Help me pick my first Mac


macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 25, 2012
Sorry, I know these threads are everywhere. Still, I would appreciate some advice.

I'm starting med school in the fall. My parents are willing to throw down for a new laptop for me. Since its their money, I have a decent amount of leeway; that said, I don't want to be an ****** and buy something I don't need.

I'm between the base 13' and the base 15'.

I would use it for med school stuff (honestly not even all that sure what that entails) and light gaming (say skyrim, diablo 3, baldurs gate enhanced). I'm not a huge gamer, but I would like to have the option to play from time to time. I am happy running the games on mediocre resolutions, but I want decent fps and don't want the graphics to look like absolute garbage.

I like portability, since I'll be lugging it around a hospital/school. I do have an iPad, though. How portable is the 15'? I know the 13' would be sweet in that regard.

Please don't suggest either of the airs. Whichever pro I get, I'll be throwing in a ram upgrade and an ssd upgrade within the next year. Same for the retina. Upgrade ability matters.

I need the laptop to be relevant for the next four years, as I will not be getting a new one until I graduate.

So, is the extra 500 dollars worth the extra processing power (quad core) and the graphics card, do I need the graphics card, how big is the portability trade off, how helpful is the extra screen real estate, etc. What do the boards Mac experts recommend?

I apologize if some of these concerns are basic, but this will be my first ever Mac! I'm pretty sure I have covered all the relevant info to not get flamed.

Cheers and thanks!


macrumors 68040
Feb 6, 2009
If you really want to play games I would definitely reccomend the 15" base model non-retina as a minimum, since the 13" only has Intel integrated graphics.

A 15" Macbook Pro is a pretty heavy, probably not something you would just keep with you all day in case you needed it. You do however have an iPad, which is super portable and may make up for that.

The 15" Retina is as powerful as the 15" non-retina but as light as the 13". The SSD will very likely be upgradeable in the future, but the RAM will never be, just like the Air.

I think a 15" base MBP would be my first choice, provided you're comfortable with the extra weight. Might be worth checking them out in person.


macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2008
Newbury, UK
If someone else was paying, I know I would always choose the bigger one :)

I disagree with many people about how much the weight affects portability I expect. I don't have any problems with portability with my 17" MBP. In fact I carry both that one and my work laptop around at the same time, in the same bag, and it's really not that big a deal. I don't think you would find the 15" non-retina too cumbersome, but you should probably visit the Apple store and decide for yourself. A bigger screen is generally a nice thing to have.


macrumors 6502
Dec 23, 2010
London, UK
For gaming I would definitely recommend the 15 inch, however the 13 inch shoud also suit your needs (only drawback is the screen size)

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