13" MBP or 13" MBA (baseline)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by thda13, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. thda13, Aug 15, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011

    thda13 macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2011
    Im going back and forth between these two. the problem i have with the pros is the screen resolution and the problem i have with the air is the tiny hard drive space. This would also be me main computer for 1 - 2 years

    *for the pro i would uprgrade to 8gb ram and 500gb 7200rpm

    main use is work, download, web browse, movies and casual gaming not much
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Based on your usage, the MBA would be a great fit. The only caveat is the SSD size. Can you live with the smaller drive size? Its not really considered consumer replaceable so upgrading it while possible is not something most people will be willing to do
  3. thda13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2011
    is there anything i can do about it? other than changing the ssd to 256gb cos that takes awhile and it costs more. I need the computer very soon
  4. treestar macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2010
    Use an external drive. Would that work for you?
  5. i4k20c macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2005
    well, screen resolution can never be altered. :(

    internal hdd space on mba can't be altered (easily anyway) either but you can change the way you use data.

    instead of having "everything" on your computer, maybe it's best to just have pertinent files. Usually documents (the real files most people need) take up very little space. My guess the majority of your space is music and/or videos?

    If so, ask yourself if you really need them to be with you all the time.
  6. njsa04playa macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
    new joisey
    yes, and also purchase yourself an external hd
  7. treestar macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2010
    I am very annoyed with people giving poor reviews to the 13" MBP because of the screen resolution. It seems a bit of a nominal issue. I use 13" MacBook Pros for photo and design work and I don't have any issue with the screen. When the iPhone Retina display came out a lot of people were talking about how screen resolution starts reaching diminishing returns, to a result that it really doesn't matter if a screen is showing 150 ppi or 200 ppi. Of course, the MBA display is better than the MBP, but it's not the only factor in the argument, and I'd rather have all the other benefits of the MBP than just the screen of the MBA. Otherwise, wait until next year when hopefully the MBP gets a design update.

    In usage, I kinda like having a low resolution. When I need to work on a photo at 100% or 1:1, it helps to see the pixels I am editing. It doesn't help to be at 150% or 175% when there is interpolation affecting the displayed image.
  8. Orlandoech macrumors 68040


    Jun 2, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT
  9. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    I think the resolution is fine; I can't complain. I think people are just looking at the specs and not the overall package and, in doing so, justifying themselves into paying more for an underpowered machine.

    You could get a MBP with an SSD for 50 more than a baseline 13 Air. That comes with the ability to upgrade the RAM, a DVD drive that you can swap out for another drive, and it's still very thin.
  10. Epiphron macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2010
    i remember reading somewhere on macrumors that the mbp screen is actually better than the mba screen even though mba has a higher resolution. it really depends the screen quality and color contrast.
  11. Kafka macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2011
    Again, no it's not! It cannot compare. One might not care though...
  12. rattler macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2011
    Sure, the MBA has a higher resolution, but that doesn't mean it's better. The MBP's screen is better, but has less PPI.
  13. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    The MBP's screen is not better than the MBA's. They seem pretty similar these days in terms of viewing angles etc (i.e. neither are amazing). The resolution increase on the MBA, though, is very noticeable.

    The 13" MBP really is utterly pointless if you factor in that 4GB really is plenty for 99% of people, and the SSD is such a huge upgrade on the MBA. If you can "live" with 128GB in the base model, I'd get that over the 13" 2011 MBP. And I've had all of these laptops in the office.

    Once you use an MBA with SSD, with the nicer display, super light weight etc, it's very difficult to use anything else.

    My wife is using a 2011 MBA for work (IBM software engineer), and she's a heavy user, running several VMs (one of which is Windows 7) simultaneously etc etc. She has no trouble with the new MBA, and loves the portability over her old 2010 MacBook Pro 15".

    The 13" MBP really is the most pointless "Pro" laptop that Apple has right now. As I mentioned earlier, if you don't need more than 4GB RAM or 128GB on the "base" models, you'd be absolutely crazy not to pick the MBA over the MBP 13".
  14. Kafka macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2011
    You are in denial or can't see it or don't care, and should not give false information.

