Macbook vs. Macbook Pro (both current gen) for Coding?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bytecurious, Feb 8, 2017.


Which option?

  1. Base Macbook 2016, 12'', 1000 Euro

    4 vote(s)
  2. Macbook Pro 2015, 256 GB, 13'' 1200 Euro

    4 vote(s)
  3. Base Macbook Pro 2016, 1400 Euro

    14 vote(s)
  4. Base Macbook Pro 2015, 15'' plus iPad, 2200 Euro

    0 vote(s)
  1. bytecurious macrumors member


    Jan 25, 2017
    Hi everyone,

    I just made a post about what to do with an iPad, but now the seller reneged, so now the Macbook would be my only portable device. I kind of think it's better that way.

    Anyway, I can't decide between the Macbook Pro 2015, 256 GB, Macbook Pro 2016, and the straight up Macbook 2016.

    I just started a two year coding course. We're doing CSS / HTML and JS now and then mainly focus on Java.

    The Macbook seems to have a lot going for it, mainly the size and weight and the price (I can't believe I'm saying this!). I would feel quite comfortable taking this with me every day, especially if I cover the obnoxious branding with a Dbrand skin.

    The 2015 MBP is cheaper, so I could get a lot more storage, plus additional slow storage via a Jetdrive.
    There's also MagSafe, which I adore, and a good selection of ports.

    The 2016 MBP has much better speakers, is lighter, has a brighter screen etc. But it's also vastly more expensive, especially if I want to go up to 512 GB. USB C would be cool because it could charge my phone and Nintendo Switch as well, but it's also a huge drag because of dongles.

    Last option is to get a cellular iPad after all and get a 15'' 2015 Macbook Pro for use at home...

    Honestly, I can't decide.

    Help please? Especially if you're a developer who has used either of the computers.
  2. Theophil1971 macrumors 6502


    Mar 20, 2015
    Don't get an iPad, if you're hoping to do a lot of coding and development. It'll just frustrate you.

    Between the MacBook 12" and the MacBook Pro, I'd definitely recommend the Pro if coding/development is a big part of your usage. The little MacBook is great for web-surfing, word-processing, and basic computing. But you'll likely want the extra horsepower of the Pro for any serious work, especially if it involves any kind of compiling.
  3. capathy21 macrumors 65816


    Jun 16, 2014
    Houston, Texas
    I voted for the MacBook. Since getting one, I have been in love with it. The keyboard takes some getting used to but overall the machine is great. Depending on what you are coming from, the display may seem a little small for a while but after a few days it feels completely normal. I really didn't anticipate that it would handle the tasks that I've thrown at it but to my surprise, it's been perfect.

    Depending on how much processing power you need, it may or may not work for you. But I would strongly consider it if I were you.
  4. frankgrimes macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2016
    I would recommend going for a MBP. If you want to save some money buy a 2015 15 inch version almost maxed out. That extra screen estate will come in handy for coding.
  5. Jefe's MacAir, Feb 8, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017

    Jefe's MacAir macrumors 6502

    Nov 21, 2010
    To really compare Apples to Apples you would need to max out the MacBook. The price difference between a maxed out MacBook and a new MacBook Pro tb is so close it only makes sense to get the MacBook if you really need a light and portable machine. I have both. Both are great. I prefer my Pro and only miss the lightness of the MacBook. It's not enough for me to switch. I really appreciate the extra screen space and the video card is better as well.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 8, 2017 ---
    $250 more for a Pro w/ tb. Faster processor, faster RAM, better video card, 4 USB-C ports vs 1, the Touch Bar, better FaceTime camera, 4.2 bt vs. 4.0, bigger battery, bigger keyboard, bigger track pad, bigger charger, etc.

    Those are a lot of reasons to spend the extra $.
  6. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
  7. BiteSizeThumb macrumors member

    Nov 28, 2016
    I code in Java and HTML on a daily basis and have no trouble running it on my 2016 MacBook Pro 15" and I have it fully maxed out. Honestly USB-C is barely an issue for me, as I never plug anything in. Only when I get back home to my desk do I dock it to my 28" 4K monitor, and it's still a flawless transition.
  8. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 25, 2017
    I forgot to add, I do have a reasonably power desktop PC with a large screen at home. So mobility is important.
  9. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    If you are ok with the smaller display of the 12", it will certainly do the job just fine. But the 13" nTB is only marginally more expensive and might be a bit more convenient in the long run.
  10. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 25, 2017
    Yeah I might go to a store today and check it out.
  11. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2013
    Pretty much all the laptops in Apple's current lineup are more than powerful enough for university level programming and then some. I should know as much as I did most of my programming on a 15" Macbook Pro when I was studying Computer Engineering and I still occasionally program using it on my own time. Somebody in this thread mentioned compilers and to that I have to point out that the speed of modern compilers isn't really determined by speed of the CPU, the important parts are actually the RAM and the HDD, which are pretty much the same on the 12" Macbook and the Macbook Pro.

