Industrial Design student, 15 vs. 17 inch

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by TSE, May 7, 2011.

  1. TSE macrumors 68030

    Jun 25, 2007
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    Next year I am going in for Industrial Design at Iowa State University.

    I am going to go for either the high-end 15 inch or the 17 inch.

    I have a couple concerns though:

    1. Which one gets better battery life, I know they are both advertised as 7 hours, but there MUST be a difference?

    2. Does anyone find the 17 inch a little hard to carry around? The reason the 17 inch interests me is because then I won't need an external monitor.

    3. Does anyone ever find the 15 inch hard to use without an external monitor on a desk? Is it too small to use?

    4. What is the realistic battery life people are getting from these computers? Is it 9 hours like Anantech stated?
  2. Repo macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2009
    1. Their battery life is very similar.
    2. I carry my 17" around 5 days a week.
    3. I've used the high-res 15" and don't find it necessary to have an external monitor.
    4. I've been told they stay fairly true to their advertised battery life, considering the test conditions.
    If you don't require full 1080p, ExpressCard, and a third USB port, save the money and go for 15". Just remember to upgrade the resolution.
  3. entatlrg macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
  4. Repo macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2009
    My 17" uMBP was purchased early 2009 (the first uMBP with a non-removable battery). At the time, the 15" uMBP's res maxed at 1440x900. I do a lot of FCP work and needed the 1920x1200 real estate, plus, the new internal battery had much longer life.
  5. razyorv macrumors member

    Aug 14, 2007
    I'm an industrial design student at Metro State in Denver, and I have a mid-2010 hi-res (1680x1050) 15" MBP. The size is perfect. I have the higher resolution screen and even with the older processor it runs solidworks fairly well. And besides if you go to a design school the school should have higher end iMacs or Mac Pros with Xeons so you shouldn't have to worry much about screen size and processing speed. I think it really depends on your personal preference and how much you're willing to spend. If you have the budget and like the size, then go ahead with the 17. Otherwise I feel that 15 is plenty adequate for all my CS5 and Solidworks needs. My Mid2010 battery life is about 4-5 hours, but about 2-3 if I'm running Solidworks renders. Don't know about the new ones.

    If portability isn't an issue, I'd even consider a higher-end iMac for their faster processing speed and get a 11" MBA for portability. ;) Enjoy your ID studies, it's a great field!

  6. adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    I would not recommend using a ULV Core 2 Duo to run solidworks at a reasonable speed.

    Sounds like the 15" high res is the best options for you. The 2011 models have a massive amount of processing power vs previous gen.

    Another option to consider would be 13" high end (with the I7) and an external display. This give you a very fast processor on the move and a massive screen when home.

    I dont use solidworks mind you and if it supports multithreading then any 15" quad core would be a better option.
  7. keantan macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2008
    Penang, Malaysia
    I would like to give my thoughts, as an engineering student I had to make the same decision pretty recently. My old 15" died.

    1. If you are used to a 15" you won't miss the 17".
    2. If you had a 17" before you'll miss the extra screen real estate
    3. Battery life between the two are pretty similar, I get 7 hours from my 17"
    4. For me, the 17" isn't THAT much heavier to carry around everyday than the 15".
  8. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    1. Roughly same battery life, played on a friends 17" once
    2. Obviously the 17" would be heavier, but I'm not sure by how much
    3. I have used a 15" for FCP and CS2/3/4/5 work for about seven years now, from an old PowerBook G4 to a new MBP. I honestly find 15" fine, but I may be investing in an ACD soon.
    4. I found I got about 1 1/2-3 hours on my late 08 MBP, but about 5 on my new MBP. Brightness on full, wi-fi on etc.
  9. TSE thread starter macrumors 68030

    Jun 25, 2007
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    Do you guys think it's worth it springing for the 6750 or is the 6490 good enough? I heard it is actually slower than the nVidia 330m that was in the previous MacBook Pros.

    Thanks for the help thus far.
  10. Trickymex macrumors newbie

    Apr 9, 2011
    I chose the 2011 15" hi res 2.2ghz mbp and I use catia on windows with boot camp. I think it's the best option as I found the extra screen size on the 17" not necessary and a hindrance to carry but that's just me
  11. Bobby Corwen macrumors 68030

    Jul 16, 2010
    I personally recommend the 17 because it has the largest screen and there are no downsides.
  12. davie18 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2010
    Well there are downsides though, aren't there? The size itself is a downside. Yes, it's better to use at a desk but people might prefer something smaller so it's better to use on your lap while sitting watching TV or so you can carry it in a smaller bag. Also the extra weight is a downside. And then there's the price, too.

