2011 MacBook Air/MacBook Pro Video Comparison

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by revelated, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. revelated, Jul 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011

    revelated macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    Online and ready for consumption. The Pro in question is my work-issued laptop that I asked for BTO, running Snow Leopard. It has the same size SSD, same RAM, 2.3GHz i5, minimal customizations or changes, same Intel HD 3000 graphics card. Functionally they are equal except for the lower clock of the Air's processor and the operating system.

    I also managed to capture quite clearly the gradient/light inconsistency at the bottom of the Air screen. If you pause at 6:11 you will see this effect during the boot screen. When it goes to around 6:24 or thereabouts, the boot screen lightens up and you can see it extremely clear. It almost looks like something is pressing on the screen or that the seal is uneven.

    I slightly botched the Mission Control test. However the end effect is still there and you get the idea.

    This video is not to degrade the Air. I acknowledge its glare resistance, general brightness, form factor/carrying ease, power for the "regular user" and cost benefit which is there. Rather, I point out the upsells of the Pro compared to the Air. I didn't even give a full list. Some may not matter to you. Realistically the #1 reason to choose the 13" Air is saving 2 pounds. But when you lift them both, there's really no perceived difference in weight.

    • Apple Remote compatibility
    • Upgrade RAM as high as 16GB if you want (Thanks to Sandy Bridge)
    • Keep the 1TB drive, upgrade to a 2TB drive, upgrade to a 7200 RPM drive, or the Momentus XT hybrid drive, or choose from any one of a number of good solid state drives. You can even put two drives if you're bold. Your choice
    • Optical drive which you can choose to use or not use
    • Firewire 800 port if you need it
    • Ethernet port if you need it WITHOUT HAVING TO BUY AN ADAPTER FOR IT
    • FaceTime camera as opposed to standard VGA camera, if you care
    • Higher clock processor
    • More internal room to breathe = less need for the fans to come on under moderate stress
    • Deeper, richer colors on the screen than the Air. The Air's screen pales (literally) in comparison to the first or even second gen Air.
    • Pro with Lion can be downgraded rather easily to Snow Leopard if you choose; the Air with Lion cannot.
  2. Hankster macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Washington DC
    I'm confused at the people who want to compare the MacBook Air to the MacBook Pro. They are not suppose to be the same. The MacBook Air is not suppose to be more powerful than the MacBook Pro, or even on the same level.

    It seems the people who aren't satisfied with the Air are so because they're expecting Pro specs and performance in the Air. You don't compare a $25,000 car to a $40,000 car.

    Also, while I respect your opinion I completely disagree with the perception of weight. The Air is so much more lighter than the MacBook Pro. I carry around my MBA and it feels like nothing. In fact I carry it around with one hand 90% of the time (like a book). I cannot do that with a MBP. The portability of the Air is unmatched.
  3. iExpensive macrumors 6502


    Oct 18, 2010
    Las Vegas
    I don't care if the pro runs circles around the air. It still has a crap resolution. When the 13" MBP gets a 1440x900 then I will consider it.

    Great Video btw.
  4. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    I appreciate your effort. Get your flame suit on.

    May want to break it into parts next time. 30 mins lost me before it got started tbh.

    Again, I genuinely appreciate how much effort goes into these things.
  5. Snowbro macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2011

    Sorry buddy, you lost all credibility when you said that the MBA weighs 2 lbs less than the MB Pro, and then immediately after write that there is "no perceived weight difference".

    Ummmmmmmmmm.... the MB Pro feels like a leaded brick compared to the MBA.

    You clearly like the MB Pro, fine, but come on, that comment was pretty ridiculous.

    I'd hope the MB Pro would run circles around the MBA performance wise, but its actually pretty close now, not to mention the MBA gives you much higher screen resolution.

    Entertainment at least ;-)
  6. FAsnakes macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2007
    Had to click off 20 seconds into the video.. . Just looked like a painfully obnoxious video to watch..
    I'm sure it's not that bad - i just don't have 30 + minutes to dedicate to the vid..
  7. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    Already ready, though there are a LOT of people who want this comparison. I've gotten 5 messages from people asking for exactly that. Most are smart enough to just watch up to what they really wanted to know. I suspect the majority are curious about the boot speed which is 6 minutes in and the specs which are shortly after that. The rest is more fluff about the Air for those who care.

    The Jobsians on MacRumors will issue double standards left and right "The Air isn't supposed to be the same as the Pro!!!" yet "there's no reason to get the Pro, the Air does everything the Pro does!!!" Make up your mind.

