Retina Macbook Pro or Macbook Air

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by asukasuminoe, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. asukasuminoe macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2012
    Hey, this is my first post on macrumors so please go easy on me. ^^;

    Anyways, I'm in a desperate need of a new laptop. I'm a college student studying Graphic Design. I guess for this major, I'll be using a lot of programs like Photoshop and dreamweaver. I plan on taking a lot more graphic design classes in the future so I'll probably be using a lot more design related programs.

    My current laptop is a HP G42 and it runs about 4000 something on geekbench which is horrible in my opinion. It has 4GB of RAM and has a i5 processor that runs at 2.53 Ghz. It runs programs like Photoshop with no problem, but I've been having too many problems with it. It overheats, has crappy battery life and it occasionally gets the BSOD.

    For my next laptop, I've been thinking to switch to a macbook. This will be my first Mac so it'll probably take me some time to get used to. Here are my options:

    1. Macbook Air 13-inch 128GB i5 1.8GHz Upgraded to 8GB of RAM

    2. Macbook Air 13-inch 256GB i7 2.0GHz Upgraded to 8GB of RAM

    3. Retina Macbook Pro 15-inch 256GB i7 2.3GHz 8GB of RAM (Lower End model or basically the cheaper rMBP)

    Basically, here are my worries about the above laptops.

    For Option 1:
    I'm afraid it's not strong enough to handle the tasks in my Graphic Design classes.

    For Option 2:
    Same as my worries for Option 1. I'm also wondering if there's a big difference in the performance between the 13 inch i5 and the 13 inch i7

    For Option 3:
    It's within my budget, but I'm still not willing to pay for that much for a laptop. If I really need to, I'll buy it. More importantly, I'm worried about the costs for repairing the rMBA if it ever breaks. In addition, the idea of having a 15 inch laptop kinda disturbs me. Honestly, I think it's too big to carry around for college. I also think it's not that light compared with the normal Macbook Pro. I also heard that a lot of programs do not support the Retina screen. I really don't want to see blurry text on the retina screen.

    What I take into consideration:

    1. Size & Weight of the laptop
    2. Ability to run design related programs like Photoshop
    3. Resale value (Which has a higher resale value?)

    If I really do have to carry around a 15 inch rMBR, I'll most likely purchase an ipad so that I can have a portable device that can just simply browse the web and stuff in college.

    Anyways, sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions!
  2. lilcorey10 macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2012
    You could do fine with the second option. The rMBP is super cool and all but if you don't feel like paying that much, don't. FYI... I am buying a rMBP for school. I will be a CS major. I am getting an insurance policy that my college offers that covers all manufacturer defects as well as accidental damage for about 60 per/year; not bad.

    I liked both the upgraded Air and Retina but was just blown away with the Retina. It will be more future proof than the Air and will hopefully last me all 4 years of school.
  3. utahman130 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2012
    First off, welcome to the forum! I've only been here under a month, but I love it here.

    In my opinion, I would definitely go with the Retina MacBook Pro if I could afford it, but I think for graphic design, if you were looking for something cheaper I would take the late 2011 MacBook Pro. The Air would probably be fine for design, but the late 2011 MBP's are cheaper and, I think, more capable.
  4. asukasuminoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2012
    Yeah, I really don't feel like paying for that much so I'm looking more towards the air.

    An insurance policy, huh? I should probably check if my college has that too. I didn't know colleges had that.


    Thanks! I've been lurking around here for quite a while, but I'm liking it so far!

    Okay, It's good to know that the Air is capable of design. I'm liking the Air for its design and price, but I'm glad to know it's fine for design. It's a really tough decision for me.
  5. ZacT94 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    I am in the same position as you, asukasuminoe. I'm also eyeing the macbook rMBP and on my own thread I've been told to buy either the MBA or the rMBP. Are you going to be the only person using the laptop?
  6. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth

    Quad Core
    Discrete GPU
    Retina Display

    "Buy the machine you need and cry once"
  7. asukasuminoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2012
    Yup! I'm going to be the only one using it.
  8. ZacT94, Jun 27, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012

    ZacT94 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    Ok then. If you are doing Graphics design then you should buy the base rMBP with the education discount. The MBA won't cut it when it comes down to that stuff.
    Also the rMBP is quite light according to what I've heard on my thread. It won't take a toll on your back. There will be more apps coming that will be optimised for the retina display.
  9. asukasuminoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2012
    I've been hearing a lot of mixed opinions about the weight of the rMBP. I guess it depends which laptop you're switching from. My major concern of the rMBP is just the blurryness in applications like Photoshop (Very important for my graphic design major!) and such. Hopefully, Mountain Lion and Adobe will solve all that.
  10. ZacT94 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    Yeah hopefully it does all get solved. I hope Mozilla Firefox is retina optimized as I don't use Chrome. Chorme is too memory hungry.
  11. ryanvalle macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2009
    I went to school for media production which covered some of the similar tools you'll be learning (Photoshop, Dreamweaver). While my 13" mbp was sufficient for this, I felt that there were many cases where the resolution and size felt a little too small.

