Upgraded nTB 13 2017 vs rMBP 15 2015

Which laptop for a soon-to-be graduate

  • nTB 2017 13-inch rMBP (512gb SSD, 16GB ram, base CPU) for $2350

    Votes: 10 52.6%
  • 2015 15-inch rMBP (512gb SSD, base CPU/RAM) for $2500

    Votes: 9 47.4%

  • Total voters
    19

facemeat

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 19, 2016
99
76
Hello,
I'm looking for some purchase advice as a soon-to-be-finished university student.
Usage: word, powerpoint, PDF expert, mail, lightroom (24mp raw files).

One year left of school, which includes a 5 months internship in a foreign country. When the semester begins in August I'll only be in school around two days per week as most of our work can be done independently.
Between those weekdays I'll working from home or from the academies local library. Whenever I have a few days without classes though I'll probably head to my parents cabin far out in the wilderness as the tranquility does wonders for my focus, the serenity the countryside provides is amazing (3-4 days per week).
Then, if all goes well, I'll be heading to Geneva or Vienna for an internship (5:ish months).
I will be travelling, but I won't necessarily be commuting with the computer every day as I only have obligatory classes 2 days/week.

The laptops I'm considering buying are:
nTB 2017 13-inch rMBP (512gb SSD, 16GB ram, base CPU) for $2350
+ lighter
+ newer
+- USB-C (it's the future, but for now I'd have to use an adapter pretty much everywhere I go)
- smaller display. I fear that 13 inches might feel cramped since it'll be my only work station whenever I'm at the cabin or abroad.

2015 15-inch rMBP (512gb SSD, base CPU/RAM) for $2500
+ larger display (more work space as I won't be able to rely on an external display at the cabin or when I'm abroad)
+
quad-core, more future-proof? At the very least better for my photography hobby
+- legacy ports (i regularly use the hdmi, sd-slot and usb ports, for now the legacy ports are a lot better than USB-C, but 3 years down the line? Maybe external HDDs, displays etc are only sold with USB-C..)
- heavier/unwieldy

If money wasn't an option I'd get the 2017 15-inch model (512gb 2,9 GHz CPU, 560 GPU) but it's $3500, something I cannot motivate.

I'd love to hear your input as I'm having a really hard time deciding between the two!
Thanks
 

turbineseaplane

macrumors 601
Mar 19, 2008
4,985
7,148
When you mentioned Lightroom & future proof and ports and always using the internal monitor...

Screen, Ports, CPU = 15"
 
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facemeat

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 19, 2016
99
76
When you mentioned Lightroom & future proof and ports and always using the internal monitor...

Screen, Ports, CPU = 15"
Duly noted!

You can get the best of both worlds with a refurbished 2016 15" Pro:

MacBook Pro
Indeed, refurbs are incredible value. Sadly I'm not in the US nor will I be for another year, no close relative will be flying in or out of the country until Christmas. I need this machine pretty asap unfortunately.
 

ryannel2003

macrumors 68000
Jan 30, 2005
1,772
319
Greenville, NC
In that case I would select the 15" Mid 2015 Pro. I had one for a few weeks before returning it for my Touch Bar model and it performed flawlessly for the time I used it. It's a great design and one that has been proven for many years.
 
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facemeat

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 19, 2016
99
76
In that case I would select the 15" Mid 2015 Pro. I had one for a few weeks before returning it for my Touch Bar model and it performed flawlessly for the time I used it. It's a great design and one that has been proven for many years.
Indeed. I just worry that I'll miss USB-C in maybe a year or two as I don't plan on upgrading the computer for a few years. The design has lasted though as you say and probably will last for years. At the same time I worry that since I cannot rely on an external display, 13 inches will feel cramped.
 

HiRez

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,805
1,702
Western US
I'd probably go for the 15", however I will say the 13" 2.3 NTB 2017 with 16 GB RAM is actually working surprisingly well for me with LR (about 15K Nikon and Fuji RAW files). Screen is outstanding. If LR was my day job I'd want a 15", but the 13" works fine for casual work. I do miss not having an SD card slot built in.
 
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facemeat

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 19, 2016
99
76
I'd probably go for the 15", however I will say the 13" 2.3 NTB 2017 with 16 GB RAM is actually working surprisingly well for me with LR (about 15K Nikon and Fuji RAW files). Screen is outstanding. If LR was my day job I'd want a 15", but the 13" works fine for casual work. I do miss not having an SD card slot built in.
What do you do apart from photo editing? Do you find the display to be satisfactory for your work? I agree with you regarding the SD slot, it's something I use regularly.

If there any way you could get someone to buy this for you and ship it to you? You get the upgraded 4870HQ 2.5 i7, and the M370X R9 dGPU for under $2k. (I'm not sure if they sell these outside the US or not - nor if pricing is as good)
https://www.apple.com/shop/product/FJLT2LL/A/refurbished-154-inch-macbook-pro-25ghz-quad-core-intel-i7-with-retina-display
Pricing is not as good as in the US. I've considered shipping but I think that I'd be taxed at customs, I'm not entirely sure though, the fine could be rather hefty (would ship from L.A. to Stockholm, Sweden).
 

