With the release of the retina MacBook in March 2015 as Apple’s lightest and thinnest Mac to date there are now three different notebook computers to choose from and the choices are not easy and there are pros and cons to each model but first, let’s look at what’s available
Apple MacBook 12 inch Retina
1.1Ghz Intel Core M with turbo boost up to 2.4Ghz
This model includes 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD Storage
Price:$1299.99 or $62.36 for 24 months
1.2Ghz Intel Core M with turbo boost up to 2.6Ghz
This model includes 8GB of RAM with 512GB of SSD Storage
Price:$1599.99 or $76.77 for 24 months
Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch Retina Display
2.7Ghz Intel Core i5 with turbo boost up to 3.1Ghz
This model includes 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage
Price: $1299.99 or $62.35 for 24 months
The same as above with 256GB of storage costs $1499.00 or $71.96 for 24 months.
2.9GHz Intel Core i5 with turbo boost up to 3.3Ghz.
This model includes 8GB of RAM and and 512GB of storage and is priced at $1799.99 or $86.37 for 24 months
Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch
2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo boost up to 3.1Ghz. 4GB of Memory and a 500GB 5400 RPM hard drive is pried at $1099.99 or $52.46 a month.
Apple MacBook Pro 15 inch
2.2Ghz Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo boost up to 3.4GHz. 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD storage and is priced at $1999.00 or $95.97 for 24 months.
2.5Ghz Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.7Ghz with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage is priced at $2499.99 or $119.97 for 24 months
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch
1.6Ghz Intel Core i5 processor with turbo boost to 2.7Ghz and 4GB of Ram and 128GBb priced at $899 or $43.16 for 24 months
1.6Ghz Intel processor with turbo boost tp 2.7Ghz and 4GB of RAM with 256GB SSD for $1099.00 or $52.76 for 24 months.
Apple MacBook Air 13 inch
1.6Ghz Intel Core i5 processor with turbo boost to 2.7Ghz with 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD Storage for $999.00 or $47.96 for 24 months.
1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor with turbo boost to 2.7GHz and 4GB of RAM with a 256GB SSD drive.
What MacBook To Choose?
I count 12 different Apple notebooks to choose from, and that’s not including if you buy from the Apple Store and start to customize your order where there’s even more options. But for the case of this article I want to compare the stock models because there’s a good chance this is what you would buy off the shelf.
12 inch MacBook vs 11 inch MacBook Air
The retina MacBook is Apple’s latest model and as such is also the thinnest Apple notebook you an buy today but it offers some disadvantages over the other models and the very first is the lack of ports as there are just two for this model: one USB-C port and one 1/8 inch headphone jack.
If you want to add any more ports you will have to buy expensive dongles which in my mind kind of negates the whole light and thin thing if you still have to carry around dongles to make it work with external peripherals.
But the pros of the MacBook are light weight, a beautiful 12 inch retina display and all day battery life of up to 9 hours mean you might not have to charge this thing over the course of the day.
The 11 inch MacBook Air on the other hand offers some pretty good arguments to choose this over the retina MacBook and that’s ports. Unlike the rMB, the 11 inch MBA offers the usual selection of ports like USB 3.0 ports and a thunderbolt port. The only missing port from the 11 inch model is the fact that it does not have a SDHC card reader for transferring photos from your camera to your Apple MacBook Air.
The display is also less sharp than the MacBook and for some this is a deal breaker because except for the 13 inch MacBook Pro with the spinning hard drive, the MacBook Air models are the only models to have TN panels for display which offer less sharpness, contrast and viewing angles.
This isn’t to say the MacBook Air 11 inch is bad, but the display is not as nice as computers with retina displays.
Battery life is claimed to be up to 9 hours so the difference in Battery life between the two are the same.
Lastly, I want to mention the difference in price. The MacBook Air in 11 inch form is considerably cheaper than than the new MacBook with a savings of over $400 you have to ask yourself if the bigger and better screen is worth the $400. If you keep and use your notebook a lot the answer might be yes because if you keep the Mac for 2 years the retina display costs $20.00 a less than $20.00 a month more over that time.
