Retina MacBook Pro, Lenovo X1 Carbon, or MacBook Air?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by musicalchair, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. musicalchair macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2008
    #1
    I forgot that I had an account here, but since I just remembered that I do, I'd like to ask y'all for some computer buying advice.

    I'm going to be starting college in the fall, and I intend to major in business. Windows and OSX are both acceptable, however if I go the OSX route, I am required to have a Windows virtual machine in either Parallels or VMware.

    Other than that requirement, most of my computer use is pretty typical--web browsing, media consumption, word processing, and some gaming here and there.

    My first option is the Retina MacBook Pro ($1,999 with student discount.) Having played around with one, I'm blown away by the display, weight, footprint, etc. However, it is expensive. I'd buy one right now, but I have my reservations: I don't know if Parallels/VMware/Windows 8 will play nicely with the display. I'm sure that software updates will eventually ensure that it'll work, but I'm still concerned. Secondly, it's a lot of computer. Given its price tag, a part of me feels bad knowing that its computing power is underutilized.

    My second option is Lenovo's upcoming Carbon X1. I know that there's going to be some bias against it on Macrumors, but there are things I like about it. It has a footprint comparable to a 13in mba with a display that's neither too small nor too big. While it's something different than a mac, it's a fantastic looking computer. The durability of a Lenovo and the rapid charge feature (80% recharge in 30 mins) are also pluses. Lastly, no need for a VM. But seeing as there's no solid release date, and that it's undergone no evaluation, there's a great deal of uncertainty. I probably won't have much of an opportunity to handle one without buying one. I can wait out July, but I can't wait much longer than that.

    Thirdly is a spec'd out MacBook Air (i7, 8gb ram, 256 ssd.) Having used and played around with my mom's, I really like the form factor. Will it handle virtualization and have sufficient power to last 4 years down the road? Secondly, I'm not sure how I'd like the 13 inch display for things like word processing. Do any of you have differing opinions on this? Also, I'm not sure if the price delta between it and the retina mbp is that significant.

    My parents feel comfortable paying for any of these, including the Retina MBP. I'm sorry for not being more concise, but I'm trying to look at every variable. This is the first time I've considered a Mac and will be my computer for the next four years--this isn't something I'm taking lightly, and a second opinion would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. caligomez macrumors regular

    caligomez

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Location:
    San Juan, PR
    #2
    Go with the maxed out Air.. With 8GB of RAM you will have no issues with virtualization software..

    The X1 Carbon looks pretty sweet.. i'm getting one for work, as we use Windows on our network. However, the release date will be in August (latter part of the month, probably), so you might have a hard time waiting. Also, its predecessor has fan noise and battery duration issues (plus a "just average" screen resolution), so I would only get it if they update these issues (which they probably will).

    Go with the Air.. It should be around the same $$$$ as the X1 Carbon, and you'll have way more options running Mac OS X. Plus, if you have an iPhone or iPad (or plan on getting one) then it's a no-brainer.
     
  3. harrisonw1998 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    #3
    An MBA seems like a good fit for you-the rMBP is really for creative professionals rather than business use.
     
  4. Vampire5003, Jul 8, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012

    Vampire5003 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #4
    Imo

    Honestly no computer will last for 4 years if you are talking about specs. If you mean "will it last me four years (in terms of durability) then any Apple product is capable of working for 4 years. IMO your lucky that your parents are willing to buy you any laptop you want for college. Back to the subject, I would either take the spec'd out Macbook Air (processor is a little slow) or how about the 13 inch MBP? While it won't be as thin, you can upgrade it down the road, the Crucial M4 is like 50% less than Apple's SSD option but Apple uses the Samsung 830 which is slightly faster....but it's up to you.

    Now for what I would do:

    I would buy the Retina MBP if I want to keep the computer for more than five years. Why? Well the computer has a kick*** display and meets all of my requirements and will continue to meet them for a long time. This is what I ended up doing, but read below.

    If I bought the MBA (which I probably would be hesitant due to processor being slow) then it would be fully spec'd out and have some sort of extended warranty that covers accidental damage (like the SquareTrade warranty). Seriously I doubt I would be able to convince myself to pay $1699 for the spec'd out MBA plus warranty.

    IMO in my shoes I would take the 13 inch MBP at $1499 (since I am not a student) and then buy the Crucial M4 256GB SSD (only $219 at Newegg) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148530
    Then you get a good i7 processor (superior to Air's processor), optical drive, possible to upgrade to 16GB RAM down the road (especially if your gonna have this machine for 3+ years), user-upgradable, and best bang for your buck in my own opinion.
     
  5. musicalchair thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2008
    #5
    Thank you all for your inputs and suggestions. I decided not to wait out on the X1 Carbon, because I don't feel that comfortable waiting that long for a computer. Fortunately, my local Apple Store had a few of the Retina Macbook Pros in stock, so that's what I decided on.

    I gave some thought to the Macbook Air, but even with the i7, I don't know how it would hold up with age. Mind you, a maxed-out Air is still $1630. Plus, it didn't have the same 'wow' factor as the rMBP. (I'm still not entirely sure what that means, but I think most of you understand what I am saying) While I may or may not fully utilize its full processing power, for the price difference, I think this machine is well worth it and is something I'll be happy with for the next few years.

    Putting it side by side with an Air, it's maybe a hair thicker than the thickest part of the taper, and the more I use it, I find it just about as portable. I'm still waiting for Google to optimize Chrome for the Retina display, but I can live with Safari for now.

