Am I a fool not to buy rMBP 13" over MBA 13"?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dabuls, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. dabuls, Oct 30, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013

    dabuls macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2013
    I'm currently using an old plastic MacBook (Core Duo, 2.0 GHz, 2GB RAM, Snow Leopard) that I bought exactly 7 years ago, in 2006. Still today it works pretty good for my everyday computing needs (web, Excel/Word, some writing, a bit of basic programming (learning), video streaming and iTunes). However, the laptop gets a bit slow once I have 10+ tabs open in Safari and have a few other apps open at the same time; also there are apps that I can't use because they're not developed/updated for 32-bit architecture anymore. Other than that, I'm pretty ok with it.

    I have been thinking to upgrade for a while and had decided to buy 13" MBA. Last week Apple refreshed their rMBP line which changed things a bit. With education discount (in UK), MBA and rMBP would each cost almost the same (the prices include Apple Care):

    13" MBA (1.3 GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB) for £1087 ($1746)
    13" rMBP (2.4GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB) for £1122 ($1802)

    The difference in price is ridiculously small. (£35/$56)

    rMBP has a better screen, better graphics card and a faster processor. Yet, I find it heard to decide which one to buy. I prefer the shape and the lightness of MBA, but also feel that I would be a fool if I didn't buy rMBP. Because it's essentially the same price as MBA and has much better specs.

    What holds me back from buying rMBP is the following:

    1) If I can get by with my current 7 year-old laptop I don't really need the power of rMBP. MBA would be sufficient for my everyday computing needs. I'm concerned that there is a trade-off between getting better specs and un-repairability of rMBP.

    2) rMBP is not user repairable - this is my biggest gripe. The battery is glued to internal components, headphone jack integrated with motherboard and so on, and once Apple care runs out, reparing it can cost a lot of money. That would not be good, especially for someone like me who is content with keeping a laptop until it becomes noticeably outdated and starts to underperform on everyday tasks in a tangible way.

    3) The difference in screens (the main advantage of rMBP) is, from what I gather, negligible. I don't perceive my current screen very pixelated (or not sharp enough) and don't do photo editing, design work etc. where retina advantages might be noticeable. MBA screen is better than my current one, but not as good as the retina - but probably is good enough for what I need.

    4) I'm concerned about image retention issues and potential laggy system animations (e.g., mission control) with retina display that have cropped up on forums. It would negate it's main advantage over the MBA if there is a good chance I will have it.

    Maybe you have comments on any of the points or in general as to which one you would think I should buy.

    Are my concerns about non-repairability grounded?
    What about potential issues with retina screen?
    Am I fool not to buy rMBP?
  2. kaellar macrumors 6502

    Nov 12, 2012
  3. T-Bob macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2013
    You don't pay over £1k for sufficient. A chromebook is sufficient.

    The decision is really down to how important portability is to you, and if it is very important then the 11" MBA might be an even better buy.

    Oh and of course the MBAs are not repairable either but presumably you know that and are just miffed that a 'pro' line is not.
  4. simon48 macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    A Chromebook is not a good choice as the OP does programming.
  5. dabuls thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2013

    Ok, it might be big. By 'negligible' I meant that, on the first look, I didn't perceive a massive difference between MBA screen and rMBP 13". Not to the extent that I would immediately think that MBA screen is unpleasant to use. Other people have also said that only those who do visual work (i.e., video/photo editing), would benefit the most from retina.

    My question is whether upgrading to retina is worth the potential problems it might have with image retention and laginess?
  6. T-Bob macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2013
    I didn't say it was a good choice, but I was borrowing his use of sufficient. Also he just mentioned learning programming which could be done on anything. Reminds me of the main purpose of the raspberry pis.
  7. simon48 macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    The lag is a lot better for the new ones. If you have image retention issues ask for a replacement. I would not have either of these thing affect your decision.
  8. dabuls thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2013
    iFixit begs to differ

    According to iFixit teardown of MBA 13":

    "MacBook Air 13" Mid 2013 Repairability Score: 4 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).
    Once you manage to take off the bottom cover, all the parts are pretty easily replaceable.
    Proprietary screws on the case require the right screwdriver.
    All the components—including RAM and SSD—are proprietary.
    As with the prior iterations, this MacBook Air's biggest detractor is the lack of upgradeability. The RAM is still soldered to the logic board, and SSDs are not compatible between generations."

