13" MBA Useable Life

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by pexel, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    #1
    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?
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2010
    #2
    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...)
     
  3. macrumors 68040

    cluthz

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Location:
    Norway
    #3

    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.
     
  4. macrumors member

    Agnoslibertine

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2011
    Location:
    Sweden
    #4
    I have some doubt that there is or will ever be a computer that will last 4 years.
     
  5. macrumors demi-god

    JHUFrank

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2010
    #5
    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.
     
  6. macrumors 68000

    bobr1952

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, FL
    #6
    Even my 2008 iMac is feeling a little hurt. :(
     
  7. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    #7
    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.
     
  8. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Location:
    Singapore
    #8
    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
     
  9. macrumors 68040

    cluthz

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Location:
    Norway
    #9
    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.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    johnhurley

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2011
    #10
    I have a Toshiba laptop from 1999 still working just fine for my youngest daughter. Big old 17 inch monster screen ...
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    MultiFinder17

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    Tampa, Florida
    #11
    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 :)
     
  12. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #12
    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.
     
  13. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
    Location:
    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    #13
    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.
     
  14. macrumors 604

    ZBoater

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida
    #14
    My Dell XPS Gen2 would disagree with you... :D
     
  15. macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #15
    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.
     
  16. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    #16
    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.
     
  17. macrumors 6502a

    GekkePrutser

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #17
    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 :) 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.
     
  18. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    #18
    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
     
  19. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
    #19
    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.
     
  20. macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #20
    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.
     
  21. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    New York
    #21
    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.
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    3dflyboy1

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Location:
    California, USA
    #22
    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)
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    #23
    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.
     
  24. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    New York
    #24
    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.
     
  25. macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #25
    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?" "..."
     

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