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3SQ Machine

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 8, 2019
330
191
Have M1 MBP 16". Love the beast, and while I was initially wowed by its imposing and majestic presence, over the last year it's become too bulky & heavy for my changing lifestyle.

My only taxing need is for music production in logic pro, but that's 25% of its use case. The rest is the standard computer needs that any old notebook could handle. So I'm fairly confident that a M2 MBA with sufficient RAM would be just enough, with some compromises, but I certainly would feel I have enough screen real estate for the projects.

During the BF sales, seriously examined the midnight 15" MBA. Nevertheless, when I looked at one in the store I kept thinking "downgrade." I do love the space black color on the MBP 14", but despite what Apple claims, have misgivings that the M3 Pro is any better than the 16" M1 PRO for music production. I also am concerned about the lack of real estate. However, I would be open to hearing other's experiences on this and whether you learned to live with the 14" after a 16", especially with music production.

So, anyone find themselves in a similar situation where they went down to an MBA from the MBP and felt confident with their decision? With the current trade-in value of my MBP I wouldn't need to spend more than a few hundred dollars to get the 15" MBA.
 

jav6454

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2007
22,303
6,255
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
The MBA at 15" is a horrible laptop, it doesn't make honor to the namesake's original idea of ultra portability. That said, if choosing a 15" laptop, then 90% of the time you want a bit more processing capability which the MBP does do well, the MBA? Not so much.

So yes, it is a downgrade.
 

AlexMaximus

macrumors 65816
Aug 15, 2006
1,172
524
A400M Base
Since it's still black week and the price difference between a decked out MacBook Air 15' and the MacBook Pro 14 is very small, depending on the discount, I would always go for the MacBook Pro 14, especially now. You have a better screen, better speakers and cooling in case you need it. I am sure the Air is indeed great when it comes to portability. But for my use case, portability was never ever a "must-have". My absolute must-have was always power and longevity with the best as possible gpu for running an external monitor for long times. And that is the MacBook Pro.
 
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CalMin

Contributor
Nov 8, 2007
1,624
2,736
I had a 16" Intel and went to a 14" M1Pro. Not quite the same scenario as you, but since I also have a 15" M2 Air I am familiar enough with all three displays to opine on this.

Going from 16" to 14" definitely felt a little tight - kind of like my pants after Thanksgiving dinner i.e. not as spacious as I would like. It's more than offset by the benefit of being more portable and I mostly use it docked while at home. On the road it's just so much better because of size/weight. The screen is still plenty good enough for multitasking.

I recently got a 15" Air and because I use that mostly undocked (in my den at home) I really appreciate the extra room. Don't listen to those who think it's junk - the M2 is actually more powerful than I ever imagined it would be and I could switch to it as my primary computer if it supported more than 1 external display. I also use Logic, but very casually - I rarely exceed 15-20 tracks and my projects are generally less than two minutes.

If I was you, I would consider the 14". It's a great balance of power, portability and screen size. And consider an external monitor for when you're at home.
 
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x34

macrumors 6502a
Oct 19, 2014
633
417
So, anyone find themselves in a similar situation where they went down to an MBA from the MBP and felt confident with their decision?

yes! i just did. and i really like it. it is a bit smaller but it is so thin and light. i really like it!
the M2 air has enough power for most tasks and is perfectly fine.

i would not go below 15", so a MBP with 14" is a no go for me.

the AIR is a really great laptop i have to say.
 
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Mr. Dee

macrumors 603
Dec 4, 2003
5,990
12,815
Jamaica
There is something about test driving Mac computers at the Apple Store that doesn’t give you a full representation of what it’s lIke to really use one in the real world. This week I observed first hand. Had to setup Microsoft 365 on a clients personal MacBook Air. When I got it initially I thought it was the 15 inch Air, they gave it to me while they went to work on another task. I was so shocked how light this thing is. It was like holding a feather in my hand. The screen looked more than ample size considering its a 13 inch. It’s a striking contrast to my 13 inch MBP M1. I said my next MacBook upgrade would have been the 16 inch in 2027. But I’m seriously reconsidering that after playing with that clients Air. As I get older carrying around heavy stuff starts taking its toll. I will still get the iPhone 16 Pro Max next year but likely downgrade to the Plus by 20th anniversary.
 

fa8362

macrumors 68000
Jul 7, 2008
1,571
496
Have M1 MBP 16". Love the beast, and while I was initially wowed by its imposing and majestic presence, over the last year it's become too bulky & heavy for my changing lifestyle.

My only taxing need is for music production in logic pro, but that's 25% of its use case. The rest is the standard computer needs that any old notebook could handle. So I'm fairly confident that a M2 MBA with sufficient RAM would be just enough, with some compromises, but I certainly would feel I have enough screen real estate for the projects.

During the BF sales, seriously examined the midnight 15" MBA. Nevertheless, when I looked at one in the store I kept thinking "downgrade." I do love the space black color on the MBP 14", but despite what Apple claims, have misgivings that the M3 Pro is any better than the 16" M1 PRO for music production. I also am concerned about the lack of real estate. However, I would be open to hearing other's experiences on this and whether you learned to live with the 14" after a 16", especially with music production.

