Transitioning from MBP 17" to MBPr 15"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by johnnylarue, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. johnnylarue macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    #1
    Hi folks,

    I have to buy a replacement for my stolen MPB 17" and was wondering if there's anyone out who's successfully transitioned from the big 17" to the higher-res-but-smaller 15" Retina.

    This would be a standalone audio workstation for me (no external monitor), used occasionally for (paid) photo editing/post-processing.

    Main question is, does the sharpness of the Retina display make up for the lost screen real estate? Is it easier/harder on the eyes?

    Much obliged for any guidance you can provide!
     
  2. GSPice macrumors 68000

    GSPice

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    #2
    I'm familiar with the 17" MBP, but every time I look at a Retina in the Apple Store, I just can't imagine using anything else. The Retina display is amazing. Kinda like when the iPhone 4 came out. It made all previous iPhone displays just look terrible.
     
  3. johnnylarue thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    #3
    Thanks.

    I can certainly appreciate the difference in resolution--I'm just wondering how useable or fatiguing the 15" screen is running in my old 17's native resolution of 1920x1200.

    I mean, it's cool that the text still looks sharp under a magnifying glass, but if the text at 1920x1200 is so small that I need a magnifying glass to see it, obviously that's not gonna cut it!
     
  4. GSPice macrumors 68000

    GSPice

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    #4
    Definitely - and you'd have to get feedback from Retina owners. As far as I know some text display is application dependent - but if it's optimized for retina, the machine will display retina resolution, but make text "look" like 1920x1200 resolution, so it's easier to read.
     
  5. vpro, Aug 21, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013

    vpro macrumors 65816

    vpro

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    #5
    I own both top of the lines.

    I encourage you to grab the last of the line 17" MBP refurbs from the online store and don't bother with the 15rMacBooks. They are only high in appeal for their displays but it is too small no matter the scaling. My eyes get sore and I'm near-sighted. My 15rMacBook is a great entertainment machine, I watch cartoons with the kids and let them play little educational games on it, I do light to medium tasks on it because it gets pretty darn hot and the fans are always running, even just for simple 2 min videos.

    Maxing out the late 2011 17"MBP is the BEST thing to do if your professional work depends on it and this machine is now so much more reliable, stable, cool and zippy. I get everything I need to get done, audio editing, mastering, films, graphics, everything gets done in a couple of days, no hiccups no lost time. When and if I give the 15rMacBook heavy work loads, I can always complete a few games twice (in a day) on the 17"MBP and the 15rMacBook would still be chugging along burning my toast and frying a few eggs for my 'bibimbap' while it's at it.

    Don't transition yet, wait till Broadwell on the 15"rMacBook, hopefully by that time they release a much needed refreshed 17" workhorse for the true pros out there.

    NOW, having said all this - you SHOULD get it for kicks, get both of them, test them both out and see which one you keep? Easy. Don't take any of our words for it!

    Good luck!
     
  6. chevellian macrumors newbie

    chevellian

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    #6
    I just moved from an early 2011 17" MBP to a mid 2012 15" rMBP last year when Retina came out and here is what I think.

    First you are going to miss all the space, I mean when in my 17" I rarely used "Spaces" I just could do anything on one desktop, iTunes, Safari, iPhoto, Word and Mathlab (Back in the day) now on the 15" now I use Spaces more often because the space in the desktop is not enough.

    Now I'm off school so I use my retina for browsing, some gaming, iPhoto, iMovie but once you try SDD you can't never go back, I'm happy with my retina it's a very powerfull machine you won'r regret your purchase you just need to get use to the new desktop size. There's no need to tell you that SDD + USB 3.0 you will be flying when backing up (40gb in 7-8 mins aprox)

    Hope this helps!
     
  7. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #7
    Transitioning from MBP 17" to MBPr 15" is like moving from a house to a flat... The first days you'll panic and feel claustrophobic, but after you'll get used to the ghetto... :D
     
  8. lianlua macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    #8
    Almost none of the above post is true apart from the size difference potentially being bothersome.

