Which is the smarter buy: 13" rMBP vs 13" MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Omar Comin' Yo, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. Omar Comin' Yo macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2012
    13" mbp Retina - 2.6 ghz i5 - 16G Ram - 512GB Flash - 1879


    13" Mac Book Air - 1.7 ghz i7 - 8G Ram - 256 GB Flash - 1479

    I mainly use the computer for writing intensive programs (Movie Magic Suite, Final Draft, Word), with about 30%-ish devoted to Final Cut Pro/PS as a hobby.

    Not really sure which one to get, as the more research I do, the more indecisive I become between the Retina and Air.
  2. TomBlack macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2014
    If portability isn't a big concerne I would rather go for the rMBP and stay with that maxed configuration. It's a good buy for years and it should suit you really enought. The new rMBP are smoother and a little lighter compared to those older ones with DVD drives. So if the weight doesn't matter that much, you should take this one.
  3. michaelsviews macrumors 65816

    Sep 25, 2007
    New England
    Well 400 dollar price difference so if that is not a factor, then maybe going to the local apple store and using both and making a judgement from there . Remember you a 14 day return period
  4. bankrip123 macrumors member

    Oct 15, 2013
    Try to looking for your local craiglist, you may find some very good deals there.
  5. twingo macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2009
    You just need 5 minutes to work with a retina screen to know what is smarter.
  6. MisterPunchy macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2013
    I dunno... The retina screen IS nice, but the longer battery and lighter form factor of the Air sold me. With mavericks, my 13" Air gets 15hrs on a full charge. That's unreal. The lower res screen doesn't bother me a bit, and for writing the Air is the perfect machine for me. Unless you're doing a lot of Photoshop or FinalCut work, the Air performs every bit as well as the retina Pro. The retina Pro might surpass the Air on those tasks by 15%, but you won't notice it writing or emailing or web surfing/researching.
  7. FrozenDarkness macrumors 65816

    Mar 21, 2009
    the thing about this comparison is that it's not apples and oranges. the macbook pro retina is only $100-$150 more expensive than a macbook air. Thinking of it like that makes the decision harder.

    It's also every bit as portable as a macbook air. It's light and extremely thin. it's actually smaller in terms of length and width than the macbook air.
  8. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    Your brilliance escapes me.

    As another poster notes, this is an apples-and-oranges comparison. The full-spec 13" MBA - with i7, 8GB and 512GB - is just a few dollars less than the Retina. I imagine the i5 in the rMBP would be on a par with the throttled i7 in the MBA.

    Apples-and-oranges as well with portability - the Retina is a half-pound heavier than the 13" MBA. I've carried a laptop in a messenger bag since the PowerBook 100 ... I can tell you the half-pound matters.

    The key question is intended use. The Air cannot be beaten for sheer portability. The Retina MBP is probably the better value for desk work and resale.
  9. Dr. McKay macrumors 6502a

    Jan 20, 2010
    Belgium, Europe
    What config do you have ? I don't get anywhere near that with mine (i7, 8Gb, 256SSD).
    I do use it a lot at my desk, though, with a Bluetooth Magic mouse and a usb TM hard drive connected frequently
    I assume, using it without any Bluetooth or usb devices attached, I should get better battery life...
  10. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    Retina is nice

    HDMI out is nice

    Two Thunderbolt ports (think two monitors) is nice too!
  11. Miss Roxy macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2013
    There are a lot of scammers on craigslist - and they often sell you a defective macbook...

    I personally wouldn't go that route.
  12. cbdilger macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2013
    West Lafayette, IN
    It's portability vs. power

    Let me echo what others are saying about portability vs. power. I teach and attend meetings in multiple buildings on two campuses, so the Air is great for me. I don't have to worry about battery life, and as others have said, that half pound adds up over time.

    If you want that editing to be fast fast fast, then go with the Pro. I've never wanted for speed on my Air (6,2; Jun 2013) but I'm not editing video.
  13. Wuiffi macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2011
    imo in this comparison, the rMBP has a better value. fast cpu and gpu (you probably won't notice), extra 8gb ram and 256gb of ssd together with the retina display are worth more than 400$
    furthermore I find the weight difference neglectable. the real differnce is battery life.

    I'd say if you have the 400$ and don't need to starv if you spend them go for the retina
  14. Robyr macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2010
    Hogwash. Caveat Emptor reigns king, do your diligence and investigate it before you buy. Almost everyone I've dealt with from Craigslist is just like me. A young professional looking to sell before he/she upgrades, or an older guy looking to clean out unused stuff.
  15. MiesVanDerRobot macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2012
    For your intended uses, I'd go Retina all the way. I think it's better hardware value for the money spent, to begin with. And for your specific usage patterns....

    Final Cut Pro will perform significantly better. Editing in Photoshop is much nicer because the interface jammed with features is easier to navigate on the Retina display. And even though writing demands very little in the way of processor horsepower, the Retina display is true luxury for a writer because staring at a page of Retina text is well easier on the eyes than staring at the same text on a standard-pitch screen.

    If you were more of a casual "oh I write emails now and then and post Facebook statuses" sort of writer, I'd push you toward the Air. But since you are doing screenwriting, give your eyes a $400 gift for those long drafting sessions.
  16. pacalis macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2011
    If you take drop the 512GB to 256GB, they should be pretty even as far as price.

