13in MBP vs 13in MBA

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Neilfau, Feb 4, 2012.

  1. Neilfau macrumors newbie

    Jan 29, 2012
    Ok so I'm torn between two machines, need some constructive advice, pros & cons on both so I can weigh up which machine to get. I'll will be using the machine for the following:

    iOS App Developement
    Music editing / Production
    Minor Video Editing
    iBooks Authoring

    It will be used mainly at home so size & weight isn't a critical factor.
    I'm torn between the 2.8Ghz i7 MBP or the 1.7GHz 128GB MBA.
    I know there is a i7 MBA but my budget is really around the £1300 mark.

    The MBP


    Upgradable RAM
    Optical Drive
    Good amount of Hard disc space
    Faster Processor


    Lower Screen resolution
    No SSD as standard

    The MBA


    Higher resolution screen
    SSD hard disc
    Slim & Compact


    Small amount of hard disc space
    Slower processor
    No optical drive

    Obviously I would have to buy a optical drive & external hard drive if I went for the MBA taking my total close to £1300 mark.

    The main points for discussion reagarding the MBA are; is 128GB enough space for all the apps needed to be installed & run directly from the hard drive. If all my music/videos/photos are on a external Hard drive surely this negates the point of having SSD. The other point, is the MBA generally fast enough to do everything I want it too?

    The main points for discussion reagarding the MBP are; is the screen resolution good enough for doing alot of app development & is the glossy screen going to be a problem is its used predominantly inside.

    My final point for discussion regarding both machines involves a topic widely discussed on forums with wide range of answers. Should I wait for the refresh? I know no one actually knows the refresh date, but if we're talking 3 months, I'd rather wait, if it's 6 months I wont bother. My thinking is maybe I should wait for the iPad 3 announcement in late feb / early march and see if they announce anything to do with ivy bridge enable MacBooks. Again is the boost in performance going to be noticeable? Is it worth waiting for, for my needs? Also I'm in America in May, so if there is a refresh around that time I could pick one up alot cheaper over there.

    I'm currently leaning towards the pro, but the higher resolution screen on the air is better for development which will be my primary use.
    Decisions..... Decisions...

    Ok think that's it, sorry for the long post but wanted to make sure I covered everything, £1300 is alot of money & I want to get best bang for my buck.
  2. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011
    just my .02... the edges on the macbook pro really bother my wrist to do the sharp unibody. Thats why I got the air.
    In the end they are both terrific machines and I am sure you will be happy with either of them.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If this is going to be your main machine, I think the 13" model is a poor choice. I have (and like) the 13" MBP however I have it hooked up to an external monitor when not traveling.

    I find the 13" screen very limiting in photoshop and Lightroom. My next laptop is going to be a 15" model

    As for MPB vs. MBA. I think the MBP edges out because you get more ports, more ram, you can easily swap out the hard drive and if you want you can pull the optical drive and add another drive in its place.

    The CPU is a bit faster as well on the MBP
  4. Sammi :) macrumors member

    Dec 31, 2011
    Sheffield, UK
    I use my 13" MBP for similar things you do and it's fine. I chose it because I like that I can upgrade the RAM and install an SSD if need be without losing a 500GB Hard Drive.

    I would recommend a 15" or plugging the MacBook into an external monitor as maflynn pointed out for Photoshop use though. I design and develop websites and there isn't enough room on the 13" for working on my layouts at 100% in Photoshop.
  5. Neilfau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 29, 2012
    Thanks for the input guys. The primary use for the laptop is app development, with some light use of photoshop. The 15inch is just outside my budget at the moment, but obviously if I decide to wait till May & buy one in USA I would be able to afford it then. If you forget about photoshop for the moment would a 13inch be fine for app development?
  6. thasan macrumors 6502a

    Oct 19, 2007
    my suggestion:
    mbp with ssd. its heavy but fantastic!

  7. Sammi :) macrumors member

    Dec 31, 2011
    Sheffield, UK
    I've only made some very basic apps following online tutorials but my 13" base MBP handled it absolutely fine. :) I haven't experienced any problems doing anything on this baby so far, except when screen resolution is a factor.
  8. Kungshi macrumors member

    May 11, 2011
    I love the mba. I think that would work fine for you app development. But you may need an external hard drive at some point, but maybe not. Also keep in mind that if you need portability, there really is a noticable difference in the weights of the two.
  9. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Both machines will serve your needs just fine. That said, if you want more bang for your buck and if you want a machine that you can upgrade things like RAM and hard drive (which will ultimately prolong the duration of usefulness, especially as Apple ups the RAM requirements to future versions of Mac OS X as has been the trend), the 13" MacBook Pro is the better machine. Period. If weight is a big concern for you (by which I mean, if you carry around your laptop absolutely everywhere and the two extra pounds of weight is too much for you on a daily basis) go with a 13" MacBook Air.

    Otherwise, you can outfit an SSD drive in a 13" MacBook Pro (assuming you don't configure one through Apple to have one) so as to get the bulk of what makes a MacBook Air a faster machine. The higher resolution on the 13" Air over the 13" Pro is an annoying difference; though again, if you are serious enough about using Photoshop to the point where that even matters in the first place, you will buy an external display to use with Photoshop to rectify that problem anyway. I say go Pro over Air, but then again, I value utility and prolonged usefulness, something the Air won't ever have over the Pro.

    That being said, as others have said, the real winner is the 15" Pro as it is better than both 13" machines hands down. But if that's out of your budget and if you don't game much or do any rendering/editing, a 13" Pro isn't a bad consolation prize at all.

    Either 13" laptop would be more than fine for app development. No difference between the two of them makes or breaks their ability to do web development fine, unless you need a ton of space, in which case, the MacBook Air's SSD probably won't cut it and in which case you'll probably want a 13" MacBook Pro with a large capacity hard drive.
  10. Neilfau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 29, 2012
    Thanks for the help, I've made my decision. Going for a 13in MBP with 750GB hard drive, with the view it's more future proof than the MBA. See how I get on with screen, might buy a monitor for home use at later date.
  11. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Congrats! As my late grandmother would say, use it in good health.

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