$300 for the 256GB option....smart or dumb move?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by MarlboroLite, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. MarlboroLite, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2007
    the 13 colonies
    So it appears the one and only difference between the $1299 and $1599 13 inch models is the 256GB option in hard drive--(I'm not interested in the $100 i7 upgrade)--now I have read that 3rd party flash hard drives are a possibility in the MacBook Air...and yet those very same upgrades which are sold in limited retailers like OWC seems to cost far in excess of the $300 Apple is charging for the bump in capacity.

    I guess my question boils down to this--would the smarter move be to save $300 right now in the hopes of being able to upgrade the hard drive at some future date for less than the amount Apple currently charges, or simply go for the 256GB option now at what miraculously seems to be the cheapest option provided by Apple as of today?

    I get the sense that the price for flash memory in this particular "format" is not falling as rapidly as has been the consensus and I'm not sure whether waiting 2 or 3 years for an affordable upgrade solution is worth it at the moment?

    In any case...I'd really appreciate some advise and/or thoughts regarding this issue, so that I can make a decision with the most accurate information possible!

    Thanks in advance...

    EDIT: Oh and one more thing, I wouldn't mind the sacrifice of using an external hard drive for heavy media files--and since thunderbolt is now implemented, it would be the most common sense approach to use a thunderbold external drive--but again, how much longer do we need to wait to see affordable 500GB-ish TB drives on the market to take advantage of the port?
  2. macrumors 68020


    Jun 16, 2010
    How often do you upgrade and how much storage do you need now? If 128 is too cramped for you, it would best to just buy the 256 now instead of waiting a couple of years while you try to make due with the 128, and by the time you can do that you will probably want to upgrade and get a new laptop any way.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Upgrading to 256 gb outright at apple is not a dumb move IF you must have 256gb.

    I agree with you:
    1. flash memory prices aren't falling as fast as everyone thought.
    2. as a result, storage sizes aren't increasing for the masses--iphones are still at 32 gb, when we would have thought that we'd be going on 128 gb by now. Ipods/ipads max out at 64 gb. Prior to this "stuck" stage, we'd been doubling storage about every year.
    3. Waiting for a 3rd party 256 gb upgrade option has its costs--namely the 2 years or so you'll be 'stuck' with 128 gb. Of course even if you've managed to stick it out for 2 years, your macbook air will be 2 generations behind. You may well just think about buying an entirely new macbook air--an air that will in all likelihood come with 256gb standard.
    4. In laptop land, it rarely makes financial sense to upgrade anything except the RAM and hard drive--spinning disk hard drives, that is. SSDs are kind of new and still premium items, so financially, it's not a no-brainer to do it aftermarket at the highest storage sizes.
    5. I think that a year from now, the equation changes for those of us who think that 128 gb is still slightly constrained, but 256 gb is adequate. I've found that 500gb is the magical point in which storage is no longer an issue. But I could probably get by with 256gb and not sweat it, b/c at that point it just becomes purely about how many multimedia files I want to store. Honestly, I probably won't even watch more of them. It's just about wanting to have everything with me.

    I will probably just stick it out with 128 gb. Potentially I may add a 32 gb SD card, for about $32, for in-place backups, automatic, network-free backups. Or I may use it for extra storage, or whatever. The only reason I'd need more than 128 gb is for my media files. I am not willing to carry around an external hard drive daily, b/c that defeats the purpose of the air b/c I consider total travel weight.
  4. macrumors 6502

    Jun 28, 2011
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2011
    It's crazy expensive if you ask me. I personally did pay the extra for the 256GB, but that's because I NEEDED a 100% mobile solution (I travel a lot) so I didnt want to carry around an external Hard Drive, USB hubs, etc.

    If you dont plan on being totally mobile, then perhaps an external HD to store your movies, music, etc could also be a feasible way of saving up some bucks.
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2007
    the 13 colonies
    It is crazy expensive! That's my dilemma--while it is expensive, Apple is actually offering the least expensive option compared to third parties as of right now. And as I said, I'm not seeing some massive downward price pressure on SSDs at the moment like many people had predicted- So how realistic is is that for the same $300 I'll get a 500GB hard drive in 2 years when OWC is charging $1400 (!!) for 480GB today! Hell, they're charging 400 bucks for 180GB! Prices are hardly plummeting....in fact they are still outrageously expensive. I doubt Apple will be making huge leaps in standard SSD storage for many years yet--I certainly don't see 256 being the standard by the next refresh....
  7. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    Apple's prices aren't unreasonable on the MacBook Air given the prices of OWC drives (the only alternative right now)

    By contrast, the $400 differential between the 128GB and 256GB SSDs on the 13" Pro seems high.

