Best choice for me: 13" MBA vs 15" cMBP vs 13" rMBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by HardBall, Mar 8, 2013.

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what is the best option

  1. Get some used high-end MBP (please specify)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Current classic MBP 15"

    7 vote(s)
    36.8%
  3. Current MBA 13"

    2 vote(s)
    10.5%
  4. Current retina MBP 13"

    10 vote(s)
    52.6%
  5. Get a PC instead

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. Something else outside the box (please specify)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. HardBall macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #1
    So I guess I'm pretty close to the time for upgrading my current system. I'm in grad school in comp sci/engineering, and it seems that OS X can be made almost entirely POSIX compliant, save a few open source applications. But I will still need to dual boot some distro of linux for certain tasks, as not all the tools that I need out there can be run on mach kernel. I think I'm planning a budget of $1200 - $1800, so a pretty wide range, so these are probably the logical choices within that range.

    Well, I should say a little bit about my history. I used mostly OS X throughout high school and early undergrad, so I'm very familiar with Apple computers until about 2007 or so. Then I moved away into other machines since the need to run linux became predominant usage for me, and paying more for Macs to run the same thing did not make that much sense. But now I've decided to migrate back to OS X, and just dual boot linux, since the PC side of things really pales in comparison to Macbooks these days. But being able to install and run some linux distro is still an important component in my decision process; so is there one of the three that is better suited for that?

    So some important requirements that I have
    • The overall price has to stay in that range of 1200 - 1800
    • Although the resolution of 1440x900 is barely sufficient, something higher would obviously be better for running development environments
    • the ability to easily install and boot linux from bootcamp
    • battery life: the more the better, just makes my daily life that much more convenient
    • being either very light/easy to carry, or have a kennsington lock slot: I go to various places during the day on campus, so either have to carry it everywhere, or being able to lock it down when needed.

    Any advise would be helpful
     
  2. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #2
    Do you need a optical drive? Just answer this. (Do you really need it? Think long on this)
     
  3. HardBall thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #3
    I don't think so.

    My current laptop is a late 2009 HP Envy 15, which has no optical drive, but has an SSD + an HDD And the optical drive that I bought for it, I have not used a single time that I have owned it. In fact, I think I have used the optical drive exactly twice on a laptop since 2007.

    If the cMBP, one of the untold advantage is to replace the optical with extra storage bay. I would probably get an SSD and put the original HDD in the optical bay within a few months.
     
  4. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #4
    Then your choice is now between the Retina and Air Macs. Between those, its your personal choice. But for me, I'd go with Retina, not for the screen, but because of the better CPU (although the GPU will be crap).

    Adding on an SSD or HDD instead of the optical on the Classic is adding on to the price range you are trying to keep in. Spend that money on getting better storage from the start and be done with it. Not to mention warranty voider (although reversible) with the Opti-bay.
     
  5. HardBall thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #5
    Yeah, the GPU is completely irrelevant to me, since I don't really play games that would require high-throughput graphics. The types of games that I play are like draw-something and fruit-ninja, lol.
     
  6. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #6
    More to my post, I added a bit before you quoted me.
     
  7. vatter69 macrumors 6502a

    vatter69

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    #7
    Go to the Apple store and compare the 13" Retina vs the 13" MBA.

    From a raw performance point of view they don't differ too much. I keep hearing that typing on the Air is nice due to the way the case is done, however cannot confirm this.

    The retina is like sex for the eyes though. I was in the same boat and was all for the Air until i saw them first hand in a Store. Easy decision for me. I prefer sex ;)

    I get about 7h battery life out of my 3.0 i7 13" retina btw.
     
  8. Sean76 macrumors 6502

    Sean76

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Location:
    NYC
    #8
    I'd roll with the retina if it's between the Air and the Pro.

    I had the Air and while it's an awesome device for carrying and what not, the Pro just feels like more of a machine for the money, especially since the price drop a few weeks ago...Yes the screen differences are pretty drastic when you put them next to each other.

    Like someone said, take a treck down to Apple...Try em both, and go with what you feel is best for your needs.

