First macbook, can't decide MBA or rMBP

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Izaiah, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. Izaiah, Mar 5, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014

    Izaiah macrumors regular

    Izaiah

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    FL
    #1
    So I'm looking to get my first Apple computer and I'm having trouble deciding what to get.

    I work full time and often lug my 5.5lb laptop to my job to web browse and work on homework between my clients. A 3-3.5lbs computer would be amazing. I'm also a college student, but it's Women's & Gender Studies so I'll really only need the computer for iWork/MS Office and web browsing(up to 20 tabs open at a time). No photo/video editing, gaming, or other resource intensive stuff.

    I'm coming from a really cheap interim PC with an AMD 300, 4GB RAM, and 320GB HDD(with 214GB free at the moment). I use iCloud and Google Drive for my docs, music, and photos.

    Now here's my dilemma with options(all 13 inch models):

    MBA 4/128 for $900

    rMBP 4/128 for $1150

    MBA 8/128 for $1139

    MBA 8/256 for $1339

    rMBP 8/256 for $1349

    I think the base MBA is a really good deal and I think it would be ok for my needs. I like the base rMBP, but I'm not sure if my usage warrants $250 more for the retina.

    And I know many people say to try to get 8GB of RAM, but is it worth the mid-tier price jump for the MBA? At that price point I'd be getting pretty damn close to the mid-tier rMBP. Then again, maybe the MBA 8/128 is an option, though it's still $239 for those 4GB of RAM.

    There is a chance that I am overthinking this lol. None of the configs are going to break my wallet, but I'm also not necessarily going to throw several hundred dollars at upgrades I don't need.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
     
  2. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #2
    As a student with modest computing needs, I would go for the cheapest and lightest MBA you can get. You can always add an external drive for more storage later on. I have a 15 in MBP (pre-retina) and I never lug it anywhere because I have my iPad mini for that. If I were choosing a "road machine," I'd have to seriously consider the MBA. If you can afford to spring for a little extra memory then do that. If you are careful about how much crap you keep on your Mac versus storing things on network drives, usb drives, etc you can get away with the base SSD configuration in the MBA: Go for the 8/128 version at $1139.
     
  3. Izaiah thread starter macrumors regular

    Izaiah

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    FL
    #3
    Thanks for the input.

    I love the weight and battery life of the Air, but I keep waffling on whether I want retina.

    I like the sharper text on the retina and the design of the MBP feels a little bit sturdier. That could just be because I've never had an ultrathin computer, though.
     
  4. kathyricks macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2012
    #4
    The slight extra cost of the retina will be paid back to you at resale time because in a year or two all new laptops will likely have retina or similar ultra fine pixel displays and so traditional coarse pixel displays will be obsolete and in low demand. So I'd go with the 4/128 rMBP.
     
  5. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #5
    Retina is amazing though

    Considering that the price difference really isn't that big, you really just have to ask yourself what you value the most. The amazing portability and battery life of the Air, or the added power and mind-blowing display of the rMBP. If I had to make a pick, I'd go rMBP, but my needs are dramatically different than yours, and if I had your needs I wouldn't know what to do... I'd probably go MBA in the end though.
     
  6. Thares macrumors regular

    Thares

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Location:
    Dresden, Germany
    #6
    I had a 13" Air before switching to a 15" Retina. I am also a university student but I switched because I had some gaming needs I wanted to fulfill. :) Sometimes I miss the lightweight and the battery life of the current version 13" Airs.

    I think the base config Air is the right choice for you. Also, take a look at the refurbished products. All my Macs are refurbished - you save so much money.
     
  7. Izaiah thread starter macrumors regular

    Izaiah

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    FL
    #7
    I appreciate all the advice! I'm probably going to go look at them side by side again tomorrow.

    $900 for a new base Air is cheaper than the refurbed equivalent on Apple's site, so that is kinda great. That's what I'm leaning toward, but we'll see if the retina screen sways me.

    My only concern is I've heard many webpages don't look too great on retina. And since I'm constantly web browsing is that going to get annoying or is it fairly uncommon?
     
  8. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a

    ohbrilliance

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #8
    There really isn't much difference in weight and size. The Air is thinner and lighter, but not by much, and the rMBP has a smaller footprint, which negates much of that difference.
     
  9. And macrumors 6502

    And

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    92 ft above sea level, UK
    #9
    I would suggest the air, but with 8 GB ram. My computer use is the same as yours, 4GB is a squeeze these days. Have you factored in educational discount?
     
  10. Dominus Mortem, Mar 6, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014

    Dominus Mortem macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2011
    #10
    If the $250 isn't going to keep you from eating or buying gas or something then you should seriously consider getting the rMBP. The text on it are far superior and that does make a difference. There isn't anything you can't do on this machine, and who knows what you may want to do in the future you haven't thought of right now.

    I don't know if the MBA is made less sturdily than the MBP. I've seen little niggles happen on both platforms so I tend to think the build quality is roughly equal. There is one thing though you should know: the MBA has lighter hinges and more often than not they tend to be floppy, that is the display isn't held in place as solidly as on the rMBP. I have both the 13 and the 15 rMBPs and both have solid-as-rock hinges. My daughter has a 13 MBA and if you pick it up by the base, the display will flop down. I don't like that about it. I saw the same thing last week with a 11" MBA in a Best Buy.

    I believe that getting 8 gb of memory is usually a waste of money. Only if you are really hammering your computer with a lot of simultaneous tasks will that matter. If you have disposable income to put into the computer, you're better off getting the 256gb drive. Not only is it bigger, but by a quirk of how these things work, it's a bit faster than the 128 gb drive.

