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View Poll Results: 2012's: Which MacBook?
13" MBA 33 26.19%
13" rMBP 50 39.68%
15" uMBP 43 34.13%
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Old Dec 24, 2012, 09:55 PM   #1
dmk1974
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2012's: 13" MBA, 13" rMBP, or 15" uMBP?

Hi all, I think I have it down to 3 different MacBooks.

First off, my usage. The laptop will be used in the house 99% of the time (couch, kitchen table, bed, desk). When at my desk however, I will connect it to my 24" monitor and use a keyboard and trackpad while the laptop is in clamshell mode.

Primary app usage will be web browsing, email, MS office apps, light photo and video editing, very little gaming, and some CAD work. But to be honest, mostly web and office apps.

I also have a home server PC that holds all of our music, photos, and videos.

The 3 MacBooks I am down to are:

1.) 13" MBA i5 1.8 / 8 GB RAM / 128 GB SSD ($1239)
2.) 13" rMBP i5 2.5 / 8 GB RAM / 128 GB SSD ($1407)
3.) 15" uMBP i7 2.3 / 8 GB RAM / 128 GB SSD ($1629)
Note: For the 15", i'd get and Apple refurb for $1529 and I have 8 GB RAM that I paid $30 for and a Samsung 830 SSD that I had paid $70 for which is why I have it at $1629. The 13" models reflect education pricing.

1 and 2 have the same size screen and same graphics chip.
1 and 3 have the same screen resolution, 2 is Retina.
1 and 2 are only 1/2 pound apart, but 3 is considerably bigger and heavier.
3 is user upgradable, but 1 and 2 are not.
1 and 2 are within just 6% for processor performance, but 3 is considerably faster than 1 and 2.

Which is the best one for me to get and best value for the money? Please vote and let me know what you think. Thanks!
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Last edited by dmk1974; Dec 28, 2012 at 12:34 AM. Reason: 13" MBA units edited to reflect education pricing. 13" rMBP unit edited to reflect BB Open Box price.
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Old Dec 24, 2012, 10:12 PM   #2
jack2wai2
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If I am you..

For me, the 13 rmbp is a non-option. For its price, i believe it's an overprice product, and i think it is going to merge in mba 13 few years ahead.

Why rmbp is a non-option? Due to its graphic card. Even some people claim that it is still a great machine, there are more people claim that rmbp15 is pushing the technology to its limit. Well, a GT650M is pushing the limit, then hd 4000 is what? A joke?
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 08:30 AM   #3
dmk1974
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Merry Christmas everyone! Keep the votes and opinions coming!
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 10:06 AM   #4
A Hebrew
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Used in the house 99% of the time - 15" MBP

CAD and Video Editing really depend on how much you do it. If it is just something every now and then and you just mentioned it for no real reason any would be fine. If it is more frequent the 15" MBP wins for RAM upgrades.

Another pro with the 15" is that you can take out the optical drive and have a dual hard drive and ssd, allowing for much more storage.


I vote 15"
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 02:31 PM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback. The 15" is definitely the most powerful and flexible for upgrades, 13" retina is the "coolest" and latest with a beautiful display, but costs the most. The MBA is probably the most sensible and economical for what I need. This is why I am having a tough time making this decision.
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 05:42 PM   #6
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I took ages to decide, really wanted the rMPB for the screen ( 13inch retina wasn't out then) and I was concerned that the TN screen of the Air is old tech and likely to be superseded soon, not by retina soon but probably a better screen in next update.

my decision finally was about a system, not single products, and about what I want now. I use iPad more than computers now, especially for text (writing and reading, and browsing) and so could get ipad4 and MBA as in my sig for about the same price as 15inch rMPB with AppleCare and spec I would have wanted.

The MBA is a great computer, handles everything I do, and the screen is okay if I'm not using it non-stop all day.

All this to say, what is most important to you? Often when you can't decide it's because nothing available totally suits your needs. So, prioritise or wait for the next overpriced but desirable apple gadget.
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 06:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by nightlong View Post
I took ages to decide, really wanted the rMPB for the screen ( 13inch retina wasn't out then) and I was concerned that the TN screen of the Air is old tech and likely to be superseded soon, not by retina soon but probably a better screen in next update.

my decision finally was about a system, not single products, and about what I want now. I use iPad more than computers now, especially for text (writing and reading, and browsing) and so could get ipad4 and MBA as in my sig for about the same price as 15inch rMPB with AppleCare and spec I would have wanted.

The MBA is a great computer, handles everything I do, and the screen is okay if I'm not using it non-stop all day.

