At what point could a rMB be your main machine?


macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 26, 2009
Phoenixville, PA
I'm the type of fella that doesn't like to have and sync multiple computers. I like to have one machine I can use on the go and plug into a monitor when at the office. Simpler and less expensive that way. Currently I run on a recently purchased 13" rMBP, which definitely got some competition from the rMP during the purchasing process.

I do work in some ridiculously sized database files, and a little graphic design, as well as being a chronic multitasker (10+ apps open at most times). I knew I couldn't spring for the rMB this time around because I have a coworker running a 2014 MBA (doing similar work as me) whose machine handles his workload, but gets hung up with some things. There's no way the rMB would keep up.

My goodness, I love the size and design of the rMB. I probably could have gotten away with buying a 2015 Air (with 8GB RAM) over my Pro, but it was just too dated and didn't have the retina screen.

I've come to the conclusion that a rMB won't be realistic for me until it is on par with the current MBA in terms of performance. At what point does the rMB have the ability to become your only machine?


macrumors 65816
Apr 3, 2010
Heart of the midwest
When it has more than one port. So possibly never, or until they have a dock that works with everything I use.

I'm currently using a Late 2013 13" rMBP (8GB/256GB) with two 4TB USB 3.0 external hard drives for Aperture, iTunes, games, and software libraries on them, a 23" display over HDMI to DVI (HDMI native won't scale properly), sometimes a third display via Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt to gigabit Ethernet, a USB 3 hub for a superdrive and some flash drives, and finally my M-Audio AV40's over the headphone jack.

So, I've got just about every single port on this thing full when it's at my desk. I do run some "heavy" apps like Aperture, FCPX, Adobe CS5/CC, Logic Pro X, and Windows 8 in parallels along with Boot camp for some games (GH3, NFS, Burnout, etc.).

So yeah, more ports or a universal dock. On the go I would be just fine, but when I'm at my desk it would be lacking. A 13" MacBook Air would do fine in my situation for the most part, but the retina screen was a huge advantage along with higher wattage CPU/GPU and a higher TDP when running Games.

As a side machine it would be fine if I wanted to use an iMac/Mac Mini and then use the rMB as a portable machine. But for a college student on a budget, I just stick with a single Mac. I'm sure in a few years time it'll be on par with what I've got, perhaps then I'll use the straight up MacBook again (started with a Late 2008 MacBook before my '13).

Till then, I think it would be a great fit for my parents who have a 2009 13" MBP and a 2007 iMac (both have SSDs and Yosemite). I was thinking 13" MBA, but they almost never plug anything in. Save for the occasional SD card or iPod.

It would almost work for my work computer (currently a 2012 i7 Mac Mini, and a huge 17" i7/860m Asus ROG laptop) but without gigabit ethernet it's a no go. I am head of IT and run the network so I'm testing cables and runs around campus and need ethernet. Yes there is USB to ethernet, but the standard Thunderbolt adapter won't work. So I'm getting a 13" Air. I also use more than one USB port if I'm cloning drives and such. So the MBA is still a perfect fit for doing lots of work and being able to move around campus easily so I can ditch this big ol' backpack for the Asus, lol.

Looking forward to when I can though. Or getting a couple for my parents. Then I can get some actual use time on them and see how the run. I'm still not sold on the shallow keyboard yet. I really liked the one on the PB G4 and non-unibody MBP's the most along with the current style from 2008 and on. The shallowness would take some getting used to, but I'm sure it could be done.
Last edited:


Oct 14, 2013
For the apps BrettApple is running on his computer, I would only recommend the Macbook Pro 15, maybe even maxed out. Quad core is great if you want power. If I was to only own a single computer, I now have five, I would go for a Macbook Pro 15. I rocked the Macbook Pro 17 inch for three years without having any other platform. If you can afford two computers, including a desktop with power and storage, I would also add a Macbook retina.

The retina Macbook Pro 13 isn't good enough to be a single computer. Thats why I am selling it. If I wasn't using Adobe CC and huge RAW files, the rMB would probably be enough. All my coding, databases and media streaming/consumption is great on the rMB.

