Macbook: 15inch vs. 13inch i5/i7

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by fireheart347, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. fireheart347 macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2011
    I am an engineering student at the undergraduate level and I want to make sure that the computer will last at least four years. Which mac would be best if I also intend to use bootcamp and/or run Parrallels.

    The models I'm choosing between:

    Macbook Pro 13inch i5
    Macbook Pro 13 inch i7
    Macbook Pro 15 inch i7 2.0 ghz

  2. soco macrumors 68030


    Dec 14, 2009
    Yardley, PA
    I don't think this can be decided on which will last ~4 years or which runs Parallels better. It's up to screen size.

    I think that with Lion's new full-screen feature, the 13" is more than enough for most. I bought the 13" thinking I'd switch to the 15" after making sure it's screen wasn't big enough for me, but I've been testing Lion and full-screen won me over.
  3. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    Being a college student myself, I wouldn't shoot for anything over 13 inches. I have a MB right now and love the portability vs screen estate ration I'm getting right now. It's lighter and smaller which will help out tremendously when you're walking around with multiple books in your backpack.

    It depends on how big of a screen you want though. Either/or isn't going to break your back; is it possible to go to Best Buy or an Apple store to test them out? They have all of their machines on display along with fast, free wifi to connect and surf around for an hour or so, at least to just get a feel for it. i'm sure that if you wanted, you could ask a rep to stand by you and close the machine, pick it up, get a "feel" for the machine in its entirety.
  4. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Pro and Cons to each really.

    The 15" will perform better as it's a quad core and has the high-res screen option, therefore will have better comparative performance in 4 years time. The 13" is a dual core but with a higher clock speed.

    13" is better for portability. I'd knock the 13" i7 off the list, it's not enough quicker than the i5 to make it worth the extra money.
  5. malman89 macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011

    In terms of daily/typical use, any of these laptops will be more than sufficient. As long as Apple's build quality is still up to par (I bought my white MacBook in March 2007 and have still yet to replace it), they should all easily last 4+ years, unless you mistreat your possessions.

    There might be some differences in performance based on tasks you haven't listed - like if you're going to use your CAD/whatever engineering software on the laptop, one option might be better than the other then. For what you listed, any laptop will do really. I run Bootcamp since I game in Win XP and the performance is better in a rig like mine compared to virtualization alternatives.
  6. awer25 macrumors 65816


    Apr 30, 2011
    Either get the base 13" or th3 15". The upgraded 13" isn't worth the money.
  7. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    Crap Graphics Card Vs. Good Graphics Card
    Dual Core Vs. Quad Core
    13" Vs. 15"

    IMHO the 15" is much better value.
  8. SomeWhores, Jun 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011

    SomeWhores macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2011
    15". You won't regret it. The massive boost in processor and graphics will be a big help especially if you have to use engineering based applications like AutoCAD or anything like that.

    EDIT: the cost difference between the 13" and the 15" isn't just 2" of screen. It's a Physical Quad Core i7 processor that OS X recognizes as an 8 core machine. While the 13" is also an i5, and since it it is a Dual Core it also has hyper-threading for core virtualization, however it tops out at half the cores of the 15". Those extra processing Cores will help with calculations, which will more than likely be involved in engineering (I'm guessing, I'm not an engineer). Also the 15" has a Dedicated graphics card, which would be useful or rendering 3D models (and games). Where as the 13" uses the integrated Intel graphics, which are great and more than enough for most people, it might, maybe help you some. I'd be willing to bet the extra cores would help more though
  9. fireheart347 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2011
    Does anyone here own a 15" and can speak about its portability?
  10. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    I've owned a Macbook Air 13" (Jan 2011 model), Macbook Pro 13" Macbook Pro 15" and Macbook Pro 17". They were ALL portable. The 17" was doable and even fits on airplanes, but it was heavy. The Macbook Air 13" was a dream to carry around, but I couldn't use it for my main machine. The Macbook Pro 13" and 15" are about in the middle; the 13" isnt' really any more portable than the 15".

    If you NEED portability, get the air. If you need a desktop replacement I'd get the Macbook Pro 15"
  11. Kafka macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2011
    I had one for 2 weeks before bringing it back to Apple. Just too big and heavy for me, way too unpractical. It's not a machine you can use while walking around your place, holding it on one arm while typing etc with your other hand (the Air is great for that). 25% more weight sure makes a difference.
    Also too powerful for my use, it was ridiculous.

    They will all last you 4 years easily if you don't need too much processing power.
    Since you're considering the 15" I think you should rule out the i7 13" which is a compromise, for people that NEED as much power as possible while absolutely keeping the 13" size. In benches it is about 15% above the i5, not much considering the price difference. Probably heats up more too.

    Now the bigger screen of the 15" is really nice especially with the hi res option, but this should not be the only reason one gets it. Paying over 50% more for extra screen size seems crazy to me if you don't need the massive CPU power that comes with it. The price and features are in a totally different league.
  12. macrominnie macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2010
    If portability is the main priority, the 13" MBP or the MBA distinguish themselves. The MBA may be less zippy for more intensive engineering stuff, if that is in your future, though the forthcoming Sandy Bridge MBA may do just fine.

    If money is no object, the 15" MBP is also pretty portable, and with the high res screen is functions especially well as a desktop "replacement". If I was doing a lot of walking, I go smaller than the 15".

    If you get the MBP, 13" or 15", swap out the HD for an SSD. It is really worth it.

    If the finances are not easy but you work a lot at home, it is a better investment to get a decent external monitor plus the 13" IMO.
  13. fireheart347 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2011
    Which ones are best for "future-proofing"? Also, I am not considering the Macbook air as it is a little too small for me.
  14. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    15". Double the core count and a discrete graphics card.
  15. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    What do you mean by future proofing? There's no such thing as future proofing. I think that you should get what's "best" for you, depending on YOUR needs as a user. If you aren't doing anything over light video/photo editing, some gaming, and HD video, you don't "need" the SNB processor and you probably never will.

    The speed increases are there but you don't have to spend that extra money if you don't need it. I'm using a macbook from 07 with a 2.2ghz C2D and 4 gigs of ram. Runs just as fast, again, just as fast, as the newest iMacs and MBPs (took it into an Apple store and tested side by side using regular applications). I'm a student, I don't do anything but HD video, web browsing, and some editing with Aperture. The computer can do all of that, with no slowdown.

    I can also do that while running Parallels. It all depends on what YOU want and what you need. Everyone's needs are different. If you have the money then by all means get the newer models. However I see way too many people spending extra to get a SNB processor when they don't do any more than trivial tasks on the machine.
  16. gmans46 macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2011
    it really depends what your using for, i have a 15in for college and its plenty portable enough for my liking. that being said if your on a strict budget, the low 13in with and ssd installed my give you the best bang for your buck, i have the stock 128gb ssd and a 750 optibay and the thing screams.

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