13" rMBP as desktop replacement?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Epikuros, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Epikuros macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2012
    Having used a laptop for about six months, with a resolution of just 1024 x 768 pixels, I began to find it rather inconvenient to work on papers when you could only see one document at a time, and not too much of it.

    It also wasn't the most ergonomic solution imaginable, and when I saw the new iMac, a slender 1080p all-in-one that would fit in my desk like the laptop, I decided to make the switch.

    I finally ordered now when I could get the fusion drive on the baseline model. But by then I was already shelling out quite a lot (by my standards).

    If I get the iMac I will have to get a laptop to bring to campus at some point and thought that I might as well get the cheapest 13" rMBP instead, which supposedly has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. Using that for everything.

    Now for the question, I'm trying to get my head around what the reality of using the 13" as a desktop would be. I have come to understand that the actual 'real estate' is actually 1280 x 800, and that only some applications use the extra pixels.
    You could override the default resolution, but that would only result in thing being unreasonably tiny that it would be a strain to use.

    Does anyone use this macbook as their sole machine? Is there more room for documents and websites to be displayed at once than the 1280 x 800 resolution would suggest?

  2. Zauberer macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2010
    If you need a laptop, but also want the extra screen real estate for long usage sessions, I think the best option is to buy an external monitor. Best of both worlds.
  3. pgiguere1 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    I think you'd be better buying a MBA and an external monitor. Decent 1080p 23-24" models can be found for under $200.

    If you want optimal productivity to run applications side-by-side, you'd better have the increased screen estate of a 1080p external than the increased sharpness of a Retina display. And it's going to be more ergonomic when working at a desk too.

    Don't forget you can BTO upgrade the MBA to have an i7 and 8GB RAM and it's going to be about as powerful as a 13" rMBP. While the i7 in the MBA has a lower clock speed than the i5 in the 13" rMBP, it has a higher TurboBoost speed and more L3 cache so it's far from being weak compared to the 13" rMBP's i5. It even has a higher GeekBench score. Add an external display like this one and price is going to be similar to that of a 13" rMBP. The MBA is also going to be more portable.
  4. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    You can emulate 1680x1050 in the 13" rMBP. Both give you more room, though graphics performance is a bit slower. Note that the 13" MacBook Air has a 1440x900 screen, so that is certainly a useful mode if you need more desktop space occasionally. Most of the time I'd leave it in Best for Retina. 1280x800 is workable for viewing 2 documents side by side, at least for a little while. That said, an external monitor is also a good solution if you plan to work on documents side by side a lot.
  5. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    One thing to keep in mind with using this as your only machine is that the base model only has a 128GB drive, a chunk of which will be used by the operating system and default applications.

    The default resolution mode on the 13" RMBP is "Looks like 1280x800", which is actually using all 2560x1600 pixels but displaying things at the same size as if it were a 1280x800 display (just much sharper and more detailed).

    Other modes include "Looks like 1440x900" and "Looks like 1680x1050", both of which sacrifice a bit of the super-sharp detail for more 'real estate'.

    My recommendation would be to play around with one in store and be sure to check out those different resolution modes in System Preferences.

    If you need a lot of storage space and aren't super impressed by the retina display, you could always get the normal 13" MBP and an external display.

    Another option is the 13" Air, which has a native 1440x900 pixel display. It has the same 128GB SSD on the base model, but it's also a lot cheaper than the 13" retina. You could get a 13" Air with the 256GB SSD for less than the base 13" retina.
  6. Epikuros thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2012
    Thanks for the replies.

    I did consider the external monitor solution but I'm afraid of being a little too prudish about having more cables and cords on the desk than I absolutely have to. The idea of plugging and unplugging the thing so regularly is not immediately appealing. Although this is obviously the more cost effective solution.

    I looked at the 13" Air, and with 1440 x 900, that might just be enough real-estate of me. It is then just a question of ergonomics. Could I just put that thing on a stand and have it connect (wirelessly) to a keyboard on the desk? Would that be a good simulacrum of the desktop experience?

    As suggested I should probably just head over to the Apple store at some point (they did open up one recently in my country) and feel it out a little before I really commit to anything.
  7. DayVe3000 macrumors member

    Jun 28, 2012
    I bought my rMBP 13-inch with the view to ditch my Core2Quad windows desktop (and replace my 2009 MBP).

    Im in transition currently - due to wanting a few bits (and being skint following the rMBP purchase and an expensive xmas). But i feel the rMBP will do what I need no problem.

    The 'best for retina' 1280x800 is too small for me too. Im currently running it in 1680x1050 and switching back and forth a couple of times. I think im happy enough with it now - but do sort of which I put an extra few hundred to it and bought the 15-inch . . . some times.

    It doesnt quite look as superb in 1680x1050 - But still better than any other notebook display i've ever used, easy!

    Once I ditch the desktop, the 24" BenQ monitor will become abit of a second display on the fly when I need it. I've been able to do day to day tasks with the rMBP in 1680x1050 and the BenQ running 1920x1080 - More than enough space for me.

    With regards to your cable issue - I dont think there is one. A good bit of cable management, you wouldnt see the difference. You've obviously got to have a cable running to the rMBP for power, another HDMI running to the machine will make nil difference. I run my HDMI via a mini display port adapter - purely because the power and HDMI port are on different sides.

    I suppose the only way I'd be happier with my needs would be to have bought the 15-inch. I think it'd do the job I need a fair bit better . . . but costs a fair bit more! Money I just dont have - So I suppose Im happy enough for now.

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