In terms of the effect at the wheels then you are right - it's the same.
44/11, 48/12, 52/13 are all the same.
However, running larger chainrings has some advantages: the pedalling loads are spread over more teeth and the chain runs at lower tension. Both of these mean lower wear across the whole drivetrain.
However, running smaller chainrings allows a wider gear range with the same rear mech (less chain slack to wrap between gears) and is a little lighter.
Generally with road kit you start to run into problems if you go below 46T on the outer.
Ride it or milk it!