View Full Version : 13 inch vs 15 inch MBP

21st May 2010, 11:51 AM
Hi All

I have one of the old 13 inch unibody MacBooks and considering upgrading to a new 15inch i5 or i7 with the High Res display option.

Big factor for me is that additional weight with the size change.

I travel each day with my current machine to and from a=wrok, and also am out at clients, so portability is always a factor.

Would really appreciate any feedback from people that have used both and what the difference is like on a real use basis.

Thanks in advance


21st May 2010, 12:37 PM
Cant speak for the i5 and i7 unibody's but the previous Gen i notice a massive difference, the 17inch feels like it shouldn't be moved at all its so heavy and awkward due to the extra size.

21st May 2010, 12:52 PM
Cant speak for the i5 and i7 unibody's but the previous Gen i notice a massive difference, the 17inch feels like it shouldn't be moved at all its so heavy and awkward due to the extra size.

I disagree. I have the 17inch Mid 2009 and it's fine. Although I would recommend the 15 over the 17 for portability but it is still only 2.99 kgs. That is lighter than most 15 inch pc laptops. However it is bigger so you need a bigger bag.
I recommend the 15inch i5. i7 if you want but up to you. The i5 has power and is portable still.
I have owned many different sizes and the 15 inch is a nice middle mark. However I don't recommend the 15inch HD screen. I have the above HD screen in matte on my MBP and the pixel density is too much. It is often hard to read from a distance or at night when the eyes are tired. FULL HD is supposed to be for 21inch or higher- not 17inch. So the 15inch will have a similar problem.

Go to a store and check it out for yourself. Also the extra $140 or whatever for that screen is silly. So silly. Rip off even. $80-$100 I could understand. And antiglare is $210. Come on Apple.

21st May 2010, 01:20 PM
Thanks for the reply.

I am a little undecided on the HD screen at present, my main decision is if I want to make the jump to a much larger machine.


21st May 2010, 01:47 PM
yeh i got my i7 17" yesterday and used it in bed last night with no issues.

keep in mind the larger the screen the less the battery life (at least 15 vs 17 anyway). ive only had about 5 hours so far which is half what apple quote. i havent calibrated correctly yet though.

i would recommend the HD screen, the pixel density is a good thing as text is sharper and crisper and general image quality is better. 1920x1200 on 17" is nice. you can always increase the size of the text in safari and other applications if you cant read it.

im kind of wondering maybe i shouldve went with 15" i7 and HD screen instead of 17" i7 only.

thats awesome
21st May 2010, 03:49 PM
I've only owned 13" & 15" laptops (macs and PC) and I can tell you I'd never want to lug anything more than a 15" around.

a 17" might be nice if you're not taking it anywhere, but in that case i'd say you're silly to buy that when you could get the 27" iMac.

21st May 2010, 03:54 PM
a 17" might be nice if you're not taking it anywhere,

I walk 10km every day with a 17" MBP on my shoulder. It's not the lightest but it's not unmanageable.

21st May 2010, 04:10 PM
If you have a good bag the 17inch is fine to carry, its not a "one hand" product is what i mean.

i.e. You can't pick it up with one hand with the screen open whilst you are carrying a hot cup a coffee in the other and walk it over to the couch without scalding your legs

21st May 2010, 04:11 PM
Hmm, I sure can. I have big hands though :)

21st May 2010, 04:13 PM
Hmm, I sure can. I have big hands though :)

Too, much, information

22nd May 2010, 01:59 PM
I got the 15" i7 and got my missus the 13" C2D when they were released. She tried the 15" and decided that she did not want to lug the extra weight around. It may not feel like much initially but you start feeling it past 5-10 minutes of carrying it.

We're both carrying our MBPs in backpacks. I used to switch to a messenger back every now and then but I would end up with some shoulder or neck pains at the end of the day.

FWIW, I did notice some difference in speed (more spinning beach balls on the 13") when jumping between the two machines. We generally work with InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and she's also been spending a bit more time with Flash. Word is just slow on both machines anyway so she's switching to Pages but I have to keep with Word for work documents.

A good friend also picked up the 13" as the 15" was too heavy and would not give him much free room in his bag.

22nd May 2010, 10:42 PM
I have recently gone from the 13" to the 15". It took me about a week to get used to carrying and using a 15" model (I am a female and thought carrying a 15" may be an issue). I would not go back to a 13" as this is my main computer and I use Photoshop and Illustrator a lot. I originally got the standard resolution model but straight away didn't like it (gave to my partner) so went online and ordered the hi-res anti-glare which is awesome. You can notice a huge difference in the screen availability on the standard resolution and the hi-res especially in Photoshop etc.

26th May 2010, 12:15 PM
The choice of 13" vs 15" for portability is always one that raises questions.

