new 13" vs older 15"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by afinch1992, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. afinch1992 macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #1
    I'm in the market for a new laptop and I am dead set on a mac. I'm a junior Electrical Engineering student and want to go back to apple. I have a mac from high school, but I thought PC would be better for engineering when I go to college. After using an alienware m11x for 2 years, im ready to jump back. I dusted off my 2006 macbook pro ag 15" a few weeks back and I fell back in love.

    Now that you know my story, I need an opinion from both 13" and 15" users. I would get a new 15" and maybe retina if i had the cash, but I'm on a pretty tight budget. My question is, would it be better to get an older (2011 maybe) 15" or a 2012 13" and upgrade with ssd? If im going 15" i would want the hi-res to take advantage of the extra space, but it might be hard to find for the right price. Portability is not huge issue between the two, but its a tiny plus for the 13". I'm fairly aware of the types of programs I need to run and it shouldnt be an issue for either machine.

    thanks for the help and glad to be back!
     
  2. Orlandoech macrumors 68040

    Orlandoech

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  3. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #3
    sorry I should've specified a little better. If i went 15" i dont think I'd have enough money for an ssd for a little while. if i did 13" i could probably do ssd and maybe ram right away. Im looking at around $1300 budget.
     
  4. fleawannabe macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    #4
    I was making the the same decision and I went with the new 13". It would "cool" to have but I do not need quad core power or a dedicated GPU. It is also a plus having USB 3.0 and being more portable.
     
  5. dreamsINdigital macrumors 6502

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    #5
    I'm deciding on this also, and and leaning towards getting a 15". It turns out, you can get a 2011 15" MBP for around the same price as a new 13", around $1200. This is assuming you're buying a used 15". Check the prices on eBay and craigslist. I've seen numerous ones with the high-res screen in the same price range.

    One thing to consider is that if you plan to do any gaming, the Intel HD 4000 in the new 13" is almost on par with the 6490M found in the base model early 2011 15". So in my opinion, buying that model isn't really worth it. So if you want a 15", I would recommend looking at the high end early 2011 model or any late 2011 model.
     
  6. Naimfan macrumors 68040

    Naimfan

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    #6
    Consider either a refurb 13" i7 for $1269 or a refurb 15" for $1359 . . .
     
  7. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    #7
    I think a 2011 model is a good choice here. They have fast processors and decent cards, also considering the tight budget you may not want to go with the rMBP or even a 2012 15''.

    How do you like the m11x? I was considering that machine if I ever went for an Alienware.
     
  8. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #8
    thank you for the replies guys. I was also leaning towards the older 15", but wanted to see if it was really worth an extra $100 or 2 or if i should just put that into an ssd. im a little wary of buying a used one from ebay, but the couple that i have seen look to be from reliable sellers.

    I think the only major hurdle that I see is the lack of usb 3.0. A thunderbolt is great, but a couple of years down the road most accessories are going to be 3.0 im guessing. Im not sure if the downgrade in screen size and power is worth a couple of little ports, but I also dont want to be caught up a creek in a couple of years.

    ----------

    unless i find a couple grand on the ground I can't afford the new guys. The m11x did well for its size, but it was just too small for me. One of the biggest issues ive had is overheating with it. If i dont put the end of a book or something under the back to let the fan get more air itll overheat and shutdown with just chrome and maybe itunes running
     
  9. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #9
    I don't think the ssd makes that big a difference outside of launching applications unless you have too little ram. It's nice, but it's not critical to performance. Your computer should not hang endlessly without it assuming things are in good working order. I wouldn't be swayed too much by the guys on here. Most of the information is pretty generic. The performance of the late 2011 15" is still higher than the 2012 13" notebooks. If the display size is more in line with your requirements, I'd go with that. Usb3 would mainly be a factor if you need to save large files to external drives. Even then it matters whether you're bottlenecked at that connection. Sometimes applications that generate enormous files compress them, so it's possible for saves to be cpu bound.

    Apple sells the one with the 6490m around $1200, but you can get a late 2011 for just a bit more. The 6770m outperforms the HD 4000 by a fair margin.



    I'm strongly in favor of usb3, but usb3 peripherals can be run at usb2 speeds. It's a matter of whether this is adequate for the life of the machine. The 2012 15" models have hit the refurbished section too, but that bumps the price to a bit over $1500. I can say the 2011 quad machines are quite snappy. If that engineering involves any CAD, none of these gpus are ideal, yet the 6770m should still significantly outperform the HD4000.
     
