rMB12 vs. MBA 11

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by pollycat, May 24, 2015.

  1. pollycat macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2004
    I'd be interested in hearing anyone who's moved from an 11-inch MacBook Air to a 12-inch Macbook. Do you feel it was worth it?

    I have a 2013 11-inch MBA and love its portability (I travel a lot, this is a secondary machine) but am lusting after the better screen and better sound on the 12-inch rMB, also the lack of fan.

    What's holding me back is the keyboard: I tried typing on one in a store recently and it didn't feel that natural or easy.

    I don't mind about the lack of ports. And, as a secondary travel machine, I'm not too concerned about lack of "power", I would mostly just do the regular web, e-mail, word-processing, watching movies, etc.

    Trying to decide whether to keep the 11-inch MBA and live with its crappy screen a bit longer or take the plunge with the 12-inch rMB and hopefully get used to the keyboard.

    Advice from those who've made a similar decision would be welcome.
  2. thitiv macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2011
    Bangkok, Thailand
    rMB12 vs. MBA 11

    My journey with MacBooks started in 2011 with a 13" Air. I moved to a maxed out 15" Retina MacBook Pro in 2012 and back to maxed out Early 2014 11" Air just before New Year 2015 because the nature of my works had changed from time to time. During the first two weeks after switching to the 12" rMB, I missed the speedy Core i7 CPU of my 11" Air. But I have become overwhelmed by the retina screen and the speakers. It sounds much better than any MacBook Air / Pro I have had. The 12" rMB is slower than my 11" but I can wait. The majority of what I do now is document works anyway.


    As for the keyboard, I got used to it in a few days. The feeling is not bad. I was able to take meeting notes live in an important corporate meeting with confidence last week. Anyway my primary reason to switch is the screen. The rMB is the only choice if you want something as small as an 11" Air but with a retina screen.


    One thing should be noted: my base 1.1 / 256 rMB plays 1080p MKV movies very well. Smooth playback, no glitches and best sounds with lots of bass. Don't be distracted by the results from benchmark software, they would have to adapt to the way Core M CPUs work.
  3. MyopicPaideia macrumors 68000


    Mar 19, 2011
    Trollhättan, Sweden
    Hopefully I will be able to make an informed contribution to this thread soon, as I am making this exact switch now, going from the maxed mid-2011 CTO i7 11" MBA to the same for the new rMB.

    Just need it to finally get here! Already received everything else - bag, cables and adapters sitting and waiting!

    At least 1 more week to wait...
  4. newellj macrumors 604

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    I've owned two 11" MBAs and a rMB.

    The display is the reason that the 11" MBA has never clicked for me. Color and viewing angles are poor and the 16:9 ratio is a (minor) annoyance for doing most things I do on a computer.

    The rMB is a brilliant machine that has as much power as most people will ever need. The most important thing that didn't click for me with the rMB was they keyboard. I thought I'd get used to it but only got less and less happy with it.

    In the end I went back to the 13" rMBP. It's a close call and a personal choice. I will say that it you put even a toy gun to my head and told me to live with any of them I'd make do.
  5. Bulldog3777 macrumors 6502

    Apr 2, 2009
    Air 11 to 12 rMB

    I use a 15 rMBP. I traveled with a 11 MBA. Sold it and got the 12 rMB. No comparison. 12 is great for travel especially with the retina screen.
  6. fatefulwhisper, May 24, 2015
    Last edited: May 24, 2015

    fatefulwhisper macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2008
    I used to own a 2013 11" MBA, i7 w/ 512GB SSD and 8GB RAM (fully maxed out specs). It was my primary and only machine, and I absolutely loved it. I used it for EVERYTHING--work & play. I felt it was the perfect machine for my needs; the only downside was the low quality screen.

    When they announced the 2015 12" rMB, I jumped on it immediately and pre-ordered it on the 10th. I got it on the 16th, and have owned it for a solid 6 weeks now. I have the 1.2GHz/512GB one. I didn't max this one out because I've realized that I don't need all that power (learning from use of the 11"). What I really needed was the extra space.

