analysis paralysis - 13" rMBP or MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by flipdippy, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. flipdippy, Oct 31, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013

    flipdippy macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2013
    I'm going in circles trying to decide on a 2nd mac.

    I have a new 2012 13" rmbp w/8GB/128GB on hold at best buy for $1029.

    I can buy a new 2013" 13" rmbp w/8GB/128GB w/ed discount for $1139.

    I can buy a new mba 13" w/8GB/128GB w/ed discount for $1139.

    I don't want to spend more than 1199, and this will not be a workhorse - it's a casual, around the house and occasional travel use machine. 128 GB disk is probably sufficient, and at least 25% of the time it'll be hooked up to an external monitor.

    Which should I get? I'm leaning towards the 2012 rmbp from best buy, but not if even as a casual machine it's going to be at risk for becoming prematurely obsolete since it's a 1st gen retina laptop.
  2. AlecMyrddyn macrumors 6502

    Dec 5, 2008
    Southern Maine
    What's your current Mac?

    Given your intended uses, I'd vote for option 1 or 3. If I were in your situation, I'd probably go for #1 given that I like the rMBP screen much more than the MBA.

    I can't with good conscience recommend anyone get the rMBP with non-upgradable 4GB of RAM, even though for light usage it'll probably be fine.

    In deciding between the MBA and rMBP, there are two main considerations:

    The screen.
    Battery Life.

    Weigh those against each other for your use. If you don't care about the battery life, sit in front of each one for a little to decide if you'll be happy with the non-retina screen on the MBA in the long run.
  3. FrozenDarkness macrumors 65816

    Mar 21, 2009
    your current computer is a better choice than either of the two new ones...
  4. flipdippy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2013
    My wife has a 13" macbook pro.

    I changed jobs recently, and had to give back my macbook air 13", which I liked.

    my current employer gave me a lenovo, which I need for some things like ms project.

    So this second machine will be used by me when I travel, and probably be shared with my (younger) kids and me around the house at home.
  5. PanserJohan macrumors newbie

    Aug 28, 2013
    Close to the polar sircle
    go for the MBP. You get more power for the same amount of money, a better screen and more ports. When it comes to weight issues, the new MBP is lighter than its predesesor, and thiner.

    If the Air comes with a retina display some time in the future, the choice will be easy, bit as for now; MBP.
  6. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2013
    Alternatively: Mac Mini and an iPad, which is the setup I have (possibly over your budget)

    For your choices I would take the Air as you've had one before, plus personally I find the rMBP's almost too bulky these days to be thought of as portable as I'm so used to my travel device being the iPad
  7. s2mikey macrumors 68020


    Sep 23, 2013
    Upstate, NY
    Yeah - if portability is a big thing then most people shopuld go with the Air. If the system will be sitting on a table 90% of the time, the MBP is a no-briner and its the way Im leaning. ;)
  8. joonyaboy macrumors 6502


    Jun 27, 2010
  9. PDFierro macrumors 68040

    Sep 8, 2009
    But the 13-inch rMBP is insanely portable. Not really a difference between that and the Air.
  10. AllergyDoc macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2013
    Utah, USA
  11. Atomic Walrus macrumors 6502a

    Sep 24, 2012
    Kind of hard to recommend the Air over the 13" rMBP at this point, but I'll try to do it anyway since I don't know that anyone else is going to...

    Base model is $230 cheaper (than equivalent rMBP base model at edu pricing) if you get it from Amazon and you don't pay Amazon tax in your state (but always remember to file it in your tax returns we totally all actually do that I'm being serious don't audit me etc.).

    Battery life is going to be way better, but we're in the territory of "who is this for?" I think I could appreciate it actually, but not because I'm away from power for 15 (battery score with Mavericks!) hours so much as because it changes how you use the machine.

    Basically that battery life means you could treat it like an iPad: Always use it on battery, carry it around, only plug it in to charge when it actually gets low. Don't even bother carrying the power cord, never operate on AC.

    No retina scaling to deal with. The whole scaling system is still kind of a pain right now, though I expect it will continue to get better with OS X updates (it's already better than it used to be thanks to Mavericks). To get more working screen area you have to either use scaled retina 1440x900 (HiDPI), which is laggier and hits the battery harder, or use a 3rd party util to go to true (non-HiDPI) 1440x900 which completely defeats the point of a high quality screen (looks like any non-native resolution on LCD; blurry).

    And obviously it's lighter. If you really are trying to minimize your carry weight and you want to have a laptop over a tablet every 1/2 lb. does really count. Maybe you're a backpack resister like me, maybe you just want a computer you can use in-hand (and you can do this with the Air).

    Oh, one more: No glass. The thin glass on the rMBP can shatter under impact (transferred impact force from the case, not just direct screen impact). The Air is more vulnerable to direct damage (exposed LCD panel with only its top filter layer for protection) but in general I'd say that type of panel is more resistant to impact damage.

    All that said, Apple should cut another $100 (or even $150) off the Air now that the 13" rMBPs have been refreshed and saw a $200 cut.
  12. dizmonk macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2010
    I have had both and continue to go back and forth. I'm leaning toward the Air as the battery life is absurd.
  13. flipdippy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2013
    I don't care much about the portability. The rMBP or MBA are each at least 3 lbs lighter than the beast I have now for work.

    The benefit of each don't matter to me - I don't lust after the extra battery and I don't think my kids will care much about the retina display.

    I think I'm talking myself into the Air, but what I haven't seen reading the forums is a good comparison of performance on a lower end 13" rMBP vs the Air yet.

    If general performance is about equal, I'd take the retina screen and less disk over the Air.

    But, I've seen that the 128 GB disk doesn't perform nearly as well as the 256 GB, and I promised I would stick to my budget.
  14. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    Uh... no. The 13" rMBP will stomp the living daylight out of the MBA every way to Sunday. They are two different machines entirely.
  15. phero, Oct 31, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013

    phero macrumors member

    May 3, 2013
    Not really. The processors they ship with are virtually the same, except for the turbo speeds (don't let the "base" clockspeed differences fool you, those do not really matter when comparing). Performance is very similair actually. The rMBP has a higher TDP, but it has to drive more pixels in return. The only area where you might see real performance gains for the rMBP is when both cores and/or the GPU are all drawing power simultanously - an unlikely situation in normal day to day use. Even then, the difference will not be very big.

    In fact, because the Air is working on such a lower resolution, I might actually give it the performance edge over the rMBP (13").

    Read this thread for more info and benchmarks. Note that in those benchmarks, display resolution is the same across all devices (so the performance penalty that a rMBP suffers from having to drive more pixels is NOT taken into account).
  16. Lagmonster macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2007
    I went from MBA to retina. I will never go back.
  17. flipdippy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2013
    I decided to buy a base 13" MBA .

    I fully expect to get rid of it in a year, and given I was considering buying a hp chromebook at $279 for the same purpose, if I can sell it for $600 or thereabouts in a year it is money well spent.

    Now I won't feel guilty if there are compelling laptops in the next year from apple and want to buy one (more mature retina MacBooks, touchscreen air, etc) at launch.

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