I can't decide between two Macbooks for coding

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bytecurious, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. bytecurious macrumors member

    bytecurious

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2017
    #1
    Hi everyone,

    I just can't make up my mind between two Macbooks:

    1. Macbook Pro 2015, 15", base model
    2. Macbook Pro 2016, 13", base model

    I'm currently enrolled in a code school for the next two years. The Macbook is supposed to last for that long at least.

    I do have a pretty powerful desktop computer that runs Windows 10 and Mint on two different drives, so I do not need that much power. I take the laptop to school occasionally, but usually I use it around the house.

    The 15" version would honestly be cooler because of the larger screen and the ability to expand storage via a Jetdrive and USB. The 13" is a bit cheaper, more portable, and I think the USB C charging would come in handy. I also heard very good things about the speakers...

    Are any of you coders who use either one? Do you feel the additional screen space is worth it over the weight?
    Sure would feel weird to spend 1500 Euro on two year old laptop with a four year old CPU...

    Any advice is appreciated, especially if you have real life battery usage examples to share.
     
  2. semihat macrumors newbie

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    Apr 20, 2016
  3. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member

    bytecurious

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    Jan 25, 2017
  4. jerryk, Jan 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017

    jerryk macrumors 68020

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    Nov 3, 2011
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #4
    I have a 2015 15" rMBP. Here in Silicon Valley it is the defacto standard developer notebook. A lot of companies hand them out to their employees on day one.

    And since you can run Bootcamp or Parallels, this means that you can run pretty much any development environment on a MacBook Pro. The only place I sometimes have issues is using tools from the academic world. Sometime these target Ubuntu and sometime even a specific release of Ubuntu.

    Size wise, I prefer the 15" because of the extra screen space. Many IDEs (Visual Studio, Xcode, IntelliJ, Juypter, R Studio,etc.) have toolbars and dividers that use up much of the 13" display. Also, I code in a larger font so I do not strain my eyes.

    The quad core processor comes in handy when compiling something big, or training a big model, or doing both and watching a YouTube video.

    While I have not had much experience with the TB, I prefer having physical function keys that I can hit from memory without taking my eyes off the screen.

    So the net is I vote for the 2015 15". And I would suggesting a refurbed unit with 512 GB SSD, since you can never have too much space, and the dGPU can make gaming breaks more fun (or so I have been told). Plus it might save you some money.
     
  5. mcomp112 macrumors regular

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    Jan 1, 2017
    #5
    Since you already have a powerful desktop, go with the 2016 13 inch. (If the 2015 15 inch were your only computer I would switch my recommendation.)
     
  6. ZapNZs, Jan 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2017
    #6
    Personally, if it were me I would purchase a high-end refurb 2014 or 2015 MBPr-15 with the final stable release of El Cap. By going with a refurb, you would save enough to offset the price of going from a base to the higher end model (and the i7-4870HQ is a monster that is worth the extra money and compares quite favorably in some ways to the entry processor in the 2016 15-in.) Nothing against the 2016, but the 2014 and 2015 15-inch rMBPs are extremely mature products that give incredible reliability without any growing pains or bugs. Should you ever desire to, this is also a system that can work as a desktop replacement for resource-intensive apps. The 13-inch could do that to a certain extent, but not nearly as well as the 15. Further, by going for a higher tier refurb 15, you also get a discrete GPU. From a functional standpoint, these are outstanding & proven machines!
     
  7. motime macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    #7
    This is a no brainer, go for the 2015 15 inch. It is an excellent machine with great battery life and you will definitely not regret the extra screen size, much more power, nicer keyboard and a convenient set of ports. Buy refurbished to save some cash.
     
  8. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member

    bytecurious

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2017
    #8
    Thanks a lot, I think you're right. Still not a fan about spending that amount of money on such an old laptop, but it does seem the better choice right now.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 26, 2017 ---

    Yeah the touch bar wouldn't be an option for me, which makes me think I shouldn't get a Mac at all, if that's the future of OSX...

    Anyway, I think it's settled, a 15" 2015 it is.
     
