rMBP or New MBA?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by antjefferson, Jul 1, 2013.


What would you do?

  1. Refurb rMBP with 256SSD/8gb Ram

    9 vote(s)
  2. New 2013 MBA i5/256SSD/8GB Ram

    11 vote(s)
  3. Either one will do just fine!

    1 vote(s)
  1. antjefferson macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2013
    Hi all. Now that it looks like the BTS promo is starting tomorrow, I am ready to pull the trigger on my new laptop. Please help me decide. I have 2 options that I am down to:

    1) I can get a refurb i5 MBP with retina display, 8gb of ram and a 256gb SSD for $1440 plus tax OR

    2) I can get a brand new 13" 2013 Haswell MBA (i5/8gb/256gb) for $1339 plus tax.

    I am a web designer/programmer and use Adobe Creative Suite and Adobe eLearning Suite primarily. Otherwise, I will just be doing basic tasks (web browsing, email, watching HD video on Netflix/Youtube, etc.) and some LIGHT gaming (older games that perform just fine on my crappy windows box).

    Here is where things get interesting. I will be traveling abroad for over a year in a third world country, the most days I will be carrying the laptop in my backpack for hours at a time. I love the portability of the MBA. But I am just nervous about whether or not it is feasible as my ONLY computer for over a year. I should mention that my current Windows pc is an entry level machine (2.1ghz pentium processor, 6gb ram, Intel HD 4000 graphics, 5400rpm hdd) - and it works just fine for my uses - which is why I suspect the MBA will be just fine for me. However - when I can get a refurb rMBP WITH A SSD for just $100 more...

    What would you do? If I can get the super-portable MBA and be happy then that would be ideal. But I also need PERFORMANCE, right? Somebody help me decide!!!!!!
  2. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    If you're a web designer/programmer, then why not look at a machine with a separate GPU so that your designing won't be slowing down your system and draining battery life? The MBA is nice but at 1.5GHz base power, the stuff you plan on doing will decrease its battery life. The same would go for the 13" rMBP as well since the extra CPU power is going to the retina display, any extra drain you put on it with graphics intensive applications will further drain that battery as well.

    I would recommend neither and get a 15" cMBP. Let me explain...

    You're going to want that GPU with its own memory when working on coding and developing. You're also going to want the availability of the larger screen real estate to do more stuff at the same time. Yes the rMBP would compensate for that, but don't forget about the power issues.

    Neither of those machines come with an ethernet port(and you would have to carry an adapter for it). This is important because traveling abroad(especially in third world countries) is going to take you places that don't have WiFi and you're going to want that ethernet port in those situations. Relying on bluetooth or internet sharing over a data plan will also be affected by these regions.

    You'll also need various adapters for the different power structures in those various countries and I would highly recommend the world traveler kit. Yes, you can get by with a single ac adapter, but having a set of plugs that are designed to fit your machine perfectly is a plus.

    The weight difference is a factor but the connectivity options of the cMBP machines "outweighs" the benefits of the MBA or rMBP simply due to where you're going. And seriously...DO NOT CHECK IT! ALWAYS have that with you as carry-on. ALWAYS.
  3. SilverOath macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Get the MBA (It will be faster, more portable, better battery) AND spend the $100 difference on a 20 or 24" LCD to use when at home. I am a sucker for the Retina Displays, but on 13" you can't take advantage of the real estate/quality. I've tried both and the rMBP 13 just felt too bulky and lacked the power I wanted to take advantage of the resolution - I'd even consider 11" Air even more portable, and it'd give you 200$ towards a display for home use. :)
  4. deshstar macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2011
    Either will do fine but I personally think that with the MBA you could be experiencing real world battery life 2 or 3 times longer than with the rMBP. Given your destination I think this would be a huge factor, so it would be the machine I would choose out of the two.
  5. uniforms macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2008
    South Orange NJ
    I would agree with this. I love my rMBP and usually recommend it over the MBA, but if you are in a third world country where charging is difficult, that extra battery life will come in handy. Also I do recommend you get the Speck Case to protect your air. It does ad some weight but really makes a difference if you are toting this around in a backpack.

