128GB or 256GB

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by morvin777, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. morvin777 macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2011
    Hi people,

    Been a member since the iPhone 4 days, I need your help to decide on which macbook air to buy. This question has been asked a million times. My usage will be browsing internet (10-12 tabs), watching videos/live streams, reading PDFs, making presentation, mails, some photo enhancements (NOT editing, just correcting brightness, crop etc.) I will be saving more pictures/videos/music in future when I invest in a SLR camera. I have done some research already. I have decided to go with 8GB RAM because I might be running VM in few years time and cause its not upgradable.

    I m stuck between 128GB vs 256GB. The price difference is $200 on Macmall. What I was thinking of is, buying an external HD and accessing my photos/videos when I need them cause, I will not be needing them at all times. It is just to capture the memories. I know the traditional external HD are USB 3.0 and not as quick as SSD.

    How big is the gap between using external HD vs SSD in terms of everyday performance. Will I notice a big difference? Read/Write speed etc...u know what I mean.

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for your help guys.
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If you'll be saving pictures from an SLR in the near future, forgo the 128GB SSD and go for the 256GB. Don't forget out of the 128GB, the operating system will chew up a big chunk, and if you store music, that will also reduce it.

    I've found that 128GB in this day and age to be a bit meager, more so given the large picture size from an SLR
  3. EthanNixon macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2007
    New Jersey
    I just purchased my third MacBook Air today...I know...lol

    I always went for the 128GB because I have so many external HDDs it's not even funny. I always have a Windows partition on my MacBook Air too, and just save everything to the cloud or an external drive.
  4. morvin777 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2011
    Thanks Mike, But as I said I will not be requiring those pictures and music on a daily basis. It will be just for memories/storage. So, If I was to use Ethan's way...store everything on the HDD and use it when needed...how much of a speed difference am I gonna notice on a day to day basis.

    Thanks Ethan
  5. EthanNixon macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2007
    New Jersey
    If you do it how I use my MacBook Air, I don't notice much of a difference. If you have a large library, it will take a few seconds for it to load, either with the internal SSD or an external HDD/SSD. I would recommend getting an external USB 3.0 and using that as your backup/media drive. You can point iTunes to that drive so it will save your media to it, and your download folder too. You can keep the files that you would like to use without the drive on the internal SSD, and I'm sure you'll have enough space for whatever else you would like to do. :p
  6. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    There will be a measurable difference between the 128GB and the 256GB version, but in terms of real world performance you will not notice any difference. The only way you will notice a difference between the two is if you fill up your 128GB hard drive. If you start paging from RAM to the SSD, it will slow down less on the 256GB model, but with 8GB of RAM, you probably will not run into that much. Check to see how much space is filled on your current computer.

    I would be most concerned about running a VM, because that can eat up an easy 20GB, and I would really recommend keeping that on your internal drive. If you plan on using a VM with 128GB of hard drive space, you can make it work, but if you plan on storing a movie or a few video games on your computer, you will have to start deleting stuff off your hard drive to keep your storage below 110-100GB.

  7. iMacBooked macrumors 6502a


    Jul 19, 2013
    4 8 15 16 23 42 ✈ Country: Belgium
  8. tech3475 macrumors 6502

    May 17, 2011
    I'd go for the 256GB, especially if you're dealing with VMs.

    An OS will benefit more from being on the SSD and it just gives you more flexibility in the future so you're not constantly swapping stuff.

    You may also want to consider Bootcamp, VMware (and I think parallels) allow you to use the Bootcamp partition and you then have the option of a native boot in case you ever need it.
  9. WilliamLondon macrumors 68000


    Dec 8, 2006
    I've got a 128GB MBA, I could have opted for more but felt it was just not needed (and expensive). I've got a big NAS that helps a great deal, but also for my MBA I bought a WD My Passport 1TB drive - it's USB3, it's tiny, portable and doesn't require external power - I love it, it works superbly, and if you really need the data out and about, it is so small it's just as portable as your MBA.
  10. morvin777 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2011
    Yes will, I am inclining towards the 128GB now and buy a portable drive when I need it. How much did NAS set up cost you?
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Another vote for the 256 SSD; it's much faster, more stable, and somewhat more future-proofed. It will also be easier to sell down the line.

    As maflynn has pointed out, with 128 the OS will eat up quite a bit of your memory before you even start adding to that. Anything you add, such as iTunes, will consume yet more memory, and you will not have as much as you think left over.
  12. WilliamLondon macrumors 68000


    Dec 8, 2006
    My NAS wasn't too much, I got the base (a QNAP) for just over £100 and I put a 3TB drive in it (it was also ~£100 at the time), it was easy and quick to set up and now that Apple (more easily) supports SMB again, very easy to configure. I also hang a 4TB drive (eSATA connection) off that, which gives me quite a lot of storage which my other computers in the house all use.

