Macbook Pro 2019 13" vs 15" buying suggestions: portability, performance and "future-proofing"

Which should I purchase?


  • Total voters
    20

prieuredesion

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2019
2
0
I am looking to buy a MBP for grad school and have been super confused by the vast plethora of options and what really matters. I'm sure people have been in this fix before: can someone share their buying decision and aspects to consider? Here are some quick remarks about intended usage etc:
  • This will be my daily driver, hoping to stretch ~5 years out of it
  • I'm open to spending ~2800USD but wouldn't mind saving 300-500 bucks for peripherals/an iPad
  • I'd expect most of my compute would be offloaded to cloud but as my daily driver, it would still need to be powerful enough for the years to come and light computing tasks
  • I'll be extending the display with 1/2 monitors on my desk; not expecting much computing on the move, but I'm currently using the 13" and like the form factor
The best I can get for my budget is the MBP15 2019 512/16/6c 9th gen i7, and the specs seem enticing (also, overkill). However, is there a reason to go for such a high spec or would the MBP13 with 4c 8th gen i7 (or i5?) serve me the same over the next 5 years? I would expect the 9th gen processor to be more future proof and stable in the long run but is that really the case compared to prev generation? How much will I be losing in terms of day-to-day performance (not just at present, but a few years down the line) if I go for a top-spec MBP13 instead?
Also, how do the 1.7Ghz i7, 2.8Ghz i7 and the 6c i7 stack up in day to day usage?
 

Broadus

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
893
481
Upstate SC
If your daily use doesn’t call for heavy processing power, I would go with a 13” i5 2.4GHz, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD (unless 512GB is plenty and will be over the next five years). If I recall correctly, it is priced at $2399 US, but back-to-school sales or education discounts may lower that $150 or so.

My grad school days are well behind me, but I research and write with mine every day and plan to replace my non-working 15” rMBP with a 13” specced above.

I would be surprised if you noticed a real-world difference between an i5 and i7 processor. There is no use spending for what you won’t use.

Best to you in grad school, regardless what you decide on.
 

DougFNJ

macrumors 65816
Jan 22, 2008
1,219
772
NJ
The price difference to me always removed the 15" from my decision, otherwise I would debate size in my head. With the newest version having the quad core processor, the 13" became an easy no brainer.

As far as the decision on which version to go with? I always max out the processor and RAM. If I intend to have it for 5 years, I always like to enjoy the highest specs as the price for the amount of usage is not that much higher, but that is purely subjective. The way I look at the specs is, if I am keeping this computer for a long time, and I take delivery of my MacBook, will I second guess myself for not going with the better options?

This was the first year I maxed out the storage as well, and I have to say, this is the fastest computer I have ever used. I absolutely feel the difference using Final Cut Pro X from this version to the last version.

If you are just using this for web browsing, email, documents, and spreadsheets, and have no intention of ever using this for more than that, you can buy virtually any MacBook Pro and get what you need out of it, and then like you said, purchase an iPad for when you are on the go.

But if you see yourself getting into some software that will utilize the processing power, future proof yourself and get the best version for yourself, you won't be kicking yourself later on. But that's how I make my purchases.
 
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leman

macrumors G3
Oct 14, 2008
9,975
4,555
I'd go with either the 1.4Ghz or the 2.4Ghz 13" MBP. Reasoning: you already took 16GB RAM (which should be more then enough for next 5 years), and there is no such thing as future-proofing anyway — you either need a faster CPU or you don't. You won't be losing anything "down the line" that you wouldn't lose today. CPU upgrades on the 13" will only give you few % in maximal theoretical performance increase which is barely worth it for an average user. The 15" is a more performant machine, but you are better of buying a new 13" (or equivalent) in 5 years, which will be much faster still.

Anyway, if you can wait, do wait. Next-gen CPUs are coming and they will be equipped with much faster GPUs and new instruction sets that can dramatically increase performance of AI and general number-crunching, which are going to become more and more important in the future.
 

jerryk

macrumors 601
Nov 3, 2011
4,853
2,400
SF Bay Area
What sort of work will you do in grad school. What degree are you pursuing?

You might also want to ask your graduate school about the choice. It would really be bad to find out they use a lot of windows applications and you bought a Mac.
 

Dontdothat317

macrumors member
Mar 29, 2007
55
0
The 13" form factor is the perfect balance in my opinion. Prior to my 13" late 2013, I had a 15" late 2008 spec'd to the max and it lasted 5 years.

I have found that you will NEVER regret having more power. You likely WILL regret skimping on processor, RAM and hard drive space, especially for future proofing.

I'm a resident physician so have had to carry my laptop around quite a bit for class/school and traveling around the country for interviews/conferences/etc. I've spent a lot of time working on planes and in airports while sitting on the ground. I've also spent a lot of time with my laptop connected to an external monitor and eGPU to occasionally play a game or two. I currently have a late 2013 13" with maxed processor (Core i7 dual core 2.8 ghz, 512gb SSD, 16GB RAM) connected to a Radeon RX 580 eGPU. I push the limits of the 13" chassis. I've extensively used my laptop for: Parallels + Bootcamp with Windows 10, SolidWorks (windows), SAS statistical programming, remote desktop access into multiple research PCs, accessing 3 different electronic medical record systems (Epic, Cerner, CPRS), playing Planetside 2, etc. I commonly have Parallels up at the same time with windows 10 running in the background WHILE doing these things and it does all of this without a hiccup. None of these things can be done on an IPad Pro.

