13" MacBook Air or Pro?

DMCY22

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2012
8
0
Hi,

I'm new here and I'm loving this forum.

My MSI (yes, MSI) laptop is dying on me and I want to switch over to a Mac but I'm debating between the 13" MBA and MBP (the base $1199 models). What do you suggest?

Here's what I plan to use my laptop for:
- Everyday web browsing, videos, etc.
- Learning to program and maybe some Photoshop
- Light gaming (e.g. Starcraft II) - I have a desktop for gaming

Pros of MBA IMO:
- Better screen resolution
- Smaller/lighter, though I don't know how often I'll carry my laptop around
- Flash/SSD

Pros of MBP:
- Better CPU
- Larger hard drive (I have a 1TB USB 3.0 external, so it doesn't really matter)
- Upgradeable in the future

I guess it comes down to the tradeoff between CPU power and hard drive speed. Which is more important for what I want to do?

Thanks!

P.S. I can get a student discount even though I'll be graduating in a few days, which makes the Pro $50 cheaper.

Update: I don't want to spend more than $1200 or so on this laptop. The only upgrade I'd consider is 8GB ram for the Air.
 
Last edited:

Southernboyj

macrumors 68000
Mar 8, 2012
1,653
39
Mobile, AL
Hi,

I'm new here and I'm loving this forum.

My MSI (yes, MSI) laptop is dying on me and I want to switch over to a Mac but I'm debating between the 13" MBA and MBP (the base $1199 models). What do you suggest?

Here's what I plan to use my laptop for:
- Everyday web browsing, videos, etc.
- Learning to program and maybe some Photoshop
- Light gaming (e.g. Starcraft II) - I have a desktop for gaming

Pros of MBA IMO:
- Better screen resolution
- Smaller/lighter, though I don't know how often I'll carry my laptop around
- Flash/SSD

Pros of MBP:
- Better CPU
- Larger hard drive (though I have a 1TB USB 3.0 external, so it doesn't really matter)
- Upgradeable in the future

I guess it comes down to the tradeoff between CPU power and hard drive speed. Which is more important for what I want to do?

Thanks!

P.S. I can get a student discount even though I'll be graduating in a few days.

When you said videos, did you mean editing or watching them?

The fact that you say photoshop and Starcraft kind of make me want to recommend the MBP, if you get it.. I'd highly recommend getting an SSD put in it. If you are scared to mess around with the computer however, the MBA should still be fine for you.
 

DMCY22

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2012
8
0
When you said videos, did you mean editing or watching them?

The fact that you say photoshop and Starcraft kind of make me want to recommend the MBP, if you get it.. I'd highly recommend getting an SSD put in it. If you are scared to mess around with the computer however, the MBA should still be fine for you.
Thanks.

I'd be doing much more watching than editing, which would only be with iMovie. And if I play SC2 on my laptop, it'd be on low/medium settings.

The thing is I don't want to spend more than $1200 or so, so putting a SSD on a MBP might not be an option.
 

hkim1983

macrumors 6502
Feb 5, 2009
353
8
Thanks.

I'd be doing much more watching than editing, which would only be with iMovie. And if I play SC2 on my laptop, it'd be on low/medium settings.

The thing is I don't want to spend more than $1200 or so, so putting a SSD on a MBP might not be an option.
If you pick up the 13" MBP with an edu discount, or through special deals, then a comparably spec'd 13" pro is about as much, if not marginally less than a comparable air.

The real question is, how important is expandability and ports to you, compared to resolution and portability. That's what it basically boils down to, assuming you do not need maximum gpu/cpu performance.
 

Southernboyj

macrumors 68000
Mar 8, 2012
1,653
39
Mobile, AL
Thanks.

I'd be doing much more watching than editing, which would only be with iMovie. And if I play SC2 on my laptop, it'd be on low/medium settings.

The thing is I don't want to spend more than $1200 or so, so putting a SSD on a MBP might not be an option.
Then definitely get the 2012 MacBook Air man, it's screen res is higher anyway.
I bought a 2011 MBP last year (13") and I play RuneScape, and I ended up returning it for the MBA and had no issues at all. If you can't upgrade the Pro to an SSD, the choice is easy. Hope I could help. :)
 

darthpotato94

macrumors newbie
Jun 11, 2012
16
1
I couldn't sleep last night thinking about this.

