So you’re looking to buy a MacBook Pro, but you face the question, Do I want the portability of a 13 inch OR the power of a 15 inch?
Now for reference, I’ll be comparing the highest end stock 13 inch MacBook Pro against the lowest end stock 15 inch. What I mean by stock is there’s no tweaks & no customization. You can walk into the Apple Store, BestBuy or even go on Amazon and pick these two models up.
So, like I mentioned, the most appealing thing about the 13 inch MacBook Pro is the Form Factor. It’s lighter, it’s more compact and therefore, it’s easier to move around. Then you have the 15 inch, which is heavier and maybe a little less portable, but you’re getting Desktop like Power.
So performance-wise this 13 inch MacBook Pro has a 2.9GHz Dual Core i5 CPU that turbo boosts up to 3.3GHz. The 15 inch on the other hand has a 2.2GHz Quad Core i7 CPU that turbo boosts all the way up to 3.4GHz.
As far as the RAM and Storage go the 13 inch has 8GB of RAM, 512GB flash storage, as the 15 inch has double the RAM but half the storage it means can obviously be configured. What can’t be configured though are the Graphics. The 13 inch has Intel Iris Graphics 6100, then you have Intel Iris Pro Graphics on the 15 inch.
Now in terms of those Cores and those Graphics and how they make difference in performance we’ll get to that in a second, but I think we first need to focus on the Display. Its size, resolution and overall screen real estate.
The 13 inch MacBook Pro has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 whereas the 15 inch MacBook Pro has the resolution of 2880 x 1800. And in terms of what these numbers actually means everything is scaled, and if it wasn’t Text and everything would be so small, it’d be a nightmare to look at. So, the 13 inch MacBook visually looks like 1280 x 800 whereas the 15 inch visually looks like 1440 x 900. Now beyond that each of these can be configured to give you more screen real estate.
Next what I did was bump up each MacBook Pro to the next scaling option which gave us more screen real estate. And what I had going on my laptop was a Full 1080p window playing in Final Cut Pro 10, and I was able to see how much more screen real estate I got on the 15 inch compare to the 13 inch.
Next step let’s get into performance. In Geek-Bench 3 the 13 inch MacBook Pro had a Single Core Score of 3475 and a Multicore Score of 7439. The 15 inch MacBook Pro was really close in terms of these Single Core Score and that’s to be expected with the cloak speed but where you see the BIG difference is, is the Multicore Score, which was 13138.
As far as the Flash Storage goes, both were insanely fast. And I will note though that the speeds actually depends on the amount of storage that’s in your MacBook Pro. In this case, the 13 inch was consistently around the 13 to 1400 MBs per second read and write, whereas the 15 inch MacBook Pro had slightly slower write speeds, when compared to the 13 inch.
Next step in Final Cut Pro 10, I had a 3 minute 1080p project. What I did was integrate compressor into a multi-pass H.264 where I saw 1 minute and 55 seconds on the 13 inch MacBook Pro and the 15 inch did that in a minute and 40 seconds.
Next step was a 1080p render test. This really focuses on the graphics. And here the 13 inch MacBook completed that task in 2 minutes 27 seconds whereas the 15 inch did the same thing in 1 minute and 41 seconds. So you can see a pretty big difference here.
So staying in the graphics department, running Tomb Raider at 1440 x 900, the 13 inch MacBook had 21.4 avg fps, whereas the 15 inch more than double, 45.9 avg fps.
Moving on to the After Effects CC render. The 13 inch MacBook took 3 minutes and 4 seconds and then the 15 inch took 2 minutes and 25 seconds. So again, here that’s where you can see a BIG difference between the two.
So by now, you should hopefully be able to see the performance difference and how the 15 inch kind of separates itself against the 13 inch. Now I’m not saying the 13 inch is SUPER slow OR you shouldn’t get it. Because I definitely think that it has its place, especially because of its portability.