The CPU is actually quite good, dfausty. If you are a pro user, you would go for quad core anyway.


macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2008
Kansas City
Typical business traveler it maybe possible. I have traditionally used a rMBP 15" but I'm not even using a tenth of it's power as my daily work flow is emails, web and spreadsheets. I don't pretend I need 50 web tabs open to feel important as some have stated as a "must", I can run with a few that are business related to my company. Email is light weight and most of the spreadsheets I am either creating or reviewing have yet to have a major performance impact on my rMB.

The rMB is not to blame for being under powered if someone thinks they can use it as a video or photo editor or something like a graphics designer. It wasn't built for that purpose and frankly is ridiculous someone would complain it's not a viable option for anyone. When I did travel constantly for work the number one item on my checklist was weight as in sales or now running my own company playing video's and looking at websites is not mission critical. Having a machine I can access email, spreadsheets and 8 hour battery life is all that is needed to make it happen. I don't live in some remote part of the world where I can't find an outlet for an hour here or there so if it can go 8 due to me forgetting to plug it in then it's a workable solution.

I don't buy a sub compact and then complain I can't haul 2 tons of bricks. I think if people are realistic as to what they "need" vs what they want it's a capable machine. Yes I know that's silly to say on the internet because everyone has some amazing job that they do photo/video work and design space ships for living. The rest of us common folk can use this as an everyday machine.


macrumors 68000
Sep 12, 2008
Northumberland, UK
The rMB is faster than my work provided laptop. I wish it wasn't, but it is. There are still some truly horrible laptops out there. I'd quite happily use a MB as my main machine via boot camp if I was allowed.


macrumors regular
Jul 24, 2008
The rMB (1.2GHz/512GB) is my one and only machine for everything that I do, everyday. I upgraded from a 2013 11" MBA, i7 w/ 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD. I've been using it for almost 7 weeks straight now.

For work, I am a web developer and have used it for running 2 VM's (Debian Linux on Vagrant/VirtualBox, and Windows 8.1 on VMWare 7 for Internet Explorer), 3 browsers (Firefox, Safari, Chrome), Sublime Text for coding. These apps are constantly running. I also have about a dozen other apps running but they use little or no processor power (terminal, hipchat, etc.), so they don't really count. I also occasionally use Photoshop, Word & Excel for misc. tasks.

At first, the singular port was a concern, but w/ the AV Multiport adapter, it no longer is. My main concern was how to hook up my 27" Dell U2713HM. But I had an extra $3 HDMI->DVI cable lying around and that solved my 1440p issue. The Dell laptop also has a built in USB Hub so I'm able to plug all USB devices without an issue.

I don't use ethernet (I stopped using ethernet back in 2007, lol), and with my 802.11ac wifi router reaching (and maintaining) speeds of ~876 Mbps, I don't really see the point.

My main reason for upgrade was the retina display, and it was a worthy upgrade. I already loved the 11" MBA and used that everyday; this was just the icing on the cake.

My life hasn't changed dramatically since upgrading, so no show stoppers to talk about here. I guess I'm not really a "Pro" user in the sense that I don't tax the CPU much; developers in general just need the minimum to get by. I can tell you that I've experimented w/ Netbooks in the past, even the Chromebook, and neither of those really satisfied my needs; either the keyboard was too small, or the functionality was too limited, etc.

Overall, I'm very happy w/ the new macbook.
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macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2014
At what point could a rMB be your main machine?
It already is. The rMBP is now officially my wife's machine. I don't even have a user account on that thing anymore.

It's certainly not for everyone, but the MacBook 12 will fit the lives of a lot of Mac users perfectly and without compromise, me included.


macrumors regular
Aug 1, 2008
North Carolina
I don't buy a sub compact and then complain I can't haul 2 tons of bricks. I think if people are realistic as to what they "need" vs what they want it's a capable machine..
This is a very good analogy. I have had this machine for over a month and it has become my daily driver. There has been nothing I do daily that this machine can't handle.


macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2010
when you are under 10... or over 70.... or when just have no idea what a "firefox" is.


macrumors newbie
May 28, 2015
Could someone tell me how it handles adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Xcode, and large photo libraries(raw and JPEG)? I want the super portability, and refuse to own more than one machine for home.