    Apart from those 3 things though I don't think there are any downsides.
  13. Bobby Corwen macrumors 68030

    Jul 16, 2010
    The size is small. I'm laying on a couch with it on my lap right now. Its so much smaller than a desktop tower...

    its also so much smaller than any other full size laptop.

    its almost as small as a 15 inch!

    Its small bro. Its a LAPtop.

    The laptop fits inside its neoprene case well. Which also fits into a standard sidebag or backpack... So you can carry it...

    The extra weight is negligible.

    I said it has no downsides. Nothing you mentioned compared to the only real downside I see here which is: losing screen real estate.

    Money is a whole different story but to me the extra $ is worth having a normal sized screen and not a compromised screen.
  14. Bobby Corwen, May 8, 2011
    Last edited: May 8, 2011

    Bobby Corwen macrumors 68030

    Jul 16, 2010
    Honestly most people stretch their finances anyway when they buy macs and even when they opt for a 15 it was because they were already stretching their capability so their decision is usually super weighted...

    The decision is usually: should I stretch myself hard to get a 15 mac instead of a win-laptop? Or should i stretch myself doubly hard on top of even that to spring for a 17? Then by that logic they usually "settle" for the 15" and justify not choosing the 17 because its like some sort of small, medium, large tradeoff with the middle being the best of both worlds and the large having the supposed downside of being too large; it being an analogy to some other consumer trends. To me the 17 is the Standard, the 15 is the Compact, and the 13 is the Express. So, for the sake of consumer analogy, its more like Standard, Compact, and Express VS Small, Medium, Large.

    The point is that not a lot of people even owned one of these 2500$ retail beasts, but the experience is overall the same as far as weight and daily use/carry. I went from 13 to 17 and its the same feel and behavior as far as logistics of its size are involved.

    If money is not a HUGE factor, the experience and screen candy is definitely worth it.

    The 15 is not the sweet spot, the 17 is. ;)
  15. Trickymex macrumors newbie

    Apr 9, 2011
    I think you guys are going slightly off subject. I don't know about solidworks or autocad or what ever Programs you plan to use as a design student but as I mentioned I use catia, fact is I can't use catia properly unless I use an external mouse and I presume it's the same with other similar software, this being the case your most likely not to use your laptop on your lap....

    A laptop for me needs to be portable and I felt the 17" was just to big for that

    If I need extra screen space, especially for design work then you may aswell use a desktop

    The fact your asking about laptops suggests you need it mobile, so is a 17" portable enough for you?? Or is a 15" more suitable??

    Comes down to personal preference and others opinions don't really count

    Go and have a play with both. For me it was the 15" but you may feel differently
  16. Bobby Corwen macrumors 68030

    Jul 16, 2010
    There is no significant logistical difference between the sizes of a 15 and a 17. If you ever see a 15 laying on top of a 17 you might comprehend that.

    Also, an external mouse can be used on a laptop, you realize that right?
  17. Trickymex macrumors newbie

    Apr 9, 2011
    Lol yes I do realise that an external mouse can be used on a laptop

    My point was that if you need the extra screen space and your using some kind of design software your most likely going to be using an external mouse so your going to need to be up a desk or table to use it properly

    Keeping that all in mind why not use a desktop??

    Also I understand the size difference between the 17" and the 15" and that it's not as big as some people make out but it is noticeable

    My view was that the 17" was not necessary and to me is pushing the boundaries of a portable computer but as I pointed out it comes down to personal Prefrence and the 15" was mine
  18. darkeartg macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    I attend university right now and have the 15' mbp. I think it's perfect, it's not too big nor too small so it works in both class and as my only computer at home. It's not too heavy either.
  19. davie18 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2010
    Well I'd say the size difference does matter to some people. It may not matter to you, but it does to other people. But saying the extra weight is negligible is just false, it weights around 0.5kg, or 20% more. You can certainly notice a difference holding the 2, and this could be the difference if you have to carry it around all day for some people.

