13" Air vs "13 rMBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by hotttnickkk, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. hotttnickkk macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2013
    Hi Guys

    I'm trying to decide between the 13" Air vs "13 rMBP that just came out, just wondering if someone could help me out. I would use it mainly for:

    - Online sports streaming & using my TV as an external monitor via OSX Maverics
    - Some video editing
    - Some photo editing
    - Next to no gaming
    - Youtube
    - Web browsing

    Would the base model 13" Air with 8gb RAM handle those things? Or am I better to go with the rMBP?

    Many thanks in advance..
  2. Atrin1 macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2012
    if money is no issue then go with the retina mb pro. the display will be much better than the air. not to say the air is bad.

    I think the air will handle what you are wanting to do. the base rMB pro is only 4GB RAM, so that more money you would have to dish out to bump it up to 8GB
  3. flux73 macrumors 65816

    May 29, 2009
    I have a 2010 MBA with 4GB RAM and I use LR4 on it pretty regularly. It's not awesome, but it's definitely usable. Thus, I'm fairly certain that a base 13" MBA with 8GB RAM can handle your tasks.

    I think what might help your decision is to go to an Apple Store to put your hands on one and/or pick it up. Your decision will probably come down to screen (Retina vs non), weight (3.46 lbs vs 2.96), and battery life (9 hrs vs 15(?)). Figure out the order of importance and make your choice based on that.
  4. dizmonk macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2010
    From my experience yes the MBA would handle it. I'm in the same boat as I've got both and am going to return one.

    My dilemma is that the battery life on the Air (with Mavericks) is like more than 12 hours...

  5. stayley macrumors member

    Oct 1, 2013
    Absolutely, that's what I did after two days of despair and indecisiveness, but visiting the store let me make up my mind. I went with the MBA (difference in price was immaterial in my case, £30).
  6. qawsed macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2009
  7. dizmonk macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2010
    I have both and the weight is not that big a difference. It REALLY comes to two things... 3-5 more hours of battery life (MBA) v. retina screen (MBP).

    I've got to figure it out this weekend... How I don't know...

  8. sparky1234 macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2013
    I bought a new MBA 13 on sale for $999 a couple of months ago. Though I regret not having a retina screen to look at, I feel like if I switched to the rMBP now, I'd miss the up to 4+ hours of battery life that the MBA 13 gives me. As they say, the grass is always greener.

    I'm still not sure what I'd rather have, retina or battery life plus marginally better portability, but when in doubt, I say take the money. I got my 13 MBA on sale for $999 and the rMBP in Canada is selling for $1349, so that's a substantial price difference as far as I'm concerned.
  9. ekiro macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2013
    The 13-inch Pro isn't a significant improvement over the Air. A lot of juice goes toward powering all those pixels. In other words if you'll be using it for heavy duty work, get the 15-inch pro. The 12-inch is still bulky wont wont give you a signficiant boost in performance over your air. It's simply not worth the extra money. You're better off getting a Maxed out 13-inch Air, or the highest-end model of the 15-inch retina Pros.
  10. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003

    This is really the crux of it. I'm trying to make the same decision. I have a Mac Pro I use for more CPU/GPU intensive work; this machine is more for travel and work outside the home.

    In January I'm going on a book tour and will be traveling across the country for literally 4 weeks straight. The MBA sounded perfect for this scenario, especially since the chances of me getting stranded on a plane or in an airport with no power outlets due to bad weather are pretty high. That 13-15 (??) hour battery life with the i5 MBA could really come in handy.

    I should have just bought the MBA. But silly me, having never seen a retina display I went down to the Apple Store and checked out a new rMBP. At first I didn't notice a huge difference, but after going back and forth between it and the MBA a few times, I became quite enamored with retina.

    Over in the MBP forum some folks are saying they're getting 10+ hours with their 13" rMBP. That's great, but 3-5 extra hours with the MBA is nothing to sneeze at.

    Maybe the solution (for me, at least) is to get the MBA now and then sell it in the spring if a rMBA comes out.

    I keep going back and forth. Arggh!
  11. IndoX macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2011
    I disagree.

    In the air vs pro debate you're looking at a few things.

    The air provides:
    - Portability
    - Battery life

    The pro provides:
    - Thunderbolt 2
    - Faster processor
    - Smaller form factor
    - Retina display

    And the price difference between 8/256 isn't much. It all depends whether you value power or battery life.
  12. hotttnickkk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2013
    Thanks guys for all your input. In comparing apples with apples (punn intended), I'm looking at the following two configurations:

    1. 13" Air, 256 GB, 8gb RAM = $1,399

    2. 13" rMBP, 256 GB, 8gb RAM = $1,499

    So the price difference is $100, therefore the decision is easy - go with the rMBP as you'll be getting the retina display.


    Could I get away with doing the things I mentioned above (HD streaming & Air Playing using external monitor, some video/photo editing, etc) with the bare-basic 13" Air? The configuration would be:

    3. 13" Air, 128 GB, 4gb RAM = $1,099

    The difference is then a whopping $400.

