Used rMBP or New Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jjobrien17, Apr 25, 2016.

  1. jjobrien17 macrumors newbie

    Apr 25, 2016
    After about 6 years with my white late 2009 macbook, I've decided that it's finally time for me to splurge and buy a new laptop. I'm a college student on a budget, so I'm trying not to spend too much money. After doing some research, I've come down to two options. The first option is to buy a refurbished 2015 macbook air, and the other is to buy a used 2013 15" rMBP my friend is selling. The rMBP would only be about $200 more expensive, and it comes with significant increases in CPU and GPU. It's also in great condition. However my main concern is longevity, as ideally this new computer would last me another 5-6 years. Are the rMBPs known to last a long time? Should I go with a better computer that is already 2.5 years old or just get a newer one with less power? Any advice is appreciated!
  2. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    The display is significantly better on the 15" rMBP. I'd say that one will last you a longer time.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd opt for the MBP all the way, as you mention, better CPU, GPU, screens more ports. The 15" model has a quad core processor.

    My current 15" MBP is going on 4 years, I'd say MBPs can last a long time.
  4. MrEcted macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2011
    I have a 2014 15 inch rMBP, which is basically exactly the same (minor spec bump) and I've been using it as my main driver at work/home with absolutely no issues. This includes running multiple VMs, compiling large amounts of code, and more. The 15 inch rMBP is a beast of a notebook!
  5. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    Can you wait until June? If apple does ship a rumored redesigned MBP the current bodied MBPs will be going pretty cheaper than.
  6. Mernak macrumors 6502

    Apr 9, 2006
    Kirkland, WA
    I'll go ahead and echo the same thing as everyone else, the 15" rMBP is a great machine, especially if you are planning on making it your primary machine and not just an occasional laptop in addition to a desktop. I have a personal Mid-2012 rMBP and a Mid-2014 rMBP for work, and I only occasionally wished I had gotten an Air for my laptop, but that was when I was using my work desktop for my main computer (I've since switched to using my rMBP hooked up to a desktop setup and then just remote in to my desktop for using it)
  7. jjobrien17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 25, 2016
    Thanks for the advice so far. My biggest concern is since the rMBP is older, AppleCare isn't an option and if something breaks I'd be screwed. Perhaps I should wait and hope that when new MacBooks are released, the old ones get a significant price cut. I also saw that best buy was having a sale for $300 off...
  8. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    $300 is about the best it will ever get go for that it won't be any better when the new ones come out and in the case of the MacBook they had a $300 dollar saving a few weeks before the release of the new on and then moved the price back up to only a $100 saving when the new one came out.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If it's in good-enough condition, here's one more vote for the MacBook Pro...
  10. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Well, I'll offer a dissenting note to what others have written.

    Personally, no matter how tight funds were, I'd never buy a two year old computer, and I would never buy a computer that I could not add Applecare to.

    The 2015 refurbished MBA is a terrific computer, - superb for college with a winning mix of power, portability and reliability, and would easily see you good for four-five years, three of which would be covered by Applecare, as well all of the warranties and guarantees that a new computer comes with.
  11. MrEcted macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2011
    An MBA is a good computer, it's just not a great value right now. A 2015 MBA is more outdated than a 2 year old Pro. After going with a Retina MacBook Pro, the Airs just look so terrible to me in comparison, especially the screen. The fuzziness is hard to deal with, it's like going from HD TV back to standard definition. I can't go back, and if I had to I would pay the extra cash to get a new Pro because it's so much better of a value.
  12. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Personally, I find the MBP to be an excellent computer - I had one for a few years from 2008 to 2011 - but I also found it too heavy for it to be comfortable when carrying it about the place.

    The first thing I like about the MBA is its weight, and its utter portability, and since the 2013 updates, it has been an outstanding computer, probably the hitting the 'sweet spot' for a combination of portability, power, excellent specs, super battery and utter reliability.

    Now, of course the MBP - especially one with a retina screen is a bigger, and more powerful computer. If the OP could afford to buy a new one, or a refurb model, this is what I would recommend if this is the computer he or she has his or her heart set on.

    However, I wouldn't buy a two year old machine in the hope that it would last me for a further four or five years. If I ever had to buy a two year old machine, it would be as a stop gap, with an intent to hold onto it for no longer than a year.

    While you argue that a two year old MBA is 'more outdated' than a Pro in terms of its current specs, that may well be true, but a refurb MBA comes with all of the guarantees and warranties of a brand new computer, - and this is something that matters to me, especially if you wish to retain the computer for four to five years. Plus, if you buy refurb, you can always add Applecare to it, which would give you peace of mind should anything go wrong, or break and require repair. Apple repairs can be costly, and, in my experience, Applecare has always paid for itself.
  13. MrEcted macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2011
    I agree with basically everything you're saying and one does have to choose whether a 0.6 lb difference is worth all of the sacrifices, and for me that's not the case, for you it is, so that's a personal matter.

