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Old Jan 17, 2013, 12:44 PM   #1
thumb
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MBA or rMBP?

Hi all,

I am trying to choose between the 13" air base model with 8GB (1299) and the base rmbp 13" also 8GB (1699)

Other than the retina display, what if anything will be the difference between the day to day use of these machines? I am looking for battery life, general app speed and surfing speed. the cost difference means nothing to me since my office will be paying (just these two models, don't suggest others please!).

basically is retina display vs. 1 lb more?

which would you choose and why?

so many thanks,

thumb
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Old Jan 17, 2013, 12:53 PM   #2
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That's the basic difference. The base processor in the 13" rMBP has performance roughly comparable to the i7 processor available in the Air as an upgrade. The 13" rMBP also has a second Thunderbolt port and a built-in HDMI port. Otherwise, you are paying for the nicer screen. Not only is the resolution higher (though it emulates 1280x800 vs. the Air's 1440x900), the color gamut is also superior.

Both models are also available refurbished now (the 13" rMBP just showed up today). So if you are looking to save some money that is one option. (edit - I just saw that your employer is picking up the tab).

I had a 2012 MacBook Air that I lost in an airport last month. I had it insured, and decided to replace it with a 13" rMBP. The extra weight takes a little getting used to (it is only about 0.6 lbs heavier than the 13", but it's about 1.1 lbs heavier than the 11"). However, the screen is very nice. I'm happy with the move. Battery life is slightly better on the Air because the Retina Display uses more battery, but both will last 5 hours or so in real world usage. Performance is very similar. Sometimes pushing the extra pixels leads to some choppiness on the rMBP if you are quickly scrolling through a web page with lots of graphics, but it probably isn't something you would notice unless you were looking for it. You can't go wrong with either, but I'd go with the rMBP.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 04:19 AM   #3
jobush
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The Retina has a Retina display - and the CPU would be notably faster.

The CPU in the Airs are ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) intel core i processors - they will get the job done, but are not as fast or capable as the ones in the Retina Macbook Pro.

If you are only going to do basic computing, and IF mobility is a huge thing for you; I would say get the air and upgrade it to the i7 processor. That makes the price difference of only $200 - if $1700 was your budget, I would say spend the 200 on an iPod or a nice accessary to accompany your Air.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 04:30 AM   #4
attis
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The difference in weight doesn't really concern me, so I'll leave it out of the equation, though it might make a huge difference for someone.

To me, the Airs are more mature;
The 15" MacBook Pros before it had the same 1440x900 resolution. A pixel density of ~110PPI, which it shared with the 1280x800 of the 13 MBP. When scaled down to the 13" screen of the Macbook Air, it all looks a lot nicer. And both Airs have a PPI of ~130. Good enough to make me forget it's not retina when working at a normal distance, even though I have an iPhone and/or iPad next to me. And I like being able to tell one pixel from another - i create a lot of media content, and I since the majority of people have old-school-non-retina displays (tablets excluded) I have to be able see what they will see. The slimness and angle of the MBA also makes for more comfortable use, since your wrists don't chafe against the front edge of the casing. I haven't owned the 13"MBPR, but had the 15" for a while. The coating of the screen on the Air is a good mix to me. I preferred the AntiGlare of the old MBP, but for a none-matte display it works really well.

And then the new MacBook Pros;
The biggest issue to me is that the world is not Retina-ready. Some things look really nice, but most content still is standard res, and on a retinadisplay it actually looks worse, since you have the highres things like text to compare it to on the same webpage for example. Although they are different versions, the MacBook Air and -Pro share the same integrated HD4000 graphics. I don't think the slightly better version of it in the Pro is ~4x better, but it still has to work with 4 times the data. It makes for an unreliable and often choppy experience.

To me, this is more then enough to choose the Air over the Pro. But one last thing I thought of is that despite the enormous amount of pixels, the effective workspace of 1280x800 alone would make me not want to get the Pro. I feel claustrophobic when using friends old 13" MacBook Pros..
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 04:42 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by jobush View Post
The Retina has a Retina display - and the CPU would be notably faster.

The CPU in the Airs are ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) intel core i processors - they will get the job done, but are not as fast or capable as the ones in the Retina Macbook Pro.

If you are only going to do basic computing, and IF mobility is a huge thing for you; I would say get the air and upgrade it to the i7 processor. That makes the price difference of only $200 - if $1700 was your budget, I would say spend the 200 on an iPod or a nice accessary to accompany your Air.
I had the 2010 C2D, 2011 i7 and now the 2012 i7 MacBook Air. I mainly work with large images in Lightroom and Photoshop, and except the 2010, when working with both i7-models, the CPU hasn't been the bottleneck. Pulling data from external storage was my biggest issue, but with the 256GB models I could work off of the SSD. Even Handbrake and other CPU-intensive apps work fine. So my real world conclusion is that you won't notice much difference.

