Upgrading from 4 year old black Macbook, would rMBP be overkill?

ieani

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 3, 2006
827
0
the states for now
I am a graduate school in psychology and want a lightweight (relative to my current MB) laptop that will not mimic a jet engine when it encounters flash, has decent battery life (not the 1hr im down to now), and can run windows seamlessly.

Would I notice a substantial performance gain with just a Macbook Air or is the rMBP a sensible investment?

I will primarily use the computer for internet, word processing, data analysis and web application development. I will be commuting with the laptop by bike, but didn't notice too much of a weight difference at the Apple store.

I will be using an education award to purchase the laptop so cost is not a major factor.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,349
4,862
I am a graduate school in psychology and want a lightweight (relative to my current MB) laptop that will not mimic a jet engine when it encounters flash, has decent battery life (not the 1hr im down to now), and can run windows seamlessly.

Would I notice a substantial performance gain with just a Macbook Air or is the rMBP a sensible investment?

I will primarily use the computer for internet, word processing, data analysis and web application development. I will be commuting with the laptop by bike, but didn't notice too much of a weight difference at the Apple store.

I will be using an education award to purchase the laptop so cost is not a major factor.
Both the Air or the rMBP will be so much faster than your current laptop that its not even funny :) In the end its your decision. Do you want to spend some more money for the rMBP with its insanely good display or get the lighter Air? BTW, if you get the Air, you should go for at least 13" with 256GB SSD.
 

FastEddiebags

macrumors 6502
Jun 1, 2012
336
1
NJ
Get the Retina, since cost is not a factor.You will benefit from the increased screen real estate and the quad core processor.
 

polotska

macrumors 6502
Sep 23, 2007
254
0
Although the Retina MacBook Pro weighs less than your black MacBook, its dimensions might make it more awkward in transit.

Either would be a substantial upgrade. If size and cost aren’t an issue, I’d go with the Retina MacBook Pro.
 

retinarob

macrumors regular
Jul 26, 2012
154
0
VA
Went from a 2007 MBP to a rMBP. You won't find much of anything to complain about, and with 16GB of RAM it should last another 4 years. The versatility of the screen would be great for data analysis--opening up your work space, and typing on it just looks so much better.
 
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ieani

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 3, 2006
827
0
the states for now
If you do a lot of statistical analysis/graphing/etc I would get a 15" screen

retina or not depends on your preferences.
I somehow did not consider the importance of screen real estate when graphing but that makes a lot of sense and has essentially sold me on the retina.
 

mjn298

macrumors regular
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
I somehow did not consider the importance of screen real estate when graphing but that makes a lot of sense and has essentially sold me on the retina.
Ya running at max resolution will give you a ton of available space.. it's honestly absurd. I was amazed in the store. Especially if you have good vision and like small text (which I do).

What kept me from it is the fact that I'm a hardware nerd and opening up my computers and doing stuff myself brings me a lot of joy that I wasn't ready to give up yet. It's inevitable that things continue in this way, though, and I'll have to restrict my hardware work to desktops.
 

PS65

macrumors 6502
Jan 25, 2008
252
1
United Kingdom
Although the Retina MacBook Pro weighs less than your black MacBook, its dimensions might make it more awkward in transit.
What are you on about? How do the dimensions make it more awkward to transit?

This place never stops amazing me.....never used to be like this....
 

gentlefury

macrumors 68030
Jul 21, 2011
2,848
0
Los Angeles, CA
Based on your usage I would say that the 11" MBA would be pretty perfect. I used mine all the time in meetings and on the go. I recently got the 15" rMBP and I LOVE IT...but I wouldn't be able to lug it nearly as far as I did my Air.

As for the jet engine using flash, you are going to have to take that one up with Adobe. I haven't heard any excessive spin on my rMBP using flash since I got it...but I also haven't used it for any extremely lengthy period (I use click to flash to block it)

On the rare occasion I had to use flash on my MBA it would spin up full blast and crank my battery down to 1 hour.
 

mjn298

macrumors regular
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
But then why compare a 15" to a 13" machine for being awkward? I'd say a rMBP is the best to carry, excluding the Air.
yeah the thing has a gorgeous form factor

and i can't think of any bag that won't accommodate it


i wish i didn't need firewire and ethernet very frequently

really miss the PCI slot

(though I would feel like an idiot if i bought a computer w/ a great form factor and was constantly carrying adapters)

UGH it's so nice
 

Dangerous Theory

macrumors 68000
Jul 28, 2011
1,981
28
UK
Are you being awarded a laptop or money towards one? If the former, of course choose the retina one :p otherwise, anything out there is going to blow away the performance of your plastic macbook. With cycling, the Air would definitely help out a bit to cut down mass.
 

polotska

macrumors 6502
Sep 23, 2007
254
0
What are you on about? How do the dimensions make it more awkward to transit?

This place never stops amazing me.....never used to be like this....
As the next poster mentions, the rMBP is wider and longer than both the old MacBook and MacBook Air. Weight and depth aren’t the only considerations for transport. This can be especially true for bicycle commuters.

