Help with New MacBook Decision...


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 11, 2004
Hi MacRumors folks,

I was hoping you could help me with a decision on buying a new MB. I am using a 6-year-old White MB and am finally in a position (gainfully employed) to buy a new replacement.

I use my computer a LOT - probably about 8-10h/day. Most of the time I'm just doing basic things: email, browser, word processing, spreadsheets, videos, etc. But I also like to play games and have had a long dry spell with my MB being unable to play anything newer than those games released 6-8 years ago. I do some work in Adobe InDesign and the odd video editing here and there.

I don't own a TV, so this is my all-in-one machine. I use it for watching movies, TV, etc, in addition to the work I do on it.

I have a large music library (~130GB), roughly 50GB of photos, and a bunch of video content. I have a 320GB drive and I am consistently up around 300GB or bumping up against the limit.

I'm no longer a student, and while I carry my MB around with me, it's mostly from home->work and back. I don't generally use my laptop in meetings (I prefer a paper notebook). Portability is a "nice-to-have" but not a must. And battery life is also in that category - really the only time I wish I had longer battery life is on airplanes, and most Apple laptops now have at least 5-7h battery lives (and most planes I fly on have outlets!).

I anticipate keeping this new laptop for probably another 5 years, so a feature-set that will remain somewhat current for a while is important to me. With that in mind, here are the options as I've narrowed them down:

1. Macbook Air (2013) with i7, 8GB, 512GB ($1,849)
  • Portable
  • Benchmarks seem to illustrate that it is perfectly fast enough for almost any task
  • Graphics are greatly improved, and anecdotally it appears that it runs modern games slowly
  • New, faster SSD (PCIe) seems to have dramatically improved performance
  • No discrete graphics card means it's only a matter of time until some games will simply refuse to run (because of integrated graphics restrictions)
  • Display is fine, but after using a Retina display for a few hours, it feels horrible in comparison
  • Relatively expensive with SSD/RAM/Processor upgrades. Makes it comparable to Pro line

2. *REFURBISHED* Macbook Pro Retina Display 15" (2012) with Quad i7, 8GB, 512GB ($2,019)
  • Fastest laptop Apple makes. Benchmarks blow MB Air out of the water
  • Discrete graphics card. Gaming benchmarks illustrate AAA titles playing at full HD at healthy fps.
  • Retina Display is beautiful, and after using one it's difficult to go back to a standard resolution display.
  • A 15" display gives me more real estate and a bigger screen to watch movies/TV on.
  • A 15" display is bigger. Even though it weighs 1/2lb less than my current old MB, it doesn't feel like it does because the weight is distributed over a bigger area. I'd imagine this would feel the same way in a bag.
  • Refurbished isn't new. Although, apparently, sometimes Refurb is better than new because the computer has been thoroughly vetted by a technician.
  • It's a 1-year-old computer that's still relatively expensive.
  • The Retina Display ghosting issues spook me out a bit, although it appears that, with patience, they eventually resolve (once you get a display from Samsung).
  • The GPU switching scares me, as the Intel HD4000 is vastly underpowered for a display of that resolution. On a demo in a store, the lag in Chrome and even Safari was evident with complicated websites like TheVerge.
  • SSD isn't PCIe, so MB Air would likely outperform in this area

3. *UNANNOUNCED* Haswell Macbook Pro Retina Display 13" (2013) with 512GB (~$2,000?)
  • Presumably will have a more power-focused (i.e. less battery-focused) update than the MB Air (and will likely outperform MB Air).
  • Portable
  • Beautiful Retina Display
  • Likely faster PCIe SSD storage
  • Likely long battery life (9h?)
  • Presumably still won't have discrete GPU, and will continue to be substantially underpowered for the number of pixels it's pushing. Gaming will likely continue to be an issue as I understand it is for current-gen 13" MBPr
  • I doubt they'll update the amount of SSD storage, so the costly 512GB upgrade will still be necessary, making it an expensive option.

So here's the question: Given my priorities, which one would you purchase and why?

Many thanks for your thoughtful responses!


macrumors 6502a
May 15, 2007
Melbourne, Australia
Such a thorough description of your usage. Considering your usage patterns (8-10 hours, 5 years, gaming), the answer is pretty clear to me:

1) Upcoming Haswell 15" rMBP 512GB, 8GB.

(future proof with 768GB SSD and/or 16GB ram if they fit within your budget)


macrumors 6502a
Oct 6, 2011
If you don't really need a portable device, have you thought about a combination like: 27'' iMac + iPad mini?
iMac has enough power to play most games and for all the small things you do, while moving the iPad (mini) works well. Just a thought!


macrumors regular
Dec 16, 2012
I recommend you wait for Haswell rMBP 13".

It is destined to have a powerful integrated GPU.
Iris 5100 to be exact or equivalent to GT 640M.
It will also be compact since you complained its too heavy.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 11, 2004
Thanks everyone!

Actually, writing everything down in a forum post really helped me realize that the only thing I was trepidatious about with the 15" rMBP was the size, and a little bit more reading on "getting used" to a 15" computer more than convinced me.

I hear that the HD5100/5200 will likely have the same power as the discrete GPU in the current generation rMBP, but I need/want a computer now, not later! Besides, I won't be able to afford a new rMBP 15", and I expect the unannounced 13" rMBP with the 512GB upgrade will work out to be roughly the same cost as the refurbished 15" I just purchased.

I'm just so pleased that I'll finally be able to play some AAA games at decent settings, and have a larger, beautiful screen to boot. So excited for it to arrive!


macrumors member
Sep 25, 2012
Congrats on your new 15" purchase. I have the 15" rMBP and is now considering the 13" Haswell for portability even though I don't carry it with me but the 15" is not as comfortable as the MacBook Pro 13" I previously owned.


macrumors member
Jun 10, 2013
Good call going with the 15" rMBP. The 13" is plenty powerful for all of your needs, but if you are watching a lot of movies and tv (which it sounds like and this is your only machine) there is no comparison to the 15". The retina display is gorgeous given enough screen real estate, which the 15" provides. You did state that you needed this asap, but I would otherwise have advised waiting till the Haswell rMBP refresh which should be upcoming shortly, and recommended getting the base 256gig 15" rMBP (which would still be overkill for your needs) and using some of the ridiculous surcharge Apple puts on their SSD upgrades towards a much cheaper external to store your non-essential movies and music on. Enjoy your exciting new purchase!