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MBA 13" vs MBP 13" (2.9 GHz) vs rMBP 13"

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by skimmilk13, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Hi there.
    I'm heading off to college next year (or within a few months) and I need a new computer. I set my mind on an Apple product over Windows because I've been living with Windows my whole life and I thought this year would be a good year to change.
    I'm currently stuck between these 3 models.
    For the MBA, I've only heard good reviews. My sister has the 2012 edition and she just loves it. I used to mock her for getting an Air over a Pro, but with the new Haswell Intel processor, the Air has never looked better!
    The current specs I'm looking at are as follows:
    1.7GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
    8GB RAM
    and either 128 or 256 GB of SSD storage
    The 128GB will be cheaper, and I could possibly invest in one of Apple's external harddrives. The only problem I have with these is that I don't know how they work, and if I can boot things like documents, iTunes, games, etc. from the external harddrive.
    The regular Macbook Pro probably offers more bang for the buck. I've been really picky over my processors. But despite being the bulkiest of the 3, the regular Pro offers 750 GB (or an upgraded 1TB) of storage. I would like my laptop to last me for 4 years. Currently running on 256 GB of SSD and it has barely lasted me 2 years. I have approximately 20 GB of storage left!
    The retina Macbook Pro I think is more of a luxury item. I don't really need that retina display (although it is really nice!) since I purchased an external display I can connect to any laptop via HDMI (except for the MBP, which I would have to buy an adapter). The processor is subpar to the regular MBP (and the Air if I bring into account Haswell vs Ivy Bridge), storage space for entry-level is 128 GB ($200 for an upgrade is pricey), and less portable than the Air.
    Basically the retina is the middle child compared to the other 2 products.

    I'm stuck on which to get. Besides the ordinary laptop uses, I want a laptop that can run League of Legends appropriately (60 fps). I gave up on Guild Wars 2 after hearing all the negative reviews/hearing how the Macbook couldn't run it well. I do plan on bringing a console to college so PC gaming isn't too much of an issue. Rather not be sucked into the abyss of gaming.

    What are your recommendations?
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Do you have a computer now that you can take with you? The reason I ask is because if you can wait a little longer (maybe September??) the retina MBP will most likely get an upgrade.

    External hard drives work just like they do on PCs. You don't have to buy one from Apple, any USB drive will work. I would evaluate what you actually need to access every day to decide whether or not you want a bigger internal drive. Do you need all of those files when you take the computer with you? If so the old MBP would be best. Otherwise just put your apps and software on the internal SSD and store everything else on an external drive.
  3. macrumors newbie

    To start, I wouldnt put much emphasis on the processor. As several other threads wil tell you, the jump from i5 to i7 on the MBA 13 is not that noticeable for "normal use" and even in gaming. Same applies to the choice of processors in the MBP and rMBP family. The fact that you are even considering a MBA means you probably wont need the extra power anyway.

    With both the MBP and rMBP, the air has newer (better, faster) graphics with intel hd 5000 vs 4000 for the MBPs - resulting in better gaming performance. Unless you want to wait for the refreshed MBP and rMBP, the air sounds like a good option and is cheaper (skip the i7, but 8gbs ram is a must).
  4. macrumors newbie

    I have a laptop I am using atm. However since I broke the keyboard, I've been basically using it like a PC, attached to a monitor and separate keyboard.
    It's pretty heavy (around 8 pounds) and I hate dragging it around. Had to do that during Hurricane Sandy and that was not a pleasant experience.
    If it is early September, I am willing to wait. However if it does end up near the end of September/beginning of October, I might just go for the Air or not have the "newest" processor. It's not that much of a killer is it? Ivy Bridge vs Haswell?

    The most intensive thing I'll do on the computer is probably play League of Legends, which in itself is not very graphic intensive.
    So the Air has better specs currently?
  5. macrumors 68040

    Well considering the Air just got updated and the rMBP won't be until the fall. Speeds are about the same, with one or the other being slightly faster from what I've heard.

    But when the rMBP gets updated, it will no doubt be faster than the Air.
  6. macrumors newbie

    Do new Macbooks get released near the end of the year?
    Not sure if I can wait that long!!
    I know the WWDC didn't talk about any new updates so that was a big disappointment :(
  7. macrumors 68040

    Well the Air got updated. The Retina MacBook Pro looks like it won't be out until September/October. I think it's all but official that the classic MBP won't ever get updated again.

    I'd personally go with the Air in your situation.
  8. macrumors newbie


    I guess I'll have to wait until Apple fixes the Wi-fi issue!
    Quick question, does the Air have overheating issues?
    Any game takes a toll on the fan. The Air looks tiny! The fans?
  9. macrumors newbie

    Just tested 13" rMBP and 2013 Air for gaming and heat

    I'm not a gamer but downloaded Call of Duty 4 on both machines. Ran on the rMBP for about 40 minutes and the machine got warm/hottis but not super hot. Fans never kicked on, so it was dead quiet.

    About 2 mins after starting the game on the Air, the fans kicked on and ramped up to high rpm very quickly. The noise was distracting. This is a 2013, haswell i5, 256g Air. The top of the Air got quite a bit hotter than the rMBP, especially by the "esc" key area in the upper left. Bottom was hot too. The Air did run the game a little smoother but hardly noticeable. The game looked better on the retina, which would be expected.

    This was running the game in the default configuration on both machines. I have not tested higher res and played with textures etc.

