MacBook Pro 13 or 16 - Thoughts welcome

Thank you @cornchip. I do need to go with 32 GB. Now, I need to figure out if I need to find the extra $400+ for the 16-inch or go with the original plan and purchase the 13-inch. That 16-inch has a bigger footprint than my 15-inch.

Get the 13". If you’re using it from home and need a bigger or more ergonomic screen, an external monitor is much more meaningful than the 3" you would get from the 16".

The Integrated GPU in the 13" is also significantly better than the Integrated GPU in the 16". That doesn’t sound like it means much, except that the iGPU in the 16" (along with all the 15" ones made since 2015-ish) has a bug that sometimes causes text input delay by a few characters, or janky scrolling in basic applications.

Basically, the iGPU in the 16" is not powerful enough to run the screen without having discrete GPU on. I have owned multiple 15" laptops and 16", and this is noticeable every time. Either leave the discrete GPU on all the time and have bad battery life, or leave it off and you’ll notice janky scrolling and some delayed keystrokes.

Your workflow will probably appreciate more RAM more than the GPU. The GPU in the 13" these days is really quite excellent.

If you need a bigger screen and primarily work at a desk, put the $400 difference for the 32gb of RAM on the 16" towards a nice external monitor.

You’ll have a desktop that is totally fine for your purposes and a substantially better laptop on the go.

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I guess that is the point. The right size/weight decision has to be a personal decision on the individuals use case. Some people don’t travel and only ever use the laptop on a desk or around the house and so weight becomes less of an issue to someone who is flying often or commuting on public transport daily with their laptop.

If you are a video editor then 9/10 they are going to go for the 15/16” due to the additional horsepower and discrete graphics.

However, there are many users who decide they want the bigger screen first and foremost [for when it is not hooked up to an external display] and so just go for the base 16”.

So my personal viewpoint is that form factor has to be the first decision, do you want the extra compactness and portability of the 13 or do you need/want the larger screen and/horsepower of the 16”. Once you have decided that then choices of RAM and storage can follow.

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Good points. However the size difference is more significant than describing it as ‘3 inches’ might suggest. It is a matter of area which is significant. The 16-inch model has a resolution of 3,072 x 1,920 pixels (226ppi), with almost six million pixels on board. The 13-inch model has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels (227ppi), the same as older 13-inch MacBook Pros. Uses differ and I take your point about external displays. However I found the size difference between a 13 and my first 15 inch really significant.

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I’d gladly sacrifice 16GB of RAM for 3" more screen. 71 year old eyes. Also the 16" model performs better. Until Covid-19 I only used a MacBook Pro for travel and before I retired for teaching. Normally I use a 27" iMac at home with an external monitor attached as well (now a 4K 27" in portrait orientation). Even on the 16" MBP I feel cramped and don’t use it at home.

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Thank you @snelly. This is where I started leaning after a few people posted. My 15-inch’s fans start up fairly quickly these days. With the larger monitor at home, I am thinking it is OK to go smaller.

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Thank you @tomalmy. I think I may consider a longer play strategy. I may end up going with the 13-inch right now with more RAM and add an iMac down the line. My family members have much better eyesight and would prefer the smaller size. It would justify the next hand down as I try to lessen my travel for the future.

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I use it on my lap all the time. I often sit in my arm chair in my library with it. I think I use it that way nearly all the time really; that is how I work, I don’t need to sit at the desk usually. It is interesting to know how others feel about it though. One wonders how different our work techniques and so on are sometimes. I am starting to realize how idiosyncratic mine are really.

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It is bad ergonomics to use a notebook computer on one’s lap. Too close and wrong angle for hands on the keyboard. Display is too low (the top of the display should be at eye level). Heat can cause damage to male users. Note also that Apple never calls them “laptops” but always “notebooks”.

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I’d get the 13".

Screen size isn’t an issue at home with your monitor setup where you do most of your work.

I have had both (now on a 2017 15" which I love at home, hate when I travel). I travel a ton (well… I used to) and I absolutely hate lugging the big guy around. Especially when I’m on a longer trip and moving frequently or in non-secure areas where I have to have it with me all the time. I often find myself debating whether I want to take the computer or just my iPad. I do video and photo editing as well, but despite my best intentions to work on the road I find I always do my serious work at home.

if video performance is a concern with the 13" read this Bare Feats article on adding an eGPU (https://barefeats.com/macbook-pro-13-inch-2020-egpu-boost.html). Not much extra cost versus getting a 16" and you’ll have better graphics performance on those huge monitors at home.

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I’d personally go with the 16".

16GB is fine if you are not heavily into video editing and the improved cooling really boosts performance. I develop in various languages, use Photoshop to edit large files, Final Cut Pro for 4K video (not heavily) and play AAA games, and there are no issues due to RAM. I also use Parallels for a Windows and Ubuntu VM and it performs very well, I can barely notice it’s a VM.

For driving multiple monitors, I use an eGPU that means the fans never even fire up on the laptop. Before getting this, it made too much noise for me when using a 4K and 1080p monitor, now there is none at all and the whole setup is completely silent. It also means the MacBook only connects to all my disks and monitors with one cable, which for me is really handy (I often disconnect to use it as a laptop).

I cannot see text clearly on smaller screens, and I often struggled with text in several programs on my old 13".

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So …

  • You will use the “portable” computer at home to work because you have the two large monitors and you will use the computer on the road to display your products because the iPad does not have the software that you need.

Alternatively …

  • You will not do work on the road because the monitor size is too constraining compared with your home setup and you will not mind a smaller monitor at home because you can always mirror to the iPad and/or the other monitors at will.

In summary:

  • The lower processing power of the smaller screen size is sufficient for at home use, you have more than enough screen real estate at your home set up regardless of the size of the monitor on the computer itself, and you prefer portability to screen size on the road.
  • The smaller screen size is not limiting your presentation efforts for on the road use, and you will not be limited by processing power in the smaller system when you work at home.

–> Conclusion: Get the 13in.


JJW

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I’d go for the higher spec 13" and use it plugged into a monitor at home, and you can get a bigger monitor over time if your eyesight would benefit from it

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Thank you all for your input. I had the 13-inch in my cart and was about to order it and add an eGPU later. When I read through the replies again, I decided to wait a couple more days. Somehow, I was able to get the costs down for the 16-inch with 32 GB of RAM to within $275 of the 13-inch I mentioned above. It is through a reputable authorized reseller and they kept matching other sale prices…:slight_smile: While the extra is out of budget, based on what others were sharing, it would be the best investment. One of the items that pushed me over were things that were added about doing work on the road from @BermudaAl and ergonomics from @tomalmy, plus the seeing text clearly on smaller screens from @Rob_Polding.

It is times like these that I appreciate the physical aspect of going into the store for a hands-on experience, which was not available on this one. However, I appreciate this group even more for sharing your experiences and knowing that I could have worked with either solution. Thank you again for the insights and perspectives.

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Thank you @DrJJWMac.

Thank you, @SB-MacBook.

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Well, then take the inverse of what I said and you’ll get your answer … :upside_down_face:

Glad to hear that you got a good price point on the 16in compared to the 13in.


JJW

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Yes…I was going to go with the 13-inch with that very thinking…little or less work on the road. Then, I started to list out the type of work I ended up doing at the beginning of the year. I hope it will change, but I’ve tried to change it in the past and lost that battle…:slight_smile: :grin:

Have you considered an Amiga instead? ducks and laughs manically :wink:

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@ACautionaryTale…I almost fell off the couch when I read this…:joy:. I still have a Commodore 64 that gets used every month or so, depending on my need for nostalgia…:rofl:

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