13' MBA or 13'MBP for a college student

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by blugrn6, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. blugrn6 macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2011
    I'm going to be a college freshman this august and as such, I decided to buy a mac. I basically use my computer for surfing the web, listening to music, watching movies on netflix, writing papers and making powerpoints. I often have a lot of apps open at once because I like to multitask. I neither do gaming nor do I edit movies or photos. (If I ever will edit movies, it'll be light and only for a college assignment). I'll also be taking my mac to class so I want it to be portable. On a last note, I use very very little hard drive space (80 gb max) but I like my computers to be very snappy.

    At first, I decided that the 13' Pro would be perfect since it has speed and space I need. However, as the new airs came along offering a fast processor 4 gb ram and lightweight profile, I became very confused. Should I be going for the $1299 13' macbook air or base model 13' macbook pro? Is the macbook pro significantly faster than the air or will it be mildly noticeable? Also, if I buy the macbook pro, I could update it to an ssd. So, please help me figure out which one I should buy? Sorry for the long message but I wanted to be thorough because I likely won't be buying another computer for quite a while after this so I want a powerful enough processor. Thanks so much.
  2. YEEZY macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2011
    I was just like you, I wanted a Pro. But then I thought about the Air, never as a serious contender, until my brother considered it for me.

    The Macbook Air is perfect for you, and it's light. I got one and I'm going to college this upcoming semester also. I do much more than the daily web surfing, and it runs it perfectly. It comes down to this for you:

    if you have the money, get the Air. If not, get the Pro. You won't lose with the Air, trust me.
  3. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    For what you're saying you'll use it for, I think you'll love the new Airs. The SSD is incredibly fast compared to a platter drive. Since you won't be doing much video encoding and gaming, I don't think the non-dedicated graphics will bother you at all. And the portability factor/weight is fabulous.

    The only thing that I think you should consider is if you need the higher battery life of the Pro. Don't get me wrong, the Air can easily handle a few hours, but the Pro can handle a couple on top of that. As long as you would be able to charge it halfway through a full workday, it would be great.
  4. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
  5. Sodner macrumors 68020


    Jan 12, 2011
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I believe Apple estimates 7 hours of battery life for both the 13" Air and MBP.

    Get the Air.
  6. RockPortTech macrumors regular

    Mar 10, 2011
    South Texas
    I just bought my MacBook Pro 13" this past April, and I was SERIOUSLY considering the Air first. I am glad I went with the Pro ONLY because of the fact that since discovering after a few months of use, I am SO GLAD I HAVE A DISC DRIVE.

    I have burned home made movies (iMovie then gets sent to iDVD) and burned a few music cd's for our girls, if you can live without the disc drive then go for the Air, but maybe consider getting the usb disc drive as a precaution if you ever think you may need to burn files etc.

    Hope this helped. Oh and the fact that when I bought my MBP, the Air had no backlit keyboard which was a must for me. I thought it was just propaganda, but you do immediately appreciate the fact that you don't have to have a bedside lamp on just to surf etc. as the keys are easily lit. It comes in handy.
  7. 2hvy4grvty macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2011
    Go with the Air. Far better resolution.

    An external optical drive is like $20.
  8. blugrn6 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2011
    13' air is fast. I know that but if I buy the MBP, i'll go for the SSD. should I still buy the air considering its only 1.5 pounds heavier? and what about futureproofing? is the air future proof enough? thanks so much for your responses. keep them coming!

    oh and if I buy the air, i'm also buying the ethernet cable and the superdrive!
  9. 2hvy4grvty macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2011
    Neither computer is future proof.

    Air gets you a 30% more screen real estate in a far more mobile body.
  10. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    How do you figure?

    Doesn't the Air use the same 1440 x 900 resolution that the MBP does?

    In any case, I much prefer the MBP, but that's because I don't exactly need an ultralight mobile solution.

    The 13" Air is a capable machine, but for some reason I just much prefer the Pro.
  11. Naimfan Suspended


    Jan 15, 2003
    If you don't mind replacing it in a year or two, by all means get the Air. If you want something that actually can be grown somewhat (RAM, HD), is faster, and significantly less expensive, then be smart and get the MBP.
  12. Jaha527, Aug 5, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011

    Jaha527 macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2011
    Once you go MBA you never go back

    I'm an English university student going into my second year - a very dour and work-obsessed one. I'm plumping for an MBA. I'm a humanities student so the amount of reading, notes and essay prep I do is through the roof, so the portability will come in very handy, especially for those weeks in which I live in the library. The MBP does have a greater battery life but in student study buildings power outlets come two a penny. I'd say join the MBA camp. Both models are similar prices and you get so much more flexibility with the MBA. And it's sexy. I'm itching to get mine. In any case, choosing between MBA and MBP is a lovely dilemma. Enjoy whichever you get.
  13. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    MacBook Airs resolution is higher than the MacBook Pro because Apple is stupid. MBP = 1280x800, MBA = 1440x900 or 1366x768 for the 11 inch.
  14. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Oh you're right.

    It seems 1440 x 900 starts with the 15" MBP. I guess they did that to keep cost down. Pretty surprising, I never even noticed.
  15. Naimfan Suspended


    Jan 15, 2003
    How, exactly, do you get more "flexibility" with the MBA?

