclaw (PL)
    I have the MBP 13'' and I'm regretting that I didn't took the 15'' model. I would have double of the RAM, bigger screen and better graphics card. I just think that the 15'' is more "pro". I don't care about Thunderbolt ports, I would rather have a SD card slot but it's not possible (only with dongles... :D). Anyway, if you have the money - go with 15'', if you don't - than the 13'' is the answer.
  11. CrystalQuest76 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 14, 2015
    West Cost A Lot
    I have been a long time MacBook Pro 15 user. I have justified the expense since I do so much development work on it. A year ago I got a second monitor and found that i can use the second larger monitor as my primary focus screen. Then a few months ago I was issued a 13 inch macbook pro for work. This gives me two machines that I use a lot for development and have come to the conclusion that I really did not need to spend the extra money on the 15 inch. I recommend that people get 13 inch machines and if they are a developer get an cheap secondary monitor.
    Saving money is not a crime.
  12. green86 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 27, 2007
    North Carolina
    No one said it was. If you don't want to spend that much on a 15", of course thats ok. It is an expensive device.
  13. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    I usually recommend 16Gb RAM for longevity, but you probably can do OK with 8Gb for your use. SSD size is hard to say, how much space have you used on your current MBP? I've been OK with 256 Gb on my late 2013 rMBP, but I don't have all that much in the way of photos / music, and almost no video. The screen size question is very personal and you'll have to decide that one for yourself. It doesn't sound like you are doing anything that would stress either machine.
  14. GoDziLLa. macrumors newbie


    Sep 16, 2017
    Appreciate all the comments. I just checked on my current MacBook Pro and I have plenty of space available, not close to 256 GB at all.
  15. GoDziLLa. macrumors newbie


    Sep 16, 2017
    Do the current MacBook Pros (13" and 15") have Kaby Lake processors?
  16. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
  17. kbauman, Oct 2, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017

    kbauman macrumors newbie

    Oct 2, 2015
    I agonized over this decision, but only because work (currently) demands that I have lots of tabs open, have to edit videos, and that I'm able to bounce in and out of Adobe Creative Cloud apps sometimes all at once. Otherwise, I think the 15" is overkill. And it's the price of a running, used Japanese car.

    I, for one, like the touch bar, even if it's using it habitually yet.

    Smaller vs. larger screen: IMO, using a laptop is using a laptop. 15" might come slightly handier if you're using split screen a lot, but otherwise, I can get the same things done on either. 15" is still plenty restrictive.

    The ONLY reason I would get a 15" current MBP is if your required apps, etc. benefit significantly from I7 and/or quad core processing and you plan to edit video in Premier or Final Cut. That's it. As far as graphics go, no MBP card is going to challenge a desktop card, and if you end up really needing that, you'll be able to use external graphics in High Sierra, albeit at a steep price.

    For 30 chrome tabs, you don't need a 15" MBP. At all. If you know that heavy graphics aren't important (and they aren't to family photoshop usage, that's all processor), I'd take a hard look at the refurb 15" base 2015 models. Those things are GREAT, and priced similarly to the 2017 13" models.
  18. zeebo1 macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2017
    15 inch MBP would be total overkill. Even the 13 inch is way more power than you need. What do you value? Battery life, portability, retina screen, external connections? Are you connecting it to an external monitor? Will the macbook be on power all the time or are you moving around with it?

    A macbook air might be a good choice for you honestly. Especially if you pair it with a good monitor it might give better value for money.
  19. bruinsrme macrumors 603


    Oct 26, 2008
    The larger screen makes it all worth while.
  20. tim1000 macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2014
    there was a poll on one of these threads
  21. Macnoob273 macrumors newbie


    Jun 7, 2018
    How's the battery life??

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