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View Full Version : Will I be as happy with a 13" MBA as with a 15" i5 MBP?




hbomb168
Jan 16, 2011, 05:55 PM
I bought a 2010 15" i5 MBP last year, which ended up getting liquid damaged after 3 months. Now I have enough money to buy something new. I was going to get the same computer but have been considering a 13" Ultimate MBA with 4GB RAM, 256GB Flash storage, and 2.13GHZ Core Duo. They both are about the same price. My usage is mainly for surfing the net, iTunes, and maybe the occasional game (Starcraft 2). I've heard good things about the flash storage vs. HDD. Will this MBA be a decently fast computer for 4-5 years? Or should I just buy another 15" MBP?



SandboxGeneral
Jan 16, 2011, 05:57 PM
Based on what you wrote, I think the MBA will do fine for you. But only you can truly answer your own question regarding happiness. ;)

philxor
Jan 16, 2011, 06:03 PM
I was looking to upgrade to either the MBA or the 15" i5 as well and ended up with the MBA. For my usage it was plenty enough to last me a few years. Honestly the SSD makes it feel faster than using a 15" MBP with a mechanical drive. I'm sometimes constantly opening and closing programs and the load times are near instant.

teerexx52
Jan 16, 2011, 06:05 PM
I bought a 2010 15" i5 MBP last year, which ended up getting liquid damaged after 3 months. Now I have enough money to buy something new. I was going to get the same computer but have been considering a 13" Ultimate MBA with 4GB RAM, 256GB Flash storage, and 2.13GHZ Core Duo. They both are about the same price. My usage is mainly for surfing the net, iTunes, and maybe the occasional game (Starcraft 2). I've heard good things about the flash storage vs. HDD. Will this MBA be a decently fast computer for 4-5 years? Or should I just buy another 15" MBP?

I have an ultimate 13" after having an i7 15" Pro. I love this machine. Should be fine for what you want to use it for.

Ronnoco
Jan 16, 2011, 06:11 PM
I have a 15" i5 and I do certainly have appreciation for it's raw processing power, but after using my 11" MBA with the 128 SSD, I'm tempted to upgrade the HD from it's stock 5400rpm 320GB to at the very least a 500GB Seagate Momentous XT (which I already use in an enclosure as my external for my 11" Ultimate and just LOVE IT) or a 256SSD sometime in the very near future...

The SSD in the 11" has REALLY spoiled me in terms of raw speed...:D

newdeal
Jan 16, 2011, 06:13 PM
for your needs you don't need to spend so much cash on a computer. I would save the cash and get the 13" air base model and upgrade to 4gb of ram. The ultimate is more cash than its worth

Buck987
Jan 16, 2011, 06:17 PM
for your needs you don't need to spend so much cash on a computer. I would save the cash and get the 13" air base model and upgrade to 4gb of ram. The ultimate is more cash than its worth

^what he said^

base 13" model, with upgraded ram is good...save money for some external storage backup.

iNotion
Jan 16, 2011, 07:20 PM
Get a MBA. It is so much lighter...
And that is my main and primary reason why i got one.
Shouldn't a ideal laptop be light and small but yet powerful at the same time?

wordoflife
Jan 16, 2011, 07:50 PM
I always like getting the best specs as I can (but thats not the point I guess)
Whatever you get... keep all liquids away from it!!

iExpensive
Jan 16, 2011, 09:01 PM
obviously the i5 is going to last you longer.
But for what you are doing the ultimate 13" would be perfect.
It's equivalent to a 13" MBP but half the size with SSD.

Psilocybin
Jan 16, 2011, 10:07 PM
replaced mine with macbook air 13 ultimate..couldnt be happier

AMDGAMER
Jan 16, 2011, 10:27 PM
This is a snappy Macbook Air. A Core i5 isn't a monster by any means, the core 2 duo isn't terribly different.

Now if you were coming from an alienware M17x Core i7 Extreme Edition with 8GB or RAM and dual SSDs in RAID 0....thats a big difference.

But as someone said, only the owner knows whats best for him/her.

jenzjen
Jan 16, 2011, 10:37 PM
I'm slightly more taxing than a basic laptop user (some media editing, processing) and went from a 15" i7 w/8GB ram + SSD -> 13" MBA 1.86 w/4GB ram and have no regrets.

