Do You Really Need The New MacBook Pro? Probably Not

Do You Really Need The New MacBook Pro? Probably Not

I’m still sitting at my desk wiping the froth from my mouth dreaming of how much better my life is going to become once I get Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina display. It’s totally the most beautiful laptop computer I’ve ever seen, and I haven’t even really seen it in real life, but I know I want it. All my friends want it too, so of course after the keynote we talked about who’s going to get it, who’s not, and why not.

And then we all realized that there’s really no reason for any of us to buy it, and there might not be any reason for you to get it either. Here’s why:

To deduce whether or not all your hard earned dollars should go to the purchase of Apple’s latest magical computer, it’s important to understand what type of computer user you are, and which machine is best for the type of stuff you do on your computer.  You don’t go buy a Ford F-450 when you really just need a small car with great gas mileage, and you shouldn’t buy a top of the line computer when all you need is something basic and dependable. If you’re debating whether or not you should buy the MacBook Pro with Retina display, then ask yourself this question:

I spend most of my computer time:

A) Watching cat videos
B) Sharing cat videos on Facebook
C) Writing about cat videos on my blog
D) Creating cat videos while on an African Safari

If your answer was either A, B, or C, then you probably don’t need a MacBook Pro with Retina display. Don’t be sad. A shiny new MacBook Air will suit you just fine and will be a great machine for you over the next few years. The Air is light, fast, and really cool looking. Rather than spending an extra $1,000 on computer specs you don’t need, you can go buy 200 Chipotle burritos, or a personal trainer, or a plane ticket to Guam. I don’t know what you’re going to spend the money on, but it’d be a waste for you to spend it on some fancy new computer features that you don’t need and won’t ever use.

Now if your answer was D, then yes you need a MacBook Pro with Retina display. You need one not just because you need an amazingly powerful machine to create some ballerific videos for us to watch, but because it’s light as hell so you can run the heck away from the jaws of those terrifiying jungle kitties! The MacBook Pro will allow you to view your video in full HD while editing it at the same time, and run an audio sampling app in the background so you can put pieces of that new Kanye West track in your video and win an award from National Geographic.

The new MacBook Pro is crazy. It’s mind-boggiling. But it’s not for most consumers because not everyone is a professional who needs to wring out every last drop of performance from a computer. Most of us use our computers for storing our pictures, listening to music, surfing the web, creating documents in Word or Excel, downloading videos, and creating a short video to post on Facebook every once in a while. For those types of tasks, Apple’s MacBook Air is the perfect answer because it’s fast, dependable, stylish and cheap.

90% of consumers don’t need a powerful laptop anymore. In fact, many of us don’t even really need a laptop at all now that we’ve got iPads, but we can’t help but lust after the newest wonder Apple dangles in front of our faces. Who can blame us? The MacBook Pro is supermodel hot, just not really practical for everyone. And the Retina display is really more of a sign of things to come for future MacBooks.

Maybe you fall into that category of people who need a powerful MacBook. Maybe you’re like me and fall just outside of that category. No matter what your need, Apple has some incredible new machines to choose from, but the MacBook Pro is set apart from the others because it’s for those with ambitions to push the boundaries of digital creation. It’s not a bad thing if you’re not one of those guys, but it’s just plain silly to waste your money on a computer that has phenomenal cosmic powers many of us don’t quite need.

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  • Kamran Mackey

    i do not agree whatsoever on this. im not gonna say anything else other than that.

  • TylerHoj

    I’ll be starting the editing process of my graphic novel within a month or two. So personally this computer could not have come at a better time. I find when digitally inking panels on my iPads retina display, there’s a severe loss in quality switching to my MacBook Pro’s display for finishing an image. Even a slight loss in quality on a high res display. But, if not for the display, it’s obvious a ‘regular’ or ‘legacy[even]‘ Macbook Pro would have been sufficient. 

  • JohnWilson

    Yeah but you guys missed something. What if I want a 15″ computer that’s almost as light as the Air? Then I have little choice but to get the Retina Display Pro. It’s not just for professionals because of the amazing specs. It’s also for consumers who want the svelteness of an Air with the size of a Pro. Unless Apple is gonna sell 15″ Airs, there’s only way to go. 

  • Buster

    “Yeah but you guys missed something. What if I want a 15″ computer that’s almost as light as the Air? Then I have little choice but to get the Retina Display Pro. It’s also for consumers who want the svelteness of an Air with the size of a Pro. Unless Apple is gonna sell 15″ Airs, there’s only way to go.” 

    Not really. The MacBook Pro with Retina is 4.46lbs and the MacBook Pro is 5.6lbs. That’s barely a 1pound difference, whereas the difference between the MacBook Pro Retina and a 2.38lb MacBook Air is almost a 2 pound difference – meaning the MacBook Pro with Retina is slimmer and still better than the old models, but it’s nowhere near as thin and light as the MacBook Air

  • Jerry Suppan

    I want the larger real estate, and I also want the power to do video editting, conversions, so the MBP is a given.  If you are just a web browser for news, emailer, and want to type a message, then, you won’t even need a Macbook Air.  Use an iPad.

