Hardware question: 15 or 17" MacBook Pro?
Jul 27, 2008 at 11:45pm
Hardware question: 15 or 17" MacBook Pro?
This subject has been beaten to death in the various Mac-specific forums, but I wanted to get the input of other Max users rather than the general computing population.
I’m currently debating between the 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pro for Max/MSP/Jitter, Finale and various other standard tools of the soon-to-be composition graduate student, and wanted to hear peoples experience with the two sizes.
I’ll be getting a large-ish LCD for when I’m at home, but having had two 19″ CRT screens for so long, I’m now very used to having two primary windows going at any one time. As my girlfriend has recently started calling me, I’m a Screensize Queen (note: I am male).
Now, for at least the next academic year, I’ll primarily be keeping the laptop at home for work, and porting it around maybe once or twice a week on average; more when I’m getting ready for a live performance. I live near school, to where the system would most often be moved. I’m not a heavy traveler, so I’m not terribly concerned with space on planes and trains, but I’d like to be able to use it wherever possible.
So, I’m caught between the added portability of the 15″ versus the awesomeness of the 17″ display. Since I’ll be using the laptop’s display to dual-screen at home, more screen real estate is useful even with an external display. My concern is mostly the added weight and size of the 17″, and whether I can deal with it during those times I’m out and about with it. Using both in store, the 17″ seemed to make more sense in terms of maintaining my current workflow, but it sure felt heavier and bulkier than the 15″ – there’s only 1.5 pounds difference between the two, but for some reason it feels like much more. Neither have spent time in my backpack, so I’m not sure how comfortable I’d feel with either in terms of moving it around.
There’s also the factor of the two extra speakers in the 17″, which would be great to have when I don’t have access to external loudspeakers for rehearsals.
My practical side is saying “Get the 15,” but my functional, screen space needing side is saying the opposite. I want to reconcile them, but they don’t get along. Perhaps some alcohol would help smooth things out, but then they’d both just start crying over having to spend this much money in the first place.
So, please share your thoughts, if you can.
Jul 28, 2008 at 12:58am
A friend of mine has a 17″ Macbook. He rarely carries it around with him and complains about the weight and size and how cumbersome it can be.
I have a 15″ Macbook Pro. I love it, it’s the perfect size and weight for being on the go, but having computing power. When I’m at home, I plug my 24″ screen into it with a wireless keyboard, so it feels like a workstation, but w/o the size and noise.
I like the 15″ a lot, once in a while wish I had more space, but that goes away when I get hoem and have 24″ of desktop, plus a second screen.
Jul 28, 2008 at 2:51am
My recommendation is the 17″, based on the fact that you use Finale.
The 17″ is on the heavy side, but I would recommend a bag that makes
On Jul 27, 2008, at 7:45 PM, Duncan Schouten wrote:
Jul 28, 2008 at 3:42am
On the backpack front: I had a BBP bag up until a few months ago and found it a disappointment. The design didn’t redistribute the weight as advertised. In fact, I found that loading it up with much more than a 15″ MBP, power supply and my everyday bits and bobs to be almost painful. The padding in the straps broke down quickly, which compounded the problem. The chest strap stitching unravelled early on as well. I would not recommend a BBP unless they made significant design improvements. I have a Timbuk2 backpack — delightfully dubbed the Datadump — and it’s a huge improvement.
Jul 28, 2008 at 3:51am
Thanks for the thoughts so far, folks. Hopefully more people will chime in in the coming days.
On the pack front (er, back), I’ve been primarily considering the Booq Boa 3L, along with a laptop sleeve for extra protection:
It’s expensive as all getout, but the large sized one should house a MBP 17 – should I decide to go that route – along with my MOTU 828mkII, some cables and probably a few mics. And, when I’m not performing, it’ll easily handle the binders and textbooks I’m obliged to tote around.
I’ve never had a laptop before, but I can tell you that my current backpack has far too often had the zippers give way, spilling the bag’s contents across the ground. That’s bad enough in dry conditions, but would be catastrophic in any sort of wet weather, especially with a laptop in there, too. So, I’m considering the extra expense of a good pack as a sort of insurance against some potentially much, much larger costs.
