2012 15.4" rMBP or 2013 13" MBA

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Koop87, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. Koop87, Jun 18, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013

    Koop87 macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2013
    Hi everyone,
    First post here. I'm going back to school this August and need a new computer. It will mostly be used for typical school stuff, web browsing, music recording and casual gaming. Here's my dilemma.

    Originally I was going to go for the refurb rMBP for $1600, 2.3 ghz quad core i7 with the geforce 650m. Seemed like a good deal. However, I'm wondering if perhaps a 2013 air would be better for me. With upgraded 8 gb of ram and the education pricing it comes to about $1340. The mobility and battery life are really starting to grow on me and I'm still slightly hesitant about buying a model that's already a year old in the pro.

    What do you all think would be a better investment for the next four years?
    Edit: I'll be starting school in the beginning of August so waiting for a mbp update probably isn't realistic.
  2. advancedbasic macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2013
    I'm in a similar boat, but really for me it's between a 13" MBA or a 13" rMBP but only if the rMBP is updated. The thing is that might actually happen sometime before August, that is, if Apple plans to do its huge annual "Back to School" event.

    Unless you're like me and do a lot of photo editing (only real reason I'm kinda leaning towards the rMBP), the new MBA will fly when it comes to web surfing, document writing, and even some gaming.

    Check out this thread for info on gaming performance: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1594690 -- I'm sure if you only casually game it will be good enough for that.
  3. Brandon263 macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2009
    Beaumont, CA
    I would get the Air if I were you. In fact, I am selling my 15 inch rMBP and getting the 13 inch air because I just realized that it's overkill for me (I mostly read and write on my laptops). The 15 inch rMBP is quite weighty and it takes somewhat of a toll when you're lugging it around campus. I've also found that it can get toasty when you've got iPhoto or other apps open in it.

  4. Jedi Master macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2013
    ar the moment on the Death Star
    What school is this, can I go?

    It will mostly be used for typical school stuff, web browsing, music recording and casual gaming.

    1. Web browsing, CHECK
    2. Music recording, CHECK
    3. Gaming, well it depends on the Games and frames they grading you on.

  5. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    You haven't told us what 'school' entails, and what you will be studying there.

    Re the two computers you have mentioned, they each have different strengths. The 15.4" rMBP has the best screen you will find in a laptop computer; this is wonderful if you need such visual strength, if you have atrocious eyesight, and if you find yourself doing class work that requires such screen real estate, i.e. anything with lost of visuals, design courses, and so on. Re power, the rMBP will also probably win.

    However, at school, I assume that you will be moving from classroom to classroom, and this is an issue where weight will tell and where portability becomes an issue.

    I had a MBP - which was a terrific computer - and now I have a MBA. While I do plan at some stage to buy another MBP, it will be in the main, a desk computer. For running around, there is nothing better than the MBA. I have one because I travel a lot, and portability matters to me. The MBA is blazing fast (the SSD is fantastic), and, until the retina technology was developed, had simply the best screen in the business.

    For standard student work, power and portability, I, personally, would recommend that you get the MBA.

    Good luck with it.
  6. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    Unless you need the horsepower of the 15" rMBP, the MBA is a solid machine and would probably suit your needs best.

    My only gripe with comparing the MBA to any of the MBPs (retina or standard) is the screen differences. The MBA just isn't as vibrant and washes out a little with different viewing angles. My retina 15" is completely stunning and does not wash out when I move it around on my lap. Not saying the MBA is a bad screen, just not as worthy in my opinion.
  7. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    MBA Pros: Lighter, smaller, better battery life
    MBA Cons: No gaming

    rMBP Pros: Retina Display, gaming capable
    rMBP Cons: Bigger

    I had a 13" MBP, and it was no problem to carry around at school. I just got the 15" rMBP, and Im in love with it. No idea how it performs in the school world yet though.

    What you should think about:

    battery life > will you need the 12 hours on a single charge? will you carry your charger with you anyway?

    size > can the rMBP fit in your backpack? will it fit on your desk if you use it in class?

    weight > lets be honest here, both laptops are pretty light compared to PCs

    gaming > can the laptop handle the games I play? do you have an alternative gaming computer?

