13" MacBook Air vs 13" MacBook Pro Retina (2015), Which Should I Get?

leafsfan98

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 14, 2015
1
0
Mississauga
Hi Everyone, I first want to start off by saying that this post will be a bit lengthy, but if you could read it and provide your feedback, it would be immensely appreciated. To give you some info on my situation, I am a 17-year old high school student and I have one year of high school left before heading off to university. I will be purchasing my laptop in the summer of 2016, so although Apple will have most likely come out with updated versions of each notebook, I am looking for help based on if I was getting the laptop today. Barring a discontinuation of either laptop or a major upgrade to the new MacBook, I will still be looking at the air and the pro in a years time. As of today, I have narrowed my choice down to specifications on both laptops that give a difference in price of $10 between the two models. This is why I need your help with this decision. Here are the two models I am looking at (all prices in CAD and including education discount):

MacBook Air: 128GB storage (base), 2.2GHz i7 processor (upgrade), 8GB RAM (upgrade), Total Cost = $1,419.00 +tax

MacBook Pro Retina: 128GB storage (base), 2.7GHz i5 processor (base), 8GB RAM (base), Total Cost = $1,429.00


The first thing that jumps out is that I am looking at a fully upgraded MacBook Air vs. base model MacBook Pro, but I have reasons for this. Firstly, money is not and issue regarding the two laptops, but that being said I'm not looking at the 15" Pro or an iMac. I just wanted to mention this because the price difference between the base Air and the base Pro has no bearing on my decision. I am looking at the Air for its amazing portability, weight, and its overall use as a student laptop. I am looking at the Pro for the vastly higher quality software in its base model vs. the Air, and because of the retina display, which again is much better than the Air's display. This difference in software is the reason why I am looking at a fully upgraded model of the Air rather than the base model (in order to get the specs as close as they can get to each other for both laptops. For more clarification, 128GB flash storage is more than enough for me in both laptops and battery life is also not an issue as I am happy with the battery life of both laptops. On paper, it seems as though the Pro is the much better option seeing as for $10 more, you are getting a more powerful laptop with a much better display and to tell you the truth, this realization has made its way into my head and I am leaning more towards the Pro but this is why I am here, to hear all of your opinions towards this question.

Another piece of info I should share is that my major in university will be Psychology, so I will not need to use and video or design/art applications that art/design students would need. If you guys could provide any sort of feedback you might have, it would greatly appreciated and each opinion will factor greatly into the decision I end up making next year. Thank you for all of your time and I look forward to hearing all your thoughts and opinions. Have a great day!

Steven C.
 

JoePa2624

macrumors regular
Oct 12, 2014
231
92
AZ
I would definitely go with the Pro in this case. The Air's screen is awful and that machine is not future proof. Even the base model MBPr is a screamer in performance and that screen is well worth the extra $10 lol.

If you don't care about the added heft of the Pro, then that is always my choice. Personally, I think it's insulting that Apple is charging $1400+ for the Air. That screen is horrid, and I'm not just talking about resolution.
 
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z31fanatic

macrumors 6502a
Mar 7, 2015
868
314
Mukilteo, WA USA
I love everything about the Air except that screen. It is tragic.
I actually preferred the screen of a $180 Asus laptop to the 2014 MBA I had. That's how bad it was for me.
I just couldn't keep it after having a 13" Retina.

In other words, get the Pro ;)
 
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newellj

macrumors 604
Oct 15, 2014
7,306
2,309
East of Eden
Hi Everyone, I first want to start off by saying that this post will be a bit lengthy, but if you could read it and provide your feedback, it would be immensely appreciated. To give you some info on my situation, I am a 17-year old high school student and I have one year of high school left before heading off to university. I will be purchasing my laptop in the summer of 2016, so although Apple will have most likely come out with updated versions of each notebook, I am looking for help based on if I was getting the laptop today. Barring a discontinuation of either laptop or a major upgrade to the new MacBook, I will still be looking at the air and the pro in a years time. As of today, I have narrowed my choice down to specifications on both laptops that give a difference in price of $10 between the two models. This is why I need your help with this decision. Here are the two models I am looking at (all prices in CAD and including education discount):

MacBook Air: 128GB storage (base), 2.2GHz i7 processor (upgrade), 8GB RAM (upgrade), Total Cost = $1,419.00 +tax

MacBook Pro Retina: 128GB storage (base), 2.7GHz i5 processor (base), 8GB RAM (base), Total Cost = $1,429.00