So, anyone find themselves in a similar situation where they went down to an MBA from the MBP and felt confident with their decision? With the current trade-in value of my MBP I wouldn't need to spend more than a few hundred dollars to get the 15" MBA.
Just lift a few weights and it will no longer be too bulky and heavy for your changing lifestyle. As an added bonus, a couple of dumbbells will cost you hundreds less than a trade-in, and you'll be in better shape, and probably live longer too.
 
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bobcomer

macrumors 601
May 18, 2015
4,949
3,690
No active cooling on the MBA, so it might throttle and get hot using logic pro. I had an M1 MBA and it was the worst computer I ever purchased -- for my workload it got *hot* and throttled a lot. I only used it for about 2 months.
 
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DHagan4755

macrumors 68020
Jul 18, 2002
2,149
5,733
Massachusetts
Just lift a few weights and it will no longer be too bulky and heavy for your changing lifestyle. As an added bonus, a couple of dumbbells will cost you hundreds less than a trade-in, and you'll be in better shape, and probably live longer too.
Hahaha this would have been my reaction in the past. After all I toted my 17" MacBook Pro to-and-from work everyday for years without a problem. When Apple phased out the 17" my next biggest option was to downsize to the 15" MacBook Pro.

While I missed the larger screen I grew to appreciate the size of the 15". After a few years and skipping over the butterfly keyboard malarkey, Apple came out with a 16" MacBook Pro that was the same footprint as my 15" MacBook Pro so I bought it!

I liked the overall package of the Intel 16" but it was always warm. When I used it in my lap just doing basic things for any length of time the top of my legs felt sunburned. The space gray faded around the trackpad where I rested my hands. So when an Apple silicon version of the 16" arrived I bought it in silver!

I like my 16" M1. The design is different enough where there have been instances when its size & bulk have been annoying. And I lift 3 times a week at the gym consistently.

I had the M2 14" briefly at launch earlier this year but returned it when I learned about the whole NAND SSD implementation. I flinched too quick as that issue actually turned out to be a nothing burger.

The 15" MacBook Air doesn't seem like much of a downgrade. Silver would be my choice only because if I handed it down to a family member after I'm done with it the midnight finish would not hold up with their use 😆

So I get your dilemma, @3SQ Machine.
 

profH

macrumors regular
Jun 16, 2017
104
163
Pasadena, CA
15" MBA is a great machine -- the haters are ridiculous. I own an M1 16" MBP Max (docked at my work desk in the garage) and now a 15" Air for travel (16GB ram). I've been quarantined in the bedroom with Covid working for over a week and never once did it even -occur- to me to go and grab the MBP.
 

dcphilly

macrumors newbie
Jun 21, 2014
13
14
I have both for work. The 16 in gets tiring quickly when I use a one-shoulder strap messenger bag. It isn't too bad in a backpack with 2 shoulder straps. The 15 in air feels ok with either style bag. I average around 3 miles of walking per day with my laptop bag. The convenience of the 15 is very noticeable.

I deadlift in the 500s and squat in the 400s so I don't think strength correlates to comfort decision between the two.
 

profH

macrumors regular
Jun 16, 2017
104
163
Pasadena, CA
15" MBA is a great machine -- the haters are ridiculous. I own an M1 16" MBP Max (docked at my work desk in the garage) and now a 15" Air for travel (16GB ram). I've been quarantined in the bedroom with Covid working for over a week and never once did it even -occur- to me to go and grab the MBP.
Scratch that, after I wrote this I went and got the damn thing to compare; and then immediately swapped the MBA 15 back in. The form factor was incredibly uncomfortable with the sharp edges of the thick body digging into my wrists/arms when I type, and the slightly bigger / higher quality screen had no discernible benefit for work.

Was real nice for taking in a Netflix action show with low light scenes while I ate lunch though.
 
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3SQ Machine

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 8, 2019
330
191
No active cooling on the MBA, so it might throttle and get hot using logic pro. I had an M1 MBA and it was the worst computer I ever purchased -- for my workload it got *hot* and throttled a lot. I only used it for about 2 months.

Helpful -- had thought for a minute to just keep the MBP and pick up a cheap M1 MBA (seeing new ones still around for sale at $745). However, forgot the throttling issue was worse on the smaller form factor. Read that the M2 15" throttles less because of the larger heat sink--but it still throttles some. Logic for some sessions would probably be out.

Probably best to just go grab a 15 and test drive it during the holiday return period. If it's not powerful enough, try out the 14" MBP to see if I can adjust to the smaller screen.
 

3SQ Machine

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 8, 2019
330
191
Why not get both

Exactly what I’m doing today. I was going crazy trying to theorize what might be best and instead need to have both for a period of time.