    So my question is - can I get away with doing all those activities (emphasis on the Air Playing HD content thing) on the bare-basic configurations and saving myself $400 in the process? Because if the answer is "No" - then I think I'm better off going with the 13" rMBP.

    Thanks again in advance.
  13. ckeck macrumors 6502a


    Jul 29, 2005
    Spend some time with the retina screen in the store and make sure you like it as much as you think. They are nice, but some days I actually prefer my Air's screen. I have them both sitting in front of me. Air is also more thin on one end, lighter and will get better battery life.

    EASILY, probably without breaking a sweat. If you do too many memory intensive things at the same time, or if Chrome decides to go bonkers it might push up against your 4GB of RAM but I doubt you'd ever swap. 8GB is nice to have to future proof though if you decide to keep it for a while. How long do you plan to keep this laptop?

    Again, you absolutely can. Not sure why people think they need really high-end configurations these days for tasks that haven't really changed much in the past few generations of computers either.

    Granted, I upgrade almost every cycle, but that's because I have a problem. Not because I "need" it ;)

    Also, if you're ordering online, choose "Education" on the bottom of the store page and pick a school that's close, or a former school and knock the price down a bit more. You're welcome.
  14. richro macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2011
    To compare apples to apples, you should be comparing 4GB/128GB configurations for both, so the difference is only $200 not $400 ($1099 base MBA vs $1299 base rMBP). I think for $200, the rMBP is the winner hands-down. 2.4 GHz i5 vs. 1.3 GHz i5. Intel Iris Graphics vs. Intel HD 5000 Graphics. Retina display. PCIe-based flash storage. It's only 0.5 lbs heavier and still 0.71" vs. 0.11-0.68" thin. The footprint is actually smaller on the rMBP - 12.35" x 8.62" vs. 12.8" x 8.94". And finally, Dual Thunderbolt 2 ports + HDMI on the rMBP.

    At 9 hours vs. 12 hour battery life, the sacrifice seems well worth it unless you really only need to do some basic web browsing and casual computing. Honestly, $1299 is an amazing price point for what the 13" rMBP is. The next 13" MBA should drop to $999.
  15. ckeck macrumors 6502a


    Jul 29, 2005
    You make some fair points for the rMBP, but it really comes down to use. How important is battery? Will you even use TB for anything? Planning to power more than one external monitor?

    The actual CPU performance isn't going to be noticeable between the two unless you're really paying close attention to benchmarks. Most real world use, you won't notice at all. 2013 Air has PCIe flash storage as well, my Air here is running the same speeds as the 13" rMBP and 15" rMBP on my desk (brand new models). All in the ~720MB/sec range.

    I don't know the exact difference between HD5000 and HD5100 GPUs but I doubt it's anything drastic.

    Just have to decide on how much you like the retina display versus the extra battery of the Air. I used nothing but the highest spec 15" pro ever since the MacBook was introduced. Tried my hand at an Air two years ago and have had an Air since.

    Like I said though, I do have two rMBPs sitting here to "test" and they are definitely nice, just not sold yet...going to be a tough choice. Which one or do I just stay with the trusty Air? Hmmm...
  16. hotttnickkk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2013
    Well I've been thinking about this too. Instead of buying 1 expensive one that lasts 4 years (I currently have a 15" that has lasted me that long), why not buy 1 base model 13" Air that lasts 2 years, then buy a new base model 13" Air that will last the next 2 years? The price would work out to be approx. the same in both cases.

    This is making me re-think buying the rMBP big time. The last thing I want though is to have bought it and it not being up to scratch and having Chrome/HD playback "hang" on me time after time.

    Thank you for your input - but can someone else please let me know if the base model Air can do HD video playbak & Air Play while having another application or 2 open at the same time, without any issues?

    Many thanks in advance...
  17. ckeck macrumors 6502a


    Jul 29, 2005
    Exactly, and don't forget, your first Air (or whatever machine) after 2 years will still have some value, so you can sell it off to effectively reduce the cost of the new upgrade later.

    An Air w/ 4GB of RAM isn't going to hang/stutter on HD playback from YouTube with two other apps open unless it's FinalCut X and Handbrake rendering junk :p Now if you were streaming 2K/4K video perhaps but that's totally different.

    If no one else chimes in I'll test on one of the Airs I have in the office tomorrow or even capture a video on the computer streaming the HD YouTube stream while running 2/3/4/5 random apps.

    Big question unanswered still, how important is battery life to you? If that is crucial then Air is definitely the way to go. If you LOVE the look of the retina screen and can sacrifice, well, you might want to think about that.


    You really shouldn't be disappointed either way, both incredible machines.
  18. Eddieskis macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2012
    I can stream hd via airplay with an iPhone4 so a 2013 MacBook Air would be no problem.
  19. IndoX macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2011
    I agree with ckeck. BOTH machines are incredible so whatever you get will be amazing. I'd strongly recommend at least getting 8GB of ram. I'd always consider 8GB the minimum in this day of computing - 4GB is just too little.