    Considering the multitude of changes with the device compared to the 11" MBA, for me personally, the hugest gain was the screen. In terms of everything else (like the keyboard, trackpad, ports, etc.)--to be perfectly honest, it hasn't really changed my life all that much; everything's business as usual. And that's a good thing; because this is my one and only machine for everything I do, and it has worked out great--absolutely no regrets so far.

    True, the keyboard is funky, and it took me a good hour or two to get used to it on the first day, but after that, I am perfectly fine w/ the new keyboard. The trackpad feels no different. Needless to say, I'm keeping this one.

    Here's some of my personal pros and cons from switching from the 11" MBA:

    • I miss the lit apple logo on the lid
    • No magsafe, and no battery light indicator, had to offload and sell a bunch of extra adapters I had
    • No thunderbolt support; had to sell a bunch of thunderbolt accessories
    • Had to buy multiple USB-C AV adapters as I use an external monitor at work and home (I'm a developer), so that I don't have to unplug and re-plug it every time I come in and leave work.

    • Feels so light, the 11" MBA fells heavy/bulky to me now. Sometimes, on my way to work, I think that I forgot my laptop at home because it feels so light in my backpack
    • Adjusted to new trackpad immediately
    • After my purchase of a USB-C to USB-A cable, I'm able to use all the same exact iPhone power accessories (ext. 10000 mAh battery for when I go camping or long flights, 12V car charger for DC power on car and planes, and even the 5V iPhone charger) w/out the need to go buy anything new
    • Retina Screen
    • No fan noise (honestly, I don't miss this)
    • Extra screen real estate (I have mine set at 1650x1050, thanks to this post: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1873910)
    • Even though buying the extra AV adapter was a con money wise ($79/each), I love the fact that when I come into work, I only need to plug in one cable and that's it. Same for when I go home. With the air, I had to plug (and then unplug when I left) in three things: power (magsafe), mini-displayport cable, and USB cable (to charge my iPhone).
    • Speakers are way better than the 11" MBA
  7. Traverse macrumors 604


    Mar 11, 2013
    Sorry OP, not to stray off topic, but that is ridiculous. It is utterly ridiculous that their product is still back ordered with 3-5 week waits and many initial orders still haven't come in. This isn't an iPhone. I mean, what did they do? Start product the day of the announcement? They should have waited until WWDC.

    It's annoying when supply NEVER meets demand on any Apple product.
  8. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    This is the transition that interests me most too, as it's the one I'll try and make. My 1.3/512/SG hopefully arrives on Thursday, I'll load and config over the weekend and fly out on Monday for a weeks work.

    I'm not usually a power user from a CPU perspective but I run a large variety of programs (close to 100) for many home and work purposes. This will be my only laptop and it will also serve as my primary desktop at home and work.

    There are typical use cases of Office apps, email, and browsing. I also do a lot of diagramming in Omnigraffle, Visual Paradigm etc. And data analysis of fairly large data sets (tens to hundreds of millions of rows) in CSV files, XML files, and Netezza, Oracle, Mysql and Filemaker databases, which are likely the heaviest processing I'll do. All this works well on my MBA so I'm hoping other than extending some query and analysis times somewhat the rMB will work out similarly.

    Fingers crossed and I'll report back the following weekend.
  9. Eric8199 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2009
    Totally agree. It's one thing I'm completely sick of with Apple. It's complete BS. It happens with every launch of every product and I'm sorry, Apple is not THAT popular that they can't keep up with the demand. iPhone I understand. iPad maybe. Macs, no way. But it's one of the many reasons I'm probably buying an Android phone this fall.
  10. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    It's the first time it's been this bad with a Mac. Note that Apple switched to Qanta for both the Watch and the MacBook but stuck with Foxconn for the new MacBook Air and iPhone. My guess is that they will be reluctant in the future to give more business to Qanta. The last few iPad launches have been smooth and so for that matter was the iPhone 6 launch considering they had a 40% increase in sales from the 5s launch.
  11. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    My case is a bit different. I had the 11.6" MacBook Air from October 2010 until January 2013 and switched to the 13" rMBP after that until I got my 12" MacBook. Once I saw the Retina screen I couldn't go back to a non-Retina TFT LCD. However, I missed the sheer portability of the 11.6" MBA. The 12" rMB is even smaller and has the Retina screen, so it was an easy transition back. The keyboard takes some getting used to, but once you learn not to over press and treat it more like a touchscreen keyboard it is easy to master. To me, the rMB achieves the vision behind the original MacBook Air.


