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View Full Version : MBA vs 13" MBP...is the MBA worth it?




thespeakerbox
Aug 17, 2009, 09:46 AM
MBA - Lighter (only 1.5 lbs), no ethernet (gigabit may be an issue), worse screen.

MBP 13" - slower HDD (comparing to SSD), A tab bulkier, glossy screen , has glass touchpad

I'm stuck between the two. The air just seems more dated than the mbp.



zedsdead
Aug 17, 2009, 09:53 AM
The Macbook Air is currently not realiable as there are far too many widespread issues (Line, Hinge, Wi-Fi, etc...).

The Macbook Pro's have a far better battery, much better specs, and the ability to upgrade.

As far as the SSD goes, you can customize the 13" Macbook Pro with one for about the same price, or even go for the 256 SSD and double your space. I highly recommend it for the speed improvements.

The glass trackpad is a huge improvement over every other trackpad (not to mention the button on the Macbook Air has a tendency to scratch the bezel around the iSight camera, yet another issue).

puma1552
Aug 17, 2009, 10:01 AM
Allow my buyer's remorse to kick in and tell you don't under any circumstance waste your time with a base MBA if you go the MBA route.

4200 RPM iPod Classic hard disk==FAIL (figuratively)

coolbreeze
Aug 17, 2009, 10:29 AM
The Macbook Air is currently not realiable as there are far too many widespread issues (Line, Hinge, Wi-Fi, etc...).



My rev.C has none of these 'widespread' issues. Maybe I'm the luckiest guy alive, but my machine is perfect. Yes, there is an unknown regarding the long term test for the hinge, but as I understand it was redesigned in the rev.C model.

Whatever the case, I love my Air. Hooked to my 24" ACD, it does everything my 17" uMBP did.

entatlrg
Aug 17, 2009, 11:20 AM
I've had my MacBook Air 8 months now, lot's of banging around and carrying all over the place ... I just got back from a week in the Muskoka's where my Air was used at the cottage, on the deck, in the boat .... it's been banged, bumped, and used, (not abused) and it's works GREAT !!!

I have a newer 15" MBP as well, the latest model with 256ssd hard drive ... I'm typing this on my Air sitting on my couch .... my 15" MacBook Pro is sitting on my desk powered off and closed... haven't used it for quite a few days. Reason being, the MBA is so much more convenient, easy and fun to use whether on a desk or away ... it's thin, light and imo the best Mac to date to type on and use ....

So be careful reading around here, 'many' opinions are from people who've never owned an MBA or from those that own a first gen and/or a 4200 HD model, in which case I most likely would of been disappointed too.

The MBA as it is now I would bet a large sum if you give to 100 people who slam it and claim it's 'not powerful enough' or riddled with problems... I'd bet 80 of the 100 people wouldn't give it up ....

The MBA is an EXCELLENT machine ... use it for what it's for and you'll never have problems ... compare it to MBP's all day or expecting desktop performance is only fooling yourself.

ayeying
Aug 17, 2009, 11:25 AM
The Macbook Air is currently not realiable as there are far too many widespread issues (Line, Hinge, Wi-Fi, etc...).

No issues with that here either. I must be lucky too. Imma go buy a lottery ticket.

NC MacGuy
Aug 17, 2009, 11:26 AM
MBA worse screen? Matter of opinion but I like it better than the MBP glassy gloss. It's also easier to get a decent color profile on.

Haven't used my USB-Enet adapter yet w. the MBA. Pretty much find a wireless signal anywhere if you really want one.

I've got a Rev. A HDD & a Rev. B SSD and the difference is night and day. The SSD makes the MBA for me. NVidia graphics doesn't hurt much either.;)

Get what you think you'll like. If you go into a purchase second guessing it'll take a lot to keep you happy after that box is open and you get your first scratch.

muronero
Aug 17, 2009, 12:40 PM
i did face the same choice.... i chose the mba ssd.... and i definitely have no regrets... It's snappy, ultralight, i like the display ( i do hate the bloody glass too) and (personal taste) is better looking than the mbp.... it is a real joy to use.... so far the best apple notebook i've ever used.

M.

dorkygeek
Aug 17, 2009, 03:58 PM
MacBook Pro.

Having impulse-purchased the original MBA, I was initially delighted with its sleekness and feel. I became progressively frustrated with the lack of ports and performance. Ended up recently eBaying it and bought the 13" MBP. It absolutely the most impressive/practical/sexy Mac I have ever owned. Skip the buyer regret and get the 13" MBP.

madmaxmedia
Aug 17, 2009, 04:09 PM
Coming from a 15" MBP, I find the 13" MBP is very portable. I can see the allure of the MBA, but I think the 13 MBP hits the sweet spot in terms of performance, price, and portability. Those who are really on-the-go and place a higher priority on portability may of course prefer the MBA, for me all 3 factors are probably equally important.

