13" MacBook Air vs. 13" Retina MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Hankkk, Mar 3, 2015.

  1. Hankkk macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2015
    #1
    Hey,

    I've been wanting to switch to Mac OS for quite some time now. I already owned and own different iOS devices (iPods, iPhones, iPads) and now I also want to replace my old ThinkPad with a Mac.

    Originally I wanted to go for the top-of-the-line 15" MacBook Pro for 2500€, but when I thought about my decision it came to my mind that there are various reasons to go for an 27" iMac (not the 5k one) AND a MacBook instead - at a similar pricepoint. I also decided to go for the MacBook first - as I need a portable device - and then buy the iMac at a later point this year.

    Now the question is what MacBook I should go for. I originally intended to buy a MacBook Air because of battery life, portability and also the price point. I'd chose the 13" model with 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, I'd also stick to the standard i5 I guess.
    Now I recognized that I could get the MacBook Pro with Retina display (also 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD) without spending much more on it. There are some nice deals (I could also get a student discount) so there would be roughly 150-200€ difference between the Air and the Retina Pro. So while I love the extra battery life of the Air, I also find the Retina screen pretty appealing. Now what do you guys think? What is the better overall deal? Do I really get a remarkable boost in performance with the Pro or is it really just display vs. battery life? And do I really need it since I'm also looking at an iMac later this year or is the Air more than enough for my tasks?

    My usage mostly consists of Office Apps and sometimes light photo editing. I also want to use Logic Pro X on my new Macs.

    Thanks in advance for you help and excuse my english skills, I'm not a native speaker unfortunately.

    Cheers,
    Hank
     
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #2
    Hi you have it pretty much down

    The biggest bonus to the retina is obviously the screen in my opinion it is worth it just for that text looks brilliant it is much easier on the eyes and all your photos and videos are stunning. It also has a better CPU and GPU more ports, 8GB as standard and the HDMI is often useful.
     
  3. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #3
    The MBA has less ports, uses the ULV variant of the Intel CPUs (so it will be slower) and a slower GPU.

    Given that you're usage and the price differences, I'd say the 13" rMBP makes more sense, you get more ports, faster CPU/GPU and a much better display.
     
  4. Hankkk thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2015
    #4
    Thanks for the replys so far :)

    I get there's a difference in performance between Air and Pro - but can anyone tell me how big the difference acutally is in daily usage? Looking at the specs the CPU of the Pro seems way more powerful but is this really the case or is it more of a minor difference?

    Also: I heard there are rumours about the Air getting a minor spec bump pretty soon (maybe even next week?) and reading the buyer's guide on macrumors it seems the Pro is also due for an upgrade pretty soon. I know it's a common question but do you guys think it's worth to wait a few more weeks to see if there's an upgrade indeed or would you recommend to purchase a Mac now? I'm not really sure what to expect of the spec bump. I mean it's clear that the main upgrade is going to be the processor but will Broadwell really make that much of a difference? Some sources say it will be only a minor change others state that it could bring a huge boost in both performance and battery life. So I'm a bit confused. :confused:

    Sorry about the many questions, would appreciate some further advice on this :p
     
  5. TheArcher macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2014
    #5
    Yes, there are performance differences between the two, how large is dependent on the cpu(s) you choose. You can compare the Air and rMBP here ...

    http://www.everymac.com/ultimate-mac-comparison-chart/

    Apple is having a media event in ~ a weeks time. Expect the intro of the 12" MBA and updated Broadwell cpus for the MBAs as well. Broadwell is primarily a die shrinkage with no new architectural features. Expect only a slight bump in battery life, if any.

    Rumor is Apple will be skipping Broadwell in the 13" and 15" rMBPs and rightfully so. Skylake is a new architecture and will introduce significant advances along with features. It is worth waiting for IMHO.

    I need a 15" rMBP but will not purchase one until Skylake is released sometime in the summer.
     
  6. Hankkk thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2015
    #6
    But how can we be sure that new MacBooks with Skylake are indeed coming this year? Has Intel even announced a definite release date yet? Broadwell was also supposed to be available last year and we all know how this one turned out. Don't get me wrong, I'd also love to have a new MacBook with Skylake Processor but I'm just questioning if they'll really be available in the short run.

    And thanks for the link, I'll check it out :)
     
  7. TheArcher macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2014
    #7
    I totally get your hesitation. Yep, I guess we can't be sure until Skylake really does hit the market. Most of the delays by Intel were due to volume production and the 14nm process though. It appears they have ironed these out with the Broadwell release. Skylake is built on the same process, just with a different architecture.

    I've read quite a few articles that indicate Intel is on schedule and Skylake will be released midsummer. I guess we can't be 100% sure but I'm confident Intel is on track and Skylake will be debuting at the 2015 WWDC in June.

