Best spec 13-inch rMBP or cheapest 15-inch rMBP?

in General Discussion edited January 2014

Good day,


I would like some purchasing advice.

I am a webdesigner, the way I work is as follows:

I have a 24-inch LED Cinema Display from 2008 with a resolution of 1920x1200 sitting on my desk at the office. Everyday I bring my 13-inch Macbook Pro from mid 2009 with me to work and connect it to the Cinema Display. The only real heavy programs I use are Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Illustrator CS6. I often have to have them running at the same time, however my 13-inch Macbook Pro from mid 2009 can't seem to handle this. Also, zooming into an image in Photoshop and then scrolling around with the Magic Mouse is incredibly laggy.


So, I decided I want a new Retina Macbook Pro. My budget is € 2050,00.

Since the new rMBP's have the MagSafe 2 connector I'm going to have to buy the adapter, that way I can still charge the rMBP via my Cinema Display at work. I know that this Cinema Display has a way lower resolution than any of the rMBP's but there is no money to replace the 1920x1200 Cinema Display for a 2560x1440 Thunderbolt Display right now. There will be money for that in about a year, so whatever rMBP I buy, it has to be futureproof.

These are basically my options:


13-inch Retina Macbook Pro - € 2029,00  

  • 2.8GHz Dual-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz

  • 16GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM

  • 256GB PCIe-based Flash Storage

  • Iris Graphics


15-inch Retina Macbook Pro - € 2029,00  

  • 2.0GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz

  • 8GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM

  • 256GB PCIe-based Flash Storage

  • Iris Pro Graphics


Furthermore, I don't care about weight or portability.

Please give me some good advice on which of these two rMBP's I should buy, and please use some constructive arguments.

Thank you.


  • Reply 1 of 2
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,208moderator
    The working resolution of the laptops doesn't go higher than the 1920x1200 on the Cinema Display. They render at a higher resolution but they are scaled lower. This makes them sharper but you get the same workspace.

    The 15" MBP has a 75% faster CPU and 100% faster GPU, which also has a small amount of fast dedicated memory.

    I reckon your workflow would get by ok with 8GB of RAM (it'll be 7GB when the GPU is using its full 1GB memory allocation). 16GB of RAM is more future proof but I don't think it'll be needed for this purpose. You can check yourself though by looking at your page outs in Activity Monitor and also your memory stored on the drive in /var/vm (use Finder > Go > Go to folder and type /var/vm or terminal and type open /var/vm). Add the amount used in that folder after a long period of work to the RAM you have installed to get the rough amount you'd need to avoid writing to the drive at all.

    I think you'd be better off with the 15", even from a resale point of view. You would be paying the same amount for both but I don't think many people would pay the same for a used 13" as a used 15" of the same generation. The BTO CPU and RAM just doesn't hold its value well over time.

    The 15" is better in every way besides RAM and if you don't need the extra RAM then it's a non-issue.
  • Reply 2 of 2
    1920x1200 on CD? Erm, Apple states:

    Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on up to two external displays, both at millions of colours.
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