Help: Which to buy?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by LinksAwakener, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. LinksAwakener macrumors regular

    May 31, 2011
    I hate writing posts like this -- like anybody here has nothing better to do than help me figure out how to spend my money. But it has been rolling around in my mind, and I can't decide which route to go. Ugh, these first world problems! :rolleyes:

    So I'm trying to figure out whether to buy a 13" MacBook Air or wait for the new Retina MacBook Pros to come out. I probably won't be buying the laptop until early 2014, so there's plenty of time to wait for the rMBP to update. Here's why I'm having a hard time deciding.

    I travel for a living, so a very tiny Air seems rather attractive. But I'm a programmer: I run virtual machines (Windows and I've considered Linux too) I run remote connections, and I access a system using VPN as well. I run Xcode and on the virtual machine Visual Studio. I would also like to game a bit on the Windows side.

    So I'm having a difficult time deciding which one to get. The Air would be great for travel, but it maxes out at 8GB of memory. The drive in the Air is faster than any SSD you can get on the market, so maybe that would make up for it. Would an Air be capable of running 2 virtual machines at once? What about gaming, would I get much better benefit from a rMBP in that case? Opinions would be greatly appreciated!
  2. nope7308, Jul 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013

    nope7308 macrumors 65816


    Oct 6, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    Common now...

    The answer is blindingly obvious given your intended use, not to mention that any perceived benefit of the MBA may soon be overshadowed by the yet-to-be-released rMBP. The SSD, for instance, will almost certainly be the same across both models, save for differences in capacity.

    I never understood the portability argument for the MBA. I mean, in what possible world is the 13" rMBP NOT portable enough? It's the same screen size, under 1" thick, and weighs less than 4lb. In fact, I would say it's even more portable than the MBA because you have more ports, so you don't have to constantly fumble for one of several adapters. I believe both models have already achieved "portability" - anything further is just bragging rights.

    It's like choosing a Ferrari over a Lamborghini because it's "sporty" :rolleyes:

    Just get the damn rMBP...

    P.S. The only real-world differences between the two, by my lights, is the purchase price and screen quality. Everything else is more or less equal. Who really needs more than 7-8 hours of battery life anyway?
  3. LinksAwakener thread starter macrumors regular

    May 31, 2011
    Well when my flight is 7-8 hours at least once a week, that would be a significant benefit to me. But other than that, I get your point. For reference, right now I have the exact opposite of portability: a 17" MacBook Pro (early 2011). So yes, regardless of which laptop I get, it'll be worlds more portable than what I have now.

    That being said, the Air is pretty much the same thickness as the rMBP, but it's a wedge -- a triangle. In other words, it's half the physical space of the rMBP. When opening the laptop on a plane, that could be significant, but I wouldn't know as I haven't used either.

    I suppose at this point, the only thing keeping me from deciding would be what's in the new rMBP. If the update has the same drive as the MBA, then the argument is moot.
  4. pancakedrawer macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2010
    The Air is much more portable than the rMBP. Yes, they have the same footprint, but the air is significantly lighter.
    Specs wise it may seem close, but when you have to carry it around all day you'll notice the difference. I barely travel with my 15'' MBP because it's too heavy.

    For running virtual machines you'd benefit from more ram. If I were you I'd wait until the time you need to buy and see what's out then. If Apple gives you the option to upgrade the rMBP to 16GB ram and improves the battery life, I'd go for that. If not I'd go for the air.

    For you battery life will be a big factor as it doesn't matter what laptop you have if the battery is dead.
  5. PDFierro macrumors 68040

    Sep 8, 2009
    Keep in mind that the 13-inch rMBP actually has a smaller footprint than the MBA. Also, the Haswell rMBP will certainly be faster than the new MBA.

    The choice is obvious.
  6. LinksAwakener thread starter macrumors regular

    May 31, 2011
    Yes this is a big concern of mine. My current MBP was rated for 8-10 hours of battery, which is why I got it. But I immediately upgraded the memory to 16GB. Is 8GB of memory enough to virtualize 2 operating systems simultaneously? The two OSs at worst will be Windows 7/8 and XP, I'll never need to virtualize two modern OSs at the same time.
  7. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    8GB will be really the bottom end of the amount of memory needed if you intend to virtualize 2 OS'es if you actually want fluidity. Heck I virtualize windows 8 by itself on 8GB and find myself tight on memory.

