How did you decide between the 15'' and 17'' MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by 53x12, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. 53x12 macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    So I am in a conundrum, but a good one to be in. :D I went to the Apple store today and had my eyes set on a new MBP. However I am having a hard time deciding between the 15in and 17in. I am a graduate student, spending time in both a research lab as well as studying. Basically I would be using the laptop for running data analysis, Excel (making graphs), Word, Powerpoint (for presentations), internet, email...etc. For my personal use I would also be using it for some basic video editing; home videos, skiing and hiking videos, vacation videos...etc. Nothing to fancy, just for personal use.

    I am planning on going with the 2.93 Ghz, 320 GB 7200 HDD, 4 GB ram, as well as the 24'' LED Display. So far here is my break down of the pros and cons of the 15 and 17in:


    - Price (saves $300 over the 17in)
    - Easy removal of HDD so that I can easily change to a SSD when they become more affordable and larger in size
    - Lighter/ more portable

    - Glossy screen
    - Won't be able to support 8GB of ram
    - Battery charge doesn't last as long as 17in


    - Supports up to 8 GB of ram
    - Better battery (8hr charge and should last life of laptop)
    - Have the option of the matte screen
    - Larger screen

    - Price premium for 17in
    - Not as easy as 15in to replace HDD
    - Larger footprint
    - Not as portable

    So I'm having a hard time deciding between the two. The lab I work in has a lot of fluorescent lighting, meaning it would be almost impossible to reduce the glare/mirror effect of the glossy screen. However, hopefully with changing the angle and brightness of the screen I can lessen the effect. Luckily while at the lab I don't really need it to be 100% perfect. With the 24'' LED Display I will have the same glossy screen, at least it will be at my home where I can somewhat control the environment. Any thoughts guys?
  2. macDonalds macrumors 6502

    Jun 8, 2007
    TBH, what you're using it for, 17" would be a waste. I would go 15.
  3. NATO macrumors 68000


    Feb 14, 2005
    Northern Ireland
    The big differences for me between the 15" and 17" (having owned both unibody models at one point before deciding on the 17") are the screen resolution and battery. I don't even think about bringing the power adapter with me most of the time I take my 17" out because I know there is more than enough there to be able to use the computer at full brightness with WiFi for 6+ hours
  4. Mark2000 macrumors regular


    Oct 18, 2007
    I got a laptop after 20 years of desktop use and couldnt sit facing a wall anymore. So I got rid of my office and now work where ever I feel like it around the house or outside. Since I don't have a desk I don't have an external monitor. So the 17" is best for me because I need that mobile screen real estate.
  5. capriseyhaze macrumors regular


    Mar 3, 2009
    i dont f@&$ with small sh$? I like big boy toys plain and simple
  6. ViciousShadow21 macrumors 68020


    Mar 11, 2009
    To your left or right
    if your going to have an ACD then just get the 15"
  7. fuzzielitlpanda macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2008
  8. Duch macrumors member

    Dec 24, 2008
    I have a 15" as a factor is my decision

    The screen has not been a big deal when dealing with most of my work. Rarely do I see the reflective screen bother me. I edit video (matching audio and video) so it doesn't seem abnormal. I have never used 4 gig of ram (3.75 is my max) and have never used the max battery capacity... the school I go to presents easy charging capacity. If I were to get a 17" the money would be wasted, except the screen. The only reason for me to go to 17" would be the need for 1200p,
  9. genmic macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2009
    I know that the glossy screen of the 15" is unbearable for me in uncontrolled light conditions. I had to apply an anti-glare coat (at the cost of color vibrance) as soon as I got the thing.

    But avoiding that topic, the 17" is better in every way as a desktop replacement. But it is NOT one of those take everywhere, Starbucks, all around campus, laptops. The 15" isn't either, but those reduced dimensions do make a difference.
  10. NickM macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2009

    Wow... gotta love thoughtful and intelligent responses like that one.
    We're all so glad that you could offer some facts, pros, and cons that directly related to the thread starter's question.

    For me, I love big screens and high resolutions...
    But I didn't like the idea of not being able to easily access the harddrive and the battery. Yeah, longer battery life on 17"...that's awesome. Big deal... buy a second battery if you go with the 15". I plan to very soon.

    It's a laptop. Unless you don't already own a bigger desktop monitor (which anyone who does photography/video WORK should), then go with the 17"...but I can't imagine using a laptop of any size as a main computer, and then also calling myself a video/photo professional. (not saying that you are calling yourself that)

    17" is NOT a "big" screen... for a laptop, yeah I guess so, but it's not a "big" screen. Get at least a 24" desktop monitor...either way you go.
  11. dlhuss macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2009
    I think "big" is just talking in generalities. Big refers to resolution. You won't see one more pixel on your 24" vs. the 17", but you will see 984,000 more pixels on a 17" vs. 15.4" or 75% more.
  12. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Kansas City
    If you need to get the "perfect" setup and you call yourself a real pro, there is only one option.

    It's good to be king! (or the emperor in this case) :D

    As to your question... They are both great machines, both MBP's so either will handle your needs. For the battery and resolution I went 17" Uni/glossy and love it. I don't find the extra 1.5lbs and issue to carry around as it's already in a shoulder bag with lots of paperwork and stuff I carry anyhow.
  13. NickM macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2009
    Yes, I understand the difference between resolution and screen size.

    My point was that 17" screens, ARE NOT THAT BIG...physically.
    If someone who considers themself a "professional" or even just a serious hobbyist, should NOT be using a maximum physical screen size of only 17".
    Let alone that, they probably wouldn't be doing all of their "work" on a laptop.

