What are all the differences between the 13-Inch “Early 2015” and the 15-Inch “Mid-2015” Retina Display MacBook Pro models? Which is best for my needs?
Apple has discontinued 15-Inch “Mid-2015” Retina Display MacBook Pro models with dual graphics. All other models in these lineups still are sold as new. This Q&A has been updated with the latest details.
Specifically, the 13-Inch “Early 2015” Retina Display MacBook Pro models are the MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.7 13”, “Core i5″ 2.9 13”, and “Core i7″ 3.1 13” and the 15-Inch “Mid-2015” Retina Display MacBook Pro models are the still current MacBook Pro “Core i7″ 2.2 15″ (IG),”Core i7″ 2.5 15” (IG) and “Core i7″ 2.8 15” (IG) as well as the now discontinued MacBook Pro “Core i7″ 2.5 15” (DG) and “Core i7″ 2.8 15” (DG).
With a quick glance, it is obvious that the “Early 2015” models have 13-Inch displays and the “Mid-2015” models have 15-Inch displays, but there are many other differences that are nearly as important, even if they are not as obvious. As a result, a detailed comparison of the lines is necessary to determine which model is the best choice for your needs.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Retina Display MacBook Pro Models – 13″ Left, 15″ Right)
The 13-Inch and 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models use a similar and essentially “sealed” aluminum and glass design of uniform thickness. The 13-Inch “Early 2015” and 15-Inch “Mid-2015” notebooks both are 0.71 of an inch thick, but the 13-Inch models are 3.46 pounds (1.57 kg) and the 15-Inch models are 4.46 pounds (2.02 kg).
The “Early 2015” and “Mid-2015” MacBook Pro models all have a high-resolution LED-backlit widescreen “Retina” display, but the size and resolutions are different. The 13-Inch models have a 13.3″ widescreen 2560×1600 (227 ppi) display and the 15-Inch models have a 15.4″ widescreen 2880×1800 (220 ppi) display. By default, the 13-Inch and 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models run “pixel doubled” at 1280×800 and 1440×900, respectively, but with four times the detail of a “traditional” display.
Both lines have integrated stereo speakers, dual microphones, an integrated 720p FaceTime HD webcam, a full-size “chiclet-style” backlit keyboard, and a new “Force Touch” trackpad.
Apple explains that this new trackpad has “built-in force sensors that allow you to click anywhere and haptic feedback that provides a responsive and uniform feel” and enables a new gesture called “Force Click” which is a “click followed by a deeper press” for additional functionality over the “inertial scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities” of the earlier trackpad.
Connectivity Differences (or Lack Thereof)
The 13-Inch “Early 2015” and 15-Inch “Mid-2015” Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks have the same connectivity. Both lines have 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, two “Thunderbolt 2” ports, an HDMI port, an audio out port, an SDXC card slot, and a “MagSafe 2” power connector port.
Thunderbolt-to-Gigabit Ethernet and Thunderbolt-to-Firewire 800 adapters also are offered at extra cost.
The “Early 2015” 13-Inch models and “Mid-2015” 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models share external Model Numbers with earlier models that have the same display sizes. Specifically, the 13-Inch models share model number A1502 and the 15-Inch models share model number A1398.
Consequently, Model Identifiers, in software, and EMC Numbers, externally, are necessary for unique identification.
As always, EveryMac.com has diligently hand documented these details for your convenience:
Retina MacBook Pro
15-Inch (Integrated Graphics)
15-Inch (Dual Graphics)
Additionally, EveryMac.com’s Ultimate Mac Lookup feature additionally can uniquely identify each one of the Retina Display MacBook Pro models by their serial numbers, which are listed in software as well as on the bottom of the system.
Internally, the “Early 2015” 13-Inch models and the “Mid-2015” 15-Inch MacBook Pro models quite a bit in common. Each notebook has a storage module that uses a PCIe 2.0 x4 interface, and has a battery that is glued in place. However, there are notable differences, too.
The 13-Inch models have dual core Intel “Core i5” or “Core i7” processors, 8 GB of onboard 1866 MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM memory (that can be upgraded to 16 GB of RAM at the time of purchase at additional cost, but not later), and an “integrated” Iris Graphics 6100 graphics processor that shares memory with the system.
By contrast, the 15-Inch models have much faster quad core “Core i7” processors, 16 GB of slower onboard 1600 MHz DDR3L SDRAM that cannot be upgraded later, and either a single Iris Pro 5200 graphics processor or dual graphics processors – a AMD Radeon R9 M370X with 2 GB of dedicated GDDR5 SDRAM as well as an Iris Pro 5200 graphics processor.