  9. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    #9
    I have a 2016 non-TB 13", and a 2015 15".

    I'm a CS student and do music production as a hobby.

    Anyway - I'm actually keeping the 2016 model and selling the 15". It pretty much comes down to portability, and the non-TB has pretty amazing battery life (12-14 hours). My 15" gets 7-8 hours.

    Both are amazing though.
     
  10. ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2017
    #10
    I probably should have also asked...will you need to test your code on multiple platforms?

    This might or might not be of value to your personal usage. As a student, I never realized how many companies use legacy products. Often, they seem to have proprietary software developed (at a high cost, obviously), and, if it continues to function, they will continue to use it. I had a Client that used Windows NT 4.0 until around a year ago because the metadata software they had made for it worked flawlessly on NT, but worked poorly on newer platforms.

    So shortly after school, I started buying & downloading operating systems to virtualize using VMWare Fusion and Oracle VirtualBox. On my 2014 MBP-15, I have Win 10p, 2012r, 8.1p, 2008R, 7P/7E, XP p, 00, 98SE, 95, NT 4.0, and 1; OS X 10.5 Server, 10.6 Server, 10.7-10.12, and various Linux builds. The ones I use the most are on the local SSD. The ones I use less are on external SSDs.

    One advantage I find with this is if I were to propose a hardware upgrade (with the implied OS/software upgrades), when a Client asks a common question of, "but what about XYZ I am using now with my current setup?", I can give them a firm answer in a very short period of time by testing their software on whatever OS the proposed upgrade is for (and, if need be, develop any training materials via screenshots to ease such a transition.) With the 15-inch, I can run their current OS side-by-side with the one to upgrade. Especially now as Windows 7 & 2008R2 are phasing out and many organizations are moving to 10 and soon 2016 Sever (since they skipped 8/2012), running both simultaneously with each on an individual external display is something I find really useful, while also maintaining the ability to use my OS X-only planning & messaging Apps on the built-in display of the MBP itself acting as the third monitor. The recently (and potentially ongoing) changes in healthcare laws also seem to be driving many health-related organizations to upgrade as well.
     
  11. richpjr macrumors 68030

    richpjr

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    May 9, 2006
    #11
    Do you find the dual core processor limiting for your music work?
     
  12. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member

    bytecurious

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    Jan 25, 2017
    #12
    Are you serious about the 12-14 hours? All the reviews I've seen talk about 5-6 hours for the model without the touch bar.
     
  13. alecela, Jan 26, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017

    alecela macrumors newbie

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    Jan 25, 2017
    #13
    I'm actually in similar situation whereas I am debating between 2015 15" MBPr w/ 2.5Ghz i7, 16Gb + 512Gb SSD & Radeon R9 M370X GPU vs 2016 15" MBPr w/ 2.6Ghz i7, 16Gbp + 512GB SSD & Radeon Pro 450 GPU at ~25% more but merely 0.5 lb lighter! Based on the above spec. I think it's a no brainer that I should go for the refurb 2015 BUT the ONLY thing that's holding me back is the prospect of eventually running/charging the 2016 from a portable battery pack as the last resort... I have yet to find a portable battery pack that would claim to be able to charge/run the 2016 MBPr but it is indeed in theory possible right?
     
  14. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member

    bytecurious

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    Jan 25, 2017
    #14
    No, that's not practical at all.

    You'll be hard pressed to even find a car charger for that, let alone a portable battery pack.
     
  15. JesperA macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 10, 2012
    Location:
    Sweden
    #15
    I agree with jerryk i would go with the 15", resolution is everything for me when coding (highest scaled resolution, 1920x1200), especially in Xcode (alot of panels and other crap that takes up alot of space if you don't constantly toggle them), and if i use ST or Atom i need as many columns as possible to be as effective as possible.

    13" is not that far behind in terms of resolution but at 1680x1050 i feel a little bit constrained.

    But all depends on personal preference and what someone is used to.
     
  16. masotime macrumors 68000

    masotime

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    Jun 24, 2012
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #16
    Why don't you get a 12" MacBook? You get your USB-C charging, even from a portable battery, and if you're not going to need power do you really need a "Pro" MacBook?

