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3SQ Machine

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 8, 2019
330
191
Love the spirited discussion around here.

Tested out the MBA 15 today. Grabbed a midnight base model refurb @ Best Buy for $988 still with 11 months warranty left. Nice color. They called it in "fair" condition, but it didn't have a power adapter and wasn't cleaned. It cleaned up great -- AND they even said "you need a power adapter to clinch the deal?" I said "of course" -- so they threw in a magsafe power adapter for free. Seriously good customer service.

Putting that aside--was utterly shocked that the base model 8gb 256gb could handle my Logic Pro projects with ease. Truly shocked. I had seen lots of youtube videos stating such nonsense, but didn't believe a word of it. Yet for my workflow, it was fine and never heated up or throttled. Only used 25% of the CPU with some occasional spikes to 50%. Of course, need to run an external drive but that's not unusual for sound libraries. Surprisingly no memory pressure, but I also ran without other apps/browsers open. I'm sure opening a few other apps would have ballooned the swap file quick.

The real estate is fine--not much of a downgrade in space, but definitely SOME downgrade because I had to hide some tools to free up more space for the tracks. The screen is not as good, of course. But good enough? Yes. In fact, if this unit had been around in 2021 and I bought it instead of the MBP--I probably would have been fine with just some more ram & SSD.

Now for the big BUT...it's still a large footprint, so I'm going to wait for the MBP 14" to come in Monday and give that a run before deciding next steps. I honestly don't think the weight difference between the MBA 15 and the MBP 16 is significant enough to warrant the loss of the other niceties (since I already have them). I'll just keep the beast of MBP 16" if the 14" form factor is to cramped and I'm just too spoiled.

I know what's going to happen--I'm just going to end up with two laptops in the end haha.
 

CalMin

Contributor
Nov 8, 2007
1,624
2,736
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...

Yes. I was a 15” MBP user for years. When they came out with Intel 16” MBP in 2019, that extra inch crossed some imperceptible threshold and it crossed over from just right to slightly too big.

Consequently, I never really bonded with it, and traded it for a 14 inch M1 pro just a year later.

The 15” M2 Air really reminds me of that 15” Pro in terms of its physical size and how it handles. If it pushed 2x external displays it could be my perfect MacBook.
 

AppleTech22

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2010
521
84
US
Last summer I replaced an aging 15" Intel MBP when the M2 13" Air came out. My laptop was being used less for work at the time and more just as a personal machine. Fell in love with the new form factor and of course the massive improvements to battery life and performance with the M-series silicon.

Towards the end of the year, however, freelance website design gigs picked back up and the 13" screen began to be quite limiting when trying to work on projects away from my monitor. For my use cases (Webflow, Figma, Creative Cloud, MS Office) the M2 - and base 8GB spec at that - handled my workload smoothly, but I ultimately switched to a 16" M1 Pro MBP purely for the screen real estate.

As expected, the form factor transition was jarring - but that was the only option pre-15" Air to get more screen real estate. When the 15" Air was announced this summer, I instantly ordered to get back into the Air line. Considering my favoring of this combo of size and form factor, I opted to go with a higher 16GB/1TB spec.

On paper, the size and weight differences between the 15" Air and 16" MBP may not seem massive. Additionally, I completely understand the necessity, and for some, the allure of higher-end specs from the Pro line. For me, I appreciate the form factor of the Air every single day, whether traveling or not. It just feels incredible to have a incredibly capable Mac laptop this large and thin. Using it in bed, on the couch, on a plane, etc - are a joy compared to the 16". Performance wise, it handles everything I throw at it for my workflow. I've also been editing a few personal video projects in Final Cut Pro, using footage from the 15 Pro in Log 4K60 ProRes. Hasn't skipped a beat.

---

Two aesthetic side notes from someone who has spent time with both machines, and after seeing the new M3-line:
  1. The midnight color truly does show a lot of fingerprints. My workaround was adding a matte-black dbrand skin to keep the dark look, but doesn't print up like the aluminum. After seeing the Space Black MBPs in-store, I think Apple has finally landed on the perfect dark finish without it looking like a stainless steel fridge attacked by a toddler.
  2. The black-painted keyboard well of the MBP is a design aspect I feel looks incredibly clean. Even with the midnight Air, I wish its keyboard had that full black look.
 
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MrT-Man

macrumors regular
Jan 22, 2008
127
25
Personally I don't understand why they don't shave some battery life from the 16". It's nice to have a 20+ hour battery life, but I'd be happier with 1/3 less battery life and some weight savings.
 

magbarn

macrumors 68030
Oct 25, 2008
2,945
2,235
Personally I don't understand why they don't shave some battery life from the 16". It's nice to have a 20+ hour battery life, but I'd be happier with 1/3 less battery life and some weight savings.
I wouldn't mind that! Howver, it seems most of the posters here need 20 hours of bladder busting/bed sore inducing battery life, or routinely fly from NYC to Singapore and don't have access to a plug or a battery bank.
 

CalMin

Contributor
Nov 8, 2007
1,624
2,736
I wouldn't mind that! Howver, it seems most of the posters here need 20 hours of bladder busting/bed sore inducing battery life, or routinely fly from NYC to Singapore and don't have access to a plug or a battery bank.
I think the extra battery performance is there for the edge cases. Think field photographer, or scientist out in the boonies. I think most with those needs would take a power bank, but with MBP they wouldn't need to.
 

prospervic

macrumors 6502a
Aug 2, 2007
959
1,095
NYC
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.
All true. However, lifting weights will not make 16” laptops fit onto small coffee shop tables, unfortunately.
 
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VisceralRealist

macrumors 6502
Sep 4, 2023
263
750
Long Beach, California
For me, I think the main downgrade would be the display. I know I don't need more CPU or GPU power than the base M chip offers, but now that I'm used to a ProMotion mini-LED HDR display, it would be difficult to go back to a "standard" display that's inferior to that of my iPhone...
 
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