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Old Feb 13, 2013, 12:40 PM   #1
solomon1223
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Join Date: Feb 2013
MBA 11" Top spec vs MBA 13" Top Spec or MBP retina 13" top spec

Hi,
here are the macs that i currently have :
MBP 2.0ghz 2009 (home use)
MBA 2011 1.7ghz i5 4gb ram 256 gb ( work + biz trips)
2 x iphones
1 x ipad mini

i am an experienced architect and mac lover who travels a lot, mainly for presentations and doing contractual stuff on my laptops. I do not need to do intense graphic and drafting tasks but sometimes i uses the following softwares:

Autocad (drafting & minor editing drawings on biz trips)
Sketchup (viewing files)
Adobe Acrobat (processing files)
Adobe Cs (edit graphics)
MS words
Aperture (editing travel photos for fun)

I currently have a MBA 13" 2011 version, and I love it for its portability and speed and it can handle most of my needs ie. photo editing, word processing, drafting. But now my 256 gb harddrive is filling up ( 2 x iphones back up, music library , a lot of graphic works etc) and I noticed the new MBA 11" can be custom made to 8gb and 512 gb SSD. I was going to purchase a MBA 11" with top spec so it's even more portable for my intense travel schedule.

Then last week i noticed MBA 11" has only 5 hour battery life( compare to my current 7 hour MBA 13) and there's also the new MBP retina 13 with faster processor, better display, much larger 768 gb SSD and heavier weight than my MBA 13". I was going to purchase the MBA 11" yesterday online because it's much cheaper than MBP retina 13" and for its ultra portability. Life gets a little more complicated when Apple today decided to reduce the MBP and MBA price. Now the top spec MBA 11" and 13" are the same price and the MBP pro retina 13" is cheaper. Of course ultra portability like MBA 11" is important for someone who spends 2 weeks travelling a month but a faster processor, prettier display and harddisk are very desirable as well. The MBA 13" has longer batter life but it would just be an upgraded version of my current MBA 13"

which one do you think i should pick?
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 09:21 AM   #2
wolfpuppies3
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Virginia, USA
For my money, the 13" MBA maxed out would be (and was) my choice. One thing you can do in the interim is move the music to an external HDD unless you really must carry it around with you on the road. That is what your iPhone or iPod are for. Having the 11", 13", and a 15" MBP, I find the extra real estate of the 13" vs 11" vital (I am a photographer).
__________________
2012 MBA 13, 2 Ghz i7, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD; 2011 MBA 11, 1.8 Ghz i7, 4 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD; 2010 MB Pro 15, 2.66 Ghz i7, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD; two iPad 3s and a mini, two iPhones and a bunch of iPods
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 09:28 AM   #3
robvas
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Location: USA
Retina is in between the 13" and 11" Airs in size
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 11:16 AM   #4
KPOM
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Join Date: Oct 2010
After the price drop, I'd go with the rMBP. The base 2.5/2.6GHz versions are now just $100/$150 more than the 13"/11" Airs upgraded with the i7 processor, and the performance is comparable. Actually, I think the real world performance is a bit better on the rMBP simply because the thermals are better and it doesn't throttle or turn the fans on as much (at the very least, it is quieter). If you max out the rMBP with the 3.0GHz i7, it will be faster than the MBA.

The nicer screen in the rMBP makes it worth it, IMO, if you will be doing photo editing. Also, the second Thunderbolt and HDMI ports could come in handy if you need an adapter to plug into Ethernet or Firewire and still need an external display.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 08:44 PM   #5
help4desk
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by solomon1223 View Post
Hi,
here are the macs that i currently have :
MBP 2.0ghz 2009 (home use)
MBA 2011 1.7ghz i5 4gb ram 256 gb ( work + biz trips)
2 x iphones
1 x ipad mini

i am an experienced architect and mac lover who travels a lot, mainly for presentations and doing contractual stuff on my laptops. I do not need to do intense graphic and drafting tasks but sometimes i uses the following softwares:

Autocad (drafting & minor editing drawings on biz trips)
Sketchup (viewing files)
Adobe Acrobat (processing files)
Adobe Cs (edit graphics)
MS words
Aperture (editing travel photos for fun)

I currently have a MBA 13" 2011 version, and I love it for its portability and speed and it can handle most of my needs ie. photo editing, word processing, drafting. But now my 256 gb harddrive is filling up ( 2 x iphones back up, music library , a lot of graphic works etc) and I noticed the new MBA 11" can be custom made to 8gb and 512 gb SSD. I was going to purchase a MBA 11" with top spec so it's even more portable for my intense travel schedule.

Then last week i noticed MBA 11" has only 5 hour battery life( compare to my current 7 hour MBA 13) and there's also the new MBP retina 13 with faster processor, better display, much larger 768 gb SSD and heavier weight than my MBA 13". I was going to purchase the MBA 11" yesterday online because it's much cheaper than MBP retina 13" and for its ultra portability. Life gets a little more complicated when Apple today decided to reduce the MBP and MBA price. Now the top spec MBA 11" and 13" are the same price and the MBP pro retina 13" is cheaper. Of course ultra portability like MBA 11" is important for someone who spends 2 weeks travelling a month but a faster processor, prettier display and harddisk are very desirable as well. The MBA 13" has longer batter life but it would just be an upgraded version of my current MBA 13"

which one do you think i should pick?
You should write down in order your needs, your reasons for upgrade/change, and then everything will become more clear.
For example, should your needs be (in order):
- portability
- screen quality
- screen size
- battery life
- power
You should go for the 11" MBA.

Should your needs be:
- battery life
- screen quality
- screen size
- power
- portability

Then you should go for the 13" rMBP.

That's it.

I personally enjoy the portability of the 11" MBA that can have the same computing power as a workstation mac, weights nothing, and can be used during flights. But take care, the screen is smaller than the 13".
Should you go for the 13"rMBP, I recommend you to check for the HD4000 performances that may lag a little bit. Probably, the 15" model with his dedicated VGA works quite better.

Good luck!
H
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 02:01 AM   #6
Suraj R.
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Canada
This is somewhat unrelated but does the dual core processor of the 13 inch rMBP significantly lag behind the quad core in the 15 inch?
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 06:31 AM   #7
elefantrider
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: California
Go to the nearest store where you can test them. I did yesterday and saw that each MBPr was hot to the touch whereas the MBAs were not. That did it for me.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 11:54 AM   #8
Boyd01
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: New Jersey Pine Barrens
I have a 15" MBP and 13" MBA like yours as well. Am very happy with the 13" MBA, but after a recent business trip I realized that the 11" MBA would be really nice for the portability. I am retired and don't travel much now though. Most of the time my MBA sits on the desk at home connected to an external monitor and keyboard so the size of the computer doesn't matter.

If I had to travel a lot however, I would get an 11" MBA. Seems like the trade-offs of run time and screen size are reasonable to get such a powerful computer in such a nice compact package. And for any "serious" CAD work (I use VectorWorks), I would want an external monitor anyway.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 02:12 PM   #9
robvas
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: USA
Quote:
Originally Posted by elefantrider View Post
Go to the nearest store where you can test them. I did yesterday and saw that each MBPr was hot to the touch whereas the MBAs were not. That did it for me.
My rMBP has never felt hot.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 02:43 PM   #10
KPOM
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by elefantrider View Post
Go to the nearest store where you can test them. I did yesterday and saw that each MBPr was hot to the touch whereas the MBAs were not. That did it for me.
I have not noticed that. If anything, the fans have gone on MUCH less often on my rMBP than they did on my Air.
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