    Happy Hunting
     
  9. TRAV9614 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    #9
    I vote for getting a refurb cmbp with the hi-res screen and replacing the optical drive with a SSD. That should be right at $1800.
     
  10. Serban Suspended

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2013
    #10
    I vote for retina macbook with haswell. So wait a little more if you can.
     
  11. HardBall thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #11
    Thanks guys; glad to hear that the 13" retina is treating you well. Yeah, I have seen it in the store, the screen is a very large difference, so that alone could make the retina 13" the better buy. And it is definitely the faster machine, although it's a shame that it doesn't have any option for the quad core chip.

    The advantage of the air is the weight, the somewhat lower price, as well as the availability of some accessories like hard shell cases and protective skins.

    ----------

    So does replacing the optical with an HDD bay really void the warranty?

    ----------

    Yeah, intel is coming out with the new haswell chips soonish (3 months general availability). But based on recent track record, Apple probably won't put them into macs until months after release. So realistically we are looking at October give or take a month, that's way too long of a wait for me.

    As a comp engineer, I know that haswell mostly will improve on power consumption (which is good), and graphics throughput and updates to graphics API compatibility (which is kinda useless). Other areas will be very incremental, definitely not worth the 6 months wait, unless you have a recent model machine that's serving you well. :)
     
  12. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
  13. HardBall thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #13
  14. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    #14
    Yep, same 1 year warranty, and you can add the extended AppleCare just like a new Mac.
     
  15. TRAV9614 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    #15
     
  16. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #16
    I'd go with the 13" rMBP. I had a 2012 Air (2.0GHz 8GB) that I lost while traveling, and used my insurance proceeds to replace it with a base 2.5GHz rMBP. Although the 2.0GHz i7 is rated slightly faster than the 2.5GHz i5, I find the i5 to be a little better in practice, since the rMBP has better thermals. The fan would frequently kick into high gear on the Air, while it rarely goes over 2500rpm in the rMBP.

    The native resolution of the 13" rMBP is a "retinized" 1280x800 vs. the Air's 1440x900, but it has built-in 1440x900 and 1650x1080 modes that work pretty well.

    My only caveat is that guest OSes sometimes can't handle the 2560x1600 resolution properly (i.e. they think they are running on a 30" monitor). Windows has scaling, but not every application renders properly (title bars are sometimes an issue). I don't know about Linux.
     
  17. nando4 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #17
    Have you considered getting the cheapest ebay unit you can to tide you over till Haswell? Maybe even consider 2011 systems? The drawbacks of 2011 systems is no USB 3.0, slower HD3000 graphics and supposedly less efficient 32nm CPUs. Just check the battery wear if wanting maximum battery life. Consider too avoiding the 15" MBPs if Linux/Windows battery life is important - they can't enable the iGPU in any OS other than OSX.

    Then can wait for Haswell for the better battery life, faster iGPU and native Thunderbolt ports, maybe even surprising us with a speed upgrade (pci-e 2.0 @ 10Gbps to pci-e 3.0 @ 16/20Gbps).
     
  18. HardBall thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #18
    I see, I guess there is no advantage in buying new then; other than my student discount. I guess I will have to see how much of my student discount comes in to balance out the refurb discount.

    Is there any way to apply some student discount to the refurb units? Or is such application strictly forbidden?

    ----------

     
  19. HardBall thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #19
    Thanks for the pointers;

    I don't think it would be worth it for me to get another laptop in the mean time. If I did that, I might as well trying to wring as much usage out of my current laptop(s) as I can.

    A great point about th integrated GPU though. I guess there is actually an advantage in getting the models without the discrete graphics, if indeed they do not provide proper drivers and DSDT settings in efi for Linux.

    ----------

    Good to hear from someone who has extensively used both. I guess MBA is not as a good choice as I first thought, thanks for the heads up. If I got the 13" rMBP, I would probably stick with the 1680x1050, that's the ideal resolution for a 13" screen.
     
  20. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    #20
    No student discount on the refurbished units.
     

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