rMB for college? Or still buy MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Loune17, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. Loune17 macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2015
    Hello :)

    I'm about to finish designing/publishing a website for my father's company, and I'm getting 1000€ for it (which is so generous :D). I also have about 500€ saved up, and I want to use all this money to buy a laptop for college, where I'll be heading this fall, and feed my :apple: addiction at the same time.

    I already have a 2012 15" rMBP, the base model, which has served me very well through high school, although I didn't bring it to class. I use it to play games (WoW, LoL and Hearthstone mainly), run adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Muse, surf the web, watch videos... It sometimes shows its limits when I try to do several things at the same time or run games in better resolutions, but it's nothing I can't manage and I'm certainly keeping it a few more years.

    The one thing that I wouldn't do with it, though, is bring it to class. Not only because 15" is not that portable, but I also don't want to have my games and personal documents on the same laptop that I use for school. I have considered a Dell, but I really dislike Windows :( So what I want to buy, alongside my rMBP, either:

    1) The 12" rMB base model, which I really like for the portability and the retina display. Also it's new, pretty and shiny. (1 449€: yes, overpriced)

    To be clear I want the new macbook. Next year I'm going to study law, so I won't really need it for more than typing/surfing the web if I use it for school. It doesn't really matter if it can't do more because I don't want another laptop to overlap with my rMBP anyway. It will be really practical too, the thing is so small and light. And the retina screen is a huge bonus, I'd love not to have to look at a pixellated screen again :rolleyes:

    2) The 13" regular MBA, with 8GO ram and the other base specs. It is cheaper, more powerful and future-proof. (1 199€)

    On the other side, I know I should really buy the MBA. It does more for less money. I'm afraid I'll end up getting frustrated if I buy the other underpowered, slow laptop. On a MBA at least I won't have to worry about my daily usage. And the thing is still portable enough. It will probably last me more too, whereas the rMB might be barely usable in a few years.

    So I keep changing my mind. I don't want to make a choice I'll regret, and computers are quite important to me. I feel dumb for not being able to make a simple decision, but I have to ask, what would you guys do if you were me?

    TL;DR: I already have a 15" rMBP. Should I buy a 12" rMB or a 13" MBA for college?

    Thanks a lot :eek:
  2. JoelTheSuperior macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2014
    London, UK
    If you can live with less ports I'd definitely go for the rMB over the MBA.

    The MacBook Air I really don't think is more powerful in any meaningful way. Only thing that might help is the lower resolution of the screen being less demanding but I think if you got the new rMB you'd be very happy with it - I really can't see you wanting to change back unless of course you wanted to have the additional ports.

    Unless you need thunderbolt though you should be alright with an adapter :).

    I think you'll be waiting a while for the rMB to be available anyway so I wouldn't worry too much just yet :).
  3. walkaway macrumors newbie

    Oct 19, 2014
    Listen, no matter what you'll be overpaying if you decide to buy the rMB at that price. At least with the air you'll get a proper laptop, even if you don't plan on using it for heavy stuff, the extra performance will still probably come in handy someday. It's like an iPad versus a laptop IMO.
  4. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    I would say avoid the rMB unless you have the financial means to upgrade in two years. Just ask any former owners of a 2008 Macbook Air, or a 2008 Unibody Macbook Pro.

    First, first-generation hardware will have kinks, and those kinks will be annoying enough that you will want to upgrade to a second or third revision when those come out.

    Second, the rMB is so similar to the original MBA that I would bet their development cycle will also be similar - history tends to repeat itself. Both are impressive at launch with obvious downsides: Super light, super thin, no ports, and expensive. Within 2 years, Apple figured out how to lower the price, and add ports while making it even thinner.

    So, for those that want the latest and greatest gadget, go for it. For students on a budget, don't bother with this inevitable headache.
  5. crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2011
    Man, do yourself a favour and get an Air instead; the new rMB is super slick, but functionally it's really just a netbook for browsing the web; the keyboard must be hell to type on anything longer than a Facebook status, and having to use adapters for everything would become annoying fast.
  6. robin0627 macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2012
    since you already have a 15inch rMBP, why do you even consider buying another laptop?
  7. Loune17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2015

    Thanks for the help. I realize I sound like a whiny child but I still can't make my mind up. To be honest, yesterday when the rMB was announced, I didn't think I would buy it, but now the more I think about it the more I'm attracted to it. Now with your answers I'm looking at it from another perspective.

    oneMadRssn :) you say I'll probably need to upgrade it in two years. But, the thing is, I wouldn't be able to use even the MBA as a "regular laptop" since I play games, do photo editing and multitask on my laptop. I'll keep my rMBP for that, and when it gets slow I'll update to another pro.

    So whatever I decide to get, it'll be used for typing lessons in class, browsing the web and typing my homework. For that, the rMB should last me way more than 2 years, I think? The laptop won't just stop functioning that soon.

