I just can't decide. 13 or 15 inch rMBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by domemvs, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. domemvs, Jun 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014

    domemvs macrumors member

    Jun 1, 2009
    Hi guys.

    I need your help. I know there are hundreds, if not thousands of similar threads out there. I read many of these, I read buyers' guides, I talked to friends. Still I couldn't figure out which rMBP to buy.

    So my ideal MBP, which of course doesn't exist, would be a 13" model with quad core i7, 16GB, 512GB and dedicated graphics.

    So basically it'sa trade-off between power and mobility.

    What do I do?
    I'm a student. In the past I used to take my MacBook to university almost every day. Now that I do my Master's degree I almost never take it to university. In case I need a "computer" there I take my 10" inch tablet with me. Also: I'll finish university next year. So at the latest by the end of next year I will hopefully have a full-time job and I do not need to take a computer with me at all. Or at least not my own. So, mobility is not as important to me as it used to be. On the other hand, the latest 13" rMBP being so thin and light and having a reasonable battery life - maybe I'd take it with me more often again. (My current battery drains within 1-2 hours so I always need to take the cahrger with me, which is annoying as *****)

    What do I do with the laptop?
    Mainly getting office work done or surfing the Internet. Probably 80% of the time I do things that would not call for a Mac anyway. But the rest of the time I'm into all kinds of media-stuff. Especially music production. I love Logic Pro and my home studio has been growing the last months. This is the main reason why I wanna get a new computer anyway. My good ol' Late 2008 aluminum MacBook just isn't the right machine for producing.

    In addition I also use Photoshop from time to time and I do ScreenCasts with ScreenFlow (Tutorials etc.). What else? I'm also a little bit into coding and day-trading and therefore I love to run several VMs at one time. Right now, the computer can handle OSX and a Parallels VM running Windows 8 quite good although CPU usage goes up and the fan is more or less constantly running high rpm in that time. Last but not least from time to time I'd like to run Boot Camp and do little gaming sessions.

    At home screen size is not so important. I use a 24" inch IPS display with it.

    What exact models do I have in mind?
    - The high-end 15" inch with dedicated graphics.
    - The mid 13" inch with 8GB RAM and 256GB.

    The high-end 13" inch is out of the question because I think it's too little value-for-money as it costs almost as much as the low-end 15" inch model but comes with a way worse graphics card.

    What else?
    The high-end rMBP would be an investment with a time horizon of about 4-5 years. I think until then it should do more or less fine for my usecases. The 13" inch model though, as it costs less than half, could be replaced in as little as one year or maybe two, should I note that it is not good/fast enough for my needs. The absolute "depreciation" would not be so high and it would not hurt as much.

    Another thought is that the 15" MPB with retina now weighs exactly as much as my current non retina 13" MB.

    What other options do I have?
    - Get a 27" inch iMac and for the sake of mobility keep my current MacBook.

    Any suggestions appreciated.
  2. FrozenDarkness, Jun 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014

    FrozenDarkness macrumors 65816

    Mar 21, 2009
    it's pretty simple, do you want power or do you want portability, and what looks like $1,000 extra dollars in cost difference.

    Your ideal laptop is literally the 15", sans the space. You can't sacrifice power for portability if what you need is power.

    Although, I can tell you after thinking about it for a while, my ideal next set up might be a 15" rmbp and a chromebook.
  3. s2mikey macrumors 68020


    Sep 23, 2013
    Upstate, NY
    I recently bought the exact 13” model you speced out. It's a terrific laptop and I love it. My useage will be quite a bit different than yours though. I was scared of the screen size coming from some 16" windows based laptops but for whatever reason I have not missed the screen size as much as I had thought I would have. The retina display is so awesome, maybe that helps?

    Being a student and having to take your laptop with you a lot kind of makes the 13" the obvious choice for you IMO. It'll have slightly better battery life too.

    Get the 13" and you'll love it.
  4. domemvs thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 1, 2009
    Good to see there is no obvious right or wrong :D.

    You're right. It's power vs portability. So actually the question i have to ask myself is: will the mid-13" rmbp fulfill my needs (see post #1)? And that's what I ask you guys now.

    Especially with regard to Logic Pro and the virtual machines I'm a little doubtful the 13" model has sufficient power, although I'm convinced it's a great machine overall!