    The 12" MacBook is extremely portable... it's basically iPad ergonomics in a laptop.
     
  17. alecela macrumors newbie

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    Jan 25, 2017
    #17
    But I thought that's one of the major advantage of going to USB-C plug???
     
  18. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member

    bytecurious

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    Jan 25, 2017
    #18
    Sorry, I thought you were talking about the 2015 15".
     
  19. masotime macrumors 68000

    masotime

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    Jun 24, 2012
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #19
    It's still not practical. A Portable battery being able to output 87W / 61W? Even being able to output half of that is a stretch.

    The 12" MacBook on the other hand maxes out at 29W. 15W charging on it is easily achievable / practical.
     
  20. jerryk macrumors 68020

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    Nov 3, 2011
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #20
    Having one universal plug that does very fast data and power is the advantage of the USB-C/TB3 connector. I have never heard anything about portable power being a goal. From the USB-C spec any such device would have to put out up to 5 amps at 20 volts. Which is asking a lot (100W) from a portable source.

    If this is a real need, OWC's proposed 'DEC' may be an option if the decide to add a battery to it, http://forums.macrumors.com/threads...-usb-type-a-ports-to-the-macbook-pro.2025956/
     
  21. Sanpete macrumors 68020

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    Nov 17, 2016
    Location:
    Utah
    #21
    Actually reviews find great battery life for the non-touch-bar version. It's the 13" version with touch bar that has gotten mixed reviews with regard to battery life. (Much of that has changed with software updates.) A lot of developers like having the physical escape key too. You're basically looking at a choice between great portability and battery life vs great power and extra screen space.
     
  22. ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2017
    #22
    It is possible, but not practical unless you plan to be somewhere that electricity is not (such as the middle of the jungle.) Your best option currently would probably be a solar charger. However, the type of product needed to charge the MBP would likely cost over $500, and it would not be very portable (i.e., it would weigh more than the computer itself, and when set up it would cover an area the size of a smaller table.) Something capable of charging the computer when the computer is running at full output would be even more, and you would need several additional components. Portable lithium power packs would also be rather large, and very expensive.

    It might be worth posting a new thread regarding the topic.
     
  23. alecela, Jan 26, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017

    alecela macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2017
    #23
    I recalled reading the the power output for the 2016 MBPr, there were three sets of output numbers:

    1: 20.2V @ 4.3A
    2: 9V @ 3A (USB PO)
    3: 5.2V @ 2.4A

    I wonder if that means that at 1: you can power the MBPr AND charge the battery, while the 2nd output can merely power the MBPr but NOT charging the battery at all and the last number, being the smallest, means the minimum you need to charge the battery while the MBPr is in sleep/off mode?

    Actually I JUST found this rather exciting post:

    http://www.apple.com/shop/question/...nd-amps-does-this-charge-at/Q9CAC4Y9UXFYDJ4UY

    But it seems to be a question from facebook so I can't seem to find it within apple support community and it doesn't look like I can post further question for the poster. Would LOVE to find out which model of Anker portable battery he's using and HOW he's charging his 2016 MBPr...
     
  24. jerryk macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2011
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #24
    The 20.2V @ 4.3A is what is used to charge the MacBook Pro 15 (20.2 X 4.3 = 86W). The other outputs are for different devices. Not sure about the 9V, but the 5V would charge a phone, iPad, speaker, or most USB small devices.

    This chart shows the power delivery capabilities of USB C connectors. Apple uses the 20 V column for the MacBook Pros.

    https://goo.gl/images/tIHorR
     
  25. alecela macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2017
    #25
    Thanks. Actually there are portable battery capable of output of 20V but so far I've only managed to find one at 3.5A (23400 mAh). I guess the key question is whether at 3.5A it's enough to 'power' the MBPr? As I mentioned above, I'm really looking to use this as the last resort option. Say I spend all day at the beach exhausting the battery so if I can plug in a spare portable battery and continue on, that's a HUGE advantage for me.

    Now if there's any way I can find out more from the poster on the facebook question....
     

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