Even Geekbench backs me up on this with non-real-world-data; The i7 Retina gets a 64-bit score of 8331. The i7 Air 7518. That's less than a 10% -synthetic- difference. Probably less of a difference, and less noticeable when using actual CPU-intensive tasks.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 07:52 AM   #6
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Based on the usage you described and the need for longer battery life, choose the Air. I don't think you'll notice a difference in the app speed for basic things but why not go to the Apple store and try each?
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 09:51 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by attis View Post
I had the 2010 C2D, 2011 i7 and now the 2012 i7 MacBook Air. I mainly work with large images in Lightroom and Photoshop, and except the 2010, when working with both i7-models, the CPU hasn't been the bottleneck. Pulling data from external storage was my biggest issue, but with the 256GB models I could work off of the SSD. Even Handbrake and other CPU-intensive apps work fine. So my real world conclusion is that you won't notice much difference.
The processors are roughly the same. The base i5 in the Pro is just about even to the ULV i7 in the Air. However, something that isn't captured by stats is the better thermals of the Pro. Even with the 35W processor, the fan in my rMBP hardly ever goes above 2000rpm, and it is much quieter (I can't hear it at 2000rpm). My 2012 Air would frequently ramp up the fan even without much running in the background. On something sustained, like a long DVD encode, I think the Pro would do a little better than the specs suggest because it wouldn't need to throttle down as much.

Last edited by KPOM; Jan 18, 2013 at 01:04 PM.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 12:59 PM   #8
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To me, the Airs are more mature;
This. Do it.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 01:25 PM   #9
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The thing that I've noticed with notebooks is that retina is not a make or break feature like it is for phones and tablets. The reason for this is because the screens on notebooks are bigger, and you will typically position yourself farther away from the screen than you would with an iPhone or iPad. I have a MacBook Air and I have no complaints with the screen - from where I'm sitting everything looks crisp. This is coming from someone who returned the iPad mini because I didn't like the jagged text. The retina MBP is great if you're going to be seriously working with photos or video because the screen has much better color accuracy, but for most everything else the Air is fantastic and actually a better choice than the retina Pro.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 02:13 PM   #10
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After messing around with the MBA for roughly a month I don't think I can go to anything bigger than a 13'' or anything thicker/heavier. The size and design of the MBA is amazing.

But to answer the OP, whatever you're doing I believe the MBA is more than sufficient. But since money isn't an issue, you might as well get the retina. Can't go wrong with either one, but I think the MBA is more practical machine.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 02:18 PM   #11
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My wife has a 2012 MBA and I have a rmbp 13". The MBA screen is fine until you put it next to the retina, and then it looks much worse. I think if she had the chance, she would have gotten the retina instead. Its also nice to have the HDMI port. The air is lighter, but if weight is not an issue, id go with the retina. Especially if your work js paying for it. Other than weight, I don't think there's a reason to go with the air.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 08:10 PM   #12
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For some reason my eyes tell me the MBA has a "wider" screen, like optimized for 16:9 movie and the rMBP has a more traditional "taller" screen, which I prefer for work. I dunno if it's an illusion.

If somebody paying, hell I order the lobster. And throw in a couple of extra chargers and all accessory cables, and don't forget the expensive bag.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 08:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mrbobb View Post
For some reason my eyes tell me the MBA has a "wider" screen, like optimized for 16:9 movie and the rMBP has a more traditional "taller" screen, which I prefer for work. I dunno if it's an illusion.

If somebody paying, hell I order the lobster. And throw in a couple of extra chargers and all accessory cables, and don't forget the expensive bag.
The 13" MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro both have 16:10 screens. The 11" MacBook Air has a 16:9 screen.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 07:24 AM   #14
rijno
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Originally Posted by thumb View Post
Hi all,

I am trying to choose between the 13" air base model with 8GB (1299) and the base rmbp 13" also 8GB (1699)

Other than the retina display, what if anything will be the difference between the day to day use of these machines? I am looking for battery life, general app speed and surfing speed. the cost difference means nothing to me since my office will be paying (just these two models, don't suggest others please!).

basically is retina display vs. 1 lb more?

which would you choose and why?

so many thanks,

thumb
So I've had my rMBP13 for a couple of days now, and I must say, this machine is amazing! It is so much faster, lighter and portable than my previous MBP15 and man, the screen is just a real pleasure to work with.

For those of you that are having trouble choosing between a MBA and rMBP13, I would like to share my personal experience, hopefully it may help you in your decision process:

I am really happy I went with the rMBP over the MBA. To be honest, I found it hard to justify the rMBP over the MBA. I don't need the extra specs or the better screen the rMBP brings, but for me the price difference was rather low (since I bought in HongKong, I had to pay less for a rMBP13 than the price I would pay for a base MBA in my own country). I went to my local Apple reseller quite a few times to compare both models, and I have changed my preference of rMBP/MBA quite a lot. Still, the MBA was a bit cheaper for me, though I felt the weight difference between both was negligible. I actually liked the form factor of the MBP better as it has a smaller footprint.

The main reason for me to bite the bullet on the rMBP was a really clear explanation by an Apple employee. He told me that even if I might not need retina, the screen is still the part of a laptop that you are looking at 100% of the time (if you don't use an external monitor obviously). Personally I really value the beauty of a retina screen. Yes, the MBA also has a fantastic screen, but everything you do on your laptop, from office/mail/browsing to watching HD video's or playing games just looks so much better on the retina screen to me.

Hope this helps!

Rijno
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 12:47 PM   #15
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thanks all

I went with the rMBP after all. mostly because it was more expensive and I wasn't paying lol.

My wife just chose the 13" air, so we will be able to play side by side and get a good comparison. Ill report back if I notice anything interesting.

Mostly I assume they will both be great.

thanks for all your replies,
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