MBA vs rMBP 13" - Need opinions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by BennyTheBear, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. BennyTheBear macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    #1
    Hi there.

    I recently picked up a MPA 13" 1.4 gHz CTO with 8 gigs of RAM for a good deal. However, I am extremely unsure whether I should keep the MBA or go for a custom 13 inch 8 GB retina MBP. :(

    I am comparing it to the 13 inch base rMBP w/16 GB RAM

    Now, here is what I do on a weekly basis:
    - Web + Youtube
    - English Papers papers papers
    - Light video work (AE, Premier)
    - Heavy photoshop, illustrator, and indesign
    - Logic Pro
    - Moderate Blender, Solidworks and Sketchup

    Here are my questions:
    1. Rendering is going to be a pain. Will the 16 GB RAM significantly increase the rendering speed? Is it necessary or should I spend the money on some other upgrade?
    2. How is the 2.6 GHz i5 (rMBP) better than the 1.4 GHz i5 (MBA)?
    3. MBA vs rMBP... Which one? (There is probably a $400 difference)

    Thanks guys :)
     
  2. AlecZ, Dec 28, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014

    AlecZ macrumors 65816

    AlecZ

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    #2
    With respect to the numbering of your questions:

    1. I doubt it. Rendering is more CPU/GPU intensive than RAM, and I've never seen video or image rendering use anywhere near 8GB of RAM (assuming home usage).

    2. You mean just the CPU? The rMBP CPU has a higher clock speed and does the same amount of processing per cycle, so it's faster. However, the Turbo Boost speed of the MBA is 2.7GHz vs 3.1GHz on the rMBP, so there is a smaller difference when it's in Turbo Boost mode. Secondly, the rMBP CPU has better integrated graphics. Iris 5100 instead of the MBA's HD Graphics 5000. This might be important for your video and photo editing.
    Source for rMBP: http://www.everymac.com/systems/app...i5-2.6-13-late-2013-retina-display-specs.html
    For MBA: http://www.everymac.com/systems/app...book-air-core-i5-1.4-13-early-2014-specs.html

    3. You read a lot of papers. I've used both screens and have found the rMBP much easier on the eyes because it has a way higher resolution and has better color. The MBA screen looks pretty bad in comparison. The rMBP is much faster in terms of CPU and GPU processing power. They're both thin and light enough, so I don't think the MBA has much of an advantage there. The MBA has a longer battery life (12hr vs 9hr) for "wireless web", according to Apple. Strangely, I've seen my friends' rMBPs estimate longer than 10 hr of battery life when streaming music online. I doubt the battery life is that much of an issue. I don't know how willing you are to spend the $400 extra, but I definitely consider the rMBP the better laptop.
     
  3. BennyTheBear, Dec 28, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014

    BennyTheBear thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    #3
    I see... maybe the MBA wasn't really meant for me after all. Would you recommend the 2.8 GHz i5 instead of the 2.6 GHz version though?

    Thanks a lot for the insight and prompt reply.
     
  4. Naimfan macrumors 68040

    Naimfan

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    #4
    I'd go for the 2.6/8/256 rMBP. Upgrading the CPU is a waste of money - you'll never see the difference.

    B&H has it for $1349, and if you live near a Best Buy they often have open box models, to which you can apply the 10% off "mover coupon" available in the USPS mover's packet.
     
  5. AlecZ macrumors 65816

    AlecZ

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    #5
    I don't know, the MBA might be fast enough anyway. Depends on how heavy your graphics usage is. Forgot to mention, there's a benchmark chart here that includes both the Intel HD 4000 and the Iris 5100 (5100 scores much better): http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/video_lookup.php?gpu=Intel+HD+4000

    With regards to the 2.8GHz i5 vs 2.6GHz i5: They're the same in every way but clock speed; the graphics processor is the same. Theoretically, the former will process tasks 7.69% faster (6.45% in Turbo Boost) than the latter*, and it costs $100 extra. It also might consume more power, not sure. That's what you're looking at, a ~7% speed increase for $100, so you can decide whether it's worth it. Sadly, this is a higher premium than that of a Dell or something.


    * If you check the Geekbench scores for the 2.8GHz rMBP vs 2.6GHz, the ratio of their scores is close to the ratio of their clock speeds, and Geekbench claims that the scores are directly proportional to performance. I tried a 2.66GHz Dell Vostro running OS X (Hackintosh) against a 2.2GHz '09 MBP both with same gen Core 2 Duos and the same RAM, and the Dell scored almost exactly 2.66/2.2 as high as the MBP.
     
