13in Air or 13in Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by funkmu, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. funkmu macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2008
    Hi guys,

    I'm currently debating whether or not to buy the 13in Air, 13in Pro, or if I should wait for an update on the Air.

    For context, I would like this computer for serious programming, note taking, and all the other various college activities I would partake in. It's rarely going to be sitting on a desk and mostly on the move.

    I currently own a rather powerful Windows laptop that's really large (18.4 in monitor) and weighs ~9lbs. This laptop more or less functions like a desktop (albeit more portable). So I would like to buy a Macbook Air, but I'm not sure if I should get the Air now or wait for another update?

    Finally, which would be better, the Pro or the Air?

    EDIT: Is insurance worthwhile?
  2. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    The pro and air are (basically) identical, sans for the CD drive and port differences. I'd go with the air, especially since you already have a PC with many ports and a CD drive.
  3. Naimfan macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2003
    If you know your computing needs will never increase, and you don't mind paying more for less, then sure, get an Air.

    If, on the other hand, you recognize that your computing needs may increase, and you don't mind getting more for less money, then get the Pro.

    The Pro offers expandability - the Air does not. You can upgrade the Pro to 16 GB of RAM, the Air is forever stuck at 4 GB (which is barely sufficient to run Lion). The hard drive in the Pro can be upgraded, and if you don't mind voiding your warranty you can use another hard drive in the optical bay. Also, the fastest (and most expensive) Air is still slower than the base Pro. The Pro also has far better connectivity options, with Firewire 800 and gigabit Ethernet built in.

    If you do go for an Air, don't hold your breath on an update - you'll probably be waiting until next June/July.
  4. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    If any of your schoolwork requires excel, I would go with the MBA for its higher res screen.

    AppleCare can be purchased anytime within one year of purchasing the computer.
  5. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    What complete garbage.

    OP, going by what you said:

    "For context, I would like this computer for serious programming, note taking, and all the other various college activities I would partake in. It's rarely going to be sitting on a desk and mostly on the move."

    The Air is a far better bet.

    I've owned both machines, and I sold the Pro. Several reasons:

    1) Weight - carrying the Air in a backpack is barely noticeable, if you're at university and you're carrying it around alot, then your shoulder will eventually take notice of the Pro.

    2) Screen resolution - The Air has a far higher screen resolution, therefore, more space on screen to program comfortably, the Pro feels very constrained by comparison.

    3) Power - Day to day programming, you're barely going to notice any difference. Unless you're trying to use several VM'd machines there is no compelling reason to get the Pro, in my opinion. I've used windows 7 in parallels with absolutely no issues on my Air.

    The processor in the Air is rated at 1.7GHz, but it on average overclocks itself to 2.3GHz with both cores active (more or less the speed of the Pro) and around 2.9GHz with one core active.

    The Geekbench scores are almost the same on these models.

    The "4GB barely enough to run Lion" line, is complete nonsense, I've routinely got Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Illustrator open at the same time and it runs absolutely fine.

    It's your choice, but from experience, I'd absolutely go Air.
  6. FredTheDeadHead macrumors member

    Jul 2, 2011
    The MB Pro has faster processors, the ability to get up to 8 Gigs of RAM, and an optical drive.

    The Air has a Solid State drive, and is super light and thin.

    If you need performance, get the Pro.

    If you need portability above all, get the Air.

    Actually, if they just had a 6 or 8 Gig RAM option on the Air, I would go with the Air, but 4 Gigs is just a bit too tight for a lot of heavy duty work.
  7. Heavertron macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2011
    Sorry to be pedantic, but both the MBA and MBP have only one processor, which has dual cores. Also the MBP can upgrade to 2 x 8gb ram = 16gb.
  8. caligomez macrumors regular


    Feb 8, 2011
    San Juan, PR
    I agree with this point most of all..

    In terms of processor power, both are very similar, and the Air SSD actually favors speed in certain situations.. And the resolution is a HUGE plus I think..

    If you already have a workhorse PC, keep it and get the Air. Whatever shortfalls the Air might have, the other can complement (optical drive sharing, etc..) From the looks of it, for day to day usage, carrying, booting up, etc.. the 13" Air will give you the most benefits.

    ~On a footnote.. Someone mentioned that 4Gb is barely enough for Lion.. Not true at all.. MY MBP has 4GB and multi tasks like a champ.
  9. Naimfan macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2003
    The Air is a far better bet if you want to have to dump it and replace it in a year when you realize 4 GB RAM is insufficient. As I said, the Air commands a huge price premium to give you . . . less. I've owned both, and sold the Air.

    Let's review some facts, which NutsNGum found too inconvenient to mention:

    1. The Air offers less performance: The fastest 13" Air is still slower than the base Pro. The 1.8 GHz Air scores 5786 on Geekbench and costs $1,699; the 2.4 GHz Pro scores 6208 on Geekbench and costs $1,199. Turbo boost? NutsNGum conveniently neglects that the Pro ALSO has it, which can boost the 2.4 GHz Pro to 2.93 GHz.

