Grad Student confused about what to buy

ach1990

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 11, 2013
4
0
Hi all.

My MBP of four years went on the fritz recently. I am looking for a new MacBook to replace it for graduate school. I will be using it for PDFs, emails, writing papers, web browsing, MS Office, taking notes, Netflix, streaming videos. No real heavy lifting and no gaming. I believe I will be taking my written exams on the laptop so I would like a laptop with a nice keyboard. Battery life is not a real problem or a primary concern for me.

I am deciding between

-13" MBA i5 with 256 GB and 8 GB of flash

-13" rMBP 2.5ghz with 256 gb.

I just want a reliable and dependable machine that I will use as my primary computer and will last me the next three four years. Are there other models I should be looking at?

Thank you in advance!
 

B...

macrumors 68000
Mar 7, 2013
1,949
2
The rMBP is better if you will be staring at the screen for long periods of time. The keys also have slightly more travel than the MBA. You lose the 12 hour battery life and 0.6 lbs. of portability.
 

ach1990

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 11, 2013
4
0
Thanks!

In terms of durability and speed will they be similar and should I be looking at other models?
 

B...

macrumors 68000
Mar 7, 2013
1,949
2
They are equals in durability, although the Pro has better processor so it can do heavier lifting. The Air has better graphics,though. The rMBP might appear faster by a little bit, but really those are very similar for your uses. I also think the above two models are the two options for portable and fast computers from Apple (and useable for long periods as well).
 

DisplacedMic

macrumors 65816
May 1, 2009
1,411
1
Hi all.

My MBP of four years went on the fritz recently. I am looking for a new MacBook to replace it for graduate school. I will be using it for PDFs, emails, writing papers, web browsing, MS Office, taking notes, Netflix, streaming videos. No real heavy lifting and no gaming. I believe I will be taking my written exams on the laptop so I would like a laptop with a nice keyboard. Battery life is not a real problem or a primary concern for me.

I am deciding between

-13" MBA i5 with 256 GB and 8 GB of flash

-13" rMBP 2.5ghz with 256 gb.

I just want a reliable and dependable machine that I will use as my primary computer and will last me the next three four years. Are there other models I should be looking at?

Thank you in advance!
both are fine computers and i doubt you'd regret purchasing either one. For me the real choice is between the 11" MBA and the 15" rMBP.

but you sound like you want a 13...so while the 13" rMBP is a superior computer spec wise, the MBA is the better deal in my opinion.

Do you need retina? Do you want retina? it's another $200 basically...otherwise the computers are very similar. the weight difference is minimal and there is going to be very little detectable performance difference for what you will be doing.

For me I don't like that the 13" rMBP is A - first gen tech and B - doesn't have a dedicated GPU. but otherwise it's an awesome machine.

What i don't like about the 13" MBA is that it doesn't feel like an ultralight - especially once you've picked up the 13" rMBP...it's just a really light laptop. I walked into the store wanting the 13" MBA but after spending 2 minutes with it, i wanted the 11.

the point there is we are spoiled by how light these machines are getting, and that the 13" rMBP confuses everything;)

if you really want the "pro" specs you could get a non retina 13" mbp and use the money saved on non-retina towards upgrading to a ssd.
 

Saturn1217

macrumors 6502a
Apr 28, 2008
981
237
Hi also a grad student. Your work sounds similar to mind (in terms of what you demand from a computer).

I use my MBA for reading PDFs (a lot), excel, general word processing and making power points. I also have some specialized windows only software that I run in a virtual machine using virtualbox (which the MBA runs wonderfully with 8gb of ram and a ssd). I have no other machine so my MBA needs to do everything.

I'm very happy with my MBA. I'm pretty sensitive to reading small fonts and I find the screen works just fine. Just make sure you calibrate it because Apple computers in general don't always look so good with default display profiles (I had a 2009 MBP before and it looked like crap before I calibrated it). I went to check out the 13" rMBPs too at the apple store and it is also a nice computer. I'm sure they'll update that one to haswell shortly so if you really want the retina display I would suggest waiting just a bit longer unless you can't.
 

ach1990

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 11, 2013
4
0
Thanks all for the help!

I think I will be going with 13' MBA 8GB 256

Given my needs is it worth upgrading to i7 or just stay with the i5?

Will the i7 extend the life and durability of the computer or is it unnecessary given my needs?

Thanks.
 

HiDEF

macrumors 68000
Jun 23, 2010
1,706
391
Miami, FL
Thanks all for the help!

I think I will be going with 13' MBA 8GB 256

Given my needs is it worth upgrading to i7 or just stay with the i5?

Will the i7 extend the life and durability of the computer or is it unnecessary given my needs?

Thanks.
I think you'll be fine with an i5 and 8gb of ram.
 

ApplNat

macrumors member
May 18, 2013
87
12
That's the spec I purchased (13", i5, 8, 256). From reading numerous threads on this forum over the past few months it became clear to me that the i5 was serving the needs of many different types of users on the 2012 models, even some of the 'power' users. So I decided to put my $$ towards more RAM and more space since I figured the difference in processor speeds would be something I wouldn't really notice since I'm not into 3D rendering or heavy video.
 

shahrezsyed

macrumors regular
Oct 1, 2011
167
9
Stony Brook, New York
MBA all the way. Been in your exact situation... (I use my mac to do exactly what you stated you're gonna use it for).
Again, get the MBA. If you're still not sure. Go to the Apple store and use and hold both then decide.