The first thing that jumps out is that I am looking at a fully upgraded MacBook Air vs. base model MacBook Pro, but I have reasons for this. Firstly, money is not and issue regarding the two laptops, but that being said I'm not looking at the 15" Pro or an iMac. I just wanted to mention this because the price difference between the base Air and the base Pro has no bearing on my decision. I am looking at the Air for its amazing portability, weight, and its overall use as a student laptop. I am looking at the Pro for the vastly higher quality software in its base model vs. the Air, and because of the retina display, which again is much better than the Air's display. This difference in software is the reason why I am looking at a fully upgraded model of the Air rather than the base model (in order to get the specs as close as they can get to each other for both laptops. For more clarification, 128GB flash storage is more than enough for me in both laptops and battery life is also not an issue as I am happy with the battery life of both laptops. On paper, it seems as though the Pro is the much better option seeing as for $10 more, you are getting a more powerful laptop with a much better display and to tell you the truth, this realization has made its way into my head and I am leaning more towards the Pro but this is why I am here, to hear all of your opinions towards this question.

Another piece of info I should share is that my major in university will be Psychology, so I will not need to use and video or design/art applications that art/design students would need. If you guys could provide any sort of feedback you might have, it would greatly appreciated and each opinion will factor greatly into the decision I end up making next year. Thank you for all of your time and I look forward to hearing all your thoughts and opinions. Have a great day!

Steven C.
It is impossible to say what the Apple notebook line will look like next year. This year, based on your post, the rMBP, easily.
 
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mpfuchs

macrumors 6502
Sep 19, 2014
484
1,234
VA
I've asked myself that same question a while back. I wanted a good entry level MacBook to complement my iMac.
So naturally I was looking at the MacBook Air thinking that it's the cheapest option. I knew I didn't want the 11" due to size and also because the SD card slot is kind of a big deal to me, so I can plug my Canon's card right in, without an adapter.
Once I started comparing specs between the 13" Air and the 13" Pro, it became obvious to me, that once you up the specs on the Air to get to the same level as the Pro, you're at the same price. But you're still missing out on some features if you get the Air.
I went with the Pro. It's actually smaller than the Air, even though it is a little thicker and a little heavier. And It's also got the retina screen.
After using it for almost a month now, I think I made the right decision!

(I also bought last years model, so I payed $200 less. The spec increase from 2014 to 2015 didn't convince me, and I wasn't too sure about the new trackpad)

All that being said, a lot might change between now and when you're ready to make your purchase.
Good luck!
 

Dark Void

macrumors 68030
Jun 1, 2011
2,614
465
I've stated it before in many threads - go for the rMBP. It is 3.5lbs and very portable to begin with. You sacrifice no connectivity or hardware. However, I don't understand the premise of this thread, this could all change in a year. Who knows, whatever Apple offers will probably be so thin that it is one dimensional by then.

It's hard to tell you what to choose between in one year because my Time Capsule is currently at the shop. If you don't think 3.5-ish lbs will stress your manly shoulders though, get a rMBP. Don't be that guy beachballing with a Core M in the middle of class.
 
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newellj

macrumors 604
Oct 15, 2014
7,306
2,309
East of Eden
I've stated it before in many threads - go for the rMBP. It is 3.5lbs and very portable to begin with. You sacrifice no connectivity or hardware. However, I don't understand the premise of this thread, this could all change in a year. Who knows, whatever Apple offers will probably be so thin that it is one dimensional by then.

It's hard to tell you what to choose between in one year because my Time Capsule is currently at the shop. If you don't think 3.5-ish lbs will stress your manly shoulders though, get a rMBP. Don't be that guy beachballing with a Core M in the middle of class.
You must have gotten the future-proof Time Capsule. Mine only goes backwards! :D
 

slight32

macrumors member
Jul 31, 2014
58
1
I'm in the process of replacing my 13" MBA (base) to a 13" MBP, but only because I am now doing a lot more graphics / video work. If not doing anything like this then why aren't you looking at the base model MBA? It's obviously cheaper and would be fine....mine has been. Having said this, summer 2016 is a long way off, who knows what else might be out there to choose from. I'd agree the screens are miles apart and might be a game changer.

If you are determined to go for either the higher spec MBA or MBP with just a $10 difference, the MBP is a no brainer.
 

shahvikram123

macrumors newbie
Apr 13, 2008
10
0
It's really hard to understand why anybody would buy the Air anymore with the emergence of the new MacBooks and the Macbook Pro Retina's. Anyone care to share why they even exist? lol
 

nStyle

macrumors 65816
Dec 6, 2009
1,094
199
It's really hard to understand why anybody would buy the Air anymore with the emergence of the new MacBooks and the Macbook Pro Retina's. Anyone care to share why they even exist? lol
I would agree with you regarding the 13". The 11" is a different story. I still love the 11" form factor. It still has a place since it's noticeably cheaper and more powerful than the 12" MacBook. Worse screen, and slightly thicker, but everything in life has trade-offs. A powerful 12" MacBook is my dream machine, but it doesn't exist.

