Buying MacBook today, seeking advice

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by FiremanMike, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. FiremanMike macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2011
    I am in need of a new laptop, and I have made the decision to venture into the Mac world. My current acer timeline 4820tg has been great, but it is getting passed down to my kids who need one for school.

    Anyhow, I'm honestly stuck between the 2012 13" MBA and the 13" MBP, and I would love some advice.

    The biggest drawback for me with the MBP is the weight and what is being reported as an inferior display. I'm not a graphics artist, and actually I'm a bit colorblind, but I do appreciate crisp displays. I've read and confirmed that the MBA has a sharper display, so that's something I'm considering.

    The biggest drawback to the MBA is the small SSD (looking at the 128, the 256 is just a bit outside of what I want to spend) and the lack of optical drive. I don't use my optical drive a whole lot, but the MBA still ends up requiring me to buy an external drive and lug it around. I would also need an external HDD, which is again something else I'd have to put around. The advantage is the intoxicatingly small form factor and what is reported as sheer speed (I'm expecting responsiveness like my iPad, is that unrealistic?).

    Oh, it's probably relevant.. I'll be using this computer for everyday computing, some games (wow, maybe sc2/d3), but mostly school. I also like to watch videos a lot on my laptop.
  2. bomerbuoy macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2007
    seems like you like the air more than the pro.

    just get the air and upgrade it to 256 so u dont regret not having enuf space.
    you'll be happy with ur purchase
  3. FiremanMike thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2011
    I actually think that the 256 air would be the ideal choice, but $300 more and the only thing you get is a bigger ssd just doesn't sit well with the fiscal side of my brain, plus it really does push it pretty far outside of what I'd like to spend. Of course then I need to spend another 50-70 on an external drive, so really it costs that much more to get the MBA over the MBP..
  4. stevelam macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2010
    You're not going to get good performance with WoW. The intel 4000 gpu is OK (for mobile) but the MBA is definitely not really a gaming machine.

    For the rest of your needs, it will do just fine.
  5. FiremanMike thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2011
    As I'm thinking about this, can someone answer the following questions?

    1. For general web browsing, maybe tossing a YouTube video in there here and there, how warm does the MBP get? Will it be uncomfortable sitting on my lap? What if I watched something on netflix? Same question for the MBA?

    2. Can the ssd in the MBA be upgraded later? Can an ssd be put into an MBP later?

    3. How great is the difference in display between the two? Again, not for graphic design, for normal use and watching movies?
  6. FastEddiebags macrumors 6502

    Jun 1, 2012
    I have a 15in pro and it gets pretty warm on the lap after some intesive cpu/gpu usage. The upgradability of the pro is what got me. The is pretty much what you buy is what you get.
  7. njean777 macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2009
    To be honest if you want to game at all the MBP is your best bet. I personally do not know if the intel 4000 in the air is down clocked at all. I do know though that I tried D3 on a 2012 13in MBP and it ran at 35-50 fps constantly. So from experience if you are looking at gaming at all the Pro would be better. The 15in would be the best though.

    The SSD cannot be replace yet in the new airs, but I am sure within a couple of months OWC will make upgrades.

    The pro does not get very warm with youtube videos/movies at all. The air may or may not (don't really know tbh).

    The display is noticeably different for sure, but its not a huge deal breaker.

    To be honest you may be better of getting a refurbished 15in from last gen. They will run the games a lot better because of the discrete GPU. Or if you could up your budget, and get a new 15in pro. If you are looking to run those games at high or even medium you are going to need a discrete GPU.

    Don't forget since you are in college you get a discount on any new mac. I went for the retina and have not been disappointed, but the regular 15in pros are just as good tbh.
  8. Dwhite78 macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2010

    Im using a 2011 MBA with the below config and a 128g SSD

    Model Name: MacBook Air
    Model Identifier: MacBookAir4,2
    Processor Name: Intel Core i5
    Processor Speed: 1.7 GHz
    Number of Processors: 1
    Total Number of Cores: 2

    I can play both WoW and D3 with the air. You won't be raiding in wow on the air, but it's perfectly usable for heroics and what not with moderate settings.

    As for d3, i've played all the way to act 3 inferno on my Monk using this little machine.While it does skip in a few locations or with a lot of mobs on the screen, it's not enough for me to catch the dead.

    Just run at native resolution with low ground clutter and no physics and you will be just fine.
  9. currahee2100 macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2009
    I was facing the same dilemma as you. I have 6 terabytes of space on my desktop, and going to 128GB on the air was quite hard to manage. I filled half of it without having a lot of programs... so I went with the pro yesterday, ultimately.

    The reason why was because when I had the air I bought a DVD drive and I was thinking about getting an external drive. Honestly, why bother? What good is a smaller form factor when you have to compromise?