    You'll have to try them both out, but running the 15" is perfectly workable. Everything on screen is just shy of 10% smaller (147 dpi/220 ppi at 1920x1200 vs. 133 dpi/133 ppi on the 17"), which is not a significant difference except for maybe large amounts of text.

    If you find that to be the case, easy fixes for that include adjusting the system font size to 13 from 12 points and setting a default browser zoom to 110% for pixel-dimensioned websites.

    Performance wise, especially for audio, there's no question that the discontinued 17" is both slower and less capable. I don't know what's wrong with vpro's rMBP (if anything at all...the 17" nostalgia goggles are bulletproof with her), but unless you need an internal optical drive (unlikely, given the gear you likely need to haul anyway) or can't live with non-upgradeable RAM, there's no reason to go with the two-year old 17". It's not cheaper, even refurbished, it's not faster, it's not cooler, the battery life is worse, it's heavier and less portable...it's not better in any way except that it has a physically larger screen.

    The advice to wait another year or more for a just barely-announced successor to Haswell, which just launched last month, is also strange, to put it mildly. Broadwell's not going to change the equation at all for you.

    ----------

    You do know you don't have to use it at 1440x900, right? You can use the exact same resolution you had on your 17" if you want.
     
  9. vpro macrumors 65816

    vpro

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    #9
    I have nothing but utmost respect for this user and comment.

    It is just really tiny though....................
     
  10. lianlua macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    #10
    It's not, though.

    If a letter is 18 pixels tall on the 17", it's 0.135" tall. That same 18 pixel letter on the 15" retina is 0.123" tall (at 1920x1200, actually about 27 physical pixels on the 2880x1800 panel), a difference of barely more than one hundredth of an inch. In other words, less than the difference between 12 point and 13 point type.

    If you're okay with 1920x1200 on a 17" laptop, losing 1.6" of diagonal space doesn't change that much in terms of physical size of displayed objects.
     
  11. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #11
    Have you ever lived in a house and moved to a flat? If not, you can't understand the difference... :D
     
  12. lianlua macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    #12
    Yes, I have. If the flat is more than 90% the size of the house, it hardly counts as downsizing.
     
  13. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #13
    You don't have two floors in a flat... :D

    It is like the weather temperature. The measured temperature could be 30°C but the felt temperature could be 34°C. Ya know waa I mean ? :D
     
  14. lianlua macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    #14
    Not exactly.

    If you select 1920x1200 (147dpi) in System Preferences, that's exactly what you get. There's also a 1680x1050 (129 dpi) option, which is the same as the high resolution 15" (129d/ppi) /old standard 17" (116d/ppi) models. These resolutions are scaled up to double those numbers and then scaled down to 2880x1800 in hardware.

    Retina optimization is only a factor for the default 1440x900 (110dpi/220ppi) setting. In that case, text and images in supported applications will use the full 2880x1800, 220ppi space. For physical size of displayed objects, however, everything will remain scaled to 110 dpi. "HiDPI" mode is therefore a little bit of a misnomer, because dots and pixels no longer have a 1:1 relationship on a retina display, but the term was created before there were retina displays.
    Not even a little bit.
     
  15. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #15
    Lol. The theory is good but without practice it is useless... Move from a two floor house to a flat and you'll get the feeling... :D
     
  16. akdj macrumors 65816

    akdj

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Location:
    Alaska
    #16
    You won't need a magnifying glass. I'm 42 and recently had to make the jump to prescription reading glasses. As an eight year 17" only user, I was tremendously bummed when they dropped them. We've still got a pair of 2011 17" models (2.2/16/500GB Samsung 830 and the 2.5/16/Samsung 840 pro 500GB). We use them now solely for our DMX lighting control (we run a mobile audio and video production company).
    I bought an rMBP last fall to give it a shot. I strictly use 1920x1200 resolution everyday for all tasks and haven't been bothered at all. Obviously the display is a huge difference but for us, the I/O options are a HUGE bonus. Twin thunderbolt and USB 3. HDMI and an SD card slot....much more compatible with the rest of the industry and a nice move considering the serious lack of PCMCIA mini options for OSx. It's a personal decision, but power-wise, these rMBPs mop the floor in comparison to the sandy bridge 17s. Rendering, transcoding and finalizing video...we use Smoke, Premier, AE and Photoshop. As well on the audio side, Audition and Logic. It's hard to explain how 'against' 15" laptops I was forever. We've now got a pair of the 15" rMBPs and will be buying another pair this fall with the Haswell update. The 17s will be sold off. The other noticeable improvement is the battery life which I didn't expect, especially with the display. As well, the nVidia GPU and its ability to work with Adobe vs the AMD GPUs in the 17s makes another big difference.

