Macbook pro 13'' or retina Macbook pro 15''

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by papatya, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. papatya macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2012
    Hi all,

    I'm graphic design student. I'm studying online so the potability isn't so important but it still important. I need to buy a new laptop. So, I'm considering a macbook. This will be my first macbook. I can't decide between $1199 13'' pro and 15'' retina. I don't want non-retina 15' because there isn't huge different on the price with the retina one and because of its weight. I have 21' external screen at home. So, I'll use it with macbook whatever if it is 13' or 15'. The one thing that confusing me is the price and the performance of the macbooks.
    Please help me with answering these questions:

    13'' macbook pro $1199 ($1099 student discount)
    - Is it comfortable to work on 13'' screen without the external screen? I don't travel frequently but when I travel, I'll had to work on 13''.
    - How is the performance of 13'' when working on a large Photoshop file and when working on multiple CS programs at the same time?
    - Is there any over-heating problem with 13''?
    - How much would be the retina display 13'' when arriving? Is it right time to buy normal 13'' and not waiting the retina?

    15'' retina display macbook pro $2199 ($1999 student discount)
    - Is it worth that much?
    - Is 15'' very necessary to a graphic designer?

    Waiting for your answers
  2. aarond12 macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2002
    Dallas, TX USA
    It's very easy to buy a computer not powerful enough, but very difficult to buy a computer that's too powerful.

    What I mean is always over-buy the computer you're going to purchase. This way it will be functional for you for much longer when more and more powerful software comes along.

    If you have the funds, get the retina 15" MacBook Pro. The extra screen real estate is very valuable in graphic design. The retina's more powerful CPU and GPU means that you will future-proof your purchase.
  3. papatya thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2012
    I know the 15'' retina is good for a graphic designer. But, is the 13'' has the necessary performance for a graphic designer?
    I really need the answers of that questions that I posted. Waiting for your help.
  4. rafatkd macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2012
    Sao Paulo - Brazil
    This is not a matter of display size. The cheaper macbook pro is good enough for your purpose. However, I'd like to suggest you to upgrade the memory up to 8GB .

  5. mef613 macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2012
    For a graphic designer, the screen real estate is a big issue. The Macbook Pro 13" only has 1280x800 pixels. Even a regular 15" Macbook Pro is 1440x900, and the Retina MBP obviously can effectively give you many more, depending on the scaling setting you're using. The big issue with screen resolution is the space you have to see the image/page you're working on, vs. the percentage of screen page given over to the toolbars, palettes, window borders, etc. of the program you're using. I am not a designer, and just bought another 13" MBP, but even I feel cramped at times on this screen. I can only imagine it's far worse for designers.

    Ironically, the 13" Macbook Air has better screen resolution (more dots) than the 13" Macbook Pro - 1440x900, same as the 15" non-Retina Macbook Pro! I don't know that it would be powerful enough for design work, though, particularly the limited and non-upgradable RAM.

    As a compromise, you might want to consider buying a 15" non-Retina Macbook Pro and add aftermarket RAM and perhaps an SSD from a company like Other World Computing. As a student, it will be far more cost-effective to buy hardware that can be upgraded a few times over the years (larger hard drive/replace w/SSD as prices drop, for example) rather than be locked into the MBA/MBP Retina non-upgradable hardware.

    Check out the Macworld reviews for benchmarks between the late 2011 MBP and the new ones - you might also find that the price gap between the two is big enough to justify buying a high-spec refurbished model for equivalent performance to the low-end current model. (I just did this for a 13" MBP).

    Hope this is helpful.
  6. papatya, Jun 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012

    papatya thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2012
    Thank you for your reply. I agree with you on this. The 8GB would be better.

    As I said before, I'm not considering non-retina 15" because it is too heavy when compared to retina display one and there is not so cheap than the retina 15".
    Yes, I see the air has better screen resolution. Will the MacBook air be more valuable than the 13" pro when I sell it after about a year? Can I run multiple CS programs at a same time for hours without slowing down and over-heating?
  7. pacalis, Jun 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012

    pacalis macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2011
    First, unless you go to a PC (i.e. a Sony S for example), realize you're buying a pricier computer but one that comes with good service - so get the 3 year apple care. You also need to consider what software you're using as that may be insitution specific (and can quickly make a decision for you). Are you committed to a MBP?

    Second, that price on the 13" MBP isn't correct, you will inevitably end up looking at the $1500 one because of the i7 and 8GB ram.

    Given the specs, the rMBP is the best deal by far and you don't need an external display, in fact you may prefer the display on the rMBP. But it will be $300 more because of apple care.

    Also, as I see it the non retina MBPs are for people that don't want to give up their DVDs, firewire and ethernet ports. As you're starting out, I doubt this applies to you. And the performance will be much slower due to the hard drive.

