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What macbook pro to buy 13" or 15"

6397 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Sep 24, 2011 7:43 AM by bryanthompson87 RSS
One_Fish Calculating status...
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Feb 3, 2011 12:57 PM
Hi there,

I've been beating my head for weeks. I am graduating, and need a laptop to groove into my professional life.

Should I get the 13" or the 15"?

I recognize the weight difference. But I was looking at the capacity. I really don't know what the numbers mean. The heaviest program I would be using is AutoCAD, the requirements could be found here:

I was thinking about getting a beefed up 13" or if I go for the 15" I may as well go for the i7.

Can the 13" handle AutoCAD 2011? I might have to get the Windows version and use it through Virtual Machine.

Would really appreciate all the help I could get.

Thank you Applers.
MacBook 2,1, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
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    Feb 3, 2011 1:07 PM (in response to One_Fish)
    If you will be using AutoCad, don't consider the 13" machine at all. A 15" machine with a substantially newer and faster processor and thus greater "future-proofing" (compatibility with new software versions farther into the future) and a higher (1440 x 900) or much higher (1680 x 1050) resolution display would be a better investment for you. And you won't want to run AutoCad in a virtual machine — it will run better in the [new Mac-native version| ] or, if you already own the Windows version, natively in Windows via Boot Camp.

    You will probably want an external display for your AutoCad work, too.
    15" '08 UMBP 2.4GHz/4G/500G XT; TiBook 1GHz/1G/120G; iPhone 3G, iTouch 32G, Mac OS X (10.6.6), scanners, projector, tablet, laser and photo printers, Pentax K-7, Olympus E-10
  • neuroanatomist Level 7 Level 7 (31,685 points)
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    Feb 3, 2011 1:12 PM (in response to One_Fish)
    The link you provided doesn't really indicate the specs in a straightforward way. They indicate a minimum spec of a MacBookPro5,1 which used a 2.4, 2.53, or 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo processor. That's the same as the base model of the current 13" MBP (even though the model ID of that one is actually MacBookPro7,1, which sounds like it should be a lot better, right? but no, it uses the same CPU). Likewise, you'd think MacBookPro5,5 would be better that MacBookPro5,1 (it's later, right?), but again, no, the MacBookPro5,5 can be as slow as a 2.26 GHz C2D.

    The recommended machine is a MacBookPro6,1, which is a 2.53 GHz Core i5 (a big step up from the C2D). The 13" models aren't available with a Core i5 (or i7), so if you want to meet the recommended specs you should go with a 15" MBP (which also delivers much better graphics performance).

    The Model ID to real machine translator is HERE.
    17" MBP (mid-2010), iPhone, iPodTouch, Mac OS X (10.6.6),  since the ][e
  • bryanthompson87 Calculating status...
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    Apr 11, 2011 3:02 PM (in response to One_Fish)
    I went for the 15" a while back with some upgrades. I'm running AutoCAD for Mac effortlessly and have been for some time.

    I do believe that the new 13" will be able to smoothly run AutoCAD as the processor specs are much better. The only down side to the 13" is obviously the screen size. Even with the 15" screen I still found it necessary to buy the Cinema Display.

    It's a tough choice. I was in the same situation last year.
    MacBook Pro 15", Mac OS X (10.6.7), iPhone 4, iPod Classic, 27" Cinema Display
  • GoTVols Level 2 Level 2 (255 points)
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    Apr 11, 2011 3:06 PM (in response to bryanthompson87)
    the only concern i would have would be that the 15" you are using has a graphics card with dedicated memory on it. Not sure how much AutoCad relies on graphics. Since the new 13" has integrated graphics with shared memory. Might want to call them on it, maybe they have run some tests.
    MacBook 2.0 Black, Mac OS X (10.6.7)
  • bryanthompson87 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Apr 11, 2011 3:15 PM (in response to GoTVols)
    That's an amazing oversight on my part there.

    AutoCAD is only as good as your graphics card !

    15" minimum with this current line up of notebooks.

    Thank's for the reminder there GoTVols
    MacBook Pro 15", Mac OS X (10.6.7), iPhone 4, iPod Classic, 27" Cinema Display
  • sebastian276 Calculating status...
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    Sep 24, 2011 5:21 AM (in response to One_Fish)

    Mac book air or mac book pro with autocad?


    Hello everyone, i am trying to decide if i buy a Mac book AIR 13 inch or the mac book PRO 13 inch. I am an architech switching from office to MAC, and i am a light user of AUTOCAD.


    in AUTOCAD I only use 2d, i dont use any 3d or modeling or rendering in Autocad, i only use simple drawing features of autocad.


    I dont want to buy a 15 " because it is much heavier i am carry it around all day (i have a back problem) so i prefer lighter weight but i need it to run smoothly


    So my 2 choices i think are:


    1) AIR: 13" 1.7ghz dual core intel i5, 4gb, intel hd graphics 3000, not sure if 128gb or 256gb hard disk


    2) PRO: 13" 2.3 ghz, dual core intel i5, 4gb,  intel hd graphics 3000, 320gb


    Thanks for you help!!

  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
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    Sep 24, 2011 6:10 AM (in response to sebastian276)

    Don't buy either without looking carefully at each in person. Note that the 13" Air's display is 1440 x 900 while the 13" Pro's  is 1280 x 800. So you'd have more pixels (= more screen real estate) on the Air, but everything would be 10% smaller on it than on the Pro, other things being equal. If you find that the menu fonts, dialog boxes, tool palettes, or other non-resizable GUI elements are hard for you to read on the Air, don't buy it. Note also that the Air's RAM can't be upgraded. The 4GB that comes preinstalled is all it can ever have, while the Pro can very easily be upgraded to 8, 12 or 16GB by the user.

  • bryanthompson87 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Sep 24, 2011 7:43 AM (in response to sebastian276)

    My opinions that are posted above still stand.


    But to personalise the previous comments to suit your situation I would not get the MacBook Air. If it really is only light AutoCAD work you will be doing then the 13" Model 'should' be fine.


    However, if you are taking this thread serious then I can do nothing but advise the 15" model.


    I currently use the 27" display and going from that to working mobile on the 15" screen is bearable. I can't imagine working on a 13" screen using AutoCAD. Infact, I'm not sure any AutoCAD technician would be making his life easier by working on such a screen.


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