The improvements from the old 13 unibody MB were key for me- extra battery life and Firewire. I don't really care about the trackpad either way, the SD slot is nice but only a small perk for me.

BigB82
Aug 17, 2009, 05:02 PM
I had the unibody 13 inch base model side by side with by rev C last night....the black is blacker on the air the colors are duller on the unibody....same brightness everything its weird...i went on netflix the red seemed more pure on the air but the whites look way better on unibody macbook

here is something super weird wen i turn on the webcam in my room under regular lighting, on the air it looks dark as hell n i need to turn my lamp on n sit facing it just to look regular in terms of lighting...

Ironically i decided to turn both cams on side by side n the cam on the umb was a WORLD of a difference in the same regular lighting without the lamp i appeared regular as i should....why is that?

zedsdead
Aug 17, 2009, 05:06 PM
I had the unibody 13 inch base model side by side with by rev C last night....the black is blacker on the air the colors are duller on the unibody....same brightness everything its weird...i went on netflix the red seemed more pure on the air but the whites look way better on unibody macbook

here is something super weird wen i turn on the webcam in my room under regular lighting, on the air it looks dark as hell n i need to turn my lamp on n sit facing it just to look regular in terms of lighting...

Ironically i decided to turn both cams on side by side n the cam on the umb was a WORLD of a difference in the same regular lighting without the lamp i appeared regular as i should....why is that?

The whites are duller on the Air because of the line issue.

mrgossett
Aug 17, 2009, 05:27 PM
I can't compare the Air to the MacBook Pro 13" as I have never used the MBP. I just received my Apple refurb MBA 1.86 SSD last week, and I am totally happy with it, coming from my 13" Blackbook (which is still a nice machine). I do NOT have the screen line issue, and the display is beautiful. The SSD makes the MBA really fast and responsive. My startup time is less than 15 seconds. I can see someone preferring a MBP if it's their only Mac because of the extra drive space, SuperDrive, and ports. But if you already have another Mac as I do (Mac Pro), the MBA is the perfect companion.

BigB82
Aug 17, 2009, 05:40 PM
still curious about the camera difference

NC MacGuy
Aug 17, 2009, 07:31 PM
still curious about the camera difference

The iSight in the Air is not nearly as good a camera as in the MBP or even MB for that matter. I'm not sure of M pixels or specs but it was discussed & dissected when it was first discovered. I looked on Apples site and get references to the Air having a .3M pixel vs. the MB & MBP's having a 1.3 M pixel cameras.

dhc921
Aug 18, 2009, 12:08 PM
MBA - Lighter (only 1.5 lbs), no ethernet (gigabit may be an issue), worse screen.

MBP 13" - slower HDD (comparing to SSD), A tab bulkier, glossy screen , has glass touchpad

I'm stuck between the two. The air just seems more dated than the mbp.

I had the new MBP 13" for 2 weeks before I returned it and got the AIR rev. C.
MBP 13" is a very nice laptop, just a bit heavy for me. I am a sales professional and need the light weight to travel between meetings. MBA fits this application very well. I love MBA and it's my primary computer now.

Get the air only for the weight, otherwise, MBP is a better choice for much cheaper.

jimboutilier
Aug 22, 2009, 05:07 PM
The MBA is an incredibly thin, light, portable, well built machine that is a pleasure to use all day long. Its the kind of machine that brings a smile to your face whenever you pick it up or use it on the go. The MBA is by far the most enjoyable laptop I've ever used and I've had plenty of high end ultra portable and thin and light laptops. So if you can live within its limitations - GO FOR IT!

As to limitations
a) It has a modest but capable CPU and Graphics so make sure its powerful enough for the things you do.
b) It has few ports and no built in optical drive so factor in a USB hub, set of graphics and Ethernet dongles, and possibly an external optical drive if you can't live with what's build in. These things can significantly impact the machine's portability and enjoyment if you frequently need them.
c) 2gb Ram is enough for most pure MAC applications but is hard to live with if you deal with virtual machines or high end multimedia processing.
d) 128gb of storage is rough if you include much of a movie and music selection in addition to all of your applications and work products.

A 13" MB/MBP has numbers that only seem a bit thicker and heavier but they are a whole different user experience, and do not feel near as portable. I've transitioned to a 13" MB for now because it can be my only machine (4gb RAM and 320gb HD), but its not the pleasure to use that the MBA was. Its a fine machine but it just doesn't give you that smile using it.

If the next MBA includes a processor in the 2.3ghz range, 4gb ram, and at least a 256gb SSD with decent write speeds I know I'll be heading back in that direction.

Good luck in your search!

ayeying
Aug 22, 2009, 05:19 PM
If the next MBA includes a processor in the 2.3ghz range, 4gb ram, and at least a 256gb SSD with decent write speeds I know I'll be heading back in that direction.