    Now the drawback is I won't be able to do anything more than web browsing and typing if I ever need to. I'll probably wish I could once every few months, in specific situations when I can't reach for my MBP and need to get something heavy done. Though I can't even really imagine what these situations would be.

    On the contrary, I would be confronted to the limit of the MBA every day: no retina display (and, arguably, the fact that it's slightly thicker and heavier, but whatever).

    With a MBA, I'll be staring at the pixelated screen and carrying a slightly heavier/bigger mac all day long, whereas if I get a rMB, I'll probably wish it were more powerful just a few times over the following years.

    Now does this sound like a logical reason to get the Macbook or is it just a case of me wanting the new toy and trying to justify a stupid purchase? 'Cause I don't want to :(

    Though, crsh1976, you have a point: if I try the keyboard and it's really bad, it will be a dealbreaker. But I trust Apple not to make something truly terrible, we'll probably just get used to it.


    I want one because I've got some extra money and want to separate my schoolwork from all the crap I've got on my personal laptop :) Plus I could use a more portable laptop since I have back pain
  8. mtneer macrumors 68030


    Sep 15, 2012
    As others have said, the rMB is also the first generation model, which usually suffers the biggest capability cliff once Apple releases newer models next year and the year after that. If you make lots of presentations and connect to peripherals as part of your class work, then you will be seen fumbling with dongles all the time.

    Pragmatically, I would say that the MBA is best for you since you already have a retina screen at home.
  9. MacRazySwe macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    Honestly, just buy a used 2012-2013 MBA with a fresh battery. Put the rest of the cash in a savings account. Thank me later!

    If you're keen on the 11", go 2013 for battery life. If 13", 2012 will do you well. Even a 2011 would be great still, if you could do without USB3.0. Come on, you don't need 8GB Ram for browsing the web and writing homework! You already have a 15" rMBP for the heavy-lifting. You're just trying to justify a new gadget here.

    My 2011 13" MBA felt snappier in day-to-day use than my 2013 rMBP. MBA was i5 1.7ghz, 4GB. rMBP is i5, 2.4ghz, 8GB. I think the MBA was the perfect companion for college, I miss everything about it except the screen, but seeing as you have a 15" rMBP at home, you're good.
  10. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020


    May 16, 2013
    Kansas, USA
    No one's suggested it yet so I will. Sell the 15" rMBP and get yourself a 2015 13" rMBP. You get the retina display with a much better processor and graphics and a usable number of ports. It's also more portable than the 15" (which honestly the 15" rMBP weighs as much as the old 13" cMBP that I used to carry around for college). You sacrifice 2 inches of display and a quad-core processor for a laptop that should meet most of your needs.

    For the cost of the rMB you could even consider just buying the 13" rMBP instead for about the same price and keep the 15" for gaming. I haven't seen education pricing for the rMB but I assume it will be a $100 discount like most of the Apple laptops. You could even consider the 2014 13" rMBP and save a little money that way. in my experience the 13" rMBP is an excellent laptop for school.

    I have the late-2013, and it does everything I need in a portable, lightweight package. I'm an education major and have to submit my semester portfolios on a USB flash drive, so only having USB-C wouldn't work for me. I also like having the seperate Magsafe2 port for charging. I can't imagine having to choose between charging and connecting a peripheral device. It also helps that I don't like the wedge design.
  11. LadyX macrumors 68020


    Mar 4, 2012

    If I were you I'd get a MBA. I personally have a 15" rMBP and will be getting the new MacBook next month for portability and I love the fact that it's fanless to minimize noise. I'm not thinking of getting rid of my rMBP though, I'll still use it at home.
  12. TechGod macrumors 68040


    Feb 25, 2014
    New Zealand
    The Retina MacBook sounds a like a really good choice for you. Portability of it is probably amazing and I would take the Retina display over the pixelated one of the Air.
  13. robin0627 macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2012
    Actually, I am facing a situation similar to yours. I own a 15" rMBP and an iPad Air 2 with a bluetooth keyboard, which are both used for taking notes at college. But I am looking for something more portable than my rMBP and more powerful than my iPad. But I don't know if it's wise to spend money on another laptop:p
  14. cracksoup macrumors 6502


    Mar 26, 2014
    To be perfectly honest, there is no real reason to buy the rMB other than the display and for the fact that it's new and VERY desirable. I know I want one, but the price tag is just impossible to justify. It's a very weak computer in a paper thin shell. MBA has proven to be both powerful and very long lasting with its 12 hours of battery life. My recommendation fall on the MBA 13" with maybe 256GB SSD. It will easily last you for 5 years to come or more if you want it to.

    I have the absolute base model 2011 MBA 11" with 2GB of RAM and it holds up and is almost as snappy as when I opened it from the box. It runs Yosemite.
  15. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I don't see the logic in buying a laptop just to segregate your school work and your personal life. I think if you need to separate them, you can partition the the drive on your 15" MBP.