    For someone who would actually use and significantly benefit fromt the higher resolution, sure, the 17" is the obvious choice.
    If the extra size, weight, and cost are issues for someone, and they actually have a BIG desktop monitor, then maybe the 15" is better suited for them.

    edit - How do you figure that the 17" is 75% more than 15.4" ?
  14. AppleNewton macrumors 68000


    Apr 3, 2007
    1 Finite Place
    I currently own a 17" and the gf uses a 15" both are unibody MBP.

    they are both light and compact, i can easily carry both no problem, and by itself the 17" is excellent & light.
    i use a notebook cooler that is powered by usb; mainly for light cooling aswell as giving it a nice ergonomic rise to work on and i can carry both in one hand if i wanted to pick up and go to a different room. while im not uber-strong in the sense but it gives you an idea how light and thin it really is.

    while it is a large footprint the weight seems evenly distributed inside and while everything is directly attached and no latches or excess compartments makes it feel abit lighter than the 15 to me atleast.

    id say if you looking for long term use, and a dekstop replacement...the17" is your best bet.
    you can just pick it up and go unlike alot of other 17" notebooks.

    the 15" you can bring a second battery if necessary if you cant bring the poweradapter or dont have space for it.

    right now the best value might be to pick up the 15" try it out see if its something that can the job done for you, as it is a very powerful machine in and of itself.
    the resolutionmight not be as high as the 17" but when i use my gfs 15" i always enable spaces to give me more realestate for my apps.

    hope that was somewhat useful :p
  15. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    Wirelessly posted (iPod touch 32GB: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 2_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1.1 Mobile/5G77 Safari/525.20)

    Personally I went with the 15" together with a 24" ACD for my desk.
    I find the 15" more portable and it fits on my desk better. Also, I'm actually a fan of the new glass screens so that isn't a factor for me.
  16. NickM macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2009
    I love my GLOSSY glass screen too! DAMN it looks nice!
  17. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    You opened the pandora's box, now you going to get a lot of "go for the 17" and another lot of "go for the 15" and you will be more confused than when you started with:
    Here is my "go for..."

    Go for the 15": what you described wont be intensive on your laptop so 4GB will be plenty of ram (by the time you need more, it will be time to change the laptop anyway) its much more portable (although apple claims the 17" is portable... well is just as portable as a 17" laptop can be, in fact for that matter as portable i think the world stop defining laptops past the 13.3" MB) the battery life is a plus in the 17" however if you just use it for excel, powerpoint, internet etc, it should last you ~4hours (My battery usually last 2 movies) and frankly more than that will only give you headache. Also about the screen size, you will be getting a nice 24" display so it really does not matter when you are in home. Overall I'd recommend you to get the 15" (in fact I recommend you to get the entry level 15" and upgrade the ram yourself and if you want SSD also and 2.66Ghz is plenty of power for you to use).
  18. dlhuss macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2009
    15.4": 1440 x 900 = 1,296,000 pixels
    17": 1900 x 1200 = 2,280,000 pixels

    difference = 984,000 pixels

    984,000 / 1,296,000 pixels = .759 or 75.9% more

    another way to look at it is the 15.4" is only 1296/2280, or 57% the resolution of the 17".

    The 17" is the only laptop from Apple that I find has acceptable resolution.

    My ideal resolutions:
    10" - 12" at 1200x800
    13.3"-14" at 1440 x 900
    15.4" at 1680 x 1050 (my ThinkPad)
    17" at 1900 x 1200
  19. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    Even if your getting a 24" LED ACD I'd still get the 17" unibody.


    24" ACD 1920x1200 LED Display + 17" unibody's 1920x1200 led display = sheer perfection side by side! (dual monitors mode of course).

    24" ACD 1920x1200 LED Display + 15" unibody 1440x900 = a no no! This is what I had and wished I had the 17" instead for dual monitor both supporting hi definition.
  20. genmic macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2009
    Your not quite figuring, or maybe wording, that correctly.

    984,000 is 75.9% of the 15" total resolution. But that has nothing to do with the 17". The 17" has an amount of extra pixels, that to the 15" would be 75%, but it doesn't work that way. In short, the 17" has 43% more pixels.

    This is what you meant anyways.

    1440 x 900 = 1,296,000
    1920 x 1200 = 2,304,000

    The difference is 1,008,000.

    1,008,000 / 2,304,000 = 43%
  21. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    I am confused, why wouldn't the 15'' support Hi-Def?
  22. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    Because the 15" unibody's macbook pro's screen is only 1440x900 in resolution which is not high definition, not even 720p.

    To get true 1080p high definition from a display, the display has to support 1920x1200 (1080p) which the 24" LED ACD has and the 17" unibody mbp has as well, 1680x1050 (720p).
  23. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009
    So the 15'' MBP with the 1440 x 900 screen wouldn't be able to support 1280×720 (720p)? Hmmmmm, maybe the 17in is the better option.
  24. sehnsucht77 macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2008
  25. MacAlpha macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2008
    Great White North
    I agree. I have had laptops that are 17", 15" and 13". To me, the 17" gets to the point where it is just a bit to big to lug around, carry with one hand while open and generally use on the road (although there are people who think that a 17" is fine for all those activities). I find the 15" screen big enough to use when you only have the laptop and, with the 24" ACD, you will have basically a desktop replacement at home. The removable harddrive is a plus if you want to swap for a 500Gb 7200 or an SSD.

    The only thing that I wish is that the 15 had the battery that the 17 has.

Share This Page