    Then it's mainly a question of portability vs. a much better computer. :)

    And on value, within the next couple years all computers will be 1080p plus. Even the 10 inch MS surface is this. Once people work at that res, there is no way you would downgrade to the current MBA resolution. Its a deal killer.

    On battery you should be at 9 hours with the MBP. On CPU, there won't be a notable difference between the i5 in the MBP and i7 in the MBA. The MBP is more durable and stiffer - it's much nicer to work on.
  17. FrozenDarkness macrumors 65816

    Mar 21, 2009
    i just bought the 8gb and 256gb myself last night. i think it's the best buy in terms of resale value as it's the most conservative pick for the next 2-3 years. in that sense, the macbook pro retina is only $1499, or $20 bucks more. realistically if you don't get the i7, it'll probably be like $100 more which is much more worth it than the macbook air
  18. DisplacedMic macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2009
    it was pretty simple for me...the 13" retina is a hig-res Air.

    For me i didn't really notice the half pound difference between the two very much but i definitely noticed the improved screen quality. I don't like to get first generation tech but i was very tempted to get that 13 rMBP.

    Then I started thinking I wanted a powerful machine (15" rMBP) instead...so the choice came down to ultralight or ultrapowerful...i went with ultralight and got the 11" air :p

    nice thing about macs is there's not really a wrong choice!
  19. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    Unfortunately you and those others have no idea what they are talking about. The difference in weight between the two (we are talking 13" models here, not 11" Air vs 13" MBP Retina!) is not that much. If you hold both machines you won't notice the difference at all.

    As for battery life: yes it is nice the battery indicator in OS X tells you the machine will run for 15 hours but unfortunately it is a complete guess based on how you used the machines in the last 5 minutes or so. In reality it'll be less than that. When you do specific tasks on both machines you'll see that battery life isn't all that different. That 15 hours is nice when doing almost nothing with the machine but when you actually do work it suddenly becomes 3 hours or even less because it completely depends on what you are doing with the machine. The amount of time that calculator tells you is nothing but an indication of how long the battery might last, it is not an exact measurement whatsoever.

    The difference in hardware between the 13" MBA and 13" MBP Retina is very very small. Yes the Retina one is a bit heavier but it is also smaller in size, comes with 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports (instead of 1 Thunderbolt 1 port), HDMI and a proper display (it uses an IPS panel instead of TN that is used in the Air; that means proper colours). Thunderbolt 2 ports also allow you to use DisplayPort 1.2 instead of 1.1a. Having two Thunderbolt ports is also a big help because you can hookup a display (vga, dvi, hdmi, displayport) and the gigabit ethernet card. That setup is cheaper than a Thunderbolt dock.

    Another thing I noticed: the Retina one has a more solid build due to not having a tapered design. The Air feels a bit flimsy on the front and it also makes it more difficult to grab (some have dropped their Airs due to it slipping out of their hands). You'll have a better grip on the Retina one.

    The only real problem is the difference in price. I'd go for the Retina one because of the IPS panel alone. It just make such a big difference to your eyes. I find it more comfortable to look at. The Retina part is just a bit of a gimmick. If you turn down the resolution you'll get the same size fonts as with the 13" Air but a bigger working area.
  20. gdourado macrumors 6502


    Apr 22, 2010
    Out of curiosity, anyone have pictures comparing the size of the 11 inch air and the 2013 13 retina?

    I know the weight difference is around 500g, but I am more curious in seeing the difference in footprint, mainly due to the 11 inch air big bezels.

  21. medic27 macrumors member

    Dec 18, 2013
    Spend the 400 you saved on a 27" 2560 monitor for home.
    Get the mbpr.
    Get the mba and pocket the 400.
  22. michaelsviews macrumors 65816

    Sep 25, 2007
    New England
    Refurbished 15" rMBP's

    You mite want to look at the refurbished 15" rMBP's are going for?

    I went to our Apple store and tried the 13" MBA again, have to say the 15" is looking better.
  23. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    Today I had my 13" rMBP in one hand and a friend's 13" MBA in the other hand.

    Although the MBA is about 0.4 pounds lighter, I could barely tell the difference. And the length and width of the rMBP is actually a tiny bit smaller than the MBA. Thickness is pretty much equal too at the thickest parts of each (the rMBP is a hair thicker) but the MBA does have that lovely wedge taper.

    I think you'd be hard-pressed to notice the difference unless you really, really need to travel light.

    As for battery life, the rMBP in Mavericks can get 10-15 hours too (according to the reviews) -- I'm typing this message right now with 97% battery life and my system is reporting 10:21 left. That's with brightness at 2/3, WiFi on, Bluetooth off.

    So if you can swing the incremental extra cash, the rMBP is essentially a slightly smaller, slightly thicker MBA with a faster CPU, better GPU, and an IPS retina display.
  24. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    Which rather defeats the purpose of the MBA, does it not?

    You should add "slightly heavier" to your list as well.
  25. yosemit macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2013
    The 13" rMBPs don't have a faster CPU. They do have a better GPU and a better display, at the cost of less battery time and slightly increased weight.

    Guys, there is no "smarter buy" that fits everyone. The 11" MBA, 13" MBA, and 13" rMBP are all good computers. Which one is the smart buy really depends on your specific need.

    I use an i7 11" MBA. CPU-wise, it is as powerful as 13" rMBP. I do like the retina display, but I use an external 24" monitor for 90% of my computer time, and I travel a lot, so it makes sense for me to get the 11". Some people need the insane battery time of the 13" MBA, which also makes sense.

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