128GB or 256GB for MBA with Win7 in Parallels?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by julesg88, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. julesg88 macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Hi everyone,

    I'm in the market for a 13" MBA. Already decided on 8GB RAM and i5 processor.

    However, I'm still undecided whether I should go for 128GB or 256GB.
    256GB comes with quite a steep price increase.

    On the other hand, I plan to do the following:
    - Install Parallels with Win 7 for Microsoft Office use
    - Keep about 15GB for Spotify
    - Keep about 20GB for pictures

    Will 128GB be sufficient?

    I read about SD-card based memory expansion (Nifty etc). Are those fast and RELIABLE enough to store pictures (+ Spotify) on them?
    Sounds like it could be a cheaper alternative.

    Thanks a lot in advance for your opinions!
  2. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    For consumer tasks, upgrading the internal SSD is one of the best decisions you can make. A 256GB drive will be up to 40% faster than the 128GB drive, so your computer will boot faster, programs will open faster, and paging to RAM will be less painful. I personally have not used any of the SD card solutions, but it seems like they work pretty well. The fastest ones are about 1/10 the speed of the internal drive, so don't put an OS on it, but it should be fine for compact media storage.

    Just wondering, but is the sole purpose of the Win 7 partition for Office? I have Office on both my Windows 7 work computer and my Mac at home. There really isn't any difference between the two besides a few UI changes. If you really enjoy the Windows version of Office, then do what makes you happy, but if you can deal with Office for Mac then you will be able to save a lot of space and money. Just my 2 cents.

    If you are worried about the price adding up and need extra space, the SD solution will probably work. For your uses, I highly recommend getting a 256GB hard drive. This might seem counterintuitive considering you want to run a VM, but especially if you are only planning on running Office on it, 4GB will be more than enough RAM for the next 3-4 years. You may want to consider getting the 4GB/256GB model. I don't know what sort of work you do, so you may need the 8GB. If you are using your system for music, storing photos, writing, and watching movies, 4GB/256GB may be the best option for your money.

    Edit: If you do not need your photos on the go, can't afford the internal storage, and need the 8GB of memory, just get a USB 3.0 enclosure and a 128GB Crucial M500.

  3. jmazzamj macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2009
    I think you should wonder how much storage do you need for your Windows environment? Start from there to begin with.

    In terms of speed I think you would not notice any difference, only bench would show that. And you have to win the builtin SSD lottery, first :D

    I think both OWC and Trascend are working on 2013/14 SSD kits for MBA, so I would get a 128 GB Air and purchase an upgrade kit later on, which would probably be slightly faster and you would be able to use your 128 GB SSD as an external on USB 3.
  4. MacVibe macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2009
    Installing Windows 7 and Office requires close to 16 GB in my experience once all the updates are installed. Maybe there is an easy guide to minimal install that will delete everything not needed to run Office- but I haven't found such a guide. So, if you aren't planning on using the Parallels VM for much storage or other programs, then I would recommend 20 GB.

    So, roughly from day 1 you use
    8 GB approximate OS X install (itunes, etc)
    8 GB hibernate (this is the size of your RAM)
    20 GB Parallels
    15 GB Spotify
    20 GB pictures

    which totals 71 GB which is over half your 128 SSD. If I was in that situation I would want a bigger SSD.

    I recently got a base Macbook Air and a 128 GB SD StorEdge card. The StorEdge card fits nearly flush and I have not had any problems with it. I keep pictures and itunes media on that drive and if it craps out it won't be an issue since they are backed up. My disk space needs are a lot heavier than yours but basically I wanted to see if I could get by with the minimum configuration by using the SD card and the cloud to augment the internal SSD.

    Note on Office for Mac and Windows:
    If you use math equations in Powerpoint then you know that Office Mac and Office Windows do not play well together, the Microsoft team is well aware of this but it must be a very low priority for them.
  5. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    For the reasons outlined by some of the other posters on this thread, I, too, would strongly recommend 256 GB SSD. You will find 256 GB SSD far faster and far better - and more stable - than 128 for your stated needs.

    In the past, with my old MBA, I had 128 GB SSD, and found, after a few years, that it was no longer sufficient for my needs; more than that, the fact that it was almost full slowed the computer down considerably.
  6. bigfatipod macrumors regular

    Sep 22, 2011
    I'm one of the people who bought a 128gb model a while back. I'd absolutely recommend 256gb.. The USB/SD cards are nice, but I really would have preferred the internal to be much bigger.
  7. julesg88 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thanks a lot for all your replies!

    Is the speed difference between 256GB and 128GB really noticeable, or just measurable in Benchmarks? Any experience with this?

  8. crzdcolombian macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2010
    I have a 2013 MBA 13 inch base model with 4gb of ram and 128gb. I have windows 7 in parallels because of work. Its fine. Tho I have both iTunes match which has over 20k songs which saves me like 500 GBs of space. My movies are all on the cloud. The ones that I don't have on iCloud are on a portable HD as well as a backup of all my files from work and personal.

    I normally upgrade every 1-2 years to the next model so just get the base versions. I personally love my MBA !!! I have gotten 15 hours of battery life before. It was amazing !!
    Extra 200 bucks for 128gbs to me doesn't seem like a good deal. Also if you are going to get more ram. Why not just get a retina pro?
  9. shyam09, Jun 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014

    shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010
    unless you're one of those people who can notice a grams difference in between iPad model generations, you should not notice it too significantly in terms of start up / shut down. When it comes to copying / unzipping large files etc, you will notice that the 256 GB is slightly faster than the 128 GB. Most of the stuff is actually noticeable through benchmarks or if you are really really OCD about it.
    (This is what I came across in my research before buying an SSD last week)

    I settled with a 120 GB since it suits my needs (well ... 120 in my MBP, 2x120 in my windows desktop (I got a great deal on the second 120 GB, otherwise I would have gone for the 256 GB).

    However, with SSD prices dropping (the 256 GB Crucial MX100 was ~$100 a few days ago after a coupon). The write speeds on the Crucial MX100 is sub average though, so it would be better to invest a few more bucks and buy something reliable.

    If you live in the US - the samsung 840 evo 250 GB (used-like new) is just $125 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00E3W1726/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used). Amazon warehouse deals is part of amazon, and it's where I bought both my sammy SSDs from. It'll be an open box, sealed with tape or something. Be sure to read the product descriptions though.

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