    Because of that I'd recommend going with whatever feels the best to type on and read large amounts of text from rather than just pure speed. A large part of the reason why I went with a 15" rather than 13" MBP was because I wanted to be able to fit more text on screen at once and not have to scroll back and forth all the time while I'm working on projects with thousands of lines of code. There's also the issue of ergonomics as the 12" Macbook has a nasty tendency to turn into a mess of dongles if you want to connect multiple external devices or charge and connect something like a mouse at the same time.
  12. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If you're going to be staring a display for hours on end, I would think the 12" display may be a bit small. The 13 and 15" models offer more screen real estate. If possible, I recommend you go and try all three out and see how they feel.

    I'd go with the 15" but only because I think my 13" laptop is a bit small - to put it another way, I'm more partial to the 15" form factor.
  13. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 25, 2017
    I'm not sure I will be staring at it for hours on end. I commute twice a day for around 30 minutes. This would be mostly a device for when I'm in the train or when I'm visiting my GF / parents over the weekend.
  14. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    I'd say to get the 12" MB, and get a cable to plug into the home display.

    I have a mid-2012 13" and it doesn't even break a sweat when doing the basic Web coding I've been learning over the past year. I also spent a lot of class time in split-screen mode with the class lesson repository one one half and my Pages note-taking document in the other half, and I wasn't longing for a 15" screen.

    Don't forget that the Mac's window management is very nice to have, especially with its multitouch gestures and virtual workspaces. I have Win10 and Ubuntu laptops at my job, and even though the hardware is newer for both (I think), it's so nice to get back to my MBP at home.
  15. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
    Just make sure to get BetterSnapTool so you can actually snap windows to the sides or corners.
  16. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    Haven't used it in 18 years myself, but I'll trust ya. Cmd-tab, cmd-`, Split View, and swiping across Desktops/Spaces have been good for me.
  17. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    Have you considered the 13-inch MacBook Air with the 2.2 GHz i7? I checked out the Core m5 MacBook, and while it is an awesome little computer, it strongly prioritizes form over performance, and it was unusable for my playing with it yourself to see how well it matches your needs may be worth the hassle of trying it out. However, the MBA-13 with 8GB RAM and 2.2 i7 was usable, and a lot less money (the downside being no retina display and no awesome form factor like the MacBook.) The 13-inch MBPr might also be of interest if the budget is limited.
  18. jerryk, Feb 9, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017

    jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    Seems you already have a desktop system. Get something small and easy to carry.
  19. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 25, 2017
    The 2015 13" MBPr is an option indeed, the Air not so much. That screen didn't age well.
  20. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    I agree
    Such a great computer, but such a lackluster display compared to the brilliant screens on the MB and MBP.
  21. bytecurious thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 25, 2017
    I decided that I was spending too much time thinking about this, so I'm going to get another year out of my Linux Chromebook.

    Thanks for all the replies, though.
  22. kasakka macrumors 68020

    Oct 25, 2008
    Good for you. I recently upgraded from a 2013 MBP to 2016 model (work machine so I had no say) and frankly, I don't feel I got much of an improvement. While the slightly smaller size and weight is nice, I had initial troubles with getting the correct hubs and adapters to be able to hook up my machine to well, just about anything. Other than that the built-in keyboard feels worse, the larger trackpad does nothing for me and for my uses (mainly programming, running a few virtual machines) there was not any noticeable improvement in performance.
  23. ipponrg macrumors 65816

    Oct 15, 2008
    I prefer the physical keys on the 2015 than the touchbar on the 2016. Aside from that, I like the 2016 keyboard. I can touch type faster. If you're coding, you probably want to get a 15" screen for more real estate
  24. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    When you start thinking about it again, the 12" MB will have been updated.
  25. csurfr macrumors 68020

    Dec 7, 2016
    Seattle, WA
    So I'm a designer and am using a 2016 13" MacBook Pro and the external 4k display. Mind you I'm having a couple of issues with sleep/wake currently, but I expect that will be fixed very shortly. That said, I feel like this is the best setup I have ever had. I sold my 2015 15" rMBP because I didn't really need the extra screen space when not at home, and I really didn't like carrying the extra 1.75lbs in my bag to/from client meetings, etc.

    One word though for coding: Brackets. Get brackets, turn off auto closing of tags, and install the Raven theme and you're in business! Or leave auto closing of tags on and get the raven theme. Your eyes will thank you.

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