Macbook for business school - trying to decide between 15 and 17

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by spoofboy, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. spoofboy macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2009
    first-time poster here hoping to get some insight from people who might have been through this decision process before.

    going back to business school and had been pretty set on the new macbook pro 15 but the more i look at the specs, the harder it is to make a decision. on top of that, the 17 inch screen real estate is extremely tempting. here are my usage patterns/background.

    - coming from work issued 15 inch Macbook Pro (2.6 ghz, 4gb ram)
    - power user (but no 3d modeling, gaming, etc.) - may use it to convert videos from one format to another
    - primary use will be large scale Excel spreadsheets and data modeling
    - will need to run Parallels / Fusion with Excel for some of the statistic plug-ins
    - will be commuting to school so i'll be bringing my laptop back and forth. but since i'm in Los Angeles - i will be driving so i won't need to lug it on public transportation.
    - may travel a couple times a year for job fairs, etc.

    i'd like to get your recommendations on best bang for the buck in terms of 15 inch models (do i REALLY need 9600?) and whether you would go for a 17 inch instead for the expanded real estate in my situation (large spreadsheets, needing to run Parallels, etc). or will the 17 inch be a pain because of its large footprint in study sessions, class, etc.)

    not too sure what business school life will be like so hopefully someone might be able to provide some insight.
  2. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    For me, I would not want to carry around a 17" laptop to classes, library, coffee shop, etc. I would go for the 15" model.
  3. michaeljdell macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2009
    I am in the exact same boat and maybe even the same school (Marshall?).

    Went to the apple store yesterday with mind set on the 15", but wanted to check the 17" to be sure. The thing that I really liked about the 17" was the higher resolution, which seemed to add more usable space to the screen than the 2" did. Combining the 2" with the higher resolution really made the screen feel that much more valuable. Plus, it is only 1.12" longer and less than 1" deeper, so it really isn't that much bigger than the 15". I am coming from a ~6lb ibook, so what's another .6lbs?

    Also, I really like the matte option.

    Anyone buy a 17" and think it is a pain to haul around and wish that they had gone smaller?
  4. spoofboy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2009
    thanks for the view. just curious if it's from personal experience carrying around a 17" or just your feeling?

    ha! yeah Marshall also! FT or PT?

    the add'l real estate is definitely a big draw... did they have the antiglare screen on display at the apple store?
  5. TK2K macrumors 6502


    Jun 4, 2006
    the 17 isnt much more weight really, and it's a lot more screen real estate, that being said, it's LARGER.

    Honestly you'll love the extra pixles
  6. Whorehay macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2008
    i'm going to marshall as well (for undergrad)!! i would go 15". :) or splurge for the 17 inch matte. thing of beauty (they had one at the local apple store).
  7. michaeljdell macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2009
    PT, OC campus first year. You?

    Yah they had it on display at the South Coast store, and of course they also had the glossy screen.
  8. Cyrax89 macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2009
    My past 13" macbook was way too small. It just kicked the bucket so im in the market for a new Macbook Pro myself. Do 15". 17" is just too big and I do not like the extra space at the bottom.
  9. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Never had a 17", but do carry around a 15" to class and stuff. I just wouldn't want a larger laptop to carry. Good luck with your decision.
  10. twixx007 macrumors newbie


    Jun 24, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I just bought the 17" MBP last week over the 15" because of a few reasons. I like the matte screen, I also wanted the 500gb hdd, and it's not that heavy to lugg around. I had to buy a new bag that will hold a 17" but it's really not that heavy. I do web design and I wanted to have the ability to let my customers see the screen without the two of us hunching over the keyboard because of glare. With the matte screen you can see if from all angles with no problems.
  11. spoofboy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2009
    i'm FT..but i met a few PT ppl at some of the mixers. are you coming out to the FT/PT mixer in july?

    thanks everyone for your input on the the 15" v 17" debate. it looks like i'll have to go into the apple store and judge for myself.

    does anyone have any input on the 15" line though? specifically the 1699 vs 1999. for my needs, as noted above, it seems that the 1699 version will suffice. however, i'm not sure if i'll be at a disadvantage running virtualization software ...and with the upcoming Snow Leopard...

    thoughts anyone?
  12. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    You'll be absolutely fine with the integrated graphics. Don't waste your money. Invest in a RAM upgrade, which you'll appreciate (especially when running virtual machines) and maybe an SSD upgrade. Those will give you far more benefit than the discrete graphics card.
  13. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Despite the better screen, I'd recommend the 15" for the best combination of power, very good screen and portability.

  14. gotzero macrumors 68040

    Jan 6, 2007
    Mid-Atlantic, US
    After making fun of the MBA for months, I bought one three days after I went back to graduate school. There is a lot of walking.

    I would say get a 13" and save the money and size/weight if you are thinking about a 15". There is a pretty big desktop advantage for the 17", but the bump from the 13" 1280*800 to the 15" 1440*900 is hardly worth noting.

    The keyboard and trackpad are the same.

    If you are really planning on doing a lot of data modeling work, then you are not going to want to use virtualization. I would plan on a boot camp partition for sure.
  15. Pak^Man macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    Go 13-inch for B-School

    I graduated B-School in 2008, and was using a Black Macbook, while I was there. The screen on that was way smaller but I valued the portability.... kept my 15-incher at home.