    Last, as I'm editing - do you really need portability? If the thing is going to be closed nearly all the time, pluged into an external display, maybe get a mac mini and an a low end air.
  8. papatya thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2012
    - At first, thank you for your reply. I really want to buy rMBP. But its price is confusing me.
    - The price of the base line 13" MacBook pro is $1099 with student discount and it adds $90 for 8GB ram. I have considered the 13" MBP only because of its price. So, I'm not from that people that don't want to give up teir DVD drives and etc.
    - I'll not keep the MacBook plugged into the external monitor. I may only plug it sometimes.
    - I don't want a MacBook that is heavier than the rMBP because it is so hard to carry it on international traveling.

    Finally, if I bought 13" MacBook air, for which price can I sell it after using it about a year?
  9. dwsolberg macrumors 6502a

    Dec 17, 2003
    The 13" MacBook Pro and MacBook Air should both retain good resale values. Which is better depends a lot on what Apple releases in the next year.

    The 13" MacBook Air has a higher resolution, less glossy screen, which in my opinion is better than the 13" Pro's screen. This may or not not be important to you, but I suspect you'd appreciate it when working in CS programs because they have a lot of palettes. The Air will also tend to feel faster in everyday life because of its SSD. (Its processor is slower, but probably still plenty fast for your needs.)

    The 13" MacBook Pro will have better battery life, and it's easy to upgrade the RAM yourself. It also has more hard drive space, which may be important if you have lots of videos, etc.

    If you have the money, a 13" MacBook Air with 8 GB of RAM will serve all your needs and make you very happy.

    If you want to save some cash, a 13" MacBook Pro will do everything you need at a much better price point.
  10. itsvdiddy macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2008
    I think some of these points are echoed by the previous commenters, but here's my take (I do graphic graphic design and web coding work professionally):
    Is it comfortable to work on 13'' screen without the external screen?
    1280 by 800 is the resolution on the 13". This is pretty small. Like someone said about Photoshop (since you're a graphic designer), screen real-estate is your friend. All the tools and palettes take up screen space. Especially if you're working with multiple open files, more screen space really helps. With your question about traveling: if you plan on being away from a larger external monitor for some time, just think about how much more unproductive and inefficient you will be because of the smaller screen space while you are traveling. I find that tweaks here and there are OK on smaller screen, but to do actual work, a smaller screen will not fit your needs.

    - How is the performance of 13'' when working on a large Photoshop file and when working on multiple CS programs at the same time?
    Check and compare these stats and you'll see the CS5 portion. As for performance, Photoshop and Illustrator are ram hogs. The more ram the better the performance.

    - How much would be the retina display 13'' when arriving? Is it right time to buy normal 13'' and not waiting the retina?
    There are rumors that those will be released later this year. But then again those are rumors. Odds are they will introduce retina displays to the entire lineup eventually.

    15'' retina display macbook pro $2199 ($1999 student discount)
    - Is it worth that much?
    Depends on how serious are you as a graphic designer. If you can afford it, better resolution and better hardware specs are always better for you. And with the Retina Display having better glare control and better colors, etc, this is a plus for your field.

    - Is 15'' very necessary to a graphic designer?
    If they were able to release a higher resolution 13", then I think no 15" is not necessary. However, since the retina display and previously the higher density monitors were only available in the 15", then I would go with that.
  11. sinisterdesign macrumors 6502


    Dec 10, 2003
    as a graphic designer...

    if price really isn't the deciding factor, no doubt the rMBP. i have it & it's awesome. but if price is a concern, and it usually is, i think the 13" would totally handle any PSD you could throw at it. and considering that you have an external monitor that you'll work from most of the time, i think that's a solid choice.

    but that's not really an apples to apples comparison (sorry for the pun). the price difference of those 2 machines is like $1,000. the 15" has amazing resolution and is really thin for the power. but if i were a student again (i was working on PowerMac 7100AV's as a student), i would probably go for the 13" and use the extra $k for software.
  12. pacalis macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2011
    I think 13" MBP is the same price as the 128GB MBA. Same to up to 8GB RAM

    Frankly, I don't see any advantage to the 13" MBP. As the above poster said the Air will be snappier for most tasks because of the SSD. It has the same video. It is also way more portable.

    And if you're going to have the thing attached to a monitor anyway, the screen is moot unless you're travelling. And travel is what the MBA is built for.

    With a 13" MBP you get a heavy machine that's a bucket of compromises with lots of legacy ports. With the rMBP the only compromise is price. And the MBA the main compromise is HD storage and a bit of processing power.
  13. papatya thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2012
  14. Tambo macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2009

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