Retina Macbook Pro 13" or Macbook Air 13"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Kizzaa, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. Kizzaa macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2012
    Hey guys, I'll be starting University in a few months and I'm in the midst of choosing a Macbook. I'll be studying law, which calls the need for portability and battery life. I am having great difficulty deciding between a Base model Retina Macbook Pro 13" and a Macbook Air 13" (Upgraded to 8gb ram, 256 SSD). At first I thought the air would be great, but then I realised I could afford a 13" retina... Law will involve tedious and overwhelming amounts of reading, so I began to lean towards a retina display, figuring it would be better for my eyes. I'm just terrible at making decisions... Someone please help me weigh the pros and cons.

    Thank you in advance.
  2. anzio macrumors 6502

    Dec 5, 2010
    Innisfil, Ontario, Canada
    If you can afford the 13" Retina model, it's more of a workhorse than the MacBook Air.

    The text is crisp, so it is much better for reading. However, make sure all the software you'd be using is Retina ready, otherwise you're in for blurry text/images.

    Other than those points, it's really up to the computer you want. The Retina may be overkill for what you're going to be doing. In my opinion, you can't have too much power.
  3. bearda macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2005
    Germantown, MD
    If you're planning on using it for reading a lot of text have you considered a MacBook Air + an iPad 4? It seems like it would work out cheaper, lighter, and with better battery life. It depending on what format most of the documents you're looking at are in, but I'd much rather read research papers on my iPad than any of my other systems, at this point.
  4. CausticPuppy macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    Sounds like you're on the right career path? :D
  5. scarred macrumors 6502a

    Jul 24, 2011
    Between the two models, your trade offs are really: Retina vs. slightly lighter and more space. Performance of the two systems will be comparable for a law student.

    If you've never seen a retina screen, you'll be totally fine with the macbook air. Ignorance is bliss... heh. As soon as you see it though.. :( I love my retina mbp 13.
  6. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    One thing to much time would be spent reading on the laptop's screen vs time seeing the content on a larger monitor back at your dorm/apartment? Back home you could have a thunderbolt display to give you large crisp text. In that case you would only use the laptop screen in the classroom or library.
  7. dsc888 macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2010
    Boston, MA USA
    I'll 2nd and 3rd those here who says that the Retina is simply out of this world. I picked up a 15" rMBP that will be delivered tomorrow. If price difference isn't too much, the higher rez retina display will blow you away. The sharpness of the text makes for easier, extended use of the computer. Of course, there are some downsides including slightly less smooth scrolling due to lack of the discrete video card in the 13" rMBP with graphics intense webpages for example.

    Good luck and keep us posted as to what you end up deciding on.
  8. snorkelman macrumors 6502a


    Oct 25, 2010
    I'm handing my 13" rMBP back in tomorrow and going back to 13" MBA (8GB of RAM on both likewise 256GB SSD)

    the screen is gorgeous but after a few days of trying (as the panel is soooo nice) I've had to admit defeat - I just cant work with it;

    In best for retina display mode I get a super sharp display but with the real-estate of a 1280*800 one, whilst at same time I get ginormous screen captures at the underlying full res which can be a pita.

    kick it up a notch to gain same real estate as 1440*900 MBA display and things start to get a little choppy too

    Killer for me was running Win 7 and XP in virtual box - I get horrible artifacts as I move things around the screen and sluggish redraw. Makes it feel way slower than same VM's running on last years MBA with far less RAM to play with. Tried VM Fusion 5 but it was a zillion times worse, not even going to bother with Parallels and boot camp is a non starter for what we do.

    Provided you can stick with retina aware OSX applications I don't see the machine being a problem, but if you have to venture regularly into more obscure stuff or run VMs I'd have a good think before pulling the trigger.
  9. Kizzaa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2012
    Thanks so much guys, you're all great! The idea of a MBA and an iPad is interesting, as is the idea of a thunderbolt display. However, I plan on using whatever Macbook I get as my primary work station, although I will definitely consider the idea of an iPad. The idea of lag on the retina 13" scares me, can anyone provide insight into this? I thought the GPU was suffice for the retina display...

  10. mohsy90 macrumors 65816


    Feb 4, 2011
    New York
    This honestly depends on what you're doing. For basic tasks like reading and whatever else is involved in studying law, you're likely not going to see any lag. The real lag and UI issues that have been reported have been with graphics heavy programs where the GPU just cant sufficiently handle the retina display and the program.
  11. Mercmanman macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2012
    I just switched from a 2012 i7 MBA to the i7 retina mbp 13 inch. I run a software development company and use virtual box with Win7 regularly. The retina display is fantastic and the lag people quote is not something I have experienced. For reading I use the 1200:800 resoltuion, and I jump to the 1600:1050 resolution for times I need more space for multiple windows, videoconference, or using virtualbox and Mac apps at the same time. The retina display is not even close to the MBA screen for clarity at all resolutions, and I read long contracts and agreements all day long sometimes. I use a Thunderbolt Display at work, and travel a lot. The rmbp has better battery life, and I would not trade back for the world. In my opinion, there are a million armchair critics. This is personal experience of course, but the retina is the way to go.
  12. judethat macrumors 6502


    Nov 16, 2007
    I'm loving my rMBP and not noticed any lag. It's a fabulous machine and after using thy lovely screen it's a pleasure to work on it.
  13. mankar4 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 23, 2007
    same here
  14. Kizzaa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2012
    I'm getting the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, thanks guys! :)

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