    Best of luck to you.
  6. LoMonkey macrumors regular

    Jul 4, 2008
    They both have an SSD, so you're good there, although the MBA's is faster. I would say, if you plan on taking advantage of the BTS program, get the MBA. The refurbs are NOT included in the BTS sale, so you won't get that $100 gift card. Also, use that $100 you save on the rMBP and get some adapters. Going third-world, if you want internet, I'd look into a thunderbolt to ethernet cable. Also, you'll need power adapters. Don't worry about converter boxes, because the entire Mac line is set up for 100-240v, so you're good there. While it's true the CPU is a little less powerful and it lacks a dGPU, the MBA is just fine for web dev/programming. I do the same on my MBP 4,1 (early 2008, before the unibody). For traveling abroad, go with the MBA. The retina screen is nice, but the power draw is not worth it when battery will most likely be an issue.
  7. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    If the rMBP youre talking about is the 13" then go with the MBA, The 13" rMBP is no more powerful than the air. If it were the 15" rMBP, that would be different. Either way, the air will last longer for your needs, has the same, or better, internals than the 13" rMBP, its cheaper, and they both have SSDs.
  8. Attilas macrumors newbie

    Dec 12, 2012
    I purchased my first Mac december last year. It was the latest 13" MBA 2012. Rencently switched for a refurbished 15" rMBP. Im a software developer.

    Both computer are really nice laptop with near to zero flaw for my taste. I mainly switched for rMBP because I felt in love with the retina screen, the internal graphic card and mainly because I didn't needed all that portability.

    Between the 13"rMBP and the new MBA I would definitely recommend the MBA. When I had it (for 5 months), it was simply the best laptop I ever owned. Could not feel it weight at all (Compared the 15" rMBP) and was simply the best traveling companion you can have. Speed wise, It was snappy and powerful enough and never waited for it. MBA vs 15" rMBP would be a different contest, since the real 4 core, dedicated graphic, included 8 RAM / 256 SSD, and extra screen estate. Don't forget the 13"rMBP (1280x800) has a lower screen resolution, if you stay at native resolution, compared to the MBA (1440x900). This was the main point for me never thinking about getting the 13" rMBP.

    Graphic card was powerful enough for a lot of game and the new Haswell is just an upgrade in every way. If you didn't get addicted by retina screen yet, need a responsive computer all in a portable form factor, with that unbelievable 12 hours usage time, MBA is designed for that purpose. You can't go wrong with it.
  9. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    You are freaking out too much over this. Calm yourself as you need to make the final decision as opposed to allowing the internets to make it for you. First it's a half pound of difference or so between the 13" rmbp and the 13" Air. If it's between those two I wouldn't worry too much. I could easily hike steep trails with either. The second point would be your concern about performance is ridiculous. At the 13" level there's a little variation between the two, but not enough to warrant this amount of concern. If the Air isn't enough in terms of performance, you should be looking toward the 15" rmbp, not the 13". If it is enough, then choose whichever 13" you like better. The biggest thing I like about the 13" rmbp over the air is the display. If the display on the air looks good to you, don't worry about it.
  10. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    Everone likes the new Haswell..

    I may just have to give the 13-inch anothet try..
  11. AppleRocks2011 macrumors member


    Apr 21, 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    Retina MacBook Pro

    Hey there! I ended up getting the 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Best. Decision. Ever. The screen alone is amazing! I also listen to a lot of music, and the built-in speakers are amazing.

    I understand that you're doing basic stuff, like web browsing, readin, etc, but a computer with retina display always comes out on top! The screen is just amazing. Also, the built-in speakers are awesome. I listen to a lot of music, so I consider speakers important.

    However, portability is a factor, therefore I understand the appeal of the Air. Personally, I'd go for the Retina because the screen and speakers outweigh the added portability.

    I sincerely wish you luck in choosing!
  12. perry8912 macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2013
    MBA of course! The difference between retina and non-retina is indistinct.

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