    People who complain about the 13" Pro's weight compared to the Air's weight are out of shape. I'm not talking about "like a book". I'm talking about how the thing feels when you hold them in the air. The difference is negligible. Now the 11" vs the Pro? THAT is a discernible difference. But that's not the issue here.
  8. orfeas0 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 21, 2010
    Athens, Greece
    +1 for launchpad being useless.
    About the review: you said you would compare hardware and went on about launchpad, natural scrolling, mission control. Those are features of Lion vs the snow leopard, not MBA vs MBP.
    Overall, thank you for the useful info.
    I'm surprised they removed the minimized apps from mission control, since that's a feature they added in Snow Leopard (and didn't exist in leopard).
  9. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    IMO the 13" Apple laptops are in a really awkward place right now. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    The main thing that keeps me from the 13" MBP is the screen res. It is the exact same as my 1st gen macbook from 5 years ago. Also, no matte screen option like the 15" or 17". I just can't deal with the glass reflections as I typically work in areas with large window panes behind me.

    The other thing is graphics performance, which is not any better than the Air. If they could just fit a dedicated card then I would be all over the 13" MBP.

    As for your performance tests...your SSD on the MBP seems like it is not the one Apple sticks in there, I have never seen one of those boot that fast. I'm guessing it is probably a newer generation SSD than the ones Apple provides (At a much higher price as well).

    And comparing Snow Leopard to Lion isn't exactly a fair comparison, as Lion has shown to have slower boot and wake times on the same hardware.

    I don't know what Apple is doing with the current 2011 MBP, but more than likely it will have Lion preinstalled, and you will have to find a 2011 MBP Snow Leopard disk, as the boxed versions probably don't have drivers for the 2011 model as it shipped with Snow Leopard. So the advantage of being able to downgrade is probably gone now or at least very soon. (Well, it will still be possible, but you will have to find someone with the correct disk).

    Also, I'm pretty sure removing your optical drive and installing an optibay will void your Applecare.

    As I said, both have their uses, but neither are for me. 11" MBA and 15" MBP for me :D
  10. Bob Coxner macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2011
    Enjoyed the video, thanks!

    What I would like to see more of are comparisons of the screens side by side. Lots of photos, some Netflix, test patterns, etc.
  11. OSMac macrumors 65816

    Jun 14, 2010
    Thanks. The heavy glare on the Pro did not help your case ...

    If you get the chance ...
    Would like to see a comparison of iMovie rendering on both.
    Drop say 30 pics on the timeline add a music track,
    then compare time to render to 720p,
    and note when the fans ramp up on both and to what volume.

    The biggest issue with Lion is auto save not saving in FCPx,
    that is a nightmare, might be Lion or FCPx to blame,
    but having autosave fail is completely unacceptable when no manual save option exists!

    It's not a one off thing either has happened to many.
  12. Gemütlichkeit macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2010
    I didn't buy the Air because it it's slower than the Pro, can't be upgraded, or any of your reasons.
  13. thefirstone macrumors member

    Jun 7, 2011
    The big difference between the two machines in the screen resolution. You should have talked about that a little.

    Plus, if I'm going to install a 128GB SSD on MBP, that is already $200 addition to the price of the MBP.

    I'm trying to decide between 13" MBA and 13" MBP, so your video helped. I can't decide if I want the higher resolution and SSD in MBA or the 8GB of RAM in MBP.
  14. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    I know, I cheated a bit. But the first half of the video focused solely on hardware specs which is what I'd planned. Realistically there isn't much difference between the two to warrant further discussion about it.

    Nope. BTO from Apple. The newer SSDs they use in the 2011 Pros are actually quite robust. I was rather shocked myself at how fast it boots. My guess is that I was wrong about the SSD, and it's actually a Samsung model rather than a Toshiba one. I'll have to dig into it deeper to verify that.

    It's faster than my Big Apple 17" Pro with a Samsung 470 SSD, and I didn't think anything could surpass the Big Apple, especially given the Big Apple is an i7 processor. But then the Big Apple does have 8GB of RAM it has to analyze, so that's likely part of it.

    I actually planned for that angle. I wanted people to see that the Air is actually great for glare reduction due to the polarized screen. The next video I do will be at night so that the true image quality comes out, and that video will be higher resolution as the screen is all I will be focused on.

    I don't find that to be a very viable test. iMovie is crap. But I'll see what I can do.

    Regarding the res. The whole thing about pixel densities and whatnot, IMO, is negated halfway by the fact that the quality of the screen on the Air just doesn't hold a candle to the Pro. Thus why I really didn't focus on it.

