The first "Should I get a Macbook Pro or Macbook Air" thread

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by badlydrawnboy, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

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    Oct 20, 2003
    #1
    I'm in the market for a new laptop. This is mostly for travel and using away from my home office, where I will have a new Mac Pro or an iMac. I won't be doing anything serious on it: just web browsing, iPhoto, maybe some occasional Lightroom and Photoshop.

    I was leaning toward the 13" MBA, but the retina display on new MBP is very appealing, as is the thinner/lighter design and improved battery life (9 hours).

    On the other hand, the 13" MBA will now get up to 13 hours on a single charge, which is pretty impressive.

    How much of a factor will the retina be in your decision? I haven't used a retina display much, though I've seen one in the store of course. Is it worth going for the MBP and sacrificing a little battery life?
     
  2. Steve121178 macrumors 68040

    Steve121178

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    #2
    mba.
     
  3. g35 macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 13, 2007
    #3
    If it were my money, I'd buy the 13" rMBP. I plan on selling my computer after 4-5 years, so I suspect that some of the extra cost of the rMBP will be recoverable with improved resale value (probably $100 out of the $200).

    It also has a new design (from 2012) while the MBA has been around since 2010 and I believe the rumour that says the next MBA will be a 12" retina display only.

    That's the one I'd take most of all but since you're looking at now, I think the extra power and retina display are worth the trade off in battery life, weight and price. If the price difference was still $400 then I'd say MBA.
     
  4. Steve121178 macrumors 68040

    Steve121178

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    #4
    He stated it will be for use on the road and for "just web browsing, iPhoto, maybe some occasional Lightroom and Photoshop". You don't need to spend all that money on a rMBP for that. Of course if money is no object...
     
  5. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #5
    It's not that money is no object, but I tend to keep my computers for 3-5 years. If the retina display is that much better than the MBA display, I might be willing to spend a little extra for it and sacrifice a couple hours of battery life.
     
  6. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #6
    I was pretty surprised to learn that the MBPs are only half a pound heavier than the 13" MBA. One other factor is that the MBPs have a 1080p camera whereas the MBAs have only 720p.
     
  7. addictzz macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2012
    #7
    I was so leaning to macbook air but seeing the new 13" rMBP makes make change my mind. It's lighter and thinner. And if you ramp up the specs for MBA to 8GB RAM and 256 GB SSD, u get a price close to 13"rMBP.

    The weight (which is important factor to me) is also only 0.5lb heavier than 13" MBA.
     
  8. jeabraham macrumors newbie

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    Nov 17, 2011
    #8
    Half a pound is a lot. It's over 200g!

    Seriously, if you're not doing high-powered stuff on the road, get the mba.
     
  9. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #9
    Whoa, I just priced the MBA config I'd get: i7, 8 GB RAM, and 512 GB PCI-flash. It's $1849.

    The 2.6 13" Macbook Pro with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB PCI-flash is $1799. It's cheaper!
     
  10. AlecMyrddyn macrumors 6502

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    Southern Maine
    #10
    Sorry, but they have a 720p camera as well. Click on the "MacBook Pro with Retina display Tech Specs" tab 1/2 way down this page: http://store.apple.com/us/buy-mac/macbook-pro

    ----------

    If Battery Life and Lightness/Portability are more important to you, go for the MBA.

    If Performance and Screen Resolution are more important to you, go for the rMBP.
     
  11. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #11
    I wondered about that as well. The MacRumors article did say 1080p camera. Which is right? Did they perhaps not update the specs page properly?
     
  12. AlecMyrddyn macrumors 6502

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    Southern Maine
    #12
    Which MacRumors' article? Was it a prediction article from before today, or one written after the event? In either case, I'd trust Apple's specifications page more than MacRumors at the moment.
     
  13. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #13
    It was directly after the event. But I just checked the article... seems they edited it and removed mention of the 1080p camera.
     
  14. dgdosen macrumors 65816

    dgdosen

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    #14
    - Cheaper - but you're getting an i5 vs an i7. Granted it's not apples to apples, but bump proc up to i7, and you're at 1999.

    I think the sweet spot is a custom BTO with i7, 256 and 8GB

    ----------

    Another issue to me - more thunderbolt ports for driving more than one monitor.
     
  15. thundersteele macrumors 68030

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    Oct 19, 2011
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    Switzerland
    #15
    Not sure if this was mentioned, but the 13'' rMBPs come with HD 5100 graphics, while the Airs only have HD 5000. I believe that the difference is rather small, but maybe something to consider.

    I don't see the point of buying the i7 upgrades. It is a modest speed gain, at the cost of potentially reduced battery life, and marginally higher case temperatures.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7113/2013-macbook-air-core-i5-4250u-vs-core-i7-4650u

    Btw, the rMBP actually has a smaller form factor!

    I think the $1499 rMBP is sitting at a good price point. For those extra $200, you get both the 256 GB upgrade and the 8 GB RAM boost, while the same $200 only buy you the storage upgrade in the case of the Air. Once you include the RAM upgrade on the Air, the difference is down to $100, and I would consider that a fair price for the better screen.
     
  16. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #16
    Good points. I guess what it comes down to if you put it this way is whether I care more about the retina display or the lower weight and longer batter life.

