General questions about a new laptop

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by lightning33, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. lightning33 macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    I am looking to buy a new laptop (my first Mac laptop, already have a base iMac). I'm getting rid of my 2008ish Dell XPS M1530. I haven't looked at computer options in a while, so I have questions.

    Background: I use my laptop when traveling, which I would describe as infrequent. When I do use it, it would be mainly used for Internet surfing, maybe some word processing/Excel, movies, maybe the occasional game. I would like something that is economical, but somewhat future proof. That being said, I'm looking at a 13" Air or the 13" rMBP. For the Air, I'm looking at either just going totally base model, or upping the RAM and processor. If I can buy either one of them "base," I can get them at a discounted rate AND tax free (military base), but they don't allow customizing.

    1) Retina: What is it good for? If I don't do photo editing or anything like that, is it worth it? If I were to watch a movie, would it look better?

    2) Resolution: If I went with a Macbook Air, would the 1440 x 900 be "HD"? I know it isn't 1080p, but on a smaller screen, does it, in effect, mean the same thing?

    3) RAM: 4 or 8? Real world difference?

    4) Processor: Air base is 1.8 i5. 13" rMBP is 2.5 i5? What is the real world difference? Noticeable? If I upgraded the Air 1.8 i5 to the 2.0 i7, noticeable?

    Thanks in advance. I'm positive I will have follow-on questions after your responses...
  2. lightning33 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    I'm not really looking for an which-one-should-I-get type of answer. I can figure that out given some background info. Thanks in advance.
  3. pommie82 macrumors 6502

    Jan 4, 2011
    Why don't you just get a iPad all them tasks you have named a iPad can do and more be probably the same price of a laptop or maybe even cheaper and you can play good games on a iPad too and it would be easier for you to carry around just a suggestion.To be honest the ten hours battery life is going to take some beating too not many laptop cannot last ten hours without been charged like the iPad can.

    I think now that pretty much laptop have gone really its seems to be the tablets taken over to do things and look things up really and the basic things you need.

    i use my iPad every day without fail i have a laptop too but a very rare switch it on now for anything now only if i need to back up something to disk which is very rare.

    Maybe drop by a apple store and try out one of there iPad and see what you think if you get a bluetooth keyboard to you pretty much have a laptop but without the disk drive and been able to burn disks.if you have word documents you can start them on your iPad and finish them off on your desktop.You could save all your documents in iCloud or even put them in dropbox too and the get them at work then you have then ready
  4. njean777 macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2009
    Well if you want to do any kind of gaming, what kind are we talking about? Diablo 3, or more graphic intensive? The air is great for travel, but not so much with games. It has a less powerful graphics capability then the 13in pro as the hd4000 in the air is a ULV variant. Now of you answer with higher spec games then Diablo 3 then I would look into the 15in pro or 15in rMBP.

    In my opinion the 13in rMBP is not a viable solution as you will not be able to play very much on it due to the resolution, and when you do play you will have to scale it down and it will look blurry. Also IMO the 13in rMBP is a blatant rip off as it only has 128gb storage and cannot be upgraded without voiding the warranty, nor can you put more ram into the computer then what it ships with.

    1)Also if you are not doing any photo editing then I would not go with the rMBP as it would not benefit you much at all then, other then if you want crisp fonts.

    2)All of the MacBooks are HD even the 13in cMBP, it is just 720p.

    3)8gb is nice to future proof your purchase, but if you go with the classic models you can upgrade them yourself without having to pay apple. If you go with the air I would get an 8gb model so you can future proof it a bit more.

    4)If you are not doing any video editing you most likely will never notice the difference in the processor speed, so I wouldn't waste my money on upgrading them at all. But if you want to go with the air and get the top specced version (i7, 8gb ram, 256 SSD) then you may as well get the 15in retina as it will only be about 200-300$ more with a lot more power.

    All in all it really depends on the gaming you are going to be doing, the air is fine if you really only do light gaming, but if you plan to play diablo 3 or SC2 then the 15in cMBP or Retina will be much better use to you. Or even the 13in cMBP will be better then the air. If you only due light gaming then get an air with at least 8gb or ram in order for it to last you awhile. IMO though I would always pick the 13in cMBP over the air as it has better specs, and you can update the components as needed if you ever want to.

