View Full Version : Help! MBA 13" vs MBP 13" (Non Retina)

7th February 2013, 10:19 AM
Hi All

Currently using an 11" MBA, this is my third MBA and i've been very happy with them, upgrading each year and not losing a lot of money on the changeover.

I got thinking last night though, maybe I should upgrade now to a 13" MBA or MBP, reason of the timing being is we fly out to the USA at the start of March and I can claim back the GST. What started my thoughts is I'd really like the extra couple of inches of screen size for photo editing while travelling plus I thought i'd put a few games on my laptop for playing on the numerous flights we'll be taking.

I am a very light user, Using my iPad for hours every day, realistically the MBA is currently only being used once or twice a week and then its just for tasks where it is easier to type on the MBA than the iPad. When I travel for business and pleasure, the MBA gets quite a bit more use but it's again mainly for typing emails, blogs etc. I carry my MBA to work with my iPad each day in a leather satchel, but its like a 100m walk from my car to my office so portability is not a huge concern in that regard.

I'm not a big gamer, my idea of games for the plane will be The Sims and maybe the new GTA if it comes in a mac version soon enough. I am leaning towards the MBP as it will give me flexibility of storage to video and photo edit on the long holiday we are going on, plus the in built optical drive is a big plus..... But, the space and weight advantage of the MBA is always a big lure. Plus their is really no price difference between the two.....

Given my usage, what do you wise Mactalkers recommend? 13" 128gb MBA or the 13" Base MBP


7th February 2013, 10:32 AM
The reality is you don't need the extra power of the MBP so I'd go Air. If you're really worried, up spec it slightly. Apple stores do carry some BTO models.

7th February 2013, 10:59 AM
remember the 11inch air has the same resolution as the non retina 13inch MBP

so it may be bigger, but the same number of pixels

7th February 2013, 11:06 AM
Given the resolution being the same, i'm not really gaining any desktop space, just larger correct?

in that case, maybe I just buy a superdrive and keep the existing 11"??

7th February 2013, 11:48 AM
Correct, the screen may be bigger but if the resolution is not higher it doesn't mean squat other than the fact that the pixels are bigger that make up the screen.

You wouldn't be gaining anything unless you went with a 13" Retina and then you'd have to run it at non-retina resolutions to gain more screen real estate as the effective screen resolution at Retina is the same as the 13" Pro, the 13" Air is slightly higher at 1440x900 but its fairly marginal, you would want to step up to something thats at least capable of 1680x1050 such as the non retina Pro with high res screen. This could be handy, or it could not be handy. Go into an Apple store and see how you go...

Failing that you'll need to upgrade to the 15" Retina or Pro.

7th February 2013, 12:06 PM
13" Air or 15" MBP Retina. The 13" Retina usually has the 'effective' same resolution as the non-retina 13". If you run it at 'full' resolution (which I like personally, but some find the resultant UI elements too small) you'll have some UI lag and slowness. Ugh.

Hopefully the next iteration of the 13" MBP has more graphical 'oompf' and will be more capable of shifting pixels when run at 'full' res.

7th February 2013, 01:26 PM
i find the 13" retina at non non-integer resolutions to be quite nice

7th February 2013, 04:25 PM
Yeah, it can be OK but scaling in non-retina mode is imperfect, hence why I said, test out a 13" Retina and see if you can live with it at non-retina interger resolutions, or even at its native non-retina resolution 2560x1600 which is enough pixels for anybody. If you have good eye sight this is not an implauability, but ideally you would want an OS such as Windows with scalable menu font sizes.

The 13" Retina will get you out of a spot of bother when you need the extra real estate when your mobile, but its an imperfect implementation particularly when you need colour/picture accuracy in design work.

It may work for the original poster but it also might not hence where I said, test it out.

7th February 2013, 05:51 PM
Hi All

Unfortunately the budget doesn't stretch to Retina, went into the apple store today and the base MBP seems it'll be perfectly adequate for what I need, the extra screen size definitely seems to be a big help with aperture.... I made the mistake of looking at the Retina and it's simply gorgeous, but.... at a cost, plus if I was to go the Retina, i'd lose the optical drive which is one of the reasons i'm upgrading

I asked the guy at Apple if he would give me 10% off the same as JB and DSE so often have, he said it wouldn't be an issue but it'd need to be an active promotion... Fair enough i suppose, so i'll now wait until the 10% off comes on again and then head in and buy one (Hopefully over the next 3 weeks before we go away).

7th February 2013, 10:08 PM
Having a larger screen can make things easier to read but other than that it wont make a difference, You've always got to look at the numbers in terms of actual screen resolution. For that the 13" Air is slightly higher than the 13" pro, but you lose out as you say with the optical drive, and also upgradable hard drives.

I can say owning a non-retina 13" Mac Book Pro that they're actually not all that heavy and are perfectly fine to carry on a day to day basis. Also, like yourself one of the reasons apart from needing Snow Leopard at the time that I bought a non-retina MacBook Pro even when the 13" retina was rumored is for the fact that it has an optical drive and an upgradable HDD.

I couldn't think of much worse than being stuck with a 256gb or 512gb SSD, when at the moment I'm actually thinking of going up to a 750gb Momentus XT or a 1TB internal drive. 500gb storage is just not enough in this day and age if you have a large media storage partition as you would do working in design. You can quite easily fill it with a few hours of digital recording, rendering and a couple of multi-gigabyte PSD files if you're working with high-res photography, or need photo stock that is. With it being near enough 2014 500gb is the 500mb of 1994 and the 512k of 1984 "you'll never need more of" - Gates.