12 inch MacBook vs 13 inch MacBook Air
This is even a harder decision to make because when you compare the two there’s even less difference in price and that makes your buying choice even harder.
Like the 11 inch model, many of the comparisons are the same but I won’t repeat myself here. The 13 inch model of course has a bigger display than the 11 inch model but the display is the same technology but there is a SDHC card on the 13 inch model where the 11 inch omits this feature.
12 inch MacBook vs 13 inch MacBook Pro Retina Display
It gets even harder to choose from these two models because the price is the same, but that’s the one of the only features that the MacBook and 13 inch MacBook Pro have in common. Both also feature a retina display but that’s where the similarities end.
The MacBook is lighter and offers less ports and less power but it is designed more for travel compared to the 3.5lb MacBook Pro that offers a full compliment of ports as well as the slightly bigger display and can do double duty as both a desktop replacement as well as a portable computer.
But, if you’re like me and spend most of your time in a word processor then the power of the MacBook would be fine for most users. It’s a very hard choice to make: lighter and smaller vs bigger and more power?
12 inch MacBook vs 15 inch MacBook Pro
You really shouldn’t even compare these two models because they are different ends of the spectrum when it comes to size and performance. The 15 inch is definitely designed to be the most powerful notebook you can buy where the MacBook is the lightest and smallest. If you know you need power and want your Apple laptop to be the fastest notebook you can buy from Apple then obviously the 15 inch should be your choice.
13 inch MacBook Air vs 13 inch MacBook Pro Retina
I will make this easy for you. If you need to buy the cheapest 13 inch MacBook Apple makes then buy the Air. Also you must consider the RAM and storage options between the two. The Air comes with half the RAM and storage as the MacBook Pro, forgetting about processor speed and display and yet there’s only a $300 difference between the two and if you build your 13 inch Air to have 8GB of RAM vs 4 then the cost is even with both machines costing exactly the same for 8/256GB configurations.
This makes it easy to decide in my opinion. Unless you really need the lighter weight of the MacBook Air then get the MacBook Pro because you get more speed and better display and the weight difference between the two is only about half a pound and oddly enough the MacBook Pro actually has a smaller footprint than the MacBook Air
11 inch MacBook Air vs 13 inch MacBook Air
I think the big difference between the two of these models is price, weight and physical size. Except for the lack of a SDHC Card there’s not a lot of difference between the two. If I were to buy the MacBook Air it would be the 11 inch for the small size and cheap price. It’s not too hard to find a price of closer to $800 for the 2015 11 inch MacBook Air and that’s considerably less than the 13 inch versions available to buy.
13 inch MacBook Pro vs 15 inch MacBook Pro
Here’s another choice that I think is pretty easy to make. If you need the fastest notebook you can buy and can stomach the $2000 or more price then the 15 inch is the model to buy. But if you just need fast enough processing in a pro level notebook from Apple, then the 13 inch MacBook Pro is the way to go because it’s over $700 cheaper when you compare the two models. Heck, you could almost buy a 13 inch MacBook Pro and an 11 inch MacBook Air for the same money as a 15 inch MacBook Pro.
What Apple Notebook Should You Buy?
As you can see above, that’s a pretty complicated question but if you can handle the weight I think the 13 inch retina MacBook Pro is the Mac I would buy. I don’t need the maximum in portability as I work from home so I can live with the half pound more in weight. But if I am going to spend over a $1000 on a brand new Apple computer I want to make sure I get the Maximum vale and for me it’s the 13 inch rMBP.
The MacBook Air is starting to age, and so am I so I would appreciate the sharper display. I don’t really need the extra speed but I guess it would be nice to have in the odd chance I do some photo editing here and there.
The retina 12 inch MacBook looks interesting yet I don’t know I could get used to the keyboard and I don’t really need the light weight or the reduction in ports.
The 15 inch is just a crazy buy both in price and size and weight as well as speed so this really isn’t even a consideration for me at this time.