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View Poll Results: Worth it to upgrade from 13" MBA to 13" rMBP?
No, stay with current 13" MBA 24 45.28%
Yes, get the 128 GB 13" rMBP for ~$400 more 6 11.32%
Yes, and get the 256 GB 13" rMBP for ~$500 more 23 43.40%
Voters: 53. You may not vote on this poll

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Old Feb 15, 2013, 04:05 PM   #1
dmk1974
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Worth ~$400 to upgrade from 13" MBA to 13" rMBP?

A couple weeks ago when Best Buy had their 10% open box special and RZ triple points, I bought a 13" MBA that didn't even have a battery cycle on it. Works great and all and seems to suit my needs. My out-the-door price after tax, coupon, and RZ certs earned was $875.

I am still tempted by the 13" rMBP and with the recent price drop, the Apple refurb site has the 128 GB version for $1269 and the 256 GB version for $1359. My main deterrent in the past was lag, but I read recently that these nightly webkit updates have pretty much fixed it. Previously when I tried one side-by-side against a MBA, the lower spec'd MBA seemed faster because it didn't lag.

I have Discover card and with the 5% cash back on top of the 1% standard cash back, it wipes out the tax for where I live if I go the Apple Refurb route. I am still well within my return window for the MBA back to Best Buy.

So...., while it seems like a sweet machine that I want, is it worth almost $400 to upgrade to the 128 GB 13" rMBP or a bit under $500 to go to the 256 GB 13" rMBP? At the moment, I only use about 60-65 GB of space on my MBA since I have a home server PC for all the media files.

To go to 13" 128 GB rMBP from my current 13" MBA:
  • $400 more
  • Retina display
  • 7% faster processor (per 64-bit GeekBench scores)
  • 4 GB more RAM
  • HDMI port
  • 2nd Thunderbolt port
  • Weighs 0.6 lb more

Thanks for your feedback. I added a poll as well.

UPDATE: As noted below, the Apple Refurb I received had a free upgraded processor (i7 2.9)! The bullets above remain the same, except the processor is now about 26% faster than my 13" MBA was. Woohoo!
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Last edited by dmk1974; Feb 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 04:18 PM   #2
Freyqq
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmk1974 View Post
A couple weeks ago when Best Buy had their 10% open box special and RZ triple points, I bought a 13" MBA that didn't even have a battery cycle on it. Works great and all and seems to suit my needs. My out-the-door price after tax, coupon, and RZ certs earned was $875.

I am still tempted by the 13" rMBP and with the recent price drop, the Apple refurb site has the 128 GB version for $1269 and the 256 GB version for $1359. My main deterrent in the past was lag, but I read recently that these nightly webkit updates have pretty much fixed it. Previously when I tried one side-by-side against a MBA, the lower spec'd MBA seemed faster because it didn't lag.

I have Discover card and with the 5% cash back on top of the 1% standard cash back, it wipes out the tax for where I live if I go the Apple Refurb route. I am still well within my return window for the MBA back to Best Buy.

So...., while it seems like a sweet machine that I want, is it worth almost $400 to upgrade to the 128 GB 13" rMBP or a but under $500 to go to the 256 GB 13" rMBP? At the moment, I only use about 60-65 GB of space on my MBA since I have a home server PC for all the media files.

To go to 13" 128 GB rMBP from my current 13" MBA:
  • $400 more
  • Retina display
  • 7% faster processor (per 64-bit GeekBench scores)
  • 4 GB more RAM
  • HDMI port
  • 2nd Thunderbolt port
  • Weighs 0.6 lb more

