MBP 15" or 13"?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by mikeytwice, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. mikeytwice macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2005
    Hey all -- just hoping for some input on whether the 13" i7 or 15" would be a more sensible buy. My concerns:

    1) I'm not much of a power user, graphics wise, but I do plan to use my MBP to drive a small home audio recording setup. Nothing crazy, but I'll need to be able to drive a LogicPro or ProTools setup that can handle 4-8 channels at once. Not sure how processor intensive this is, but when using my iBook G4 and a Firepod a few years back, I ran into all sorts of latency issues.

    2) Also, I want to be able to drive a 23" or 24" external display without any serious loss in performance (though I doubt this will be a problem, as I can do so on a crappy Dell Core2Duo w/ integrated graphics).

    3) Shelf life -- I opted for the iBook instead of a PowerBook a while back, and in 2-3 years it began to feel really sluggish. I want this purchase to last.

    I'm tempted to opt for a 15" model, but I'm not sure if it'd be overkill. Will I ever use the dedicated GPU (I know it turns on w/ Flash, but do I really need it)? Is quad core necessary? If these features would help increase shelf life, then I might be willing to make that investment.

    Perhaps the 15" with the AMD Radeon 6490M would make the most sense? Given my needs, could the better GPU possibly be worth it? (Note: because I'm a student, the discounts make the 2.2ghz only $300 more expensive than the 2.0ghz.)
  2. endless17 macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2011
    If you're not going to game on the laptop, the base 15" model offers the best tradeoff on price and future-proofing. It's quad core, appreciably faster then the dual-core 13" in benchmarks, and has rather great battery-life so long as you force the machine to stay on the integrated graphics chip.
  3. mikeytwice thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2005
    Thanks! One more question: is the high resolution display a significant drain on the battery (if resolution is at max) or cause any noticeable difference in performance?
  4. pricej636 macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2010
    The high res does not have an affect on battery nor performance. Ive heard a couple people say that ant- glare helps battery life because you dont have to have it as bright.
  5. thinkinblue613 macrumors 6502


    Dec 13, 2010
    Planet Earth
    The 13" is really everything you need. Unless you have the extra cash to shell out, you won't regret getting the 13. If anything go for the high end model, you'll get the best of both worlds. Performance and portability.
  6. ThaDoggg macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2010
    Peterborough, Canada
    Get the base 15". You will appreciate the extra screen estate and the dedicated graphics card.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  7. mikeytwice thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2005
    Thanks for the advice, all. Being that I'm a (graduate) student, the discount on the 15" 2.2 is $200, while on the base it's only $100 -- that puts the 2.2 at $300 more than the base model.

    So, my last question: Given that I won't be gaming, would the difference in terms of speed/shelf life (mostly concerned with the latter) be worth the $300? (I also noticed that an SSD upgrade is cheaper on the higher-end model [$90 instead of $180], and that's something I may want to take advantage of... not sure if 128gb is too little space, though).
  8. eaf7s macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2009
    I do nearly the same thing. I would recommend the 13" (because the quad-core processor is a little overkill for your needs), aftermarket 8gb RAM upgrade, and sticking a 7200rpm drive in there (if not SSD). Then get a big external monitor for a lot of screen space for recording. Anyway, that's what I did since I need the added portability of the 13", and this way I kind of get the best of both worlds.

    However, if you would prefer a bigger screen and not to get an external monitor, the base 15" would be fine, but I would still recommend the RAM and HDD upgrades :)
  9. mikeytwice thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2005
    Sorry to reawaken this thread. I just took a look at the 13" and 15" in person, and I feel like the 15" may be a bit too massive for me to lug around (as a student, I take my laptop with me everywhere, and the 15" just looks imposing). At home I use an external monitor, and I'll rarely (if ever) be recording on the fly.

    That said, my setup will probably be something like a Firestudio Mobile and Logic Studio. Does the 13" have enough horsepower to handle Logic Studio? I won't be recording a ton of stuff at once (most intense may be drums), but I want to make sure I can edit projects with 24-36 tracks, and perhaps most importantly, take advantage of soft synths without a hitch.

    Lastly, is there any appreciable benefit of a dedicated GPU when you're not gaming or editing video? Does it ever kick in for day to day tasks?
  10. 1quick1 macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2008
    I had the 13'' for a few weeks and exchanged it because I felt like I wanted the extra power. I'm not much of a gamer but could be if I had a GPU that can handle it. When I went in for the 15'' I debated between the 2 models but with the student discount being $100 on the base 15'' or $200 off the high-end 15'' I went with the high end. The faster processor, bigger harddrive and most importantly the high-end GPU made it a no-brainger.

    I would recommend the high-end 15'' if you have the $2k for it. I LOVE this thing. The 13'' was nice too but this thing is a powerhouse!

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