Macbook Pro Retina vs. Macbook Air

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by robotics5000, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. robotics5000 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    #1
    Hi all,

    I am having a huge time deciding between these two models:

    1) Macbook Air - 13"; 8GB RAM; 256GB SSD; i5; 1.4GHz; $1300

    or

    2) Macbook Pro Retina - 13"; 8GB RAM; 256GB SSD; i5; 2.4GHz; $1500

    I am an avid programmer and use a lot of CPU intensive applications to code.
    I am a student, and use the web for heavy, heavy research and need battery life. I also use Microsoft Office very frequently.
    Which one do I pick? I want a laptop that has good battery life and has the ability to run CPU intensive processes, while not sacrificing speed.

    Thanks all!
     
  2. Sifinity macrumors 6502

    Sifinity

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    #2
    get the retina ; the screen is phenomenal to look at for typing/coding , you may need an external display as for most coders 13 inches doesn't cut it , but thats up to you , also upgrade the ram to 16gbs as you may need it for vmware and it will be future proof .
     
  3. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #3
    Pick the rMBP
    For the small increase in price, you get a better display by far. A faster CPU and a better GPU.

    I think the only reason to select the MBA is for the battery. If you need extra long battery life, then get the MBA.
     
  4. robotics5000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    #4
    thanks for your timely responses!
    the thing is - i really don't care about screen quality when it comes to coding
    the real question between the models is this:
    Is 2.4GHz that far better than 1.4GHz (found in the MBA) and is a $200 price difference for that worth it? please remember that I am a student and cannot afford to buy 1.5 grand laptops that often....

    thank you!
     
  5. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #5
    I would go with the 13 rMBP but I would get it from the refurb store for 1269. It would come out cheaper than the Air, and give you the same exact warranty. While the Air does get 3 hours better battery life, its display is just not good especially compared to the retina on the rMBP. The rMBP still gets 9 hours which is very good.

    ----------

    IMO, you will not see a real performance difference between the two in most tasks. I would still consider the rMBP for the display alone. I know you say it doesn't matter but believe me it does. As much as I love the Air(my wife has one), working on it strains my eyes to the max. The retina makes all the difference in the world and to me, is what would be worth the additional 200. As I mentioned, check out the refurb store.
     
  6. robotics5000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    #6
    thanks for your input!

    do any of you think the model lineup will change (in terms of prices) in the next couple of years? if the SSD price decreases, then I will definitely want to wait...
     
  7. Fiendishone macrumors member

    Fiendishone

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2014
    Location:
    Bucks, UK
    #7
    Hi, I am a newbie to Apple (why did it take me so long?) But I have the rMBP and the screen is amazing!!!

    On my old laptop I was getting a lot of headaches, and that, I thought, had a good screen. Since the changeover, not one single headache. If you are going to use it for any length of time, it WILL make a difference!!!! Battery time is very good and the recharge seems to take almost no time at all. This Mac is way better than anything I have ever used!!
     
  8. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #8
    Of course the 2.4 is better then the 1.4GHz. Pure speed wise and overall performance. The MBA's CPU is the ULV variant which is less powerful then what's in the MBPs.

    I'd also not be so quick to discount the screen. The screen is gorgeous and will mean less eye fatigue. The retina screen is a big plus if you'll be staring at code for hours
     
  9. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #9
    If you are a college student and $$$ is an issue get the 1.4 / 4gb ram / 128gb ssd. I wouldnt think twice.

    This model will cost you half what the rmbp 2.4/8/256 would cost you!

    Unless you are a photographer the retina is overrated.
     
  10. robotics5000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    #10
    can the 1.4 GHz model be able to run CPU intensive processes without flinching?
     
  11. Sifinity macrumors 6502

    Sifinity

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    Jun 11, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    #11
  12. MacRazySwe macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    #12
    I just switched from the MBA to the rMBP recently. As others have said, the display is night and day! The MBA display causes eye-strains after long periods of time. I don't know why, but it does. The Retina however is a joy to use and I've never experienced the same problem since switching. However, the MBA did feel a bit snappier from time to time, while scrolling, et.c.
     
  13. robotics5000 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    #13
    in fact - i am already have a computer that is relatively fast and cheap
    for $500, i got an ASUS with i5 processor, 500GB HDD, 1.7GHz, touch screen, and 4GB RAM

    however, I want a rMBP for college, because i am pursuing a comp sci degree

    do u all think the lineups and prices will change in 2-3 years?
     