Thanks for your feedback. I added a poll as well.
If your needs are filled with a MBA, then use that. Cheaper, lighter, and you already own it. Despite the small increase in speed from the rmbp, pushing 4x the pixels means it will run a bit slower overall.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 04:31 PM   #3
ncrypt
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It also depends how 'future-proofed' you want your Mac to be? If you go for the Retina, you have enough RAM and processing power for the next 3-4 years
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 06:18 PM   #4
dmk1974
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I typically upgrade to one of the current models each year and then sell my previous machine or pass it to my wife. The main driver is the gorgeous display. Extra RAM and SSD space is good to have though of course. Processor speeds are close enough to the same and they both have the same HD4000 graphics.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 08:49 AM   #5
dmk1974
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Well, I did pull the trigger an ordered a refurbed 256 GB 13" rMBP yesterday. Surprisingly, it's already out for delivery today (Saturday)! Hopefully it actually arrives. I figured if anything I have 2 weeks to compare to my MBA an decide for once an for all if it's worth it or wait 'til probably summer when the 2013's come out.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 04:08 PM   #6
dmk1974
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Refurb jackpot! The rMBP arrived today and not only is it a sweet machine, it came with the i7 2.9 processor instead of the i5 2.5 that I was expecting. Woohoo! Time Machine restoring right now.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 04:55 PM   #7
KPOM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmk1974 View Post
Refurb jackpot! The rMBP arrived today and not only is it a sweet machine, it came with the i7 2.9 processor instead of the i5 2.5 that I was expecting. Woohoo! Time Machine restoring right now.
Nice surprise! You are in for a treat when Migration Assistant is done. On a side note, why did you go the Time Machine route rather than connect your old MacBook Air to the rMBP through target disk mode over Thunderbolt?
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 04:59 PM   #8
dmk1974
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Originally Posted by KPOM View Post
Nice surprise! You are in for a treat when Migration Assistant is done. On a side note, why did you go the Time Machine route rather than connect your old MacBook Air to the rMBP through target disk mode over Thunderbolt?
I use a USB 3.0 drive for all of my TM backups which is a pretty decent speed. TB connection I'm sure is faster, but more for convenience. Let it run for about 20 minutes and it was restored just like the MBA was.

Lag isn't terrible, but still noticeable here and there. Indexing is just taking a little time and probably not helping speed, but I am typing on my rMBP right now. I also have it set to 1680 x 1050. Beautiful screen!
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 05:05 PM   #9
KPOM
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Originally Posted by dmk1974 View Post
I use a USB 3.0 drive for all of my TM backups which is a pretty decent speed. TB connection I'm sure is faster, but more for convenience. Let it run for about 20 minutes and it was restored just like the MBA was.

Lag isn't terrible, but still noticeable here and there. Indexing is just taking a little time and probably not helping speed, but I am typing on my rMBP right now. I also have it set to 1680 x 1050. Beautiful screen!
That makes sense. I have a tendency to equate "Time Machine" with "Time Capsule" since that's my setup. But whether over TB or USB 3.0 a direct disk connection is extremely quick. When I got my rMBP Migration Assistant wanted nearly 20 hours to restore from my Time Capsule whether over Ethernet or Wi-Fi. No thanks. I had a month-old Carbon Copy Clone that I migrated from (in about 12 minutes), and then I re-ran Migration Assistant from the Time Capsule. It still took an hour, but it was worth it. As you may recall I lost my MacBook Air so I couldn't do a direct transfer.

10.8.3 is supposed to ship with updates to Safari that address the lag. You can get a sense of the improvements if you download one of the nightly Webkit builds. You'll also notice more at the scaled resolution than under Best for Retina. At your current settings, the HD4000 is pushing 3360x2100 and scaling it down.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 05:16 PM   #10
dmk1974
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Originally Posted by KPOM View Post

10.8.3 is supposed to ship with updates to Safari that address the lag. You can get a sense of the improvements if you download one of the nightly Webkit builds. You'll also notice more at the scaled resolution than under Best for Retina. At your current settings, the HD4000 is pushing 3360x2100 and scaling it down.
Yeah, I hope they keep improving the software to reduce/eliminate lag. I primarily use Chrome, but when I compared to Safari, it was about the same.

