RMBP or Mac Mini + MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dissolve, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. dissolve macrumors 6502a

    Aug 23, 2009
    I'm debating a new setup to go with to replace my recently sold Mac Pro. I have two requirements: main computer must be quad core and support two external displays. The two potential setups are:

    1) Retina MBP (base)
    2) Server Mac Mini (when updated) and 13" MBA

    I love the portability of the MBA, but the advantages of a single computer are hard to ignore. I was all set to go with option 2 until the RMBP came out with support for two external monitors. Anyone else considering something like this now or have in the past? Any suggestions or opinions? Thanks in advance.
  2. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    What about a 2012 iMac when (if?) it gets updated?
  3. JD92 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2005
    What would be the purpose of the Mac Mini if you went with the MBA? It may be a little more powerful but I don't think they're significantly more powerful than the MBA. iMac + MBA might make sense, but mini + MBA probably doesn't make that much sense.

    Having tried the desktop + laptop idea, i can say that a single computer plan was definitely the way to go for me.
  4. dissolve thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 23, 2009
    Unfortunately, I really can't stand the glossy iMac display, even in a controlled lighting environment. But thank you for the input.

    Ok that's a great point you bring up. My expectation was that a quad-core Mini would significantly outperform the current iteration of MBAs, justifying it as the main computer. Thank you for offering your input on the single vs dual computer experience. I'm beginning to lean towards a single computer setup.
  5. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It varies. Here is a reasonably good comparison from last year. Note at the bottom. The mini does a significantly better job on an after effects render, but that's meant to show cpu differences. I think the 8GB option finally added to the Air is an improvement. The chipset from last year would have supported 8GB, but Apple didn't offer it. The Intel HD4000 is rumored not to be as big of a gain on the Air, because it's under clocked to a degree. Do keep in mind that the mini hasn't been updated yet.

    If you want the Air, my best advice would be to check out the performance variations between cpu models. They're unlikely to mean much. i5 and i7 cpus both have hyperthreading when examining notebook class dual core models. The hyperthreading on vs off only exists in desktop class cpus. Overall I think you should go for 8GB of ram for maximum longevity if you go this route, then only add a mini if it feels like not enough (or return it for a mbp).

    If you have an Apple store nearby, you can always preview its performance. Bring along something non personal to test. They don't seem to mind the use of usb thumb drives on their machines to load files. I think they're a little close in capabilities to really justify owning two computers. Personally if I was going with the mini, I'd buy the mini and see if I really need an updated laptop. Otherwise I'd buy the Air if it seemed like enough. It depends on your needs though, both the applications you use and how you use them.

    Edit: just noted recently sold mac pro. Either is limited in features compared to that beyond just cpu speed, but could you describe your anticipated uses? For example video editing 2k footage or whatever. Imovie is quite different from messing around with uncompressed footage. I'm just using that as an example as it's pretty common on here.
  6. dissolve thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 23, 2009
    Thank you for the in-depth response with links.

    Admittedly, the Mac Pro was overkill for my uses (part of the reason I sold it). I used it for programming, Aperture, video conversions, home server/storage, and gaming. I've built a PC to take over the last three. Whichever Mac setup I go with will be used for the first two and all other basic computer tasks.

    If the MBA could drive two external monitors, I'd go with an upgraded one, as you suggest. However, I'm set on continuing to use my external monitors, which leaves the Mini or RMBP. Currently, I still need a laptop, so Mini-only isn't really an option either.

    It seems everyone agrees that Mini + MBA is too redundant in performance to offer many advantages, or at least enough to warrant the disadvantages of a two-computer setup. Thanks again for the input.
  7. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Doh! You're like me in the sense that I find it difficult to find something that works 100% for me within Apple's lineup. I ended up using it because 99% of the people I worked with used Macs and I had to at least be familiar with them at the time (this was a long time ago). I will tell you the macbook pro options tend to have stronger gpu and sometimes cpu options than the mini. The RMBP is definitely faster than the current mini, as the mini hasn't gone to Ivy Bridge yet. Ivy Bridge may not be an enormous bump, but the macbook pro was already ahead, now it's also on a different hardware generation. With everything considered, I'd personally end up with a RMBP over a mini + MBA.

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