MBA or MBP! Help me decide!

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by justinthesommer, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. justinthesommer macrumors regular

    justinthesommer

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    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    United States
    #1
    I want to hear a few more opinions on this before I go ahead and make a purchase. What would you recommend? Macbook Air or Retina Macbook Pro or should I wait for a possible Retina Macbook Air in the future? What would you recommend? Screensize? Retina? Type? Anything, give me your opinion. Thanks!
     
  2. s0nicpr0s macrumors regular

    s0nicpr0s

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    Sep 1, 2010
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    Illinois
    #2
    That almost entirely depends on what you intend to do with it. Facebook, email, software development, photoshop, school papers, Starcraft, VMs, etc. Need a little bit of background to try and help you.

    Is this going to be your primary computer?
    How long do you want it to last?
    Do you need something now?
     
  3. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    Oct 10, 2013
    #3
    You need to give a bit more info than just that.
     
  4. Republius macrumors member

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    Oct 14, 2014
    #4
    I am in a similar boat and would appreciate some feedback.

    I want a mobile laptop that can also be my only (desk top replacement) computer. I do lots of word processing, Internet, and e-mail; I do some video streaming, database management, and spreadsheet work; I do not do programming or video editing.

    I have been waiting for a MacBook Air Retina, but am concerned it will prioritize form over function and be thin, fanless, but not very powerful. Perhaps I should just get a MacBook Pro Retina.

    Thanks.
     
  5. Agent47 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    #5
    Either one can do what you're asking. Those are very lightweight tasks. I'd go and actually see the models-the Air is so small and impossibly light, but the screens are not the best. Not bad, but worse then an iPad for example. The retina macbook pros are a sight to behold-those screens are amazing. It all comes down to screen vs size (and cost).

    The CPU upgrades are a bad deal, the Haswell i5 processors are fast! If you're going to make this your only machine spend any additional money on storage or memory.
     
  6. crawler1975, Nov 5, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014

    crawler1975 macrumors regular

    crawler1975

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    Mar 22, 2011
    #6
    I was in the same boat before, unable to decide which macbook should I get - Air or Retina. Both are fully capable of doing things you would normally do - word processing, internet (including video streaming), image editing etc.

    I had to go to an Apple store a couple of times to compare and look at both machines at the same time - the Air's main selling point is it's light, portable and the rated battery life of 12 hrs (which is insane) - the Pro(13 inch) is also portable, light (easy to carry) more powerful CPU than Air, battery life is excellent but shorter than the Air.

    With that being said, I chose the pro mainly because of the gorgeous retina display (I am a photographer and pictures just look amazing on a retina) - but I had to upgrade the RAM to 16GB - just an insurance in case I needed more RAM in the future (not that 8GB for me is not enough). I plan to be using my Pro for long and eventually as a desktop replacement.
     
  7. BenTrovato macrumors 68020

    BenTrovato

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    Canada
    #7
    Just sold my Air for a Retina. Only regret is that I didn't do it a lot sooner. The retina screen is about a million times better than the Air's LCD. And that's a conservative estimate. :D
     
  8. zamboni52 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    #8
    I'm in the exact same situation. I have a late 2008 17" HiDef Core 2 Duo machine fully loaded out, but I haven't used it much in the last few years. With the iPad Air and the Retina iPad Mini, I just haven't had the need to lug the "big" computer around. In fact, the iPads were so good that I didn't bring a laptop at all when traveling anymore. BL: the key was portability and battery life. The iPads were better than my old laptop on both accounts.

    Today, laptops are much lighter, smaller and have outstanding battery life. I bought the 13" Macbook Air 1.7/4GB/128GB HD a few days ago and loved it. It was light, very thin and had great battery life. My first full charge gave me over 12 hours of usage before it shut off. I did a mix of netflix, iTunes movie streaming, but mostly email and internet surfing. The speed was great, the laptop was completely silent (no fan running), although during my initial configuration installing Yosemite and other software, it became a little warm...nothing to worry about. 99% of the time the laptop was cool to the touch. The only concern was the screen resolution and color accuracy. I have the new iPhone 6 and that screen is amazing. The Macbook Air screen is good but not amazing.

    So today, I went to the Apple Store last night and played with the 13" Macbook Pro with Retina display. That screen is amazing! Differences: $300 more, 4GB more RAM, 2.6GHz vs 1.7GHz processor, .5 lbs heavier, and slightly thicker at the front of the laptop. I purchased the Pro a few minutes ago and downloading Yosemite as I right this (I'm typing on the Air). I plan to use both for a few days, but I am already thinking I will be returning the Air, just by looking at the Pro screen as Yosemite is installing. BTW: the Air is slightly longer and wider than the Pro. If the battery on the Pro is anywhere close to the 9-10 hour range and the cooling fan doesn't kick on when doing normal web surfing, email, etc, there will be no question which one is going back.

    Either way, you can't lose with either laptop. In my opinion, the screen, extra RAM and awesome, accurate retina display outweighs the slight increase in weight, slight decrease in battery life and $300 price difference.
     
