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pexel
Oct 7, 2011, 12:31 PM
I find myself with a dilemma of choosing a 13" MBA or 15" MBP to replace a early 2008 15" MBP.

I typically keep my machines for 3 - 4 years, and don't particularly travel much with my laptop. It's my primary machine and used mostly around the house and sometimes with an external monitor.

If I were to choose a 13" MBA would it last a good 4 years or am I better choosing a higher end 15" MBP to ensure further longevity?



martinm0
Oct 7, 2011, 02:15 PM
You're always better off buying the best technology you can if you intend on keeping it for several years. The base 15" MBP is a great machine and will offer enough power to be useful for the next several years.

I personally sold my 15" MBP for the base 2011 13" MBA and am very happy. I have an iMac for really intensive programs, and mostly needed portability in a laptop, hence the MBA. (I also switch up machines every year or two, so I specifically got the base 128GB SSD knowing that I will just sell the machine in another year or so).

I think you have to determine your needs. If your needs are met by the MBA, its more money saved, and that's good (assuming you go base 128GB SSD). If you're unsure if it meets all your needs, and the MBP definitely meets your needs), consider the MBP as it is a beast with the quad CPU (plus the screen is nicer than the MBA).

I do think that 4GB RAM in the MBA's is the biggest limiting factor for longterm use. (Also, consider the fact that the 2011 MBA's CPU's are as fast as the MPB's from just 2 years ago...)

cluthz
Oct 8, 2011, 12:14 AM
I do think that 4GB RAM in the MBA's is the biggest limiting factor for longterm use. (Also, consider the fact that the 2011 MBA's CPU's are as fast as the MPB's from just 2 years ago...)


With the SSD 4GB RAM goes a long way.
I replaced my 2010 i5 MacBook Pro 15 inch with a 2011 MBA.

I have the 1.7GHz i5 MBA 13 inch and in some CPU benchmarks it's actually faster than the 2.4GHz 2010 i5.

Cinebench is about the same and GeekBench is actually sightly faster on the Air.

The 2011 MBA runs circles around the 2009 MBP 15 inch (2.8/3.06GHz C2D).
The 3GHz C2D scores a bit over 4.5k in geek bench where as the 2011 MBA scores 5.9k. That is the same my desktop 3.67Ghz C2D scores.

I had a Momentus xt hybrid SSD in the MBP, and the MBA feels just much more snappier, except when it comes to heavy graphics. The IntelHD is still no match for the GT330M in 2010 MBP tho.

Agnoslibertine
Oct 8, 2011, 04:12 AM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

JHUFrank
Oct 8, 2011, 07:08 AM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

You just hurt my G4 733 Digital Audio PowerMac's last feeling. Yeah, he has been around for about 10 years and is still a working computer for my kids.

bobr1952
Oct 8, 2011, 07:10 AM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

Even my 2008 iMac is feeling a little hurt. :(

RUGERMAN
Oct 8, 2011, 08:15 AM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

Every Mac I've had lasted more than 4 years, Mac Classic, II si, II ci,1st Imac, Emac and now Imac 3.06 21.5.

Abazigal
Oct 8, 2011, 09:25 AM
My earlier non-mac computers also lasted 4 years (just that they slowed down to the point of being painful to even switch on). In fact, my previous hp computer was still going strong when I made the jump (not withstanding the fact it took like 10 minutes to switch on, load everything and connect to the internet). :p

cluthz
Oct 8, 2011, 09:38 AM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

The 2007 MBP is still a good machine. 2.2/2.4/2.5Ghz C2D nvidia 8600mGT and can hold 8GB RAM. 1440x900 res with LED backlight. If you add an SSD too it will be a pretty decent machine! Unfortunately mine died a year ago, but I still know several people that uses those.

johnhurley
Oct 8, 2011, 09:41 AM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

I have a Toshiba laptop from 1999 still working just fine for my youngest daughter. Big old 17 inch monster screen ...

MultiFinder17
Oct 8, 2011, 05:37 PM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

Tell that to my G4/500DP - the big guy served as my main desktop until early 2009 when it was finally replaced by my current desktop, a Mac mini. The big guy was 9 when replaced, and still serves me well as a nice little server :)

kvnkvnkvn
Oct 8, 2011, 08:21 PM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

I have had computers last over 4 years from a variety of manufacturers and or brands. If I listed some of them you would be shocked.

reputationZed
Oct 8, 2011, 09:14 PM
I find myself with a dilemma of choosing a 13" MBA or 15" MBP to replace a early 2008 15" MBP.

I typically keep my machines for 3 - 4 years, and don't particularly travel much with my laptop. It's my primary machine and used mostly around the house and sometimes with an external monitor.

If I were to choose a 13" MBA would it last a good 4 years or am I better choosing a higher end 15" MBP to ensure further longevity?