    If I had to choose between the 8GB/256GB Air or Retina - I'd go for the Retina. $100 is nothing and you gain nice things with the Retina. If you're looking at 8GB/128GB - the difference becomes $200. At that point I'd probably choose the Air.

    I've owned both computers and personally loved the retina more - simply because it's smaller and the display is amazing. But the new battery life with Mavericks when it comes to the Air is nothing to joke at!
  20. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003

    How valuable are extra features that you probably won't use? For example, in my case I won't be connecting external storage (so don't care about the TB2 ports), won't be connecting it to a TV or a 3rd monitor (don't care about HDRI), and won't be doing processor-intensive tasks (don't really care about 2.4 Ghz vs. 1.3 Ghz). If you're not going to do these things either, then I don't think they should be factored into your decision.

    So it really, really does come down to battery life vs. retina. Which is more important to you? The 3+ extra hours (some claim they're getting 14-15 hours on the air, while it seems the 13" rMBP gets 10-11 in similar use case scenarios) or the retina display?

    Not that this is an easy question to answer... I'm struggling with it myself. But it does clarify things, at least for me.
  21. covertash macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2012
    I just ordered a 13" rMBP last night with the 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. I struggled with this same decision as well due to the obnoxiously awesome battery life that the Air's have. Ultimately, what swung me in the direction of the rMBP was the fact that even 9 hours is pretty incredible as it is, for me - all of my other past laptops hovered around 3-5, and that's with extra/bigger batteries. Most of my usage will probably be at home or in an office where I will have access to an outlet. For those times that I will be out, I imagine that I won't be out that long that the 9 hour window won't have me covered.

    The rMBP also has more ports, particularly two USB 3.0 ports, which to me is quite valuable as I do tend to use a lot of peripherals. The TB2 ports are a nice plus should I venture down that path.

    And of course, having a Retina screen sealed the deal. I will be reading lots of text, as this machine will be used for my journey into learning programming, and if my iPad Mini has taught me anything it is to just bite the bullet and get the better screen (even though I still do love using it as is).

    OP, it sounds like your primary usages will be at home also (although I could be wrong). So you should ask yourself, does the battery life really matter for your usage? And since you will be outputting your display through Airplay to your TV, does having a Retina screen matter to you?
  22. topmounter, Oct 26, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013

    topmounter macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2009
    FEMA Region VIII
    I have a "Late 2010" 13" MBA and it has been positively the best experience that I've ever had with a laptop computer.

    I have no reason to replace it except to give it to my wife and rid our household of the Dell POS laptop that has been like a cancer hanging over my head ever since she replaced her previous Dell laptop. Her old Dell was a solid machine that lasted ~5 years and I expected as much from the new one, but it revealed itself as a total and complete piece of crap only a few months after it was delivered (Dell repaired it under warranty, but the exact same problems recurred just as the warranty expired and now its value can only be recovered by pumping it full of buckshot and posting the video to YouTube).

    So I'm in the same predicament trying to decide between a 13" MBA and a 13" rMBP. 128GB of storage is plenty, I'll future proof with 8GB of RAM and upgrading the proc on the MBA to the i7 should keep performance in the same ballpark making any price difference more or less inconsequential ($50).

    • Ridiculously long battery life vs. Absurdly long battery life
    • A great display under any circumstance vs. a greater display when viewing "retina" optimized content
    • A slightly larger form factor vs. a bit more pork

    • The increased battery life of the MBA is great, but I doubt I'd leave my wall wart at home when traveling.
    • I've seen the retina displays before, but my MBA display still looks great (especially compared to that Dell).
    • I know it doesn't sound like much, but half a pound is what makes this decision hardest for me...

    Which has me thinking about dropping another half pound, further reducing the form factor and saving $100-150 by giving the 11-inch MBA a try :confused:
  23. hotttnickkk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2013
    Thank you so much - if you don't mind testing this, I'll be really interested to see if the Air can withstand the stress and how loud the fan is while doing this.

    I'm leaning towards the Air at the moment due to the portability (so light) and price (i.e., I can keep upgrading to a newer model as the base-model is relatively cheap, and selling the old one).

    My only concern is whether the base-model can handle those tasks PLUS how loud does the fan get and would that be annoying.

    Many thanks in advance..
  24. dizmonk macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2010
    Second thoughts..??

    I just returned my 8GB 256GB MBA. Going to play with the new rMPB for another four or five days but I'm wondering if I made a mistake...
  25. ckeck macrumors 6502a


    Jul 29, 2005
    You're not alone, it's a really tough choice and even though I've loved my Air's the last two years even I'm debating.

    My biggest gripe about the retina is being forced into such a low resolution though, even lower than my Air (WTF). It's ok though, you can scale, but then this happens. Check my post here about major stuttering/lag on the 13" rMBP.

    Could just be software related with Mavericks, but no way to know for sure yet, or if it's still partially a GPU issue with Iris. Luckily I have a loaded 15 rMBP on the desk as well with the 750M and Iris Pro which doesn't exhibit this issue when I scale it's screen.

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