    Since Lion I regularly have less than 1gb free, and my use is absolutely basic. 4gb is not more than enough anymore. Next MBPs should have 8gb standard, or flash storage to negate swapping a bit.

    Besides, going with 128gb storage should be really thought about as it can become hell, especially since upgrading will probably remain unaffordable and non practical for a while.

    I've owned 2 MBA 13", a 2010 (sold), and a 2011 (returned). For now I'm keeping my i5 13" MBP, will go SSD when 320/500gb becomes affordable.
  15. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    I refer you to this YouTube video comparing displays of the MacBook Pro 13" and MacBook Air. This compares the 11" display, which, aside from PPI/size is "the same" in terms of quality as the 13". The 13.3" with 1280x800 resolution is, to me, a complete travesty.


    4GB is not more than enough, anymore? Just because Lion WILL use the memory, doesn't mean your computer won't function correctly without it. Again, ask my wife, who is a heavy user, with her "paltry" 4GB 2011 MacBook Air. I have 16GB in my iMac, for what it's worth, but only because it's so "affordable."

    And we're not talking about when SSDs become "affordable." We're talking about now, and my above statements still stand. SSD is the single most important upgrade you can make to any recent computer. I'd take an SSD + 4GB RAM over the 320GB 5400rpm (in the MacBook Pro 13") + 16GB RAM.

    As an aside, I think the 2011 13" MacBook Air is the absolute best laptop in Apple's lineup right now. It's a true powerhouse portable.

    PS I would also request you refrain from personal attacks. It helps nobody.
  16. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida

    It's well known here that the MBA screen pales in comparison to the MBP screen in terms of color gamut (at least). Please, go read.

    On another note, I have no idea how she runs multiple VMs; if you just give each one a gig of RAM, yea you can do that, however, for many people wanting to actually do stuff on their machine, they give it at least 2 gigs.

    The Air is great at what it does, there's no question there, however, you're stuck with 4 gigs of RAM (which just isnt' enough for some people, me personally, you can't upgrade the RAM (which is really going to suck in a year or two when people realize how gimped the machine is), and finally, although the SSD is fast, the standard HD is damn fast itself.

    You're limited on storage and, again if you're running VMs, the Air just isn't a logical buy. It might fit for a few key people (e.g., your wife), but it just isn't the rational purchase for people who are doing actual work or plan on doing more and more with their machine over time.

    Now before you get upset, nowhere did I say you were wrong in your purchase or wrong with your opinion, I'm just stating how I feel. For some reason, people think I'm insulting them when I state my opinions when I do no such thing.
  17. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    It's well known that anyone wanting great color gamuts/accuracy doesn't use a TN panel, thus rendering the argument completely moot. None of the MacBook Pro/Air line is any good for photographers. And take that from this photographer. :)

    Importantly, the MacBook Airs have better contrast and appear less washed out than the MacBook Pro 13". Let me refer you here, to that:


    You'll see the color gamut failings of the MacBook Airs, but again, this doesn't matter on non-professional displays. You will see in that review that black levels, white levels, contrast, brightness and color accuracy are better on the 13" MacBook Air than the 13" MacBook Pro.

    My wife gives 1.5GB of memory to Windows 7 running VMWare Fusion. It runs with no trouble. Why? I'm sure partly because of the SSD. She runs, simultaneously: VMWare Fusion/Windows 7, Linux, several PowerPoint presentations, 50 or 60 tabs in FireFox, Lotus Notes, Adium, IBM's SameTime app etc. No problems whatsoever. The machine just flies. 4GB of RAM (not even, with some of that dedicated to the Intel HD3000 graphics).

    I still say the 13" MacBook Pro's days are numbered. :)
  18. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    1) That's great. Nobody is saying your points aren't valid. You're telling me this like it serves a purpose. What I'm saying is, that for some people, myself included (as I stated in the previous post), 4 gigs is not large enough. I run out of that daily withOUT running VMs. And I'm a college student.