    The Air demands a huge price premium over the MBP to even approach the performance of the Pro, and in exchange you get . . . what? Oh, right--it's a bit lighter. If you can't carry 4.5 or 5.5 lbs (for the 15") around, you have bigger problems than can be addressed here.

    And, of course, Apple has built obsolescence into the Air, which will make you buy another one in a year or two. If that's your gig, go for it.
  16. randomrazr macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2011
    u cant upgrade ram on the air, its 4gb thats it.
  17. TimDavis macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2011
    don't get me wrong. i bought the 11 inch ultimate last week. but if your going to get the macbook pro 13inch with ssd. you will notice the mbp to be noticeably faster than any mba. the screen may not be as high resolution but the quality of its screen is very noticeable.
    The mba is a very appealing computer and fits your needs exactly. ( same as mine) but i don't really consider portability to be a deciding factor to get the mba over the mbp. especially when your looking at the 13inch models of both.
    if you were considering getting the i7 mba 11 inch i would say go for it!!!
    but since you seem to have your mind set on the 13 i would recommend the mbp. you won't need to waste 70$ on a superdrive and 35$ on a ethernet cable.
    (both of which i had to buy) put that saved money into the ssd and you will have a screaming machine!

    mba is beautiful but the mbp is the better choice for the 13inch category
    just my opinion not biased at all since i have the 11 mba
    choose one and don't look back!:rolleyes:
  18. Kentochan macrumors 6502


    Feb 19, 2011
    Virginia, USA
    Even though the MacBook Air is pretty quick due to its SSD, the MacBook Pro is still much more powerful. Even the low-end MBP uses a full-fledged 2.3GHz Core i5, while the MBA uses ULV (ultra-low-voltage) i5 and i7 processors clocked significantly lower than those of the MBP. The MBP can also be purchased at a lower price than the MBA ($999 @ Micro Center for base 13" MBP), and is better for future-proofing down the road. I have the base 13" MBP which I later upgraded to 8GB RAM and am loving its performance. I recommend the MacBook Pro :D
  19. SaMaster14 macrumors 6502

    Aug 23, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I was in the same boat... comparing a 13" Air against a 15" Pro (the pro is obviously more expensive).

    I went with the Pro. The air is portable, but I have an iPad and the Pro isn't bad when it comes to portability at all.

    I went for the SSD on the Pro, 8GB of RAM and the 2.2Ghz processor. Basically this computer should last me through college, or at least 3 full years. The Air seems more like an iPad/iPod type device, something you need to replace every couple of years or its outdated.

    But, in all honesty, I think either computer will do the trick for a college student ;)
  20. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    i'd recommend thinking a bit about what you want to get done and how you want to do it. personally, i have found the ipad to be wonderful on campus because i have digitized everything (easier than you might think), so i carry an ipad + bluetooth keyboard + pen and paper every day, and leave the mbp at home. if this wouldn't work for you, i'd go with the air, because the less you carry the better. here is some information about what i do:

    1. Getting Things Done with the iPad
    2. Going from Paper to iPad
    3. Getting Things Done: iPad for Academics

    1. GoodReader
    2. Evernote
    3. VoodooPad (see student discount)
    4. Pages (or DocstoGo)
    http://www.apple.com/ipad/from-the-app-store/pages.html or http://www.dataviz.com/products/documentstogo/iphone/
    5. Dropbox
    6. GoodReader USB (for heavy users of GoodReader)
    7. RecorderPro
    8. Sugarsync
    9. gFlashPro
    10. ScannerPro

    1. Origami Workstation
    2. Apple Bluetooth Keyboard
    3. ScanSnap
  21. sloan47 macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2011
    I carried a 15" around with me for years and compared to the air the pro feels like a dead seal. I travel quite a bit and the couple of extra pounds does make a difference. Can I carry the extra weight? Uhh.. sure. Do I want to now that I have the air? No. :D
  22. Jaha527 macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2011

    Yep: lightness = flexibility. Little woman with shallow shoulders demands light computer. All laptops are latently obsolete. 5lbs is too much junk for the sake of a slightly higher spec.
  23. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    i'd stay away from the 13 foot models and go for the 13 inch ones instead :)
  24. RockPortTech macrumors regular

    Mar 10, 2011
    South Texas
    Curious as to what your decision will ultimately be, keep us posted. Cheers ( would love a 3 month down the road perspective on whatever model you chose as posterity for anyone else making the same decision).

  25. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    Well as a second year college student (Micro Bio), I just picked up my new MBP today. 13 inch baseline. Amazing machine; it's fast, sturdy, has long battery life, and is very, very thin.

    A lot of people compare the MBP and the MBA and instantly suggest the Air as it's thinner, however the MBP is very thin as well and actually pretty light; lighter than my 06 BlackBook with upgraded internals.

    With your usage, either machine will be fine, however the MBP came out to 1186 or so after taxes (with student discount) as opposed to the 1.3k you're going to have to pay (with discount) for the MBA.

    The 100 dollar gift card for the App store is great, but if money is an issue think about that as well.

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