Best Buy dropped some crazy deals today. Have an M3 MBP 1Tb 14 inch coming in Monday for $1480–keep in mind this is just an open box unit, but when Best Buy drops the prices of their new units, they also drop the prices of the open box excellent condition units also. It’s still a great deal for a 1TB unit, granted it’s just an M3. But that price is less than a well-stocked MBA so can’t pass it up.

Also going to pick up either a base model or 512gb 15 MBA, both around $1000-$1100.

For those interested, Micro Center also is running a $200 off deal on the brand new M3 pro 14 inch—was tempted to price match that but if I like the 14” M3 form factor well enough, I’ll just return it during the holiday period and wait for the M3 pros to hit the refurb store, or scoop up an open box one on sale after the holiday returns come in.

I’ll post some impressions later
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,149
12,306
My opinion only, but...
... I predict that if you go from a MBP 16" to a MBa 15", you will regret having done so sooner rather than later...
 

mrt.plt

macrumors regular
Oct 22, 2015
105
62
Toronto, Canada
The MBA at 15" is a horrible laptop, it doesn't make honor to the namesake's original idea of ultra portability. That said, if choosing a 15" laptop, then 90% of the time you want a bit more processing capability which the MBP does do well, the MBA? Not so much.

So yes, it is a downgrade.
I have a 16" MBP (M2 Pro) and I have to do all my work-related resource-intensive tasks by SSH-ing into another computer because my work environment does not support ARM. For personal stuff (Premiere and some programming-related stuff) I am really happy that I have an M2 Pro, but I would be "fine" with a 15" MBA as well except for RAM (I went with 32GB). I also really like high refresh rate screens.
16" MBP is heavy. In the past I've used a 2018 15" MBP, a 2019 16" MBP, an M1 13" MBP and an M1 13" MBA; and although my MBP is much snappier, it's also much heavier than them.
I'm sure the 15" MBA will be just fine for music production, and it is a fantastic laptop (I'd buy it in a heartbeat if I were a student and had to carry it in my backpack everyday); although it is still a downgrade. I personally wouldn't pay extra to switch from your MBP to a 15" MBA.
 
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clarencek

macrumors 6502
Apr 8, 2008
295
347
I did this “downgrade” I’ve owned the 16” MBP and 14” MBP and the 15” Air is really a sweet spot between both.
You get close to a 16” screen with the 14” weight.
I went down from 32GB RAM to the 24GB and I notice that but other than that it’s performed really well.

I highly recommend it if you feel the 16” is becoming unwieldy as I found… and the 14” is too cramped.
 

Zest28

macrumors 68000
Jul 11, 2022
1,989
2,637
The 16" MacBook Pro is only 2kg, it's not heavy at all.

But if you like to waste your money feel free to sell your 16" M1 Max MacBook Pro at loss for trying to save 600grams, which won't make that much of a difference.

1.5kg vs 2kg, it's nearly the same weight basically.
 

magbarn

macrumors 68030
Oct 25, 2008
2,945
2,235
No mention of promotion? I guess to even my middle aged eyes, 60hz screens are inferior to the MBP promotion displays. That is enough to make me shun the MBA 15. The M3 MBP 16 screens are also much notably brighter vs the MBA screens.
 

Zest28

macrumors 68000
Jul 11, 2022
1,989
2,637
I gotta say, I love that so many in this thread took the "Do you even lift bro," comment so seriously.

I own both the 16" M1 Max MacBook Pro and the 13" M2 MacBook Air (which is lighter than the 15" M2 MacBook Air). I'm talking from real world experience. It has nothing to do with "do you lift bro".

The 13" M2 MacBook Air doesn't feel that much different in weight as the 16" M1 Max MacBook Pro. So let alone a 15" M2 MacBook Air.

But ofcourse, everybody is free to waste his money as he pleases.
 
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macduke

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,092
19,585
I had a 16" Intel and went to a 14" M1Pro. Not quite the same scenario as you, but since I also have a 15" M2 Air I am familiar enough with all three displays to opine on this.

Going from 16" to 14" definitely felt a little tight - kind of like my pants after Thanksgiving dinner i.e. not as spacious as I would like. It's more than offset by the benefit of being more portable and I mostly use it docked while at home. On the road it's just so much better because of size/weight. The screen is still plenty good enough for multitasking.

I recently got a 15" Air and because I use that mostly undocked (in my den at home) I really appreciate the extra room. Don't listen to those who think it's junk - the M2 is actually more powerful than I ever imagined it would be and I could switch to it as my primary computer if it supported more than 1 external display. I also use Logic, but very casually - I rarely exceed 15-20 tracks and my projects are generally less than two minutes.

If I was you, I would consider the 14". It's a great balance of power, portability and screen size. And consider an external monitor for when you're at home.
I'm moving down to a 14" and hope I don't regret it. But also plan to use it primarily docked like you for a lot of my work. I miss the old 15" size, wish they would offer the Pro in that, especially once they trim down the bezels to be completely edge to edge to make up for it so the device isn't actually that much bigger than the current 14". Maybe we could have a 15" and 17" MBP again, lol. Everything is cyclical...
 
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