    TBH if he wanted an iPad I think he would have asked in the iPad forum, not here.
  5. rrm998 macrumors regular


    Jun 15, 2012
    Houston, TX USA
    1. In addition to photo and HD movie editing, the Retina display lets you run a scaled resolution and still be sharp. You can use 1680x1050 and get more desktop space. With Retina enabled apps, text is sharper on the rMBP.

    2. HD can be either 1920x1080 or 1280x720. Most online streaming is 720. On a 13" inch screen, I don't think you would see the difference between 720 and 1080.

    3. I would suggest 8GB of RAM. It's more future proof. You may not notice a big difference with just web surfing or Office applications unless you have a number of things open at once. That said, my 15" rMBP has 8GB and I've never seen less than 4GB in use. If you plan to run Windows in a virtual machine like Parallels, you definitely need more memory.
  6. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    New purchasing decisions should based on your experience from your old machine. What did u wish your old machine has or features to keep?

    Retina: For the super nick-pick person. Go to the store to see one. Either it impresses you so you must have one no matter how expensive, or your wallet triumphs and go, agh no.

    HD: Technically even 1280x720 is HD, it doesn't have to go 1920x1080. People care about this if they are movie buffs, or they THINK they are movie connoisseurs. To me HD is to be viewed on your home's big screen. On your laptop, comeon. YMMV.

    Processor I5 or I7 would be pretty much up to date. If u hafta ask don't worry about it, whatever u wallet says u can afford.
  7. lightning33 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    Thanks for the replies.

    I realize that 720 is "HD," I just wasn't sure if the 1440 x 900 would be "Full HD" given the small screen. The reason I care about that is when I travel, I do watch movies, of which more and more are being offered in HD via the Internet. One poster lead me to believe that the vast majority are 720 anyway, so it might not even matter.

    My wife has an iPad, so covered there. To the poster who suggested that, I did consider it, but there is just something about a full-on laptop that is appealing. I currently have one that is getting old, and I think more than anything, I just WANT one, you know? Another use for this machine will be when sitting on the couch and my wife has the iPad. I could just go upstairs and use the iMac, but then I become anti-social or something. Reason enough to buy a $1000+ device, not really.

    Gaming: I don't even know what SC2 is nor have I ever even seen Diablo, so I'm guessing my needs will be covered. I like going to Walmart or Target or whatever and getting the $5 games, like Splinter Cell and such. Still good to go?

    RAM seems easy - go with 8 GB. That being said, if the current Air starts with 4, think the next iteration will be standard at 8 AND have Haswell (which everyone seems to think is the greatest thing since sliced bread)?
  8. njean777 macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2009
    Umm well since you are moving to mac a lot of those 5$ pc games will not work. They have to specifically ported to or developed for OSX unless you plan to bootcamp. Also with Haswell we will see a better graphics jump for the intel HD series, and most likely more powerful CPU that uses less power. As for the 8gb standard in the air, I really doubt it as apple is notorious for shipping computers with little ram (the mini that was just updated only had 2gb of ram when 4gb was the standard). I really just think you would be better with the 8gb if you want to get one now. For the stuff you seem to want to do the current air or pro will be just fine, especially if you do not to play intensive games at all.
  9. idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    Air versus 13" rMPB

    By some measures the top end Air actually outperforms the 13" rMBP. In price, weight, capability, the Air would be a good choice. Its biggest drawback could be considered its screen, HD or not. On its own it appears fairly decent, and one might like it well enough; compare it side by side with the cMPB and retina models and the difference is rather clear. At that point a personal decision which one would prefer to live with.

    The 13" rMPB could be accused of being underpowered and overpriced, so I might just as well go ahead and say it: it is (according to me). Otherwise a lovely computer with great screen, if one is willing to get hijacked by Apple in paying that premium. I suspect its resale value will not be all that great, either, once Version B arrives in a year or so with the greater capability of the Haswell CPU. The 13" size is a great form factor for many, but in just the retina models value and performance are exclusive to the 15" size. But even the base 15" rMPB is $2,400 if no more than the full compliment of 16GB of RAM installed. In no more than future proofing, full allowed RAM on any model surely a good idea. Unless willing to suffer limited storage space, you'll be looking at $2,000 for the top end 13" rMPB with 256GB SSD. Ouch.

