Advice needed on MacBook Air 13" vs MacBook Pro 15"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Growlybear, Dec 13, 2018.

  1. Growlybear macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2018
    I've been dithering for the last week about which MacBook to buy and would really appreciate some opinions please. I’ve decided that it’s time to invest in a MacBook rather than replace my current laptop with another Windows machine. I mostly use my laptop for work – writing reports, minutes etc – and tend to work with it on my lap for long periods of time. I had jalmost made up my mind to buy the newest MacBook Air model, but have reservations about whether I would find a 13” screen a bit small for the amount of time I woudl be using it after using a 15” for years. For the type of work I do, I really don’t need everything that a MacBook Pro could do, but this is the only model with a 15” screen. I can’t afford one of the new 15” models, but I have found an online retailer selling brand new late 2016 MacBook Pros for a price that I can just about manage. Am I being silly to think of getting a laptop that was manufactured two years ago? Have other people found it easy to adjust to the difference in screen size?
  2. techwarrior macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2009
    I have a company issued 13" MBP. I had the choice of 13 or 15". but my use case is 99% of the time it is connected to 2 external monitors so the screen size was not a big factor.

    You would be surprised how much you can get done on the smaller screen, everything scales.

    Plus for 13" is portability, it is that much smaller so easy to pull out and use.

    Go to an Apple Store and "try one out" for a bit of time, doing some of the tasks you anticipate using it for.
  3. jaduff46 macrumors 6502


    Mar 3, 2010
    Second star on the right....
    I’d go for the Pro over the Air (more ports and not that much heavier) and the 13” vs 15” is something you can compare in the Apple store for yourselfas suggested by @techwarrior above. The 15” will be about a pound heavier than the 13”.

    Also check out the reliability of the online retailer and note that you can save 100s of $ in the Refurbished section of the Apple website.
  4. Camark08 macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2018
    Go with a 2017 MacBook pro 13 inch. Don't spend 1200 on a 1.6ghz dual core(MacBook air).
  5. Growlybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2018
    Thanks very much for the replies. I'm still very undecided! The weight of the machine doesn't matter at all - I never take my laptop out with me, and work with it on my lap for much of the day; any MacBook is going to be much lighter than my current Windows machine. It also wouldn't suit my way of working to use an external monitor, so the screen size is important.

    I would definitely prefer a 15" screen, but am anxious about buying a late 2016 MacBook Pro, albeit a brand new, unopened one. The other issue is that if I buy the 13" MacBook Air, I would buy this from John Lewis, where I would get a 3 year warranty and I could return it to a store if there was a problem, whereas the 2016 15" MacBook Pro would be purchased from an online retailer, who has good reviews, but would just give the standard one year warranty. This is really difficult!!
  6. Nbd1790 macrumors member

    Jan 2, 2017
    New York
    Head over to b&h for a 2016 MBP. Pretty sure you can get the same price if not a better one from them and still be able to add applecare as well. If you're not using an external monitor, I would highly recommend going with a 15 if thats going to be your primary screen.

    I've been using a 15 inch for the past 5-7 years and recently tried moving to a 13 inch to see if I could get something a bit more portable and wasnt able to adjust.

    Hope that helps. Good luck
  7. Isamilis macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2012
    If you have no graphical design or video work, 13" must be sufficient. Otherwise go with 15". Also, MBA is not designed for serious work.
    Since you didnt plan to take laptop out or work with it on lap frequently, I would suggest to get 15".
  8. Sword86, Dec 18, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018

    Sword86 macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2012
    I think you’d be just fine with a 2016 MB. That would be a step up from refurbished which is what I was thinking when the time comes to replace my 13
    I originally got a 13” Macbook since I wanted one that would fit in the saddle bag of my Harley. (Late 2008 uni-body aluminum....pre Macbook Pro)
    Over time I added ram, swapped to an SSD and replaced the battery thinking sooner the better. I forget which OS I am running, (Yosemite?) but this rig will support two more OS updates. This is a ten year old laptop and it is still bulletproof. It originally came with Leopard and I went straight to Snow Leopard and on from there.
    I’d suggest as fast a processor as you can find in your budget knowing you can pretty much pump up all the other internals when the time comes.
    Buying Macs isn’t cheap, but I have friends that have replaced numerous Windows machines in the time I’ve had 10 trouble-free years on my 13. Nevermind all the BS that comes with running Windows. I can’t fathom the logic of buying four or five inexpensive, hence, slow Windows machines and putting up with them all those years when the same money gets you a fast MB that gives no problems and lasts at least the same length of time and is literally upgradable forever.
    Spend the money on getting the fastest processor available on the 2016 15 and get an idea what ram and SSDs will cost you if you decide to pump it up.
    I have had great luck using OWC. (Mac upgrade specialists)
    I wouldn’t even think twice about saving a pile of cash by going back a couple of years. Just do a bit of homework about what hardware limitations a 2016 has versus new ones. For example, my 13 will not support Airplay and a couple of other things that escape me right now. Apple, or OWC will be able to tell you about any newer hardware developments that have happened since 2016 that might impact you. You have me thinking to hold off and look at new, prior year models instead of refurbished when the time comes, but for my use, my 2008 is still great. Just my two bits worth. S
    --- Post Merged, Dec 18, 2018 ---
    Absolutely concur. I think buying an AIR immediately puts a damper on future upgrades. My kid bought an AIR without any thought just to save some coin and I’m not sure she can even replace the battery. OTOH, I have no idea what you can do on your own regarding any of the newer MBs either. S
    --- Post Merged, Dec 18, 2018 ---
    NO AIR!!!! The key is future upgradeability. Get the fastest processor you can get in the 2016 MBP.
  9. mylittlepwny macrumors newbie


    Apr 5, 2018
    I recently bought and returned a 2018 Macbook Air w/ 512gb ssd and 16gb ram. After tax and Applecare (necessary imo with the new keyboards) it was over $2000, but the screen and speakers belong on a sub $1000 laptop. Performance of the CPU left a lot to be desired also, it sits at 100C and throttles under any kind of load. The initial time machine backup for example took 10hrs on the MBA vs just a few with my 15” for frankly less data that I had on the Air.

    I have since bought a refurbished 15” 2018 with the same ram and storage and am much happier. The larger screen is a lot easier on the eyes and significantly brighter which to me is important as I wanted a mac I could occasionally use outside. Only downside is it cost me another $1000 but the 15” is a proper mobile desktop replacement rather than a netbook.

    A similarly priced 15” even a couple years old is a no brainer vs the Air. I don’t feel 15” vs 13” on the Macbook at least is that significant of a difference for mobility.
  10. Gator1pk macrumors newbie


    Sep 28, 2013
    Fort Lauderdale
    Don’t forget to check the refurbished MacBook Pros you can get directly from Apple. Save $, same warranty as new, they look brand new. Apple needs to ship directly to you (or local Apple store for pickup). You get a plain white box instead of the retail box
  11. Growlybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2018
    Thank you so much to everyone. I noticed a couple of days ago that one of the big chains had reduced the lowest spec 2018 MacBook Pro by almost £300. I contacted John Lewis, who agreed to match the price, and so I've now got myself a 15" MBP with a three year warranty, at a much better price than I had expected to find.

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