  9. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #9
    I've had both. I gave up the 13 rMBP in favor of the 13 Air and have zero regrets. The wedged front is so much more comfortable for typing than the hard ridge on the pro. The keyboard is much more comfortable to me(purely subjective). The battery life is more than 3 hours better, it's more like 5. I never have to worry about plugging in. Even though it is only .5 pounds lighter, it feels like more than that when you factor in how thin the Air is. The Air runs MUCH cooler overall. I can rest it directly on my lap and never feel any heat. Never could do that with the pro.

    This is obviously my opinions and many may disagree. To state the obvious, the retina display blows the Air's display out of the water. The Air display isn't bad and even if you are used to retina, it only takes a few days to adjust. As I said for my usage, the Air is much better, but you may see a clear benefit to going with the pro.
     
  10. Dominus Mortem macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2011
    #10
    I recommend you buy a horse.

    I say that because it's about as close to making sense of how to reply than anything else. You've gotta tell us what you're going to do with this machine.

    If you find you can't decide then buy both. I have a rMBP 15" and a Air 11". I'm as happy as a pig in slop on Sunday.
     
  11. hagar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    #11
    I had to make the same decision recently. For my work, I didn't need the extra horse power but I still went for the Macbook Pro. One reason: the screen. There's so much difference, it's just incredible. It's like comparing a non-retina iPad with a retina one.

    I never want to go back to a non-retina screen, even if it means carrying a slightly heavier mac. I do miss the flat front of my previous Air (more comfortable when typing), but the retina screen is just too good to miss.
     
  12. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #12
    For me I would either buy an 11" MBA or a 13" rMBP.

    The 11" MBA is much smaller and lighter than the rMBP. And the 13" Air for that matter.

    The rMBP has a great screen, weighs only 0.5 lbs more than the 13" MBA, only costs a couple hundred dollars more, and still gets 9 hours battery life. It's not 13 hours, but it will still get you through a trans-oceanic flight, let alone cross-country.

    The 13" MBA seems to be the worst of both worlds. It's not especially small or light compared to the rMBP plus it has a worse screen. Kind of a tough sell to me.

    I bought the 11" MBA for the form factor and I love it. If somebody gave me a 13" Mac, retina or not, I'd sell it and go buy the 11" again.
     
  13. dmk1974 macrumors 68000

    dmk1974

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    #13
    Ha! The 2014 11" MBA and the 2013 13" rMBP are exactly the two that I am debating between as well. I have both (the rMBP for the past 11 months and the MBA for just a month) and I keep going back and forth. I just put them both up on Craigslist and hopefully a buyer can decide for me which I will sell and which I will keep :)
     
  14. Dsching Suspended

    Dsching

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    #14
    I think he wants to keep that a secret. ;)
     
  15. Republius, Nov 6, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2014

    Republius macrumors member

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    Oct 14, 2014
    #15
    I very much appreciate all the replies!

    I am going back to the Apple Store tomorrow to once again compare the MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros. Complicating the choice is the fact that I am convinced that a MacBook Air Retina is coming out by next Spring based on my research (and, yes, motrek, I am reliably told it is going to be fanless - for better or worse); look for it to be introduced at the same time Apple Watch is made available next year.

    My own thoughts mirror those of others herein:

    MacBook Air - will do what I need it to; super mobile and super light; great form in terms of keyboard for typing (as hagar brought up), which I will do a lot of); most affordable; but the screen is mediocre to poor when compared to retina (and to-date I have been with those who find it next to impossible to accept after seeing retina).

    MacBook Pro - will more than do what I need it to; mobile; retina screen is very impressive; great specs; more expensive (but arguably at a fair price for what you get).

    If a really great price on a MacBook Pro Retina can be had on Black Friday, I might bite. Otherwise, I will wait out the MacBook Air Retina, though I am concerned that from what I hear Apple is going to sacrifice power (though it may still have enough to do the lightweight processing tasks I require) for form (making it super thin and light, with multiple color options).

    One of the things this discussion has underscored for me is (as Agent47 opined) that I "have very lightweight tasks" (word processing, Internet, e-mail, light spreadsheet and database, video streaming, image editing) compared to most of you such that the new MacBook Air Retina may be all I need even though it is likely to be a disappointing device for so many others since processing speed is unlikely to increase. If the current MacBook Air had a better screen then I would probably get it based on price (which is an important factor for me). If the MacBook Air Retina does not advance processing heft compared to the current MacBook Air then I will probably still be okay given my needs - and will be able to have something which I expect to have dazzling form.

    I think where Apple is headed is that MacBook Air Retina will be the ultimate mobile computer, while MacBook Pro Retina (which I expect will be upgraded with Skylake by Fall, which could result in a completely wireless device) will be the ultimate desktop replacement computer. Many of you will need the power of the MacBook Pro Retina in your laptop, but I will probably be able to get by with the MacBook Air Retina - even as my only computer - based on what I need it for.
     