    However, I still think the MBA is the worst value. If you want an even lighter/thinner option that also has a Retina screen then you can get the MacBook. The only advantage the Air has is price, but it's only a couple hundred dollars and you're not only sacrificing the screen, you're also getting half the storage space and getting slower storage/RAM. Right now Air is the odd one out to me because the MacBook is everything that computer should be.
  14. Scepticalscribe, Apr 27, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Ah, yes, the rMB.

    I have debated this ad nauseum elsewhere, as many have suggested the rMB.

    When the MBA was first released, in 2008, it was a sleek, revolutionary design, and boasted a stunning appearance, and form factor.

    It was also seriously underpowered - the first generation of that thing had 80GB HDD or a 64GB SSD, the same that the flagship iPod Touch had. Moreover, the battery life was poor.

    While I adored the form factor, and the portability - I am a middle aged professional female, and weight matters to me - I was not going to invest in that computer until its specs, and power improved. My first MBA - which I bought in late 2010 - was the so-called Rev C - it came with a 128 GB SSD, and 2 GB RAM.

    Fast forward a few years, and the specs improved exponentially. My current MBA is a Core i7, with 8 GB RAM and 512 SSD, and is a stunning machine which gives me power, portability and a battery which lasts a full day. Yes, I accept that the screen isn't the best in the business; but, that is not my priority - portability, power, reliability and a great battery are of far greater importance to me.

    To be honest, until and unless the rMB is beefed up, I haven't a notion of looking at it; it is like the 2008 MBA, an over-priced, underpowered computer with a great screen. Now, I have no doubt that in a few years time, - as happened with the MBA - the rMB will be a stunning machine, with the specs I require. That is when I shall consider it.

    To the OP, get the refurb MBA if you want the peace of mind of the warranties that come with a new computer and expect to get four to five years out of it. Buy the three year old MBP if you plan to purchase another computer in 18 months; if your heart is set on a rMBP, try your damnedest to buy one as a refurb.

    Seriously, while I would accept a three year old computer as a gift (I have given some of mine to my brothers), I would never consider buying one. Ever. Especially if I wished to use it for years.
  15. throAU, Apr 27, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Student. Budget.

    In your situation, I'd buy the new machine every single time.

    Yes, the retina will have a nicer display, but the new air will do the job, and if it breaks, you can hand it back to apple and get a replacement.

    Buy applecare on it, live happy.

    Maybe not the 'buy the sexy high spec machine' answer you might want to hear, but I'm sure you'll sleep better not worrying about whether its going to break.

    Also, as an aside, 13" and smaller machines are much nicer to lug about from place to place than 15" machines. They get better battery life too. Both of which is useful for people who carry them about and use them away from home. Like you will, as a student.

    Also, re: the macbook air not being great value. Well, it depends. How "great value" is a 2013 machine that costs more and breaks after 12-24 months? Yes, on paper spec things beat the Macbook Air, but vs. the 2013 machine, as a tool to get a job done, the new machine with warranty wins hands down in my opinion. Will the spec on the 2013 machine make you do your university course work any faster? My bet is that unless you're using it to do rendering or lots of video as part of your course - no it will not. It will just be heavier, lack a warranty, have a 3 year old flogged out battery in it and cost you more.

    Sure, nice screen, but....

    Also... just re-read - you expect this to last another 6 years? That would make the MBP 9 years old at that point. I suspect the probability of it being alive (and the non-replaceable battery still being usable) at that point approach zero (based on working with computers since the early 90s and seeing the usable average life expectancy of a large number of machines).

    6 years life out of a new machine is pushing things (you can typically get warranty for 3, and most seem to start dying by about year 5 - not just Macs, computers in general). The MBA will maybe survive that long, but anything you buy brand new today will be pretty tired in terms of battery and CPU/GPU power by 2022.

    I'd adjust your expectations, budget on a new machine expiring by say 2019-2020 (thus, put money aside by then for replacement) and if it lasts longer than that, bonus. Keep putting money aside for something a little nicer for when it finally does die (or a treat for yourself or partner or whatever) or you get annoyed with how slow it is.

    Also - second the notion that if possible, a new Retina would be better (no brainer, really), but that wasn't listed as an option and is starting to jack the budget up a lot.
  16. MrEcted macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2011
    Understood, I was just offering my point of view. Personally if I were in the market for a new Mac then the Air is the last one I would consider, but of course people will have different priorities. Used rMBP and a new Air would be a tougher choice but in that situation I would save up a couple hundred more dollars if I could that way I could get what I really wanted.
  17. jjobrien17, Apr 27, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016

    jjobrien17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 25, 2016
    I decided against getting the used computer. It wouldn't make sense for me to buy an old computer and expect it to last 5 additional years. I was going to get the MBA, but then I saw the rMBPs on sale for $300 off. A brand new 256GB 13" rMBP for about $1,100 including tax (after using gift cards and signing up for a credit card, which the guy told me I can pay off immediately with my debit card and then cancel) is a pretty sweet deal. Thanks for everyone's help!

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