Which MBP should I get for grad school?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by purdueR2015, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. purdueR2015 macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2016
    I've always been a PC user but now that I need a new laptop I'm going to switch over and try out a MacBook Pro! I was hoping to wait for the updated ones to come out but since I'm starting grad school I need to get one now. I'm going to school to study counseling so basically I will be using the laptop for office, Internet browsing, personal use, and possibly some stats programs. I've decided on the MacBook Pro with Retina display but I'm having the hardest time deciding on what size to get. I'm either going to get the base 15" ($1999 one) or the 13" one with 256gb ($1499 one). I am not very tech savvy although I do realize some of the differences between the two. I've always had 15" laptops in the past and I do like the big screen size but the 13" would be awesome to carry around and it would be nice to save some money, although not a deciding factor. I would occasionally like to have two windows up side by side, would this be possible with a 13"? Anyone get one or the other for school and regret it? Which size do most students get? Any opinions would be helpful!!
  2. eselle, Aug 12, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016

    eselle macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2012
    Frankly speaking, unless you have lots of money to spare and that your stats programs are super heavy/you'll be charting lots of visual diagrams, a 15" rMBP is kinda way beyond the needs of what you've described. A 13" MBA would be more than sufficient for you. But if you're dead set on a Macbook Pro, go for the rMBP 13" - or wait for the upcoming one.

    If you're willing to consider an MBA, I've had my mid-2012 MBA for 4 years now during my undergrad years which consisted mostly of text-heavy research and essays, and it's still working great (apart from the battery which needs servicing). The current MBAs would be even better considering its stronger processing power and long battery life (~10-12 hours). Its portability is a great plus, which is an advantage over the heavier MBPs. The only reason I'm considering a rMBP now is purely for its retina feature since my academic career has shifted to design/media which involves quite a lot of graphic and Adobe Cloud-focused work. That said, my MBA is currently holding up my workload fine and I'm really hoping for the upcoming rMBP 13" to be thinner and lighter because I can't quite bear to part with the lightness and thinness of my MBA.

    I wouldn't worry too much about transitioning from PC to Mac on whichever device you end up choosing. The Mac OS is brilliant and not hard to get a hang of, and since El Capitan OS X you can easily work with two windows/apps side by side with no problems, just like the Windows Snap feature.
  3. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    For that usage, and since you said that you cannot wait, get the one without the dedicated graphics (ATI).

    You can have 2 windows up at once on the 13", but it would obviously be noticeably smaller. If that's manageable for you, but you still like to sometimes have a bigger screen, you can always get a monitor and use it with the MBP when at home, and deal with the smaller screen size when you're "mobile".
  4. wegster macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2006
    Tough call. For the use you're claiming, the only concern is the 'stats programs' - without any real idea of the level of crunching you're doing, data set sizes, etc...it's an unknown. I'm guessing this is more about typical grad school math versus seriously deep analysis of large data sets, at which point I'd probably suggest going with an 8GB 13" Air or potentially even the new macbook (non-pro). Used may also be an option, or check Apple's refurbished section.

    Inevitably someone may debate on the RAM, with 'my 4GB system is fine'...OSX itself can run fine on 4GB, but with typical user habits of Safari or Chrome with many tabs open + an Office app open, you'll see the system swapping to disk - less of an issue with SSD drives nowadays, but still not as fast overall as RAM.

    You should consider just how much 'side by side' you'll be doing when in classes versus at home to decide if a 15" is really a 'need.' Will it really be side by side full height, often, comparing line N in window A to line N in window B, or just something like comparing totals or using as a reference or documentation in another window? if the latter, just resize one window and lay it on top of the other horizontally, or just alt/cmd-tab back and forth...while I'd plan on an external display for any of the models, 15" included, for when working at home.
  5. willmtaylor macrumors G3


    Oct 31, 2009
    A Natural State
    For M$Office alone I'd recommend a SSD and more than 4GB of RAM. It's a resource hog.
  6. xb2003 macrumors 6502


    Jan 18, 2016
    Here are a couple of thoughts.

    MS Office for Mac kinda sucks. If you haven't used it before, just know that it's not nearly as fluid as it is for Windows. If you are planning on using Google's suite, or even Apple's (my personal favorite), you will be much happier. I dual boot Win10 on mine almost exclusively for Office, in those times where it is necessary (which is becoming less and less).

    Side by side isn't very good on either in my opinion, I usually just switch between programs (on my 15). I think you would be much better off with a 13" and then a 12.9" iPad Pro to use as a second monitor, among other things, and it wouldn't be much if any more expensive than the 15". It would be a hell of a lot more productive than split screen, if that is really a big deal for you.
  7. jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    I actually like Office for the Mac. Seems to work quite well and has full functionality. Outlook is my primary mail client and I use Powerpoint and Word all of the time.
  8. T5BRICK macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2006
    It's certainly possible, but some text may be too small for you to read.

    I'm pretty sure most students go for 13" screens simply for portability reasons. Given your requirements, I agree with others about the MacBook Air or retina MacBook.

    I'd suggest checking them out in an Apple store or Best Buy to see which one you prefer.
  9. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    The latest version is much, much better than Office 2011
  10. Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2008
    Basically any computer Apple sells (even the rMB) will work for your needs. So really just figure out how portable you want the computer to be. I would recommend an external monitor (if you are able to have one where you do most of your work) rather than a 15" rMBP. It will be cheaper and a better experience. I used a 13" MBA for most of grad school (biomedical research - lots of stats and image analysis) and it worked wonderfully.

    If you have the funds to get a used iPad Pro + pencil in addition to the macbook, it is great for student work (you will avoid like a metric ton of paper waste that comes with grad school).

Share This Page