Personally I was really really looking forward to the new range of updated MacBook Pros with the new i5/i7 series chips as my current unibody aluminium MacBook is the computer I use most.

And the new 15" MacBook Pros have exactly the upgrades I was expecting (ditto the 17") but the new 13" is a sort of half way house between the old and the new and was a bit of a let down for me to be honest.

But having been down the 15" MacBook Pro laptop path before and absolutely hating the fact that it's just too bulky to be easily portable on an all day basis (at least for me) I looked again at the new 13".

What I saw (compared to my now 2 generation old) aluminium MacBook was a better screen, better battery life and better graphics performance.

Then I thought about how I'd paid $2400 for the top model unibody MacBook and then watched my laptop shortly superseded and then saw the aussie dollar climb to unprecedented heights leaving me with larger than expected depreciation.

But the 13" MacBook Pro starts at just $1499 at the moment and that's very good value, a value that's unlikely to be maintained in the medium term given the softening aussie dollar.

So today I bit the bullet and ordered a new 13"MacBook Pro with an upgrade of hard disk to 320Gb (via the MacTalk store link of course)... but it was a close call and I nearly got the 15".

I don't think you can go wrong with either to be honest :)

26th May 2010, 01:11 PM
I have the 17" MBP (C2D) and carry it to and from work everyday without issue. Maybe it would be a different story if I had to walk a long way or travel around a lot but when it's just in and around the office and meetings rooms across a 24 level building it's all good.

When it comes to screen real estate I'm a firm believer in the "more is more" approach. The upgraded "HD" option on the 15" actually puts the pixel density between the 13" and 17" model (previously it actually had a lower density than the 13"). So defiantly +1 for the HD display.

Antiglare... well I have the gloss display and don't have any issues with it. While the matt is very nice to use I'm not a fan of the silver bezel and don't know that I could justify the extra cost when I don't really see an issue. So -1 for the antiglare.

Finally, if I'm being honest I need to make a comment about the overall size of the 17". On the desk, in meetings, on my lap at home it's fantastic (except for when it's cold early in the morning on bare legs). BUT, if I want to use it on the train there isn't enough room to open it properly when sitting in anything but the 6 seater. This does vary from train design to train design but while it's *just* usable on some trains, it's completely useless on others. Again it depends on what your doing, while you might be able to get away with watching some media, typing may be out of the question. Mind you I don't know that the 13" would be all that much better considering it's only 2cm less in depth.

Another thing to be aware of is Adobe changing the requirements for minimum screen res in CS5 (correct me if that has changed) meaning the 13" doesn't actually meet minimum spec. Something to consider if thats one of your intended applications.

Long story short, I'd still get the 17" and would otherwise take the 15" with the HD screen.

26th May 2010, 01:16 PM
I've just bought the 13" MacBook Pro as replacement for a 1.83MHz MacMini, mostly due to wanting my Aperture machine available when out taking photos.

I dithered over the 13" vs 15" decision, looking at weight and portability considerations.

The 15" with it's better processor and graphics would perform better, but after hefting a couple of display models, I settled for the 13".

I got the stock 4GB RAM, 250GB HDD, and almost immediately (after one day's usage) replaced the disk with a 7200rpm 320GB Seagate that I had in the MacMini. Performance increase in photo file handling immediately noticeable :) .

For general usage - email, browsing, word processing, etc, the 13" screen is perfectly adequate. The wide screen allows a decent view.

27th May 2010, 05:21 PM
Thans for that.

I am actually in the exact same situation as you were. I purchased the aluminium 13 inch MacBook around 18 months back. Great machine, but looking at the current cost and what I paid is rather depressing.

Not sure weather to hold onto this and let my wife migrate to a Mac with it (currently using a Dell- yeah I know), or get rid of it on eBay whilst I still can at a decent price.


27th May 2010, 07:16 PM
The key to using a 17" laptop is to have a really good bag.

I decided a while ago that I was not going to get a 17" because at that size there was too much risk of them warping and getting damaged. Then, Apple released the unibody models and that complaint went out the window.

Now I have a 17" and, most importantly, I have a really good bag.
STM Bags > laptop bags > laptop backpacks > convertible large laptop bag (http://www.stmbags.com.au/catalog/laptop-backpacks/convertible-large-laptop-bag/)

Put them together and the 17" is more portable than my old 15".

27th May 2010, 07:48 PM
For me at least, I need a laptop to be easily portable and can be carried without too much effort.

A 17" is a good desktop replacement and maybe a good portable choice if only occasionally carrying it around, but if you're doing it often, I think it's too big.

27th May 2010, 08:48 PM
It depends how you travel as well. If you walk to the bus stop, then get off at the train station, then walk to work from the train station, the extra weight will be an issue.

If you just place it in your car and you drive to walk, psh who cares.

I couldn't deal with anything else than a 13". But I'm a small and weak 18 year old, who will need to catch public transport to uni.