Brain says Pro, Heart says Air

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by pexxoum, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. pexxoum macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    Hello all, I'm having a tough time making the choice between the new 13" MacBook Air and the new 13" base-level MacBook Pro. I'm in school and not only want the portability of the Air, but I just love the aesthetic design. It's not like the Pro is huge and not an option, I am just much more attracted to the Air, as I believe everyone naturally is. Either machine will easily exceed all of my school and personal needs by a mile, expect in the category of gaming.

    I used to play a fair amount of PC games around six years ago, and have missed it ever since. I'm not into the newer games like Diablo III and Starcraft. I intend on playing simple, older games like Counter-Strike Source, Day of Defeat, and other similar titles. I have been told my many that the new Pro can easily handle these games, but the Air may have trouble.

    Both graphics cards are the same. The Pro's memory is 500GB hard drive, while the Air has 128GB SSD. I believe the 128GB SSD is much more than enough for my intentions, someone please correct me if this is a much smaller storage than I believe it to be. Both the Pro and Air have 4GB of RAM, which I've been told is excellent. The problem in my dilemma comes down to the processors. Both are the new Ivy Bridge, but the Air's speed is 1.8, while the Pro has a 2.5, which is very impressive. I've read that Counter-Strike's minimum is 1.2, with 2.2 reccomended. I've also read that processor speed isn't as signifigant if other components such as RAM are large. On top of this, these processors apparently can also "turbo", with the Pro's around 3.3 and the Air close behind.

    My question simply is: Can the MacBook Air 2012 effectively run games like Counter-Strike Source without problems, or will I absolutely need the Pro? I understand the device will get hot, the fans may get loud, but it will not cause any damage that will become noticeable or need repair, atleast within four years. Would the Air need to constantly "turbo" while playing games? I also understand that it is best if I install Windows and boot that when I wish to play a game, as I've been told that it is not only more effective for games, but easier on the system.

    I apologize if this belongs in the Gaming thread. It seems like the more knowledgeable users frequent this thread more often.
  2. catalyst6 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 13, 2007
    The resolution on the 13" Macbook Pro is criminally low, get the Air.
  3. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    I just got the pro. You will most likely want more storage and more ram the longer you own it. What is fine today is lacking tomorrow
  4. CausticPuppy macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    Counter-Strike is an old game, it should run fine on the Air.

    The Air has a much better screen. Bump it up to 8GB for future-proofing, and go with the 128GB SSD for now if that's enough for you. You can always upgrade the SSD card later (OWC makes one that fits the air, although they need to redesign for the new connector) when the prices drop, or just use a USB3 external drive for storage.
  5. pexxoum thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    Thanks for the input, everyone.

    I honestly don't see the RAM or SSD space becoming a problem in the future. I mainly use my current laptop to browse the web, storing all school and work documents on a flash drive. My current hard drive has 160GB of 223GB available, and the RAM available is 1.87GB of 2.00GB, so you get an idea of how much is actually being stored. Keep in mind I've had this Toshiba for over two years. More importantly, I only plan on keeping what I purchase for a year or two. I plan to sell it when Retina becomes mainstream, has full support, and has a price drop.

    If the reccomended for Counter-Strike is 2.2, how can the Air cut it? It won't need to constantly turbo, will it?
  6. JD92 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2005
    Don't worry about Counter Strike. Those specs were defined in a time when CPUs didn't get as much performance per MHz. You'll notice that a lot of the Macs out today have CPUs in them running at a lower clock speed than those available just a few years ago - that's because even though the clock speed is lower, performance per MHz has increased substantially.
  7. pexxoum thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    So you believe it will run smoothly on an Air, even on normal or high settings? How much of a difference do you think I'd see in the Pro?

    These new graphics cards are more than enough for older games, right?
  8. ancilla macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    I'm in the opposite situation--brain says Air but heart says Pro. :D
  9. nars1l macrumors newbie

    Apr 26, 2012
    This. Definitely this.

    While the higher processor in the Pro appears to be much better, there really isn't too much of a real-world difference between the two of them, even while gaming. The biggest difference between them will be seen in CPU-intensive activities like photo and video editing, etc. Anandtech has some good comparisons in their review of last year's Air vs. last year's Pro - the difference in framerate between the Pro and the Air while playing Half Life 2 at 1200x800 and high settings, which is a game similar in vintage to those you are looking at, was only 4%. With the Air getting 45fps, and the Pro getting 47fps, you'll never notice the difference. The link if you'd like to see more is here:

    And they are testing with games that were able to push the limits of systems last year - you're looking at playing games that pushed the limits of systems 5+ years ago. You should be fine with the Air :D

    And other than that, the Air has a much better screen, and the SSD hard drive will make a world of difference.

