[off-topic] MacBook 13" or 15" best for development / contracting / personal?

Hey all,

Firstly, apologies for posting a question not directly related to PHPStorm / development.

However, I'm moving my entire computing setup from Windows desktop + laptop, to Mac laptop, so wanted to crowd-source opinion.

I'm doing this for several reasons:

  • It's increasingly difficult to be a Windows developer in an industry / community which favours *nix-based tools
  • Cloud backup is now so cheap, I don't really need a bunch of internal hard disks
  • I increasingly only use my machine for development / web
  • It would be really nice to just have the one machine

Having been using a MackBook Pro the last six months at work, I've been convinced by it (though there are some niggles).

Anyway, I've spent the last 2 weeks testing both a 13" and 15" laptop from home but I'm really split on which one to go for.

They both seem more than capable, though the 15" is twice as fast from the benchmarks, and it's certainly easier to see the screen as it's such a decent size. However, I develop at home with 2 x 1920 monitors, and it will be so easy to take a thunderbolt adapter to work to extend the desktop when I get my next contract.

I don't actually know how much work I'll be doing from home vs on site in the next few years, so I wanted to ask anyone here who has experience with either machine in both a professional, and personal capacity. I do a decent amount of traveling in my personal time, and the portability of the 13" really does stand out. I know the 15" (which I think would be the better dev machine) is only 400g more, but once you've added the power adapter, you do begin to notice the weight.

I'm also thinking about the various places I'll be using the machine:

  • home
  • on-site
  • commuting
  • hackathons
  • conferences

Lastly, does PHPStorm take advantage of any of the features offered by either chip? (13" i5/7 has 2 cores, 15" has 4)

I'd really appreciate it if people could share their experiences.



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15 inch, definitely. Outside of a plane seat you'll rarely have a problem with the increased size. And you'll rarely be carrying it outside of a bag, where you'll barely notice the difference in weight. But you will constantly notice the decrease in power and screen real estate if you go with the 13 inch.

As for the switch from Windows to OS/X... I highly recommend the following software:

- Homebrew (http://brew.sh) - Install this one right away, it's free and gives you simple access to Unix tools
- iTerm 2 (https://iterm2.com) - Free and nice improvement to Terminal
- SourceTree (https://www.sourcetreeapp.com) - Git GUI - free, also on Windows
- Alfred (http://www.alfredapp.com) - Well worth the cost
- Sublime Text (http://www.sublimetext.com) - which you might already be using on Windows
- Moom (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moom/id419330170?mt=12) - gives you window snap back from Windows
- PathFinder (http://www.cocoatech.com/pathfinder/) - Only if you find yourself really hating the Finder

You'll find that automation is much more powerful and accessible on the Mac then on Windows. You've got a crap load of built-in scripting languages and GUI automation tools. Windows feels like a straitjacket in comparison. You'll also want to work your way through the settings, some of the defaults are bizaare, like Safari not tabbing through some controls.

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Thanks Charles,

Good list of utils too.

I'm also using:

Right now I have Spectacle installed as well, which looks to be almost identical to Moom.

Ubar is really nice with 2 external screens too, as you can have it on your bottom screen, and it will control your top 2 screens.

Still undecided on 13 vs 15 inch. Hopefuly more people will chime in, though I know this will be a personal decision at the end of the day.



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