New Macbook Air vs. Macbook Pro with Retina

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by FutureStan, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Hello everyone!

    My brother will be starting college this fall and I'm buying him a 13" Macbook as a gift, but I'm not sure which one I should get him. If Macbook Air, I'll be upgrading to 1.7GHz, 8GB RAM, and 512 GB SSD. And if rMBP, I'd get him the 13" 3.0 GHz and also 512 GB SSD.

    As I said, he'll be going to college, so he'll probably be carrying it around a lot. Is the Macbook Air that much lighter than the rMBP? And is the rMBP's retina nice enough to warrant the extra weight? Also, I've been hearing concerns about the 13" rMBP performance. Is this a problem for the upgraded version as well?

    Any insight would be really appreciated. Price is not an issue. I just want the better "fit" for a soon-to-be college student.
  2. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    He's lucky to have you as a brother. I would suggest you get him the MBA. The weight would be important since I'm sure he would be carrying books around. Besides, the extra battery performance would allow him to not have to look for a plug as often.
  3. macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2009
    Have a (now) 2 gen old 13" MBA. Just got a 13" rMBP. Tried it for a few days. For me, better screen was not worth the added weight.

    Add in 802.11ac and 12 hr batter life and MBA is the clear winner - for my uses. I know someone who made the exact opposite choice because they will only use retina displays.

    I don't watch tv or movies on the laptop, but that might be one factor.
  4. macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2009
    I bought a 2012 MBA 13", 8 gb RAM, and 512 gb SSD and thought that I would be happier with the 13" rMBP with pretty much the same configuration. What I found is that the MBA is just more appropriate for the mobile person than the 13" rMBP. The trade off in terms of speed is negligible and the retina - while nice - is not significant if you're not doing a lot of graphics. I still have both and rarely use the rMBP. Will be passing it down to one of my grandkids.
  5. macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2012
    Well the Macbook Air and the Retina Macbook Pro does not have a huge difference in weight so theres not much of a difference when it comes to weight. 1.35kg vs 1.62kg (both 13") But the Macbook Air IS lighter so it would be slightly better.

    Now the Retina is superfluous and not necessary if your brother is going off to college unless he is studying for Graphics Design, Art or anything that demands high pixels. The Macbook Air has a 1440 X 900 screen so its quite good.

    You said you want to upgrade the processor of the MBA to i7 but it isn't really necessary unless if he takes Computer Science or stuff like that.

    I'd say go for the Macbook Air.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Asheville, NC
    I actually came here to ask almost the same thing. I currently use a 2012 iMac 27" completely maxed out for work, but need a laptop for the occasional remote working. Basically Chrome/Safari, Coda 2 and open photoshop every once in a while.

    My choices are:

    new maxed out 13" air (1.7 i7, 8GB, 128SSD) for $1349


    15" rMBP on the refurb site (2.3 i7, 8GB, 256 SSD and the 1GB nVidia GPU) for $1599. Why that particular model is so much cheaper (23% off vs 15%) I don't know, but it's a good deal.

    The SSD size doesn't matter since this is an extra machine for me, but the GPU and retina display make it look quite nice, and not sure how the 2.3 ivy bridge stacks up against 1.7 haswell

    also 802.11ac would be a nice future proofing on the Air
  7. macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2013
    For the portability and battery life, 2013 MBA will be great. But if your brother plans to edit video/photos and run other strenuous programs, looking into MBP would be worth awhile. However, if you want the performance, skip the 13 inch MBP and go straight to 15''. Otherwise, MBA receives my vote.
  8. macrumors G4


    Jun 12, 2012
    I think it is the very first rMBP....a few months ago they did a small spec bump to the retina's and the refurbs were a great deal.
  9. macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2013
    Toronto, ON
    I'm actually debating between exactly the same two configurations myself. I briefly looked up the benchmarks and here's how they compare on GeekBench.

    Spec wise they seem to be very close in terms of raw CPU performance but the rMBP comes out a bit better (expected, its 1.7GHz i7 vs 3.0 GHz i7). On the flip side, the MacBook Air may *feel* a bit more snappier due to the higher SSD read/write speed gains from moving to the PCIe architecture. Also, the rMBP is pushing 4x pixels with an Intel HD 4000 to support the retina display whereas the MacBook Air is pushing 1440x900 with the newer and better Intel HD 5000.

    I think I'm going to end up going with the MacBook Air myself and I'd recommend the same for your brother.
  10. macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2007
    The last two PC's I bought were over-powered. I had a 6-core desktop (Windows) for running lots of VM's in web app development. Then I bought a quad core MB Pro. I figured, you may as well get more power just in case.