    2. The Pro can be expanded to 16 GB of RAM and any size or type drive you want - whether a 1 TB platter drive or a 512 GB SSD. And if one doesn't mind voiding the warranty, you can install two different drives in the Pro. The Air? Zero expandability.

    3. Also as noted, the Pro offers both Firewire 800 AND gigabit Ethernet. The Air? Neither. Need an optical drive? Sorry, the Air doesn't come with one, but you can buy an oh-so-convenient external drive for another $99.

    4. 4 GB of RAM is not sufficient to run Lion and to do serious work without massive page-outs, which are, funnily enough, eliminated with upgraded RAM. As noted, the Air is a sealed system, which means you can NEVER upgrade the RAM or drive - you have to buy a new machine when your current one can't run satisfactorily.

    5. The Pro has much better color accuracy due to a higher quality display panel, and is MUCH easier to look at for an extended period of time. The Air's display looks gray and washed out in comparison, which leads to eyestrain, especially in conjunction with smaller text.

    Finally, the Air feels like a toy to me - it feels flimsy and insubstantial relative to the Pro. That's of course subjective, as is my opinion that the Pro is better looking - the uniformity trumps the thinness, which is thinness for the sake of it as opposed to form following function. And if you're really going to notice the weight difference, you have bigger problems than which laptop to buy. I travel weekly, and having had both, there's no way I'd ever go back to an Air.

    You pay your money and you take your choice . . .

    In sum, as I said, the Pro gives you a lot more capability for less money, and is, hence, a much better buy.
  10. Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2010
    If you aren't sure about about your needs or money is an issue (it rarely is not) I would probably get the MBP. It's less expense and more flexible. Sometimes people think about the weight but as someone that used to travel I can tell you that unless your an invalid a 2.1 pound difference really shouldn't matter for a college student, especially considering the other things that you often carry. For portability, I find size to be a larger factor than weight.

    The MBA is nice but you WILL pay more for the thinner body and you will get less in way of options with it. However, we all want what we want, if you want the smaller Air, enjoy it..... Just understand the real differences :)
  11. NutsNGum, Nov 28, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011

    NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    It's not a case of finding things too inconvenient to mention. It's a case of actually listening to what the OP needs it for, rather than just reeling off a list of things that -- according to you -- the Air can't do.

    There's so much misinformation in your post it's hard to know where to begin.
  12. Naimfan macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2003
    The fact of the matter remains that the Pro offers more capability and performance for less money. Alternatively, the Air offers less capability and performance for more money.

    ROFLMAO on misinformation - your posts have contained no facts. Perhaps you'd like to contest the facts that I've provided? Which I distinguish from my opinions, unlike you. Funny thing - when the facts aren't on your side, you ignore them. Just as you've done . . .
  13. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
  14. Naimfan macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2003
    You really should stop calling yourself out . . .

    American lawyers have a saying: When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When the law is against you, argue public policy. And when public policy is against you, bang the podium.

    I see you've devolved to banging on the podium . . .

  15. rbrian macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2011
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    Actually, that's part of the reason I bought an Air. I've upgraded the RAM and HDD in my Pro, but it still runs slow, mostly due to the outdated processor. Next year, I can sell the Air for not much less than I paid for it, and get a shiny new one. I've come to the conclusion that computers should be appliances, replaced rather than upgraded. This will also ensure a steady supply of used machines, which will enable those of lesser means to get a Mac instead of settling for a Windows PC.
  16. Codeseven macrumors 6502a

    Dec 31, 2008
    This is actually an interesting thread for me since I too am debating Air vs Pro. I have owned a late 2008 MBP since new and it has been absolutely bulletproof. My wifes PC has finally crapped out (yay!) and though the price of either Apple product is as much as 3x that of a PC equivalent I find comfort in knowing that a Windows PITA PC is no longer in my household.

    They're both good choices. Go to your local Apple store and mess around with both. Your decision will soon follow :)
  17. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Best advice in the thread.
  18. Buildbright macrumors 6502a

    Aug 25, 2011
    16 GB of Ram? ... Really? 8 GB is more realistic.

    2 x 8GB Sticks costs $500! Half the price of a entry level air.

    I Recommend buying the laptop based on your main task. Don't buy it based on one day you may want to play BF3 or do 3D rendering. Buy it based on what your true daily tasks are.

    The portability and actually being able to use it on my lap are a winner for me. The Pro is heavy and will burn your leg it gets so hot. The Air is so fast with the SSD I never feel I am bottlenecked.

    I will say the one thing I dislike about the Air is the Fan noise during some tasks. I think a fanless setup (couple years away) would be sweet. I just love how the ipad makes no noise and never misses a beat.
  19. Naimfan macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2003
    A couple things:

    First, you can get 16 GB RAM for $220 from Newegg, and prices for 16 GB RAM are only going to come down.