It all depends what you do daily. I just didn't need the umph in my i7 and love the size, lack thereof, in the MBA.

DarwinOSX
Jan 21, 2011, 05:27 PM
You want a laptop that will last you five years? Thats asking alot.

hbomb168
Jan 21, 2011, 10:10 PM
You want a laptop that will last you five years? Thats asking alot.

Is it? My iMac's still going strong almost 6 years later, and its a PowerPC.

2IS
Jan 21, 2011, 10:51 PM
This is a snappy Macbook Air. A Core i5 isn't a monster by any means, the core 2 duo isn't terribly different.

Now if you were coming from an alienware M17x Core i7 Extreme Edition with 8GB or RAM and dual SSDs in RAID 0....thats a big difference.

But as someone said, only the owner knows whats best for him/her.

An i5 destroys a C2D in terms of computing power. That's not even a question. The question is whats more beneficial, the processing power of the i5, or the speed of having an SSD. Most people will benefit more from the SSD.

DarwinOSX
Jan 22, 2011, 12:12 AM
The fluidity and smoothness of the MBA beats my i5 iMac every time. Even thought the i% destroys the C2D in benchmarks. The only time I notice a difference is video conversions and I don't do much of that. I've never used such a responsive GUI as with the MBA.


An i5 destroys a C2D in terms of computing power. That's not even a question. The question is whats more beneficial, the processing power of the i5, or the speed of having an SSD. Most people will benefit more from the SSD.

DarwinOSX
Jan 22, 2011, 12:14 AM
Is it? My iMac's still going strong almost 6 years later, and its a PowerPC.

Eh probably just me. I rarely keep a Mac longer than a year.

akdj
Jan 26, 2011, 04:19 PM
For the usage you've outlined, you're going to Really, REALLY enjoy the new 13" MBA. I've got a 17", 2010 i7 with 8gigs of RAM for video editing in the field when necessary...Just picked up my wife one of the 11" MBAs with the 1.4ghz proc and 4gigs RAM and I'm blown away by the performance of this little machine. Easily my favorite Mac ever built!

For every day tasks and for most every day people...this thing flat out hauls A$$! It's amazing....I've known and read about the SSD performance boost but I was ignorant. Forget raw processing speed...the solid state system put together in the MBA is all about speed and not wasting time. Color me amazed!

I'm not so sure I'll be able to hold back from buying one of my own:)

I suppose the only thing that would raise an alarm for me with the OP's question is the ability to play "the occasional game like SC2". For now, it's going to work. The MBA does have a discreet GPU which is cool. However, future games...as you're looking for a 5 year system, may be a lost cause. Buy the most RAM you can afford, as it's not user upgradable at this point. This will help in the future gaming realm.

But for your typical tasks...surfing, email, etc. You'll be flat out BLOWN away!

J

2IS
Jan 26, 2011, 09:31 PM
The fluidity and smoothness of the MBA beats my i5 iMac every time. Even thought the i% destroys the C2D in benchmarks. The only time I notice a difference is video conversions and I don't do much of that. I've never used such a responsive GUI as with the MBA.

The i5 destroys the C2D in everything, not just benchmarks. THe smoothness you feel isn't becuase of the processor, it's becuase of the SSD. I'm not comparing the MBA to the MBP, i'm comparing the i5 to a C2D.

BENJMNS
Jan 26, 2011, 10:03 PM
if u don't mind carrying around a brick for more nerd processing power, then get the 15er.

otherwise, for most real world folks who don't need squeeze out every ounce of juice from that lemon (or apple), the mbp's innovations takes the cake.

torbjoern
Jan 26, 2011, 10:28 PM
if u don't mind carrying around a brick for more nerd processing power, then get the 15er.

otherwise, for most real world folks who don't need squeeze out every ounce of juice from that lemon (or apple), the mbp's innovations takes the cake.

How about longevity of the computer? I would guess that a 15" MBP i5 outlasts a 13" MBA by far, considering OS updates requiring more RAM - which is not upgradeable on a MBA.

topmounter
Jan 28, 2011, 01:58 AM
I just replaced my ~3 year old 15" MBP with the ultimate 13" MBA and I'm very happy with the performance.