    If i were to do it again, I would probably go for the rMBP because retina display's added resolution will make work easier and productivity better.

    However, taking budget into consideration, don't forget about the cost of software you may be needing to add on to the cost of the machine to make it a useful machine for your classes.
  12. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    the Retina Macbook Pro sucks for any sort of Graphic / UI least for the web.
  13. robbie12345 macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2011
    United States
    well lets put it like this.

    option #1: Pros: cheapest, lightest, smallest, and most portable.
    Cons: slowest, least storage (you most likely will need external hard drives), slowest, least resolution (1366x768), no discrete graphics card (big deal for graphics design.)

    Option #2: Pros: inexpensive but not the cheapest, still very portable, faster(but not much than the 11 inch air.) good sized ssd.
    Cons: still very low resolution (1440x900), still no discrete gpu, still not very fast.

    Option #3: Pros: very,very fast (it has a quad core processor other than the dual core processors in the other ones, with hyper threading for essentially 8 threads. It is 2x as fast, and even faster in multithreaded tasks.), Discrete gpu (for graphics design this is a very big deal, the graphics are much much faster than the airs.), retina display ( highest resolution on any mobile device ever), largest screen real-estate.)

    cons: heavier and bulkier than the others but still very thin and very light. The screen ( sometimes the screen can be its own worst enemy, it sometimes lags when even doing simple things do to the very high resolution.), Price ( the highest price of the 3).

    I hope i helped you make your decision, -Robbie
  14. Pharmscott macrumors 6502a


    Dec 13, 2011
    Sacramento, CA
    The screen lag. I've been reading about this and I find it unsettling for a $2200 machine. 20-something frames per second just scrolling in the browser? No thanks! I hope to read some more thorough testing once the final ML is released.
  15. Allegrotechie macrumors member


    Mar 6, 2011
    I have a rMBP and consitered getting the top of the line Air and finally decided on the base Retina. The screen is just so amazing the speed is remarkable! If you have the budget, go for it!
  16. asukasuminoe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2012

    Yes, the resolution on the 13" MBP doesn't seem enough for me! Software is going to be pretty pricy for me, but I'll have some money saved up for it. Thanks for the advice!


    Yes, you certainly did help me make my decision! The GPU in the rMBP is going to be very useful for any 3D modelling work and such for my graphic design classes. Thanks for pointing out the pros and cons!


    I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying your rMBP! And yes, I do have the budget for it so I might as well go for it!


    For those wondering about my decision, I've finally decided to go with the base rMBP. I ordered it online and it'll take me 3-4 weeks to receive it. The only problem is that I'm currently in Hong Kong at the moment to visit my family for a month so I'm quite worried that it won't arrive to my house in Hong Kong on time. I could always order it when I get back to the states, but I'd prefer to buy it here in Hong Kong since it's a lot cheaper (Already did the calculations). If it doesn't come on time, I'll have to cancel the order and go with the Air. My plan is to sell the Air later on so that I can buy myself probably a later version of the rMBP (They might have a newer model after a year I guess?). At the moment, the Air would meet my needs for my classes since I'm just going to do beginner design work. I'm sure my future classes will require more demanding work (graphic wise) so I'll just sell the Air later on for perhaps a rMBP which I hope Apple will have a newer version of.

    For now, I'll just see if the rMBP comes on time! *prays* Many thanks to those who commented!
  17. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    For After Effects, the Nvidea CUDA blows away Ati/AMD video cards

    But Adode may be adding OpenCL or whatever support to their apps soon to make up the vast difference in performance.