    No need for magnifying glasses. This is as always subjective and a decision you'll Need to make on your own....but I'm sold, 100%. It's, in 25 years of owning computers, the best machines we've ever owned.


    Not. True.

    " I get everything I need to get done, audio editing, mastering, films, graphics, everything gets done in a couple of days, no hiccups no lost time. When and if I give the 15rMacBook heavy work loads, I can always complete a few games twice (in a day) on the 17"MBP and the 15rMacBook would still be chugging along burning my toast and frying a few eggs for my 'bibimbap' while it's at it."

    Something is wrong with your rMBP.

    J
     
  17. johnnylarue thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    #17
    I like the discussion! :D

    I always scoffed at the hugeness of the 17" until my old PB died and it was time to upgrade. After much agonizing, I bought the 2010 17" Anti-Glare, threw in a 512GB Crucial M4 a year or two later, and got rid of the external monitor. I loved it!

    lianlua: I gotta disagree with you on one point. My MBP17 was the coolest running laptop I've ever had. It only ever broke a sweat when I used a ton of plugins on a project, or in the rare times I played games on it. The slightly larger footprint/chassis definitely helped keep internal temps down in my experience.

    Anyway, my choices are really narrowed down to three:

    1. Buy a used late-2011 17" for ~$1200 locally and max it out with 16GB RAM and an SSD. (Bear in mind, this machine would be noticeably faster than the 2010 version it would be replacing.)

    2. Buy a refurbed 2012 MBPr 15" for $1599 and hope that I can adjust rapidly to "living in a flat". ;)

    3. Wait a month or more for the MBPr refresh and potentially drop a lot more cash on a brand new machine--in spite of the fact that people really don't seem to know what to expect from the first Haswell MPBs.

    In any case, I agree that I should probably go for a trip to the Apple store and look at a hi-res screenshot of a Logic Pro session on a Retina. That could put this issue to rest very quickly.
     
  18. johnnylarue thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    #18
    Hey J.,

    I really, really appreciate the time you took to give your 2 cents--it's exactly the kind of "real world" testimonial I was looking for. You've certainly convinced me that I need to make my way to an Apple store and play around with a MBPr in 1920x1200. (I'll bring a screenshot of Logic session along to use as a test subject.) FWIW, I'm 37 and still eyeglass-free--and I'd like to keep it that way.

    You also raised an important point about connectivity, and there's two sides to that story. Most of my audio gear is USB and FW800, which means I could be living in "dongle hell" to an extent on an MBPr. Not a huge compromise, and the more future-friendly set of ins/outs is probably a good thing. But there's something to be said for the convenience of getting a lower priced (used) MPB17, in that it would instantly already work with all my stuff...

    Anyway, thanks again everyone for your input! I think I'm going to try to make this 7-year-old white hand-me-down MacBook work for me for a few weeks and see what the next big MPB reveal has in store.
     
  19. GSPice macrumors 68000

    GSPice

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    #19
    Wow dude. Information overload. The point is that when Retina optimized resolutions are used it doesn't make everything, including text, microscopic. That's what the OP wanted to know.
     
  20. johnnylarue thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    #20
    Indeed, but I don't mind a little math every now and again. ;)

    I do appreciate knowing that the text on the 15" in 1920x1200 is literally less than 10% smaller than it would be on my old 17". I'll still have to see it with my own eyes to know whether that's acceptable for me, but I suspect it will be.

