Which MBP for writing, editing, blogging, web development, photography?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Ubele, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    I know that this topic has been discussed ad nauseum, and that it ultimately boils down to personal preference, but I haven't seen the question asked in the context of what I'll be using a MBP for. I was recently downsized from my company after many years. I've long thought that, if it ever happened, I'd like to start my own business. As I search for another job for the short term, I'm doing freelance writing, editing, and PowerPoint presentations, which are my bread-and-butter skills. I'm also learning front-end web development and probably will do some of that on a freelance basis. My long-term goal, though, is to have an online business built around a blog and sales of digital courseware and related products. I'm thinking WordPress for the blog, LearnDash for the courseware, and other necessary plug-ins. I anticipate eventually doing podcasts and short online videos, and of course there will be photos -- all the multimedia elements that go with a website. I'm also an enthusiast photographer, and I use Aperture, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and onOne Perfect Photo Suite for organizing and post-production.

    My main question is whether to go with a 13" or 15" rMBP. I'm currently using a 2012 2.3 GHz i7 Mac mini which, until recently, was our home media server, and which I'd like to return to that duty. I'll be using an external monitor much of the time, but I like the flexibility of being able to work elsewhere in the house, on the deck during nice weather, and occasionally off site. So, for web development and the other needs I mentioned, how much nicer is the extra real estate of the 15", vs. the trade-off in price and portability?

    Next is the processor. I suspect that a 13" with dual-core i5 and Iris graphics would be sufficient (I'm not a gamer), and that a 15" with quad-core i7 and Iris Pro and the dGPU would be "nice to have." However, since I am talking about business use, would the latter be "highly recommended" rather than "nice to have"? From what I've read, the dual-core i7 isn't worth the extra cost on the 13", though.

    Finally, storage: 256 GB or 512 GB? My iTunes and video libraries are on an external drive connected to the Mac mini. My Aperture library (130 GB and growing) is on the mini's main 1 TB HDD. I'm hoping that the upcoming Apple Photos app will let me keep my photos on a network drive and in iCloud so that I can access them from any device. If not, I could put them on an external drive, but I'd rather keep them on my main computer (i.e., the MBP). Also, there's the possibility that I'll need to install Windows in Parallels for some client work, which I understand tips the balance in favor of 512 GB. If I could get by with 256 GB, though, I'd prefer to save the money.

    I always buy refurbished to save money, so I'm not going to worry about waiting for Broadwell. The options I'm considering are the 2013 13"/i5/256 ($1,159), 13"/i5/512 ($1,409), 15"/i7/256 ($1,489), and 15"/i7/512 ($1,979). The high-end 15" also has the advantage of 16 GB of RAM and the NVIDIA GT 750M. I keep my computers for as long as they're useful (I still use my 2008 15" MBP for light-duty stuff), but for business, it might make sense to upgrade more frequently.

    So, you other writers/editors/bloggers/web developers: which MBP do you use and recommend? I don't want to spend more money than I have to, but an $800 difference between my low-end and high-end choices isn't that much, when you're talking about a business tool that will last for several years. What appeals to me most about the 13" is the portability. What appeals to me most about the 15" is the extra power (but do I need it?) and screen real estate (which of course is mutually exclusive with maximum portability). Again, I've seen several variations of this discussion, but they've been asked by people with different needs (heavy gamers, pro photographers and videographers, casual hobbyists, programmers running multiple VMs, etc.).

    In case anyone wonders, I have considered a 13" MacBook Air, but, for me, the 13" rMBP offers a lot more for not much more money. I've also considered a 27" iMac, but I like the portability of the MBP, and I can attach an external 27" monitor to it.
  2. Natzoo macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2014
    Not sure where i am
    I would get the retina mbp, i think the 13" will work fine. I recommended you get the 512 gb of storage, and i have the 15" retina and i just use it for projects, photo editing, and school, and it works great. If you are going to use this mac for everything you do, might as well just get the 15" and try using sites such as macmall to see if you can get a better deal.
  3. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    I'd go for a 15" for the screen estate alone, since you're working with a lot of text.

    You'll appreciate the extra screen estate.
  4. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    I'd go for the 13" rmbp. I think it has enough power for your needs. Ssd size depends on how much you are willing to put on external drives. For me, anything that isn't an active project, or is a program/app, goes on an external. That keeps the ssd pretty empty.
  5. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    The 13" will be absolutely sufficient for your needs. The 15" will give you a bigger screen but also costs much more. The weight and size difference seems small but is significant if you carry your laptop around all the time. The additional performance of the 15" will not bring any advantages for you.
  6. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    13" would be perfectly fine. You can always scale the screen resolution if you really need more real estate. The 15" would cost allot more and would be huge overkill for your needs.

    The mid-spec 8/256Gb 13" should be perfect. If you can, find a late-2013 and save some coin.
  7. Sheppard macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2012
    Kent, UK

    Especially if you are mainly using ext. monitor.

    Tailor your storage to your preferences but definitely max out on RAM.
  8. arcite macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2009
    Cairo, trapped in a pyramid with my iphone
    As a work machine, you'll be doing a lot of multitasking, powerpoint presentations, ect... Definitely go for the 15inch, the extra few inches makes a huge difference and worth the $300 extra. Plus, you can dual monitor quite nicely with the 15.
  9. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2013
    Having used nothing but 15" MBP's since 2007 I personally find the 13" models slightly too small to be comfortable. However for your use I don't see any real reason as to why a 15" would be a must.

    The screen real estate problem is pretty much fixed by default as you're going to be using with an external monitor ether way. So the only real benefit of a bigger screen is going to be having access to a bigger screen when on the go and even then you're looking at a slightly larger and heavier machine to lug around with you.

    As for the hardware question, pretty much all of what you're talking about runs on the CPU, so a dGPU will just be a useless extra expense unless your needs change and you start doing something like playing games on the machine. The 15" models does come with considerably faster 4 core CPU's over the 13" models' 2 core CPU's, but for your uses the latter will be more than fast enough. As for the integrated graphics, the ones on the 15" machines are on par with lower mid range dedicated chips and on the 13" model they're more than fine enough for anything less stressful than hardcore gaming. Even the 13" machines are fine for playing games like Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, Civilization: Beyond Earth, Starcraft 2 and Rayman: Origins.
  10. Ubele thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'm leaning toward the 13" because of price, portability, and the fact that I'll be using an external monitor much of the time. I'm still trying to figure out whether I need more than 256 GB. If, at some point, I need more horsepower, I'll get an iMac (I'd love to be able to justify the next generation of the Retina iMac :D), and the 13" MBP will still be useful as a portable for years to come. The late 2013 model is always available in the Refurbished Store for $1,159 for the 256 GB model, which is a great value.
  11. moonman239 macrumors 68000

    Mar 27, 2009
    I'm an iPhone app developer, and I have a MBP with a 13-inch display and an i5 processor. For your uses, I'd say the 13-inch version would be viable, especially considering you'll probably need less processing power for running Web stuff.

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10 January 21, 2015