    I was wrong. I hate carrying the MB Pro and I wish I had an Air. My advice is to not get caught up in the specs. If you're going to school and carrying your laptop around a lot I would get an Air every time, unless you simply know you need the extra horsepower.
  11. macrumors member

    Jan 2, 2013
    I am in the same thing too, i went to apple store and i had both beside each other :) and WoooW!!! the retina display is just stunning!!! so for me a slight better performance, with a MUCH MUCH better display finished the confusion IMHO the rMBP 13" is better. i don't do games anyway so for everyday use i am sure i will enjoy this display.. and for the battery life, 7 hrs is ok for me and Mavericks should bring more to the rMBP,,, the Wifi 11ac, it will not see the light before a year or two, its still a pre standard anyway,, still many are adopting the Wifi 11n
  12. macrumors 65816

    Apr 21, 2004
    Speaking form 6 yrs of lugging my computer to campus, get the 11 in. It will be a true godsend for his back!
  13. macrumors 6502

    Sep 20, 2008
  14. macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2009
    From a performance stand-point, the differences between the two machines is mostly negligible for what I imagine your brother will be doing, unless he happens to game a lot, do video encoding, or will be using engineering/mathematical programs.

    I also feel that the weight difference between the two machines is also negligible, and it's worth noting that the Retina has the smaller footprint despite being immaterially heavier.

    With that being said, if he doesn't plan on using an external monitor at school and will be doing a lot of reading (I imagine he will be), I think the Retina is the better option, although I would wait until they refresh the line if possible. While the Retina model looks better with pictures, colors, etc., to me the most important thing is that it will be easier on your eyes for long usage periods, and this is especially noticeable when you're reading on the screen during that time.

    I'm also not sure how much he cares about this, but I also find that the keyboard and the trackpad are superior in quality over the Air models, although to be fair, I haven't played around with the '13 models yet. Sound quality through the speakers should also be better, but again, I haven't messed around with the '13 models, so that's based on '12 models.

    This may/may not be relevant, but so far, they depreciate in value at about the same amounts.

    If he's going to be using an external monitor however, with an external keyboard, then the argument for the Air is much stronger.
  15. macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2013
    What about macbook air versus macbook pro - non retina


    Is the macbook air worth $420 more. Please look at these specs and tell me what you think?
    MacBook Pro, 13-inch
    Item Price: $1,179.00
    . Hardware
    •2.5GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz
    •8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM — 2x4GB
    •750GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
    •SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    •Backlit Keyboard (English) & User's Guide
    •Accessory Kit


    13-inch MacBook Air
    Item Price: $1,609.00
    •1.3GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz
    •8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
    •512GB Flash Storage
    •Backlit Keyboard (English) & User's Guide
    •Accessory Kit
  16. macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2013
    How did you even arrive at that price for 13 inch MBP? With the spec you provided, it shows $1399 on the website. Also it may be more for for 13 MBA with 512 Flash as well.

    Whatever the price difference may be, you need to think about the portability and the battery life that you gain from MBA.
  17. macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2007
    My opinion - no. But I'm frugal by nature. I don't see any point in spending more than $1200 on a laptop. Unless it's for business. My work laptop cost $2000 and it's worth every penny, but that's a different story.
  18. thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Thanks for all the input guys!

    I'm hoping they release the new Macbook Pro Retina soon, as I'm leaning towards that as of now. Does anyone know when the back to school offer starts? I'm sure he'll appreciate that iTunes gift card!
  19. Guest


    Apr 6, 2010
    Don't listen to the less weight argument. Its .5 pounds heavier than the 13 MBA and it lasts for 7 hours easily. I sometimes can get close to 9 hours on mine.
  20. macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2013
    No one knows the date for BTS. And new rMPB may or may not be released alongside the sale. Again, no one really knows other than Apple.
  21. macrumors 6502


    Jan 31, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    Unless weight matters to you LOL. It does to me. 0.5 pounds makes a difference to what I can carry on a plane and on my outdoors activities. Don't assume everyone is you. So yes I think your advice is crap.
  22. macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    I wouldn't get the current year rMBP now if I were you. There are issues with lag that should be smoothed out with the new Haswell chipset, and much better battery life on the way to boot.

    In any case, I think a Macbook Air would suit him just fine for college. Light but powerful enough to be his main computer, so long as he's not a big gamer. If he is, I'd wait for the updated rMBP.
  23. Guest


    Apr 6, 2010
    If .5 pounds is a serious issue then yes my advice was crap. My new advice would be to work out at least once a year.:D
  24. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2011
    South Bay, Los Angeles
    I got my MBA 13" for Father's day, and although I was originally gonna exchange it for a (r)MBP, I think I'll keep it.

    It geekbenches at 6082 (32bit) which is not too far from the rMBP (6614) and I get 8-10 hours of battery life.

    Maybe I will trade up for the next-gen Haswell MBP, that will be one killer machine.
  25. macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2011
    Miami, FL

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