All this to say, what is most important to you? Often when you can't decide it's because nothing available totally suits your needs. So, prioritise or wait for the next overpriced but desirable apple gadget.
Thanks. I kinda currently have a similar "system" except my current MBA is an 11" and my iPad is the Mini. The iPad Mini, while not retina, is great because it fits in my jacket pocket when I leave the house as well. The MacBook is nice and small and light, but since the iPad Mini is my more portable option, that is why I am looking at the 3 larger MacBooks I listed in the original post.
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 07:20 PM   #8
Daniel L
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If you game even just a little bit, the 15 is a no brainer. Intel has come a long way but their 3D performance is still only a fraction of what discrete GPUs can provide. Not being able to run certain games only because your non upgradeable GPU on your brand new $1600 laptop can't handle it can be very frustrating. The fact that it will be used mostly in the house is just icing on the cake since the portability of the Air will not be utilized.
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 09:46 PM   #9
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One other option/adjustment that my brother suggested. He is a high school teacher and apparently is eligible for special pricing. We went in the Apple website and it would lower the cost of a new 13" MBA with 8 GB RAM by $60 to $1239. A new 13" rMBP would be lowered by $100 to $1599. Too bad the retina units are not on the refurb site just yet like the 15", but at least those two would come down a bit.
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 10:38 PM   #10
trigonometry
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If all three of the computers you are considering are going to have 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD then there is no question, get the 13" rMBP.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 03:14 PM   #11
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Well, I went to the Apple Store today with my brother (the teacher) to get the discount. Kept going back and forth between the 15" uMBP and the 13" rMBP. So what was my compromise? To spend more money! I walked out with the 15" rMBP. For that model he got me $200 off the retail cost and I thought what the heck. Worst case, I'll use it for a couple weeks and have 14 days to return it.

Typing from the 15 rMBP right now. Sweet machine! Just so pricey!
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 03:39 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by jack2wai2 View Post
For me, the 13 rmbp is a non-option. For its price, i believe it's an overprice product, and i think it is going to merge in mba 13 few years ahead.

Why rmbp is a non-option? Due to its graphic card. Even some people claim that it is still a great machine, there are more people claim that rmbp15 is pushing the technology to its limit. Well, a GT650M is pushing the limit, then hd 4000 is what? A joke?
You have to consider the portability into the price of the 13 rmbp. With my corporate discount the 13 rmbp and 15 rmbp only differs by $100, but you don't get the portability of the 13 rmbp in the 15rmbp.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 03:50 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by dmk1974 View Post
Well, I went to the Apple Store today with my brother (the teacher) to get the discount. Kept going back and forth between the 15" uMBP and the 13" rMBP. So what was my compromise? To spend more money! I walked out with the 15" rMBP. For that model he got me $200 off the retail cost and I thought what the heck. Worst case, I'll use it for a couple weeks and have 14 days to return it.

Typing from the 15 rMBP right now. Sweet machine! Just so pricey!
lol. I voted for uMBP 15". This is even better. Congrats
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 08:28 PM   #14
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13" MBA with at least 8GB
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 08:58 PM   #15
ct1211
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Little difference I have both

I love all of these know it all "educated responses" to valid questions. I now own a 15" and 13" Macbook pro. Head to head they perform identical for everyday use and with Photoshop CS6 Lightroom etc. Heavy gaming is the only area where neither is a standout. Most of the comments here seem to be lifted from others conventional wisdom or even guess'. For those interested both the 15 and 13 inch units stutter when scrolling graphics intensive websites like The Verge.com. If you spring for a 16GB RAM unit (15'" only) with the faster processor that might cure this minor annoyance.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 11:38 PM   #16
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I love all of these know it all "educated responses" to valid questions. I now own a 15" and 13" Macbook pro. Head to head they perform identical for everyday use and with Photoshop CS6 Lightroom etc. Heavy gaming is the only area where neither is a standout. Most of the comments here seem to be lifted from others conventional wisdom or even guess'. For those interested both the 15 and 13 inch units stutter when scrolling graphics intensive websites like The Verge.com. If you spring for a 16GB RAM unit (15'" only) with the faster processor that might cure this minor annoyance.
Are you talking about the rMBP's or the uMBP's?

I've been using my 15" rMBP now for a few hours. BEAUTIFUL screen. Played around with a number of the screen resolutions and HiDPI and non. I think I like the 1680 x 1050 the most on this 15" screen.

