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macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 22, 2010
Hello, how are you?
I want to buy a new laptop.

I currently have a 2.4 C2D aluminium 13 Macbook with 4gb of ram and a seagate momentus hybrid drive.
The computer is still nice but I would like something a bit slimmer, faster and with better performance.

I don't want the computer to do heavy tasks. Currently, I use my MBP for web browsing with safari with multiple tabs, email with mail, itunes music playback of my alac library through Audirvana and some light iwork like letters and such. I also manage my music library like importing cd's, converting formats like flac to alac and such.
I don't do video editing and I don't do graphic design. I don't have any creative apps from Adobe installed and as far as Apple apps, I just use iphoto ocasionally.

Now, which new laptop is the main question.
My options are an 11 inch Air or a 13 retina pro.

The 13 inch air is out of consideration due to having a larger footprint than the retina and costing almost the same.

My choices:
- 13 retina MBP with 2.4 i5, 8gb and 256 SSD
- 11 MBA with 1.3 i5, 8gb and 256 SSD

The air is a bit cheaper, but price is not the main issue.
For my usage that I described above, which would be the better machine?

I already know the pros and cons.
The retina is bigger and heavier but has a better screen with IPS panel and retina resolution. It also has the option of running scaled resolutions to give more desktop space.

The air has a pretty standard TN panel but has a smaller footprint, which makes it take less space at my desk at work (I have to use my Mac at work side by side with a windows laptop) and fits a non laptop messenger bag. I am sure I could use the Air on my iPad bag.

Please share your thoughts.
Thank you.


macrumors 601
Jul 1, 2004
I think it depends a lot on how much writing & reading you do, as most other tasks you mentioned aren't necessarily improved by a nicer screen.

If you do a lot of reading and writing, I think you will find that the extra space of the 13" is nice.

Would this be your only machine? And if so, do you have an external monitor for those times you want/ need to "spread out"? Those are other things that would make me lean towards a 13".

Having said that, I own the 11" Air. It's my primary personal computer, but I also have an external display that I can use when needed. I use it for many of the same things you do. Most of the time, I don't find that it's too cramped. There was a bit of an adjustment period, coming from much larger screens, but now it's not a big deal at all.


macrumors newbie
Apr 9, 2013
I think he 13" Retina MacBook Pro would be much better for you. Yes, it may be more expensive, but it will out perform the Air. The bigger screen will defiantly benefit you in the long run and the Retina Display really does make a big difference. Be sure to to to an apple store or a best-buy near you to compare them. You can't get a Final Justified answer unless you feel them both.

Either way, you'll still end up with a great machine! Good Luck!


Jul 20, 2006
Munich, Germany
Actually you wrote it already yourself. If you value mobility more, then get an Air and you won't regret it. If you feel that 13" is mobile enough, then the rMBP is more powerful and has a better display. I would say that for your usage the 11" MBA is better, especially if you combine it with an external monitor at home.
The display panel of the MBA is ok, especially if you are lucky enough to get a Samsung display and not the LG...


macrumors newbie
Jun 9, 2005
New Zealand
Just had the same decision...

I just went through the same decision as you - I ended up choosing the 11" air 1.7 i7, 256gb, 8gb ram (as 256 is enough for mac OS/Windows 8 with cloud/USB 3.0 storage. The SSD is also not soldered to logic board, so it also might be upgradable later on)

It is also not my main machine, but it has been awesome with everything I have thrown at it - iMovies, database processes, handbrake, itunes etc.

My main decision was around deciding the value of the 11" Air portability compared to the Retina screen. I never considered the 13" air (as you said) as the footprint of a 13" Air is bigger than the footprint of the 13" rmbp.

I decided that portability was king. And I have not once regreted my decision. The 11" Air is so light to carry around compared to my last mbp. I also wouldnt have a problem connecting it up to a nice monitor and using it for my main machine either.

Good luck :)


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 22, 2010
Thank you for your thoughts.
This is a hard decision, as my heart swings both ways...
While I really like the retina screen, the small and light air also makes me want it.

What I do mostly is rip music, tag it with metadatics and sometimes convert flac to alac with XLD and also tag it.
This makes me usually have itunes opend, xld. metadatics, 3 finder windows...
FOr this, I am kind of afraid the 11 inch air with it's 1366x768 resultion to be too low.
I currently do this on my 13 inch that has 1280x800 and sometimes I wish for more desktop space.
The retina with it's ability for scaled resolution might be usefull while at the same time presenting better IQ at native res.

On the other hand, I currently only use my laptop either at home or at the office, almost always at a desk.
To use on the couch and to take out, I usually take my iPad, but I find it not so good at multi-tab web browsing and email and such.

So, as you can see, I am pretty much on the fence...

Just another question. do you have any pictures comparing the footprint of the 11 air to the 13 retina?
This was the only one I could find...




macrumors newbie
Jan 7, 2014
Yep, not an easy decision. For me it was between a MBA 13" and rMBP 13". Went for the Pro as I love the difference a Retina Display makes. I've been out in SE Asia for the last 12 months and just as the new rMBPs were due to arrive there was a massive delay on all imports, so my patience was tested! MBA was there, ready and waiting, but I (with a little help from my wife!) stuck it out and now I have a beautiful hi-def MacBook, and its still ridiculously light and thin. I regularly have to check if its in my bag when I take it out places because I can hardly feel the weight!

The other consideration I had was it being fairly future-proof. I made sure my SSD was large enough, as my media is fairly iTunes based, rather than disc-based (I know iCloud takes care of storage space but I've not had access to very fast internet for the interim), and things like i/o's, WiFi connectivity, memory, and other such things all bear considering when thinking about long-term.

It really is a personal thing, but all I can say is I am unbelievably happy with my decision to go retina for all my products. I made the jump all the way from a 2007 white MacBook to the latest rMBP, which is an appreciable difference, although I look at my friends' MBP 13" from a year or two ago and that is also a big difference in size and weight (and they comment a lot on the difference!)

I think whatever you choose, you'll still have a Mac with Mavericks, which I love, and won't ever feel the need to throw it out of the window. *cough* Microsoft! *cough* :) :apple:
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