Which size MacBook Pro should I buy

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The most significant benefit to purchasing a MacBook Pro is having both power and portability. Ideally, the nature of what you will be using the MacBook Pro for can help dictate what screen size MacBook Pro you invest in. Prior to making your purchase, ask yourself: "Will I be using my MacBook Pro for travel or primarily as a convenient portable solution around the home?" If your professional career dictates that you carry a MacBook Pro with you every day through airports, hotels and business meetings then investing in a 17" model might prove to be too cumbersome a companion for you. Then a 13" model is appropriate. If a larger screen is needed an external display can be attached. Likewise, if the majority of the work you do is stationary, with travel being relatively rare, both 15" and 17" MacBook Pros are appropriate.

MacRumors Examples

Here are some examples taken from posts on the MacRumors Forums of users stating what they'll be using their MacBook Pro for and the overall recommendation for what model they should buy:

Scenario Our recommendation Why?
I'll be using the MacBook Pro for graphic design and/ or movie editing. I plan to occasionally move around from place to place with the MacBook Pro.17" MacBook ProYou'll benefit from the better screen size and resolution. If you move around quite frequently, a 15" MacBook Pro with an external display may be a better choice.
I require something I can take everywhere with me, but I do demanding things like playing games and heavy photo editing.15" MacBook Pro, Higher Spec'd 13" MacBook ProWhile a 17" MacBook Pro is thinner and lighter than some of the 15" Windows laptops, it is still quite heavy and large to be carrying with you everywhere. It may be worth investing in an external screen to extend your real estate when at home. You should also consider a 13" MacBook Pro + an external monitor as a possible combination, as long as the specifications meet your needs.
I just want something to surf the Internet with, check email, listen to some tunes and word process with.MacBook or 13" MacBook Pro. 15" MacBook ProA 15" MacBook Pro would be overkill in this case, however, if you really want a bigger screen, then the 15" MacBook Pro would be fine if you have enough funds.

MacBook Comparison

That brings up an important point: Before purchasing the relatively expensive MacBook Pro, consider purchasing a MacBook. The MacBook comes in a polycarbonate enclosure, with a processor equivalent to the low-end MacBook Pro. MacBooks are especially an option if you already have a desktop computer and simply want a second portable computer. See the "Which Apple notebook should I buy?" guide for more information.