    2) The machine flies. That's great. Your point? The MBP flies as well. And is faster WITH an SSD as well, and a legitimate one at that. You can get the MBP with a SSD for 50 bucks more (with the SSD from Apple) than the 13 inch Air. With that kind of cost and the upgrades you can put on the thing, it really makes the Air a hard sell.

    I'm not saying you're wrong. And thank you for providing the input. The Air is a great machine and I thought about getting it as my second Mac a month or so ago. However, with the Pro being cheaper, upgradable, more powerful and, ultimately, faster, it really is a no brainer for somebody who READ: needs more than 4 gigs of RAM and last gen MBP power.

    That's just how I feel. I don't know what the OP does or will do with his computer (if he's still reading the topic lol), but I do know that, from a rational standpoint, you can have a much more powerful, faster computer for 50 bucks more that's 2 pounds heavier, albeit with a slightly lower screen density.

    3) I don't even know why we're debating here (or it seems like it's a debate) since there's no real "point". That last bit about the MBPs days being numbered don't make any sense at all though.

    Not literally, mind you, but your meaning behind it makes no sense at all.
  19. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    To a huge degree, having an SSD mitigates the need for more RAM. Like I said earlier, I'd take 4GB RAM + SSD over 16GB RAM + spinning disk 99% of the time. No question.

    And the Air is really not a hard sell if you move around with your laptop a lot (weight concern) and want the resolution increase that's very, very noticeable. Also, sitting in bed with the MacBook Air in your lap is a wonderful thing from a weight perspective. With the MacBook Pro? Not so much...

    But sure, we'll both have our opinions here and that's fine. :)
  20. elpmas macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2009
    Where the fresh snow don't go.
    MBP 13", if you're gna get MBA 13", mind as well get a 15" HR.
  21. Kafka macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2011
    Oh please, how is saying that you're either in denial or just can't see/don't care about the difference a personal attack? Just relax.

    - MBA displays are clearly inferior, please just let it go. If you don't see it, good for you, but don't give false information.

    - the lower PPI and real estate is not that much of an issue for me, like for those that use and enjoy a base resolution 15" MBP (which is even worse). I would appreciate a higher PPI more if things got sharper without shrinking. Here they're made of the same number of pixels so they're not really "sharper", just smaller. Something like iPhone 4 vs 3GS, now that would be interesting.

    - 4gb of RAM is enough for most people including myself, yeah I know, but it's not what it used to be on Snow Leopard. End of story.

    I agree. But for now I'd rather be starring at the better screen.
  22. jmgregory1 macrumors 68000


    Jun 24, 2010
    Chicago and a few other places around the world
    Get the MBA. The storage issue is going to become less of an issue when you consider how iCloud is going to work AND once 3rd party storage manufacturers start producing TB drives, you will not have any issues with storage capacity. An external TB drive can have transfer speeds almost as fast as an internal drive - perhaps we'll also start to see external TB SSD drives? No spinning disks at all and bullet-fast speeds. It's only a matter of time.
  23. iau macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2009
    I'm not sure if you're refering to the Pro-name or the laptop itself, but there is a major difference in hard-disk space between the MBA and MBP 13". For some of us this is important. The MBP 15" is too big to carry around the world, and I don't see either the 15" or the 17" as a replacement for the 13". Of course the MBA is smaller and lighter, but there is a difference in performance. For a photographer this can be important enough.
  24. Lifequest macrumors regular

    Feb 9, 2010

    Since when did this thread become about YOU.
    From what I can see, OP will benefit much more from an air. The ONLY concern I can see is the "small" SSD storage size.
    13" laptops are to be portable. Used a 13" pros in the past, the new 13" airs are Godsend. Power-housing? 8GB? Reserve that for 15-17" or an iMac. More is better but an extra 4GB trading off the SSD, no thanks.

    P.S. 13" pro resolution might not matter. But once you use the air, you just can't go back to the pro's resolution. Dreadful. Looks and feels outdated...
  25. Kafka macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2011
    Sorry about this but we cannot speak for the OP, so we are all trying to help by basically giving our personal views and opinions, like you just did here:

    I apologize if some of you get the feeling I'm looking for conflict, I am not at all. It's just annoying how some people have this fixation on resolution and assume it's the same for everyone.

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