Minimum laptop screen size?

What is the minimum laptop screen size that you’ve been comfortable working on (Rhino, Solidworks, Photoshop, Illustrator)? It will be used at Uni and at coffee shops, and it will be hooked up to a large monitor when at home.

I have a 17" MacBook Pro with Full HD and love that screen, but I also used to use a 15" and I think I would have choosen that now, since it is a bit smaller and lighter. A 13" can probably also be a good size if you have a good workstation as well. (An extra monitor, keyboard and mouse will do)

I have also held a full course on a 10" 1024x700 Atom driven AcerOne, that was both slow and too small, but it worked… But I do not recommend it!

I always go with a 15". I tried using a 7" Nexus as a second monitor for toolbars, but it’s too slow to react to be worth it. 15" strikes a good balance of size and portability.

2 votes for 15". Is anyone out there happy with their 13.3" or 14", or think it’s too small?

My eyes need a 17" display to do any serious work (worksession lasting more than 10 or 20 mins). This gets me a full size keyboard also. But its a beast to haul, especially with the power brick since battery time is not great.

Had a 17" acer for 4.5 years and was totally happy with screen size and full size keyboard. but as @carvecream pointed out, those beasts are heavy and you will probably have a hard time to find a nice case.

I’m back to 15" now and it works okay. Wouldn’t like to have it any smaller.

I regularly use a Thinkpad W500 with a 15.4" screen at 1920 x 1200 resolution for Rhino, Photoshop etc. I think resolution is at least as important as size - this is similar to the resolution of my 24" monitor, By sitting closer to the laptop screen the image can subtend the same angle as the larger monitor, so the apparent image size can be the same.

So with the new generation of smaller machines coming with massively higher resolutions (e.g. the Yoga Pro has a 13.3" screen at 3200 x 1800 resolution), the question might be from how uncoolly close you can bear to peer at the screen!

maybe we get down to 5" screens and use these when the rez gets high enough:

Seems like 15" is the minimum.

I hadn’t thought of it like this. I like to work close to things, so maybe a high-res 13.3" screen could work out fine.

Plus, those will go over well at the coffee shop.



I have both. 13 inch is great to carry and if you are hooking it up to a monitor. I love it.

However if I want to actually work on the laptop screen then a 15 is as small as I can use. I am not productive in Rhino on a 13in screen.

Tabbing panels closed in Adobe products I get tired of really quickly and I need to do it a lot on the 13 inch.

If you are thinking of a Mac laptop then you will need to get at least a 15inch if you want an i7 processor.

I sense a trend in the making!! I’ve got my pair!

Don’t forget that you will want to show other people what you have on screen. Maybe not everyone will cope with 13.3"… I’d recommend looking at machines you are considering in store rather than buying online. Find a suitable google image (3D wireframe or CAD) and look at it on each size screen to aid the comparison.

And think about the ergonomics - if you spend a lot of time in front of your laptop you want your back and shoulders to be in a good position, not hunched over the screen.

This is all about need and workflow.
If the user really need portability then working most of the time in maximized view might be a good compromise.
I needed a workstation replacement that I could bring with me, so 17" became my choice, so size and weight was my compromise.

And some times I would even choose to model on my iPad or even my iPhone, if it was possible. Even without mouse and keyboard, because sometimes portability and availability is king.

Going to a store is good, even better is testing it out on a friends kit, for an hour or so. If you can last an hour you can last a day, because it’s all about compromises. It might require that you take more breaks, but so be it if size really matters. IMHO.

Good idea. I could upload an image of the Rhino/Adobe interfaces.

Holo, I always work with the screen maximised, and 90% of the time in a single viewport (maybe this is a different way of working to most). I do this on a 20"+ monitor. Yeah, I need a portable device for light Rhino/Solidworks modelling, and some light Adobe work. I’m just concerned that I won’t be able to see what I’m working on without constantly zooming in and out. I’ll have to find a way to test it out.

Sounds like you are on the right track!
To google an image is a great idea.

Also keep in mind that the screen has to have good contrast, brightness and color.

I bougth a 17" Sony that I had for three days. I tried really hard to love it since it had “everything”. But I turned it in and installed Windows 7 on a macbook instead, and I LOVE this machine.

With a System Registry key addition and copying a manifest file to the folder where 64-bit Rhino V5 lives, you can fix the small icon problem on high resolution monitors.

The details are in this new FAQ support document:

This also fixes the same issue for Grasshopper in 64-bit V5

Interesting, can this be added as a command in an upcoming V5 update?

I doubt there will be another V5 service release.

I’ve worked some times with 13 and 15’
13 is too small for 2 windows, only “okay” with small project, like product design,
Any interior\exterior would be hell to always zoom out and in