Can you really play Starcraft II on an MBA?

torbjoern
Jan 28, 2011, 03:21 AM
I'm in the market of a new Mac, and depending on what happens in the next upgrade, my choice will probably be as follows:


//Assuming all non mentioned specs are equal to or better than today

if (the MBA 13" gets a backlit keyboard)

I'll buy the MBA 13" fully loaded.

else if (MBP 13" continues && screen res >= 1440x900 && CPU > C2D)

I'll buy the MBP 13" and eventually install SSD later.

else
I'll buy the MBP 15".


It might seem totally irrational that the lack of one more or less cosmetic feature can cause me to go for a (nearly!) twice as heavy computer instead, but there is a rationale behind it after all; I cannot accept the removal of a backlit keyboard in a $1800-computer, nor can I accept less than 1440x900 in a 13" computer (MBA 13" has it, MBP 13" doesn't). C2D in the MBP 13" is blatantly absurd this long after ix has been released - and frankly, I'm not even sure if they will continue the MBP 13" or not.

When SSDs become cheap, I can install it in my MBP 15" later when I can afford it. According to my estimates, that will take shorter time (counting from MBP 15" purchase) than the lifespan of the MBA 13" anyway.

Psilocybin
Jan 28, 2011, 12:15 PM
Wow, all that for a backlit keyboard?


i'm in the market of a new mac, and depending on what happens in the next upgrade, my choice will probably be as follows:


//assuming all non mentioned specs are equal to or better than today

if (the mba 13" gets a backlit keyboard)

i'll buy the mba 13" fully loaded.

else if (mbp 13" continues && screen res >= 1440x900 && cpu > c2d)

i'll buy the mbp 13" and eventually install ssd later.

else
i'll buy the mbp 15".


it might seem totally irrational that the lack of one more or less cosmetic feature can cause me to go for a (nearly!) twice as heavy computer instead, but there is a rationale behind it after all; i cannot accept the removal of a backlit keyboard in a $1800-computer, nor can i accept less than 1440x900 in a 13" computer (mba 13" has it, mbp 13" doesn't). C2d in the mbp 13" is blatantly absurd this long after ix has been released - and frankly, i'm not even sure if they will continue the mbp 13" or not.

When ssds become cheap, i can install it in my mbp 15" later when i can afford it. According to my estimates, that will take shorter time (counting from mbp 15" purchase) than the lifespan of the mba 13" anyway.

bamf
Jan 28, 2011, 01:05 PM
I've got both machines, and I'll tell you that without an SSD the i5 will feel much slower than the MBA. Now, if you put a SSD into the i5 the "feel" of the computer will improve a ton.

So with both machines having a SSD, the real issue is weight, video card, and raw CPU power.

I've been really happy with the MBA as my travel machine, and my i5 as my "desktop replacement". It's really up to you what the important factors are for you, but you can't make a bad choice either way really.

torbjoern
Jan 28, 2011, 04:49 PM
Wow, all that for a backlit keyboard?

Yes, I simply don't want to let that go when I'm already paying through my nose for a computer.

monaarts
Jan 28, 2011, 04:52 PM
Go for the 13" Macbook Air. AMAZING! I had the 13" Macbook Pro and it was awesome but this runs loops around it and is a fraction of the size/weight! :-)



- Joe

torbjoern
Jan 28, 2011, 11:46 PM
Go for the 13" Macbook Air. AMAZING! I had the 13" Macbook Pro and it was awesome but this runs loops around it and is a fraction of the size/weight! :-)



- Joe

Wouldn't a MBP be equally fast and snappy with SSD installed?

Psilocybin
Jan 28, 2011, 11:56 PM
Wouldn't a MBP be equally fast and snappy with SSD installed?

Apple has a different firmware for the air which allows it to wake instantly and so on

torbjoern
Jan 29, 2011, 12:07 AM
Apple has a different firmware for the air which allows it to wake instantly and so on

Ok, but how to what extent is MBA better than MBP with SSD when it comes to booting, shutdown and launching heavy applications?

I'm not going to ask you about number-crunching, as I already know that MBP is superior on that point, I just wonder to what extent disk-intensive tasks go faster on the MBA than on a MBP with SSD installed. I haven't seen any such tests on YouTube, only how (obviously) MBA beats HDD-MBP and (even more obviously) SSD-MBP beats HDD-MBP. Makes me wonder if Apple has paid them to shut up about the answer to my question above, or if I'm really the only one who cares.