    Also, since you mentioned worrying about the Turbo feature - it's something that the CPU will automatically do when it is not under a huge load to increase its performance - it won't make your computer 'burn out' any faster.

    tl;dr: The Air will play the games you want to play just as well as the Pro, and it's a much better computer all-around. I think this is a no-brainer.
  10. pexxoum thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    Thank you. This was extremely helpful. I'll be buying the Air tomorrow and I'll let you know what happens. I can always exchange it for a Pro.
  11. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2011
    United States
    i owned a 2011 MacBook Air 13" with a 256 SSD. I also owned a 2010 13" MacBook Pro. The performance between the two were night and day. The Air with the SSD was much much faster for what I used it for. I use VMware Fusion and use VMs to do network maintenance and configuration, as well as administer VMware ESX Servers. I was very happy with the Air overall. The only thing I needed was an optical drive as I have to write ISOs on a fairly regular basis for my job. I also needed Gigabit Ethernet to transfer large files to a SAN holding a rack of servers on occasion. The wireless was not adequate for this, and the Thunderbolt -> Gigabit adapter was not available at the time.

    But with that said, if you do not need the Superdrive, I would see no reason not to get the Air, unless you want to be able to expand it. The MacBook Pro can unofficially support 16GB of RAM, where the Air will max out at 8 if you order it that way. However, with the SSD, of the OS does start swapping virtual memory, it will barely be noticeable. I would go as far to say that Lion performed great on the MacBook Air with the SSD and 4GB of RAM. A MacBook Pro with 4GB and a standard HDD really struggles with very few apps running.

    Hope this helps.

    Also - the screen on the Air is much more desirable IMO vs the Pro - higher res and not as shiny.
  12. ixodes macrumors 601


    Jan 11, 2012
    Pacific Coast, USA
    I have them both, each with what I consider as essential: 8GB ram.

    After carefully reading your posts, I believe the Air is your best option.
  13. pexxoum thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    Thank you both. If the RAM needs to be upgraded, it will be done when it needs to be done. I really appreciate all the input everyone has put in and I thank you for taking the time to read my posts.
  14. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2011
    United States
    You may know this - but the Air's RAM cannot be upgraded unless you order it from Apple with additional RAM. It cannot be upgraded after it is built. The RAM is soldered on the logic board.:(
  15. pragmatous macrumors 65816

    May 23, 2012
  16. nars1l macrumors newbie

    Apr 26, 2012
    !! Don't forget this !!

    The only downside with the Air is that you need to plan into the future and make the upgrade to RAM you may normally have saved for later at the time of purchase.

    This has been a huge topic of contention around the interwebs, especially recently with the new Retina Pro, but I believe that sacrificing upgradability is worth it when you get a laptop with the form factor of an Air.

    I didn't say anything as you mentioned that you were thinking of only using this laptop for 1-2 years before upgrading to a future generation Retina Macbook.. but if you're planning on using your Air any longer than this I would definitely upgrade the ram to 8GB. Heck, even if you only use it for 1-2 years you'd be much safer with 8GB of RAM to give yourself breathing room.

    It will increase the resale value too :p
  17. pexxoum thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    Do you honestly think I'll need the extra RAM for what I plan to do? I see myself downloading maybe 3-6 games, and whatever maps I may come across. That's really about it as far as serious RAM usage. Is it only at Apple stores that they carry/configure the Airs to 8GB or will Best Buy have some in stock?
  18. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2011
    United States
    You will have to order it from Apple. The stores do not stock them, Apple, Best Buy, or any other retailers.
  19. pexxoum thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
  20. JediSkipdogg macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2009
    IMO I wouldn't get anything with less than 8 GB in this day and age. Right now I'm on a 2007 Macbook with 4 GB of Ram in it running Snow Leopard with 3 GB of ram. Using just Safari (Flashplayer running on one tab) I'm running with 417 MB free RAM. If I added another GB that still only gives me 1.4 free and quite often I can easily run mine down to 0. I think one should run with at least 2 GB free so the computer has some breathing room when it needs it. As operating systems change more and require more RAM, it's something you can't change down the road. You will be stuck with 4 GB and if you want the Air to last you any time, RAM will be your speed factor before your CPU most likely.
  21. nars1l macrumors newbie

    Apr 26, 2012
    Your gaming will definitely not require more than 4GB of memory.

    But that's not all you'll be doing on it - running multiple programs requires more memory, having multiple internet windows open at once requires more memory, etc etc. And in the next few years, internet windows and programs and operating systems will continue to slowly require more and more memory.

    As I said, you'll probably be fine with 4GB. If you are worried about future-proofing it, it's worth it to think about kicking it up to 8GB. If not, then stick with 4!
  22. pexxoum, Jun 14, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012

    pexxoum thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    Like I said, with my current laptop I have 2GB of RAM, 1.87GB of which is avaliable. So my web browsing and few programs I occasionally run don't seem to be having much of an effect on the storage capacity. I imagine it must be very difficult to fill 4GB of RAM. Worst case scenario; I don't run a bunch of stuff at once, which I never do anyway. I don't see myself having the Air for more than a year and a half, I'm hoping that in a year a nice new 13" Retina Pro will be around $1500.
  23. mackmgg macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2007
    I just checked Steam's website, and the requirements for CounterStrike for Windows say a 1.7GHz processor, but that's single core. The MacBook Air is dual core which way exceeds that. Also if you notice there are no minimum specs for the Mac processor-wise. That's because every Intel Mac supports CounterStrike Source, even the original MacBook Air or the MacBook Pro from 2006. You should be more than fine with the current-gen MacBook Air.
  24. pexxoum thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    So processor speed is multiplied for each core? Are you sure that's how it works?

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