    In any case, after using my girlfriend's seven-year-old MacBook for the past few days, it probably won't take much to impress me.
     
  21. lianlua macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    #21
    I get what you're saying about having a greater area with the cooling system farther from the areas commonly touched, so the old 17" may seem cooler to the touch compared to the equivalent old 15" model, but they're also both hotter than current models. With much less heat generated in the first place with the newer computer, I couldn't say how much of a difference it would make.

    You're comparing an Arrandale i7 at 17.5W/core with an Ivy Bridge i7 at 11.25W/core and much higher efficiency. Under the same load, the rMBP is going to generate substantially less heat to transfer in the first place. That at least mostly offsets the advantage of a bigger footprint.
    Actually, the point was that 1920x1200 isn't a "retina optimized" mode at all. The text doesn't "look like" 1920x1200--it is scaled to 1920x1200 along with everything else on the computer, regardless of whether a particular application has retina support. There is no retina support needed or even currently available at 1920x1200 (that would apply to a nonexistent 3840x2400-equipped Mac). Retina assets in application bundles are not used when running at 1920x1200.

    The retina/HiDPI feature you describe only applies for the default 1440x900 work area.
    I suspect that'll be the case, too.

    But if you want to compare size, since there are no 17" models in stores, you can print the left or right half of a 1920x1200 screen shot at 9.0" tall and 7.2" wide, giving you a life-size printout of the 17" MBP that fits on a single sheet of paper. Lay that on top of the store display and see if you care about the difference.

    Alternatively, when looking at the 15" rMBP, imagine the screen expanded to include the black bezel inside the rubber frame. That's actually pretty close to the size of the 17" panel in comparison.

    The reason 15" to 17" has felt like a big jump in the past is because you got both more pixels and more space. Now that only one of those is true, it doesn't feel that different.
     
  22. GSPice macrumors 68000

    GSPice

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    #22
    You really need to get time behind the machine in a store. A millions posts about pixels and resolution and heat dissipation can't replace 5 minutes looking at it in person.

    Unless of course there's no Apple Store nearby. :(
     
  23. johnnylarue thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    #23
    I hear you, GS. I've actually got a couple of buddies with Retinas I could audition, and there's an Apple Store only 15 minutes away from me. I just figured I'd put the feelers out first to people who have done the switch from 17" down to 15" and try to find a consensus--especially to find out if there were people regretting the move. I was secretly hoping for the latter, since hunting down a used 17" would have saved me a lot of money, but it seems most people just plain love their 15" MPBr's.
     
  24. GSPice macrumors 68000

    GSPice

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    #24
    Oh yeah man I definitely know the feeling - but yeah, based on my wife's 17" and seeing the retina 15", I'd have to say there's no doubt I'd prefer a retina. Unfortunately they're just more expensive, as you said. Good luck. At least you'll know you've done your research and not made a hasty financial decision.
     
  25. agaskew macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    #25
    I made the same switch a year ago, from a late 2010 17" MBP to a 2012 rMBP 15". The change was made mainly because that particular 17" topped out at 8Gb RAM which is not enough for me (yes some people really do need 16Gb :p).

    The 17" is still in daily use elsewhere. The only problems with it were the crappy Hitachi hard drive that died so had to be replaced with a Seagate Monumentous drive, plus the fact it weighed a ton. The screen is still really, really good, in fact its the second best laptop screen I ever used.
    The 15" rMBP though, with 16Gb and SSD is so much faster, and easier to carry around. Yes I could have put an SSD in the 17" but at the time there were no 750Gb SSDs around.

    The 15" rMBP absolutely kills the 17" for speed. Had it for almost a year and still get a thrill using it for heavy work tasks like running a test environment of 4 Virtual machines hosting a couple of Oracle databases and some enterprise applications.

    I cannot run the rMBP screen at the highest scaled resolution, its all just a bit too small for my eyes, so I run it at the next scaled resolution down which is fine.

    If you can stretch to the rMBP I'd say go for it.
     

Share This Page