Good luck in your search!

My SSD gives me a maximum of 82 MB/s write speed... is that "decent"?... I mean, coming from 2x RAID-0 7200RPM drives in a Mac Pro only giving me 40 MB/s for some reason..

orpheus1120
Aug 22, 2009, 05:33 PM
See my sig for my macs.

Still I would love a MBA. Not that I can't afford it, but I fear I'll neglect all my other macs once I get it.

I had carried a MBA around before, and thus I know the weight difference between a 13" mbp and a MBA. 1.5lbs is alot.

So far the rev. Cs that I saw are honestly quite perfect. Most have very very faint or no lines at all. Without being overly anal, I would say I can live with all of them. The only drawback is the SATA-LIF connector for the SSD because I would really want to install an X-25m in it.

jimboutilier
Aug 22, 2009, 05:52 PM
My SSD gives me a maximum of 82 MB/s write speed... is that "decent"?... I mean, coming from 2x RAID-0 7200RPM drives in a Mac Pro only giving me 40 MB/s for some reason..

A lot of things factor in to HD performance (including raw specs of the various drives, controllers, along with how well they are matched in the system along with CPU power, bus speed, memory speed etc).

While performance in the 80mb/sec range is far better than you'd get out of any 1.8" HDD option on a MBA, I would call it modest in comparison to what a decent SATA III 7200RPM notebook drive is capable of in a MB/MBP.

Current SSDs that Apple is using read faster but write slower than a typical notebook HDD. Thats a good trade off for most usage patterns. I'll call it decent when both read and write speeds meet or exceed a good notebook HDD.

uberamd
Aug 23, 2009, 10:23 AM
I love my Macbook Air. Works great, and has enough power to handle most everything. No display lines, no wifi issues, no hinge issues, it just works.

MacModMachine
Aug 23, 2009, 10:54 AM
A lot of things factor in to HD performance (including raw specs of the various drives, controllers, along with how well they are matched in the system along with CPU power, bus speed, memory speed etc).

While performance in the 80mb/sec range is far better than you'd get out of any 1.8" HDD option on a MBA, I would call it modest in comparison to what a decent SATA III 7200RPM notebook drive is capable of in a MB/MBP.

Current SSDs that Apple is using read faster but write slower than a typical notebook HDD. Thats a good trade off for most usage patterns. I'll call it decent when both read and write speeds meet or exceed a good notebook HDD.

ummm....a high end 7200 rpm notebook drive cannot do 80mb sec....unless you have some new improved drive.

even if it could...the random reads and write are non exsistent in the 7200 rpm...the ssd blows them out of the water,

the screen on the air is far better then the 13" pro's i have seen.

i have just ordered my runcore IV 128gb ssd for my air. gonna be a sweet upgrade :D

ayeying
Aug 23, 2009, 11:43 AM
A lot of things factor in to HD performance (including raw specs of the various drives, controllers, along with how well they are matched in the system along with CPU power, bus speed, memory speed etc).

While performance in the 80mb/sec range is far better than you'd get out of any 1.8" HDD option on a MBA, I would call it modest in comparison to what a decent SATA III 7200RPM notebook drive is capable of in a MB/MBP.

Current SSDs that Apple is using read faster but write slower than a typical notebook HDD. Thats a good trade off for most usage patterns. I'll call it decent when both read and write speeds meet or exceed a good notebook HDD.

Uh.. I just compared a 8-Core Mac Pro to a MacBook Air... 2x 7200RPM, 3.5" Maxtor 1TB drives in RAID-0, for some reason, has a slower maximum write speed than my 128GB Samsung SSD in the MacBook Air.

There is no SATAIII drives for a notebook yet, only SATAII. SATAII @ 7200RPM probably give you about 40ish MB/s max speed, no where close to an SSD, regardless on how crappy the SSD is.

SSDs will be faster than any 7200RPM drives, except on a few items. Write and Read are not the two things that any 7200RPM drives can beat a decent SSD.

jimboutilier
Aug 23, 2009, 12:53 PM
Uh.. I just compared a 8-Core Mac Pro to a MacBook Air... 2x 7200RPM, 3.5" Maxtor 1TB drives in RAID-0, for some reason, has a slower maximum write speed than my 128GB Samsung SSD in the MacBook Air.

There is no SATAIII drives for a notebook yet, only SATAII. SATAII @ 7200RPM probably give you about 40ish MB/s max speed, no where close to an SSD, regardless on how crappy the SSD is.

SSDs will be faster than any 7200RPM drives, except on a few items. Write and Read are not the two things that any 7200RPM drives can beat a decent SSD.

I'm afraid I would be profoundly disappointed if I had a MP on RAID0 with a 40mb/s write speed. Software RAID perhaps?

