Deciding between 13" MBA or 13" rMBP

ChrisHemphill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2014
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Hello everyone; first time poster here in need of advice. I'm going to be buying a Mac in early to mid September and was wondering if the 13" MBA would suit my needs. I will be using it for school doing word processing, browsing the web, but my main question is will it be okay for working with VMware fusion running a windows server? I was going to pay the extra money for the 8 gigs of ram and for the 512 gb of flash storage. Any advice would be much appreciated and thanks in advance!
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
1,365
534
Houston, Texas
Hello everyone; first time poster here in need of advice. I'm going to be buying a Mac in early to mid September and was wondering if the 13" MBA would suit my needs. I will be using it for school doing word processing, browsing the web, but my main question is will it be okay for working with VMware fusion running a windows server? I was going to pay the extra money for the 8 gigs of ram and for the 512 gb of flash storage. Any advice would be much appreciated and thanks in advance!
The MBA will be more than enough for what you need. The biggest factor in comparing the two should be the screen. The display on the retina MBP is awesome for reading text (especially for long periods of time). The retina is slightly heavier but has a smaller footprint so it's easily as portable as the Air. Battery life is better on the Air by about 3 hours.

I've had both. I prefer the design and wedge on the Air, but the retina display makes the rMBP worth it in my opinion. When the Air finally gets a retina display it will be (in my opinion) the perfect laptop. Until then, I can't go back since I've used the retina so rMBP gets my vote.
 

ChrisHemphill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2014
20
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The MBA will be more than enough for what you need. The biggest factor in comparing the two should be the screen. The display on the retina MBP is awesome for reading text (especially for long periods of time). The retina is slightly heavier but has a smaller footprint so it's easily as portable as the Air. Battery life is better on the Air by about 3 hours.

I've had both. I prefer the design and wedge on the Air, but the retina display makes the rMBP worth it in my opinion. When the Air finally gets a retina display it will be (in my opinion) the perfect laptop. Until then, I can't go back since I've used the retina so rMBP gets my vote.

Thank you for the reply. I was thinking about connecting it to a monitor when I'm at home, so I don't really think that the screen will be a problem for me. I like that the MBA is really light and thin but still powerful. I thinking really hard about the rMBP as we'll, but for what I want it will be close to or over $2,000. I found a refurb 13" MBA on the Apple site with the specs I want for $1,400; so I'm hoping that one is still available when I have the money to buy it.
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
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534
Houston, Texas
Thank you for the reply. I was thinking about connecting it to a monitor when I'm at home, so I don't really think that the screen will be a problem for me. I like that the MBA is really light and thin but still powerful. I thinking really hard about the rMBP as we'll, but for what I want it will be close to or over $2,000. I found a refurb 13" MBA on the Apple site with the specs I want for $1,400; so I'm hoping that one is still available when I have the money to buy it.
If you are using an external monitor then definitely go with the Air. You will never notice a difference in power between the two, and will save several hundred bucks in the process.
 

nexus4life

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2014
185
1
A great plan indeed. Macbook Airs are definitely capable of doing everything macbook pros can, even if it takes just a bit longer. The screen seems to be the #1 thing these days that people can't decide on. And since that doesn't seem like it will be an issue for you, it's not a thing to worry about.

You'll love Parallels if you end up getting it - runs everything so well. I have experience with VMware Fusion and it just seems like it gives a lot more error messages and the virtual disks get "corrupted" or otherwise messed up quite often, so I got rid of it.
 

ChrisHemphill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2014
20
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Well I know for a fact that in my windows server class, we will be using VMware. Can I open a vm from VMware in parallels? Also, I've been thinking about maybe just getting a refurbished rMBP 15" instead.
 

nexus4life

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2014
185
1
Well I know for a fact that in my windows server class, we will be using VMware. Can I open a vm from VMware in parallels? Also, I've been thinking about maybe just getting a refurbished rMBP 15" instead.
I don't believe you can without finding some conversion method or other tweaking.

Refurb rMBP would be a nicer and larger screen, but you'd be sacrificing probably at least half of the battery life.
 

ChrisHemphill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2014
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So I'm guessing that the 13" rMBP would probably be the viable medium? I've had a few windows laptops, so I'm used to low battery life anyway lol.
 

nexus4life

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2014
185
1
So I'm guessing that the 13" rMBP would probably be the viable medium? I've had a few windows laptops, so I'm used to low battery life anyway lol.
All depends on what you want. If you think you'll be close to a wall outlet within ~6 hours, then I would probably go for the rMBP if that's an option - the retina display was something I could not for weeks make up my mind on- thought I'd be simply too disappointed with the lack of it. But I have yet to be - my desktop monitors aren't 4k so I don't really notice that much of a difference unless I've been using my iPad or Nexus 5 for a while.
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
1,365
534
Houston, Texas
So I'm guessing that the 13" rMBP would probably be the viable medium? I've had a few windows laptops, so I'm used to low battery life anyway lol.
The 13 rMBP has fantastic battery life. I can get anywhere from 9-11 hours with light usage, and 7-9 with heavy usage. And the 15, while less, still offers up good battery life. Neither of them are as good as the 13 Air, but the 13 rMBP isn't too far behind.
 

ChrisHemphill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2014
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All depends on what you want. If you think you'll be close to a wall outlet within ~6 hours, then I would probably go for the rMBP if that's an option - the retina display was something I could not for weeks make up my mind on- thought I'd be simply too disappointed with the lack of it. But I have yet to be - my desktop monitors aren't 4k so I don't really notice that much of a difference unless I've been using my iPad or Nexus 5 for a while.

