Buying a new MacBook Pro: 13 in. vs. 15 in.

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I've been waiting for a few weeks for the newly upgraded MacBook Pros to come out to make my first Mac purchase. After they finally came out yesterday, I've been comparing models and played with a few yesterday at the Apple Store.

I'm currently debating between the base 13 inch version and the base 15 inch version. The 13 inch MacBook Pro is a pretty affordable $1,099 after my student discount, and the 15 inch is a less attractive $1,699. I'd like to get the HD, anti-glare screen, but it's only available on the 15 inch computer for $150 more. In either case, I'd be getting the three-year Apple Care coverage, which is $183 for the 13 inch and a surprisingly more expensive $239 on the 15 inch.

After adding the Apple Care to the 13 inch MacBook Pro in my cart on Apple.com, I found I'd be spending $1,282 before tax. The 15 inch, though, will cost $1,938 without the HD, anti-glare screen and an unbearable $2,073 with it.

I'm leaning toward the 13 inch MacBook Pro because of the price difference, but it's missing many of the new features that came with most of yesterday's upgrades: an Intel i5 processor, Intel HD graphics and a less sophisticated NVIDIA graphics card. However, I'd be saving $600 on the notebook alone by opting for the 13 inch.

I plan on doing a little bit of photo editing and graphic design with Adobe InDesign and Photoshop CS4/CS5, and I need this computer to last me at least five years. This is definitely an investment for both my college coursework and my marketing job, and I want something fast and reliable. But I also don't want to spend $600 on a high-end processor and a bottomless hard drive I would never use.

So here are a few questions. What is the biggest difference between the Core Duo and i5 processors, and at what kind of workload would I even notice a difference? Will the HD graphics greatly improve my resolution on photographs, layouts and video? Will the amped up graphics cards handle photos and video with more ease? Is there any reason the 13 inch wouldn't last me as long?

Thanks, Ben.
 
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You would certainly notice the difference for the work you are doing from the 13" to the 15" and the 13" has no anti glare option.
The new 15" on would certainly fly a lot better in all aspects, and have a longer life as far as latest gen, resale, etc.
If money is an issue, which is understandable, I'd be looking at the 15" refurbs MacBook Pro - Apple Store (U.S.) which will more than handle your needs with ease too.
 
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Thanks for the reply.

I thought getting a refurbished computer would be a great idea, and I looked into a few of them when I was browsing for a Mac. But I've found that they're typically only $100-200 cheaper than new and don't qualify for the student discount, which would nullify any money I'd be saving in price. Also, I'd have to wait a few months to get a refurbished new MacBook Pro with the new processor, etc.

I definitely think I would have an easier time managing multiple windows and dragging photos from Adobe Bridge into InDesign with a larger screen, but I'm just not sure if the convenience is worth the 50% price jump. Also, is the glare really noticeable if you plan on only working indoors?
 
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Check out the refurbs now, and see how many more came onto the list, and how much the prices have dropped since the new releases!
The anti glare thing is a real preference thing, but if working indoors with the right lighting, esp if working with photo/video/movie editing, the glossy is going to be the better option!
 
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Well from what I'm seeing, the cheapest 15 inch refurbished MacBook Pro in the Apple Store right now is being sold for $1,349, and that's without the Intel i5 processor, HD graphics and the graphics card. It's about $350 cheaper than the new 15 inch MacBook Pro I'm looking at, which sells for $1,699 with my student discount.

In that case, I'd rather go $250 more to get a brand new 15 inch with all the upgraded features or save some cash and go with the 13 inch, which probably has a better Core Duo processor and battery life than this used one.

The size is a factor to consider, but I'm far more concerned about these new features inside - the processor and the graphics improvements. If they are in fact a drastic, noticeable, $1,000-worth improvement over the 13 inch I'm considering, I'd gladly shell out the extra cash and get the new one. But if not, I'd gladly save the money if it wouldn't hinder the computer's performance or product life. Thanks again for the help.
 
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Not an expert at all, but from what I've read the i5/i7 processors really shine only when the software has been designed to utilize the cores. Keep in mind a ton of folks have been happily using the C2D processors in MBPs for the last several years with excellent results. Just because a new generation of processor comes out doesn't mean the last generation is suddenly a Model T with a chain start.
 
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That's the exact kind of thinking I fear I may fall into. Because this is my first Macbook and likely my last one for several years, I want something that will last me for a while and be able to handle newer applications and needs. I'm not too concerned about the resale value, but I imagine an i5 processor will be far more valuable in about five years compared to the Core Duos.

And I agree that it's a bit confusing as to how the processor will affect your tasks depending on the application. The huge graphics on the Apple Web site claim up to 50 percent speed increases, yet noone in the Apple store could expound a sentence beyond the PR claims. Though, they did tell me that even thought the i5 and Core Duo clock in the same speed (2.4GHz), the fact that this speed is distributed among four processors rather than two will make it run substantially faster.

Again, these machines are very new with little consumer testing or reviews, so it's kind of tough to gauge how which one you'll need.
 
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stole my words

I've been waiting for a few weeks for the newly upgraded MacBook Pros to come out to make my first Mac purchase. After they finally came out yesterday, I've been comparing models and played with a few yesterday at the Apple Store.

I'm currently debating between the base 13 inch version and the base 15 inch version. The 13 inch MacBook Pro is a pretty affordable $1,099 after my student discount, and the 15 inch is a less attractive $1,699. I'd like to get the HD, anti-glare screen, but it's only available on the 15 inch computer for $150 more. In either case, I'd be getting the three-year Apple Care coverage, which is $183 for the 13 inch and a surprisingly more expensive $239 on the 15 inch.

