MBP 13" to MBP 16": thoughts on size?

badlydrawnboy

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Original poster
Oct 20, 2003
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I have an iMac Pro as the main workstation in my home office and have always used a 13" MBA or MBP as my travel and "work outside the home" computer.

I'm considering upgrading my 2018 13" MBP for a 16" MBP, but I'm a little concerned about the size/weight difference. Just wondering if any of you have made the switch, and how you feel about it. I see that the 16" weighs a pound more than the 13", which seems pretty noticeable when carrying a shoulder bag through the airport. What about the size on a seat tray on a plane? Anything else I should be considering?

Thanks.
 

Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
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In my imagination
First I would suggest waiting for the updated 13" which may come with a slightly bigger screen. That may give you the best of both worlds.

As for the switch, I've made it a few times, going from 12" Powerbook to 15" MBP, to 17" Macbook Pro and back to 15" Macbook, then a 13" Retina, then a 15" Retina ... you get the idea.

For me, it always depends on how I'm using the machine (which apps I'm running and what tasks need to be handled), but I've always found the 15" a perfect sweet spot even with the extra pound. You do notice the weight and it's a tiny bit harder to fit on airline folding trays but I've never REALLY wanted a smaller screen when I use it.

When I do want something smaller or I am not using more demanding applications I go to the iPad.

Also, keep in mind that the 13" MBP has some great graphics but it's nowhere near the level on the 15/16" models.

I usually bring the 15" with me whenever I'm running Adobe apps, Final Cut, etc. The 13" if I'm wrangling data (unloading memory cards and backing them up), and the iPad for anything under that; reviewing documents, emails, showing finished products to clients.
 

badlydrawnboy

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Original poster
Oct 20, 2003
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Thanks, this is helpful. To be honest, if I wasn't having so many issues with my 13" butterfly keyboard, I'd be happy to wait for the new 13/14", because I'm certain that it will have the same scissor keyboard as the 16". But I'm not sure when that is going to come out. If it's in the next couple months, I can hang in there. But if it's not until the end of the year...
 

ascender

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Dec 8, 2005
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I see that the 16" weighs a pound more than the 13", which seems pretty noticeable when carrying a shoulder bag through the airport. What about the size on a seat tray on a plane?
I never notice the weight of the 16" when carrying it around in a shoulder bag or rucksack.

But I do find it very unwieldy to use when travelling - its a real faff when trying to use it on trains, planes, any small tables in fact as it takes up so much space. Even in first class on a train where you have a decent sized table between four people, the 16" basically fills the space I have leaving little to no room for anything else!

Unless you need the power on the move, I'd highly recommend traveling with a smaller laptop.
 

Cosmo M3

macrumors regular
Sep 4, 2010
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I noticed a difference in weight, handling and size between the 13" and the 15" MBP. I sold my 15" and went back down to a 13". Happy with that decision as it feels better in every single way.
 

ejin222

macrumors regular
Oct 12, 2011
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I'm on the fence of selling my 13" MBP for a 16" too.. Any comments would be greatly appreciated!
 

AustinIllini

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Oct 20, 2011
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The 16" is a lot bigger. For the first couple of days, it was like "I don't think I need something this big" but then I kind of got used to it
 

SSD-GUY

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Sep 20, 2012
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Can give you a perspective of moving from a 13" to a 15".

I'm a man that commutes in London, so the extra 500G was noticeable at first, but I then got used to it. I also ensured I made my backpack lighter by getting a lighter backpack (look at Samsonite, Incase etc), and removed any junk from my backpack. You can seriously shave 500G just by doing the above steps.

I was fine with my 13", however now that I've gone to a 15", I can't go back to a 13". The extra screen real estate comes in handy, even though I use it around 75% docked to a pair of thunderbolt displays. The other 25% when I'm in meetings, workshops, at other people's desks, the extra screen comes in very handy, especially in my work as a Business Analyst/Product Manager, as I'm doing process maps, looking at user flows, comparing wireframes, JIRA stories etc. The 13" just feels cramped now.

The 16" is 170G heavier than the 15", and minutely thicker/wider. My honest opinion would be to try it out for a few days, and return it if you seriously can't live with it. It took me about a week to get used to it, so order it from somewhere where you can return it within a set period of days if you don't like it.
 

Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
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I also ensured I made my backpack lighter by getting a lighter backpack (look at Samsonite, Incase, etc), and removed any junk from my backpack. You can seriously shave 500G just by doing the above steps.
I would second this and highly recommend it for anyone who carries their machines daily. I cut about as much out of my backpack by getting a smaller bag (PeakDesign Everyday 20L) and asking myself if I needed x or y with me every day. I left behind chargers, adaptors, hard drives, pens, notepads, etc. and just stuck to the computer, headphones, phone, keys, and water bottle.
 

ascender

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Dec 8, 2005
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The big screen on the 16" really is nice - its the one thing I miss about using it. If it wasn't for my two use cases of 1) running as a method of commuting and 2) traveling, I'd still be using it. I just don't need the power of the 16" when I'm not in my own office.

