rMBP 13" versus 15"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Spoons56, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. Spoons56 macrumors newbie

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    Feb 20, 2014
    #1
    I'm in the market for a rMBP. I'm coming from a low-end year and a half old Toshiba Satellite so any Macbook will be a massive upgrade.

    I will be using it for web development (HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, and small amounts of basic Photoshop).

    My main concerns are price and screen real estate. I'd like to be able to tile windows so I can edit code while seeing the results in the browser without flipping back and forth.

    My main question, can this be done comfortably by scaling resolutions on the 13" or is this something I NEED the 15" for?
     
  2. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #2
    The 13" rMBP has a usable real estate of 1280x800, which is just marginally better than the 1376x768 on low end PC laptops. However, if you want to increase the screen real-estate, you can drop out of "retina" mode and into a scaled 1440x900 or higher effective resolution - and going over 1440x900 on a 13" screen is, IMO, too small.

    At that point, you may as well as buy a Macbook Air though. They have the 1440x900 resolution natively, which means less stress on the GPU which means less UI lag.

    The 15" rMBP has the same issues, although it has a useful resolution of 1440x900 out of the box, so you can pump that sucker up to an effective resolution of 1920x1200.

    Personally, I would go with a macbook air over a 13" macbook pro, as the MBA is going to be better in every aspect except raw power and 'retina-ness'. On the other hand, if you want the larger screen or want more oomph to your computer, go with the 15".
     
  3. Spoons56 thread starter macrumors newbie

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  4. philxor macrumors regular

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    Dec 21, 2010
    #4
    I disagree with the last post regarding the MBA vs. the rMBP. I owned two MBAs, a 2009 and 2011 model, and needed more memory so I was just making the decision between the 13" rMBP and the newer MBA with 8GB of RAM.

    I do run the retina in 1440x900 and there is no UI lag at all... If you have really good eyesight or are doing certain tasks the higher resolution is actually somewhat useful, but I'm a little old and couldn't stand using it everyday. The screen on the rMBP is much better than the MBA even at the scaled 1440x900 resolution. The only thing I wish is the screen wasn't quite as glossy.

    The other things the rMBP has is two Thunderbolt ports, HDMI out, and in my case I upgraded it to 16GB of RAM.

    On the flipside I can't really see why someone would buy a current MBA over the rMBP, the rMBP is physically smaller and only weighs .5lbs more. This coming from a longtime MBA owner.
     
  5. Spoons56 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 20, 2014
    #5
    Thank you! It's great to get the perspective of multiple people.

    I actually just found a Certified Refurbished 13" rMBP 2.4GHz Dual i5 / 8GB RAM / 256GB HD for $1269 on the Apple Store.
    May jump on it.
     
  6. Wuiffi macrumors 6502a

    Wuiffi

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    Oct 6, 2011
    #6
    good deal, very good device!
     
  7. simon48 macrumors 65816

    simon48

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    Sep 1, 2010
    #7
    I would play with the 13" and 15" at the apple store (if you have one nearby) and see what you like.

    You could use an external display too.
     
  8. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    #8
    I personally prefer the 15" over the 13" because of the increased screen real estate. I'd recommend trying both, as your YMMV
     
  9. Spoons56 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 20, 2014
    #9
    Thanks you everyone for your insight and advice.

    I pulled the trigger on the refurbed 13" as price really is a big consideration right now.
    I figure if this freelance web development on the side works out well I'll soon have enough to plunk down on an external monitor if necessary.
     
  10. simon48 macrumors 65816

    simon48

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    Sep 1, 2010
    #10
    Sounds like a good pick.

    Off topic a bit. Do you have Mac compatible development tools lined up? As Mac web developer myself I just wanted to plug Sublime Text as a really good app (maybe you already use it in Windows).
     
  11. Spoons56 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 20, 2014
    #11
    Definitely! I've been using Sublime Text 2 with the Emmet plugin to improve HTML coding speed, and Sass syntax highlighting for CSS.
    Already contemplating something like LiveReload to see the effect of coding changes in real-time.

    Coding on a low-end Toshiba has been "cumbersome" to put it nicely. I can't wait to get my hands on the Macbook and get cranking!
     
  12. esskay macrumors 6502

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    Jan 3, 2008
    #12
    Keep an eye on craigslist, I found a super cheap 1200p monitor which works pretty nicely for coding.
     
  13. simon48 macrumors 65816

    simon48

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    #13
    I actually just started using LiveReload not that long ago. I use SASS as well and I started using Grunt to compile SASS and to trigger a "LiveReload" using this method based on this method and it works really well, I highly recommend it.

    Let me know if you have any holes in your new Mac workflow, I'd be happy to see if I know of an app or two to fill them.
     
  14. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    NYC
    #14
    Base model 15"; you probably don't need the additional performance, but the larger screen is preferred for development.

    Get it refurbished if you want to save money.
     
  15. audiokid macrumors newbie

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    Jun 13, 2013
    #15
    I recently purchased the late base model 15". Now I wanted to add a monitor and hooked it up to one at work, but the resolution stunk. Mainly due to the monitor.

    Anyone have a recommendation to which 21-24" monitor to get to take full advantage of the 15" power?

    Or is a better question whcih monitor has the correct/best hook up. Is it miniDisplay to USB or USB to USB? Or HDMI to...? Or Thunderbolt 2, etc.?

    I'm confused. :(
     
  16. esskay macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I'd suggest looking at a 1920x1200 or 2560x1440 resolution monitor. Even that extra 1200 vertical resolution makes a difference compared to a typical 1080p monitor.
     
  17. 5to1, Feb 27, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014

    5to1 macrumors regular

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    Mar 9, 2008
    #17
    While the OP has made his decision I thought I'd clarify some points, particularly as I see such comments posted often and I think they are slightly misleading.

