Need to choose a MBP for photography/music/work! rMBP 13" vs 15" vs MBP 17"


macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 23, 2010
Hello there!

I've been wondering if I should use this forum or the "Buying tips" one, hope this is a good place, it seems to be more busy.

I've been wondering a lot lately about which laptop(s) to use for my needs, which are extensive. The insight of other MBP users would be interesting...

First, let me say what is my actual setup and what I do with it:

Desktop: 2010 Hexacore Mac Pro for work at home, have no intention of replacing it soon. Using Lightroom, Photoshop and Ableton Live a lot with it.

Laptop: Early 2011 17" MBP with a 2,2Ghz i7 CPU and 8gb of RAM (one slot ready for another 8gb), 250GB Samsung SSD. Using it mostly with Ableton Live in live shows with my band. Using it a little bit for Lightroom once in a while. I love the real estate of the 17"!

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to use my laptop more and more to work outside of home, at the library or in cafes. I wanted to use it for Lightroom/Ableton work but mostly for my "real" work, which I only need Microsoft Office and an internet connection for. Lugging the 17" around isn't my idea of fun and since this laptop is critical for my band I wasn't very enthousiastic about risking a problem by lugging it everywhere. So a week ago I bought a 13" rMPB and I've been using it extensively since, working everywhere with it with no worries.

My plan was to use the 13" for general work and Lightroom (because of its IPS display which is beautiful) and to keep the 17" for Ableton Live only. But I realised two things:

1. Having one desktop and two laptops is downright opulent; this feels like spending like crazy, I feel a bit bad about it.
2. The 15" rMBP is not so much bigger and heavier than the 13" one!

So I am now wondering; should I keep this setup (which is crazy and expensive) or return my 13" rMBP, sell my 17" and go for the 15" rMBP? This would be much more reasonable (in both a monetary and practical way) but I would lose the expandability and real estate of the 17" AND the portability of the 13" rMBP. On the flipside though this would be a much better machine for Lightroom than the 13" rMBP (since I'd double the CPU cores and get a bigger screen).

My questions to you, fellow forum dwellers and Mac users, are the following:

1. To people who used both a 13" and a 15" rMBP: is the difference in size and portability very significative to you? I really enjoy bringing my 13" rMBP everywhere right now.
2. To people who went from the 17" MBP to the 15" rMBP: was the difference in size and portability also very significative to you? Do you regret going from the very expandable and real estate king MBP to the much slimmer, IPS screen equipped 15" rMBP?

Thanks a lot! I know this decision is mine alone but a few comments may help me decide :)


macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 23, 2010
Trying one bump. I know my post is long to read but I also knew people answering would ask for details anyway so I'm trying again. Anyone?


macrumors 68000
Oct 3, 2012
Since there're no replies, I'll chime in. I have worked with 17" and 13" MBP and can't imagine real work on a 13" machine. Sure, people can get used to anything but at least for the eyes I'd consider a bigger screen. 17" MBP is my main work machine in and out of home, no need for an iMac. And I prefer it more over 15" MBP. There's a difference in comfort and screen size and I value it more than portability.

Don't know what I will do when OS X stops supporting it, hopefully Apple won't do it soon considering already existing OS X partitioning. Just today emailed to Phil Schiller asking if they plan to bring MBP 17" back, it was the best Macbook for professionals. And Apple always claimed they're not after making money but after making great products. 17" MacBook Pro IS a great product.

So I'd consider bigger screens. So i'd stick with either Mac + 17" MBP; or Mac + 15"MBP (if it's big enough for you, you need to try it our yourself); or 17" MBP + 15" MBP (if you afraid of lugging 17" everywhere).
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macrumors 65816
Mar 10, 2008
I went from the 17" the 15 myself. I'm still holding my late 2011 17" 2.4 and same as you...I updated the SSD. I went with the 500 Samsung 840. I love the computer and was leary of jumping in on the 15...but didn't have a choice. We needed a new machine for my field work with motion and still software as well as the integration with Adobes CS. I bought a 2012/2.7/16/768, decked out. It is still my favorite computer and we've purchased a pair of 2013 models for the business with the TB SSD---And I'm a firm believer in the SSD now. Especially the PCIe storage. As far as the display and the perceived loss of work'll quickly forget the lack of and immediately notice that outstanding resolution change. By the way, I always run at 1920x1200 scaled at 3840x2400. I've yet to notice any performance degradation or 'blurrines' in my chosen resolution. Of course your mileage may vary