    If you are just going to have one one would ask you to consider the 13-inch and add 24-inch monitor at home (????) :D

    Here's my rationale: At B-school you'll be doing a lot of go stratight from class to an interview, to networking with some Bankers to having drinks with some recruiters, come back for group study at Starbucks.....

    Bigger notebook means bigger bag that you have to lug around..... you can get the 13-inch plus a sleeve inside some nice leather briefcase, but forget it for 15.

    Ever seen a bag for a 17-inch.... way to big for the professional B-school crowd IMHO. Visualize youself in a suit with the shoulder pads being crushed by that huge back. I'd suggest a 13 or at most a 15 inch..... but that's just my opinion.

    Good Luck!!
  16. Pak^Man macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    Given your school, you might have to go straight from study-sessions to a football game too..... so go small. You wont regret it ;)
  17. striatedglutes macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2009
    Where did/do you work? :eek:
  18. kd5jos macrumors 6502


    Oct 28, 2007
    Denver, CO
    From a 12" iBook..

    I upgraded from a 12" iBook G4 to my 15" UniBody in May. I considered the 17". I have a friend that is a web developer. He has his own 17" UniBody, and the same 15" I do. When I went from the 12" to the 15" it felt like I was using a 17" computer. The reason is the aspect change. I went from 4 x 3 to 16 x 10. The 17" MBP that was the same aspect ratio as my MBP was 15.4" x 10.2". The 15" Unibody is 14.35" x 9.82". So, I did jump to a 17" Laptop considering the aspect ratio I was used to. This thing is huge. I fell in love instantly. The web developer I mentioned applauded my choice. He travels often and uses the 15" almost exclusively when travelling. The ONLY exception is if he has to do a presentation from his laptop. Then he uses the 17". You are a college student. You will most likely have overhead projectors to connect to your laptop. That considered, I'd say 15" should do you famously.
  19. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    since you certainly won't need dedicated graphics, forget the upper 15 and 17" models. i would go small and get an external monitor.
  20. Dimwhit macrumors 68000


    Apr 10, 2007
    For what it's worth, I've spent the last 3 years lugging my 17" MBP to and from work everyday. I would never want to go back to a 15". I just love the large screen too much. Is it bulky for carrying around? I suppose, but a good bag can take care of that. And the slightly larger size and heavier weight are, for me, more than offset by a great machine.
  21. spoofboy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2009
    Everyone...thanks again for your insight. Excellent points all around.

    A few specific notes:

    I think you're absolutely spot on here. If I go with the 15, I think I'll put the money towards RAM and an Intel SSD. Thanks.

    I really wish I could go down to the 13" but I just can't. I've tried using my gf's 13" macbook and the screen size kills me. You're right about the bootcamp point. Thanks for reminding me! By the way, where are you going to grad school?

    Very glad to hear some feedback from someone who has gone through b-school already. Much appreciated. I honestly wouldn't have considered the 13" because the screen kills me - but, maybe I'm under-appreciating the impact of portability. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

    That's if SC isn't sanctioned by the NCAA until 2020! (see Reggie Bush, O.J. Mayo)

    I'm at an ad agency. After working in entertainment, where I had to fight to get a 17 inch Dell CRT monitor (?!), I definitely appreciate working at a place where IT is on top of getting us the latest equipment - Macbook Pro + Cinema Display. It makes it very hard to leave!
  22. spoofboy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2009
    for those advocating 13" + external, would you mind sharing your recommendations for monitor? i don't think i want to pay that much for a Cinema Display.

    i'm intrigued by the idea - but, to be honest, i'm not sure how often i'll be home as i hear the b-school workload is insane.
  23. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    I have a 17" UMBP, and I came from a 15" MBP. Will never go back to using a 15, I don't think. The resolution on the 15" isn't that much better than the 13" (1440x900 vs 1280x800) you're not gaining much at all with the 15"

    BTW I also have a 13" UMBP for traveling. IMHO best of both worlds, and I think desktops are dead anyways. Coming from an iMac and a 15" MBP I don't think I'll go back to a desktop. I also have the 24" cinema display. My only complaint, it's not 30 inches.

    Good luck in your choice.
  24. Lorelai macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2006
    Just my two cents, but a 17" MBP might be a little cumbersome to haul around. In my experience, few classrooms provide the deskspace for that size of computer.
  25. xhambonex macrumors 6502a

    Apr 17, 2008
    Normally in this situation I'd say go with the 13 because you just don't really need the better graphics card. But now that the 15" has the 9400M I'm going to suggest that size. I'm a student right now and I walk a couple miles a day with my 15" MBP and it never bothers me. The 13" would be slightly lighter, but I doubt I'd notice the size difference when carrying it. But I know for a fact I'd notice the difference when using it. I wouldn't even consider the 17".

    I'd go for the base level 15", an external if you'd like, and some HDD/RAM upgrades, and/or some other accessories.

    Monitor Recommendation: This Dell. Its really a fantastic monitor for a good price.

    A note about bootcamp: If you are only using 1 program I'd look into some of those virtualization programs. They have gotten pretty good now, I know people running programs like Solidworks no problem in them. Bootcamp is very annoying to deal with. I use a couple 3d modeling/rendering programs on XP and its just a hassle.

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