    The MBA's display has a native resolution of 1440 x 900, rMBP 13's display has a native resolution of 2560 x 1600. Setting the rMBP 13 to 1440 x 900 will mean the machine will render to 2880 x 1800 and then downscale to native (2560 x 1600). As such the two images will NOT be the same, the UI will be scaled to the same proportion on both images giving the same "real estate", but the rMBP has the potential to show considerably more detail.

    Any textures, images, etc and even text (while not "retina") will be able to take advantage of the extra pixels, presenting more detail to the viewer on the rMBP 13. To illustrate this consider the following example:

    1) You have both machines set to 1440 x 900
    2) You have the right half of the screen displaying a 1200 x 1600 image

    On the MBA that image will be downscaled to 720 x 900 (pixels on half the screen) throwing away two thirds of the detail in the image (648,000/1,920,000). On the rMBP13 set to 1440 x 900 you will see the full image (as half the screen has enough pixels to display the whole image).

    I don't see any significant UI Lag to justify that trade off. But even if I did, I'd still take the rMBP display every time. Any Lag will be due to SW issues in any case, as the Iris is more then upto the task for anything but gaming (for which either MBA or MBP13 are a compromised choice), therefore as "retina" displays catch on we should see improvements in this area.

    Its undeniable the MBA has its benefits (battery life, weight) but it is incorrect to assume the retina screen running at 1440x900 is just the same as the MBA screen therefore rendering it a mute point in the comparison. The retina screen is definitely a major plus for the MBP no matter which resolution you run it at. And given the display is the primary feedback interface between you and the device I think thats a very important consideration.
     
  18. 5to1 macrumors regular

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    Mar 9, 2008
    #18
    I thought I should also add that I have no problems using mine at native, although I also own a Vaio P so am used to high density displays.

    From my experience with the Vaio, many of my colleagues/friends swore blind (pun intended :D) they could never use the machine. Over the years many have been forced to use it as due to its portability (meant I took it while others left theirs behind) and built in WWAN it was the only machine available. After some time using the machine many changed their minds and it has driven quite a few to go for higher density displays on their next laptop.

    I would advise people to actually use the higher resolutions for a while and you'll be amazed how quickly you adapt. In fact switching back suddenly makes many things look garish, ungainly and like the UI's on kids toys. I think too many are put off by their initial impressions, a quick try in store (or someone else's machine) rather then actually giving a high density display (run at native) a couple of hours.

    The minimum I generally use mine at is 1680 x 1050, this is when I'm just using one App at full screen (Safari, reading docs, etc). When I need more real estate I tend to switch upto 1920 x 1080 or 1920 x 1200. And when I'm engrossed in my work (lots of windows open: debugs, reference docs, code, SSH sessions, etc) I switch to native.

    My ideal would be if I could set individual resolutions for each space. (I know some developments of HW/SW are needed to make this feasible, so don't expect it soon). So for example have my dashboard and multi-tasking space could stay at native, but my full screen safari space could be at a lower resolution (as otherwise theres a lot of wasted space).
     
  19. Spoons56 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 20, 2014
    #19
    Picked up my 13" refurb 8/256 a couple days ago. The speed, clarity of the screen, and silence of the machine have blown me away so far compared to my 2 year old Toshiba (haha no surprise there).
    All I've really done with it so far is personalized some settings and downloaded some necessary software (Evernote, DropBox, Alfred, GitHub, Sublime, iTerm, etc.). I plan to begin using it for web development tomorrow. So far, so good!
     
  20. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    Pa
    #20
    I see the lag. I can make last year's 13" model lag doing basic web development - that's without even running Photoshop. My 2011 MBA is "better" for web development as I can see more code on the screen without any lag. If I were doing image work, the retina screen would be better as it could show more details at once, but do you really need "sharper" text over UI lag? The OP specifically mentioned web development, so I feel that more text and less lag is better than sharper images for his occasional photoshop usage.

    Also, the 13" does not have an iris pro chip.
     
  21. Joelist macrumors member

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    Jan 28, 2014
    Location:
    Illinois
    #21
    Both posts are great!

    I would add that the rMBP has a much stronger CPU and the iGPU is Iris class, again a big jump. The real question in a way is "why still even have the MBA when the rMBP is almost as thin and light but a lot more powerful?".
     
  22. 5to1, Feb 27, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014

    5to1 macrumors regular

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    #22
    I did say Iris, not Iris Pro :)

    As I said previously I don't see any significant UI Lag (actually I don't see any, but I assume others aren't lying therefore assume its not enough to be significant).

    We specialise in embedded design, software development, app development, therefore we're hardly light users. One of our Devs has complained about the occasional stutter when his 15" early rMBP switches between dGPU & iGPU, but apparently that's gone since Mavericks. With the Haswell rMBP 13 I haven't noticed any thing at all to trouble me.

    WRT seeing more, the point is at Native I can see immensely more text then the MBA can legibly display. Even for those that truly can't handle native, there are other options (which work without Lag for me) that will provide significantly more desktop "real estate" then the MBA can ever provide (I never run mine as low as MBAs native res).

    And sharper text doesn't just mean an aesthetic advantage, it also allows smaller font sizes to remain legible. For example when the Retina iPads emerged, and those with earlier models suggested they couldn't see the difference, I'd suggest they pinched a safari web page containing text to shrink it and see on which display it remained legible at half the size. In practice this means I can set a font size on a log or terminal window that remains legible at a smaller size then on a less dense display, thereby allowing me to have secondary windows which occupy less "real estate" but still able to display the output text I may be looking for.

    I don't know how much lag you're experiencing, but it would have to be easily noticeable in my main usage scenarios for me to ever consider a machine occupying a greater footprint while sporting a display with 1/3rd of the pixels.
     

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