HiRez

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,805
1,702
Western US
What do you do apart from photo editing? Do you find the display to be satisfactory for your work? I agree with you regarding the SD slot, it's something I use regularly.
Mostly I use it for Xcode, with some Lightroom and After Effects, and normal stuff (Safari, mail, etc.).

But I have a Mac Pro with dual 27" monitors at work, that's why the 13" is OK (I also have a 2014 15" MBP that's work-issued). If this was my only machine, I definitely would have gotten a 15" because yes, the screen can feel a little tight (especially for After Effects), but it's workable. I did set the resolution to the "show the most pixels" setting, which is NOT the default. That makes everything a little smaller but gives you more room for more stuff on screen.

I find the display to be outstanding, it's much better than my non-retina Apple monitors at work, and even better than the 2014 15" MBP. I would recommend hardware calibration if you're doing color-critical work, but the out of box calibration was pretty good. That said, the 2015 15" screen that you mentioned is also good, I don't think you'll be disappointed in either.
 
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facemeat

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 19, 2016
99
76
Mostly I use it for Xcode, with some Lightroom and After Effects, and normal stuff (Safari, mail, etc.).

But I have a Mac Pro with dual 27" monitors at work, that's why the 13" is OK (I also have a 2014 15" MBP that's work-issued). If this was my only machine, I definitely would have gotten a 15" because yes, the screen can feel a little tight (especially for After Effects), but it's workable. I did set the resolution to the "show the most pixels" setting, which is NOT the default. That makes everything a little smaller but gives you more room for more stuff on screen.

I find the display to be outstanding, it's much better than my non-retina Apple monitors at work, and even better than the 2014 15" MBP. I would recommend hardware calibration if you're doing color-critical work, but the out of box calibration was pretty good. That said, the 2015 15" screen that you mentioned is also good, I don't think you'll be disappointed in either.
Thanks for your in depth reply. Are the 2017 displays a lot better than the older models? Is it noticeable side by side? Something you reflect over if you swap a lot between the 2014 and 2017? I've used a rMacbook alongside a MacBook Air and the Air looks terrible, barely useable next to the rMacbook.
Any comments on USB-C on your 13 inch versus the older ports on the 15? Found USB C clunky with dongles?
 

peraspera

macrumors member
Dec 17, 2016
67
38
Hello,
+- USB-C (it's the future, but for now I'd have to use an adapter pretty much everywhere I go)
You might want to rethink whether or not is is reasonable to expect the computer you purchase now to be suitable for your needs for several years when USB-C will likely become ubiquitous. Unless you know for a certainty what your general computer requirements will be when you leave school and go to work full time future proofing should probably be near the bottom of your priority list.

MBP's have decent resale value so it might be most sensible to buy for what will serve you best for your known immediate needs then put money aside in case you need to sell the MPB you purchase now in order to buy something with an ideal configuration for your future permanent job.

The difference in displays between the 2015 and newer models isn't nearly as significant between retina and non-retina displays. The newer display is most useful if you often use your computer in bright sunlight or do highly critical professional color correction work.
 
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facemeat

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 19, 2016
99
76
You might want to rethink whether or not is is reasonable to expect the computer you purchase now to be suitable for your needs for several years when USB-C will likely become ubiquitous. Unless you know for a certainty what your general computer requirements will be when you leave school and go to work full time future proofing should probably be near the bottom of your priority list.

MBP's have decent resale value so it might be most sensible to buy for what will serve you best for your known immediate needs then put money aside in case you need to sell the MPB you purchase now in order to buy something with an ideal configuration for your future permanent job.

The difference in displays between the 2015 and newer models isn't nearly as significant between retina and non-retina displays. The newer display is most useful if you often use your computer in bright sunlight or do highly critical professional color correction work.
This is very sound thinking.
As a matter of fact, I just ordered an upgraded 2015 15 inch rMBP expected to arrive 5-7th July. For now it fits my needs a lot more than the 13-inch (except for the weight) but I didn't necessarily complain with the first generation aluminum MacBooks. As you say, resale value is great so if my needs change in a year I can sell it with little loss.
 
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no1usethisname

macrumors newbie
Mar 17, 2017
7
0
You may have already considered this. What about traveling to the UK and order a refurbished from the Apple Store online for picking up? I imagine it should be easy to travel from Stockholm to London. There are some quite good deals on the online store for 2016 models within your price range.
 

facemeat

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 19, 2016
99
76
You may have already considered this. What about traveling to the UK and order a refurbished from the Apple Store online for picking up? I imagine it should be easy to travel from Stockholm to London. There are some quite good deals on the online store for 2016 models within your price range.
I haven't considered this, now you're making me reconsider :) Still, I work close to 60 hours per week so I don't really have time to fly over, despite it being so close. I'll reconsider though, I can always return my ordered model.