Should i buy a macbook air and a cheap gaming pc or just a macbook pro w/ retina?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by tdod, May 7, 2014.

  1. tdod macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014
    What is a better long term solution to my academic and video gaming needs:

    1) Macbook air + 600$ build-it-yourself gaming PC

    2) 13 inch macbook pro with retina display?

  2. Barney63 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2014
    Bolton, UK.
    The 13" isn't really up to any high level gaming, so I would go for the Air and a gaming rig.

  3. nando4 macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2009
    2013 Macbook Retina with Thunderbolt2 port + Thunderbolt eGPU using US$399 Sonnet Echo Express SEL TB2 enclosure + GTX750Ti. Details at
  4. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    If only this were "guaranteed" to work though. Even following the steps to a T, which are many, doesn't guarantee success with this. Some versions of OSX work better than others, repeated restarts and reboots, repaired permissions, external monitor guarantees better framerates and even when it works, sometimes it just doesn't work.

    I've tried DIY eGPU two times and both times I ended up with scrapped parts because it just wouldn't work. And I'm an Engineering major/former PC technician. DIY eGPU is literally on the top of my "bad ideas to customers" list.
  5. nando4 macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2009
    Can't speak for OSX as didn't install it myself, however, Win8.1 has vastly improved driver support over Win7/8 for Thunderbolt devices. We now have numerous reports of plug'n'play implementations on Macbooks.

    An eGPU implementation as suggested would be very well suited to the OPs video gaming requirements. Hence the suggestion.
  6. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    You're saying, no more eGPU setup file, I just get a TB adapter, plug everything in and install drivers?

    Also, double U tee eff at you being banned from NBR! I went to NBR when I first did an eGPU set up (the one that actually worked) and bought my E420 based on your recommendation. You were always getting swamped but managed to reply to posts, hours or even days later but you still did it.

    I'm registering at T|I at the moment so I can see if I can get the eGPU working properly this time. Has that forum been treating you better?
  7. nando4, May 7, 2014
    Last edited: May 7, 2014

    nando4 macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2009
    1. Yes, plug'n'play with mid-2013 MBP (Haswell) as shown by this example. Install bootcamped Win8.1, let it detect the video card and install drivers. Reboot and viola, it works. If have a iGPU-only model then get an eGPU rendered internal LCD mode courtesy of NVidia Optimus. For other models check out the Thunderbolt implementation details at .

    2. My NBR content and related copyright issues are still outstanding after their ban. T|I have been very accomodating to allow the work to continue there. The T|I team there having a great grasp of tech going-ons and are just overall great bunch of guys.
  8. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

    Apr 11, 2014
    go with the air plus gaming. the other option would be to get a 2.3 GHz 15" with the NVIDIA graphics card and an external monitor.
  9. RedRaven571 macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2009
    What do you want to use the Air for if you get a Windows PC? Maybe an iPad Air and Windows PC?
  10. YanniDepp macrumors 6502


    Dec 10, 2008
    MacBooks are fantastic machines, but they're not designed for "real" gaming. Their compact form factor means they'll heat up, the CPU will throttle itself to cool down, and you won't get many games on the Mac's built-in SSD unless you go for a very expensive upgrade.

    With the several hundred dollars you'd save buying a cheaper MacBook with a smaller SSD, you could build a decent gaming machine with good graphics and a 2TB hard drive.

    This is why I have a 13-inch non-retina MacBook Pro and a self-built AMD-based gaming machine.
  11. UBS28 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2012
  12. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    Air + Gaming Rig is no brainer. For studies the Air will be more than powerful enough for academic tasks, and be a breeze to carry around. The HD 5000 in the current Airs will also play lightly graphic intensive games without a hitch.

    For the money saved, you can build a nice gaming PC.
  13. 576316 macrumors 601

    May 19, 2011
    The MacBook, in any form, really isn't built or designed with video gaming in mind, more...intense graphical design. For that reason, you aren't going to get a very high FPS or smooth experience on high graphics settings on most of the top games. Sure, the rMBP would probably be able to run them all pretty well but not without getting very hot and, as mentioned before, won't let you run these games on maximum. For this reason, I would go for a MacBook Air and a custom gaming PC to get the best of both worlds. Or just a gaming PC depending on how much you need the MacBook as well. I used to have a gaming PC but then I stopped using it for gaming and eventually realised I may as well go to a high end laptop, I was also sick of Windows so the Mac door was waiting for me! Very happy with my rMBP. Now I mostly just play Minecraft.
  14. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    The other less obvious solution to your question, you initially asked:

    "What is a better long term solution to my academic and video gaming needs?"

    The answer is no gaming at all of course lol. If you're concerned about grades, take it from me, you'd much rather spend your spare time in the gym or with a girlfriend than gaming. I'm an Environmental Engineering major at UCSD and in my five years of study I've learned a lot about spare time and college.

    My first two years of school I had a PS3, a 32" LCD TV, a gaming PC and a Dell XPS laptop. I loved my "set up". Crunch through my homework, use my Dell for papers and when I'm done doing work, load up Call of Duty and start taking names. And then this pair of guys from Boston moved into my house temporarily and around the same time, I started dating my girlfriend at the time. And then, my time schedule shifted to: Crunch through my homework, try to use my Dell for papers and when I'm almost done doing work, spend time with my girlfriend. At a certain point I gave the guys who moved in the green light to play my PS3 when I'm not home.

    And then Calculus and Physics came in, and programming homework and my PC gathered dust. I sold my PS3, TV and gaming PC to finish acquiring the funds I needed for a car.

    By my Junior year I had c:apple:nverted, and I had become so accustomed to using a Mac for all my needs (academic, professional and entertainment) that I had gotten accustomed to the levels it could meet those needs. If I had to give my Classic MacBook Pro from 2012 scores out of 10 on meeting needs, I would give it:
    Entertainment: 10/10
    Gaming: 7/10
    Professional: 9/10
    Academic: 11/10

    In the end, I didn't mind being limited to PS2 emulators, CSS, League of Legends and Starcraft 2 on "medium" settings because for me, the convenience of one machine and my lack of being at home to enjoy a gaming PC to begin with, gave the MacBook the edge I needed to be my viable primary machine.

    If you get an Air, you'll absolutely meet your needs and also achieve a ton of battery life but don't be surprised if you start neglecting gaming. College can take a lot of time, not just from homework but from research, internships, social clubs, a girlfriend, going to the gym... I feel like my MacBook was almost "not that good" at gaming on purpose in foreshadowing of what my college career would be like in its later years.

    And good luck at school! This forum is a great place to talk to people about school as I've found that most of the people I know who own Macs are educated.
  15. Commy1 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 25, 2013
    MBA + Gaming rig would be the best thing for you I think.
    I love my 13" rMBP but I don't game anymore really, but even minecraft heats it up quite a lot very quickly.

    If I where in your shoes I'd build myself an mini desktop, a kick ass monitor with a switch or something for using either the air or desktop.

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