Upgrade 13 vs 15 MBP? Computational biology.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by yuedatte, Nov 8, 2015.

?

What to do?

  1. 13"

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  2. 15"

    7 vote(s)
    87.5%
  3. keep air and ssh away

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. yuedatte macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2013
    Location:
    Mexico
    #1
    Hi!
    I am looking for an update. I have used mac since i was old enough to tell my parents I don't like windows. I am graduate student and will start working on computational biology. I was user of macbooks, then my current macbook air (1,3 GHz Intel Core i5 with 4GB RAM). Doing regular biology and stuff this was portable and powerful enough for basically everything.
    But since I started this biocomputer thing it's always running at full. Becoming very warm in the process and my RAM is simply not enough. So... I am considering moving to the pro.
    Being used to the portability of the air I considered the 13" one. HOWEVER. This would be my ONLY computer. I move... A lot. Among countries and continents. In time periods that go from a couple of months to a couple of yeas. So... big fancy Desktop is not nice to have and move as often. For this I considered the 15 inch as better. Since I don't make enough money to pay for the discrete GPU it would be only for the quad core vs dual core and maybe the iris pro vs the HD6100 of the 13 inch (considering I would go for 16GB RAM on both, not making THAT mistake again)
    Is the price different worth it? Or should I favor portability? Or should I keep my computer and try to ssh my way through all of this?
    Thanks, and sorry for long post.
     
  2. sjalfr macrumors newbie

    sjalfr

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Location:
    Thin air
    #2
    Here is my experience, it does not totally match yours but it might help. I have a mid-2010 MBP i7, 17'' with 8 GB RAM and an SSD. I use Vmware fusion to run Windows for work.

    Running Win with 4 GB RAM and a spinning hard drive was excrutiating. I installed 4GB more RAM a few years ago and it improved the speed, but not as much as I had expected. A few months ago I installed an SSD. Now the machine is flying.

    Before the SSD install, the machine was running so hot, it scared me. I did remove a lot of lint from the innards during the install. Now it's like I have a whole new computer. The fans never go over 2000rpm. Windows runs as if it were natively running.

    So for me, SSD and a good clean up was much more useful than more RAM.

    As for 13" over 15", after playing with both at an Apple store, I would go for the bigger screen over portability as I have to switch views often. But for just one window open at a time, the 13" was OK.
     
  3. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #3
    Difficult to say. The 15" have QuadCore i7 CPUs and 16GB RAM. And really, really fast SSDs. For most practical tasks, their speed is probably indistinguishable from that of an iMac.
    So, if you need all of that, they're a good solution. Not sure if the dedicated GPU is actually needed, if you don't do much 3d stuff.
    Where do you ssh into?
     
  4. yuedatte thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2013
    Location:
    Mexico
    #4
    Thanks for the reply! Linux server for big data analysis such as RNA seq.
     
  5. pjfan macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Location:
    Columbus OH
    #5
    Where do you do your work? At a desk? On your lap? During a commute?

    In your situation, and the fact you're going 16 GB of RAM, I think the 15" is the most economical for your needs. If you have a 2015 refurb option, even better. If commuting and mobile computing is your thing, then 13" might be worth it.

    Let us know where you do the majority of your work. The 13" is more portable, but not comparable to the 11".
     
  6. yuedatte thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2013
    Location:
    Mexico
    #6
    I mostly work on desks. I currently live in Germany so the German Windows computers are a no go. And I do most of my work in my own computer but at the office or lab.
    At home. I have an external monitor, mouse and peripherals. So i try to get a desktop experience. In that sense the 15" would do more sense I guess, I was just wondering about the actual carry to and from work and the occasional library trip.
     
  7. willentrekin macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2013
    #7
    Yeah, I'd point at refurb, too. I think it was two years ago now that I got a 15" rMBP with 16RAM and discrete graphics card. Still awesome.
     
  8. GreatDrok macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #8
    I'm a computational biologist and I've had all sorts of machines. Most recently, I switched from a 16GB 13" MacBook Pro to an 8GB MacBook because I wasn't using the resources - mostly working on remote Linux servers via shell and remote NX GUI. I think I've hit the sweetspot because it has a really nice screen, very light indeed and long battery life. Most of the RAM hungry stuff I do would blow past even the 16GB of the old laptop so working remotely makes much more sense to me.
     
  9. yuedatte thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2013
    Location:
    Mexico
    #9
    Thank you for your reply! I agree with you that shell is probably the most effective. But considering it would by my ONLY computer. I believe the macbook might not be the best choice for me. Plus some of the work i do I do in my own computer. Like modelling and such. Do you have a desktop as well? or just the macbook?
     
  10. GreatDrok macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #10
    I have a Mac mini on my desk but that's no more powerful than the MacBook. With 8GB of RAM and a really fast SSD I'm able to do a lot of what I need to on this machine and it is barely slower than the old MacBook Pro was (that was only a couple of years old when I switched) but it is way lighter. I thought long and hard about this and as I said, the majority of the heavy lifting I do on Linux (I'm a Linux admin running a dedicated bioinformatics platform for a large number of users) so having the most powerful laptop wasn't really a concern. If I was buying for power, I would probably build a Linux tower box and continue to ssh into that. There's far more bioinformatic tools for OS X than there are Windows so Windows wouldn't get a look-in but the majority of tools are developed on Linux so that would be my go-to platform for heavy lifting and compatibility. I switched to Mac laptops because I wanted UNIX on a supported hardware platform after struggling for years with Windows laptops and installing Linux directly on them. There's no point going that route these days and most of my colleagues use Macs and you rarely see anything else at the typical bioinformatics conference.

    So, if I was going to have to do everything on a laptop and had nothing else, I guess the MacBook Pro with 16GB and a large SSD would be the way I would go (as I did before, switching to that from a MacBook Air) but I wouldn't worry about an i7 versus an i5 as the latter is plenty powerful. As for 15" versus 13", well I've had both and I wouldn't get a 15" machine again. They're too big and heavy, and if you've got a desk with a large monitor then there's no need for the 15" anyway. There's little point worrying about the discrete GPU too since so little software uses it, unless you're looking at tools that use Beagle like MrBayes or BEAST.
     

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