We'll I have a few months to decide, so I'll just do some more research. Thank you for your feedback!
 

nexus4life

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2014
185
1
We'll I have a few months to decide, so I'll just do some more research. Thank you for your feedback!
Who knows? In a few months, new models may be released, which could make it easier or harder to decide. It's just a waiting game at this point.
 

ChrisHemphill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2014
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Question though, what about the 13" MBP non retina? I like that it is only $1,199 and the ram and hard drive is user upgradable. I may spring for that one.....
 

T5BRICK

macrumors G3
Aug 3, 2006
8,086
2,055
Oregon
Question though, what about the 13" MBP non retina? I like that it is only $1,199 and the ram and hard drive is user upgradable. I may spring for that one.....
I'd stick with the rMBP or the MBA. The old 13" MBP hasn't been updated in about 2 years. It's still an Ivy Bridge CPU with HD4000 graphics. The battery life isn't anywhere near as good as the retina or Air models you're comparing it to.
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
1,365
534
Houston, Texas
I'd stick with the rMBP or the MBA. The old 13" MBP hasn't been updated in about 2 years. It's still an Ivy Bridge CPU with HD4000 graphics. The battery life isn't anywhere near as good as the retina or Air models you're comparing it to.
This exactly, not to mention the added weight and aged display.
 

Rhyno37

macrumors regular
Jul 23, 2011
130
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Personally, I'd go for the rMBP unless a retina Air magically releases. I absolutely love the shape and size of the Air. Even though its not that much lighter than the rMBP, it feels a lot ligther because of the shape. It's much better to type on too, as the palm rest is angled. All that being said, the Display is a HUGE drawback. When I was trying to decide between the rMBP and MBA, a lot of people downplayed the differences in screen quality and they were flat wrong. The MBA uses a TN Panel, and you can easily see pixels. The colors look washed out and there's not much contrast. The rMBP uses an IPS panel with superior color reproduction, and a much higher resolution.

When the day comes that the MBA is upgraded to a retina screen, I will switch back in a heartbeat. For now, the screen is enough of a reason for me to go with the rMBP. When you are surrounded by high resolution displays (iPod, iPad), the MBA's display pales in comparison.
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
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Houston, Texas
When the day comes that the MBA is upgraded to a retina screen, I will switch back in a heartbeat. For now, the screen is enough of a reason for me to go with the rMBP. When you are surrounded by high resolution displays (iPod, iPad), the MBA's display pales in comparison.
I completely agree. Same situation.
 

ChrisHemphill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2014
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I'll go to the apple store and play around with both of them. I light that the Air very portable; but it looks like the pro isn't that much heavier.
 

SpoonCody

macrumors 6502
May 28, 2014
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That 12 hour battery life of the Air swings it slightly in its favor, in my opinion.

I'm a current 13" rMBP owner.
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
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534
Houston, Texas
That 12 hour battery life of the Air swings it slightly in its favor, in my opinion.

I'm a current 13" rMBP owner.
Interesting...

I could not give up the retina display just to gain 3 hours of battery life. It was 6 hours or more I'd consider, but even then the retina is just that good.
 

ChrisHemphill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2014
20
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Interesting...



I could not give up the retina display just to gain 3 hours of battery life. It was 6 hours or more I'd consider, but even then the retina is just that good.

Yeah I'm not really worried about battery life either. I heard that the rMBP battery life is pretty good too. I could maybe see getting the Air if I traveled a lot though.
 

uwdude

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2014
914
462
Decided on the retina

I just made this very same decision last week. I went into the Apple store to actually compare them in person, so I would know what I was getting. I lifted both of them up to compare the weights, looked at both screens closely, opened a few apps to compare the speed, etc. I ended up deciding on the rMBP.

The screen on the pro just really was much better, it really popped out at you, and the screen on the Air was just average. When I lifted both of them up, I could hardly tell the difference in the weight, which surprised me- I thought the Air would feel much lighter, but there wasn't much of a difference.

When I opened some apps, it depended on the app as to a difference. Opening Safari/loading a web page, opening iTunes, there wasn't any difference in speed. Opening something like iMovie, though, there was a difference. 3-4 bounces of the icon before opening on the rMBP vs. 6 bounces or so on the Air. So I could tell the pro was a little bit faster in intensive apps, but not much difference in everyday apps.

But that retina screen blew me away though, you'll be really happy with that if you get it. I decided that was worth it.
 

ChrisHemphill

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2014
20
0
I just made this very same decision last week. I went into the Apple store to actually compare them in person, so I would know what I was getting. I lifted both of them up to compare the weights, looked at both screens closely, opened a few apps to compare the speed, etc. I ended up deciding on the rMBP.



The screen on the pro just really was much better, it really popped out at you, and the screen on the Air was just average. When I lifted both of them up, I could hardly tell the difference in the weight, which surprised me- I thought the Air would feel much lighter, but there wasn't much of a difference.



When I opened some apps, it depended on the app as to a difference. Opening Safari/loading a web page, opening iTunes, there wasn't any difference in speed. Opening something like iMovie, though, there was a difference. 3-4 bounces of the icon before opening on the rMBP vs. 6 bounces or so on the Air. So I could tell the pro was a little bit faster in intensive apps, but not much difference in everyday apps.



But that retina screen blew me away though, you'll be really happy with that if you get it. I decided that was worth it.

If you don't mind me asking; what configuration of the rMBP did you get? I was going to buy off the apple website and get the 256 gb and upgrade the ram to 16 gb for a little future proofing. Also to knock off $100 with the education discount.
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
1,365
534
Houston, Texas
Yeah I'm not really worried about battery life either. I heard that the rMBP battery life is pretty good too. I could maybe see getting the Air if I traveled a lot though.
I find the 13 rMBP battery to be phenomenal. I get 7 plus hours with heavy use, and 9-10 hours with light use.