13 inch Retina or 15 in Retina

Hi guys,
i'm looking to invest into a MacBook pro.
now the question is should I get a 13inch or 15inch macbook pro retina.

I travel a lot but I do watch movies most of the time on my current ipad, or desktop.
I would probably use the following software most of the time

-Microsoft Office - Word and Excel
-Picture editing
-Adobe Acrobat
-Occasionally: AutoCad
-Occasionally: Microsoft Projects or P6 (apparently i can run it in parallels)
-Occasionally: play a game (Assassin's creed)

Ideally i'd like it to be able to carry it everywhere when I go around to the gym, coffee or GF.
I was hesitating on the 13inch but it seems that it wont' be enough space. I have not seen any of them in person. But I would like to have a decent Laptop with which I could do my CPD, watch movies and some work sometimes.

17 Answers from the Community

  • Best Answer:


    If you're just looking from a portability standpoint, the hands down winner would be the 13 inch Retina. One of your concerns with the 13" is that it doesn't have enough space. If I understand you correctly, you mean space on the hard drive to store all of your programs. Although the 13" comes with 128gb of flash storage, you can double the hard drive space to 256gb for $300 which is still less expensive than the 15 inch Retina. And if necessary, there are faster processors and larger hard drives available for the 13".

    And since you will be doing some picture editing, the retina are the clear choice over the non-retina Macbook Pros and the Macbook Air. And both the 13 and the 15 are super thin and light, so they are both quite portable, but the 13 would be easier to take with you everywhere. The 15" Retina does have a much larger screen which would be better for picture editing and would help with the viewing of movies and being on the internet. And the 15 has a quad-core processor to allow you to do more things at once as opposed to the 13"s dual-core.

    So the real question for you is, is portability most important or is the size of the screen you'd like and the ability to mutli-.task better the decided factor? Based on your question, the 13" Retina would suite your needs best. It is super fast, and thin and quite light. Yet is has the processing power to handle all of your tasks and the screen resolution that will make your pictures and movies pop off the screen. And at 4.5 lbs, over a full lb lighter than the 15" Retina, you'll almost forget your're carrying it. Both are great solutions; but which solution do you think would work best for you?

    • Answered by Craig S from Poughkeepsie
    • Nov 1, 2012
  • If you need to travel with the laptop on a daily bases then 13 inches MacBook Pro with Retina is the way to go. The two extra inches on the 15 inch model really does make a difference when carrying around everyday. For most of your everyday task with the exception of AutoCad and game playing the 13 inch MacBook Pro with Retina will be a good choice although the standard 128GB hard drive is a little small so I would recommend going for the 256 GB option.

    Game play and AutoCAD could benefit from the addition of the dedicated graphics card on the 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina. Which ever MacBook Pro with Retina Screen you choose remember to purchase the USB SuperDrive and ThunderBolt to Ethernet connector as it looks like most of the time you will be using the laptop in a professional capacity and these two items will come in handy at some point although for the most part you will not need to carry them around with you.

    You may need to seriously consider buying a very large SD card or external storage to store music, videos, photos and personal file on, if you purchase the entry level 13 MacBook Pro with Retina due to the tiny hard drive (128GB). In this day and age we all have to wonder what Apple was thinking when they fitted anything less than 320GB hard drives to their laptops.

    • Answered by Tr T
    • Dec 21, 2012
  • Last July I purchased a 15" Macbook pro retina. Going into the store I actually thought I would have preferred a 13" but was sure that I wanted the i7 quad core over the duel core chip because I tend to be a heavy user of graphics and usually have a lot of programs going at the same time.

    Looking back on it I am sorry I did. Although the machine may have a somewhat greater amount of processing capacity, it gets heavy after a while of carrying it around. I also find the ergonomics of the distance to the keyboard is not quite as comfortable for me because of where my wrists lean on the corners.

    I am sure that I am going to run into storage problems in a short time, 256 solid state drives may seem like a lot but they fill up fast but if you aren not a heavy Phoroshop user this might not be too big a deal.

    So you really should consider a 13", the 15" is a better desktop replacement.

    • Answered by Richard S from East Hills
    • Mar 4, 2013
  • I have been using a MacBook Pro 13" Retina for a couple of months now. I love it and am happy I chose the 13" over the 15". I'm sure the 15" is better for some people but I like the extra portability when traveling (or just schlepping it around town). I use an external monitor (an old, cheap one that reminds me how great the retina display is) once in a while when I want extra real estate (say, to view a spreadsheet while word processing) but I would have done that any way.

    I use my MacBook mostly for writing, spreadsheets, and web browsing. I don't do any gaming so I'm not sure if a larger display would be better for that.

    My only complaint is that Apple charges a lot for things like adapters (to hook the MBP up to a VGA monitor) and I already paid a premium for the MBP itself. Sigh.

    • Answered by Eric C from New York
    • Jan 11, 2013
  • Hi Bhavesh R,

    Depends on what you will do with your computer, and what screen size you prefer.
    If you're only gonna use: Office, Internet (and YouTube), Netflix, Picture editing (iPhoto or Aperture?) and Adobe Acrobat both are very good and you can use normally.
    If you want to take everywhere, you can buy a MacBook Air in the Online Store, and personalize that way you want. If you want a Pro Retina, I recommend the 13". Both sizes will work normally with all of these applications (maybe you should boy the 15" for AutoCad or Assassin's Creed). Both two models have Intel Core i7 and good graphics (and the amazing Retina Display), so it's going to depend of what you think is the most important thing that you're gonna do in the computer.