    One more thing, my MBA (11") is my main computer (I connect it to a monitor and keyboard/mouse when at home) and even with all the apps I have installed, plus syncing to my Dropbox account (6GB), I still have 64GB available free space on the SSD (out of 128GB). I don't miss not having a larger SSD, I don't really know what I'd put on it now that I use the NAS and my WD My Passport drive to store most of my stuff.
  13. DmbShn41 macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2009
    I went for the 128GB. My rationale was that I can add a 128GB PNY STOREdge SD card later on for $79, which is significantly cheaper than the Apple upgrade to 256GB, it may max out around 60-90Mb/s, which is plenty fast for me when I keep photos and music on that portion, its nothing additional to have to carry around, and did I mention how cheap it was?

    Plus I have a NAS, 5-6 external USB 3.0 enclosures with SSD in them, and countless cloud accounts.

    Right now, I have my Mavericks partition, a Win7 partition, a OS X Yosemite partition, and the standard recovery partition, possibly a second one for Yosemite. I allocated 20GB to Yosemite, 40GB to Win7, and the rest was Mavericks. Haven't had any storage issued as I mainly keep files in cloud or server side (email).
  14. Suraj R. macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2013
    256 gb

    The only thing I regret about my Air purchase is the SSD size I chose... get 256GB regardless
  15. errorunknown macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2011
    128gb is more than enough, I just did a clean wipe and migrated from a 750gb 15.5" MBP with an additional 128gb optibay. With all my apps installed I have over 95gb left. I store my iPhoto library on a 1tb usb 3.0 external along with movies and archived materials. How much stuff do you really need to access on daily basis?
  16. morvin777 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2011
    Yeah I will NOT need to access a lot of data on daily basis. Think I am gonna go with 128GB and consider upgrading in the future, hopefully the upgrade kit will have gone down in price too by the time I fill in 128GB
  17. jg321 macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2012
    Although you might not be using them all the time, having everything in one place makes backup a lot easier.

    Backups need to be easy, otherwise you'll probably end up neglecting them.

    That with the performance, the talk of VMs, and the cost of upgrading in the future. I'd get the 256. In fact, I did, on both iMac and rMBP.
  18. stfwayne macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2011
    $200 is way too much money to add an extra 128GB
  19. Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2008

    Get the 256. Having an external drive can help but especially for a portable computer using an external as more than a backup can get tedious fast. $200 will not seem like much when a year from now you are contemplating getting a new computer because you are really annoyed by working with limited built in storage.
  20. bniu macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2010
  21. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    Get the 128 and use the $200 you save to invest in some external storage. You can get a 1 TB drive and have money left over from that $200. If you don't need 1 TB, you can save even more and still get far more storage space than the 128 GB you'd gain by going with the 256.
  22. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    I bought my MBA 2012 11" with the 64GB SSD. Since this is my travel machine only, my plan was to use the internal SSD, bare bones, in airports and such. When I could use it on a desk I hooked it up an external Hybrid drive. This thinking was a big mistake on my part. It was a PITA hooking up the drive and the charger, every time I settled in a hotel room or etc.

    I have since upgraded the SSD with a Transend 480GB drive, and now I have a fully portable MBA that I can use anywhere. The Hybrid is a backup only drive now.

    The point of all this meandering, is get the biggest drive you can afford.

  23. unloader macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2013
    Same here. A lot of my game files (yes I game on my MBA) take up a lot of storage space and often I'll have to delete an older game to install a new one. Admittedly, WoW, takes up the bulk of my HDD.

    If you have big files I would encourage you to get the larger HDD.
  24. Vandefilm macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2012
    I'm thinking about this option as well. But sometimes I want to edit video which takes about 60-70 GB per project (I finish it right away, upload it to vmeo and then move it to an external drive so I only need that space for about a day). So I'm wondering, can I get screenflow to save that document right to the iCloud drive in Yosemite? Which cloud-service do you use? Or is it simpler to have a NAS?
  25. AppleFanatic10 macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2010
    Encino, CA
    This is just my opinion, I would go with the 256GB instead of the 128GB MBA only because I know that 128GB of storage just won't be enough for me. Now my question to you is; are you on a tight budget? If so then my answer would be to get the 128GB and just buy one of those SD cards that can act like extra storage in your MBA.

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