Reader Question – 15 inch vs 13 inch Macbook Pro

I received an email via the contact form on this blog, but was unfortunately unable to reply as the email address used was rejected by gmail’s mail server… Luke, I hope you don’t mind me publishing your question and my reply publicly.

To: <me>
Name: Luke
Email: <redacted>
Comment: just read your review of your MacBook Pro 13″.

You may be able to help me largely I’ve currently got a acer 16″ laptop – 4 years old running windows 7.

It’s now time to upgrade and I’ve decided to bite the bullet and get a MacBook Pro.

In the store my eyes point towards the 15″ due to what I’m currently used to size wise but price wise I’m tempted to go 13″

Do you think it’s possible to ajust down to 13″?

It will be my main device but I’m not wanting to upgrade anything as I’ve swear to myself to keep it clean and lean and put all my media, pictures – CRAP! On USB drives etc to keep my machine as less cluttered as possible!

I mainly use my computer for YouTube, Google browsing, Facebook, movie downloads, word processing, email and take it into work the odd occasion for the odd film if I’m waking night.

Do you think I could settle for the 13″ over the 15″ as for the extra £500! I could get a Magic Mouse, massive USB drive and maybe a weekend in Poland :)

Time: June 14, 2015 at 23:53
IP Address: <redacted>
Contact Form URL:
Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.

Hi Luke,

For the uses you’ve described, the 13-inch Macbook Pro is more than adequate, you will only have to ‘adjust down’ to the physical screen size. In practice though, the resolution of even the 13-inch retina screen will be massive compared to the Acer, so if your eyes are good, the improved image quality would more than make up for it, in my opinion. And the increased portability is useful; I have traveled with the 13-inch and edited photos at the airport, but the 15 is a size too far to travel with for me.

With the 13-inch, you may find yourself using it in places the Acer would be too cumbersome.

The main reason to get the 15-inch pro is performance – the quad-core CPU is in another league, and they have the option of an external GPU. For content creation, the 15 is good enough as a primary workstation but I wouldn’t say the same about the 13 (it’s still excellent for casual photo editing though). But of the use cases you’ve given, the only case where the 15 clearly excels over the 13 is watching movies, and it doesn’t sounds like that will be its primary use.

I still use the 13-inch macbook in the review you just read as my main personal computing device, but I also have the 15-inch for work, and a 3-year old desktop (which is really only used for the occasional game these days). If I could get the performance of the 15 in something the size of the 13, that would be my ideal work computer. A couple of decent external monitors are a necessity though.

I highly recommend reading Ars Technica’s reviews of both current Macbook Pro models:

In particular, the CPU in 15-inch model is looking a little dated now, but the 13-inch was updated with Broadwell processors, which give a nice boost in graphics performance. In the end the choice between the 13 and 15 inch Macbooks is a personal and subjective one, but if it was my money the 13 inch model would be an easy pick for a primary personal computing device. The pro can only be recommended if you need a quad-core CPU and NVIDIA/AMD GPU.


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