13" rMBP or 13" Macbook Air

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by RoadRacer, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. RoadRacer macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2013

    I am looking at buying either and Air 13" (8GB RAM, i5, 128GB) or Retina 13" (Base) for taking to University this September and I am looking to buy now.

    I will be studying Medicine so nothing graphics heavy or too demanding mainly word, internet, itunes etc

    I have gone into the store to have a look and play with them both. The retina is within my budget so not being limited by price the retina seems more powerful on paper and in terms of future proofing a better deal. However, what concerns me is the never ending saga with lag that the 13" seems to experience. Even in the store today resizing windows was slow and very laggy.

    So my question is how do people find their 13" Retina's now after all the updates etc IS LAG STILL A PROBLEM?

    Generally also would an Air be able to last 3/4+ years without starting to really slow down.

    Which should I go for given my needs?
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I just bought my daughter a 13 in MBP for college. She will be a freshman this fall. I did the same for my son 4 years ago. I think the 13 in MBP is the "right choice" for most students for several reasons. One is ports. The rMBP and MBA both are port deficient. It's great if you have $500 or more for a thunderbolt drive cabinet but for most college students, firewire peripherals are more affordable. Another reason is user upgradability. It's nice to have the ability to use a #0 phillips to gain access to upgrade RAM, (add a torx to swap the HDD for an SSD). I upgraded my son's MBP to a 500 GB "Hybrid" SSD this spring and it's given his machine a new lease on life.

    There is a down side. The MBP is less portable than the 13 in MBP or rMBP. Both of my kids have iPads so they wind up taking those to class and treating the MBP as a "desk" machine most of the time.
  3. Akuratyde, Aug 8, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2013

    Akuratyde macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2011
    Personally I would recommend the Air. I used to have a MBP and find the Air to be much more portable, easier to sit with in the lap, and overall more useful in a variety of situations due to it's light weight and small size. For University the Air would probably be the better machine as it's going to be carried from class to class.

    I disagree with the above statement about lack of ports being an issue. I've never had any issues with needing more ports, it has 2 USB ports, and the type of peripherals the average University student would use are likely not going to be Firewire.

    4 Gigs of RAM is more than enough for what you're going to use it for, but if that's a concern you can always upgrade to 8 Gigs, though it's completely unnecessary. I'm a professional Graphic Designer and I've rarely run into RAM issues and that's only on the rare occasion that I'm dealing with an incredibly large file.

    I've had my Air for 2+ years now and it's still very snappy.

    Personally, I don't see the point of a retina display on a laptop. I think it's fine for the App-heavy ecosystem of iOS but considering all websites are 72 DPI and most OS X applications lack high-DPI support it's completely unnecessary for the average person to need a retina display on their computer.

    Lastly, the Air is significantly cheaper than the rMBP, though I would definitely recommend going for the 256 Gig HD over the 128.
  4. IndoX macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2011
    I'd get the Air. Light, extremely portable, and faster in every sense (due to SSD and better graphics). I'm in my senior year and there is nothing I can't do on my Air. I've never run into an issue not having a CD drive as majority of those obstacles can be resolved with USB drive.

    Get it! The only downside is the screen but once you calibrate it, it's just as good!
  5. Dominus Mortem macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2011
    I don't think you can make a wrong choice here. Both of those machines will get the job done easily. Both are very portable, have plenty of ports and are a pleasure to use. You do get two distinct advantages with the rMPB though. Namely you get double the ram and a display that is unequaled. The new Air will have a battery that will last much longer than the rMBP so that's its big advantage. If you're going to be away from a charger all day, the Air might be the way to go.

    I bought a 13" Air for my daughter for college and I use a 13" rMBP for the same. She prefers the Air while I prefer the rMBP. Everyone has a different perspective so you should try both and decide based on your own gut feelings.
  6. xnview macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2013
    I'm also a student and needed a new computer,bought my first Mac the 13" rMBP, couldnt resist the screen it just blew me away. I have only on a few occasions noticed a little bit of lag, when scrolling really fast on websites with many pictures, but it have never bothered me.

    I was so satisfied with it that I bought a base 13" MBA with 8GB ram (because of future proofing) to my girlfriend as a "good start at your collage". I went with the MBA for her because she doesn't see the big difference between her iPad 2 screen compared with my 4th gen IPad. Also if it wasn't because I'm so much into things looking very sharp (studying to optometrist so working all day with getting people to see as good as possible) I actually would prefer the MBA, because of the battery life, and the extra portability.

    Ps. Sorry if my English is a little bit bad
  7. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    13in Air if you're buying soon.

    13in rMBP if you can wait until they're refreshed.
  8. hindmost macrumors regular


    Jan 14, 2009
    Each person has their own individual computer configuration needs.

    I've been using Macs since 1987 and came to the conclusion that:

    a. more portable is better than less portable.

    b. you can never have enough RAM or storage memory

    c. 'speed' is fairly moot for most users and a trickle faster means more a more expensive and a hotter running machine.

    So, what did I buy? For me: a mid-2013 MacBook Air i5/8 gig RAM/512 gig Flash

    Works for my use. Don't want to have an external Hard Drive to lug about with connect cables and be fretting for electric power sockets, etc. Portable means portable....light, speedy, room for parallels / windoz 7 plus tens of thousands of photos, and a large music library.

    If cost is a big issue (and for young folk it surely is) i5/4/256 should certainly work very well.
  9. potvkettle macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2012
    The key to my response is you're looking to buy now.

    Airs have been refreshed with Haswell chips. Retinas have not. Mavericks will help battery power some, when it is released this Fall; however, it is clear (based on the current testing with Mountain Lion) that the Haswell architecture is responsible for the, ahem, lion's share of the new battery life of the Airs.

    Other than that, if you buy base models, you're not getting that much of an upgrade going from the Air to the Retina -- 4g of RAM and the Retina display. The i5 processor in the Retina is clocked much faster than that of the Air, but I don't consider that a deal-breaker for the Air. It's plenty fast for your stated uses. To be honest, a Chromebook Pixel would suit your needs.

    As for your final question, I'm currently using a 2011 Macbook Air. I still can't justify upgrading, Haswell or not. I back-up weekly and follow that back-up with a good dose of Onyx. As fast as the day I bought it.

    Hope that helps.


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