Maxed out 13" or base 15"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by NStocks, Aug 4, 2019.

  1. NStocks macrumors 68000

    Apr 3, 2008
    I'm looking to replace my 2015 15" MacBook Pro and one of the primary reasons was due to travel.

    For the next few yearsI will be working on the commute (train) for around 10 hour per week and this is where the 13" appealed to me.

    However, the high end 13" only comes with 8GB ram and to upgrade puts it at £2,200. For comparison the 15" is £2,400 for system wide improvements, except SSD is only 256GB, plus I'm not sure I want 15".

    I'm going to be running windows 10 daily via bootcamp and using 3D modelling software and Adobe suite. I also have a work Windows laptop (made for gaming) which is very capable but far too big for the train.

    Question is, do I accept the small price difference knowing the performance difference is pretty big and go for a 13" or go for the 15" and potentially struggle for storage?
  2. MengkeMary macrumors member


    Apr 16, 2019
    If I were in your shoes, I would go with 15", for several reasons.
    • Your previous machine is 15", which means you may have a hard time adjusting to smaller screen size, which in turn reduces your productivity sometimes significantly;
    • You are running possibly demanding softwares, i.e., 3D modeling, which dedicated graphics card indeed helps a lot, and in the long run, could save you a ton of time;
    • For the current generation, meaning 2016--2019, 15" does not lag behind too much in terms of portability. If you consider the "golden" version, i.e., before 2016, even the 13" weighs 3.5 pounds, while the current 15" only 4 pounds. To me, that's nothing.
    However, there are also some concerns:
    • If you run in bootcamp, it highly possible that you will run into overheating problem for the 15" model, considering the powerful CPU and lack of optimization in Windows, which means you may not want to use it on commute. But that depends on how you would use it.
    • If you select newly updated MacBook Pro (1.4Ghz), which isn't that bad compared with other 13" models, then you can configure it to 16GB RAM with 512GB SSD, the price would still below $2000.

    BTW, now the base model is on sale for $2099 from Bestbuy, and the 512GB version is $2499. I believe you can further reduce the cost if you use certain credit cards. For example, discover now gives you 5% cash back for using PayPal.
  3. jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    I struggle with these each time I upgrade. I have even bought 13" MBPs. But each time, I end up taking them back and getting a 15" because of the extra real estate. The weight penalty is an extra pound or so. And the 15" is bigger in a bag, but when I sit down to use it, the larger screen and keyboard area, and performance are worth the size.
  4. Hieveryone macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2014
    Wow this seems like a tough decision.

    I use a base model 15" 2019 model and love it, but I must admit it is a bit big and bulky for me.

    I do love the screen real estate and no task I throw at it slows it down (fingers crossed), although I do pretty light tasks- nothing too intensive.

    I have always DREAMED of owning a 13" fully loaded. I'm talking i7, 16 gigs, 1TB SSD

    But the cost is slow close to a 15" I just feel like it was better value. So kind of situation you are in.

    Ultimately, I'm happy with my 15", but let me tell you I still need my late 2013 rMBP 13" as well simply because this thing cannot be used in bed. It's too heavy for me.

    I would also probably, or rather definitely, not want to travel with this thing. It's pretty much the *perfect* desktop for me, with the option of taking it with me if needed.

    I see it almost like a "portable desktop computer" haha.

    Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice, but everytime I sit down and use this big beautiful 15" screen, not to mention the wonderful speakers (albeit less important), I have little regret.

    Doing work on a big beautiful 15" retina screen, this 2019 model, is truly a joy that simply cannot be replaced by a 13" IMO.

    I suppose trading portability for it is fine for me, but that's because I do have a 13" as backup for portability.

    Ultimately, I'm very mixed. It's very hard to pick. The 15" is very useful for work. Frankly, I feel like it's irreplaceable for work.

    But at the same time, I couldn't lug this thing around unless I had to. It's bulky and heavy.

    A 13" is of course very portable. Great size and form factor. Perfect for throwing (carefully) into a bag and being on the move.

    But working on it is simply not as good IMO.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Here's my $02 regarding your quandary.
    13" has long been the favored laptop for people always on the go, and while I prefer 15" because imo you get more bang for your buck, in this instance a smaller laptop may make more sense.

    You mention running windows which sounds like you'll be getting a MBP to run windows 100% of the time, if that's the case, please be aware that cooling, and power is not optimized under windows, so the highly rated battery life on the Mac will not be realized if you're chugging along in windows. Additionally, it may potentially run into thermal throttling issues which could impact performance.

    If you're running windows, why not consider a windows laptop? They're cheaper, just as feature rich and may be the better tool for the job.

    Either way, I think in your case, the best option is a 13" laptop.

