Pumped up MBA vs. MBP 13"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by slate0, Jul 29, 2014.

  1. slate0 macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2013
    Hello All,
    About 12 days ago I purchased a MacBook Air 13" with 256 GB HD, 8GB RAM, and the 1.7 GHz processor.

    Today Apple updated their 13" MacBook Pro 13" where if I keep the Ram and HD the same, I get a Retina display, second thunderbolt port, native HDMI Out (definite plus) and faster base speed for about $30 more than I paid for the Air.

    I was kind of hoping that this purchase in the first place would just tide me over until the new cpus / possible designs come in 2015, hoping to trade in my current MacBook at that time.

    Plus I have heard that Yosemite looks much better on Retina. I wonder, though, if you get any more screen real-estate compared to the 13" non-Retina display.

    I am not sure how much I value the portability of the Air.


    Also, the MBA is an i7 while the MBP is an i5.

  2. nightlong macrumors 6502a


    Jun 16, 2012
    It is all about the screen.

    I had a 2012 MBA, great computer, I really liked the keyboard shape, the tapered front is much more comfortable to use. But, for me, the screen just isn't good enough. Sold it and got 2013 MBPr. Also has extra ports. But the screen is the major difference.

    Beware people who say there isn't much difference, they must have impaired vision! Or they are very young. My god-daughter (25) bought my Air. She hasn't got impaired vision but she likes the Air (and the bargain price she got!) and she doesn't do the sort of hours with text that I do on a computer.

    Compare the screens and decide how much that matters to you.
  3. can$rules macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2014
  4. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    The price of the 8GB/256GB rMBP has not changed since last year. Since it was released, the difference in price has been $20. The i5 rMBP and the i7 MBA have almost the exact same processor benchmarks. The difference in weight between the two computers is less than a can of coke, and the rMBP actually has a smaller footprint because it doesn't have the wedge design. You can technically scale the resolution on the rMBP to get up to nearly 4x the real estate of the MBA, even if it isn't feasible. The only reason to get the MBA over the rMBP is if you want extra battery life. In every other way, the rMBP is a better computer. The only reason I got a MBA over the rMBP is because it was $700 at best buy. If you were planning on buying a new computer in 2015 anyways, why not get a nearly identical computer (for 95% of tasks) for half the price? What kind of work do you do on your computer?

  5. slate0 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2013
    Thank you all very much for sharing your knowledge.
    I was concerned that maybe the rMBP CPU was an older stepping or something that would make it less desirable.

    Why not a $700 MBA? I want to get into programming and I like to use "nice and shiny" equipment as an incentive for myself to actually engage in projects. Plus I believe in the power of retained value of used Apple products. If this was mid 2015 I'd be investing in a powerhouse high end 15" rMBP.

    Thanks again!
  6. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    To each his own. If you wanted a powerful computer to motivate you to program, you should have picked up a like new 2012 15" rMBP on ebay for $1400, which has over 200% the processing and graphics power of the MBA, and is exactly the same externally as the 2013 model. The i7/8GB MBA is about 15% better than the baseline model (at double the price). You pay a huge premium for fitting slightly better hardware into a tiny package. The 15" rMBP will also retain its value much better, considering it is a used, baseline model. But like I said, if the dollar value of your computer is most important to you, do what works I guess. Just something to think about.


    Edit: Just by the way, the rMBP CPU is not any older. The MBA CPU was actually released back in June 2013, whereas the rMBP CPU was released in October 2013.
  7. slate0 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2013
    Hi Matt,

    I respect your perspective and you do know more about how little the Macbooks have advanced since 2012.

    It looks like they have the same ports. Has Apple been using the same chipset since 2012? Surely they must use a processor older than haswell, therefore making the cpu-cpu comparison more complicated? Last I heard, single thread performance is still more important than mass parallization in most cases.

    I have also found that battery life is an issue. My 2008's bottom cover couldn't close because of a bulging battery when I sold it. What happens if these new "sealed" systems start to get bulging batteries? If you send it in to apple for a replacement, how long does that take and how much does it cost (surely >$100)?

    SSD's can be problematic, I know published MTBFs are huge, but I've lost two drives to corrupted SSD (on a hardware level), and I'm going to go ahead and attribute that to age of the SSD.

    Is it your experience that the resale value of Macbooks flatten out with time?

    Ebay does seem to have some good options along the lines of what you propose.

  8. dMgfOrrEal macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2014
    Don't bother going non-retina at this point of time.

    Go retina and it's a whole new world.
  9. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    In terms of CPU power, the baseline 2012 rMBP has 95% the processing power of the 2013 model. It has an Ivybridge CPU, which was the microprocessor lineup released in 2012. The Haswell CPUs in 2013 did not gain much on the end of power, but did benefit from efficiency (battery life). Strangely, both the 2012 and 2013 models were rated for 7 hours of battery life. This may be in some way related to the 2012 model having two GPUs (gtx 650m & Intel HD 4000), with the higher power one only kicking in for tasks that it was needed for. The 2013 model has a single GPU (Intel Iris Pro) that is always running, so it may be less efficient. The 650m is about 5% faster than the Iris Pro by the way.

    The only major differences between the 2012 and 2013 models were AC wifi and PCIE flash. For most scenarios, these will provide little to no benefit. The machines weigh the same, have the same ports, the same screen, the same camera, the same speakers, and the same fans. Of the computers upgraded during 2013, it was the least impressive.

    As with any product, Apple computers depreciate over time. A common example is a luxury car. Right when you take the car off the lot, the value drops. The age and the usage of the car affect the resale value as well. When the car is newest it depreciates most quickly, and then over time it depreciates less quickly. For example, a $50,000 car may drop to $40,000 in a year. In the second year, it may drop from $40,000 to $32,500. By the 10th year, the price will probably drop by $1,000 per year. Also comparable to a computer, any add ons depreciate at a faster rate than the price of the car itself. A premium sound system may cost $3,000 up front. After the first year, the value may drop to $1,500. This is why buying a car a year or two old can get you significant savings up front, and it will save you on depreciation as well.

    The same applies for computers. If you buy a used laptop, it will depreciate less quickly than a new one. Any upgrades on a new laptop will cause it do depreciate more rapidly.

    In terms of battery/SSD failure and other issues, I thought you were only keeping the computer for a year. When you get a new computer, make sure to buy AppleCare. The rMBP lineup is not old enough to really tell what issues come with old age. To be fair, most repairs will be expensive. All Apple products are currently in that boat though, so the rMBP in comparison to other computers is not any better or worse off, especially in the next year.

  10. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I 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.
  11. Kevclark1985 macrumors member

    Jul 2, 2013
    I would recommend the Retina, for me it's a no brainer unless battery life is significantly needed (the rMBP gets good battery life so too, just not quite as much).

    The retina would hold it's value more I imagine, especially once retina Airs come out (assuming they do), as less people would be willing to purchase a non retina model.

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