Removing 'Portability' and 'Screen'; Which is the better Laptop - MBA or rMBP 13''?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by huangwenshen, May 19, 2015.

  1. huangwenshen, May 19, 2015
    Last edited: May 19, 2015

    huangwenshen macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2015
    Hi All,

    I'm not surprised I'm yet to see any comparisons on this given it's very specific, but I need to make a buying decision on the MBA or rMBP.

    However, and I suppose/hope many are in similar scenarios, if we remove portability and screen from the equation, which is the better machine? Which machine will perform better driving an external monitor (as primary and only screen).

    Here are some more considerations

    - I use the laptop for personal and work and I work from home 80-90% of the time, and travel the other 10-20%. This means 2 things.
    (1) I intend to have the laptop plugged into an external display and have the laptop closed when I'm working at my desk, so retina display is redundant
    (2) Portability (size differences) is redundant given travel is relatively light (however needs to be portable for travel, hence a laptop as opposed to a desktop).

    - I mainly do 3-4 things on the laptop
    (1) Work (email, lotus notes, word process, excel, powerpoint)
    (2) large mp photo work in lightroom, light video editing in iMovie
    (3) Personal email, social network, browse etc on Chrome
    (4) Listen music, youtube etc

    - I would be speccing out (BTO) either machine, so interested in either the
    (a) 2.2ghz i7 w/ 8gb RAM MBA or
    (b) 3.1ghz i7 w/ 8/16gb RAM rMBP

    - I currently own a mid 2011 MBA with 1.8ghz i7 w/ 4gb RAM (the poorest performing MBA that came out ha)

    So that's my question. There's lots of reviews that heavily take into consideration both portability and screen, but given they are redundant in my scenario, I'd be interested to hear any real world experience or opinions on this.

    In your response, it would be super appreciated if you could rationalise why one is better than the other, whether conceptually or in technical terms.

    Thanks so much all.
  2. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
  3. Anand953 macrumors regular

    Mar 28, 2015
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    They will both perform that work case pretty much the same, nothing there will max out your CPU and the differences in GPU are unimportant unless you want to use a 4K screen the next few years.

    The reason that reviews focus on screen and portability is obvious, that is what laptops are all about.

    I will still reccomend the rMBP as an all round fantastic little laptop. I would say don't bother with any upgrades on it though the i7 will make little difference for the rMBP. If you get the Air then the i7 is worth it.

    For your use case 16gb of RAM is not needed at all.

    To be honest if you air is fine for your travel needs just get a mac mini with a fusion drive as your desktop and save a few dollars.
  5. DarwinOSX macrumors 65832

    Nov 3, 2009
    Pretty obviously the MBP but why discount screen, Is its most important feature. I couldn't go back to a non-retina screen.

  6. abta1 macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2010
    Paris, France
    The MBP of course. But as others have said, you are discounting the unique selling points of the two machines, since at their core, they are pretty much the same aside from the pro being slightly more powerful.
  7. T5BRICK macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2006
    The rMBP has a faster CPU, GPU and RAM. It has a better cooling system to prevent the CPU and GPU from throttling due to heat as quickly. The rMBP also has additional ports(that you may or may not need). Finally, I can't stand the grey bezel around the screen on the MBA, so that is a thing for me. :rolleyes:

    The MBA is a thin and light laptop that is built for portability. The rMBP is a slightly less portable laptop with a gorgeous screen and slightly better hardware to back it up. If you take away the screen and portability, the rMBP still has slightly better hardware.
  8. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Honestly, price and portability are the only objective reasons to choose the Air, so if those don't matter get the Pro.
  9. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Mac Mini.

    You DID say you wanted to remove screen and portability from the equation. Problem solved. :)
  10. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    That's probably not the worst idea in the world - if portability and the screen aren't needed, a Mac Mini would be a good choice and would mean the OP saves a fair bit of money.

    If you do go for a laptop, the rMBP is the obvious choice, though I really, really wouldn't waste money on upgrading the processor. The difference in real world performance is very small - if you need more power, go with the quad-core 15", as going from a dual i5 to a dual i7 doesn't give you much extra.
  11. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    If we eliminate portability and screen from the discussion, the clear winner for me is the non-Retina MBP. It offers replaceable RAM, a replaceable battery, an optical bay that can be used either as an optical drive or for another HDD/SSD if you wish, the ability to use common SATA III SSDs, more ports, plenty of power to do the tasks in the OP, and a lower price than both the machines listed.
  12. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Excellent point. I think this is the machine the OP needs.

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