  6. BennyTheBear thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    #6
    Thanks to both of you for taking time to reply.

    Just curious, how would a 16 GB RAM (from a 8 GB RAM) improve the computer's performance? Will there be any noticeable improvements? If so, where?

    :)
     
  7. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Irrespective of any other factors, I would never chose a 13" MBA over a 13" rMBP because of the retina screen difference alone.

    Other MBA factors might be acceptable compared to the rMBP, but having used the retina screen on an rMBP I absolutely could not own a non-retina screen again.

    Some people claim they can't see the difference, so if you are one of those, you might be happy with the MBA.
     
  8. Naimfan macrumors 68040

    Naimfan

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    #8
    Always glad to (try to) help.

    16 GB allows you to run more applications simultaneously without lag. It will not help Safari, Word, iPhoto, etc., run any faster. And with the speed of the flash storage in the Haswell rMBPs, and the memory efficiency of Mavericks and Yosemite, adding RAM isn't as critical as it used to be.

    You'd probably find more utility and better resale by bumping up to a model with larger storage.
     
  9. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #9
    I have a 2011 MBA 13" a 2012 MBA 11" and just added a 2014 rMBP 13" to the mix.

    The MBAs are definitely "good enough" for most purposes, and are by far FAR more portable. Even the 13" is significantly heavier than either MBA. If portability is an issue, you may want to stick with the MBA.

    That said, I really like the look Yosemite on the rMBP compared to it on the 11" MBA. I would never have imagines that retina would make that much of a difference.

    B
     
  10. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    This is a bit subjective....yes the 13" rMBP is 8oz heavier than the 13" MBA, but the MBA has a bigger footprint (+0.45" and +0.28") than the rMBP so the rMBP will fill in a backpack/satchel etc more easily.

    The difference worth mentioning is that the MBA has more battery life although the Haswell 13"rMBP is very good.
     
  11. Naimfan macrumors 68040

    Naimfan

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    #11
    This old canard again? Surely you're joking, right, B?

    The rMBP is a half-pound heavier - if that's significant, there are different issues to discuss. As someone who travels a LOT, the weight is irrelevant.
     
  12. matgzx, Dec 29, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014

    matgzx macrumors newbie

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    Dec 10, 2011
    Location:
    Bogota, Colombia
    #12
    Opinion

    Hi, i'm currently using an 11" Early-2014 MBA i5 1.4Ghz and a 13" rMBP Late-2013 i7 2.8Ghz, I'm really happy with both, that being said, I can tell you this by my experience: MBA is great for travelling and doing light tasks, is really portable and the slim form factor is really convenient with great battery life, but, if you want to do heavy tasks, the rMBP is going to be much better, screen quality is extremely superior, graphics are much better for games, processor renders a lot faster, you can connect and use 4k monitors and it has two thunderbolt-2 ports and HDMI. Late 2013 rMBP 13" is still super portable.

    By what you've said, if you can afford it, I think rMBP 13" is much better for your needs. 15" is just too big and less portable.
     
  13. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #13
    If you're doing light video work AND heavy Photoshop stuff, I'd then, AT LEAST, get a low-end 15" (Retina) MacBook Pro. A MacBook Air won't have enough processing (and especially graphics processing) power to make that kind of work be at all smooth. The low-end MacBook Pro has Iris Pro, which is, for a lot of things, on par with the NVIDA GeForce GT 650 that powered the Mid 2012 and Early 2013 retina and (the last of the) non-retina 15" MacBook Pros. So, if you didn't want to shoot for the higher-end model, the lower-end model will be substantially better than the MacBook Air you have for your needs.

    Yes, it will cost more, but, it will be worth it as you won't see the spinning beach ball of doom as often. Plus your work will be fluid, which can be crucial depending on the type of work you're doing.

    The higher-end 15" (Retina) MacBook Pro will further improve, though, if your AE/Premiere work is to remain casual, you likely won't see too much of a benefit from the GeForce GT 750M over only having Intel Iris Pro.

    That said, I'd say that for your needs, neither the 13" MacBook Air nor the 13" (Retina) MacBook Pro are 100% adequate. The latter machine, if specced out with 16GB of RAM, has a fighting chance, but it's still not ideal at all.
     
  14. BenTrovato macrumors 68020

    BenTrovato

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    Canada
    #14
    I have always loved (and still do) the MBA. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the retina displays are so much better to do work on. I'll return to the Airs when the display is improved. We wouldn't consider going back to low quality screens with our phones.. I don't know how people do it with laptops.
     

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