    Contrast that with a top end Air which can be had, if no more than maxing out the RAM to 8GB, at $1,600. It is a very powerful computer, more than capable of the tasks you outlined. And, even if only .5 pounds less than the 13" rMPB, still the most portable (save the 11" Air).

    One could of course save even more by purchasing any of these (save retina models for now) refurbished from Apple. The 13" cMBP is in some respects more capable than the Air, and with a better screen in color gamut, etc. If new from Apple, that comparable to the Air will cost even more, as Apple charges a premium for an SSD. The equation changes if installing this oneself. In traveling, it is still a case of lugging around 4.5 pounds of the 13" cMBP versus a fraction less than 3 for the Air. Or just sitting with it on one's lap, that would be a difference, too.

    The 13" rMBP is tempting, but if opting for it just ignore the lack of value. Aside from the marvelous screen of the 13" retina, the Air is nearly the same, a little less CPU power, and more computer for the money.

    The intangible would be which one really, deep down, prefers—and can live with.
  10. lightning33 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    The next thing I have is: if I go with a base model, I can have it at a discounted price PLUS tax-free (military base). So, to go for the 13" Air with 8 GB of RAM would cost way more than the $100 to upgrade to 8. Yay or nay?
  11. rrm998 macrumors regular


    Jun 15, 2012
    Houston, TX USA
    So does the base rMBP end up being cheaper than an upgraded MBA? With your constraints on purchasing, it sounds like the base rMBP is going to get you more computer.

    Is the base 15" rMBP an option for you? That would be the most computer of all.
  12. lightning33 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2012
    I would say that the base 15" rMBP is overkill for my needs. It would be nice, but I wouldn't even come close to taking full advantage of it. I'm leaning towards the Air I think.

    I might even be leaning towards a base Air as well. I'm thinking with the money saved by going 4 GB of RAM and the base processor, I would be halfway there (in terms of money) towards an upgrade in the future. So, 4 could get me by now until I NEED 8, at which point I'm halfway there, right? Or just wait and see about the next gen Air I'm guessing this spring? Who knows, it might come with 8GB. If not, Haswell might make 4GB then the same as a Ivy Bridge and 8 now...
  13. TresMusical1020 macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2013
    Which products I recommend:

    1. iPad
    2. Nook
    3. White mac book pro laptop (buy a used one if you have a low budget)
    4. iPad mini
    5. Kindle Fire
    6. Google whatever its called I forget but its a touch screen, that might help you if you are interested in looking it up
  14. henry72 macrumors 65816


    Jun 18, 2009
    New Zealand
    1. Retina display is absolutely amazing, you don't need to be doing photos editing to take full advantage of the display. It's so perfect for reading text when browsing the web :D Go to the store and have a look yourself!

    2. If you care about the resolution, you should get the Retina display.

    3. You mentioned that you want something future proof, 8GB would be better! However the base 13" is now 8GB instead of 4GB :)

    4. For your usage like browsing the web browsing, office, music, movie etc...
    NO you won't notice the speed between the Air and Pro.

    If I were you, I'd definitely get the Pro simply because of the beautiful Retina display! A lot of people are saying Yosemite will look better on a retina display, but basically EVERYTHING will look great on a Retina display ;)

    You also mention that you use your laptop when travelling, does that also means that you have another computer? If that's the case, an iPad Air would be even better :)

    Hope this help!
  15. ABC5S Suspended


    Sep 10, 2013
    OP is gone, and the thread is over a year old rainy000. ???? :confused:
  16. nostresshere macrumors 68030

    Dec 30, 2010
    Yea, why do people do this?
  17. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    1. text and high-res pictures are sharper. Movies will also look sharper, but not by much as movies these days are either 720p or 1080p. Both movie resolutions are far below what a retina display is capable of.

    2. HD is a marketing term. I suggest you look at the air and pro side by side and see the difference for yourself. However, the advantage of retina is that OSX allows you to pick a resolution size and it will always look sharp. So, the text size can be larger or smaller than the air, but it will look good regardless. For the air, you are stuck at the native text size.

    3. It only becomes a real world difference if you run applications that use more than 4 gb of ram.

    4. It's a much faster chip, but it is driving a higher density display. So, the real world speed is similar because the MBP's chip has to work harder. In some applications, like gaming, the MBP will be much faster as you don't game at native resolution.

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