MacBook Air vs Pro

Hey there!

I'm looking to upgrade my macbook! I'm currently using a macbook late 2008 aluminum unibody model... it works okay until I have to raid or get into graphic intensive situations and then it goes to poop. :( Really affects my performance.

I'm saving up to buy a new one and I was gonna hold out to purchase the Macbook Pro 15" so I could get the dedicated graphics card... but the MacBook Air 2012 13" is so affordable as well.

I am curious to see if anyone has the 13" Macbook Air 2012 and/or the 15" Macbook Pro 2012 and could share their experiences raiding/playing WoW with them? I've seen a couple WoW videos but none that document how they do in raids really.

Thanks!
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90 Human Priest
6220
Avoid the MacBook Air like the plague. It's an overpriced, underpowered paperweight. Stick with the MacBook Pro. The Retina version will give you the best display, but if you're on more of a modest budget, the same size "regular" MBP has all of the video card and RAM options available to it, only with a lesser display (most people that game on laptops use an external display anyway).

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Thanks! I'm really only looking for a performance boost. I'm okay with a lesser display as long as the FPS is good so I'll probably aim for the MacBook Pro without retina :)
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100 Night Elf Druid
8985
My wife used a 2012 macbook air and she can do raids at fair settings. 35 to 50 FPS, very fluid play. And the Air is connected to an external monitor, her resolution is 1650x1050.

Actually her machine works better than my new 2012 imac with the GT 650m. I have a cap 60 FPS at good settings, but I have horrible hiccups of 1 to 2 seconds freeze when I tab out of the game, get to crowded area or even if I have to change sound volume.

I am sick and tired of tryng to find out whats wrong with that machine so I am returning it today.
Edited by Herbapou on 12/28/2012 7:02 AM PST
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Hmm, interesting. The Air is so much more affordable but I'm thinking I should probably just keep saving up if the difference is vast.
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90 Human Priest
6220
The MBA uses the HD 4000 chipset only. The MacBook Pro line has the nVidia 650M as well as the HD 4000, and the 650M is much more powerful and will allow you to play the game both at higher resolutions and better settings than the HD 4000 by far.

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100 Tauren Shaman
16310
I have both a 13" MBA and a rMBP (don't ask, but I just sold the MBA about a week ago), and from a performance perspective you can get by with the MBA, but it'll wear thin pretty quick.

The only other thing I don't see mentioned above is the old unibody (non-retina) design versus the retina, and that is the cooling system. The cooling design on the retina is much better, including side vents and a different fan system resulting in a quieter machine (or rather less annoying) than the old unibody design. The trade off is that you don't get a built in DVD and/or components you can swap yourself, but you do get an amazing screen.
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100 Human Warrior
20315
Yeah the retina not having an optical is a killer for me. the 2nd biggest thing i use my laptop for is dvds when when traveling or away from home.

the other big fail of retina models is the ack of servicablity. they are literally glued together. Nothing is excessible wihout cracking a glue seal and then trying to restore it after. Can't use a standard SSD either. the reg MBP can easily take cheaper and better 2.5 SSDs and much more accessible componants like ram. The retina is also too soon for the hardware to be honest. the 650 is decent but 2800 resolution is too much for it. It makes a pretty desktop but it blows for gaming performance. you take a petty big fps hit running at a resolution that high with only 512 or 1 gig of vram and not a whole lot of power. i think apple i just ahead of itself there. glad they didn't make the mistake in 2012 imac. i think retina may be in a better place with haswell.
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100 Tauren Shaman
16310
I generally wouldn't respond to what continues to be Omegal's trolling, but I'm going to and then I'm out.

The original question was MBA vs. Pro. To that end, the same arguments regarding DVD availability and serviceability apply to the MBA as retina. However, you may not be in the norm in regards to needing a DVD device. Personally I'd be hard pressed to think the last time I used one, especially when travelling (copy the movie, put it on my phone, Netflix, etc.), and in those instances where a DVD is required: use a portable/USB one. As far as serviceability, the MBA, phones, iPads all seem to do well with no serviceability and, is the average user opening up a laptop to swap out SSD's? Debatable.

As far as performance; unless you've lived with a retina compared to the unibody's (and I have, but doubt you have) or MBA's, there is frankly no evidence to support the "blows for gaming performance" statement. Resolution is not a function of the performance of the device. If 2880 is too much, set your game settings lower - to match what you would have on a comparable machine. In addition, you indicate the 650 can't handle 2880, but are somehow suggesting that (at equal resolutions) the same 650 in the unibody is somehow more appropriate?

Agreed, Apple may be ahead here, but the general consensus from every reputable review - short of iFixIt - is that the retina is the way to go if you can spare the money. And if you've got the money to spare, you really do get an amazing looking monitor, better thermal dynamics and an overall tight package.

One parting thought: I replaced a combination of MacPro (5.1 quad core) w/5880 and the aforementioned MBA completely outright with rMBA and I haven't been left wanting in any regard. In fact, from a pure processing perspective the rMBA destroys the Pro on certain professional apps where CUDA makes all the difference, in addition to just pure grunt like encoding movies.
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90 Human Priest
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12/28/2012 03:46 PMPosted by Breca
In addition, you indicate the 650 can't handle 2880, but are somehow suggesting that (at equal resolutions) the same 650 in the unibody is somehow more appropriate?


He's referring to the unibody's lower maximum resolution (native) being more appropriate for the 650's capabilities when it comes to games, if I'm not mistaken.

Agreed, Apple may be ahead here, but the general consensus from every reputable review - short of iFixIt - is that the retina is the way to go if you can spare the money. And if you've got the money to spare, you really do get an amazing looking monitor, better thermal dynamics and an overall tight package.


You'd be surprised at just how many people still use that DVD drive for viewing movies, especially those that use an SSD for a boot drive which has limited storage space. The DVD drive bay also allows for a second SSD or large HD for storage in place of the DVD drive via a utility device such as OWC's Data Doubler, which adds greatly to the utility of the machine. And if you're a professional manipulating large documents frequently, that is a very handy option to have.

The Retina is great if you game, but don't watch movies on physical media as long as you remain within reasonable limitations regarding the 650M's capabilities. It's not so great if you're a frequent flier or RedBox user, or need a large amount of storage space as an option. It's especially not a good option if you need access to dedicated ethernet in places that do not have good wi-fi.

They each have their strengths and weaknesses, but the Retina's only real strength is its display and slightly better cooling system. The unibody MBP beats it hands down in every other category.

As for the CUDA argument, very few people, relatively speaking, need that particular capability, and as such, the regular MBP will serve them much better unless all they care about is eye candy.

Similarly equipped MBP and rMBP nets a whopping $1k difference. The only real sticking point on the regular MBP is that the RAM is not configurable at the Apple Store beyond 8 GB, but can easily be upgraded to 16 GB by the end user, something the rMBP can't claim (it's soldered onto the motherboard, as is the proprietary SSD in the rMBP).

So there ya have it - for eye candy, rMBP wins. For everything else, the regular one beats it handily, especially in utility.

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