It does make me wish there was a 15/16" MacBook Air though.
 

jerryk

macrumors 603
Nov 3, 2011
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Do you need the power and screen size of the 16" in your portable system? If not, wait until they upgrade the 13" MBP or announce an Air with the new keyboard.
 

SSD-GUY

macrumors 65816
Sep 20, 2012
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If you do go for the 13”, I’d highly recommend getting the version that has two fans. I find the one fan version to be hot, especially when connecting to external displays etc
 

badsimian

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2015
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I have gone from 2013 15" -> 2017 12" -> Dell XPS 13 -> 2019 13" MBP -> 16" MBP :)

..and I have concluded that I am far more comfortable with the screen real estate. I just wouldn't use the 13" as much because I would get fed up not being able to see that much content all the time. The 16" is lovely, I use turbo boost switcher, it runs cool, quick with a lovely large screen. I am really happy with this one.

For context I travel every week to stay near London for work for 3 days and work from home for 2 days. There is a weight difference but honestly with all the other crap I carry going up and down it is worth the trade off. Just not that noticeable. In fact I prefer watching movies on Plex on the bigger laptop screen now and the speakers are amazing too so I just don't travel with my iPad Pro any more. So overall not much worse off weight wise.

Also I used to get terrible RSI with the 13". The keyboard deck was too small for me to confortably have my wrists on it for any length of time. I certainly never sat on the sofa with it on my lap using it. I do with the 16"
 

BoingoBongo

macrumors regular
Mar 27, 2008
217
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I went from 13” to 16” and love it. The last time I had a 15” computer was a 2010 macbook, and that thing was HUGE compared to the 16”. It’s definitely not as perfectly portable, but it’s such a beautiful computer and the large display is so helpful.

No regrets.
 
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ascender

macrumors 68030
Dec 8, 2005
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14" will be out later this year. It will also include 2019-nCoV
An updated 13" will be out later this year. It might even be a 14". But nobody knows. It might just be a spec bump. But it will have a non-butterfly keyboard.

I've literally no idea what a 2019 nCoV is though.
 
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ascender

macrumors 68030
Dec 8, 2005
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By the way, just for the record, the 16" MBP is a brilliant laptop. I absolutely loved it for the time I used it - apart from the usability in small spaces, would recommend it to everyone who needs a large screen and/or more power than the Air.
 

jh.dks

macrumors newbie
Jan 18, 2020
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I was exactly the same as you: always used 13" MacBooks because I travel a lot with them. A (previous gen) MBA or my non-Retina MBP 'feels' bigger to me than my rMBP 13". I was ready for something new and kind of needed the better graphics as well.
Everytime they improved the 15" touchbar MB I though about upgrading, but decided to wait a little longer. Eventually decided to get the 16" cause it was new, and the BF keyboard was gone (expected a bigger refresh, maybe with Face ID, and maybe I should've waited a little longer, but didn't really want to wait forever).

At first it feels pretty big, yes. But after a week of getting used to it, I think the size is perfect for me. Now it seems impossible to be very productive with a 13"... it's so weird when I try use it (kind of like using a 11" MBA).
I still travel with it, fits perfectly on an airplane tray table, I don't notice the extra weight at all (even though it should be there), ... and two bonuses: I can use this one on my lap (had to do some uncomfortable yoga poses to make that work with a 13") and, the biggest one for me: you can comfortably multitask with two apps next to each other in full screen... The 13" was way too small for that, for me.

+ I thought about getting a seperate computer for my desktop, but this one is powerful enough for what I need, so I just plug it into my dock and turn it into a desktop (this is how I'm using it now).

EDIT: forgot to mention: I'm not really the easiest when it comes to getting used to something new, but absolutely love this computer now. Think it's the perfect size and am totally fine travelling with it. I had to do some work on a friend's 13" touchbar today, and just hated how small it 1) is (screen real estate), and 2) 'feels'.
For context: I absolutely could not get used to the 12,9" iPad Pro and returned it.
 
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Christopher Sullivan

macrumors newbie
Jan 25, 2020
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Went from 13" Macbook Pro to 15" and felt it was too big. In my case, I connected to Monitor at home and in the office, but I also travel 40% of the time. If you travel, the size becomes an issue on planes and in the bag. I'd rather have extra cables, or just stuff in the bag than sacrifice things to take down the weight. I'd wait for the 13/14" Macbook Pro that is coming.
 

Ifti

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Dec 14, 2010
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I went from a 2018 13" to the 16" and love it.
BUT it is my main system and lives on my desk at home. If I was to pick up a portable system I would stick with the 13" for sure.