Should I travel with a MacBook Pro 13" or 15"?


I’m wondering how many developers travel with a MBP 13" vs 15"? I currently use a late-2012 13" for iOS development, but I’m pondering the 15" because Xcode is so resource hungry. On the downside, it is rather heavy…

Do you travel with a 15"? Do you wish you’d opted for the 13" instead?


  • Ian

P.S I’m asking developers specifically as system spec is more crucial than, say, for a copywriter.

Hi Ian,
I have a 15" Retina, but my next one would be an air for sure. I don’t use Xcode, just the terminal and chrome. I appreciate my i7 but, prefer less weight.
I think the screen is small anyway, and always try to find a monitor at coworking spaces.

The 15" is heavy, the casing scratches the screen after a while. The discrete GPU makes no difference for development or basic graphics.

That said it is a rock solid machine and I can work on it for months without an external display or keyboard.

Are you travelling with checked in baggage? If not I would go for the smaller machine.

I use MBP 15" i7 2010 version… so it’s heavier than new MBPs… and I still don’t care that much… it works great… so next one will be much lighter and I think 99% sure 15", not 13"… that way I don’t need external monitors, power is here (didn’t even know there is no i7 13" MBPs ?!)
The only thing I’m waiting for is for them to make fanless version… not sure if it’s even possible with these processors and if new fanless processors will have comparable speed… someone knows what is the plan here?

I currently use the 15inch retina. I know it’s heavy, but I love it too much to give it up. Maybe when Apple creates a powerful macbook air I will switch, but until then I will continue to use this computer.

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Technically possible, but not with current laptop processors. Think cellphones and tablets. You get some power, but even this little bit of power means overheating while charging etc., and it’s usually a fraction of the speed of a “proper computer”.

Future looks very bright though, technology is improving really fast and there are some really interesting advances towards fast computers that produce very little heat, but don’t hold your breath.

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I’m a game developer & photographer and have spent the last year travelling with a 15" late '11 MBP. I’m due an upgrade and am currently thinking I’ll stick with a 15". The power and large screen are really useful - I’m not sure my Unity games would be so easy to develop on the smaller models. While a 13" might be more portable, for me personally, I think I would regret downsizing.

Interested to hear what you end up choosing!

I use a 13" Air. The Air comes in a 13" or 11" - and of course I wanted the extra screen real estate. It’s still amazingly light.

My computer before this was a, I believe 15" (Maybe 17"?) MBP - And that thing was probably 3x as heavy - definitely wouldn’t travel with it having now switched to the air.

In the end - it’s personal preference, it doesn’t matter why I or anyone else says. If you need a lot of power for compilation or something - get something beefier. If you can do without - stay lighter. But in the end it’s your call.

15 inch…that computer is going to get a lot of use…you want something you feel comfortable enough for long hours with a lot of screen real estate…

OK, I went for the 15"!

  • 13" processing power and screen size will always bug me when doing iOS development (I hate you Xcode).
  • I can use a laptop stand (I backed the new Roost Stand on Kickstarter) with the 15" and never feel the need for an external monitor.

Can’t wait to do some of my best work on it! :smile:

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I’m using 13" now and planning to upgrade to 15".
The power difference is quite a lot and bigger screen is ++
Came to this thread for an answer and seems like everyone vote for 15" over 13".

I’ve been quite happy with my 2015 MBP 13"

The display is experiencing staingate, although I can perhaps wipe off the AR coating as a workaround…

Now, I’m thinking what to get next… Quite keen to exploring the 12" MacBook for simplicity.

Why? I’m actually loving the 2018 iPad. I feel like with some software improvements (mostly to cover my critical Chrome plugins), a simpler machine would do the trick most of the time.

In 2019, I could be rocking the latest iPhone, 2018 iPad (not Pro), and the basic MacBook.

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I had a similar setup with my i7 2015 MBP 13".

As my Apple Care program was going to an end in June 2018 I pay a visit to Hong Kong and bought i7 MacBook 12". It was a perfect transition to (as you say) simplicity and ultra lightweight. MBP 13" + Logitech keyboard and mouse found a new happy owner.

I’m web designer, so there’s no need for extra power and honestly, I don’t see any difference in performance. I also bought Magic Keyboard 2 + Magic Trackpad 2 for stand up work.

The market offers a ton of options so it’s important to customise it for your own needs.