Prospective new MacBook user needs help...

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by malistrais, May 13, 2014.

  1. malistrais macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 13, 2014
    #1
    Basically, MBA 13" vs 13" rMBP...

    I'll be using it for College mainly, with a Programming focus... Also writing plenty of papers, etc. I have about a 20 minute commute 4 days a week and want something I can use between classes on-campus and as a primary (non-gaming) computer at home.

    I've been a hardcore Windows user/gamer to this point. But I think it's time I made the jump to a Mac for school.

    I know the MBA line was just refreshed. I don't mind going with a refurb 2013 model though. And I know on the rMBP, you pretty much have to go Haswell (so late-2013). Again, no problems with a refurb there either.

    Heck, I even thought about getting an iPad Air with LTE and a nice keyboard/case - am I crazy?

    Suggestions? :)
     
  2. SDColorado macrumors 65816

    SDColorado

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    #2
    Yes, if you are looking for a computer with a programming focus in mind, I doubt the iPad Air is going to meet your needs.

    However, if you even gave the iPad Air some consideration, then the MacBook Air 11" may be the best compromise between the two for you.

    Just my .2
     
  3. twingo macrumors regular

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    Jul 3, 2009
    #3
    Walk in the store and compare the retina-screen with the air-screen.
    In less than 5 minutes you know which one is worth the money.
     
  4. Meister, May 13, 2014
    Last edited: May 13, 2014

    Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #4
    An ipad is a very capable machine.
    I mainly use my ipad mini and once you get used to the touch keyboard its very efficient.

    However, depending on the extend of your papers and your programming it will likely not cut it.
    Especially when you write university papers you want to multitask - copy and paste fast!

    This is what I would very strongly suggest and I think you will be happy with it:

    - get the base mba 13" on a discount or refurb. Here in germany it is 899€ new now.
    - And: get the the ipad mini non-retina with lte and 64gb. Here this sells for 399€ new.

    You spent the best 1300,- of your life!

    The workflow with those two combined will amaze you! The mini will give you an office in your pocket and the mba will serve as the main computer. They sync via icloud flawlessly. I speak from experience. This is what I do.

    Dont get a keyboard case for the ipad, it defeats the purpose. Get used to the touchkeys. Its amazing.
    Save the money and forget the macbook pro retina. Its nice but overkill for you atm.

    Forget the mba 11".
    Its awesome, but i can not recommend it as a main computer for programming and especially paper writing, because of the small screen.
     
  5. malistrais thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 13, 2014
    #5
    Yeah, an iPad Air isn't going to satisfy my desire to be able to use it for programming coursework - brain fart on my part. :)

    My main choice is really between the 13" MBA and rMBP in the end. I'm just trying to keep the cost down as much as possible and I wasn't sure if the rMBP was really worth the price difference as far as actual performance is concerned.

    Oh, the retina display looks amazing, no doubt. But as far as performance between the two systems, is there much difference?

    I was actually thinking about something like this. A few questions though...

    Is 4gb of RAM sufficient on the Mac platform? Coming from Windows, I would do everything in my power to have at least 8gb. Is OSX more efficient?

    Is there a big difference in the graphics and processing power between the MBA and rMBP?

    Thanks everyone for the replies!
     
  6. yosemit macrumors regular

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    Jul 19, 2013
    #6
    You may also consider MBA 11" with 8GB and 256GB+ SSD, plus a big external monitor.

    I do programming on multiple platforms, Windows and Linux mostly. My main computer is an MBA 11" i7/8GB/256GB, with multiple Windows and Linux virtual machines. The MBA is a very capable machine. For programming, it is about the same performance as the 13" rMBP, and both are faster than a typical desktop without SSD. BTW, 8GB/256GB is for running virtual machines, i7 is nice but not necessary.

    iPad is not for programming. Don't even think about it. :cool:

     
  7. malistrais thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 13, 2014
    #7
    Yeah, the iPad comment was a bit of a brain-fart. I'm computer savvy enough to realize it's not meant for that type of activity. I just happened to use one for the first time yesterday and was so impressed that now I want one. :)

    I don't care for the 11" screen size unfortunately, but it's good to know that from a processing perspective, the MBA and rMBP would be similar for my needs.