Jul 28, 2008 at 4:01am
I had a 15″ MacBookPro and saw my friends’s 17″ MacBookPro and realized that the weight difference is negligible and should’ve gotten the 17″ to begin with. Due to bad luck, I spilled liquids on my MacBookPro and recently had to get a regular MacBook which I’m extremely happy with. However, if I had to do it all over again, just thinking cost-wise, I would probably still get a 15″ because you can soup it up more and get the proper Apple Care(2 inches and 1.5 lbs is hardly worth several hundred dollars in my opinion). But, if cost is not too much of an issue: yes, go for the 17″, the screen real-estate is awesome(and these days, you can get the Hi-Res kind which gives you even more display(virtually speaking, that is). One added plus, the speakers on the 17″ are ten times louder than any other Mac laptop out there so it’s really great for trying stuff out and demoing it really quickly to others.
Jul 28, 2008 at 4:05am
. . . and my experience is completely the reverse! Mileage
On Jul 27, 2008, at 11:46 PM, Dan Winckler wrote:
> On the backpack front: I had a BBP bag up until a few months ago and
Jul 28, 2008 at 10:53am
I have a 17″ power book since 4 years now, an drecently got a 17″ macbook pro
once you start using a 17″ it’s hard to go back – especially now,
carrying it never was a prblem (and I tour quite a lot) – now that I
Jul 28, 2008 at 11:16am
That’s a key that others have mentioned – it’s not only the larger
On Jul 28, 2008, at 6:53 AM, Kasper T Toeplitz wrote:
> I have a 17″ power book since 4 years now, an drecently got a 17″
Jul 28, 2008 at 11:31am
Duncan Schouten schrieb:
I don’t know if it would be true for scores, but I am happy to have 12″
Jul 28, 2008 at 7:32pm
You’re a brave man, Kasper, and you must have the back and shoulder strength of gods.
Dare I ask how you manage to use -both- in a performance?
Quote: Kasper T Toeplitz wrote on Mon, 28 July 2008 06:53
Aye – For me, if I got the 17″, it was almost certainly going to be the Hi-Res version, if for nothing else than the LCD backlighting that comes in them.
Once the forthcoming Macbook Pro revision happens, then both resolutions of the 17″ will be LED, but for the moment it’s only the larger of the two.
Quote: Torture Artist wrote on Mon, 28 July 2008 07:16
There’s the rub, isn’t it? I’m honestly not sure which tasks I’ll be doing most often on the go. When using my girlfriend’s 15″ laptop, I’ve often wished for more screen space when doing web development and writing papers, but I’ve never really used Finale or Max on laptops aside from doing presentations. Based on my current working habits, I use a lot of screen space when working in those programs
I know that I can’t personally go smaller than the 15″, if for no other reason than the Macbook Pros having assorted ins/outs that I use, but the Macbook standard doesn’t offer. Plus, the reflections inherent in the glossy screen and I don’t get along terribly well. Believe me, I’d love to be able to use one of those ultra-portable laptops and save the weight on my back, but for what I do – and my deteriorating eyesight – that just won’t do.
I’ll be throwing 4GB of RAM into whatever I decide to get, so it’s really just a matter of determining which screen size works best. It’s times like this that I wish I had friends with these laptops, so I could get a better feel for how portable they are.
The extra speakers in the 17″ are also mighty appealing, given my horrible luck with laptop speakers in the past.
Oi, it’s all too confusing.
Quote: Stefan Tiedje wrote on Mon, 28 July 2008 07:31
Jul 28, 2008 at 8:47pm
It also seems made of tougher materials. My MacBook has broken down twice in 2 months. I can only imagine the 17″ would offer more space for internal hardware which could only help house it better. But i don’t know much about engineering apple products so that’s just an assumption.
Jul 28, 2008 at 9:14pm
Unfortunately, MacBook Pro quality has sort of dropped off as of late. For example, the 15″ LED backlit models have had troubles with striping on their displays, and all current models are possibly affected by a defective video card:
Speculation is that the new revision will bring about a new video card with none of these problems, but nVidia and Apple are keeping tight-lipped about the current situation.