    Other that that minor quip, I love this computer. Considering the display, form factor, etc. there is simply nothing else like this computer. If this where the notebook is headed, then I can say with confidence that it is headed in the right direction.

    Once again, thank you all for your advice.
     
  6. Vampire5003, Jul 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012

    Vampire5003 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #6
    No problem, in fact I'm very happy you made a decision. Trust me the retina display MBP will not disappoint you, it is the best computer I have ever owned. If you read my signature you will see I have a custom build water-cooled pc, but that thing hasn't been used in weeks. This RMBP (Retina Macbook Pro) does everything I need it to do and more, and this display is so beautiful I cannot see myself going to a MBA or 13 inch MBP. Honestly I think you made a very wise decision, after all this computer is only $1999 with student discount right? That's a steal, but if you can see when tax-free week is in your state, thats additional savings. But non the less, I hope you are very happy with you RMBP and enjoy it to the fullest.



    Thank you,


    Thomas

    PS: Please update us about your RMBP once you receive it, and perhaps you can write some replys or threads about your opinion of the laptop. Cheers!
     
  7. musicalchair thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2008
    #7
    I just noticed you have an LTE Galaxy Nexus. I've had mine since the launch date and absolutely love it.

    Anyway, my local Apple store actually has them in stock, and so I didn't have to deal with an excruciating 3-4 week wait. Paid $1999 w/student discount, and seeing as Apple discounts it for students, it seems like a must--I think iFixit considers this the most unrepairable computer out there. I didn't know that about the Tax Free Weekend--I just moved from New York where no such thing exists, and Texas' is only for things like clothing, school supplies <$100, etc. The $100 iTunes gift card was certainly another nice added bonus.

    As far as the computer goes, I absolutely love it so far. I'm still blown away by this display--there's simply nothing else like it. It effortlessly runs 1080p video, Safari, Word running on Parallels, etc. (I was able to pick up Parallels, Windows 7 Professional, and the full Office suite for $40, $65, and $99 respectively, so another win for student pricing!) without skipping a beat.

    I still can't get over the speed of the SSD either. In a quick test, the computer does a full restart in about 19 seconds!

    The form factor still doesn't fail to impress, and it manages to stay remarkably cool and quiet under heat. For comparison, another relative of mine has a newish Vaio SE, and I can hear it when it all the way upstairs.

    I'll try to let y'all know how it is after further use, but so far, I'm simply blown away.
     
  8. Vampire5003 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #8
    Nice to see you got a good discount! As far as the computer goes, this laptop is amazing. Did you say you live in Texas? If so, that makes two of us! Anyways have fun with your RMBP and I hope to see more threads and posts from you in the future.



    Thank you,


    Thomas


    PS: I love my Galaxy Nexus too, but I've been running JellyBean OS and so far the phone is so smooth. I can say I haven't regret moving from iPhone to Android!
     
  9. Kurth macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    #9
    Hello, I found this thread and I have been thinking about exactly those 3 choices myself.

    The macbook Air is somewhat out of the race because I need at least a resolution of 1600 pixels horizontally and it only offers 1440 pixel.

    The retina Macbook Pro was interesting until I read about the fact that you can not even take the SSD drive out. If I have a problem with any of my laptops, hardware fault or anything else, I usually need to keep working with my data right away, like within an hour, so the first thing I need to do is take out the drive and mount it on another computer, so the retina Macbook is now also out of the race for me.

    A regular 15" Macbook Pro with Hi-Res display offers enough resolution, maybe matte option for the display, but I am holding out on more reviews for the Lenovo X1 Carbon! The only negative I see about that machine so far is lack of RJ45, but well it's slim ...

    The most important reason for me to get the X1 from Lenovo is the Trackpoint and the 1600 pixel resolution!
    I have been a Thinkpad user for over 10 years and nothing can beat the trackpoint. I could not live with having to take my hand off the keyboard to move my finger down and all over a touchpad. If you ever got used to a trackpoint, where the finger can stay in place and the hands stay on the keyboard, only light pressure moves the mouse and no joints need to move, you would hardly want to go back to a trackpad ...
    I have not used a single mouse, not even owned one, for over 10 years.

    If Macbooks had a trackpoint, I would have owned one by now.
    I don't use desktops for the same reason.

    My computer at the moment, for the last 2 years has been the Sony Vaio P, the tiny device that fits in a jeans pocket, but has 1600 pixel resolution and a trackpoint! Not even Lenovo could offer anything as portable and usable as this, it only lacks the power with its Atom processor and has been discontinued sadly.
     
  10. Vampire5003 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #10
    Well

    Well it sounds too me like you already made your decision. Get whatever you want or you think you want. If you don't like the sexy, smooth, fun and 100% amazing glass multitouch trackpad then you have some issues.
     
  11. entatlrg macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    #11
    Great choice. Your eyes will thank you, you've got all the power you'll need, thin, light, sexy it's a hell of a notebook. I own an Air and a rMBP, I love my Air, but the rMBP really is in a league of its own.
     
  12. Kurth macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    #12
    I had not made a decision at the time.

    I got a Mid 2012 Macbook Pro with a matte, hi-res 15" display. I wanted the power (Processor 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD) and for Parallels Desktop 8. It took a few weeks to get used to the multitouch trackpad, in the first 2 weeks I thought on most days that I will not ever get used to it. Now I love it.
    I was sick of wasting time with Windows, now I use it only virtually and try use as many applications in OS X as possible.
     

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