    Basically all this showed me was the Air fans kick on and it generates more heat than the rMBP. Kind of the opposite of what I thought because for normal web surfing etc the Air has been cooler than the rMBP. I guess that's because it's running at a slower clock speed for that stuff but when it ramps up for a game that haswell chip generates a lot of heat.
  10. macrumors 6502

    What's this supposed to mean?
  11. macrumors newbie

    I think that's my problem with the Air.
    To do anything processor intensive, I'll always have to overclock the processor. Overclocking would lead to overheating, and overheating will generally degrade the system.
  12. macrumors 6502a

    This has to do a lot with better case case cooling of the rMBP with side vents.
  13. macrumors newbie

    You are correct!

    yup, exactly what I thought. So, at the end of the day for stuff that's not processor taxing the Air is the cooler machine, but if you need to do anything that really requires power the Air is going to heat up a lot faster than the retina and it stays hot longer too.
  14. macrumors newbie

    So people are saying Macbook Air. At least one person is.

    Can I have an idea on how powerful the processor of the Air is compared to the i5 in the Retina Macbook pro?
  15. macrumors regular


    Processor of i5 2012 and 2013 MBA are about equal to the rMBP. Processor of i7 MBA is generally superior to rMBP.
  16. macrumors newbie

    When I look at the prices (student discount), a MBA with 256GB SSD, 1.7GHz Intel i7 processor and 8GB of RAM is only $100 less than a rMBP with 256 SSD and 8GB of RAM. I think $100 is a great deal for a better screen.
  17. macrumors 65816

    Correction. The base i5 2013 MBA CPU is about >20% slower than the 2.5/2.6 Ivy Bridge CPU in the rMBP 13. The i7 upgrade just brings it up to about par.

    For the OP, it's all about what's more important for you... 12 hour battery life vs. retina screen. The rumored Haswell rMBP 13 will have much better battery life, better GPU, about the same CPU performance as the Ivy Bridge rMBP 13.
  18. macrumors regular

    Would it be too crazy to expect 12 hour batter on the new rMBP with Haswell?
  19. macrumors 65816

    The Air i7 is more powerful than the Pro i5 (on geekbench at least) and the HD5000 is a lot better than the 4000 in the current MBP and rMBP 13"s.

    If you were buying today I would recommend the MBA 13" i5 256gb 8gb model.

    For a few reasons.

    256 should be manageable, as long as you can be careful with your documents and media (e.g. putting movies on an external usb 3 hard drive or something) you hopefully won't run out, even with a bootcamp installation.

    The SSD is a hell of a lot nicer than the cMBP 750gb spinning drive.

    The screen resolution is a lot better than the cMBP as well (the rMBP can match the MBA screen resolution but then it will not be as crisp as possible).

    I think if you're going to get a MacBook for 4 years of use, pick either the MBA or the rMBP (with Haswell when released). Either way get 256gb minimum and 8gb of ram.
  20. macrumors newbie

    I really don't see the difference between Intel HD 4000 and Intel HD 5000. Integrated graphics cards suck regardless. If I was really into gaming/graphic intensive applications, I would have purchased a computer with a dedicated NVidia graphics card.
    I heard the Maverick OS comes out in fall, when school has already started.

    I went to the Apple store today and asked the geniuses for their opinions on if I should get a MBA or rMBP. Quite useless actually. They shrugged me off and said I probably knew what I wanted/knew more about the computer specifications than they did. I was a bit irritated by that. I mean, come on, you work at Apple. You should know your stuff. More than your average high school graduate.
    But one guy did tell me I'd get more bang for the buck if I went with the Retina.
  21. macrumors 65816

    The point is if you ever decided you want to play LoL or something on your mac the MBA will play it quite a bit better than the rest.

    Also the rMBP 13" has to push a lot more pixels with the same graphics card as last year and I don't know if it's wise to buy such an expensive computer with a year old integrated gpu if you want it to last a few years.
  22. macrumors regular


    OP said he didn't need Retina hence my recommendation is actually based on his question. Not whether you want a retina display or not.
  23. macrumors regular


    Since you're obviously a pedant who needed to 'correct' my statement I am going to correct you. According to the Geekbench the difference between i5 2013 MBA and 13 rMBP is about 12-13% not >20%. And the i7 upgrade brings the MBA above the rMBP not just up to par.

    So as I was dispensing with geekspeak, no correction needed in my initial observation that both i5 processors were more or less equal and that i7 MBA is faster than i5 rMBP. May I suggest that you need more fibre in your diet?
  24. magbarn, Jul 10, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013

    macrumors 65816

    I see you want to base all your performance metrics on one SYNTHETIC benchmark
    look here Anandtech 2013 i5 vs i7 comparison
    In multiple REAL WORLD APPS (unless Geekbench is your app you use everyday for photo editing), it's more than a 12-13% difference. The 2013 MBA i7 is about on par with the 2.5ghz rMBP 13 and trade blows. The MBA i5 is definitely slower than the i5 in the rMBP when it comes to CPU performance. Seeing that you're a pro photographer you would notice there's a significant difference in Lightroom/Photoshop performance between an 2013 i5 MBA vs i5 rMBP 13. This gap will just widen with the CPU/IO performance improvements that are coming to the Haswell rMBP.

    I have plenty of fiber in my diet, thank you.
  25. macrumors 65816

    Thats wrong. Read the Anandtech review.


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