    At this point, I think the only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger on a MBA is screen resolution...

    Thanks!

     
  8. BenTrovato macrumors 68020

    BenTrovato

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    Canada
    #8
    I would go retina if the resolution is important. I like the retina screen but if cost is a concern I have no problem with the MBA screen.
     
  9. SDColorado macrumors 65816

    SDColorado

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    #9
    I had mentioned the 11" only because you had mentioned the iPad with Keyboard, etc. You are going to get about the same size package to carry around between iPad with Keyboard and 11" MBA. I tried that Keyboard combo with an iPad. It was heavier and bulkier than I cared for.

    Having both a 15" rMBP and 13" MBA. The only time I can really appreciate the difference between the two, is when I am doing Photoshop work. For everything else I do, the MBA is more than fast enough.
     
  10. ZombiePete macrumors 68020

    ZombiePete

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    San Antonio, TX
    #10
    I have the 2013 MBA (pre-refresh) and absolutely love it. It's my only notebook computer (I have an iPad Air, and at home a Mac Mini and a tower PC for Steam and WoW) and it has never disappointed me. I am going to school to finish my BS right now and it has been a phenomenal machine for that; the battery easily gets me through the day and then some with lots of web browsing doing research (and reddit and stuff like that mixed in). I've got the 4GB version and I've never had it stutter or complain about multitasking; I'm not a real heavy user in general but when writing a research paper I'll have Word, iBooks, and Safari with eight or more tabs open and it's never given me a problem.

    It's also good for light gaming; I play WoW set to medium graphics (for the highest frame rates) on it and aside from sometimes getting warm and loud it's never stumbled.

    The rMBP is beautiful and works great; my wife has one and I have to admit that the screen does make me jealous every once in a while. But truly I don't ever even think about it when I'm on my MBA, which looks great in it's own right to me.
     
  11. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #11
    You don't care for the 11.6" screen on the MBA but were really impressed with the 9.7" screen on the iPad? ;)

    I had a 2011 13" MBA and really liked it. But I went down to an 2013 11" MBA and couldn't be happier. If you are going to carry this computer around a lot, the difference in size and weight is very significant even though you might not think so from the specs.

    It's a very powerful little computer (I have the i7/8gb/512gb model) and I use it for everything, including Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro. At home I connect it to a big screen and external keyboard for "serious" work.
     
  12. Meister, May 14, 2014
    Last edited: May 14, 2014

    Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    Oct 10, 2013
    #12
    The question about the ram has been discussed here extensively. 4gb is plenty for college students, but it all depends on the programs you plan on running. Take a look at martins 4gb , 8gb or 16gb ram thread in the macbook pro section here:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1730485

    What do you need graphics processing power for?
    For dedicated gpu there is no way around the high end 15" rmbp, but thats way beyond 2k$.


    While I do not disagree with boyd, that the 11" is very nice, I have to add, that the ipad mini is in a whole different universe when it comes to portability. A mini you can pull out of your pocket and use standing! for example in the subway. Thats hard to do even with the portable 11". Also the battery on the ipad mini is insane and also in an entire different league.

    I have done serious work, like writting reports, university papers and other things, while stand or sitting just anywhere. Also what you wrote is synced tomyour mac at home via icloud and you can finish it there. This workflow changed my life.
     
  13. malistrais thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 13, 2014
    #13
    I've read about many problems with the retinas, like image retention and/or patchy/spotty colors - is it prevalent enough to worry about? Thanks!

    As far as the iPad, I had never used one before this week. I realize it's not something that would suit my needs singularly. I was mainly impressed with it "as a tablet", but I but I did a poor job of communicating that in my post. :)

    Good to know the MBA is more than capable from a processing standpoint - thanks!

    This sounds very similar to my likely situation.