    Personally I'd go for 16 in your situation so you can allocate as much RAM as you want to both OS'es and still get no noticeable lag.
  8. NewishMacGuy macrumors 6502a


    Aug 2, 2007
    This is sage advice.

  9. pancakedrawer macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2010
    4GB per machine is plenty.
    That said, as RAM isn't upgradable I'd almost always max it out as a means of future proofing and making it faster anyway. You won't regret it.
  10. NewishMacGuy macrumors 6502a


    Aug 2, 2007
    Depends on what you do. I have 16GB and occasionally page out when running a Win 7 VM alongside OSX 10.8. 8GB would be intolerably slow.

  11. gentleman00 macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2007

    An extra pound is unnoticeable. I mean, it's not like the MBP weighs an extra ten lbs. compared to the MBA. Any laptop under five pound and one inch in thickness is portable. :rolleyes:
  12. FrankB1191 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 14, 2013
    My wife and I bought a 13" rMBP a few weeks ago, and it weighs the same as a 10" Samsung netbook we've owned for a couple of years(!!!). :D The Mac feels light as a feather, and the MBA display isn't even in the same all. Sorry if the MBA owners don't like that, but it's clear to anyone that the MBA display is mediocre at best.

    *We bought the 256GB/8GB RAM version. It's a gem!
  13. mxidis88 macrumors member


    Jul 8, 2013
    SLC, UT
    I've owned the 2012 Macbook Air and recently sold it to purchase a new one. I've been agonizing over the same issues you have(refurb rMBP or MBA) and decided to go with the rMBP. I realize it's the near the end of the rMBP product cycle, but buying one of these machines for about $1300 after tax is the best deal you'll get on a retina screen for awhile.

    I am a student and would have loved the extra battery life in the new Haswell airs, but at the same time I spend 8 hours a day(most days) looking at the screen on my computer and I want to look at something stunningly beautiful. I've had the laptop now for about a week and have had zero problems with it. It's a bit smaller than air, but has a more substantial feel when you pick it up. The i5 handles everything I can throw at it(20 tabs in chrome, iWorks, photoshop, itunes, 1080P videos, and light gaming like Civ 5) and I'm excited to get more improvements when Mavericks comes out this fall(GPU accelerated UI graphics).

    You can go with the Air, but now everytime I look at my girlfriend's MBA I see a huge silver bezel around a subpar screen(thanks for that retina screen). I love being able to bump my screen real estate up to the highest setting and have 2 or 3 different windows fully display(great for writing research papers cause I don't have to keep switching spaces like I did on the MBA). Overall I would give this laptop a 9/10 value proposition at a $1300 price tag.
  14. lagisibuk macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2013
    Always Somewhere
    maybe refurbish retina 15 with 8GB and 256/512 SSD
  15. pancakedrawer macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2010
    I have 4GB on a MBP 3,1 and run architectural 3D software on a VM and it's fine although I'd still never buy an mac without maxing out the RAM.
  16. takeshi74, Jul 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013

    takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    It's a relative and subjective matter. If you assume that your needs/wants/preferences are universal then there are countless things that you won't understand in this world.

    Plenty. Just because you can't imagine the need doesn't mean that it does not exist.

    ...and there are differences there as well whether you can see them or not, whether they matter to you or not.

    Might be, might not be. Not sure how you can state that without knowing the specific requirements.

    If one is carrying nothing but the laptop it may be negligible. If one is trying to shave every possible bit of weight it can make a difference. One can't just assume that one's preferences and needs are universal no matter what the topic.
  17. srsub3 macrumors 6502


    Mar 10, 2013
    The fact people are discussing about differences between two series means that the machines are more or less the same. I prefer the pro, because it has more ports and it should be more powerful due to heat. I hope , with the new lineup, pros are more powerful and the differences with air more evident

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