The 13" MBA is $100 cheaper, it has a resolution of 1440x900 (which is quite significant compared to 1280x800), 128GB flash storage, and HD Facetime. If storage is important, you can buy a 1TB external HD with USB 3 for less than a $100.

The 13" MBP is a dying breed. It is Apple's best selling computer so it doesn't make sense for them to change anything, other than a small speed bump to keep it "updated". The only advantage the "Pro" has is the faster cpu, which is minimal: 1.8GHz compared to 2.3GHz. Considering that you want to upgrade to an SSD later, which adds cost, you'd have to remove either the superdrive or the HD. Either way you are left with a spare part. Sacrifice the superdrive and you have a SSD plus the 500GB HD, compared to MBA's flash storage and a 1TB external HD; sacrifice the 500GB HD and you have an SSD plus a superdrive, which does not leave you with enough storage space.

When the inevitable complete redesign of the PRO series is announced next year, the resale value is going to drop significantly. On the other hand, if you buy the MBA, you can still recuperate a good percentage of your investment. Steve Jobs, himself, said that thinness is the future. There's wisdom in his words.
 

KohPhiPhi

macrumors 6502a
Feb 9, 2011
763
194
Apple is letting the MBP 13" die a slow death, just like they did with the Macbook White 2 years ago.

At this point, the MBA 13" is a far better product than the MBP 13".
 

TallManNY

macrumors 601
Nov 5, 2007
4,345
1,201
Air, no doubt. The SSD and screen resolution will improve your experience all the time. Much more important than the more powerful processor in the Pro.
 

DMCY22

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 12, 2012
8
0
Thanks everyone. I was initially leaning towards the Air and all of you have made me feel better about that choice.

Another question: are SSDs pretty reliable compared to regular hard drives?
 

Southernboyj

macrumors 68000
Mar 8, 2012
1,653
39
Mobile, AL
Thanks everyone. I was initially leaning towards the Air and all of you have made me feel better about that choice.

Another question: are SSDs pretty reliable compared to regular hard drives?
They are MORE reliable. Especially the stock ones, due to not having to manually update firmware etc, that you would have to do with aftermarkets.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,693
3,386
The thing is I don't want to spend more than $1200 or so, so putting a SSD on a MBP might not be an option.
The advantage of the MBP is that you _can_ have a huge hard drive (1 TB no problem, 2 TB is a bit more effort) which you can't have with the MBA. If 256 GB is not enough, get an MBP. If 128 GB is enough, definitely get an MBA. If you need 256 GB, check the prices.

As a general strategy: Decide exactly what you want to spend. Then go to the Apple Store website, and check what you get for that money, depending on which model you buy. So you should compare an 11" MBA, a 13" MBA, and a 13" MBP for exactly $1200 each, and pick the one of these three models that you like best. Plus check out refurbished Macs for the same price as well.
 

rygamble

macrumors regular
Feb 1, 2012
130
0
The advantage of the MBP is that you _can_ have a huge hard drive (1 TB no problem, 2 TB is a bit more effort) which you can't have with the MBA. If 256 GB is not enough, get an MBP. If 128 GB is enough, definitely get an MBA. If you need 256 GB, check the prices.

As a general strategy: Decide exactly what you want to spend. Then go to the Apple Store website, and check what you get for that money, depending on which model you buy. So you should compare an 11" MBA, a 13" MBA, and a 13" MBP for exactly $1200 each, and pick the one of these three models that you like best. Plus check out refurbished Macs for the same price as well.
This is great advice right here.
 

darthpotato94

macrumors newbie
Jun 11, 2012
16
1
Companies claim SSDs are more reliable but research has shown they are not more reliable than HDDs. These statistics don't matter at all. All electronics eventually die sometime. What happens with SSDs is that it gradually becomes slower over the years. It takes at least 5 years to show a decrease in performance though so it really doesn't matter.
 

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