2011 to 2012 upgrade or Thunderbolt?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by 356a, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2008
    My first post after years of lurking...

    I do light photo work (using Aperture or Photoshop with large RAW files) and will do occasional video editing (AVCHD). I realize having a fast external drive for files is considered important or necessary for this kind of work.

    I'm trying to decide between two alternatives:
    Keep my 2011 11" MBA i7/4GB/256GB, and add a Thunderbolt drive (probably Lacie Little Big Disk)
    Sell my 2011 and buy a 2012 11" MBA i7/8GB/128GB and use a USB 3 external drive.

    Both alternatives have similar costs (roughly). The 2011 has only USB 2, so Thunderbolt is the only fast external choice. A 2012 lets me use a USB 3 drive which is considerably cheaper (and a little slower) than Thunderbolt, but at the same time has double the RAM and better video performance.

    Portability is a concern, that's why I have confined the alternatives to 11" MBA only.

    Which would you choose? Alternatives (other than a different computer or spending lots more money) I haven't considered?
  2. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    Chances are your 2011 will fetch about $850-900 (net of fees) on eBay. Are you sure the options would be about the same? I would guess it would be easier to go with a Thunderbolt drive. A Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter is $100, the cable is $50, and you can plug in any drive you want into the SATA port (though there will be a gap since it's designed for an encased drive). There is also the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt drive.


    If you do decide to go the 2012 route, you can save $150 by getting the i5. The 2012 i5 is roughly as fast as the 2011 i7. It's about 100MHz slower all around, but it is partly offset by a slightly enhanced microarchitecture.
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2008
    Thanks for the input.

    One more criteria I should have mentioned - any Thunderbolt solution will have to provide a pass-through as I use an external monitor. Neither the Buffalo nor the $100 Seagate adapter can do this.

    I would sell the 2011 locally, and would expect ~$1000. Accessories are more expensive here in Canada, which partly explains why the two options are not far apart cost-wise. For sake of argument, assume the two options have similar net costs.
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2012
    St. Louis, MO
    I would go for the i5/8GB/256GB. The performance differences between the i5 and i7 is going to be minimal. Doubling the SSD is going to be a HUGE difference.

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