    I had that same configuration back in the day. The current Core M is roughly the same speed, and I really don't notice that much difference even from the 28w Haswell Core i5 in the rMBP that I used before the rMBP, even when running a virtual machine.
  12. pollycat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2004
    Thanks for the input, everyone, keep it coming, especially those using the MBA 11-inch who are waiting on delivery of their new MacBooks, I'm eager to hear how the two compare.
  13. moshen macrumors member

    Nov 6, 2005
    Went from a 2011 11" to a 1.3Ghz 12". No comparison. Scaling the screen resolution to be the same from an old 15" Powerbook is amazing. The extra screen real estate, weight savings, and battery life are huge advantages. Only con is keyboard took me a full week to get used to.
  14. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    Like many folks, I was hoping for a new MBA with a larger retina screen in the same body to be released this year. But instead of an evolutionary MBA, we got a revolutionary rMB, chock full of unproven new tech and a lot of controversial tradeoffs. So I did not pre-order on spec and waited for some user feedback and reviews. Things seemed promising enough to try a new rMB so I ordered an appropriate kit to try. Accessories have trickled in over the last 5 weeks or so and finally yesterday the rMB arrived.

    My initial impressions are very favorable, Its a great looking machine with excellent fit and finish. Its overall smaller, thinner, and lighter than my MBA - more of the things that brought me to the Air (even more so when you consider the power adapter). The larger retina screen (my major reason for trying the rMB) is beautiful - brighter, crisper, higher resolution, more real estate, and just easier on the eyes. Keyboard and trackpad look and feel great (I personally prefer them but thats a very personal thing).

    I expected the single USB-C to be a PITA and it is. This would not be a usable machine for me without a dongle collection. But the Digital AV adapter combined with an Anker USB 3.0 three port hub with gigabit ethernet give me a good mobile docking solution with less travel bulk and weight than my MBA travel kit. And I’m sure a year from now USB-C will be the popular standard.

    Setting this thing up wirelessly would have really sucked, been a lot more work, and taken lot longer (I fill most of my 512gb SSD). I did have a crash early in the setup and had to reinstall the OS and continue (system rebooted for no reason and could not see the HD anymore). Not a good experience Apple - and I’m not alone in setup difficulties. But I got a full restore from a MBA TM backup done as fast as a MBA would have done it. Dropbox sync and spotlight indexing were also quick (although they did cause some brief pauses and beachballs working while they were going in the background). Now my rMB is configured the same and has all the same programs, data etc as my MBA had.

    Geekbench 3 64bit says the rMBA is about 85% of my MBA (2013 11.6 i7/8gb/512gb). But in actual use, graphics seem much snappier, bursty activities seem as fast or faster, with only sustained and/or multithreaded activities seem somewhat slower (and I expect the 15% Geekbench reports is accurate there). Light use temps (40's) are on par with my MBA and light use battery life seems better (9 hours vs 6) (too soon to completely tell there though). For routine bursty work this seems as capable as my MBA. I’ll be traveling next week and doing more sustained activities so I’ll have a better overall picture then.

    But for now I’m pleased with the rMB as a substitute for an MBA and that its benefits outweigh its limitations - for me. YMMV
  15. speedbumpnv macrumors 6502

    Jul 2, 2007
    I see a lot of people comparing the new MacBook to more recent 11" MBAs. What about older versions?

    My 11" MBA is a 2010 Core2 model and still runs, albeit a little slow. Will I see an improvement with the newer MB? I would have to think it would be a pretty significant upgrade...

    I was waiting for a retina MBA like most people, but it now looks like that is not going to happen.
  16. RoboWarriorSr macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2013
    I'm going to be frank, any computer Apple selling right now is an absolute upgrade from a core 2 computer especially on a Macbook Air version (which is slower than the normal core 2). Even the rMB would feel like a speed demon compared to the 2010 core 2 MBA. The Geekbench scores shows something like a 2~3x increase compared to the rMB.

Share This Page

15 May 24, 2015