Jesse Whitehouse Developer | Analyst

13 vs 15 inch Laptop

Some things are harder to buy than others; especially for a compulsive researcher like me. I pour over reviews for hours because I’m convinced the perfect is choice out there and I can find it. It’s usually awesome and I feel very proud when that happens. But when it doesn’t I look kinda foolish. Like when I bought and returned four laptops this summer before settling on my final pick: a fifteen inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

My Needs

This really wasn’t a complicated subject for me. My iMac breezes through the heavy computational lifting. My iPhone run YouTube, Safari, Twitter and Mail. But I wanted a development machine for the road (and let’s be honest, the couch). It needs to run Python 3, Sublime Text, and a couple linux virtual machines. Any Mac in the lineup can do this. So I just had to pick between the twelve, thirteen, and fifteen inch models.

The Road to Fifteen

The twelve and thirteen inch models share similar proportions. I ruled out the twelve inch model immediately because it lacked screen real estate. I still tried the thirteen inch for a couple weeks, though, because it’s higher DPI screen displays more windows at once. I went back and forth between the fifteen and thirteen inch models for a month before I eventually returned the thirteen.

In the end, it came down to comfort. Developing on the thirteen inch model was like removing a wet swimsuit in a telephone booth. I develop with Sublime on one half of the screen and Safari on the other. With Safari zoomed to readable size, however, I couldn’t show a full page-width in Safari. I tried zooming out and in, or resizing my Sublime window. But it never felt right.

There are a lot of discussions about the thirteen versus the fifteen inch computers across the web. This is my two cents: performance aside, if you work with multiple windows at the same time: buy the fifteen inch model.