    I'm not sure, to be honest. It's pretty rare that I'm away from a power source for more than 8 hours. And I doubt a half a pound makes a huge difference ultimately. On the other hand, I've been pretty satisfied with the screen on my 2011 MBP and I don't know how much I want/need retina. (In part because I haven't used one for long enough to know what difference it makes.)
     
  17. ks-man macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 25, 2007
    #17
    It's interesting that the Pro is more compact:

    MBP - 12.35(w) x 8.62(d)
    MBA - 12.8(w) x 8.94 (d)

    I've had two prior MBAs but I'm planning on getting the MBP mainly for the screen. I'm glad to see they dropped the weight of the MBP so now the difference is only .5 lbs.
     
  18. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #18
    Guess I need to spend some significant time with a retina display and see if it's worth the trade-off of lower battery life. I also want to wait to see if the new MBP actually does get 9 hours.
     
  19. smileman macrumors member

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    Oct 23, 2011
    #19
    this.

    i use Lightroom on my 2013 Air, works very well. screen is not retina but plenty crisp for a 13". almost 50% more battery with the Air. and for travel half a pound and thinner is noticeable.

    and, the clincher, you're going to save at least $200, if not more like $400. if you get the rMBP you're almost certainly going to want to upgrade the RAM to more than 4GB. you'll really hurt your resale value with a gimped rMBP with only 4GB of RAM. the same perhaps could also be said for staying with 128GB SSD on the base rMBP. people looking at the rMBP expect more, whereas Air customers are happier to take the base 4GB/128GB config.
     
  20. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #20
    A MBA with 8GB/512GB (I definitely need that higher amount of storage and RAM) is $1,699 with i5 and $1,849 with i7. A MBP with 8GB/512GB is $1,799 with i5 (2.6 Ghz vs. 1.3 Ghz on MBA). I guess I'm not seeing where the savings is when you spec them out comparably?

    The battery life is definitely significant, and as you point out, the weight may be too when it comes to travel.
     
  21. smileman, Oct 22, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013

    smileman macrumors member

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    #21
    fair enough, you didn't previously state that you were looking to max out the RAM/HD.

    i haven't traveled/lived with the rMBP, only the Air. for travel lighter/thinner is always better, how much depends on you and your travel. e.g., i cycle with my air in a messenger bag sometimes so half a pound is nice.

    and as good as the 2013 Air's battery is I still find myself wishing i had more. e.g., if you use the computer intensively you're not going to get the full 13 hours.

    having said all that, if i personally were in your shoes and had to max the RAM/HD then I'd probably be very tempted to go rMBP given the wash on price.
     
  22. addictzz macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2012
    #22
    I am overly happy with the battery life of Macbook Air but if you don't travel far so often, 12 hours might be an overkill. 9 hours is good enough for daily usage and travel.

    Macbook Air still has its own charm though ;)
     
  23. smileman macrumors member

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    Oct 23, 2011
    #23
    The Wirecutter's take

    they're focussing on the base model so not as applicable in your case, and they get the Air's battery life wrong (4 hours better, not three), but FWIW:

    http://thewirecutter.com/2013/10/new-ipads-and-macs/#

    the 13-inch Pro is now lighter and faster, but probably not powerful enough to justify its premium over the Air. Sure it has a retina display, But keep in mind the standard resolution of the retina, not maxed out and scaled, is less than that of the Air. And maxing out the 13 pro’s graphical resolution veers towards eyestrain inducing. The Macbook Air’s resolution seems to be at a really balanced point between pixel density and usability.

    The rest of the equation is iffy, too. The pro 13 is 0.11 pounds lighter and 0.04 inches thinner than last year’s, but still half a pound heavier and up to 0.6 inches thicker than the Air. Its battery life is 3 hours shorter than the Air, and it still doesn’t have discrete graphics, but unlike last year, it has better integrated graphics. Haswell has different levels of integrated graphics and the Iris 5100 graphics in the 13-inch Pro are about 20 percent faster than the HD 5000 graphics in this year’s Air. You’re still trading the Air’s lightness and battery life for a Retina display, but at least there’s more of a performance boost—although the CPUs in the 13-inch are dual-core only, which keeps them out of power-user territory. The SSDs themselves are PCIe-based like in this year’s Air, so they’re roughly twice as fast as before. The 13-inch starts at $1300 with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD, or about $400 cheaper than last year’s entry-level 13-inch Pro, and only a few hundred bucks over a similarly configured Air. It’s probably not worth getting over the Air unless you must have a Retina display, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD or the extra ports. In otherwords, if you’re a pro user, you can consider it. But you should really be considering the 15-inch Pro.​
     
  24. dankev macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    #24
    Here's my reasoning: I want 8gb ram and 256gb ssd.
    Education pricing:
    13" rMBP: 1399
    13" MBA: 1339

    That's only a $60 difference.

    I spend most of my day staring at my screen, and as much as I value battery life and weight (since I'm moving around much of the day), I want the best screen I can get. The retina screen is more pleasant to look at, so that's what I'm going with.
     
  25. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Oct 20, 2003
    #25
    This is one of the most helpful things I've read so far, and definitely swings me back in the direction of the MBA.
     

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