  14. Sifinity macrumors 6502

    Sifinity

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    #14
    pricing - probably not or maybe when the cMB goes off the market then the base rMB will be $1099 , but until then the only thing that may change with the years are the chips and possibly the size and ram available with each model ; in like a year or two i can see the base model with 8 gbs of ram ; price chance not really. Also believe me the $200 is worth the investment over the air
     
  15. robotics5000 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 22, 2014
  16. Sifinity macrumors 6502

    Sifinity

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    #16
    also buy from online ; save tax and with the adorama deal you can get free applecare ; some devices may be out of stock but you can still order and you will get it for a good deal ; http://prices.appleinsider.com/#applecare
     
  17. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #17
    if you are happy with your asus why buy a macbook?
     
  18. Atomic Walrus macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 24, 2012
    #18
    The issue with the MBA screen isn't even the resolution, it's the panel quality. Low quality TN panels are just really annoying to look at for long periods of time. They do pretty serious gamma shifts when you change angles and have poor contrast and saturation. I've also seen a wide range of bad out of the box white temp calibrations on MBA screens (from blue to yellow). A good quality IPS panel at that same resolution would be a huge improvement without the performance hit of going to retina/HiDPI, but that won't ever happen.

    I couldn't ever recommend the MBA just because of the panel quality, especially to a programmer who's going to be staring at text for hours on end. In fact in that case a "retina" screen is excellent simply because of how well it renders text.

    With the rMBP you can (using a 3rd party utility) decrease the resolution to half(non-HiDPI) if you want, which will cancel any performance loss from retina scaling. It's kind of blurry (uses bilinear rescaling even though you'd think it could do pixel doubling), but honestly I still think half res on retina looks better than native on a TN panel.
     
  19. kelon111, Jul 24, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014

    kelon111 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2013
    #19
    The MacBook Air actually doesn't use a low end TN panel based on the benchmarks that I've seen but it's still natively a 6 bit panel so it has to use dithering to create many colors.

     
  20. Atomic Walrus macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    #20
    I can't really presume to argue with Anandtech, I'm just going by what I've seen. It's possible that I've just run into some particularly bad examples, but I have a TN desktop monitor that make the Air screens I've seen look very bad, especially in terms of contrast and saturation. The TN panel in my 2010 17" MBP also makes the Air screens look terrible by comparison, but I suppose at the time that was a "premium" quality display so it might not be fair.
     
  21. TechZeke macrumors 68020

    TechZeke

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Location:
    Rialto, CA
    #21
    I agree, if you want to see a poor quality TN panel, look at the Gen 1 Razer Blade.

    As I said in another thread a while ago, while the retina panels are amazing, don't discredit the TN panels, because Apple uses high quality TN panels that still look better than most laptops.
     
  22. Badrottie Suspended

    Badrottie

    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #22
    Hello robotics5000
    Do you go out a lot with laptop? If so, get a MBA because it is light to carry and have a long battery life no need to worry about bring a charger.

    If you use Microsoft Office a lot I think rMBP better because retina screen give you some crystal clear fonts on the screen for reading.

    Price is important to you? You'll love MBA.

    You care about powerful workhorse laptop? You will have no problem with rMBP.

    Good luck :apple:
     
  23. suprakc macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2013
    Location:
    Utah
    #23
    The retina 13 mid spec is amazing. I had the same dilemma. I am a photographer and the retina display really does show you so much more in an image- almost to a 3D effect. And Yosemite should improve retina performance across the board.

    Keep in mind, you will notice the biggest difference after you own a retina macbook, not before. The air seems.. Less after using a pro, although it is still a great computer and bang for the buck. The pro just beats it.
     
  24. Desertf0x9 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2014
    #24
    I am a medical student who was faced with the same dilemma between a macbook pro retina vs. macbook air. I had similar requirements, portability and battery life. In the end I went with the mbpr because it does not sacrifice much in terms of portability and battery life is still quite amazing. In my opinion unless you need the extra small form factor of the 11 inch mba, you are better off going with the 13 mbpr vs. 13 mba. You gain way more than your losing, Retina display makes everything else look terrible. I have no regrets, I'm actually thinking about sizing up now to a 15.
     
  25. nightlong macrumors 6502a

    nightlong

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2012
    Location:
    Australia
    #25
    I bought a 13" Air in 2012 ... loved everything about it except the screen. I'm a writer and I just couldn't do long hauls with text on it .. I used it less and less, and my ipad4 with its retina screen more and more . Sold the Air and got the 13" MBPr ... the screen is amazing for text (and colours, angles and everything else). The only thing better on the Air, apart from battery time, is the tapered front of the keyboard ... more comfortable. But that's a minor benefit compared with the MBPr's screen.
     

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