After adding the Apple Care to the 13 inch MacBook Pro in my cart on Apple.com, I found I'd be spending $1,282 before tax. The 15 inch, though, will cost $1,938 without the HD, anti-glare screen and an unbearable $2,073 with it.

I'm leaning toward the 13 inch MacBook Pro because of the price difference, but it's missing many of the new features that came with most of yesterday's upgrades: an Intel i5 processor, Intel HD graphics and a less sophisticated NVIDIA graphics card. However, I'd be saving $600 on the notebook alone by opting for the 13 inch.

I plan on doing a little bit of photo editing and graphic design with Adobe InDesign and Photoshop CS4/CS5, and I need this computer to last me at least five years. This is definitely an investment for both my college coursework and my marketing job, and I want something fast and reliable. But I also don't want to spend $600 on a high-end processor and a bottomless hard drive I would never use.

So here are a few questions. What is the biggest difference between the Core Duo and i5 processors, and at what kind of workload would I even notice a difference? Will the HD graphics greatly improve my resolution on photographs, layouts and video? Will the amped up graphics cards handle photos and video with more ease? Is there any reason the 13 inch wouldn't last me as long?

Thanks, Ben.


Ben you stole the words right out of my mouth. I'm going to a summer college program and NEED to get a laptop. I finally settled on a macbook pro :) (more specifically the high end 13" , but that was before the update). I'm thinking that i should push for the low end 15". Because of the core i5 and Graphics. I'm don't think i'm going to be doing anything to heavy, but i'd like to keep my options open.

as for you Ben you should go for the 15" . it seems though you're actually going to use the extra prepossessing speed and graphics. and in a couple years the CTD possessors will be dead (unable to run any demanding next gen programs). so if you can afford it. i really say go for it. [i think i just answered my own quistion :p ] But then again this will be the first mac and the first laptop i will get.

Hope someone else can help......any one ........h..e..l..p
 
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-hyperthreading for a total of 4 virtual cores
-turbo boost for tasks that require only single core operatings, the i5 will overclock itself (the dual core i7s will overclock 2 cores and 1 core, i7 is sweet).
 
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and in a couple years the CTD possessors will be dead (unable to run any demanding next gen programs). so if you can afford it. i really say go for it. [i think i just answered my own quistion :p ] But then again this will be the first mac and the first laptop i will get.

Hope someone else can help......any one ........h..e..l..p

Not even close to true. This is a Mac world. Not a PC world. In general, with professional software like that too, you get a computer and stick with the older versions of the software since you invested thousands of dollars into it. Your Mac will be supported for OS X with a Core 2 Duo for 5 years, certainly. Apple shifted away from the PPC architecture in 2006 and still support Leopard, which runs on PPC hardware. Guess what, you can even run older CS on PPC.

How's that for obsolete and unsupported.
 
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Not even close to true. This is a Mac world. Not a PC world. In general, with professional software like that too, you get a computer and stick with the older versions of the software since you invested thousands of dollars into it. Your Mac will be supported for OS X with a Core 2 Duo for 5 years, certainly. Apple shifted away from the PPC architecture in 2006 and still support Leopard, which runs on PPC hardware. Guess what, you can even run older CS on PPC.

How's that for obsolete and unsupported.

that's what i get for being a mac newbie lol :p

so you think i should go for the13" inch ??
 
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To put it simply, if money's an issue, the 13" will do the trick and more, and if you can afford the 15", then it's going to be a case of a little more joy and spoiling yourself!
If I were laying out the sort of money that either requires, I would extend myself if possible and go that 15" :)
 
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save up for a few weeks and get the one that makes you happy. Honestly $600 over 5 yrs is pennies a day.



(whether you keep it for 5 yrs, is another discussion)
 
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If the screen size isn't an issue, and the only thing you are concerned about is the newer processor and graphics card. Then save your money. Unless you are rendering 3d animation or doing intense video renders I don't think your going to notice much on the processor. The graphics card is only going to help you when you do 3d gaming.

As you are wanting portability, I might suggest you go with the 13 inch and then buy an external 20 inch monitor for screen space when you needed it. But worrying about the processor and graphics chips when you are only doing photo editing and graphics design is silly. Neither of those things is going to require an upgrade in graphics or processor power.
 
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Agreed. Obviously the i5 is newer and future proofs you a little bit longer, but at the same time... as I said above, the C2D isn't going to be "irrelevant" any time soon. 90% of the windows PC market is still buying dual core pentiums and old athlon X2s. I sell a surprising amount of 369 dollar craptastic single core celeron laptops too. And single core AMD laptops.

It's sad.
 
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I actually went with the 13 inch and made the purchase the other day. I'm loving it so far - thanks again for all the help everyone.

I didn't get a chance to read the comments before I bought it two days ago, but it's definitely reassuring to hear that the processor and graphics card isn't something I'll notice too much.

The 13 inch is definitely really portable. I have a bag that has some extra room for the charger and my mouse, and it's been really good for walking around campus the last few days. I'd definitely recommend this computer to anyone.
 
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Agreed. Obviously the i5 is newer and future proofs you a little bit longer, but at the same time... as I said above, the C2D isn't going to be "irrelevant" any time soon. 90% of the windows PC market is still buying dual core pentiums and old athlon X2s. I sell a surprising amount of 369 dollar craptastic single core celeron laptops too. And single core AMD laptops.

It's sad.

Many 'PC' laptops compete with MBs in performance for half the price, and the best of them wipe the floor with MBP in terms of spec. Check out the Sony Viaos some time - they've got blu ray burners and 1GB discrete graphics cards and all sorts.

Macbooks are nice for other reasons.
 

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