    Here is a link:

    rMBP got 1 out of 10.
  9. Jeanloup macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2012
    I would scrap all of this concerns but the image retention one. The MBA is not really easier to repair as far as i know and the retina is a huge improvement designer or not for your eyes at the very least. rMBP is more powerfull and for almost the same price so except if you can't stand the extra weight I would go for the mbp without hesitation. The main problem, especially on the 13" is image retention. As of today every screen produced for this machine will likely experience IR. It usually starts after 3 or 6 months. You have either the choice to decide to not want to bother with that issue ever and buy the mba or buy the rmbp anyway WITH Apple Care and pray that LG will fix the issue someday so Apple can replace your screen with a good one when the problem will arise. Your choice :)
  10. Guy Mancuso macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2009
    Some of this is overblown as well and on forums ( i own one) most posts are usually slanted towards I have problems with this or that. Is it a concern, sure it maybe be but many things are a concern sometimes. I would not let it stop you though as Apple is very good at returns and if you did get a bum unit you have 2 weeks to return for another. Most like your not buying a BTO anyway so the store has plenty in stock. Not like a iPhone5s which yesterday I was in a store and 25 people deep waiting on a phone. LOL

    Thats not a issue at all, I was actually the only person playing with a MBP for about a hour. Go figure busy store too so stock and returns are not a big deal. Personally i would go with the retina in that class but thats me.
  11. T-Bob macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2013
    I noticed a night and day difference immediately and the MBA screen was ruined from there on in (plus been using that res on current 12.1" for years now and want higher).

    Image retention seems to not be very common at the moment, but do wait for an in depth analysis like Anandtech. I would say that while it may not be laggy the scrolling will probably be a bit slower than MBA in some circumstances, also depends which res you use.
  12. simon48 macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    Learning some programming can be done on anything. And if the OP wants to do real (not learning) programming you can't do much on a Chromebook. Once you have the basics down, programming via the web is not great, especially if you programming language needs to be compiled.
  13. Seo macrumors regular

    Jun 1, 2009
    Cupertino, California
    Really just comes down to a question of portability. With the rMBP having a smaller footprint than the MBA, being as thin as the MBA at its thickest, and just a bit heavier, it would be my buy.

    For me, the rMBP has a higher quality screen not primarily because of pixel density but because it uses an IPS panel with better color reproduction and viewing angles. Everything else is pretty marginal, although extra CPU/GPU power is nice. However, the rMBP does necessitate my purchasing some new software, like updates to Adobe CS and Lightroom, so if you use any apps that are charging for updates to get retina compatibility watch out.
  14. T-Bob macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2013
    Ok I thought you meant common component replacement. Hmm I can never see the ifixit scores, very hard to find on the page.
  15. kaellar macrumors 6502

    Nov 12, 2012
    This gen rMBPs have next to zero lag under Mavericks, afaik. As of display quality, you definitely don't need to do graphics-intensive work to benefit from Retina display. It's not just the resolution and thus pixel density. It's the whole package - way higher resolution, way wider color gamut (and thus richer and more vibrant colors), way more precise calibration from the factory, even the reflecions resistance looks like being improved over MBA. If you'd see one next to another in-person, you'll probably never consider the MBA as an option, not to say you definitely won't call the difference "negligible":)
  16. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    The main benefit of the retina screen is that it makes your work with text much more pleasant. You said you are writing/coding. Then get the rMBP.