I'm not sure I understand the dilemma. You've already told us you have a history of replacing your computer every 3 to 4 years. I'd say that's a fairly typical cycle. If you've purchased at the high end in the past and found it started feeling a bit long in the tooth after three years then you should probably go with a high end MBP. If your previous computers have been a couple of clicks down the performance scale, but have meet your needs for three or four years, than it's likely the MBA will still be meeting your needs in 2015. I'm assuming of course that the 3-4 year cycle has been driven by how well your current computer meets or does not meet your needs rather than an arbitrary timeline. Some people are married to time lines, ie. they buy a new car every two years, but I think that most of us make these kind of purchases only when we feel we have gotten our money's worth of what we already own and see value in replacing with something new. In other words it may seem like your buying computers on a 3-4 year timeline but what you may have actually been doing is replacing your computer when software, services, etc. requires something a bit mor powerful.

Hopefully this made some sense, but I'm to drunk to judge that myself.


On a side note have you ever listened to the Build and Analyze pod cast (5by5 network, it's on iTunes). Some where around show 44 Niko Arment, the developer of InstaPaper talks about some of the downsides he found with the high end 15" MBA.

ZBoater
Oct 8, 2011, 09:51 PM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

My Dell XPS Gen2 would disagree with you... :D

notjustjay
Oct 8, 2011, 10:06 PM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

Well, as many posters above have illustrated, this is clearly subjective. It all depends on what you mean by having a computer "last". Physically, spinning platter hard drives may fail and need replacing at some point. Batteries will also eventually need to be replaced. There is also obviously the question of whether a computer can still keep up with the current versions of the OS and the software you like to use.

My 12" PowerBook G4 lasted about 5 years; I bought it in 2003 and finally sold it in 2008 after replacing it with a new 15" MacBook Pro. It was perfectly good as my everyday computer but the transition to Intel meant that I was starting to miss out on the latest OS (Leopard) and software. Leopard actually installed fine on it but it was a bit too sluggish for my liking, so I reinstalled Tiger. The original 40 gig hard drive failed and I replaced it shortly before selling. The battery, which originally lasted 5 hours, was also down to about 45 minutes a charge.

Apart from this, it physically ran fine, and could probably have lasted much longer, I just chose to "trade it in" for a faster model.

I'm still using that 15" MacBook Pro which makes it about 4 years old now, and it's still going strong. I have since upgraded the RAM and replaced the stock 120 gig HD with a larger one.

In my experience, the first sign that something's "old" about your computer is your hard drive will either get filled up and feel cramped, or it will simply fail. Either way, replacing the HD with a much larger one will buy you a few extra years.

That's actually the only thing stopping me from buying a 13" MBA right now -- I'm just not sure I can go back to only have 128 gigs of on-board storage.

pexel
Oct 9, 2011, 08:19 AM
I'm assuming of course that the 3-4 year cycle has been driven by how well your current computer meets or does not meet your needs rather than an arbitrary timeline.


That's exactly right. My 2008 MBP is still chugging along, albeit at a rather slow pace. This machine could easily last another 9 months. I'm thinking I could wait it out and see what Ivy Bridge MBP's are released in Q1/Q2 and if the redesigned MBP eventuates.

GekkePrutser
Oct 10, 2011, 07:18 AM
In my experience, the first sign that something's "old" about your computer is your hard drive will either get filled up and feel cramped, or it will simply fail. Either way, replacing the HD with a much larger one will buy you a few extra years.


For me the HD always gets filled up in the first week (no matter what size it is) and stays hovering around 95% with me scavenging for spare space every time I need to install something. Thank you, Disk Inventory X (http://www.derlien.com/) :) But I am notoriously messy. In work it takes about 2 weeks to fill my desktop up so it's completely covered in icons :)

For me the biggest sign of a computer getting old is the 'Wow this is slow' feeling. I'm just getting that with my G4 mini now :) Especially when trying to play the odd flash video. It's just impossible these days.

But I totally agree, Macs tend to last LONG. I also find the resale value after 3 years a bit disappointing so I tend to either upsell every 1-2 years for maximum resale value, or just to keep them around as a secondary box until they die.

MacGeekAZ
Oct 10, 2011, 11:57 AM
I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.

I am typing this on a 6-7-year-old iBook G4. (I am getting ready to buy a refurbished MacBook in a few weeks; trying to figure out which model to get.)

We tend to keep our computers until they just can't keep up with new software, etc.

Wendi

marrzie
Oct 10, 2011, 12:05 PM
I find myself with a dilemma of choosing a 13" MBA or 15" MBP to replace a early 2008 15" MBP.

I typically keep my machines for 3 - 4 years, and don't particularly travel much with my laptop. It's my primary machine and used mostly around the house and sometimes with an external monitor.

If I were to choose a 13" MBA would it last a good 4 years or am I better choosing a higher end 15" MBP to ensure further longevity?

