MBP 13" vs 15" for college

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Keytachi, Sep 12, 2009.

  1. Keytachi macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2006
    I got accepted into college for the computer engineering course. I decided it was time to upgrade my old whitebook (gma950) for a new MBP.

    The best one (considering my budget) would be the 15" mid-range (with the 9600M GT), but i'd like your opinion to which one to purchase.
    The 13" high-range has the problem of having the 9400M integrated chipset (versus the 9600M GT dedicated graphics) and a smaller screen...

    This computer would have to last at least 3+ years (can't keep buying a new computer every 2 years :p), which is another point for the 15" mid-range...
    Other than using the computer for school, i'd use it for gaming, and for modelling (with maya), which is yet another point for the 15" macbook pro.

    Do you think that the 13" high-range would be enough for what i want to do?

  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Do you need dedicated GPU? Do you play games or something that needs it? 13" is perfect if 9400M is enough for you
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Either the low-end 13" MBP, or the low 15" MBP.

    To be honest, I'm struggling through the same decision myself, except I'm out of uni now, and I really don't know if I need a higher resolution screen anymore. I wanted a 1650 x 1080 15" MBP to be released, but now I don't need it. In fact, the 13" MBP may be more than suitable now that I don't need to read PDF after PDF after PDF as a researcher.

    P.S.: I'm favouring the 15" MBP with only the 9400M right now. Smaller is better, but I just want to have a matte screen, and I want to know what it feels like to have a laptop with decent screen resolution/desktop space.
  4. Keytachi thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2006
    Yes, i do play a bunch of games (EVE online mostly) and i have no idea if the 9400M is enough for me because i don't know how well/bad it runs.
  5. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    I looked at EVE's system requirements and it should run OK with 9400M. It's now up to you. Are you ready to pay more for better and smoother graphics in EVE
  6. Stitch30 macrumors member

    Sep 18, 2007
    I was in the same situation as you. Should I buy a high end 13" or a low end 15" ?

    Since the 13" is too small for me, I've decided to go with the 15" because of the 4gb of ram, the bigger HDD (that I will replace for a WD Scorpio blue 500gb anyway). I'm using this computer mainly for Internet, movies and casual photo editing.

    I got an amazing student deal at my local Futureshop. Instead of the 8gb iPod touch, they offer me an all-in-one Canon printer, an Airport express, Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac and the 3yrs Apple Care all for free. I'm going to buy it tomorrow.
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Other than using the computer for school, i'd use it for gaming, and for modelling (with maya), which is yet another point for the 15" macbook pro."

    A couple of advantages for the 13" (and less expensive) model:
    1. It is considerably easier to carry around.
    2. It is less of "a loss" if it gets stolen or damaged (these things do happen).

    Why not get the 13" _and_ get yourself a high-quality external monitor with the money you save?

    The Dell 2209wa might be a good choice. Perhaps the best 22" display on the market, and very reasonably priced.

    ... and then use the rest of the money you've saved on AppleCare and an external backup system.
  8. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    Engineering in general is mostly based around Windows preference. Most of your friends will sport Windows machines as well. You might want to consider this in your purchase for college. But in the beginning of college it “might” not matter that much. But if you start having to use Visual Studio for your classes, you’re screwed. Or just have to go to the computer center. Most engineers and scientists use Windows and hence most of the pro software is there too. The few Mac users are normally unix users like biologists. And as a student, you can get Microsoft Visual Studio…and those types of things via Dreamspark. That’s Windows only…naturally.

    You can always install Windows on a partition, but then you kind of get a nerfed PC for the price you pay, especially if you're gonna install Vista or 7 64-bit (which will "last 3+ years"). But that's your choice, I guess.
  9. Keytachi thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2006
    That might be a good option... Though i'm still left with the integrated graphics card (which is my main concern)

    I see your point, but I can't see myself using a windows machine. Even if i'm required to use windows programs i'll look for alternatives (mac versions, crossover, and as a last resort parallels/VMWare). I can't even begin to think how it would be to use windows for 3+ years...

    What i might do to help me decide (aka resign myself and admit that 13" will be enough) is to run some benchmarks on a friend's computer. Check performance with 9400M and 9600M GT on some tasks i currently do frequently.

    Thank you all for the replies!
  10. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Just found 15" 2.4GHz MBP from refurb store. That would be perfect for you because it has 9600M GT but is a lot cheaper
  11. windstarfy macrumors member


    Dec 16, 2008
    I bought my 15" MBP for university too, however although it is light it's too big to carry around and it won't fit most of my bags so I don't usually carry it to use to take notes etc.