    Not hating on the Macbook Air, it's very ahead of its time. It was especially true when it was first released but less so now. All we need is for the SSD capacities to catch up. Note that OWC charges like $700 for 480GB.

    $300 for double the SSD is indeed ridiculous. I spent that money on the Top tier 13" Pro. You get double RAM, a better CPU, and 50% bigger HDD.

    TL;DR Version: The Air is fine for most people but you said the magic words, "I'm thinking about getting an external drive" ... with that extra money I would just put it in the upgraded tier 13" Pro.
  10. awhitmer83 macrumors member


    Jun 22, 2012
    I just bought a 13" MBP after having a similar debate in my head. For me, it came down to this:

    • The MBA simply didn't have enough hard drive space.
    • I'd rather carry a heavier laptop than a lighter one plus a bunch of external drives.
    • I can always switch to a SSD in the MBP later.
    • I wanted to be able to run graphics-intensive apps/programs without worrying about whether the computer could handle it.

    Part of me wishes I had gotten the MBA because it's just so much thinner and lighter. (I will say, though, that the MBP isn't exactly huge or heavy. My last laptop was purchased in 2005 so I'm thrilled with the much thinner Pro.) At the same time, I like knowing that I don't have to worry about having enough space for my stuff.

    Your decision has to make sense for you and your lifestyle/needs, but I have not regretted getting the MBP at all.
  11. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    Don't know what you are reading, but the display on a Macbook pro is superior to the Macbook Air display. It uses an IPS display, with much better viewing angles and color reproduction than the Air. It does have a glossy panel, which enhances contrast, but also causes more reflections. The air does not have this glossy panel, but does have a higher resolution display.

    It sounds like you are better off with the pro for your needs. Add an SSD yourself if you want that performance boost.
  12. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Sorry the mbp 13 still uses tn. Only the rMBP has IPS. The mbp 13 is slightly more powerful graphics wise as the MBA hd4000 is held back and down locked due to power constraints. If gaming is an issue I'd get the mbp 15 as the gpu is much better.
  13. PhaserFuzz macrumors 6502

    Dec 12, 2007
  14. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    The 13" MBP display is lower resolution, but it has a better color gamut than the 13" MBA. I used to have a 13" Air (I have an 11" now), and the resolution is nice, but even my untrained eyes can tell the difference between it and my mother's 15" MBP.

    Since you don't do graphic design, though, the Air sounds like a better choice for you. The SSD is particularly quick on the 2012s. Plus, with USB 3.0, you can get external hard drives (or better yet, build your own with an SSD and enclosure) whenever you want more storage. As for the ODD, I think you'll find that you'll use it less and less. That was certainly the case after I bought my first MacBook Air, and that was in 2008. I still have that ODD, but hardly ever use it. I don't carry it when I travel.

    Apple still charges a hefty premium for expanded SSD storage, but on the 3rd party market, it is down to below $1/GB. Therefore, a $20 USB 3.0 enclosure and an external SSD help make the 128GB or 256GB options more palatable.
  15. lord patton macrumors 65816

    lord patton

    Jun 6, 2005
  16. ThisIsMe macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2012
    With the Macbook pro you are able to upgrade the ram,hard drive, or even ad a SSD if you would like. But you will feel the weight when you carry it around. I would say go with the new 2012 13 Macbook air you could always buy a External HD to transfer all your photos or videos.
  17. Gregintosh macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2008
    Why would you lug around an external drive? I can't imagine any reason to always have a cd drive at the ready everywhere you go. Worst case scenario, keep an external at home just in case.

    The MBA has 1440x900 res, which is great (same as the MBP 15") where as the 13" is 1280x800.

    The weight also makes a big difference for portability.

    Oh. And the 13" pro has the same graphics as the air, so you aren't gaining any gaming capabilities.
  18. Trey M macrumors 6502a

    Trey M

    Jul 25, 2011

    You had me recommending the Air until you mentioned that you play WOW and Diablo. Hopefully gaming isn't too important, because neither of these machines will run either game very well. It's definitely playable, but graphics and lagging will be common. Seeing as neither has a dedicated GPU, though, I'd still recommend the Air.
  19. FiremanMike thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2011
    I ended up with the 2012 13" MBP, what a gorgeous machine..

    It came down to the brief comparison I was able to do at the store. iTunes was preloaded on those computers with several videos in HD, so I watched several minutes of the same movie on the air, the pro, and even the pro-r. To be honest, I didn't see much of a difference between the three, which was enough motivation to go with the pro for me. The disk drive and massive upgrade in storage were well worth it to me.

    Trey I hear what you're saying, but several people report ok performance on those games at medium settings. That's all I'm really looking for. I'm not muh of a serious gamer these days, so the ability for these games to be playable was enough for me.

    BTW, for those college students out there who didn't know, education pricing + $100 gift card to the apple store is sweet!

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