Sorry, I misspoke - I meant Sata300 (as opposed to Sata150). I don't consider my Hitachi 7K320 in my 13"MB particularly fast (as I've seen Xbench results much better than I get with other drives) but I get over 60mb/s write speeds with this drive on my machine.

And I agree that SSD's are rapidly overtaking HDDs in performance. However the RevA MBA had an SSD what was slower read and write than mainstream notebook HDD's (although it was faster than the horrid little 1.8" ipod drive in it). The SSD's in the MBA RevB had faster reads but slower writes than mainstream notebook drives. And now I guess the RevC SSD's in current use can outperform some mainstream notebook drives in both reads and writes.

Thats good news for me as I'd love to get back to a MBA form factor. Come on 4gb RAM and 256gb SSD!

Scottsdale
Aug 23, 2009, 01:08 PM
Uh.. I just compared a 8-Core Mac Pro to a MacBook Air... 2x 7200RPM, 3.5" Maxtor 1TB drives in RAID-0, for some reason, has a slower maximum write speed than my 128GB Samsung SSD in the MacBook Air.

There is no SATAIII drives for a notebook yet, only SATAII. SATAII @ 7200RPM probably give you about 40ish MB/s max speed, no where close to an SSD, regardless on how crappy the SSD is.

SSDs will be faster than any 7200RPM drives, except on a few items. Write and Read are not the two things that any 7200RPM drives can beat a decent SSD.

I read an article about Intel's SSDs a few months ago. It basically said a "normal" user would see five times read speeds with SSD over the best 7200rpms. That's "average" or typical use like turn on, open apps, open files and etc. However within three to four years SSDs will cost less than double HDDs. At that time, both read and write speeds will triple today's SSDs.

It made me wonder then, which was not discussed in the article, what type of drive controller would be capable of that sort of throughput. I mean an Intel SSD would easily saturate SATA which had extremely frustrated some new MBP buyers who were not getting SATA-II capability with their new MBPs.

That sort of speed would be limited by SATA-II. So is SATA-III the next advancement? What sort of bandwidth does it allow? When would that technology be available for notebooks?

I am really most looking forward to greatly improved SSDs. They will speed up computers far more than CPUs or more RAM. I think SSDs have the potential to speed up computers more than any other component. Macs are really going to be greatly superior three or four years from now with all of the enhancements like fast SSDs, OpenCL, Grand Central Dispatch, and etc. Software will take advantage of multiple cores and GPUs. And SSDs will reduce the huge bottleneck over HDDs.

I remember the first time I used a MacBook Air with Nvidia GPU and SSD. It really seemed like I was working on a Mac Pro. The thing booted in 20 seconds, apps opened instantly, and large files opened instantly. I was truly amazed, as I had never used even a MBP with 7200 rpm with anywhere near that kind of speed.

It's a great time to be a Mac lover. I cannot wait for Snow Leopard and then the next MacBook Air.

MacModMachine
Aug 23, 2009, 01:45 PM
I read an article about Intel's SSDs a few months ago. It basically said a "normal" user would see five times read speeds with SSD over the best 7200rpms. That's "average" or typical use like turn on, open apps, open files and etc. However within three to four years SSDs will cost less than double HDDs. At that time, both read and write speeds will triple today's SSDs.

It made me wonder then, which was not discussed in the article, what type of drive controller would be capable of that sort of throughput. I mean an Intel SSD would easily saturate SATA which had extremely frustrated some new MBP buyers who were not getting SATA-II capability with their new MBPs.

That sort of speed would be limited by SATA-II. So is SATA-III the next advancement? What sort of bandwidth does it allow? When would that technology be available for notebooks?

I am really most looking forward to greatly improved SSDs. They will speed up computers far more than CPUs or more RAM. I think SSDs have the potential to speed up computers more than any other component. Macs are really going to be greatly superior three or four years from now with all of the enhancements like fast SSDs, OpenCL, Grand Central Dispatch, and etc. Software will take advantage of multiple cores and GPUs. And SSDs will reduce the huge bottleneck over HDDs.

I remember the first time I used a MacBook Air with Nvidia GPU and SSD. It really seemed like I was working on a Mac Pro. The thing booted in 20 seconds, apps opened instantly, and large files opened instantly. I was truly amazed, as I had never used even a MBP with 7200 rpm with anywhere near that kind of speed.

It's a great time to be a Mac lover. I cannot wait for Snow Leopard and then the next MacBook Air.

you and me both....

i have 2500 aside for the new macbook air....and i cannot wait for a final snow leopard :D

adamjackson
Aug 23, 2009, 01:47 PM
I only read the first three posts of this article but I've had this MacBook Air for a week now and it's the best notebook I've owned.

There are ZERO issues with it and it's extremely fast at all of the basic tasks

(2.13Ghz w/ 128GB SSD)