    Even though I have the 15 rMBP, I use the 13 way more often. It's just perfect. The 15 stays at home, the 13 goes everywhere with me, sometimes even to the bathroom (at home that is, I write, and I don't like to be interrupted when something good is happening).

    You also commented on web pages not looking good on a retina. I'm not sure where that rumor came from. They look way better than on any other machine. This rumor may have come about because some web browsers didn't know how to handle the new type of interpolation that the retina machines do (not sure if interpolation is the right word) but that got handled by software updates well over a year ago. These machines are not new anymore, the little bleeding edge problems got fixed a lot time ago.
     
  11. iamMacPerson macrumors 68030

    iamMacPerson

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2011
    Location:
    AZ/10.0.1.1
    #11
    I'd recommend the 8/256 rMBP. Its pricy, but it will be worth it in the long run.

    I have the 15" Retina and I love it.
     
  12. Obi Wan Kenobi macrumors 6502

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK
    #12
    It sounds like any MBA would meet your needs. My usage is similar to yours. An MBA works perfectly for me. Mine is two years old, and still going swift and strong. What I love about the MBA is it's light weight. It is uber-portable and thus uber-useful.

    I do try and buy extra RAM when I buy a new machine. In my PC days I found it made a massive difference to the speed of my machines (far more so than upgrading the processor). Since switching to Mac, I still try to buy it to keep the machine speedy for as many years as possible. I keep my machines for as long as I can.

    It also sounds like you are very tempted by the Retina screen. Side by side, the Retina screen will look better. It's supposed to. It's designed to. But I suspect it will need even more RAM to maintain it's speed in the future.

    Another poster has suggested the rMBP will hold its value better. I am not so sure. In the 13inch size, Retina is still a feature you pay extra for. But I note that in the 15inch size the non-Retina MBP has already been phased out. I suspect the 13 inch non-Retina MBP will be soon follow, and the rMBP prices will adjust accordingly. Why pay more now, for what will very soon be a standard product entry point?

    I recommend the MBA. But if you want the rMBP go for it.
     
  13. Izaiah thread starter macrumors regular

    Izaiah

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    FL
    #13
    Wow, I didn't expect so many detailed responses.

    Yes, I'm looking at the Education store on Apple. I also have a $150 off student coupon from Best Buy which, on the configs they carry, actually brings the price lower than Apple's Ed. discount and some of their refurbs.

    Today is my day off and I'm really hoping to have a MacBook or at least have ordered one by the end of the day.
     
  14. arsimoun macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    Location:
    California
    #14
    Decision time...

    I would go with the Retina display. Simple reasoning. You will be working in front of the screen for hours on end. The better that screen, the happier you will be.

    Just one man's .02

    Adam Rodman
     
  15. Uyski macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2014
    #15
    I'd go for retina. My GF has an air, and tbh I really really really dislike the air screen. The 13" rMBP weight just a little more than the air, but the screen is MUCH better, and it does feel more sturdy too. Better screen > Portability, since you're using more time looking at the screen, than transporting the laptop itself.
    Also, you're also getting a faster computer, not just the retina screen.
     
  16. donstenk macrumors member

    donstenk

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Location:
    The Hague
    #16
    Air

    I am a professional since 20 years and work on a 1.8ghz core 7 air with 256GB without any problems since two years.

    I have a 50GB Aperture library, use photoshop and Ms Office and it's great reliable tool to make a living. Travels easy and connects to a Cinema Display at home and in the office.
     
  17. Izaiah thread starter macrumors regular

    Izaiah

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    FL
    #17
    Thanks for the input, everyone. All the different views helped me establish what I want/need.

    I just left Best Buy with my first Mac! I went with a base config rMBP. I have the money to go with the mid-tier model, but I don't feel like I need it. And I decided, since I'm on my computer for hours a day, that I wanted a retina display to look at.
     
  18. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Location:
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    #18
    With the money you spent at Best Buy, maybe look into the Apple refurbished. You can pick up the 8/256 for 1269 + tax, just a little more than the base model. It really is worth it.
     
  19. tech324 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2010
    #19
    Where do you see the retina macbook pro for $1269? I am looking at the refurbished apple page and it only shows two but neither are the price you mentioned.
     
  20. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Location:
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    #20
    Check out http://www.refurb.me/us/browse/

    It's an awesome site to track refurb stock - you can even set up notifications so it lets you know when an item is in stock. They come in/out of stock very frequently/quickly.
     
  21. Inhalant macrumors member

    Inhalant

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    Mar 12, 2014
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    Calgary
    #21
    Wait until later this year, I'm sure the big boys will release an rMBA.
     
  22. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Pa
    #22
    I have the 13" MBA and my girlfriend has a 13" rMBP. I think the MBP is overrated. Get the MBA.
     
  23. Izaiah thread starter macrumors regular

    Izaiah

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    FL
    #23
    I saw the refurb for 1269, but with tax that was still $127 more than my base model cost me. Not taking into account the $25 BB reward certificate.

    The base model is working well for me. I know for many people the mid-tier upgrade is worth it, but I couldn't justify it for my low usage.

    I did seriously look at both the rMBP and the MBA when I went, but I do like the retina display. And, to be honest, I like the symmetry of the rMBP. The wedge shape of the MBA doesn't appeal to me at all.

    I know, the MBA's battery is great. Though I'm getting the full 9-10 hours of battery life out of the rMBP, which is amazing considering the (maybe) 3 hour battery life of my old Windows laptop.
     
  24. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #24
    Glad you're happy with your new rMBP!
     
  25. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816

    gavinstubbs09

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
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    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    #25
    I went with a MBA at one point and really regret not shooting for the rMBP. For the slight bit more money I could have got HDMI, 2 Thunderbolt ports, and a glass screen. O'well. Next time!
     

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