    Second, portability? Really? The MBP is 4.5 lbs - hardly a lot to carry around. I travel a lot for work, and having had the 13" Air and the 13" Pro, I'm comfortable saying the difference in portability is nil.

    Agree on the fan noise - and also note the battery on the Pro lasts substantially longer than the Air.
  20. Osamede macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2009
    This is a vast gulf in portability. The MBP is a standard laptop and at that a bit heavy for its size. The MBA is in the ultraportable weight category, basically below 3lbs where you dont have to think about carry it. At 4.5 you do need to think it over. I'd not get the MBP at this point - its size factor is now outdated.
  21. Penn Jennings, Nov 28, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011

    Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2010
    A) the 13 MBP is not a standard sized laptop, the standard size is 14-15.2 inches.

    B) I have to be honest, I can't help but wonder what kind of people are running around with these systems. The difference between a MBP 13 and MBA 13 is 4.5 vs 3 pounds. That is NOT vast under any normal set of circumstances for a college student (Which is the context of this thread). Yes, you notice the difference if you only carry the system but realistically, you don't notice it while using it and the relative difference when they are both in a descent bag will be far less, since the the bag and everything else being carried increase the total weight for both equally.

    C) In my opinion, having done a lot of traveling with "standard" 15" laptops, netbooks and MBP 13" and 15", the size matters far more than the weight unless the weight is excessive. Since a MBA 13 and MBP 13 require the same size bags and same amount of protection, the MBA is not really more portable unless you mean it's more portable walking around the house. Only an idiot is going to walk around outside without good protection for their 1,500 investment just so that it "feels" light.

    You can work in place with a MBP 13 that you can't work with a MBP 15 or standard laptop. For example, in an airline seat, a MBP 13 is easier to use than a MBP 15. If the person in front of you slams his seat back your screen can get crushed with a 15, not so much with a 13. However, although a MBA is thinner, the difference between a MBP 13 is not nearly as big as the difference between a 15" and 13".

    If seems to me that people are acting like 1.02 pounds and .28 less height makes a HUGE difference and it doesn't. Below are stats from Apples website.

    MBP 13 vs MBA 13

    Height .95 vs .68
    Width 12.78 vs 12.8
    Depth 8.94 vs 8.94
    Weight 4.5 vs 2.98
  22. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    There is a lot of good advice in this thread, so I'll chip in with my tuppence worth.

    Firstly, both are excellent laptops, but each has different strengths. I have had a MBP (15") and currently have a MBA (13" Rev C). In essence, it is a trade off between power and portability. Actually, once I bought my MBA, I found that I was hardly using my MBP, and less than a year later, sold it.

    The MBP comes with a better spec, more power and is clearly better value, for what you pay. However, the MBA has a better screen resolution, is faster (the SSD is a dream) and is far lighter. To me, this was a big issue, as I travel a lot, and a light and ultra-portable machine (which is also fast and has an excellent screen) was ideal for my needs. Worth noting also is that the MBA seems to have a better resale value than the MBP.

    However, - apart from some fun activities on MR - I'm not a gamer, which is an issue for some others. Ultimately, you will decide which form factor you need most - power or portability.

    To the OP, re insurance, again, it depends on how you see your needs. All Apple Macs (and other products) carry a one year warranty, which can be extended to three years with the further purchase of Applecare.

    Cheers and good luck
  23. Osamede macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2009
    Call it what you want - it aint no ultraportable. It is a 13" laptop with an aeging design that weighs 1.5 lbs more than what the latest 13" laptops weigh these days.

    To be accurate it is 1.5 lbs difference, not sure why you fudged that to 1.02. Or put differently the 13" MBP weighs 50% more than the 13" MBA.

    You can put all the spin on it you'd like, just as long as we are clear that one of these laptops weighs 50% more than the other. Anybody can figure what that means, as a 50% jump in weight is discernible to anyone.
  24. Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2010

    OK, I made a make mistake of .5 pounds. The argument is still valid.

    While it is true that one wieghs 50% more than the other using that stat alone is very misleading. The weight only matters when your are moving around with it or holding it (I'm assuming that people don't stand around holding their Macs when they don't have to). Any time the system is moved any substantial distance, it is probably going to be in a protective bag. A good bag can weigh 2 or 3 pounds empty. The relative difference of 1.5 pounds will make no difference to anyone unless that person is in extremely poor health. If you are only moving around the house or office can you really say that 1.5 pounds makes a difference for the 50 feet that you are moving it? Unless you hold in you hands while you work I can't see how it does.

    The MBA certainly FEELS great, I would love to hear from someone that has gone from a MBP 13 to a MBA 13 that can make a reasonable argument as to why the MBA 13 is "50%" more portable than a MBP 13... because they there almost the same size. The .3 inch in height that the MBP 13 gives up to the MBA is not going to make or break anyone, no will the 1.5 pounds.

    Off course this is all my opinion and I'm not trying to talk anyone out of it I'm only trying to focus on reality and not hype.
  25. Akack macrumors 6502a

    Mar 5, 2011

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