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Thread: Buying a new computer, 15" vs 17"

  1. #1

    Default Buying a new computer, 15" vs 17"

    Hey everybody, I would like to get some advice from some seasoned laptop veterans or those who have experience using 17" laptops and/or visual professionals.

    I have decided between two models of MacBook Pro, But this question is universal regardless of platform.

    Which one of these two should I take?


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    The only difference between the two is that the 17" has a 1920 x 1200 full HD display and the 15" has a 1680 x 1050 resolution display. The trade off is weight, with the 17" being a whole pound heavier. The reason why I added 8 GB of RAM was so they would be relatively equal in price, but I would end up putting 8 GB down the road if I got the 17" anyway.

    Other than that spec wise, the two machines are equal, same battery life, processor, GPU and SSD.

    The machines will usually be at my place about 90% of the time, on my lap because I don't have enough space for a desk in my small apartment.

    I will use it mostly for web creation, surfing, email, a few games, watching movies (internal display), and eventually photography.

    I was thinking does the extra pixels trump the added weight? I guess I'm thinking more from the visuals aspect in that regard.

    Right now I'm 50/50 and I would like some opinions from you guys (and gals).

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

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    I've been using laptops exclusively for work for the last 6 years and we've switched to using them for all of our home computing needs as well. A couple of my kids even have 10" netbooks that I grab and use to surf the Internet on occasion. Every time I request a new laptop at work, I specifically ask them NOT to give me a 17" display because laptops of that size seem a little unwieldy and I've just developed a fondness for the 15" display. The display on the laptop that I'm using at the moment is 1680x1050 (On an HP Elitebook) and I think it's great. Then again, it is a matter of personal taste. Make sure you actually try both out in a store before you buy. As a side note, sometimes the 17" laptops don't fit into a laptop bag quite as well as a 15". I was using a 17" for a little while and it was a pain to lug around. If you are primarily using it at home, couldn't you just get a secondary display and use it in a dual monitor configuration? (Once you actually have a desk that is!)

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by pldc View Post
    I will use it mostly for web creation, surfing, email, a few games, watching movies (internal display), and eventually photography.
    Web Creation, surfing, e-mail, a few games (not anyones on Steam) watching movies and photography do not need that high of specs. Really 8 gigs of ram is about frickin overboardand tacks on a few hundred dollars more. Not to mention your paying for a brand name called "apple". SSD's are also realtivly new to the market and get advancements each passing year. Not to mention asides from games with long or frequent loading times a SSD still isn't really worth it on them.

    On top of all of this. Your not upgrading the graphics card in macbook's. The only time I would ever recommend or get a "gaming" laptop myself is. That there's at least 30+ games you don't like but love. That are able to play on it with at least 35+ stable FPS, preferably 60 FPS.

  4. #4

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    I've always been a fan of as much RAM as you can get. 8GB does not feel like enough for my uses (not even considering any gaming). I always have several memory intensive processes open and even when browsing the web I'll have, at very least, 10 tabs open. The more RAM you have, the more the OS will cache things and generally speed things up.

    Do yourself a favor and buy the RAM yourself. It's incredibly easy to install, and it's much cheaper elsewhere.

    Given my opinion on RAM, I'm also a fan of dedicated video cards... because that's one less thing to vie for system RAM.

    For perspective, I use my laptop almost all day 5 days out of the week. For work and play.

    Anyhow, I've always gone with 15'' screens. I actually don't even mind the smaller ones except for the fact that you just can't fit the same hardware in that form factor. I feel that 17'' is really too big for a "lap"top. Doable? Sure. Ideal? Not IMO. But then I cart mine around everywhere as well. It really depends on how much the extra pixels mean to you.

    Oh, and as far as SSDs go, I just can't get over the price of them. I don't think the cost/benefit ratio is good enough to justify that one.

  5. #5

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    17 inch is usually not worth it. For home use I'd still take the 15 and put the money I save towards a big screen to hook it up to. And it's amazing how quick you get used to a big screen, and how annoying working on a smaller screen becomes afterwards. In your case I'd take the extra RAM, as a 2,2ghz quad core isn't exactly the fastest CPU out there and your photoshop will love it. It doesn't do a whole lot for games, especially not those on mac.
    Honestly a macpro seems overkill if you're not using it for video. Editing single photos doesn't require that much power.