    Edit: Let me add that under windows the touchbar isn't really customizable and being OLED you run a higher risk of it burning in, since it will not be changing dynamically to a degree that it may under macOS
  6. lockman_321 macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2019
    This is the exact same issue i have. The difference for me was 13" £2499 or 15" £2579

    I ended up ordering the 13" and i am going to pick up today but i think i am going to double check the size of the 15" one more time. The only reason i didn't order the 15" is because of the size. if the size isnt an issue for you its a no brainer, go for the 15".
  7. bhodinut macrumors member


    Jan 31, 2013
    I just picked up a loaded 2019 MBP 13. Almost the same price as the 15 w/ 512GB. After a couple generations of hauling a MBP 15 around it's great having a lighter and smaller laptop. The 15 is great. The 13 just feels better when I'm travelling and carrying with me everywhere.
  8. fokmik macrumors 68040

    Oct 28, 2016
    Check what maflynn is saying word by word because he is on point
    To buy a mac just to use it for Windows...i mean not even on not loose thermals, your laptop will be hotter , with 5-6 hours battery on light usage.
    There are windows laptops 13" and 14" that can pass , real pass 6 hours of light usage now...
  9. playtech1 macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2014
    My view:
    - If it's your only computer and will be primarily used at home rather than out and about then I think the 15 inch wins out.
    - If you already have a powerful desktop machine or are constantly on the move then the portability of the 13 inch would trump the extra screen size and power of the 15 inch
  10. Cosmo M3 macrumors regular

    Cosmo M3

    Sep 4, 2010
    I went with the base 2019 15" as well and I love it. I have a 2018 iPad Pro 11" for portability.
  11. NStocks thread starter macrumors 68000

    Apr 3, 2008
    Good points and I almost forgot how bad Windows is at optimisation, plus its effect on battery.

    For the OLED Touch Bar, would the 'default' F keys remain on all the time in Windows? (which is fine by me). Also, how likely is it really that this could cause burn in?

    Windows will be used 100% of the time during the commute, but when I have access to my work laptop, I won't be using windows on my Mac.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 5, 2019 ---
    From memory, my brother has the 2017 15" MBP which has a smaller footprint than my 2015 15", so in reality there is already a reduction in size to what I currently use and are used to.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 5, 2019 ---
    The use of windows will be during the commute only. When I'm at work or know that I will be working from home, my windows laptop will be the primary laptop. It's just impossible to use the work laptop on a train.

    The issue with not using windows for work is due to licensing... Adobe, we have windows license. Sketchup is the same situation and the CAD we use is free for Mac and Windows. Dropbox is of course native on both OS.

    A lot of it depends on what I'm doing on any given day. Somedays it could just be email or reading PDF's. Other days it could be a lot of photoshopping or 3D modelling.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 5, 2019 ---
    This is what I'm thinking. The 13" is around 5% less powerful in CPU and GPU than the high end 2019 13" MBP. The 15" one will outperform my windows laptop almost two-fold!

    The question came into, would 8GB be enough if my work desmands can vary so much and if I want this to see me through the next 4-5 years as my current MBP has. Then it comes into paying a few £hundred difference for a larger screen (not really what I want) and at the same time getting a very, very powerful Mac, albeit with not enough storage!
  12. lockman_321 macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2019

    Ok so i take back my comment.

    I picked up my the 13" yesterday and i have to say the screen is not like other 13" laptops . it is much better. It doesnt feel as if the screen is to small and infact if i was going to travel with it every day, i would actually prefer to carry the 13".

    I have only had it one day so there will be others who may have different opinions. Apple have told me i have up to 14days to try it out and if i dont like it i can return it However i think i am going to keep the 13"!!
  13. NStocks thread starter macrumors 68000

    Apr 3, 2008
    As a trial run,I commuted on the train for a few hours yesterday with my current 15". I actually found it to be fairly easy to use, even on my knee in terms of its size.

    My bother has a 2018 15" and between the two there is a very noticeable reduction in overall size, so I think I will just go with the 15".

    However, their is still the problem of only having 265GB storage. My personal files are all stored on iCloud which is great. Work dropbox account is approx. 500GB, but with selective sync I should be able to only sync the folders I need access to...

    Rumor has it the 15" will be dead by end of year, which I'm doubtful... As far as I know there are no noticeable upgrade until 2020 possible redesign and if I buy by October I get free beats headphones!
  14. DJBlay macrumors newbie


    Aug 10, 2019
    Will it be dead or will it just be taken over by the 16"? Don't the rumors state the actual size of the rumored 16" will be quite similar to the current 15" with the bezel being just a bit thinner to add that extra inch?

    To the rest of the thread, I like smaller items. Less weight usually, and just a personality to carry less and smaller things. consider it a slightly more minimalist approach. Though the things I do on my machine generally range from very light photo editing, software engineering, and general computer utilization. (Though I appreciate a great CPU and lots of RAM when working with container orchestration locally)
  15. smbu2000 macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2014
    There was a pretty big weight reduction with the 15" 2016-2019 models. They are definitely easier to carry around compared to the previous 15" rMBP models. I guess the same could be said about the 13" models as well.

    You might consider going with a 2018 model if you can find a good deal (sale or refurb.) on them. The 15" 2019 base model has a 2.6GHz 6-core i7/16GB/256GB/555x GPU and all of the 2018 models have 6 core cpus as well. You would have a better chance of getting the 512GB model for a better price that comes with the 2.6GHz 6core i7/16GB of RAM and comes with the slightly better 560x GPU as a bonus.

    I was recently shopping around for a upgrade and decided on getting a 15" 2018 model instead of the 2019. I got a great price on a customized model with extra RAM (32GB) and storage space (2TB) along with a new warranty. The 8core cpu in the upgraded 15" 2019 model would've been nice, but the 6 core is still a good upgrade over the previous 4core i7 that I had.

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14 August 4, 2019