    Flash prices have stayed high for several reasons. First, demand is up. More manufacturers are using them, and tablets use flash memory, as well. Second, the tsunami hit production in Japan. Third, Apple knows it can get a premium for it and prices it accordingly.
  8. macrumors member

    May 8, 2011
    if you're rich spend the $300. otherwise if you can make do with the 128gb, get rid of useless files, move things you don't immediately need to external hdd, and maybe you'll be fine. i don't know what you have on your computer or how much space you're currently using, but if you can manage now under 100gb, you should be fine with 128gb.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2009
    I am in the same boat so I had to go with the 256.
  10. macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2006
    Think you could come out ahead if you bought the 128gb version ($300 "savings"), sold the 128gb stick on ebay (nets you $200? wild guess), then purchase the 360gb one from OWC for $780? Don't think you'd be quite ahead, but might be worth while?
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2007
    the 13 colonies
    What about using an 32 or 64GB SD card compliment as a solution instead of an external hard drive? Are these things still super slow in read/write speeds compared to good old fashioned external HD's?
  12. vty
    macrumors member

    May 8, 2010
    I travel extensively and don't even need an 80GB hdd, although of course YMMV.

    What do I do?

    I have a 4tb Synology NAS at home that I can access from any internet connection along with Spideroak (akin to dropbox). I have a cell phone that I can tether 3g and 4g wirelessly in the event that I'm not near an internet connection (I've almost never traveled somewhere where my cell provider didn't have 3g).

    I also have Subsonic set up on my home desktop which allows me to stream all of my music/movies, although I've been having a pain getting it to work with UNC shares. Technically I can set this up on my NAS, but I haven't gotten around to it.. Been using Spotify for music lately.

    My biggest hangup with my MBA is the battery life. I was used to 7+ hours on my MBP and 15+ on my Thinkpad (with 9cell and slice). Now I have to carry a power adapter. :cool:

    I only need critical stuff on my MBA.. Manuals, visio charts, asdm, ebooks, etc.
  13. macrumors 601

    Dec 14, 2007
    In the end I think the price is roughly the same either way.

    $300 upgrade = (OWC Price - Selling Price of the smaller SSD once replaced)
  14. macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2010
    Get the upgrade... You'll be happy to have the additional space. I'm sure everyone with an Air also has external storage, but it will just make life more convenient. You'll be hooking up the external drive less frequently.

    When it comes to computers, I think you should always buy what you need now. Getting this computer with the idea of upgrading it in a year is strange thinking, because in a year, there will be a 2012 Air with newer / better features.

    If you have an iTunes library, and photos, and back up your iPhone, the 256 is probably the ticket.
  15. macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2008
    Claremont, CA
    if the air is your primary or only computer, then i would highly recommend coughing up and getting the 256gb. if it's your couch/weekend warrior, then smaller isn't bad.
  16. bp1000, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    Just curious what takes up peoples space?

    For years I've never used more than about 60gb

    Only things I store on my laptops are photo, less than 20gb, 16gb music to accommodate my phone and ipad, then just docs, not much else. I use groove shark and spotify and use vod services for movies streaming.

    The only big files I have are hd camcorder files which I load on process burn and archive into a backup drive, I also archive my extra music and steam missing music anyway. That 60gb includes a 10gb.virtual windows instal too.

    I guess with streaming music and video and cloud services I no longer need really big hdds.

    I don't use big programs like ps either, just use an old copy of fireworks for web graphics
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2009
    You should first consider getting a 2.5 external.

    There are some obscenely thin and light 500gb drives now.

    Or even usb thumb drives that are a few mm thin that can add like 32gbs for under a hundred bucks.
  18. macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2009
    I have the 128 GB 13" 2010 and I am almost out of room as I have to run Windows XP for work, via VMware Fusion. If there was a way to run VMware and Windows on a fast external drive i would do it and my problem would be solved.
  19. macrumors 65816


    Jul 2, 2011
    I got the 13 128gb. I thought about holding iTunes on a 16gb SD card and leaving it in the machine but thought the card might get snapped some how.

    I think there is always a need for external space these days so putting as much of your files off onto external storage is the best way. If you insist that you need to have your enormous aperture library on your built in SSD, 256GB is probably a must. Those libraries get very big. I keep it off my laptop. I'll look into thunderbolt storage when they become more available. I'll suffer with usb speeds until then.

    No matter what drive you get, you'll most likely push it to its near capacity due to app upgrades, device backups, os updates. Best to keep a system drive as much a system only drive as possible.

    USB 3 would be nice right now :p
  20. macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    Couldn't you install virtualbox and just put the XP image and data on the external disk and mount it in os x to run?
  21. macrumors regular

    May 1, 2011
    Genius idea. Definitely going to get small USB drive to load Windows for those few times I need to launch Internet Explorer or certain programs.

    How long until there are Thunderbolt-enabled thumb drives?
  22. macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    I had originally ordered the 128, however... I realized I need to have at least one fully functional windows 7 install and possibly an xp install on there. So by the time I give 30-40 gigs to other os's - 80 may not be that much with photography in view.

    At the end of it, I decided that the hassle of upgrading and the length I keep my machines was probably worth the extra up front cost.
  23. macrumors 68020


    Jun 16, 2010
    Exactly, you put your bigger files into an external drive, most people don't do that, they like having all their files with them without having to remember to bring a back-up cd/thumb drive/external drive with them, they just want the files on their system.
  24. macrumors regular

    May 18, 2011
    I would save the money and get a sata iii blade ssd to upgrade when they are available.
  25. macrumors 6502


    Apr 11, 2007
    I need a full mobile solution and went with the $300 upgrade. As other's have said, Apple's prices aren't unreasonable. I need the storage for photos and images.

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