    Anyway, you should feel good about your decision, being able to run an rMBP at 1920x1200 will be awesome for graphic design.
  18. MacGurl111 macrumors 65816


    Feb 4, 2010
    You'll love it. Once you get it then you can really decide if you like it or not. Don't let others or their comments decide for you. :D

    I've had mine for awhile now and I love it. Love the screen and crisp text and when Mountain Lion comes out, it'll only get better. Enjoy!
  19. nightmars macrumors member


    Sep 21, 2010

    For your needs: DEFINITELY the Retina

    1. Quad Core CPU (8 threads) vs (low voltage = less performance) Dual Core (4 threads)
    2. Nvidia Graphics (just install the Nvidia Cuda driver and it'll fly :) )
    3. Weight: the 15" Retina is LIGHTER than the 13" Pro
    4. Durability - let's put it that way: I sold Apple Products for 7 years, and always when it came to that question I took an 11" Air while running, closed the lid and THREW it on the Apple table at my workplace from a 3-4 yard distance - NOTHING ever happened :)

  20. lannisters4life macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2012
    Markus, what motivated you to do that?
  21. nightmars macrumors member


    Sep 21, 2010
    Done as SHOWN and TOLD by an official Apple Trainer !!! And always worked for upselling from a bad €700 Laptop to a €1000 -1200 MBA :)

  22. stevelam, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012

    stevelam macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2010
    I think people are vastly exaggerating whats needed for typical digital design work. the MBA will be just fine.

    here are some links from a designer and a developer (take note these were for the 2011 models, so 2012 MBA will be even better)

    as a developer/designer myself (not a student), i actually have the retina macbook on order right now but i am considering canceling it and just getting an upgraded MBA instead. i am not convinced the web is ready for desktop retina display yet and i'd save about $1000.

    as for screen real estate, i ALWAYS work with an external monitor. 11", 13", 15" are all too small imo, no matter what the resolution.

    Secondly, I hope you realize there are NO adobe apps even updated for retina display yet. Or any 3d apps. I don't know when your program starts but if you're going to get the RMBP, be prepared to have everything look horrible and fuzzy for a long time. That might be fine for non-graphic designers, but from your perspective it's going to be awful to use.

    Thirdly, please don't pay attention to geek bench scores as they are not at all relative to actual user experience. Most people have NO idea what those scores even represent. I work at a design agency. Do you know what my geek bench scores are on my machine? About 2300.

    Just read those 2 links above instead from ACTUAL designers and developers using the MBA for real work (and not just a bunch of random people from a forum who generally just repeat what they see from other posts)
  23. jmgregory1 macrumors 68000


    Jun 24, 2010
    Chicago and a few other places around the world
    Steve's right. Sure, the retina screen looks great. And ditching the HDD and ODD in the rMBP helps with weight and speed, but where you are at in your life, you just don't need the rMBP.

    Your needs aren't really that complicated and what you really need (imho) is time designing per your coursework. An expensive rMBP isn't going to make you better at what you do. Even for design professionals, that is true with this new rMBP.

    Perhaps you don't even really need a new MBA? What about getting an iMac? Do you really need to be carrying around a laptop? Perhaps get an iPad for note taking and such during the day and do your design work on the iMac.

    The company I used to work for had a 16 person design department and for the most part they were (and still are) running G4's, a few G5's and some mbp's 2006+. The idea that you need to have the latest and greatest anything just isn't true for 90+% of people, especially those still in college.

    For me personally, I'm not doing the design work I once used to, but I really think my '11 mba 13" has got to be one of the best laptops ever. What I would suggest is that whatever you decide to do, do NOT get any computer with a spinning disc HDD. SSD is the way to go and the speed they offer will make up for both the added cost and the potential lack of a dedicated graphics processor (in the case of the mba).

    My wife, who works in design got a new '11 mbp 13" and can't stand the speed difference between her computer and mine. I've tried working on her computer and even doing basic things is just painful compared to the air.
  24. spacedcadet macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2009
    Today's Macs are overkill

    Although having the latest and greatest machine is a bonus, it's really not necessary. Did graphic designers of the past fail to do their work because they only had a Quadra tower or G3 PowerMac? Of course not. People are still earning a living (albeit slowly and not many of them) on 10 year old machines.

    Better to work on your imagination, creativity and design knowledge, that means sketching and reading not having the fastest computer. The computer is a means to the end, not the end itself.

    That said, the 15" MBP will give you the most flexibility out of your options, max the RAM and put in a better HD via a 3rd party after you buy it, put the Apple HD in a case to use as a backup.
  25. AlanFord macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2011
    2nd option.
    I see almost everyone are drunk with the retina, but its not something that wow. In many times you wont even see the difference.
    You are collage student, so portability is your top priority, and air would be just great for that. He has enough power for your needs, and will last you for time you need. And off course, second thing is money. Buy what you need for the best price. There will always be something new and better. When you become pro, when apps will be updated, when things like that will be standard, when money wont be an issue then its different story .
    Well, thats my opinion.

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