I will say that I notice quite a bit of stuttering and it feels sluggish when using the HiDPI resolutions (any of them actually). I do not notice any of these sluggish effects though when in clamshell mode and connected to my external monitor which is at 1920 x 1080. Is this just the way it is with the Retina MacBooks? I don't get this at all with the other units in the house (11" MBA, 13" MBA, or 15" uMBP). It also goes away when in the non-HiDPI mode, but then what's the point?
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 06:17 PM   #17
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Also, I forgot to ask, has anyone run 1680 x 1050 on the 13" rMBP screen? Is it super small and laggy or work pretty well? Thanks!
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 07:00 PM   #18
jack2wai2
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You have to consider the portability into the price of the 13 rmbp. With my corporate discount the 13 rmbp and 15 rmbp only differs by $100, but you don't get the portability of the 13 rmbp in the 15rmbp.
If portability is important, MBA with 256gb ssd and 8gb ram is a better deal.
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Old Dec 28, 2012, 12:33 AM   #19
dmk1974
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Well, tonight I was at the local Best Buy with my son looking for a video game and we walked by the computer section. They had an open box table and a 13" base Retina MBP was there for $1407. For that price, and the fact I get 60 days to return since I am a RZ Silver member, I bought it to compare to the 15" rMBP.

Barely played with the 13" rMBP so far, but I do like the size of it since I was originally coming from an 11" MBA. Even though the processor is slower as well as the graphics chip, I would say, so far, that the 13" rMBP is equivalent to the 15" rMBP in terms of lag and stutter when at HiDPI mode. I was expecting much worse on the 13", but it's the same. Beautiful screen though, even at 1440 x 900 and 1680 x 1050. I guess the stuttering is a trade-off for the beautiful retina display on both size machines.

I'll keep playing and comparing. Another appealing factor now is that the 13" rMBP is now about $600 less than what I paid for the 15" rMBP and about $220 less than the 15" uMBP in my first post.
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Old Dec 28, 2012, 03:03 AM   #20
Barna Biro
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The cheapest option ( MBA ) will fit your needs just fine. There are 0 reason for considering the other models at all or anything more beefy than the MBA ( keeping in mind what you'll be using it for and how ).
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Old Dec 28, 2012, 03:14 AM   #21
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The cheapest option ( MBA ) will fit your needs just fine. There are 0 reason for considering the other models at all or anything more beefy than the MBA ( keeping in mind what you'll be using it for and how ).
Funny. [just checking your rMBP in your sig...]

"Do as I say, not as I do!" He he.
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Old Dec 28, 2012, 03:38 AM   #22
Barna Biro
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Funny. [just checking your rMBP in your sig...]

"Do as I say, not as I do!" He he.
So, you find it funny that people can give rational advice after considering the other person's needs and available budget? Well, great for you... As for my sig: The only thing my sig can clearly state about me is that I had the money to get all those devices. Other than that, it says nothing about me as person, my needs ( why I got them in the first place and why those configurations ), my overall financial situations ( I could be a millionaire with too much time on my hands or a poor guy who sold a kidney in order to get those devices just to maybe impress the neighbor's daughter ) or anything in general.

... and no, I didn't get offended by your random remark, it's just my usual sharp / straight / blunt / sometimes rude way of expressing myself. Something you have most likely not seen coming based on my sig.

Last edited by Barna Biro; Dec 28, 2012 at 03:51 AM.
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Old Dec 28, 2012, 04:08 AM   #23
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So, you find it funny that people can give rational advice after considering the other person's needs and available budget? Well, great for you... As for my sig: The only thing my sig can clearly state about me is that I had the money to get all those devices. Other than that, it says nothing about me as person, my needs ( why I got them in the first place and why those configurations ), my overall financial situations ( I could be a millionaire with too much time on my hands or a poor guy who sold a kidney in order to get those devices just to maybe impress the neighbor's daughter ) or anything in general.

...and no, I didn't get offended by your random remark, it's just my usual sharp / straight / blunt / sometimes rude way of expressing myself. Something you have most likely not seen coming based on my sig.
No dramas from my end. Buy what you like. But, no, not surprised by your response - yes, your sig made that somewhat predictable.
Cheers
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Old Dec 28, 2012, 04:22 AM   #24
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yes, your sig made that somewhat predictable.
Riiiight... and I'll just pretend to believe you. Cheers.
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Old Dec 28, 2012, 03:58 PM   #25
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Benchmarks aside, I'm really not noticing any drop in performance when using the 13" rMBP compared to the 15" rMBP. But I do notice identical stuttering when in any of the Retina screen resolutions. When I switch to a non-retina HiDPI resolution using QuickRes, the stuttering goes away and is comparable to my MBA.
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