    Hell, I used to lug around my 17" Asus G73 gaming laptop. Heavy as sin, had no more than an hour of battery life, and fit in my backpack somehow @_@. Either Macbook is definitely a + over carrying one of these monsters around.
  8. Koop87 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2013
    I'm studying medicine, so the pro is definitely overpowered. I have a strong feeling I'll end up not going with the rMBP, which is too bad because it was a good deal.
  9. ggibson913 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 11, 2006
    Considering the exact same thing

    I was at the Apple Store yesterday and was checking out the new Airs. I did end up buying one but haven't opened the box yet lol. I am still weighing the air vs. 15" rMBP. The brand new air maxed out (i7, 8GB Ram, 512 GB Flash Drive) is $1849.00. The refurb rMBP with similar HD space is $2019 with the standard config is $1599.

    Also the Applecare is cheaper for the MBA $249 vs. $349. I ran Apeture on the Air (in store)and it loaded pretty quickly so no concerns for speed it really flys. If you are a student and going from class to class it is hard not to recommend the MBA.

    My situation is a little different as my computer mostly sits on my desk at home and only occasioanlly travels with me and mist times I can get by on my iPad when I travel. Thinking I am going to return it today and get the Retina Pro as I think this will make more sense for me.
  10. Jeff3f macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2010
    the 15" rMBP is lighter than the older 13" aluminum MB it replaced, but it is still quite heavy. Not at first, not that bad, but its laptop bag is quite heavy now that I'm also used to ipad form factor. The display is great, and it can be useful for things that need side-by-side display (word and endnote or pdf article, word and powerpoint, etc). It's also big (of course I guess--it's a 15" model)

    my main beef (if I were still a student) with the newer macs is the lack of a kensington lock slot. means you have to take the computer with you into the can when studying at the library...

    at some point my next mac will probably be an air model, but I'm unsure I can tolerate the non-retina display in the future.
  11. ugahairydawgs, Jun 21, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013

    ugahairydawgs macrumors 68030


    Jun 10, 2010
    I have had the same issue in front of me for the past week. I went with the same refurb base model 15" Retina Pro. Here's why.

    1. More ports to attach devices/multiple monitors. 1 extra Thunderbolt & HDMI are both big bonuses for expandability.

    2. Extra beef on the CPU and GPU help me with the assurance that, in spite of the fact that its year old tech, this computer will be enough to handle what updated versions of OS X and other software throws at it for years to come. I know there is more to everything than a CPU number, but 1.3Ghz processor just feels like its going to have problems keeping up with tasks sooner rather than later. I could be completely wrong on that and would love to hear that I am.

    3. Cannot over-emphasize enough the difference in screen quality. Sharpness of the retina display aside, the fact that the Pro has a IPS screen and the Air a TN panel is a pretty big deal. The difference in color quality is fairly noticeable, and I'm not generally one that can see those differences all that easily.

    4. I have a Gen 4 iPad, so any need for something small to carry around while I'm lounging around the house is taken care of with that. So between the iPhone, iPad and MBP I feel like I have every usage case taken care of.

    The battery in the Air would be nice, but I'm not that much of a road warrior.....so its not a top factor for me. Everyone's situation is different though, so you need to make a pros and cons list and see how it plays out for you.
  12. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    im sure the MBA battery life will be the same on retina 15"
    that means the battery will have double the life of previous models thanks to rechargeable cycles.

    rBMP will have probably the 760M and will be kind of strong for most of the games...excepts for fps or 3dperson..crysis 3, battlefield 4 etc for native resolution
  13. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010

    You could do some gaming on the Air. I like the ports on the rMBP. I like the display better. I really prefer a 15" display over a 13". I'm not sure where you're primarily using the machine, so I have no way of knowing whether a second screen is realistic. In your situation I would probably go with a 15" and no external. For some things a notebook screen is cramped no matter what. The Air can probably handle some gaming, depending on the game. The rmbp will probably hold up significantly longer in that regard, but I wouldn't say you can't play anything on the Air. I wouldn't try the most demanding games, and you might be on lower settings. Even if you waited, the new one would probably cost significantly more, even with a student discount.
  14. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    my own source:
    15"rMBP will have 750M and the iMac if the geforce will have in time the 780MX will have, if not, only 780M

Share This Page