Air, MBP and Retina

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by curious80, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2013
    Hi all

    I currently have a mid-2009 macbook pro 13 but looking to upgrade now. I started with it as a companion to my desktop but over time it has now become the primary machine which I use for development as well as browsing, word processing and photo editing etc (Not a professional photographer but more of an advanced amateur). And I do most of my work on the go these days. So with that background improvements in performance, portability, and display quality are all going to be welcome and desirable.

    My current configuration has core 2 duo 2.26GHz, 4GB Ram, 250GB HDD. Looking at the upgrade options I can get one of the following 3 fairly different machines in the $1300-1500 range:

    1. MBP 13 with Retina (2.5GHz i5, 128GB SSD, Retina Display, 8GB)
    2. MBP 13 non-Retina (2.9GHz i7, 750GB HDD, 1200x800, 8GB)
    3. MB Air 13 (1.8GHz, 256GB SDD, 1440 x 900, 8GB)

    My first thought was that the Retina is perfect - I get higher performance through processor+SSD, better display as well as lower weight. So seems to be an all-win combition. However on further thought I would be cramped for space with just 128GB SSD. And it is already the most expensive of the 3 and paying for a higher capacity SSD is not an option.

    So that then leaves 2 and 3 as the more likely candidates. I like the ultra-portability of the Air, and 256GB while not ideal, is probably manageable. I don't like that the MBP 13 non-Retina persists with the 1280x800 resolution so the Air improves on that as well. However the main concern there is performance. For browsing, word processing and most of my development tasks, the performance of even my current system is OK. However it struggles a bit with the latest version of Adobe lightroom and photoshop CS5. I am wondering how would the latest 1.8GHz Air compare to my current MBP in terms of performance - would it be about the same or significantly better or what? Also how would performance compare between the 2.9GHz HDD MBP vs the 1.8GHz SSD Air.

    Sorry for the really long post. Hoping to get some insights!
  2. macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I have a slightly older Air with 1.7/4GB/256 SSD. It does a great job with photo editing, especially when attached to my Cinema Display. Do you have a good external monitor? If not, you might want to go Retina to have access to a high quality display. If you have one you can plug into for work that requires precision, then the Air seems like the perfect choice. The 1440x900 screen gives a LOT more space for Photoshop windows/tools.
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2013
    Thanks for your response. It is encouraging to know that your Air worked well for editing. I do have a decent external display, however I am away from it most of the time so the display has to stand on its own as well. Atthe same time I find my MBP display to be adequate other than the resolution. I am assuming that Air should give me similar quality display with some extra resolution. Is that true or is the Air display inferior in terms of colors etc?

    On the performance side I am trying to get a feel of how would the performance of the Air compare with my mid-2009 MBP. Should I expect a significant improvement due to newer architecture and SSD despite lower clock frequency? Or would I need to go to the i7 2.9GHz MBP to get a significant upgrade in performance.
  4. macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2012
    Geekbench Scores:
    MBP (2009) 2.26 4: 3236
    MBA (2012) 1.8 8: 6730
    rMBP (2012) 2.5 8: 6756
    cMBP (2012) 2.9 8: 7883

    Geekbench scores are not exact but they will give you an estimation on what to expect. Also, the MBA supposedly does have an inferior screen, quality wise.
  5. macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2010
    Los Angeles
    The Air display isn't quite as good as the MacBook Pro (non-retina), though with careful calibration I find it comes close. The higher resolution and extra work space more than make up for it, IMO.

    I went from a 2010 MBP 13" to a 2011 Air and the performance difference was enormous (due to the SSD). Big apps (i.e. Photoshop) launch and respond so much faster. Saving and exporting is also super quick, like with an iPhone or iPad.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 14, 2012
    Columbia, MD
    rMBP felt like a step down from my 2011 13" Air, although the retina was double the specs.

    I don't know why but the rMBP always had a sluggish feel which I kept hoping they would patch. Battery has sucked too. I watch my processes carefully and I can not find a cause.

    I'm now in the process of trading my rMBP back for an Air. Maybe the 11". I'm on a portability kick these days.
  7. macrumors 6502


    Jun 2, 2008
    How upgradable are the rMBPs? The idea of a MBAs portability is very tempting but it's not upgradable. Can I put one of my SSDs from my mini in a rMBP?
  8. macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    That's the one i really use all the time. We have a bunch of MacBooks and
    It's just weight that overrides everything else (given that they are also speedy, etc.)

    Sure the 11" screen isn't fancy, and it's a bit slower, but i just done't notice these things. I do notice the weight....a lot. Combined with the size, it's rather comfortable.

    there's another thing I noticed about these 11's. I feel like I only need a sleeve with these, whereas with the larger notebook I defiantly want a padded case.

  9. macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Sluggish in what respect? I've got the 15" RMBP and an 11" Air and I don't feel a whole lot of difference between their UI performance.
  10. macrumors 68000

    Mar 29, 2009
    No, but you can put an SSD from a 15" rMBP in it, or an aftermarket from OWC
  11. macrumors 6502


    Jun 2, 2008
    Well it's a SSD from owc, Laptop sized.
  12. macrumors 68000

    Mar 29, 2009
    It's a completely different device. Just the black card in this picture, not the green circuit board underneath:


    Compared to a 2.5" laptop HD
  13. macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2011
    My Girlfriend just switched from an 27" iMac + 13" Air to a 27" ACD + 13" Retina. She absolutely loves it!

    I wouldn't buy the "old-style" MacBook Pro because compared to the Retina it's just too heavy. For me it would be either the Air or the Retina. Although I would prefer a 13" MacBook Air with a Retina Display ;)
  14. macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    I think the c13" is going to be your best bet if you're worried about the processing power of the Air. The Pro is certainly going to give you the most grunt for the dabbling you do with graphics apps. You can look at the GB scores and also do a limited trial in the Apple store to compare weight.
  15. macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2009
    If I were in your place, today's price cut on the Retina MBP with 256G SSD would have made up my mind for me. I don't have a Retina MBP yet, but I did a side-by-side comparison in an Apple store a few weeks ago and it totally blew me away.

    Separately, there's a Buying Tips forum on this site. There are several threads there on this topic, or closely related ones. You might ask a moderator to move this thread to there (via the Alert triangle under your name), or at least read what others have posted on this topic and perhaps follow up in one of those threads.
  16. macrumors regular


    Feb 4, 2013
    Bellingham, WA
    Conundrum--suggestions appreciated:

    I bought my first mac, a refurbished 13" MBA w/8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and i7 processor. It's been 13 days. I'm wondering if I should return it today/tomorrow and purchase a refurbished 13" rMBP w/8GB RAM, 256 SSD, and i5 processor for about $100 less than what I paid for my MBA. I'm mostly using this for surfing the web, downloading music/movies, and some light word processing. Thoughts? Thank you!

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