MBA: Worth buying one now?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MBPMax, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. MBPMax macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Germany & UK

    So I've had my MacBook Pro (2.4 GHz i5, 8 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD) for almost 3 years now and apart from a partially defective CD drive that I don't use anyway it still works perfectly. Now, as a final year university student, I find myself in the library more and more often, and carrying around all my stuff (MBP, charger, stationary, notebooks, water, etc.) is starting to become a strain. Seeing how easily others come and go with their MBAs, I am now toying with the idea of getting a 13" MacBook Air, which would enhance my portability immensely. In particular, I would get the high-end one with the i7 2.0 GHz CPU and 8 GB of RAM.

    Apart from the usual word-processing and web-browsing, I use Spotify a lot, watch quite a few TV Shows on Netflix and occasionally use Photoshop CS5 as well as Parallels with Office 2010. I was initially drawn to the MBP Retina and although it seems amazing, I feel like its specs and the retina display would make it a waste of money and resources, given my relatively light usage. Also, in terms of portability I feel like the improvement would only be marginal.

    However, there are two factors that are potentially off-putting:

    1.) The expected updates in a couple of months time (?) with the rumored facelift. Then again, rumors may not be true and we'll just be seeing a "normal" line and a retina line of which only the latter would receive the facelift, so I would just lose out on specs I don't really need that much.

    2.) The fact that my portability requirements are likely to drop immensely as I start my job after university in the summer. I'll most likely be issued a laptop, in which case my personal machine would kind of act as a desktop, which really isn't the point of a MBA, so a MBP or even an iMac would do. Then again I could simply attach the MBA to an external screen, though I'm not sure how great performance would be. In any case, if I go through with it, I was thinking I could reassess the situation there and then, still sell my MBA for most of the purchasing money and get a machine that is more suited to my needs at that point.

    In case this changes anything, I've been offered 600-700 GBP for my MBP (purchased for about 1,650 GBP three years ago).

  2. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    Sell it. The MBA would dance circles around your current setup.
  3. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I would be tempted to wait until graduation and see where you end up job-wise unless you already know what and where you will be. The MBP won't drop that much more in value and you can get something that better serves your new situation better.

    Yes, the MBA would be slim and light but that's a lot to spend on something you may only need for a few months.
  4. entatlrg macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    Based on what you're written I'd recommend the 13" rMBP. Screen quality is paramount, (imo), you'll appreciate for working as you will for Netflix, for the little extra money it's worth it.

    I own both, the MBA collects dust, the screen is that much worse ... for the hours we stare at screens, display quality should be at the top of every users priority list.
  5. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    As for performance with a MBA hooked up to an external display, mine works flawlessly. No lag or anything. I use a 1920x1200 24" that I'm typing on right now.

    If you have the money, spring for the rMBP. I didn't have the extra 600 on me when I bought my 13" MBA. But now I do, I will surely upgrade to the rMBP (I haven't decided 13 or 15) once they go Haswell. As for display quality, the 13" MBA isn't "bad". It's rather good. But retina makes anything non-retina terrible.
  6. MBPMax thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Germany & UK
    Thanks, guys! I've actually had the chance to play around with a bunch of Macs today.

    After today's experience, I can definitely say that the 13" retina is a no-go for me. It might be light and portable, but I just don't find its design aesthetically pleasing... It sort of looks like the elements on the bottom case are too close together. If I'm spending so much money, it definitely shouldn't be on something I'm not entirely happy with.

    This leaves me with the choice between the 13" MBA and the 15" MBP retina... I do have to admit, the retina display is amazing, especially now that I found out about the scaling options. However, as I said, I feel like I'm not going to be able to make the most of it, especially given that I read papers on my retina iPad and also have an external screen I could use Netflix with.

    I have a job lined up and I'm fairly certain they'll be handing out work laptops, leaving me with little need for portability from the summer onward. But then again, I could just get a massive screen and hook the MBA up with that. The job isn't in the media industry and I can't imagine myself using anything more demanding than Parallels with Office 2010 (Excel), which also doesn't warrant the 15" rMBP's specs and screen.

    That's reassuring about the 2nd screen! And I totally understand what you're saying about retina making anything non-retina terrible, having made the transition from an iPad 2 to an iPad 3 myself. But as I said, I really can't see any practical use for myself from the retina screen.

    I think I'll go with the high-end 13" MBA for now and reassess the situation when I start my job. It'll retain a high resale value between now and the summer, so if a need for more resources and a much better screen transpires, I'll sell the Air and upgrade to whatever suits my needs best at that point.

    Again, thank you!

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