    Btw.: the 15" is not toooo bad im terms of portability, is it? I mean it's a laptop after all...!?
  5. Qaanol macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2010
    Concur. You have a good monitor at home, you aren’t doing intensive 3D modeling, 4k video editing, nor competitive gaming. So decide whether you prefer the 15.4″ or 13.3″ size, and get the base CPU with 8 GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD.

    You didn’t mention which country you’re in, but in the USA you can get the 13.3″ / 2.4 / 8 / 256 refurbished for $1,269, and the 15.4″ / 2.0 / 8 / 256 for $1,699.
  6. domemvs thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 1, 2009
    The base CPU/8GB 15" is no alternative. I think it's too close to the 13" model but costs significantly more. If I go big I go all the way up to the high-end model. ;-)

    I'm from Germany and reseller-prices are unbelievably low atm. 2229 EUR (incl VAT) for the high-end 15" model (Apple: 2599 EUR). 1299 EUR for the mid-range 13" model (Apple: 1499 EUR).
  7. gametime10 macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2006
    Portability is a factor and that's something that you'll need to figure out yourself. You'll have to consider your commute, the size of your workspace, the bag you'll carry, etc... All those kinds of factors will determine whether or not it's worth sacrificing portability for power. If you're just going to leave the laptop at home and take an iPad w/ a Bluetooth keyboard to class, then you might as well go for a 15".
  8. domemvs thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 1, 2009
    I think I'll try out the 13" model. Should I find out it's not sufficient for my needs I can sell it and get a more powerful laptop, which is then going to be Broadwell or maybe even Skylake architecture along with some other major updates probably (touch id, tb3 etc.).

    Anybody with good experiences using Logic with the 13" rMBP?
  9. CarreraGuy macrumors regular


    Jan 15, 2013
    My main work computer is a maxed out late 2013 13" rMBP, had it since January. My other personal is a 2010 13" cMBP. Both do the job great for software development and decent with some PC games in Bootcamp mode.

    I had the option of getting the 15" when I started my new job and haven't looked back since. Carrying the 13" to and from work everyday and bringing it to boring meetings and such is much nicer than the 15". It's even better than the cMBP for portability, some people mistake it for an air.

    I vote the 13" unless you *really* need that Iris Pro graphics chip and the quad core i7.
  10. magnumpi macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2012
    I would go for an iMac, better bang for your money than the 15" model.
  11. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

    Apr 11, 2014
    A friend told me the secret to successfully buying Apple products is buying the least expensive one for your needs because if you buy the highest end today, tomorrow when the next gen is out, you having nothing.

    And it's true too. You go spend an arm and a leg on the latest and greatest and next year or a couple years later people will knock your device like it's nothing.
  12. andyp350 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2011
    I've just been through this exact situation. I was stuck between those 2 exact models. I went for the high end 15" in the end. I decided I couldn't trade off that much of a performance difference just for portability. I also found after playing about on the program's I use in the Apple store that the screen just felt too small and crammed. My new 15" came yesterday and so far I couldn't be happier with it.
  13. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It's extremely portable. I just don't think anyone can absolutely assure you that you'll get 4-5 years without problems or need of repair. I've been lucky with my 2011. Others haven't been. 2010 had problems as well, as did 2008 or 2009 (would have to look that one up). The 13" can be specced with 16GB and 512 drive if your country allows for cto orders. If you're in one that has refurbished stock I would check there first. It can be significantly less expensive. I also want to mention that the 15" dedicated graphics aren't going to be much help for any of the tasks you mentioned. I doubt you would notice any difference anywhere.
  14. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Except you're getting a much better GPU and the screen real estate is much better as well :)
  15. domemvs thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 1, 2009
    Thank you guys so far. It's much help to read some other opinions. And obviously there are pros and cons for both models.

    The more rational I approach my "problem" the more I like the idea of getting the 13" model. Two days ago I was 100% sure that I was gonna go for the 15" hugh end model.

    Another thing which could be a deal breaker for the 13" model: maybe some day I want to attach a second 1080p monitor to my computer. I can't imagine the 13" model to handle this absolutely without any problems?
  16. chibamac macrumors 6502


    Jan 10, 2009
    I'm finding myself in a similar predicament.