The other test I do is, since I have the Applications folder in my dock, when I open it, I watch to see the icon tiles slowly fill. When in non-retina mode, it's almost instant (like my MBA was).

I have toggled a bit between 1440 x 900 and 1680 x 1050. 1440 x 900 is the min I would go since that's what my 13" MBA was running at. But the extra screen real-estate is awesome at 1680 x 1050 and I don't feel any strain on my eyes.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 03:51 PM   #11
dmk1974
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Pretty close poll...thanks all for your feedback!
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 03:55 PM   #12
robvas
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I'd stay with it until you need the extra ports or 8GB.

Maybe when they get upgraded in a few months?
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Old Mar 5, 2013, 10:31 AM   #13
DisplacedMic
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i am debating this one myself.... the "decked out" options for both are actually quite close in price and if you look at the bottom line the rMBP is definitely a more powerful computer and only half a pound heavier. not bad.
so if you look at it that way, maybe the RMBP wins.

however at the same time - if you just look at the 13" RMBP by itself i'm not sure i'm convinced that it's enough computer for the price.

This is less the case with the MBA which i think is a pretty good deal as far as Apple products go.

So for me, the real debate would actually be between the 13" MBA and the 15" RMBP... i other words, do I want a portable ultrabook or a "real" computer? What's the point of that retina display if you don't have the dedicated graphics hardware to push it, for example?

The 13" RMBP seems like a bit of a hybrid of both which ironically would have suited my needs for the past 3-4 years perfectly, but now I have more of a need for the ultralight so i think i am personally going to go with the MBA.
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Old Mar 5, 2013, 10:42 AM   #14
dmk1974
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Originally Posted by DisplacedMic View Post
i am debating this one myself.... the "decked out" options for both are actually quite close in price and if you look at the bottom line the rMBP is definitely a more powerful computer and only half a pound heavier. not bad.
so if you look at it that way, maybe the RMBP wins.

however at the same time - if you just look at the 13" RMBP by itself i'm not sure i'm convinced that it's enough computer for the price.

This is less the case with the MBA which i think is a pretty good deal as far as Apple products go.

So for me, the real debate would actually be between the 13" MBA and the 15" RMBP... i other words, do I want a portable ultrabook or a "real" computer? What's the point of that retina display if you don't have the dedicated graphics hardware to push it, for example?

The 13" RMBP seems like a bit of a hybrid of both which ironically would have suited my needs for the past 3-4 years perfectly, but now I have more of a need for the ultralight so i think i am personally going to go with the MBA.
the 13" rMBP is a beautiful machine. But really, the only advantage over the MBA is that retina screen. The ports and other specs (faster CPU and more RAM) really aren't noticeable to me.

Also, when using them side-by-side, the MBA seems faster because it does not lag like the retina machine does. Some say they don't notice the lag. But to me, that's like people that say they don't notice SD vs HD tv displays. The rMPB honestly seems no faster, and maybe slower, than my daughter's 2010 white C2D MacBook that has an SSD installed.

End of the day, I can't justify the additional cost of the 13" rMBP based on it's performance shortcomings...even thought that retina screen is frickin' sweet. Hopefully the 2013 version will be better and will have me pull the trigger and keep it then.
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Old Mar 5, 2013, 10:44 AM   #15
robvas
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If I had a 2010 I would upgrade no questions asked. I came form a 2011 and spent about $500 to go to the 2012 rMBP and I'm not sure it was really 'worth it'. Not really doing anything on my new Mac I couldn't do on the old one, the screen is just way better
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Old Mar 5, 2013, 10:50 AM   #16
trigonometry
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I was in the same situation. Decided to spend $600 to upgrade from the 13" MBA to 13" rMBP. No regrets. If it's on your mind and you have the money I say go for it. Just get the 256 GB hard drive, it should be standard. The retina screen will make you seek higher quality images and video which takes up a lot of space.
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