Depreciation in 1-2 years? Base MBA vs Mid rMBP?

sammyman

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 21, 2005
949
43
Which one will depreciate more in 1-2 years, the base 13" MBA, or the mid 13" rMBP?

I found a base open box 13" MBA locally for sale for $877 after tax ($1099 model), and a 13" mid rMBP for $1350 ($1499 model).

Which one will I loose more money on? I'm guessing the rMBP even though it is newer just because it is more expensive to begin with. Thoughts?
 

jmoore5196

macrumors 6502a
May 19, 2009
767
261
Midwest US
You'll lose money on both, I imagine. As you know, computers aren't an appreciating asset.

However, I think you'll take the biggest hit on the base-model MBA. The simple fact is that prices for secondhand Apple products are driven by supply and demand, and more people will buy the base model MBA than the mid-level rMBP.

I can offer some anecdotal information to back this up: My high-spec 2012 MBA is worth somewhere between half and two-thirds of what I paid for it a year later. My wife's base MBA, on the other hand, wouldn't fetch half of the original purchase price today.
 

themumu

macrumors 6502a
Feb 13, 2011
720
561
Sunnyvale
My high-spec 2012 MBA is worth somewhere between half and two-thirds of what I paid for it a year later. My wife's base MBA, on the other hand, wouldn't fetch half of the original purchase price today.
There are 2 ways of calculating depreciation: as a percentage of original price, and as an absolute value.

While a high end model may lose less of its original price in fractional terms, it may still be a higher dollar amount simply because the price was higher to begin with. Generally speaking, any upgrades you add to a laptop may increase the resale value, but will never "pay for themselves" in that regard.

The price difference between the two models you are considering is almost $500. I seriously doubt the resale price will differ by that much in a year or two when you decide sell.

Let's do some math, just because I'm bored :)

Suppose the rMBP loses 1/3 of its value: $1350 / 3 = $450
And the MBA loses 1/2 its value: $877 / 2 = $438
So you would lose $450 when you resell the rMBP and $438 when you resell the MBA. That's pretty close actually, but neither number is guaranteed as prices can fluctuate.

Then there is time value of money. Since the original price of the rMBP is $477 more, we can go all out and add interest lost from not having that money available for a year or two that you would be using the computer. Assuming a conservative 2% annual interest rate, that's about $10 per year. But I'm just being extra anal here ;)

The moral of the story is that you should buy what fits your usage best and what you can afford right now. The difference in resale value is likely not significant enough to outweigh your direct requirements in a computer.
 

sammyman

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 21, 2005
949
43
Suppose the rMBP loses 1/3 of its value: $1350 / 3 = $450
And the MBA loses 1/2 its value: $877 / 2 = $438
So you would lose $450 when you resell the rMBP and $438 when you resell the MBA. That's pretty close actually, but neither number is guaranteed as prices can fluctuate.
This is kind of what I was thinking. I figured the MBA would have a smaller absolute value loss. And I predict they will both depreciate about evenly, UNLESS the MBA gets a big make over next year. One more thing is that we should look at the numbers from the retail price instead of the price paid because I am getting almost 20% off the MBA and 10% off the MBPr.

Let's do 1/3 for both off the retail price:

Suppose the rMBP loses 1/3 of its value: $1499 / 3 = $494
And the MBA loses 1/3 its value: $1099 / 3 = $363

Still relatively close. Close enough to make me want to go for the newer MBPr.

Thanks for hashing this out with me and for speculating!
 

mpantone

macrumors 6502
Mar 20, 2009
450
0
The moral of the story is that you should buy what fits your usage best and what you can afford right now. The difference in resale value is likely not significant enough to outweigh your direct requirements in a computer.
This is the way I'd go.

Just buy the device that will best suit your needs during your ownership period. Computers are consumer appliances.
 

sammyman

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 21, 2005
949
43
This is the way I'd go.

Just buy the device that will best suit your needs during your ownership period. Computers are consumer appliances.
I have a Mac Pro which is occupied by my wife most of the time. Been getting by with a base MBA but I think I'll enjoy the extra ponies that come with the retina MBP.
 
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