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

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by sammyman, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. sammyman macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2005
    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?
  2. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    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.
  3. themumu macrumors 6502a


    Feb 13, 2011
    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.
  4. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2005
    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!
  5. mpantone macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2009
    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.
  6. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2005
    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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