    Hopefully, Intel has just not been feeding the public info they want to hear. :)
     
  8. Hankkk thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2015
    #8
    Thanks for the info man, I appreciate it :)

    So what exactly do you expect from Skylake? What makes it different from the broadwell update? Just another minor bump in power and effiency?

    Sorry for all the questions, I kinda lost focus on all these computer components in the last years. Haven't been following news regarding this topic as intensely as I used to, so I gotta get started again :D
     
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #9
    Don't hold your breath

    I doubt we'll get skylake for 2015 for any of the notebooks apple make

    http://www.fudzilla.com/news/notebooks/37015-notebook-skylake-coming-in-q4-2015

    It has better bandwidth and cache so fast interconnection with all the parts, DDR4 support better graphics and a minor CPU bump.
     
  10. imaccooper macrumors regular

    imaccooper

    Joined:
    May 29, 2014
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #10
    I think it makes good sense to wait until after the event next week to see what kind of small improvements may be made. Any waiting after that event is speculation. We could very well get skylake in June or it could end up being January before they start shipping (I have no idea just figuratively speaking). I would say that you wait until march 9th then based on new price points (if they change) and new specs (although they probably wont be much different), you can see what kind of MBA you can get. You already know what the pro offers so from there you have your choice.

    I love my MBA and I have no problem doing everything you are talking about doing. You definitely don't need a rMBP especially if you go through with getting an iMac later this year, but that doesn't always mean you shouldn't get one. I suggest the MBA as I think it will work best for your situation, but both are great machines that you will be happy with.
     
  11. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #11
    Had you thought about going for a MacBook Pro plus an external monitor?
    (Thunderbolt Displays are hard to take seriously now, however there are plenty of alternative 27" 1440p displays, some affordable 4k options and some exotic creatures like the LG ultra-wide displays).

    Personally, my preferred setup is a MacBook on an elevator stand next to a 24" or 27" monitor, plus an external keyboard and mouse or magic trackpad.

    The advantage? Its like using a desktop machine, except when you want to hit the road you just pick up the macbook with all your stuff on it and go. I switched after one too many late night before a trip spent desperately transferring everything I might need to a laptop. To be fair, my computers always have a lot of website development stuff with local test servers, virtual machines and so on that are tedious to keep in sync.

    The disadvantage is a more cluttered desktop.
     
  12. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #12
    If you need portability (and an excellent battery life) go with the MBA; for anyone who is on the move a lot, whether travelling or commuting, there is no better computer.

    However, if an outstanding screen is what you really need, and portability is not an issue, then, the rMBP is the obvious choice.
     
  13. Tmelon macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    #13
    I just switched from an Air to a rMBP and I have to say I don't notice any difference in portability. The Air is a bit thinner and lighter, but with day to day use I can't really tell the difference.

    I'd highly recommend going with the Pro or waiting a week to see what changes Apple has in store for the Air.
     
  14. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #14
    At this point, I don't think the MBA/MBP weight is so different that you'll really notice it.
     
  15. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #15
    Whilst Broadwell is generally a very minor upgrade, GPU performance should see relatively massive gains. Skylake will see better perf, efficiency, and a chipset supporting newer ports, such as DDR4.

    Regarding right now, I cannot advice anyone to buy a MacBook Air. It was a brilliant machine, and in many ways still is, but the display... Once you go Retina, going back truly is hard.

    Day to day perf difference between rMBP13 and MBA isn't that great, however, during certain workloads, like exporting projects in Logic, or especially tasks that benefit from the Iris GPU, the rMBP can be much faster. Office, web, etc. doesn't see massive gains though.
     
  16. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #16
    Granted, I am not sure about the weight and form factor of the current generation of MBPs, as I haven't handled one in years (except to admire the retina screen from a distance), but, when I bought my first MBA (in 2010) I noticed a considerable difference between that and the MBP (which was the old 20008 15" model).

    In truth, I think for a lot of guys, weight may not be an issue, but, as a female no longer in the first flush of youth who travels extensively and values portability, it is something that matters hugely to me.

    The 11" MBA is better again, if weight and portability are key issues; however, the key trade-off is extraordinary screen versus an extremely portable computer with a superb battery.
     
  17. Naimfan macrumors 68040

    Naimfan

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    #17
    Just get the Pro.

    Faster, more standard RAM, much better screen, more ports, etc.

    After using a retina the screen on an Air looks so washed out it almost looks like it's a fuzzy black and white TV.
     
  18. Hankkk thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2015
    #18
    I know it's been quite some time since I last posted, but anyway..

    First of all thank you to everyone who was trying to help me :)

    I decided to go for the MacBook Pro 13" with Retina Display. Got the 2015 a week after the keynote from my local Apple Store and I'm very happy with it. The SSD is incredibly fast (as is the rest of the components) and the Retina Display ist just gorgeous. It's really light too and the battery lasts easily ten hours or even more with light usage. So everyone who's in the same position as I was: If you have the additional ~150€ there's no reason to not buy the MacBook Pro and you surely won't regret it if you do :)
     

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