  10. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #10
    interesting point. future proofing is nice, but it would still be backwards compatible. I guess I don't really use usb enough to justify such a sacrifice. What are the graphics for the late 2011 that I should look for? The processors are not going to make a difference to me and the ram and hdd will be replaced within a few months. Basically the stuff I can't upgrade is what I'm concerned with
     
  11. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #11
    The late 2011 uses a 6770m. The only difference between gpus in models released at that time is 512MB vs 1GB of vram. While Apple should make it 1GB minimum these days, I wouldn't stress the difference given the difference in price. The gpus support OpenCL 1.1, which is the same as the HD4000. Neither supports 1.2. Neither supports CUDA, which is specific to NVidia, although I doubt you'll need it for your area of study. My main point on graphics was that a 6770m is significantly different from a 6490m. The 6490m from the least expensive early 2011 15" was a low end card, so it's not surprising that the HD 4000 is almost on par with it a year and a big jump later. The cpus in those models are quite snappy. They're really fast notebooks. They run annoyingly hot at times, but this is the case with all Apple notebooks.

    You seemed to want the 15" for its display size. I brought up the usb3 thing as I really do like the inclusion of usb3, but some people would be much more affected by it than others. It's the same connector either way, so you don't have to worry about accumulating a bunch of accessories that cannot be used on the next machine.
     
  12. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #12
    ok, thats basically what I was seeing from the macbook pro wiki page. Just wanted to make sure. I'm really aiming for the 1gb vram since thats what i have in the m11x and i wouldnt want to take a downgrade on a newer computer if im paying the price.

    i think the usb 3 would just be icing on the cake for me. the more I think about it, the more I realize i only use usb for connecting my phone and my keyboard anyways. my external hd is pretty old, so id probably replace it with a thunderbolt one down the line anyways
     
  13. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    #13
    Man that seems unreasonable. I have heard great reviews on that machine, I wanted one of the older dual-core models. I noticed they don't sell it anymore now that I pulled it up, looks like the m14x took over its price point. It's got decent specs for $999, although still a bit overpriced in terms of hardware - never owned one so I can't speak for the build quality.

    And yeah, no worries on the budget obviously - of course I understand. I would definitely go for a refurbished 15''. Do you have a Microcenter nearby? I've heard of them selling 2011 models for cheap.
     
  14. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #14
    I have one down the street, but it doesnt look like they carry the hi-res from what I can tell. Thats one big plus for getting the 15" over the 13"
     
  15. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    #15
    Fair enough, it wouldn't hurt to check and make sure though. You could walk away with a steal from there.
     
  16. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #16
    nothing too great on there right now, but ill check back. i actually got my m11x there actually.

    as of right now ebay or craigslist is looking like the best bet.

    if only i could add a hi-res to the refurb models! I would definitely consider it from apple then
     
  17. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    #17
    Yeah, well hunt eBay or Craigslist for a nice deal I am sure you can find one there.
     
  18. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #18
    everyone and their mom is selling 13"s on craigslist. i found a brand new in box 2012 13" for $750, but the 15"s are hard to come by around dallas apparently
     
  19. mavonnahme macrumors newbie

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    Aug 3, 2011
    #19
    Go with the 15"

    I was in a similar situation last year when the early 2011's came out. I ended up saving a little more and getting the 15" and am extremely happy with my decision. It just seems like the differences in power between the 15" and 13" are huge and the 15" fit in my backpack fine with textbooks and other stuff as well. There's a reason why you see tons of 13" on craigslist and ebay.....
     
  20. InlawBiker macrumors 6502

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    #20
    If portability is no concern I'd get the 2011 15". The bigger screen real-estate cannot be replaced. You've already said the software will run the same on either one so games must not be an issue. All of the other items between the two can be replaced, but the 15" will always have 4 cores and a bigger screen.

    Right now, $28 for 8gb of memory and $59 for a 120GB SSD at Newegg, I'm looking at the ad as I type this. Are you serious? That's $90 well spent.

    I bought a 2011 a few months ago and installed an SSD and 16GB RAM. I just couldn't justify spending the dough on the rMBP, this one is around $1000 cheaper. I can have 2 VM's open, Photoshop, Lightroom, netflix, all my browsers and it still flies.

    Now, as for Craigslist some of those people believe their used Macbook is coated in pure gold. Look, it's just a laptop. I would go refurbished straight from Apple unless you can find a really good deal. You have to watch it closely, the good ones vanish on the first day, especially with school starting back up.
     
  21. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #21
    I think what mavon said pretty much sums up my position now. still searching for the right deal that fits my wallet, but it seems that even going back a couple of years the 15" is more powerful. only hard part now is finding a hi-res with a good video card!
     
  22. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    #22
    Not sure what that reason is - 13'' is a great machine in my opinion.
     
  23. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #23
    i agree. I think its just the sheer number of people that get the 13" since there isnt a "regular" macbook now. the price difference for the average consumer is pretty large.
     
  24. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    #24
    For sure.

    I miss the MacBook - it was cool but it really didn't make sense for that to be there with a 13'' Pro also available.
     
  25. afinch1992 thread starter macrumors 6502

    afinch1992

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    #25
    i miss them as well. I love working on my girlfriends 2006 white macbook. I want them to bring the black one back!
     

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