Trying to decide between 13" MBA or 13" rMBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by marcperrot, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. marcperrot macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2012
    I was going to get a MacBook Air this summer, but decided to hold off to see what I could get in the rumoured 13" Retina MacBook Pro. Now that's it out, and I've compared the two, I'm leaning toward the MacBook Air, but I wanted to check and see if there's anything else I might not be taking into account.

    I'm looking at the 13" MBA with 2.0Ghz/8GB/256GB for $1699 or the 13" rMBP with 2.5Ghz/8GB/256GB for $1999. I'll mainly be using it for basic tasks (web browsing, watching videos, word processing), occasional use of Photoshop, and some gaming (Civ5, the new SimCity, and possibly LOTRO due to the forthcoming Mac client). I have a preference for the MBA because of its slim form factor, though I know the rMBP is also very slim, its price, and its screen, as it's noticeably better than the 2009 MBP I'm currently using.

    My main questions on the rMBP are whether or not the difference in processors would make a big difference for my usage, and if the screen is so much better it's worth an extra $300? Is there anything else that makes the rMBP better than the MBA?

    Finally, I'd like your thoughts on AppleCare. I've owned an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S, iPad, and MacBook Pro and have had AppleCare on none of them, and never run into an issue. Do you guys regularly purchase AppleCare? Is it worth the extra $279?

    Thanks in advance for your comments!
  2. comatose81 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 17, 2009
    I think the 13" rMBP is overpriced and I would never give it a second thought. If I wanted a 13" MacBook, it would be an Air. If I wanted a retina display MacBook, it would be the 15".

    I personally got AppleCare on my 11" MBA but I am the type of person that doesn't want to deal with stuff not working, so it was worth the $249 to me. Everyone has to make their own decisions, though. With the MBA, you are kind of limited on how much repair work you can do, so it makes sense to just let Apple handle that. With the MBP, this might be less of an issue.
  3. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    I've got both in my hands now. I'll likely return the rMBP and stick with my 2011 Air. I just don't see enough difference to deal with the added weight.
  4. shiinx macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2012
    I am also trying to decide between these two models at the moment. The reasonable choice for me would be to go with the MBA, but one difference between these two always brings me back to reconsider:

    I do not need the retina display. Actually, I worry that it will be more of a burden since I use several applications that are not retina updated yet. But the rMBP has a lot more ports than the MBA, and this is really convenient. When being at the office I would be able to attach a display, Gigabit LAN (via second thunderbolt), an external HDD and a mouse without problems. With the MBA, I would have to use an USB hub and only 100MBit LAN.

    Thus, my ideal MacBook would be the 13'' rMBP but with the 13'' MBA screen (possibly with IPS instead of TN panel).
  5. mrsir2009 macrumors 604


    Sep 17, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    MacBook Air, as the 13" rMBP isn't very good value at the moment.
  6. yanksrock100 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2010
    San Diego
    I have thought and thought...the rMBP isnt a good value or even a suitable laptop at this point. Intel 4000 is great on the Macbook Air, but on the rMBP it is laggy even on normal websites. 4 million pixels is too much for the iGPU. Games will not be able to run as well on the rMBP either, because of the 4 million pixels. Also, for a hefty $1699, 128 SSD isn't enough. For $1199, I can live with it.

    The MBA is just a better deal. A Macbook Air with 8 gigs of Ram $1299. An rMBP is $1699, with dangerously similar specs.

    I personally don't think retina will be worth it for awhile. I'll give a few years, and keep the already established MBA!
  7. GrandPhrase macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2012
    I think based on what you say, your tasks that you do on your computer are pretty basic with light Photoshop and gaming. The MBA should get you through light Photoshop pretty decently and occassional gaming will be acceptable.
    And with the lightness of the MBA, it will be a lot easier to travel - .5 lbs. shaved off is a lot more than you think.
  8. marcperrot thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2012
    Thanks for all your thoughts. I'm definitely going for the MBA now. I appreciate the help!
  9. Nemic macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    I have a 13 inch MBA (2011) and really love it.

    However I am really interested in the rMBP 13 inch. I saw one today in store and I was very impressed with the screen, overall size and weight.

    The footprint is actually smaller than the MBA, and although it is a little heavier it wasn't by that much.

    I love the fact that it has 2 Thunderbolt ports and this is really a big plus for me.

    Also I am hoping that due to it's Retina display it will easily be able to run a Thunderbolt monitor - if they finally add USB 3.0 to them, I want to get one.

    If possible I would take a look at both of them side by side in store, before making a decision.

    Good luck :)
  10. marcperrot thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2012
    I wish I could compare them myself, but it isn't possible. There isn't an Apple Store in my province, and I don't think the local Best Buy or Future Shop even have the 15" rMBP on display yet, let alone the 13".

    Portability is a huge factor for me, as I travel several times a year, and the smaller footprint of the rMBP interested me, but I think that when it comes down to a decision the MBA will be the best choice for my usage. I rarely ever use any of the ports on my current MacBook Pro, and I don't see that changing in the future. I also find the screen on the MBA to be really nice compared to my MBP, and I'm not sure I find the boost offered by Retina to be worth the extra money at this point in time.
  11. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
  12. Nemic macrumors member

    Mar 18, 2012
    Yes, I was talking with the Thunderbolt display in mind though :)

    For sure the MBA is a bit more portable than the rMBP, and the 2012 MBA's are stunning bits of kit.

    If you are leaning towards the Air, then I am sure you won't be dissapointed.

    I have owned 2 of them, and I think they are superb.

    In fact they are the best laptops I have ever had :)
  13. TheRichboy247 macrumors member

    Oct 7, 2012
    Honestly, I like the bigger footprint of the 13" Air. It just feels more natural. The Air would be your best bet for travelling. It's thin and light.
  14. jrasero macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2011
    Conventional wisdom would tell you go after the one that has the best specs, but in my eyes the 13" RMBP is an odd mix of a 13" MBP and 13" MBA

    The 13" RMBP isn't a great value and in my eyes is a one hit wonder, that being in the Retina display. The display is the best 13" display on the market but the rest of computer is meh in my opinion for $1700. The dual core i5 is okay but it is no quad core and the I find the $300 premium to upgrade to 256Gb to be steep and puts you at $2000 making the 15" RMBP a much much better choice. Everyone rags on the Intel 4000 but honestly it does a decent job. Apple isn't stupid and they wouldn't use a integrated graphics that couldn't power a ultra premium laptop. Yet I have seen the 13" RMBP lag in basic tasks like Chrome. I wish Apple did offer 16GB ram because this might mitigate some of the lagging.

    One comparison you should keep in mind would be the different between 720P and 4k resolution. 720P is good and many can't tell the difference between 720P and 1080P with the naked eye at a decent distance. The MBP Retina displays has 2 to 3 million more pixels compared to a 1080P and 1080P is the standard of high definition TV sets. So with that said Retina displays are are really great but are overkill. Plus there aren't any apps besides Apple's or content that is really optimized for those resolutions. The same said for 4K. All the TV manufactures want to rush 4K to consumer TVs but what they fail to realize is that most TV isn't even being shown in 1080P let alone 720P. A computer is slightly different I know but unless you do hardcore editing the Retina is overkill and just a bragging right. Some might say well I am "future proofing". It's true Retina MBP resolution has set the bar and will be around for many year but, the other components especially on the 13" RMBP will not! Haswell next year will advance computers so much and the Intel 5000 will put the nay sayers of having integrated graphics with a Retina display to rest.

    I would go with a MBA or wait for next years RMBP that will has much better specs. Plus the price might go down

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