    Repairability: there is not much difference between the repairability of MBA and rMBP. Just don't drop it. Besides, Apple usually offers flat repair options - e.g. if the repair cost is very high they will actually repair/replace it for less. Ask at an Apple store near you whether they have such options. I know that they do it here in Switzerland (e.g. when my iPhone broke down from water damage they offered me to replace it completely with a new one for around half that it would cost).

    The advantages of MBA are slimmer body and slightly longer battery. I think you will be happier with the rMBP though.
  17. Guy Mancuso macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2009
    Have to wonder here since this was mostly in the past year model that these problems came up. Do we have hard core evidence ( lawyer talk. LOL) that these problems still exist today with the new models and actually a new OS as well. On this forum I see bits and pieces of it but not gross numbers either. Makes me wonder if it truly is still lurking around by a large margin. Just a thought
  18. simon48 macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    You get 2 weeks to return no questions asked, but you get 1 year of warranty even without AppleCare.
  19. Guy Mancuso macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2009
    I never bought Apple care myself and been through a lot of machines but never needed it either. Okay I just cursed myself. LOL
  20. 53kyle macrumors 65816


    Mar 27, 2012
    Sebastopol, CA
    I think you should buy the rMBP. It has a much better screen which you WILL notice if you use it for more than 10 minutes at a time. It has basically the same repairability as a MBA and both are very light. I think the rMBP will perform better too. It also has more IO.
  21. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    We have a mba 13" 4/256 and a rmbp 13" 8/256 at home.
    After you use the retina for a longer time the difference to the mba is shocking.
    But: If you just use the mba you wont notice.
    The mba screen feels more "down to earth"

    Dont look at size and weight on paper.
    The mba is much more thin, light and portable. Also because of the much better battery.
    A lot of places have deals on the mba 13" base models.
    Where I live you can get the 4/128 version for under 999€.
    If you want it even cheaper and more portable get the 11"
  22. Fifteen20s macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2012
    I had a Haswell MBA i5/4gig/128 for several months. I bought it as an iPad replacement. I wanted OSX instead of iOS but I did not need power since I have an iMac.

    After a few weeks I found the 4gig memory did not cut it, that was my only mistake with the MBA. The retina screen is no tot be messed with though
  23. STiNG Operation macrumors 6502a

    STiNG Operation

    Aug 15, 2012
    The Zoo
    I'm not sure if you're talking about the image retention problem, but I finally got someone to upload proof of a late 2013 13" having it.
  24. neteng101 macrumors 65816

    Jan 7, 2009
    I took my old '10 13" MBA out of the box and migrated my late-13 13" rMBP data/apps over to it, just in case I decided to return the 13" rMBP given the keyboard/trackpad freeze issue.

    Let me tell you - its downright painful to switch back to looking at the 13" MBA screen now, and I've only switched to the 13" rMBP for a few days. Everything just looks bad on it... also my iPad 2 looks REALLY bad now too. The 13" MBA's display is actually really good - until you get used to a retina, then it starts looking like crap!

    The retina display is downright amazing and you don't realize what you're missing until you get used to one. Viewing it in the store (which I've done MANY times!) simply doesn't do it justice.

    I'd still suggest waiting for Apple to fix the keyboard/trackpad issue on the 13" rMBPs before buying one though, but that retina display is simply amazing. Also build quality wise, there's a solidness to the square design and stronger hinge on the 13" rMBP vs. the wedge and weaker hinge on the 13" MBA.
  25. Guy Mancuso macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2009
    I more meant as more of global problem in the line. We know some folks are having that issue as we seen here on the forum. Guess lets say at a level where Apple is recognizing it as a major problem. Now I see on the front page the lock ups on the 13 it has been acknowledged by Apple. Are we there yet or just spotty issues. Last year it was elevated pretty high on the issue list. Not saying folks are not having these issues or dreaming them up. Just wondering how big it is already since it was just released.

    We need to also keep in mind Mavericks is brand spanking new as well. New computers new OS. I'm about ready to buy a maxed out 15 myself, so I want to know what level it is at as well. I'm looking at north of 3300.00 so I'm watching this like others.

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