Macbook Air with 8 GB RAM vs Base Macbook Pro with Retina?


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 18, 2014
I was initially thinking of getting the Macbook Pro without the retina, as the 128 SSD is too low even with it's benefits, but I think I'll go with it, and just buy an external hard drive later on.

My question is which one is better when it comes to performance, I may also run Civilization 5 on it, and would also like to see it's overall features considering if I buy the 8 Gig RAM MBA or just the base [4 Gig] rMBP?

Is the MBA with the 8 Gig RAM better than the base rMBP? Might be a silly question but I'd like to know.

Also another silly-ish question, since the 128 SSD is just too low, and upgrading the solid state is pretty pricey, is it convenient to get an external hard drive later on in order to manage space well?

I'll also use to do lots of student work, downloading a ton of TV shows/Movies, browsing multiple tabs and all that.



macrumors 6502
Sep 12, 2009
Beaumont, CA
MBA with 8GB is better for your purposes, as any marginal graphics card advantage the pro has is offset by having to push a greater number of pixels. If you were comparing the MBA with a 15" Pro with discrete graphics, on the other hand, the Pro would win hands down. For student use, however, MBA is probably better in terms of portability, battery life, etc.


macrumors newbie
Jan 16, 2014
Grey, here are the specs of the MBA and rMBP. You can compare these side by side. Keep in mind the MBA uses Intel HD Graphics 5000 whereas the rMBP uses Iris 5100 which is superior any day of the week.

If you can afford a mid-line 13" rMBP, I'd go for it. It comes with the extra storage, 256 GB SSD, and memory 8 GB.

I don't agree with Brandon's post.


macrumors 601
Jan 26, 2014
Horsens, Denmark

If you're alright with logging around an external drive, the MacBook Air is relatively capable for what it is. That being said though, the performance difference is still quite dramatic, especially when it comes to graphical work. if I had to choose between logging an external drive, and a slower computer with more space, I'd go for the slower computer, but I personally would just pay the extra guff to get the better rMBP.


macrumors 6502
Dec 12, 2012
Winnipeg,Canada/New Delhi India
I too don't agree with Brandon's post, upgraded from a MBA 2012, and there is almost no difference in portability, the screen is way superior, and the battery life is 10 hours which is fantastic. The MBA's screen is not anymore acceptable for the price.