    A bit of history,
    I had a 13" mac pro Mid 2009 2.53 4g ram that I gave to my wife when I bought my MBA in 2011. The 2009 machine is bloody slow now and the charger is toast so we now have to share mine..

    The Air is 13" Mid 2011 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7 4g ram. Portability is awesome but the screen was always a disappointment coming from the MBP.
    Still a great machine and would suit her needs just fine. (web browsing, email, netflix) Batching and working on 70mb photos (in Lightroom) on sight is painfully slow for me so I try and avoid this and work on my MP.. Anyways, that brings us to upgrade time.

    Obviously I'm already accustomed to the 13.3" screen. It's portable, comfortable on my lap and I can pick it up and schlep it around the house with one hand while carrying my 1 year old in the other. Enter the prospect of a 15.4" rMBP. Obviously theirs a substantial weight difference coming from the air but what about the benefits of having more screen real-estate and a more powerful machine?

    I watch videos in bed before nodding off to sleep, how comfortable is the 15 resting on the lap in this context?

    I wish I could borrow someones 15" to see for myself but no one I know has one and the Apple store demo's are bolted to the table :p

  17. Mesonoxian macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2014
    OP, I am currently using a late 2013 rMBP 2.4GHz/8GB/256GB as my primary laptop, and I use it for music production (just starting out). The dual core i5 processor does not cut it for more than a few tracks. For my most recent project, I had a 12 track count, with about 5-6 plugins inserted on each, no virtual instruments, and I still got the processor overload message from time to time.

    I guess what I'm saying is that if you are serious about music production, get the 15" for the quad-core i7, or better yet, the 27" imac. My 2 cents.

    Edit: I use logic pro 9 and logic x as my main DAWs
  18. Plerf macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2014
    Buy the 15"

    Moar screen is always moar better.
  19. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    Well, considering the fact that many music pros have to use a Xeon equipped Mac Pro with up to 6, 8 or 12 cores, I'm not surprised a consumer, midrange, dual core, mobile processor doesn't cut it.
  20. Mesonoxian macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2014
    Well, I did say I was just starting out, so I don't have a dedicated music production machine. My late 2013 rMBP is used for school, and doubles as a rather inadequate music production machine.

    Looks like OP is in the same boat as me, hence I'm just sharing my experience. That is all.
  21. GhettoMrBob macrumors regular

    May 21, 2014
    Don't forget though that the 15" is a quad core and not dual like the 13". That alone makes for nearly double CPU performance which could be useful for your music production.
  22. domemvs thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 1, 2009
    Very interesting contribution although it sounds strange. 10-12 tracks and a few VI plugins are no big deal even for my current machine (late 2008!).

    I know the 2.0ghz 15" is a quad core i7. But along with that I would want to have 16 gigs of ram and 512 gigs of storage just to be on the safe side and futureproof. And instead of a 2.0/16/512 cto model I would then go directly for the bigger machine 2.3/16/512/750m.

    I know this sounds a little strange, but if I buy a computer for around 2000+ bucks it's way more important for me that the computer is "futureproof" than if I buy one for around 1000-1200 EUR. I can easily replace the cheaper one within one or two years, whereas I can't afford to buy a new 2000+ EUR computer annually.

    This ain't easy fellas, let me tell you :D
  23. jakesaunders27 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 23, 2012
    United Kingdom
    I'm in the same boat mate, one day I wake up knowing I want 15 the next I want a 13 inch air the next I don't need a new laptop!! I just don't know what to get! I have a nice spec Mac Pro at home which does the main work, so I keep thinking do I really need a high end MacBook Pro! Will defiantly be following this thread to see what you end up with.
  24. Raffi macrumors 6502a


    Oct 1, 2013
    Two very different animals, just pick them up and play with them. I don't know how someone can be in the market for a 13 and 15 inch laptop.
  25. Cloudsurfer macrumors 65816


    Apr 12, 2007
    Just get what you need. If you're running multiple virtual machines at once, I really don't know how you can even consider a 13".

    My advice, get the base 15" with 16GB of RAM for your virtual machines and be done with it for the next 5 years. Don't underestimate the base 15" model, it is a very powerful computer.

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