    And I don't even know about calling 17" "normal sized" these days. Maybe a few years ago but I'd say 19" is now the bear minimum people are having on desktops these days, so I would say even at 17" it is still a compromise from having a desktop just less of one.
  20. Bobby Corwen, May 8, 2011
    Last edited: May 8, 2011

    Bobby Corwen macrumors 68030

    Jul 16, 2010
    Why would you get a desktop? It's not portable. A laptop can do what a desktop can do but a desktop can't do what a laptop can do. So that's why you wouldn't get a desktop.

    And your view that 17 is not necessary is explained above. I already explained to you your thought process and the logical falacy I am criticizing.

    What you are saying is that weight of an item is more important than having almost twice the amount of pixels!

    You use a computer to use it's software, not to carry it and lift it and exercise with it.

    Screen real estate >>>>>>>>> an insignificant decrease in weight perception when picking it up or carrying it.

    The 13 is pretty heavy too. Either way you will have to use your limbs to exert enough pressure to hold it and move it. Boo hoo
  21. Bobby Corwen macrumors 68030

    Jul 16, 2010
    That's an innacurate interpretation, I would say you are settling for 15 inches when you could have more. Twice as much more pixels.

    A screen can never be too big. There's nothing too big about the 17.

    It's just as thin as the 13 so they are pretty much the same size. Thin, light, portable machines.
  22. Bobby Corwen, May 8, 2011
    Last edited: May 8, 2011

    Bobby Corwen macrumors 68030

    Jul 16, 2010
    The difference matters to some people, but who? That is the question my son. I thought it mattered to me because of information from people saying a 15 is the sweet spot and when I got the 17 I realized all of those elements are completely insignificant and the real reason everyone gets 15 is because of saving money.

    It's not weather the size is perceivable, it's wether that difference is worth giving up the greatest asset of all: screen real estate.

    This isn't a question of usage patterns, even if you just surf safari, the 17 is better than the 15, period, (money aside) simply because you have a bigger screen with more resolution and space and more immersive overall picture and experience.

    So you're giving up that just so it feels 20% lighter???


    20% weight off something that already weighs very little is nothing. Is your arm grip gonna get 20% more tired holding it? Is there gonna be a 20% increase on the pressure on your shoulder when you carry a bag?

    I mean what are we actually quantifying here? It's very illogical.

    Most of it is lack of perspective because most of you haven't owned a 17 for reals so most don't know what you're talking about.

    There is nothing wrong with the 17. It is the best choice if you have the money.
  23. davie18 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2010
    It doesn't weight very little.

    It may be little for a laptop of it's size, yes. But I would say a book weighs very little, 3kg is not "very little" for something that people will carry about a lot. It would probably weight consideriably more than anything else they would carry around a lot.

    And I don't know why you don't see that some people just prefer the smaller screen / lower weight. As I said 17" is STILL a compromise, I mean it's 4.5" smaller than the smaller iMac you can get, so it doesn't solve anything in that sense.

    I'm not denying that a bigger screen is better to work on, of course it is, but some people just prefer something smaller as it IS more portable, and it IS more comfortable just to use on your lap while watching the TV or something. I'm not saying you cant use a 17" on your lap in fact I bet you can use bigger laptops on your lap but they wouldn't be as comfortable.

    I mean surely by what you're saying the macbook air is just completely pointless (the 13" one anyway)? You just have to understand that some people prefer to have that little bit more portability.
  24. Bobby Corwen, May 8, 2011
    Last edited: May 8, 2011

    Bobby Corwen macrumors 68030

    Jul 16, 2010
    The 17 inch is worth every penny and anything less is a compromise, not the other way around; a perception that I theorize has been formed due to pricing.
  25. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    1920x1200 isn't twice as many pixels as 1680x1050, Bobby. And yes, we know, you love your 17-inch MBP. However, I'd go with the 15-inch model – even with the hi-res option you're still pushing fewer pixels, so you'll get get slightly better performance. Obviously Apple 'compromised' the GPU for the 17-inch by not making it more powerful. ;)

    Also, a desktop can do many things a laptop can't do. Run without batteries, support more than four monitors, use multiple GPUs and more than 16GB of RAM, have up to twelve cores instead of four… if you're looking for performance and screen size (which seem to be your primary reasons for going for a 17-inch MBP) a desktop will win every time.

    As far as the 6490M vs. the 6750M -*the lower-end chip should be decent, but as always the higher-end will offer better performance. I couldn't say how much though –*CATIA on my desktop (with a 4890) compared to my laptop (GMA 950) is no contest, while the difference between the MBPs is probably much less.

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