The SSD storage is not intended to be upgraded after purchase, but both the 13-Inch and 15-Inch models use the same proprietary “blade” type PCIe-based storage and it can be upgraded later.
The internal battery on the 13-Inch models provides an Apple estimated 10-12 hours of runtime and the 15-Inch models provides an Apple estimated 9 hours of runtime.
The differences between the “Early 2015” 13-Inch and “Mid-2015” 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models – processors, storage, memory, video processors, displays, battery life, identifiers, and original prices – are summarized below:
13″ Early 2015 Int. Graphics 15″ Mid-2015 Int. Graphics 15″ Mid-2015 Dual Graphics Current: Yes Yes No Processors: I5-5257U I5-5287U I7-5557U I7-4770HQ I7-4870HQ I7-4980HQ I7-4870HQ I7-4980HQ Cores: 2 4 4 Speed: 2.7 GHz 2.9 GHz 3.1 GHz 2.2 GHz 2.5 GHz 2.8 GHz 2.5 GHz 2.8 GHz Turbo Boost: 3.1 GHz 3.3 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.7 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.7 GHz 4.0 GHz L3 Cache: 3 MB, 4 MB 6 MB 6 MB Std. Storage: 128, 256, 512 GB 256 GB 512 GB Storage Upgrade: Proprietary Proprietary Proprietary Std. RAM: 8 GB 16 GB 16 GB Max RAM: 16 GB† 16 GB† 16 GB† RAM Type: 1866 MHz LPDDR3 1600 MHz DDR3L 1600 MHz DDR3L Video Card(s): Iris 6100 Iris Pro 5200 Iris Pro 5200 AMD Radeon R9 M370X GDDR5: Integrated Only Integrated/128 MB* 2 GB Display: 13.3″ 15.4″ 15.4″ Std. Resolution: 2560×1600 (227 ppi) 2880×1800 (220 ppi) 2880×1800 (220 ppi) Battery Life: 10-12 Hours 9 Hours 9 Hours Battery Design: Glued Glued Glued Height: 0.71 0.71 0.71 Width: 12.35 14.13 14.13 Depth: 8.62 9.73 9.73 Weight: 3.46 lbs 4.46 lbs 4.46 lbs Order No (US): MF839LL/A MF840LL/A MF841LL/A MJLQ2LL/A MJLT2LL/A EMC No: 2835 2909 2910 Model ID: MacBookPro12,1 MacBookPro11,4 MacBookPro11,5 Orig. Price (US): US$1299 US$1499 US$1799 US$1999 US$2499 Orig. Price (UK): £999 £1199 £1399 £1599 £1999 Orig. Price (CA): C$1549 C$1799 C$2199 C$2449 C$3049 Orig. Price (AU): A$1799 A$2099 A$2499 A$2799 A$3499
† The “Early 2015” 13-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models can be upgraded to 16 GB of RAM, but only at the time of initial purchase. RAM cannot be upgraded after purchase in any of these models.
* The Intel Iris Pro 5200 graphics processor shares 1 GB of memory with the system for graphics function, but also has 128 MB of “Crystalwell” embedded DRAM on the CPU package to provide additional memory bandwidth.
For introductory pricing in dozens of other countries, see the “Global Prices” on the specs page for each Mac as well as the “By Global Original Prices” section of EveryMac.com.
So, which is ideal for my needs?
The 15-Inch “Mid-2015” Retina Display MacBook Pro models provide much faster performance in a package that is a bit larger and a pound heavier than the 13-Inch “Early 2015” Retina Display MacBook Pro models.
For those interested in a big, beautiful display and high performance, but who do not place a great deal of importance on price, internal upgrades, or legacy connectivity, a 15-Inch model is the clear choice.
Specifically, for those looking for the best price-to-performance ratio, the entry-level 15-Inch model – the MacBook Pro “Core i7″ 2.2 15” (IG) – is the best choice. For one looking for the ultimate in performance, particularly graphics performance, the high-end MacBook Pro “Core i7″ 2.5 15” (DG) or even the custom processor upgraded MacBook Pro “Core i7″ 2.8 15” (DG) are ideal, although these models now are only available on the used market.
By contrast, for those more interested in a beautiful display in a smaller package and who place more importance on battery life than performance, a 13-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro could be the perfect match. The 13-Inch model is best suited for someone who views a 15-Inch MacBook Pro Retina Display as too heavy, large, or expensive and who is less concerned about performance or value.
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