In terms of physical differences, the 17″ definitely runs cooler, due to the increased amount of aluminum casing to serve as a heat sink.
Quote: RabidRaja wrote on Mon, 28 July 2008 16:47
Jul 28, 2008 at 10:22pm
simple – an adat connection between the 2 (both with RME cards – sync by WC)
actually as stupid as it sounds it’s really handy – obviously more
and yes, you pointed it – on a 17″ the speakers let you do some real
Aug 5, 2008 at 8:26pm
Quote: Duncan Schouten wrote on Mon, 28 July 2008 15:14
I’m a little wary of this graphics problem, but I’d love to get a macbook pro. Does anybody have a fairly new macbook pro with these problems?
Aug 6, 2008 at 7:10am
Quote: Mike S wrote on Tue, 05 August 2008 16:26
Obviously, I’m not qualified to say much of anything about this, having not yet acquired my MBP, but I can say that the prognosis doesn’t look terribly good as to the 8600 chips’ longevity under heavy graphics use and excessive heat cycling (running the GPU hot, then putting the computer to sleep without giving it time to cool down).
There’s a lot of info to sift through on the potential problems, but the core of it is that nVidia claims that the production defect has been addressed in their most recent production runs. Whether anything has actually been changed is open to debate, since the problem is dependent on time and amount of strain put on the video card. The MacRumors forums are seeing a decent number of people with approximately year-old MBPs coming on with complaints of failing GPUs, so it’s not likely that any problems with the current units will emerge until next summer or so.
At the same time, there’s even more users who aren’t reporting even a single problem with their computers, so it’s entirely possible to live a happy, productive life with your MBP, despite its current issues.
The whole issue, for new users or people looking to upgrade, will soon be skirted with the impending release of a new Macbook and Macbook Pro revision, which will use a new(… or as new as Apple uses), presumably non-defective GPU. Current thought is that the revision will be announced in mid-to-late September, though no one knows for sure when it’s actually happening, and Apple isn’t talking.
Unfortunately for me, it looks like I’ll have to buy one of the current units along with AppleCare and hope for the best. I had hoped to wait until the new models, but if they’re announced mid September and I order right away, getting the box in early October isn’t terribly unlikely, and that effectively means the loss of 1/3 of my fall term productivity time. No can do, there.
P.S. I’m still debating between the 15″ and 17″, though the latter is currently winning out in my head.
Aug 6, 2008 at 11:07am
Thanks for the info
I think I’ll wait till September to be on the safe side
Good luck with yours!
Aug 6, 2008 at 6:52pm
Quote: Duncan Schouten wrote on Wed, 06 August 2008 01:10
You could also rent one until the new ones come out perhaps? I didn’t really check the pricing, though:
found doing a yahoo-search of “rental macbook pro”
Aug 7, 2008 at 11:54am
When I wanted to get a laptop, a friend suggested the 12 or 13″ – MacBook Pro didn’t come that small, but I took the hint and got a 15″. Personally, I find it far better due to portability than the other machines that are larger. This one fits in a rucksack and if you wanted a bigger screen, you could just get a separate one at your main place of work.
I also think the dimensions are better for long-term durability. I’ve never felt it would have been better to have a larger screen. And spec-wise, they seem pretty close to be just about negligible. Go for the fifteen.
Aug 10, 2008 at 9:30pm
Quote: RabidRaja wrote on Wed, 06 August 2008 14:52
> You could also rent one until the new ones come out perhaps? I didn’t really check the pricing, though:
Sorry for missing this, RR. I looked into rentals a bit more, and the pricing is pretty prohibitive – Usually something like $500+ per month, which would really limit the system I could purchase once the time comes.
The 15/17″ battle continues unabated in my head, unfortunately. Every time I think I’ve settled my mind, some other factor comes floating in to disrupt it. Right now, I really want the speakers from the 17″, but would prefer the 15″ footprint and weight.
My conclusion? Apparently, it’s buy neither and continue feeling horribly stressed about it.
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