    I don't see a need to buy a second laptop in this case. I think you'll end up using only one laptop and largely ignore the other. Save your money and enjoy what you have.
  16. LadyX macrumors 68020


    Mar 4, 2012

    I think it's fine. There are a lot of people who own two laptops to keep work and personal stuff separate.
  17. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    I have been considering a maxed out 11" Air as a backup and dropping down to one MBP. As ever with Apple`s upgrade path it`s simply not good value once you spec the Air and I am sorry to say the Air`s display is terrible coming from 13" and 15" Retina`s. In many respects it makes more sense to pick up another 13" Retina.

    Would I have been happier had the new MacBook had more ports? Yes most definitely, can I get round having just one port? Yes, I already have wireless storage & SD card reader. The SSD at 256 is a squeeze, 512 no issue.

    Display is a nonissue for me, very much welcome Retina. The display was always a problem for me on the Air, not horrendous mind, however way off the pace these days. Performance is the main concern, the Air these days is good enough as a secondary system in the field a little slow, equally it will get the job done. The new MacBook needs to be seen, I suspect it will be fine for short busts, however sustained heavy load something will have to give and that can only be performance.

    When I travel I look at the infrastructure and support that`s likely to be available, the more remote the more gear you need to self sustain. I don't for one second think the new MacBook can directly replace the 15" Retina, however it may just scape by and prove to be a versatile companion in the field.

    Would I want the new MacBook as my only computer? No, for my needs it would simply be far too limiting. As a secondary/backup Mac I can see the new MacBook having it`s place.

  18. heehee macrumors 68020


    Jul 31, 2006
    Same country as Santa Claus
    Keeping work and personal stuff separate is a good idea, but school and personal stuff? They are both personal.
  19. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68040


    Nov 8, 2014
    Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
    Somehow I have a feeling OP that you have already decided. ;)
    Do what you feel to be the best, meeting your desire.
    What concerns the rMB vs MBA. I would choose the MBA as it is a proper laptop.
  20. Loune17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2015
    Thanks to everyone for the advice and the ideas :) A lot of people have been telling me to go for the new MacBook despite all the haters that it has, so I made my decision :D

    I could spend the next 5 years or so looking at an ugly screen, carrying a bigger laptop, or I could just spend the 250 extra euros. I think it's worth it. The screen wouldn't be less of an issue because I'd have a retina macbook at home, on the contrary, it spoiled my eyes and now the pixels bother me while I used to never notice them :rolleyes:

    I think the new MacBook is certainly not right for everyone, or even for most people (like the 13" rMBP could be). I agree it's underpowered, overpriced. But in my case it would be the best fit. Maybe I'm being foolish with my money, I'd rather that than regretting my purchase :D thanks again for helping me :)
  21. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    Why would you go with the MBA, the rMB has the same or better performance, a much better screen, 8GB as standard, the new flash drives and is more portable with better battery life if thats your thing.

    MBA is the ginger haired step child now, if you want performance then its still MBP, but if you want portability its rMP. The MBA just doesnt cover any of the bases, i don't foresee any reason why you'd buy one over the other offerings.
  22. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    As a second computer for portable use, definitely the new MacBook. On the other hand I like the suggestion of selling your old laptop and consolidating down to a single 13" rMBP.
  23. Loune17, Mar 11, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015

    Loune17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2015
    Thanks man :):) Guess I had been a bit blinded by all the hate towards it, when I wrote the thread I clearly didn't realize the rMB was superior in almost every way. In fact, superior in every way for me since I don't need the power. I'm glad now :D


    Yup thanks :) I don't know about selling my 15", would two laptops be such a hassle to use? It would seem like a compromise to buy a 13" rMBP even though that's probably the second best option, but it would be a bit heavy to carry, a bit big in lecture halls, a bit small to use at home, and a bit less powerful than I'd like it to. Also I don't want my wallpaper, browser, Skype, games, and/or photoshop file I've been working on to pop up when I open my laptop in class (I'm the kind that never turns it off). I'm already a bit worried when I use my laptop in front of someone or let someone use it, not that I have anything important to hide, but y'know... It's kind of like letting someone flip through your diary :rolleyes:
  24. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I personally find having separate laptops to be a bit of a pain. Cloud file storage has eased this greatly - along with browsers that sync, etc. Still, it's extra administration to deal with.

    The 13" rMBP is actually quite compact - it's only a bit thicker than the 13" Air and actually occupies a smaller overall footprint. It's about 1/2lb heavier - which is not insignificant, but it's overall a lot smaller and lighter than your 15" while not giving up a whole lot.

    OSx also has multiple workspaces so that you can virtually keep one for home and one for school.

    Not saying this is the way to go - just offering some thoughts from experience. I do think the new MacBook is tailor made for students and professionals who are on the move constantly - and your 15" model has not only the larger screen, but also a more powerful processor than the 13" models - so something else to think of.
  25. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    I'd highly recommend using the 15" you already have and maybe getting a nice external monitor for the dorm room. I brought one of the older 15" models (which is a pound heavier than the rmbp 15") to school every day through university and grad school. A pound here or there makes no difference when it's in a backpack. You will barely even feel the difference.

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