    Just trying to help,
    José A.

    • Answered by Jose Afonso Muzzi N from Oregon
    • Nov 28, 2012
  • I highly recommend 15". The additional 2" makes a big difference with only $200 more. With the 13", you'd always wished you should have bought the 15" cause it happened to me and many others that I know of. The 13" are both weight just the same and since they both have Retina displays, the quality is the same on both.

    • Answered by Joseph A from Orleans
    • Dec 22, 2012
  • I just bought the 15" Retina and it is beautiful!! If portability is important, you may want to go with the 13" just for the weight reduction. If screen size is what you want, it's a no brainer.

    • Answered by David G from Round Lake Beach
    • Mar 20, 2013
  • My wife has a 15-inch and I have a 13-inch. Both are good in their own ways.

    For every day stuff I used to believe that the 13-inch was sufficient until we took a trip with her larger display Mac. Oh, sure, it is a little larger and takes up a bit more travel space, but that additional screen real estate makes a huge difference when you are using two apps at the same time and need to go back and forth.

    As others have mentioned, the cost difference is minor, so unless you are constantly on the road I would suggest you buy what will be best for work at home, and for us that is the 15-inch.

    • Answered by Thomas H from West Linn
    • Jul 20, 2013
  • The way you described this you should get the MacBook Pro 13 in but get the one that is...

    13-inch: 2.6GHz
    with Retina display
    2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
    Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz
    8GB 1600MHz memory
    512GB PCIe-based flash storage1
    Intel Iris Graphics
    Built-in battery (9 hours)2

    • Answered by Nicolas D from Murrsyville
    • Jan 20, 2014
  • MacBook Pro 15" Retina is more than I ever hoped for. The 15" with its glorious 2880 pixels of rich deep colors becomes so much more than 15". It's more like a 27" monitor! I tried them in shops before, but now that I'm sitting in front of it and enjoying Aperture and Final Cut I can see what I had not seen before: this screen is huge! It's enough as it is. No need for external displays now.

    [1] The whole glass is coated so it's anything but the MacBook Pro 15" I used before. This one has no reflections.
    [2] I'll need to sell my external displays.

    • Answered by Roman M
    • Jan 21, 2014
  • I am currently typing on my 13" Macbook Pro Retina, great choice however get the version with a larger hardrive/SSD however I use dropbox to share documents between my Macbook and iMac. Dropbox is incredible! But go for the larger hardrive if you can though!

    • Answered by Finley W
    • Jun 23, 2013
  • 13 inch in retina as that is lighter to carry around

    • Answered by Vasandhakumari R
    • Feb 21, 2014
  • i would personally get the 13inch macbook pro retina because its good enough for pretty much anything and the 15 inch is just to big and heavy to carry around, even though the 15 is quicker you won't need it and the 13 is better for your money

    • Answered by Alison W
    • Feb 6, 2014
  • Hey, I just went through the same thing you did. Mind you, everything I have is Apple as far as portable items, such as IPhone, Ipad, and things like that. I've had PC's as far as home units. Honestly, I couldn't justify spending the large amount of money for either a laptop or desktop for an Apple product, the same specs could be purchased for much less when it came to PC's. But, after looking at things for a year, it's no contest, Apple puts out a product that is more money, but worth the money. So, we can leave that alone.
    Getting to the size issue. It all comes down to weight. After going back and forth with this, I bought a 15". I figured I like the extra few inches on screen, the extra graphics card, and it's just a more powerful machine. The only thing you need to look at is if your going to travel with it and hold it on your lap while watching a video, laying in bed, things like that. If so, get the 13" model. It's lighter and you will notice the difference. All in all, get the 15" if your leaving it home and using it more as a desktop unit. But if your all over the place with it, get the 13". Hope this helps!!!

    • Answered by Christopher F from Las Vegas
    • Mar 31, 2014
  • I have the macbook pro retina 13"inch and it is badass. I would not get the 15"inch because it is maybe big and good for watching stuff but it is a little to big. In my school some have the 15"inch and it is as big as a house! I don't know about the processor of the 15"inch but the 13"inch has a badass processor, i play minecraft on highest graphics plus mods (like optifine) and in the background i listen to youtube commentary and have like 10 apps running PLUS screenrecording! So for gaming badass, portability badass, movies pretty good, editing good and work also very good, internet is up in half a second! So my recomendation is 13"INCH macbook pro retina but ofcourse the 15"inch is REALLY good for movies etc so the question is more, movies/editing or gamer and portability?

    • Answered by Silvan D
    • Mar 25, 2014
  • If the laptop is going to be your main computer the 15" is definitely better than the 13"

    I travel a lot and I am also a heavy user for multiple programs running at the same time + use a lot of PS and rendering

    I used to carry a mbp 13" but i upgraded to the 15" mbpr because even if you top up both the 13" doesn't have the nvidia graphic card which is a must for me. The maxed out 13" only carries the integrated intel graphics which is only useful for normal use.

    If you are looking into productivity, speed. go for the 15".

    • Answered by Bowen W from Burnaby
    • Feb 8, 2014
  • 15 inch

    • Answered by Richard R
    • Dec 29, 2013