Unsure what to pick?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by azizmars, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2012
    Ok guys so let me first off by saying this is my first macbook ever, so I need some of your guys expertise. So right now my dilemma is wither to get a high end 13 inch macbook pro w/ retina display (the $2000 laptop) or get the high end 13 inch macbook air that is upgraded to have an i7 and 8 GB ram (ends up being $1700). So the difference between these two laptop is 300 dollars.

    So my use for the laptop is as follows, I am a current college student who does design work for a company. I mainly design parts on a CAD program called Solidworks. I know for a fact the macbook air can run it because while I was walking one day, I saw a fellow classmate running it on the laptop using bootcamp and he said it was just the high end model (I'm assuming he didn't do any upgrades). Also I would be using the computer for the MS Office programs and web browsing. The reason I decided to purchase a macbook now is because after getting my iPhone I fell in love with apple products and now have an iPad because of that reason.

    So with all that being said what from your own personal opinions and experiences is the better computer for me?

    Thanks for all the help and info guys, I really appreciate it.
  2. macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    From what you just said, BOTH will work for you.

    The decision forward is based on wallet$, personal like/dislikes, portability.

    I personally, and this is just me, don't like buying version 1.0 of anything, they still working out the kinks, and I work for a living, and I don't like to spend my valuable time troubleshooting for products' bugs.
  3. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 13, 2011
    Sacramento, CA
    Agreed, either is more than enough for you. Save the $300, get the MBA, enjoy toting a lighter computer and have some fun with the cash you saved.

    Note: In Retina mode, there is less screen real estate on the rMBP 13" than the MBA.
  4. macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2006
    I'm a mechanical engineer for a living and I personally would never run Solidworks on a MBA even under bootcamp, you're asking for trouble. That's not to say it won't work, but if you genuinely need Solidworks do yourself a favor, get a lower spec MBA and then go build yourself a killer desktop with Windows with all that leftover money. My MBA is used exclusively for non-CAD stuff. If I need to bust out any CAD I use my desktop with a Phenom X2 and 16GB of RAM. My work desktop is a Xenon running dual raptor drives and it's still a buggard compared to my desktop at home with an SSD. i7 is complete and utter overkill for CAD. If you want an intel desktop get an i5 2500k and you could even spring for a low end quadro.
  5. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2012
    I am currently a ME student. But the thing is as of right now I'm not doing any crazy huge parts with many components. So I think the the MBA would cover me for now? Does that change your opinion brbubba? Also if you don't mind me asking what field did you end up getting into and in what state?
  6. macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2006
    I'm a manufacturing and design engineer in CT for aerospace. Work at a relatively small plant, but the mother company is 60k worldwide. I'm trying to get into product development and design since that's where my true passion lies. That being said, try not to get pigeon holed out of the gate! Start looking 6 months prior to graduation so you can afford to be picky! Also if you have any independent projects at school that could be turned into business opportunities, pursue it, at least for the resume booster.

    At university the parts we did were extremely simple. Nothing compared to an assembly with 100+ parts that I did here. So yes the MBA will be fine. I'm just trying to save you money. That i7 upgrade isn't really going to boost your CAD output because you're still dealing with the same intel HD4000 graphics. I'd rather see you get an entry level MBA and a decent desktop, rather than a high end MBA which won't help all that much. Although the one upgrade I would be tempted to do is the RAM because it's non-upgradeable later on. At least the SSD can be swapped with a larger size, albeit at an elevated price compared to traditional SSDs.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 1, 2012
    i run solidworks on a base 2012 13" pro using windows 7 under bootcamp, it runs but struggles at times so i wouldnt like to try it on the air with a slower processor. although that said its a 2.0 i7 compared to a 2.5 i5 im not sure how it would fare.
    i was using solidworks last night drawing parts for 3 hours and the laptop didnt warm up any more than using safari so it can definitely handle it
  8. macrumors 6502


    Jun 29, 2010
    Orlando, FL
  9. macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2012
    If you're going to run high-end stuff like CAD work and your budget is around ~$2000 already, then I would honestly recommend getting the 15" Retina. You'd get a 1gb graphics card and a quad-core processor that would just help a ton with that high-end work. Machine life will longer too.

    With that said, I have a 2011 Macbook Air i5 1.7 with 4gb RAM and I love it. It's more of a workhorse than I could have ever hoped for. I multi-task a TON, and it always pulls through without much of a hitch. However, there are times it does hang up and could be a little smoother. Also, when I do some video transcoding for work it just takes forever compared to a pro machine.

    When I got the Air it was the perfect machine for me, but my needs have changed to more pro-level work that I didn't anticipate(I'm a freelancer), so if I had to go back to do it again, I'd get the 15" Pro Retina.

    My gut feeling seems to avoid the 13" Retina mainly because all it offers that I can tell over an Air is the faster clock processors. I have to imagine running a high res screen like that will tax it too, so I'd go with either the 13" Air or the 15" Pro.

    I could be completely wrong, but that's my opinion according to my experiences!
  10. macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2008
    Consider connections ...

    I have a macbook air. I have it connected to a wired network. This consumes a usb port. I typically have something else connected to the only other USB port its got. The machine is connected into a Thunderbolt monitor. If I want to add another USB or Thunderbolt device I'm out of luck. My understanding is that the Pro's have an additional Thunderbolt connector (dunno if this is true for the 13" but is true for the 15"). The only way I can add anything else is to lose my wired network connection or to lose some other USB device or unplug the machine from the monitor. Just one more connector would have given me the options I need. that said the machine is quite lovely to use.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    simple solution - use a USB splitter. As I write this I have eight USB devices plugged in.
  12. Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    Kite flying
    Yes, that is a pretty good solution; I bought a multiple USB socket splitter a few years ago to hold several USB devices and was pretty pleased with it.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2008
    USB Hubs fine but most don't support USB 3

    Apart from USB printers. Most devices I can envisage purchasing and attaching to my laptop would not 3 devices. Most splitters don't support USB 3 (I'm not sure if any do yet). Furthermore not all USB devices work well through splitters so its very much a compromise. Also having a splitter with associated cabling all over the desk is somewhat contrary to Apple minimalist Philosophy. A bunch of little USB 3 External drives on nice short USB cable directly attached to the laptop is what I want. Still, yer pays yer money.

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