Retina MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ranny2, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. ranny2 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    #1
    Hi!

    I am starting uni in September and have decided to change from my current Mac Mini to a MacBook.

    I just can't decide which!

    I have got it down to two options:


    1) MacBook Air - 1.4Ghz i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD
    £680


    2) Retina MacBook Pro - 2.4GHz i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
    £1000


    Obviously I would ideally go for the rMBP, but £300 is quite a big difference and I'm not sure whether I can justify it. I will be using an external HDD for media with either machine so the smaller SSD on the MBA isn't too big of an issue (although I would prefer 256GB!)

    My main uses are web browsing, YouTube/Netflix, word processing, iPhoto and iTunes.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks
     
  2. nightlong macrumors 6502a

    nightlong

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2012
    Location:
    Australia
    #2
    Is there a shop where you are where you can compare them?
    I had an Air ... Great computer but the screen, compared with retina, is not great. Depends how much this matters to you. I also like the extra features on the MBPr, thunderbolt and HDMI.
     
  3. ranny2 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    #3
    Yes - I have been into a shop to compare. The retina display is hugely impressive, but I didn't mind at all the MBA's display. I thought it would be sufficient for my needs. I did think the MBP was a more overall impressive looking machine - I do like the glass over the entire front rather than the aluminium bezel, but I don't think I should really decide based on appearance!
     
  4. deeddawg, Jun 26, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014

    deeddawg macrumors 604

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    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    US
    #4
    The Air would handle those tasks effortlessly. I'd try to get one with 8GB ram and 256GB SSD if you think you might need to use any Windows software inside a virtual machine.

    Also you need to decide if you prefer 1400x900 or 1280x800 (effective) on a 13.3" display. I've owned both a cMBP and MBA and greatly prefer the additional screen real estate on the MBA'a 1400x900.

    Either way, to save a little money, watch the Apple online refurb store for a suitable model. Same 1yr warranty and indistinguishable except for the box. See http://www.refurb.me/uk/notebook

    ----------

    :confused: MBA has Thunderbolt. Did you mean TB2, which I'm not sure sure would make any real world difference in the OP's usage? HDMI is easily handled via miniDP to HDMI cable or dongle.
     
  5. ranny2 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    #5
    If I was to pay extra to go for 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, then I would probably opt for the retina pro as the display is awesome and I prefer it as a machine.

    My query is really whether the MBA listed in the original post would be sufficient for my needs, or whether I should pay the extra £300 and go for the MBPr..

    Really can't decide! My head is telling me one thing, my wallet another.
     
  6. nightlong macrumors 6502a

    nightlong

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2012
    Location:
    Australia
    #6
    Yes, sorry, did mean TB2, and yes about mini DP to HDMI, but on the Air I found just one TB port and no HDMI an issue, as I often needed to connect another screen and I like to use Ethernet with adapter when possible.
     
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    California
    #7
    The Air you mentioned is more than powerful enough for the tasks you listed. I guess the question for you is if you think the Retina screen is worth the extra money.
     
  8. nightlong macrumors 6502a

    nightlong

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2012
    Location:
    Australia
    #8
    I always get the best I can afford ... Best for my needs that is. For me, the retina screen is easily worth the extra cost. Do you want the best or the cheapest? The Air will do what you require, so buy that if the screen isn't a deal-breaker for you. But recommend that you get 8GB ram if you intend to keep it more than a year or two.
     
  9. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    US
    #9
    Already answered, with the caveat depending on the specifics of what you'll need at university. Note the emphasized text from my post above:


    Yes, the port contention can be an issue depending on needs/preferences. Depends a lot on how often you need hardwired ether and external display at the same time. In an academic environment, especially as an undergrad, there aren't many opportunities for hardwired ethernet even if you wished. I think there are USB3 gigabit ethernet adapters now that work with macs, I haven't had need for it so no direct experience.
     
  10. ranny2 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    #10
    Thank you for all the advice guys.

    I think I might go into a shop one final time and really compare the screens side by side and see if I can justify the rMBP.

    Many thanks
     
  11. photoj2754 macrumors 6502

    photoj2754

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    Oct 10, 2013
    Location:
    Akron
    #11
    Didn't see what the sizes were you were talking about but I use a 15" retina MacBook Pro for work (staff photog at newspaper) and the thing I've been most impressed with is how fast it is doing everything. Plus it's loaded with connections for just about everything you may use and the screen is amazing to look at while I'm editing. But boy it is a bit heavy and feels even more so when I have to pack it up and lug it somewhere. Just bought a 13" Air for my niece for graduation and was impressed with the size and weight and it too was very responsive with basic functions while I was setting it up. Screen is nice but not comparable in my opinion, very light and seems like it would serve a person well for a entry level purchase. For college, I'd say it was the best choice.
     
  12. jg321 macrumors 6502

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    Aug 29, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    Hopefully you chose the retina. You won't regret it. Seeing them in the shop is one thing. Using them in your own home, doing your own thing really makes a difference. Pricey, but if you have the money, you won't be disappointed. I love mine.

    Let us know how you get on.
     
  13. Destroysall macrumors 65816

    Destroysall

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  14. crzdcolombian macrumors 6502a

    crzdcolombian

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    Nov 16, 2010
    #14
    You have a mini going to an air isn't a huge deal and you are just a college student. Get a Retina after you graduate and save that money.

    ITs like well I have a 10 year old honda. Should I buy a new Nissan or Audi :)

    Get what you need. You don't need a retina one. If you want to play video games use the difference in price and buy a PS4 or XB1.
     
  15. Kevclark1985 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2013
    #15
    The Air model would def meet your needs, only thing I would add is will you be staying at uni and using the laptop lots for watching netflix etc? If so, then retina might be a lot better. I know £300 sounds a lot, but it's an investment for 4 years of uni, £75 a year extra for the retina is not a lot in the grand scheme of things if you can afford it.

    I also assume you are getting the student deal? make sure you do as you get 3 years applecare (3 year hardware and 1 year telephone support) and 15% or so off (given the price you quoted, I assume you are already looking at that but worth mentioning!)
     
  16. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #16
    weaselboy is right. With the retina you pay for the screen. Thats is.
     
  17. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    Boston
    #17
    I'm late to the party but I like the rMPB over the Air, though if battery life is more important then get the MBA.

    The rMBP has a better CPU/GPU because its not using the ULV variant of Haswell and of course as mentioned the screen is down right gorgeous :D

    Let us know what you decided.
     
  18. ranny2 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    #18
    Thanks for all the advice guys.

    In the end, I went for the MacBook Air. It arrived yesterday and I am delighted with it so far. Very happy that I was able to save over £300!

    Thanks again for your help - it was really useful in the decision making process!
     
  19. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #19
    Congrats and enjoy your new machine :D

    Saving money is always a plus in this day and age
     
  20. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #20
    awesome! Let us know how it performs!
     

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