But yeah, the 13" Air makes no sense to me anymore considering the 13" rMBP is still ridiculously thin, portable, and actually has a smaller footprint, better screen, for a negligible increase in cost.
 
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AlliFlowers

Contributor
Jan 1, 2011
4,436
8,462
L.A. (Lower Alabama)
Go to the Apple store. Look at the Air and the rPro side by side. If you see the difference and it matters to you, get the Pro. Pick them up. If the weight matters to you, get the Air.

I just dumped my 13" Pro (nonretina) for the 13" Air, and I couldn't be happier.
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,287
2,278
Perth, Western Australia
13" vs 13" the Pro (retina - does anyone seriously even consider the non-retina machine anymore?) is better in all respects (and the display is not even comparable) apart from a tiny amount of battery life and marginal weight difference.

Hence i bought mine after going through the same decision making process recently. Spec an air to any sensible spec (8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD or more) and the price just doesn't make sense vs. the Retina Pro.

Speaking of which - do not buy a 128 GB SSD machine in 2015. You will live to regret it. You might think it's "enough" today but it isn't currently upgradable and something as simple as backing up your phone to it is going to consume a significant fraction of that space today - let alone in 2-3 years time. Personally I consider 256 GB to be the minimum sensible choice...
 
Last edited:

joeszef1

macrumors member
Jun 7, 2015
44
19
Davao City, Philippines
Before I got my first Mac (which was last week, lol) I had a debate on my mind as to what will I need. Air or the Pro. Went to my local Apple Reseller Store (since we do not have the official apple stores here), and compared side by side, and instantly I picked up the Retina. Why? Its just looks much better than the air.

I like the air for its portability but the retina is still portable plus the ports included and ofcourse the gorgeous display than the old aged Air's display.

basically if you are into photography or requires pixel conscious apps, go for retina.
 

Knowimagination

macrumors 68020
Apr 6, 2010
2,042
877
I just replaced my 13" air with a rMBP 13" and I can't believe it took me this long. The retina screen is amazing! I can't get over how nice it is to look at compared to the awful screen on the air.
 

snaky69

macrumors 603
Mar 14, 2008
5,903
480
Hi Everyone, I first want to start off by saying that this post will be a bit lengthy, but if you could read it and provide your feedback, it would be immensely appreciated. To give you some info on my situation, I am a 17-year old high school student and I have one year of high school left before heading off to university. I will be purchasing my laptop in the summer of 2016, so although Apple will have most likely come out with updated versions of each notebook, I am looking for help based on if I was getting the laptop today. Barring a discontinuation of either laptop or a major upgrade to the new MacBook, I will still be looking at the air and the pro in a years time. As of today, I have narrowed my choice down to specifications on both laptops that give a difference in price of $10 between the two models. This is why I need your help with this decision. Here are the two models I am looking at (all prices in CAD and including education discount):

MacBook Air: 128GB storage (base), 2.2GHz i7 processor (upgrade), 8GB RAM (upgrade), Total Cost = $1,419.00 +tax

MacBook Pro Retina: 128GB storage (base), 2.7GHz i5 processor (base), 8GB RAM (base), Total Cost = $1,429.00


The first thing that jumps out is that I am looking at a fully upgraded MacBook Air vs. base model MacBook Pro, but I have reasons for this. Firstly, money is not and issue regarding the two laptops, but that being said I'm not looking at the 15" Pro or an iMac. I just wanted to mention this because the price difference between the base Air and the base Pro has no bearing on my decision. I am looking at the Air for its amazing portability, weight, and its overall use as a student laptop. I am looking at the Pro for the vastly higher quality software in its base model vs. the Air, and because of the retina display, which again is much better than the Air's display. This difference in software is the reason why I am looking at a fully upgraded model of the Air rather than the base model (in order to get the specs as close as they can get to each other for both laptops. For more clarification, 128GB flash storage is more than enough for me in both laptops and battery life is also not an issue as I am happy with the battery life of both laptops. On paper, it seems as though the Pro is the much better option seeing as for $10 more, you are getting a more powerful laptop with a much better display and to tell you the truth, this realization has made its way into my head and I am leaning more towards the Pro but this is why I am here, to hear all of your opinions towards this question.

Another piece of info I should share is that my major in university will be Psychology, so I will not need to use and video or design/art applications that art/design students would need. If you guys could provide any sort of feedback you might have, it would greatly appreciated and each opinion will factor greatly into the decision I end up making next year. Thank you for all of your time and I look forward to hearing all your thoughts and opinions. Have a great day!

Steven C.
I'll just say that you're overthinking this a bit. Nobody knows what the lineup'll be like in 1 year's time. You should ask again when you're actually ready to buy.