    I would suggest a 13" as it is powerful enough to bring to for LAN parties (COD4, L4D, TF2) and is a lot more smaller/lighter. 2" is a lot :)
  12. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    To me it sounds like you would always be wishing that you got the mid range 15" if you ended up getting the 13". While the integrated graphic are adequate the dedicated ones are better. If I was in your position I would get the 15". However I don't think that you strictly need the 15".
  13. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    The “heavy” part of EVE Online is the DX10 graphics.

    There is no DX10 for OSX so if you’re talking about the Mac version, you won't be able to max it anyway.

    Now if you're planning to bootcamp it, go with a dedicated graphics card solution.

    But I wouldn't go for hte 9400M anyway. It doesn't make me comfortable.

    And depending on how long you are planning to play it, they might “upgrade” it like in the past.

    EVE looks like one of those games that might gain more popularity because I always see banners of it so they must make some money. And they are coming out with an Xbox FPS MMO integrated into the world. And it’s also one of the titles in cloud gaming services that is supposed to emerge soon.

    But then again, that might mean you can play it in a browser with no video card.

    EDIT: I just viewed that video again. It didn't look like EVE had the greatest graphics in that demo. It's missing some shader effects it seems and the ships look too "grey". Not sure if it was because they didn't have DX10 enabled or whatever though.
  14. opera57 macrumors 6502

    Feb 15, 2009
    From what you say, especially the fact that you will be gaming on it.. You should definitely go for the 15" with the 9600 if budget allows! [​IMG]
  15. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    If you'll be doing actual work and this be your only computer, go for the 15" with the 9600M GT graphics.
  16. NT1440 macrumors G4


    May 18, 2008
    I'm a compsci major and I went with the low end 13" MBP (ordered some ram recently) and spent the money I saved on a twenty inch acer display.

    Now I can have my code up on one screen and tools/other stuff on the other. Here's a pic so you can see.

    Its a GREAT setup, I can use it as a desktop in clamshell mode if I want, and have the great portability of the 13". The GPU isn't going to matter unless your doing graphic intensive work or a ton of gaming, for which the 9400 is definitely a capable bugger.

    Attached Files:

  17. shadow1 macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Mid range 15in with the graphics it's worth the money
  18. dubels macrumors 6502

    Aug 9, 2006
    The reason I choose in 13 inch for college and am looking at a 13 inch after college is that it is easier to carry. Lugging around a 15inch from class to class, then to the library can get tiresome real quick. Plus finding desk space in the library during finals season can get pretty hard.
  19. Hodum macrumors newbie

    Jan 12, 2006
    If you want notes for class, buy a cheap acer netbook or something. If you want a mac to last you 2-3 years, that mid-range 15 inch MBPro with the 9600 is going to be perfect. I've had my white 13.3 from when I was in college in 2006, and sweet lord I wish I would've done the macbook pro instead. Don't get me wrong, this thing is/was a beast, but I always wanted a little more power out of it.
  20. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    If you’re planning on using it for note-taking, just get a tablet. They are a bit more expensive for what you get but I’ve seen ppl use those. It’s pretty cool. Except I heard that the hinges break easy if you’re not careful with it. At least in the earlier models. Maybe they solved that with newer ones.

    Window 7 comming out in like a month will be multi-touch. But I imaging those prolly will cost more than the MBP equivalent.
  21. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    Just ask the EVE forums. They would know. ;)
  22. shadowxtdw macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2009
    As a college student, I really love my 15" Macbook Pro. The extra screen space really helps when you want to work with both a Safari window and another program open.

    For me, the problem with using a big monitor is that I like to often do my work in places outside my dorm. Before I got my macbook pro, I was using an older macbook, and I found the 13" screen to just be too small -- especially if you are doing much programming, pdf reading, or paper writing.

    Another thing that I really like about the MBP is that it can switch between the integrated graphics and dedicated graphics. This helps on battery life which I need since I use my laptop for notes.
  23. ob81 macrumors 65816


    Jun 11, 2007
    Virginia Beach

    This compact setup is perfect for college.

    Op, while the 15" is a nice computer, the 13" is also nice. You can still do everything you need to do. You save a bit of money, and you have a cool computer to carry around for a few years.

    he issue with the 13" for most is the screen size. This is a problem when you are at a desk at home and want to sit back and enjoy a nice + 17" monitor. This is where the external comes in. I would grab an external like the op and call it a day.

    Goodluck with your decision.
  24. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    Why aren't you guys listening to him. He wants to play EVE (and other games). Have you guys ever played EVE? It's not like Pac Man. It's more like a cluttered spreadsheet. You can use a large monitor. Not to mention that it's always better to work with a large monitor...and maybe even 2...for both comp sci stuff AND EVE! As a matter of fact many EVE players have 2 accounts and 2 montiors! :p

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