Pro or Air

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by fchen, Jul 29, 2014.

  1. fchen macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2014
    #1
    Hi all,

    So it's my first post. :) I have been checking Macrumors recently since I have been looking for a new mac to start graduate school soon. Currently I have a 2011 13-inch Macbook Air base model which served me quite well through college. It's still in perfect condition except that the fan always gets loud under heavy usage.

    I saw a lot of people asking all kinds of questions and many of you guys are so kind to answer them or give suggestions. So here's my particular situation.

    I am a math major. So I do a lot of programming, mainly in C and Fortran. Although my current air works just fine. I fear that graduate-level programming might be much more sophisticated than undergraduate-level. And that's actually the main reason I'm considering the upgrade. But by reading through online posts, I get a feeling that an i7 13 Air is on par with a base model 13 Retina Pro.

    Other things I care are the display and typing experience. I only tried the Retina Pro in store for several minutes. It looked stunning. But since I will be using it many hours a day. Do you guys have experience which one will be more eye-friendly, meaning less eyestrain? Will the brighter Retina display be any problem in the long run. Typing experience is not much talked about. But from my personal testing at the Apple store, I actually think the Air is more comfortable given the slightly lowered edge.

    So in short, I'm still not decided whether to get an Air or Pro. Any suggestions or personal experience would be of great help. Thanks a lot first.

    BTW, I'm deciding between the following two models.

    Refurbished 2013 13 Macbook Air i7/8GB/256GB for $1269.26
    New student 2014 13 Macbook Pro Retina i5/8GB/256GB for $1493.43 or the late 2013 version for the same price as the Air.
     
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #2
    I'd get the air. No one cared about retina until Apple told us we should care. If you think you'll have a better experience with a better screen then you know your answer.
     
  3. Steve121178 macrumors 68040

    Steve121178

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    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Bedfordshire, UK
    #3
    No one had used such amazing high-res displays until Apple told us we could.
     
  4. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #4
    Well put. I also really like the air. It feels snappier, but on the other hand the retina screen is nice.
    Its a matter of weighing up the pros and cons and just personal preference.
     
  5. fchen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2014
    #5
    Thank you all very much for the inputs. If it's not put side-by-side with the Retina Pro, I still think the Air's display is a great display. But when it is side-by-side, you can really tell the difference right away. My concern is actually not the picture quality, it's which one will be more eye-friendly. From my testing in Apple store, the Air feels warmer while the Pro feels sharper. I'm not a graphics pro, so I don't know which one is better for eyes to stare at continuously for many hours everyday.
     
  6. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

    556fmjoe

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    #6
    Someone will be along shortly to tell you that you absolutely must get a Retina or your eyes will fall out from reading text files or you will go blind or something. It might be nicer to look at, but the reality is that the Air is perfectly fine for your usage, will serve you well for a very long time, costs less, is available right now, and has a nice display.
     
  7. MyMacintosh, Jul 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014

    MyMacintosh macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2012
    #7
    My opinion

    ASSUMING that you're simply using it for basic school needs, I'd have to honestly say there is absolutely no way the retina screen would benefit you over a non-retina. I still have my 2008 Pro and aside from a Ram upgrade, I dont really see why you would need retina as a student unless you're obviously doing some heavy photo stuff. Seriously, just save your pockets, it's not necessary.

    also to add: I have a 15 inch Pro. I had the 13 inch and for me personally the screen real estate was too small. That being said, I would without a doubt switch if the Macbook pro was as light as the air. Just based on what i've seen, there were far more 13 inch MacBooks on my college campus, but most were Pros tbh.
     
  8. Sifinity macrumors 6502

    Sifinity

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    #8
    completely up to you , if you want portability and battery life air is the way to go , if you want a better screen then rMB is the way to go , if you can't decide in the end flip a coin and see what it lands on , if you feel remorse that it landed on it or want to flip it again then get the other device cause you clearly want it
     
  9. fchen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2014
    #9
    Thank you all~ I'm leaning towards the top-end refurbished Air. I don't do any graphics related work. So a retina won't be any additional use for me. All I care is a comfortable screen to look at and a decent keyboard to type on.
     
  10. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #10
    I totally agree that retina is very nice and nicer now that apps are more on board with it; however, the folks who are basically saying that a non-retina screen is garbage are nutty bars.

    I loved both my 13" MBP and my MB Air. I miss the Air way more; the form factor cannot be beat. Where Apple made the decision to not worry so much about Air vs MBP for me was when they stupidly removed line in from their MBP. I could not understand this decision because it seemed like it didn't lend to cutting down on the size. That's another story though altogether.

    I think the OP would be very happy with both. I like the i7 in the Air and that is part of what points me to it. However, the i5 is very capable and you do get a nice retina screen that Apple says we should all care about now. I could live without the retina screen myself. In fact, I do everyday.
     
  11. No-Me macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Location:
    Rotterdam
    #11
    Check out the screen, if you don't care for a retina screen, go for the MBA. If you're like me and love the retina display go for the MacBook Pro.

    For pictures and video's I wouldn't mind using a non retina display, but I program a lot and the text on a retina display looks a lot better than on a non-retina.
     