    My new system runs from SSD and it's incredibly smooth, I have boatloads of ram so that helps too, but it's very, very quick. The trade off is that you don't get a lot of storage space, so if you want to collect music and movies on it, storage trumps raw speed.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by LoFiCopter View Post
    My new system runs from SSD and it's incredibly smooth, I have boatloads of ram so that helps too, but it's very, very quick. The trade off is that you don't get a lot of storage space, so if you want to collect music and movies on it, storage trumps raw speed.
    This is why i'm waiting for SSD's. I'm waiting so i can run widnows from it and video games like borderlands, portal 2, left 4 dead, tf2, etc. Plus there has been a lot of speed advancements for SDD's.

  7. #7

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    Yeah I have a clunky olde style drive where I keep most of the other software and data. It's annoying that windows wants to put everything on the c-drive by default. But at least windows 7 allows me to change that.. still a hassle tho

  8. #8

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    I would say get the 15 inch, really. I have always owned 15 inch laptops (and carry one to high school around with me all day) and find it preferable to the couple of bigger ones I have used.

    Though, for what you listed as wanting to do with it, either setup seems overpowered. Your call really. Make sure you try them both out in a store before you buy them.

  9. #9

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    Seems like everybody prefers the 15" compared to the 17"

    Thanks for the feedback everybody, I'm slowly leaning in the direction of the 15". I'm going to wait until Lion comes out and then I will make a final decision.



    Quote Originally Posted by Fire2box View Post
    Web Creation, surfing, e-mail, a few games (not anyones on Steam) watching movies and photography do not need that high of specs. Really 8 gigs of ram is about frickin overboardand tacks on a few hundred dollars more. Not to mention your paying for a brand name called "apple". SSD's are also realtivly new to the market and get advancements each passing year. Not to mention asides from games with long or frequent loading times a SSD still isn't really worth it on them.

    On top of all of this. Your not upgrading the graphics card in macbook's. The only time I would ever recommend or get a "gaming" laptop myself is. That there's at least 30+ games you don't like but love. That are able to play on it with at least 35+ stable FPS, preferably 60 FPS.
    I don't feel the machine is overpowered, if I'm running multiple browsers, Parallels, Aperture and a couple Adobe programs. Also, I might install BootCamp for gaming since having the hardware dedicated to a single OS at a time for gaming would give me better results with the GPU. The 8 GB of RAM would surely help in the multitasking scenario, I'm leaning toward the 15" at this point. Even though it's third party RAM, I've never personally heard of anybody needing to replace "Apple" RAM, and I don't want to deal with multiple companies if an issue arises.

    The reason why I'm picking SSD is for battery life when I'm travelling and for copying movies to and fro. I'm pretty sure they are made by Intel, from what I hear they are pretty damn good for build quality and overall read/write speed.

    Yes, I'm buying a Mac and I'm lucky enough to have the extra cash to do so. Convince me why I shouldn't buy the best laptop on the market, especially one built for visuals.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by pldc View Post
    Seems like everybody prefers the 15" compared to the 17"

    Thanks for the feedback everybody, I'm slowly leaning in the direction of the 15". I'm going to wait until Lion comes out and then I will make a final decision.



    I don't feel the machine is overpowered, if I'm running multiple browsers, Parallels, Aperture and a couple Adobe programs. Also, I might install BootCamp for gaming since having the hardware dedicated to a single OS at a time for gaming would give me better results with the GPU. The 8 GB of RAM would surely help in the multitasking scenario, I'm leaning toward the 15" at this point. Even though it's third party RAM, I've never personally heard of anybody needing to replace "Apple" RAM, and I don't want to deal with multiple companies if an issue arises.

    The reason why I'm picking SSD is for battery life when I'm travelling and for copying movies to and fro. I'm pretty sure they are made by Intel, from what I hear they are pretty damn good for build quality and overall read/write speed.

    Yes, I'm buying a Mac and I'm lucky enough to have the extra cash to do so. Convince me why I shouldn't buy the best laptop on the market, especially one built for visuals.
    As long as you want/are going to run windows and hopefully install windows via boot camp then im able to see the reasoning better. However liek i said, that gPU won't be upgradable, plus as you said it's rarely going to leave your place. Might as well invest in a desktop for power house work and get a small laptop,tablet or netbook for off site basic computing needs.

    Also the 15 inch once does seem like the better option overall.

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