  16. yosemit macrumors regular

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    Jul 19, 2013
    #16
    The current Macbook Air and Macbook Pro 13" has about the same CPU performance. The Air is already a desktop replacement. The Macbook Pro 15" is much more powerful than the Air and the 13" Pro for multitasking programs.
     
  17. ryannel2003 macrumors 68000

    ryannel2003

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    Jan 30, 2005
    Location:
    Greenville, NC
    #17
    I had a 13" rMBP earlier this year and now I have an 11" Air and I have to say between the two I think it's a pretty even draw. The screen on the Pro was absolutely gorgeous but for my basic usage it was just too much computer for me. I felt kinda foolish spending $1200 on a laptop to browse the internet, listen to music, type documents and sync my iPhone with. I quickly sold it. I bought my Mid 2012 11" Air on Apple's website for $600 and I really love it. It's super light, easy to carry around and I didn't spend a fortune on it. It's my main machine and the screen size doesn't bother me at all. It's perfect for my needs.

    If you're looking at 13" Air or 13" rMBP... I'd go for the Pro all day long. They are close enough in price that the screen alone (plus the 8GB RAM standard) makes it worth the extra cost. In the case of 11" Air vs. 13" rMBP... that all comes down to what you use it for. If I had extra bundles of cash laying around I would've gotten another rMBP, but I love my Air for what it is and it was much more affordable and economical for me. YMMV.
     
  18. Republius, Nov 6, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2014

    Republius macrumors member

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    Oct 14, 2014
    #18
    What would be examples of multitasking programs for which the 15" MacBook Pro would be better suited?

    And is it really true to say that the 13" MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro Retina have comparable processing performance when the base model of the former comes with 4GB of RAM and a 1.4GHz CPU while the base model of the latter comes with 8GB of RAM and a 2.6GHz CPU?
     
  19. Republius macrumors member

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    Oct 14, 2014
    #19
    Budget really does come into play for me. On that basis, I am tempted to go with an 11" MacBook Air. But I am spoiled by the existence of retina screens and not comfortable with what I perceive as the mediocrity of the current generation MBA screen.

    A 13" MacBook Pro Retina may well be more computer than I need, if not a budget buster. So at this juncture I figure I will wait to see how much the new 12" MacBook Air Retinas cost, rationalizing that if nothing else they will maximize my choice options and put downward price pressure on the current generation MacBook Airs if I need to go back to the latter for budgetary reasons.
     
  20. Dominus Mortem macrumors regular

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    Aug 3, 2011
    #20
    Probably just a kid anyway who got on his mom's iPad and sent that message.

    ----------

    O.K., I can understand wanting to budget money wisely but base your decision on criteria that matter. Almost everyone buys more computer than they need. If they didn't, they'd be running it at max all the time. My car can do 150 but my average speed is around 35, so I have way more car than I need.

    Who knows what Apple will come up with next. You may see it and not like it. It may be a 12" iPad and not a computer. I doubt that, in fact the opposite is more likely. I'm sure a 12" retina Air will be pretty popular. It also may not show up for 6-9 months - can you wait that long on speculation?

    The choice between the Air and rMBP is a legitimate concern. I happen to have both and the screen on the Air never bothers me. I have the 11" Air (2014) and a 15" 2014 rMBP. I don't use them for the same purposes, that is why the Air screen doesn't bother me.

    If you are buying a desktop replacement, or you'll be mainly using the computer at home, then you are almost certainly better off with the 13" rMBP. It's a far better machine all around. If you need the lightest computer for traveling around and you go on planes, or you're at a university like I am, then having a 11" Air is a big plus. When I get home I put the 11" Air on the charger and use the 15" exclusively.
     
  21. motrek macrumors 68020

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    Sep 14, 2012
    #21
    The 15" MBP or at least some of them have quad cores, so multithreaded things like video encoding or 3-D rendering will be twice as fast.

    As for processing performance between the MBA and MBP, you are comparing "base" clock speeds of the processors. What you need to do is compare turbo boost clock speeds, since both laptops are able to cool Haswells enough that they can run at the fastest possible frequency indefinitely. So instead of the clock speeds being 1.4ghz vs. 2.6ghz, you are looking more at 2.7ghz vs. 3.1ghz or whatever. So instead of the MBP being twice as fast, it's more like 15% faster.
     
  22. justinthesommer thread starter macrumors regular

    justinthesommer

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    Feb 23, 2014
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    #22
    It would be for email, photoshop, dreamweaver, papers, and like once in a while video creating. So I guess the MBP, but does anyone know if the air handles these well cause I think Im leaning towards that?
     
  23. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #23
    The Air handles all of these very easily.
     
  24. justinthesommer thread starter macrumors regular

    justinthesommer

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    #24
    Alright. Great! Thanks
     
  25. yosemit macrumors regular

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    Jul 19, 2013
    #25
    YES. And get the i7/8GB Air. It will be faster (slightly though) than the base Macbook Pro 13" for non-GPU jobs.

     

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