Is it enough for a programmer/hobby photographer?


macrumors regular
Jul 24, 2008
Could someone tell me how it handles adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Xcode, and large photo libraries(raw and JPEG)? I want the super portability, and refuse to own more than one machine for home.

Is it enough for a programmer/hobby photographer?
Photoshop and Illustrator run fine, haven't run into any issues. I'm not a photographer, but someone on this forum mentioned this video about using lightroom with about 41,000 photos in a single library:


macrumors 6502a
Mar 2, 2013
At what point does the rMB have the ability to become your only machine?
Depends on the user. For me? It already is. The machine can run a lot more than people give it credit for. Yes, the UI lag can get crappy when it is heavily loaded but that applies to every retina OS X system.

I run lots of simultaneous VMs using Vagrant paired with VMware Fusion. I also run 6-10 tabs with Safari at any given time, often with Netflix running in the background (I usually use it for background noise). Then there are a few copies of Atom running, editing my Vagrant and SaltStack files. Other minor apps would be Mail, ForkLift, Fantastical, AnyConnect and a couple others.

Here is a shot of my desktop which runs GeekTool geeklets that show my vagrant load, storage usage and top summary:



macrumors 68040
Nov 23, 2011
When they upgrade that gawd-awful processor and add a port or two.
And rename it "Macbook Air" or "Macbook Pro" ??? SMH


With every post I'm convinced the naysayers about the MB haven't even bought one and\or played with it for any period of time.


macrumors member
Jun 27, 2010
If it has a better processor, more ports, MagSafe and I almost forgot the glowing Apple logo.
Processor wise, as others have stated, the Core M isn't that bad. Im running Parallels Windows 7x64 VM and it runs it fine. Nothing very processor heavy though. With the upcoming Hub's flexibility around ports will be quickly resolved.

seriously, it would have to have the glowing Apple logo for you to consider it being your only, considering you don't see it while you are using it.


macrumors newbie
May 26, 2015
I wouldn't consider myself a power user - going from the 2nd gen Air to the 2013 rMBP I really noticed the difference in power despite the extra weight.

I took a bit of a risk with the base rMB but after a few weeks am convinced it was the right decision.

I should qualify by saying I'm a light user - music, streaming, internet, word, spotify, storage, youtube etc.
My story goes like this. Went into the store to have a look at the watch - pure curiosity only. Then saw the rMB and asked if there was availability.

They told me 4-6 weeks. I was ready to go but put it off because I was feeling impulsive at the time. The same week, I found stock in a store, got a few bux off and bought the base space grey. Love it!

I was initially nervous about the lack of ports and power too, but bought the basic Apple usb adapter for $30 and have since invested in an ebay SD reader and 3.0 USB hub. All problems solved.

Even the screen at the 12" vs 13" appears no smaller because of the bezel design. It's a beauty - I've only ever had one machine (with an ipad mini and iphone and apple TV) but it still integrates perfectly and suits my needs.

I used to have a multitude of expensive HDMI, VGA, ethernet and other adpaters with the 2013 rMBP and never really used them so don't really miss them. Everything is going wireless now. I can still tether to my phone when out which is the only real requirement if I'm browsing - otherwise I can read on my ipad - or watch a movie/listen to music.

Not terribly impressed with the expense of the Apple multi use adapter but since I have no need for it, I'm fine. Eventually I'll buy a second charger but for now, very happy.


macrumors newbie
May 26, 2015
Not until it is as fast as the Air and has an SD card slot and one more port.

I had the same reservations - solved the SD problem very easily (I upload photos once in a while) and the speed, well for me it's fine for general use.

Power users or gamers might need to wait on....but they don't know what they're missing ;)


macrumors newbie
May 26, 2015
Agree. The MagSafe was very innovative but they won't be going back. Just be careful not to kick it around the living room!
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