    As for the SSD debate, think about it this way.

    A BTO 13" Pro with SSD ONLY, including tax, should be around $1450.

    The base 13" Air with 128 SSD, including tax, is going to be around $1350.

    So basically, for $100 more, you get a machine that is essentially future proofed, since you can choose to upgrade the RAM, choose to upgrade the drive, and by the way, the RAM can go up to 16GB if you want. If you're doing any sort of web development then it becomes even more key, because the color reproduction of the Pro is substantially better than the Air.

    If such do not matter, then the Air is fine. That's basically what my video is saying.
  15. IngerMan macrumors 65816


    Feb 21, 2011
    I am not sure if that was a anti Lion video or anti MBA video. Regardless the comparison is not apples to apples.

    I only have 3 words for you.

    Blow your Nose :p
  16. Fugue macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2011
    Excellent comparison. Post this in the MBP forum, and people will say positive things. Post it here in the MBA forum, and people criticize. I find it comical how people take sides based on what they own; I myself, rather unfortunately, sometimes do it as well.

    By the way, if anyone lives next to a Microcenter, they sell the 13" MBP for $999. It's a no brainer to get it over the MBA, from a pure budget/performance ratio.

    I can't wait to outfit my MBP with an SSD; just waiting for the Crucial m4, the Samsung 470, or even the Kingston V+100 to hit roughly $150 for 128GB.


    How does the battery life of the MBP compare to the MBA? I know they are both advertised at 7hours, but I want real life testing.
  17. mtj111 macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
  18. adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    Nice review - i didnt realise that point on mission control till you pointed it out.

    Also, maybe keep a Kleenex handy for the next review? :rolleyes:
  19. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    In my experience I have observed the following:

    • The Pro seems not to be too adversely affected by Spotlight compared to the Air. Under the same indexing condition the Pro went down to 4 hours. The Air dropped as low as 2 hours on one occasion and that's from a full charge, doing just web browsing. It hasn't happened since because there's nothing left to index.
    • Realistically I can get the Pro to go for 5-6 hours without a charge assuming I don't run Flash or VMWare, basically. That's regular web, email, calendar. Mind, it is a work laptop. I don't game on it, and can't speak to that.
    • My old work PC was migrated into a VM that I run daily. While running it the MBP can go 4-5 hours depending on what's going on.
    • Realistically I can get the Air to push 4-5 hours under the same use case as stated above, but the thing with the Air is that it is less affected battery-wise by the backlight keyboard. Even at max brightness I only lost some minutes of battery. IF I go max screen brightness then I'm down to 4 hours.
    • I can stream video on the Pro and still eek out 4 hours. The Air maxed at 3 hours doing the same stream.

    I feel compelled to point out that I have managed to work an 8 hour day, on and off usage of the MBP, with it running programs but not actively being used by me for the full time, totally disconnected from power. So in an 8 hour work day and no juice, I managed to make it work. In fact I found the 13" MBP to have somewhat better battery than even the Big Apple.
  20. Minhthien macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2011
    Hey Thanks for taking your time doing this video! Other people are in a denial state :D! I had the 2011 13' i7, when apple released the new 2011 Air I sold my MBP right away! I was about to buy the new air instead i got a MBP 15' Quad Core :). The air is good but its so fragile, and doing video and photo is not good enough compare to the MBP!
  21. lyrrad721 macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2010
    When you finished explaining the scrolling of the Pro vs the natural scroll of the Air, in which case it can be set to normal as the Pro, I quit the video. :rolleyes:
  22. nfl46 macrumors 604

    Oct 5, 2008
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A5274d Safari/7534.48.3)

    Thanks for the video, man!

    13 MBP > 13 MBA by far for me.
  23. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    The screen res of the 13 mbp makes it a non starter. It's like being back in 2004.
  24. lyrrad721 macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2010
    That was one of the main reasons I chose the Air over it. When they upped the RAM to 4 gb and 128 SSD I pulled the trigger.
  25. Fernandez21 macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2010
    Cool video, I agree with you in regards to the MBA 13" vs MacBook pro 13", they have the same foot print with the pro just being slightly thicker and slightly heavier, I don't know why you would pick the 13" air over the 13" pro. The 11" however is the one I'm interested in since it is a much more portable computer than either, though I do keep looking at the pro because of all the additional features. Too bad you couldnt do a comparison between the pro and an 11" air. Now if apple were to come out with an 11" pro, I would be jumping all over that.

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