    I currently have a 15" Dell i5 sandy bridge laptop with low/mid AMD graphics that I could use for school, but it's bulkier and wouldn't have near the battery life a new macbook would. And I'm not fond of the 1366x768 native resolution. Which is probably why I haven't just bit the bullet and gotten a MBA 13" yet (due to only slight resolution bump from what i currently have - but is the retina display worth a couple hundred bucks from a MBA, which everyone seems to share is still darn nice).

    We also have several android tablets in the house, and I'll keep my very capable windows 8 desktop for gaming. But I'd still like an iPad too. :)

    Awesome to hear that I could likely get by no problem with 4gb of ram. Thanks for your response!

    haha - no shortage of grief about the way I worded the iPad comment. Lesson learned for sure. :)

    Again, great to hear the MBA is plenty powerful. Thanks!

    Great stuff. I'll check out the link on ram.

    For graphics, I was mainly wondering about the difference between the HD5000 graphics vs. the Iris graphics. As a more general question, as it relates to components and capabilities, am I more likely to be looking for a new laptop sooner if I go with a MBA (due to what I perceive to be a lesser processor and graphics)?

    Love the MacBook paired with an iPad idea, as others have suggested as well. This has definitely pushed my thinking to something more reasonably priced for a laptop to more easily allow myself to justify also picking up an iPad. :)

    Thanks for the response!

    Thanks to everyone who has replied!
     
  14. gregpod9 macrumors regular

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    Apr 27, 2007
    #14
    I went through 4 late 2013 Macbook Pro's with the Retina display within the last 3 weeks. All of them had problems with the screen. All 4 had yellow tinted screens, image retention, and laggy scrolling when scaling resolutions above best for retina display. My 2013 13" refurbished i7/8/512 that I order a few days ago will arrive tomorrow, I hope it has no problems.
     
  15. SDColorado macrumors 65816

    SDColorado

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    #15
    If you really don't need the retina display, save the money, get yourself a Macbook air and put the price difference toward that iPad that you *know* you really want hahaha. :D
     
  16. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #16
    Nothing wrong with wanting an ipad and a macbook :)
    They complement each other nicely.
     
  17. SDColorado macrumors 65816

    SDColorado

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    #17
    Absolutely nothing at all :)
     
  18. twingo macrumors regular

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    #18
    But don't puke at the pixelated screen of your macbook air, after you worked several hours with your retina ipad.
     
  19. majkom macrumors 65816

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    May 3, 2011
    #19
    So still no change? Went through two 13inch rMBpro in december/january - both had image retention issues.. That is sad. I returned them both and bought air 11 as temporary solution till ir issue is solved.
     
  20. malistrais thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 13, 2014
    #20
    that's crazy. is this a recognized problem from apple's perspective? or just "within tolerances", so to speak?

    this is pretty much what i'm thinking. i can get a 2013 baseline 13" MBA refurb from BB (with my $150 coupon) for $705. Add a refurb iPad Air from apple.com for $419 and i'm well under $1200 total after tax. Seems like a good path to take at this point. Only about $25 more than a baseline 13" rMBP refurb from apple.com. Feels like getting a free iPad Air at that point, assuming I can deal with the sub-retina display on the MBA. :)

    does anyone happen to know if the apple refurb rMBP is less likely to exhibit these issues (assuming they could catch these in the refurb process?) ?

     
  21. SDColorado macrumors 65816

    SDColorado

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    #21
    I have zero problems with the 15" rMBP that I own. It's been fantastic
     
  22. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #22
    Get an iPad mini. The iPad Air wont fit in your pocket.
     
  23. malistrais thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 13, 2014
    #23
    if money were no object, i'd definitely get a rMBP :)

    good idea - an iPad mini Retina would save me another $80 :)

     
  24. Meister, May 18, 2014
    Last edited: May 18, 2014

    Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #24
    Get the non-retina ipad mini. It has better battery life and is a bit thinner and lighter.
    I just bought the 64gb lte version for 399,-.
    So you safe even more money.
     
  25. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2013
    #25
    Or you could skip the iPad altogether and get an 11" Air + 24" IPS monitor. You can get that for around 780$. On another note, from your OP, the 2014 MBA only has a 0.1GHz processor bump. There is no reason to get it above the 2013 model.

    Best,
    Matt
     

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