The rMBP doesn’t fit well in my preferred bag, for instance, whereas the smaller width and length of something like an old MacBook wouldn’t be an issue.

It may or may not be a deal-breaker but I think it bears mentioning.
 

BeachChair

macrumors 6502a
Apr 11, 2008
590
4
Copenhagen, Denmark
Since cost is not a factor, I'd say go Retina. The screen real estate and extra power will help a lot with stats software, possibly virtual machining, and reading scientific articles.
 

ieani

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 3, 2006
827
0
the states for now
Based on your usage I would say that the 11" MBA would be pretty perfect. I used mine all the time in meetings and on the go. I recently got the 15" rMBP and I LOVE IT...but I wouldn't be able to lug it nearly as far as I did my Air.

As for the jet engine using flash, you are going to have to take that one up with Adobe. I haven't heard any excessive spin on my rMBP using flash since I got it...but I also haven't used it for any extremely lengthy period (I use click to flash to block it)

On the rare occasion I had to use flash on my MBA it would spin up full blast and crank my battery down to 1 hour.
My gf has the 11" and the screen is far too small and performance not a noticeable huge jump, although it is much easier to travel with.

The black Macbooks are notorious for not running flash very well, but really do hope that HTML 5 replaces flash soon.

----------

i went from an early 08 black macbook to the rmbp. best decision ever!
Good to hear! How is having only 256GB? I have about 30GB free at the moment, but have conditioned myself to delete, delete, delete. Not sure I want to still have to do that.

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I would go with a maxed out 13" Air and an external monitor for when you are at home. Portable, fast, light.
I considered this but the price difference and size difference is minimal, while performance gains are quite high. Plus I would need a large screen both at home and at my University's lab.
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,721
1,820
My gf has the 11" and the screen is far too small and performance not a noticeable huge jump, although it is much easier to travel with.

The black Macbooks are notorious for not running flash very well, but really do hope that HTML 5 replaces flash soon.



I agree on the 11" display being small. The 13" is a bit small too. I have no idea if they're noisy, but your gf's experience would be a better reference there. I need to caution you about treating performance as a one dimensional thing. When technology takes gargantuan leaps, it's easier to do this. You buy a new one. It comes with twice the specs in every aspect and simply performs better. It sounds like you're working with lighter computing loads, so a good question would be how you define performance or where you feel it's lacking. Most of what you're doing sounds like it could be accomplished on any given computer. Any of these will be a step up from Core2 era hardware, but if a task runs in perceptibly real time, faster at that point becomes fairly meaningless. If you look at what Apple focuses on, they rarely go wild with specs as modern hardware is quite fast.

On the rMBP, there are probably many people who buy it for the display alone. I'd expect display upgrades to trickle into the rest of the line. Their default display options are quite dated at this point in terms of resolution. They should really come with the high resolution option by default, and their ssd upgrade pricing this generation is asinine. They've essentially maintained their pricing from the prior year even when ssd pricing has dropped significantly overall.
 

gentlefury

macrumors 68030
Jul 21, 2011
2,848
0
Los Angeles, CA
My gf has the 11" and the screen is far too small and performance not a noticeable huge jump, although it is much easier to travel with.
I personally loved my 11". The screen size was perfect for me! I just needed power, or else I would have kept it!
 

terraphantm

macrumors 68040
Jun 27, 2009
3,740
552
Pennsylvania
I used to be on a 13" Air before getting my rMBP. It took me a few days to get used to the extra real estate, but now I really love it. 15" IMO is a pretty ideal size - especially since the rMBP still weighs < 5lbs

The performance benefits are huge. The SSD + 16GB RAM basically makes the everything load near instant
 

ieani

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 3, 2006
827
0
the states for now
I agree on the 11" display being small. The 13" is a bit small too. I have no idea if they're noisy, but your gf's experience would be a better reference there. I need to caution you about treating performance as a one dimensional thing. When technology takes gargantuan leaps, it's easier to do this. You buy a new one. It comes with twice the specs in every aspect and simply performs better. It sounds like you're working with lighter computing loads, so a good question would be how you define performance or where you feel it's lacking. Most of what you're doing sounds like it could be accomplished on any given computer. Any of these will be a step up from Core2 era hardware, but if a task runs in perceptibly real time, faster at that point becomes fairly meaningless. If you look at what Apple focuses on, they rarely go wild with specs as modern hardware is quite fast.

On the rMBP, there are probably many people who buy it for the display alone. I'd expect display upgrades to trickle into the rest of the line. Their default display options are quite dated at this point in terms of resolution. They should really come with the high resolution option by default, and their ssd upgrade pricing this generation is asinine. They've essentially maintained their pricing from the prior year even when ssd pricing has dropped significantly overall.
Well for me the rMBP's screen and ability to run many programs seamlessly is what entices me, since I often am multitasking various work and creative projects. While my "needed" usage is for grad school, I also am getting into software development, help out a non-profit with web and graphic design, make short films, write, and am involved in various other multimedia projects.