I know you're asking about the macbook air but I want to talk about my dell instead. Cool wit you?
My 2005 dell still turns on and off like a champ. It even lets me check email some days. Might take 5 minutes to startup and 90 seconds to load the email but hey it works. I can even encode a 30 minute video using handbrake to format it to iPad as long as I don't mind waiting 7 hours or so.
I hope this answers your question.

notjustjay
Oct 11, 2011, 01:19 PM
I know you're asking about the macbook air but I want to talk about my dell instead. Cool wit you?
My 2005 dell still turns on and off like a champ. It even lets me check email some days. Might take 5 minutes to startup and 90 seconds to load the email but hey it works. I can even encode a 30 minute video using handbrake to format it to iPad as long as I don't mind waiting 7 hours or so.
I hope this answers your question.

Hahaha, yes, this describes it perfectly. I also have a few PCs that, due to "progress", have become insufferably slow and nearly unusable. This will eventually happen to a Mac as well, but it seems to happen slower. I would count on a typical Mac giving you at least 5 years of "pretty usable" service followed by, if you choose to keep it that long, several more years of "good for basic stuff".

I remember a few years ago trying to convince my dad to check out a Mac Mini or iMac when he was looking for a desktop machine. He scowled and howled about the expensive prices so I let it drop. He bought one of those $299 Dell specials instead. Followed by an Acer. Followed by another Dell. Last week he called and asked if I was aware of any good deals on desktops, as he needed to buy one. "Do you realize this will be the fourth PC you've bought in as many years?" I asked him. "Yes, but they always get too slow!" he complained.

kustardking
Oct 11, 2011, 02:23 PM
Hahaha, yes, this describes it perfectly. I also have a few PCs that, due to "progress", have become insufferably slow and nearly unusable. This will eventually happen to a Mac as well, but it seems to happen slower. I would count on a typical Mac giving you at least 5 years of "pretty usable" service followed by, if you choose to keep it that long, several more years of "good for basic stuff".

I remember a few years ago trying to convince my dad to check out a Mac Mini or iMac when he was looking for a desktop machine. He scowled and howled about the expensive prices so I let it drop. He bought one of those $299 Dell specials instead. Followed by an Acer. Followed by another Dell. Last week he called and asked if I was aware of any good deals on desktops, as he needed to buy one. "Do you realize this will be the fourth PC you've bought in as many years?" I asked him. "Yes, but they always get too slow!" he complained.

This is a slightly tech-aware answer, but you can keep old machines performing satisfactorily for a couple of years if you're willing to reimage the OS. Before I install software, I make an image of the OS partition, then install and configure the software as I like, then make another image. I then use the computer for however long (usually a month or so) before the next software install. When it's time for the next install, I reimage back to the last fresh software install to strip out any gunk that's built up (temp files, Internet residue). This way, the OS drive never has more garbage on it than since the last reimage, and is never slower than the fresh software would otherwise make it.

For Windows I use Image For Windows, for OS X I use Time Machine and SuperDuper.

3dflyboy1
Oct 11, 2011, 03:58 PM
Hmmm. As a more specific question, how long would the battery in an 11" air last before the health gets too low to hold enough charge? (say 7 cycles/week)

DesignerOnMac
Oct 11, 2011, 05:02 PM
That's exactly right. My 2008 MBP is still chugging along, albeit at a rather slow pace. This machine could easily last another 9 months. I'm thinking I could wait it out and see what Ivy Bridge MBP's are released in Q1/Q2 and if the redesigned MBP eventuates.

My MacBookPro which is an early 2006 model is still going strong. Battery isn't doing well though, but it is my second battery. Other than that is works great on any task I ask it to do.

kustardking
Oct 11, 2011, 11:44 PM
My MacBookPro which is an early 2006 model is still going strong. Battery isn't doing well though, but it is my second battery. Other than that is works great on any task I ask it to do.

I think it's important to describe and quantify the tasks that are the decision point. For example, I dumped my 2.4GHz 2008 Macbook Pro a year ago because I was waiting 3 minutes for a compile that takes 30 seconds with my new 1.8GHz MBA. Since my pattern is compile-test-repeat I get a lot more done and I'm less distracted.

That is, "any task I ask it to do" is not informative enough to help a judgement.

notjustjay
Oct 13, 2011, 11:13 AM
This is a slightly tech-aware answer, but you can keep old machines performing satisfactorily for a couple of years if you're willing to reimage the OS.

I used to tell my dad to try to do this, but it always seemd to result in more work for me. "How come after I reinstalled my Windows, my <...> doesn't work anymore?" "Did you try updating the drivers?" "What are those?" "..."

NorCalLights
Oct 13, 2011, 12:02 PM
If I were to choose a 13" MBA would it last a good 4 years or am I better choosing a higher end 15" MBP to ensure further longevity?

I have absolutely no doubt that a MBA will serve you well for 4-5 years, as long as you don't expect it to play the fanciest games available 5 years from now.

I have never kept an Apple laptop for *less* than 5 years, and I see no reason that my MBA will be any different. The only thing that "breaks" is the battery, but you're going to have that problem on any laptop.

Actually, now that I think about it, the battery on an Air might actually last you longer. Since the battery holds a charge for so long (I've often come back to my laptop after a week of not using it, and the battery is still almost full) I don't charge it nearly as much as the 15" MBP it replaced.