Processor speed and RAM are a must. Get some way to store your stuff so it doesn't clutter your native HDD. 512GB SSD should be plenty if you're smart with it. Use the extra money on processor and RAM.

If you want an iPad, get something cheap, but honestly you'll just find you will prefer to bring your laptop everywhere instead because it's just so much more functional and capable.
 

buran-energia

macrumors regular
Oct 9, 2017
238
76
You likely WILL regret skimping on processor
It depends. 100-200 MHz upgrade for 300$? Bad deal. I probably wouldn't even get it for free, because extra speed generates extra heat and consumes more power. I like when my laptop is cool and quiet.

An upgrade from 6 to 8 cores I think is definitely worth it if you'll use it for certain work. I also read that 8-core version MBP runs cooler. Go figure.
 

prieuredesion

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 10, 2019
2
0
The 13" form factor is the perfect balance in my opinion. Prior to my 13" late 2013, I had a 15" late 2008 spec'd to the max and it lasted 5 years.

I have found that you will NEVER regret having more power. You likely WILL regret skimping on processor, RAM and hard drive space, especially for future proofing.

I'm a resident physician so have had to carry my laptop around quite a bit for class/school and traveling around the country for interviews/conferences/etc. I've spent a lot of time working on planes and in airports while sitting on the ground. I've also spent a lot of time with my laptop connected to an external monitor and eGPU to occasionally play a game or two. I currently have a late 2013 13" with maxed processor (Core i7 dual core 2.8 ghz, 512gb SSD, 16GB RAM) connected to a Radeon RX 580 eGPU. I push the limits of the 13" chassis. I've extensively used my laptop for: Parallels + Bootcamp with Windows 10, SolidWorks (windows), SAS statistical programming, remote desktop access into multiple research PCs, accessing 3 different electronic medical record systems (Epic, Cerner, CPRS), playing Planetside 2, etc. I commonly have Parallels up at the same time with windows 10 running in the background WHILE doing these things and it does all of this without a hiccup. None of these things can be done on an IPad Pro.

Processor speed and RAM are a must. Get some way to store your stuff so it doesn't clutter your native HDD. 512GB SSD should be plenty if you're smart with it. Use the extra money on processor and RAM.

If you want an iPad, get something cheap, but honestly you'll just find you will prefer to bring your laptop everywhere instead because it's just so much more functional and capable.
Thanks for the great advice. I honestly think the 13" form factor would fit my lifestyle and usage better as well, but at a similar price point as the base 15"+SSD upgrade, I am afraid it would be stupid to not go for the 15" model. $150 for a 6-core processor, DDR4 and dGPU seems better value in terms of longevity as well. How would you suggest a pick between the portability and aptness of 13" vs the seemingly better value of the 15"?
[doublepost=1562989214][/doublepost]
What sort of work will you do in grad school. What degree are you pursuing?

You might also want to ask your graduate school about the choice. It would really be bad to find out they use a lot of windows applications and you bought a Mac.
I'll be doing computer science and robotics but with ample cloud computing support, I don't think I need a *very* powerful system. However, as a daily driver and an investment for ~5 years, a decent machine would be nice. Macbooks seem to fit the bill best, given I need the Unix/Linux kernel.
[doublepost=1562989329][/doublepost]
The price difference to me always removed the 15" from my decision, otherwise I would debate size in my head. With the newest version having the quad core processor, the 13" became an easy no brainer.

As far as the decision on which version to go with? I always max out the processor and RAM. If I intend to have it for 5 years, I always like to enjoy the highest specs as the price for the amount of usage is not that much higher, but that is purely subjective. The way I look at the specs is, if I am keeping this computer for a long time, and I take delivery of my MacBook, will I second guess myself for not going with the better options?

This was the first year I maxed out the storage as well, and I have to say, this is the fastest computer I have ever used. I absolutely feel the difference using Final Cut Pro X from this version to the last version.

If you are just using this for web browsing, email, documents, and spreadsheets, and have no intention of ever using this for more than that, you can buy virtually any MacBook Pro and get what you need out of it, and then like you said, purchase an iPad for when you are on the go.

But if you see yourself getting into some software that will utilize the processing power, future proof yourself and get the best version for yourself, you won't be kicking yourself later on. But that's how I make my purchases.
Thanks for the great advice. I honestly think the 13" form factor would fit my lifestyle and usage better as well, but at a similar price point as the base 15"+SSD upgrade, I am afraid it would be stupid to not go for the 15" model. $150 for a 6-core processor, DDR4 and dGPU (over the i7 13") seems better value in terms of longevity as well. How would you suggest a pick between the portability and aptness of 13" vs the seemingly better value of the 15"?
 

kindaichi81

macrumors regular
Nov 3, 2015
121
52
If u are upgrading ram + processor to up spec from base model of MacBook Pro 13-inch, the price is the almost the same as base model 15-inch. Go for 15-inch instead as price will be not too far away.