  • nhsatomom

    I’m interested in your guidance re: New MacBook Pro vs new Air. I use PhotoShop a bit…not regularly, just about once a week to edit or design a graphic or two. Do you think the new Air will do the job?

  • riotgeek

    It’s too expensive and there’s no optical drive.For the first time in my decade as a loyal Mac user, I’m sadly and seriously considering jumping ship and getting a Sony VAIO instead.  I was due to upgrade my ancient early 2007 MBP at the end of this month, but $2200? Forget about it!

  • Boris Terekidi

    I am a designer/developer and i need as much horsepower and zippy-ness as possible.

    I’d LOVE to take advantage of that gorgeous display, with all the processor, ram, ssd, video horsepower and all in slimmer design.
    My old MBP (first unibody) is pushing 4 years old this year. Need an upgrade… fast.
  • JohnWilson

    Buster, with all due respect that’s not exactly accurate. The 11″ Air is 2.38 pounds, but I don’t think that’s a fair comparison to a 15″ Pro. The 13″ Air is 2.98 pounds and the 15″ Retina Display Pro is 4.46. That’s a difference of 1.48 pounds and an increase of 33% in weight. The MacBook Pro is 5.6 pounds and 21% heavier than the Retina Display Pro. So it’s really not as big a gap as you made it seem. 

    If someone can eschew the 13″ MacBook Pro of old, which weighed 4.5 pounds, for the Air — and many did, hence its popularity — then I think the Retina Display Pro is worth considering over the Air depending on one’s budget and perspective on the weight. 
  • Max Walker

    Even if you DON’T need it, I say you might as well invest in the future. I’m almost certain this Mac will keep me going for at least 5 years, and still work a wonder by that time.

  • Nonnu

    actually yes. I just don need a screen that is not anti-glare as the Retina (although it looks superb)

  • Cowicide

    If it was a 17 inch retina MacBook Pro, I’d be buying it.  But, not this 15 inch compromise from a supposedly no-compromise company.

  • Aaron

    Even though I don’t “need” this laptop, I “want” this laptop. I’m typing on a computer with a 15″ 1920×1200 display, and I have Chrome zoomed up so I kinda get the retina effect. To have all my apps even clearer than the screen I’m currently looking at is wonderful! Having that much screen real estate on a 15″ laptop is excellent. 

    The best part is watching PC vendors trying to catch up to the new MacBook Pro. They’ve been having a hell of a time over the past 3 years trying to catch up to the MacBook Air!
  • James Anders

    Well…there are a lot of us who use Mac laptops for high-end engineering, video, photo work.  And getting the fastest, most capable machine saves us time and money.

  • James Anders

    Well…there are a lot of us who use Mac laptops for high-end engineering, video, photo work.  And getting the fastest, most capable machine saves us time and money.

  • chrisdec

    You obviously don’t have an 18-year old college student in your life. Obsessive, Mac-cult following, greedy little offspring with voracious electronic appetites.
    But seriously, let’s look at a college student’s needs:
    ALL text books are now available as ebooks, and charts, graphs, lab photos, must be as clear and accessible as possible. Students are often assigned films, even full featured classics, to view as part of an assignment. My kid’s MacBook Pro wasn’t able to store all the stuff necessary for her life. The bulk of their social life is on the computer. And whether we want to believe it or not, even cat videos have to be enhanced and edited in FinalCut, because some of these kids are really going to grow up to BE those award winning safari film makers. Their education is of primary focus, and what better way to learn and understand the capabilities of electronics than to be on the cutting edge. At least those are the arguments SHE has been hammering me with!

  • Pmania

    I recently got a mid 2011 27″ iMac and have been using the iPad for an year and a half (currently on iPad 3) so I feel no need to own a notebook at all. When I got my iPad I rarely used my laptop so I gave it to my parents. Then I got the iMac because it’s one hell of a machine. When I need to do some serious work (on Photoshop, Painter or SketchBook Pro) I use my iMac but almost all of the time I’m on the couch with the iPad. The very hard thing for me is the fact that I don’t need the retina display MBP but I want it soooo bad.

  • Patrick M Phillips

    Yeah, yeah, I know you’re right, but dammit I want one even if I have to eat Top Ramen for 2 months. I want one I want one!!!

  • James Barnette

    Got mine today. The Answer to this question is a resounding yes. I have been using the 13″ Air for about 6 months and this Thing is amazing!

  • garlandsmith

    great article!  still want one though :)

    actually what I really really want is a 15inch Air !
  • c_hack

    I tried out the MBPro Retina at the Store and was surprised at how heavy ir felt compared to the 13″ Air. However, my perception is due to the way I hold laptops – with one hand. That causes the larger / wider laptops to feel heavier. I am a casual home user and in the end realized I would be happier getting new Airs for myself and my wife for the price of a MBPro Retina.

    I already have a big heavy Win7 laptop with blu-ray and heavy duty GPU for gaming and video, so the Airs fill the gap between heavy laptop and iPad.

    I am so used to the awesome New iPad display that I noticed the pixelation on the 13″ Air while reading small fonts right away, but its not a big deal for me personally.

  • MidahoX

    I would rather get a non retina one and use the money left over to get an external 27″ monitor. No matter how big the resolution the retina model can get, it is still a 15″ inch.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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