  12. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #12
    If your current Air's display doesn't bother you. Then you won't miss retina. That being said. The display on the retina is that much better, and at the same price point, I couldn't recommend not getting a significantly better display.

    The footprint of the rMBP is smaller than the 13 Air so to me portability is pretty much a wash between the two.

    Late 2013 rMBP 2.4/8/256 for $1189 in the refurb store is the best deal. But if you prefer the Air. Go for it. It's a great machine.
     
  13. Skylitfly macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    #13
    I'd go for the Pro. Well... it's just me but I've never had interest to the Air. You get much better computer in overall if you buy the Pro. And it doesn't even weight that much more. And the screen is beautiful.

    Or another option is to wait till Apple releases Retina Air.

    Honestly... after I got used to Retina, it's pain to look at my 24" 1080p external monitor. I use dual monitor setup (MacBook display & external monitor). And most of the time I end up browsing web and doing casual stuff on my MacBook screen because it's so much more beautiful. 24" is great for creativity thought.
     
  14. calganelle macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2012
    #14
    +1

    Pro retina is amazing. I have the 15'' and when I look at anything else different, or a lot smaller (purchased a 10'' tablet and almost went blind) my head starts hurting. As a student, I'm on my laptop all the time. The clarity is worth a lot to me.
     
  15. Traverse macrumors 603

    Traverse

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2013
    Location:
    Here
    #15
    You're exactly right. I got a rMBP replacement for a failed 2011 MacBook Pro and while the Retina screen is beautiful and much nicer for long reading session, but I was happy with my old 1440x900.

    Also note that the 13" air and my 15" pro had the same resolution so my system had ≈110 PPI and the Air has ≈ 127 so you're getting a slightly sharper screen.

    It's really nice to have, but the world was fine before Retina and it is still fine. Anyone who says the Retina is an absolute must lies.

    ----------

    Also the 13" Pro still has issues with graphics. The Iris helped dramatically but the Intel HD 5000 powering a 1440 x 900 display is still easier than the Intel Iris (5100) powering a 2560 x 1600 display.

    I personally would want the Retina, but if I had to choose between a maxed out Air and a baseline Pro I'd choose the Air for more RAM, etc.
     
  16. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #16
    I don't think anyone is saying it is an absolute must, but for the same price, I would question not choosing the far superior display.
     
  17. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #17
    If you are programming in Fortran, I assume that you have to deal with scientific computation. In case you are frequently running long-time numeric computations, the rMBP CPU will be better for you (it has more thermal headroom so it will deliver higher sustained performance). For 'bursts' (short-term computations), there is not much difference between the Air and the rMBP.

    As far as screen goes... I would take the retina any time of day, simply because it is much easier and pleasant on the eyes. After getting used to my rMBP, working with a non-HiDPI screen actually gives me headaches. So, personally, retina is kind of a 'must' to everyone who actually works with text most of the time (writers, scientist, programmers). But that is just me, your experience may vary. Apparently there are some people who don't even notice the difference between HiDPI and non-HiDPI.
     
  18. fchen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2014
    #18
    Thank you all for posting your own experience. I was going with the Air. But things got a bit complicated now. With the new Pros came out yesterday. Now the max-out Air is the same price as the i5/8GB/256GB 13 Pro in the refurbished store, both at $1269.26. And I could even get an 15 Pro for about only $200 more from my local Best Buy.
     
  19. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

    556fmjoe

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    Apr 19, 2014
    #19
    What about refurbished Airs? They should be cheaper still.
     
  20. fchen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2014
    #20
    Hi leman, yes, I do need computational power. The only reasons holding me back from a Retina Pro is the brighter and sharper display. I thought the warmer and dimmer display on the Air was better for eyes. But I might be wrong. You clearly think the Retina is better for long-time reading and coding. Do you normally turn the brightness down a bit or at full brightness? When I was in the store, I feel that 60-70% brightness is comparable to my current Air.



    ----------

    Hi, 556fmjoe, they are both refurbished. Since I need 8GB/256GB, the i7/8GB/256GB Air and the i5/8GB/256GB 13 Pro are of the same price in Apple's refurbished store. And for $200 more I can get a 15 Retina Pro from my local Best Buy.

     
  21. Traverse macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #21
    But at the same price I don't think the Pro matches the Air in every regard. Unless I'm mistaken an 8GB RAM Air = 4GB Pro.
     
  22. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #22
    Since the MBP's were refreshed yesterday, a 2013 rMBP can actually be had for the same price if not cheaper. This is comparing same specs, 8GB of ram, 256 SSD.
     
  23. Traverse macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #23
    Oh, okay. Then it comes strictly down to design. Ultimate thin and light vs heavier and thicker with a retina display.
     
  24. rrl macrumors 6502

    rrl

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    #24
    Your fears are probably unfounded and thus your reason is poor. Save your money and stick with what you have.

    I'm a professional programmer writing this from my maxed-out 2010 11" MBA.
     
  25. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #25
    Brightness can be tweaked ;) I usually have it at around 50%, but it can be turned up higher when the environment is brighter (such as outside). And sharper display is actually better for reading, although I am not sure I agree with the word 'sharper' here. More detailed would be more precise, I think.
     

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