Can’t choose between 3 MBAs!

thebez

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2008
176
6
I am heading to grad school for the second time. Collectively I have over a decade of higher ed under my belt, and I have never once during that time had a new computer. There is no chance I’m going through my last college run with yet another dinosaur that barely runs, so I am going to buy a new MacBook, most likely an Air. The bookstore at my school, which seems like the cheapest place around, has 3 options I am seriously considering. If anyone knows of better prices, please let me know!

Option #1 is a (brand new) 2017 MBA, which I would immediately upgrade with a ~500GB SSD. Including the SSD, it would be around $900. I probably wouldn’t get AppleCare on this one.

Option #2 is a 2019 MBA 128GB, which I would add AppleCare Plus to, and budget for a decent tier of iCloud. That will be roughly $1,100 plus the monthly for iCloud.

Option #3 is a 2019 MBA 256GB with AppleCare plus. This would roughly be $1,300.

There is a 4th option, a 2017 Non-touchbar MBP for $1,200 including AppleCare plus, but it only has the 128GB SSD. While it is upgradeable, it’s pretty expensive to do so, so I’d probably end up using iCloud on this one as well. In my mind this eliminates the benefit of the MBP, but maybe I’m missing something.

With any of them I would be buying an external drive for home backup, and ASAP figuring out some sort of redundancy setup.

I need it for class work (lightweight stuff), but will probably also use it from time to time for some light to medium weight photo editing, and the occasional bit of 720p-1080p video editing.

I have reasons why I like each option, and why reasons I dislike each. I last bought a brand new Mac in the year 2000, and honestly that was an easier choice for me. I could list my reasons, but I’d rather hear what everyone has to say. Is anyone having a good experience with a 128GB machine? Do I need AppleCare on the newer models? I definitely want to hear other thoughts too. Thanks!

Edit: almost forgot, all of these options apparently come with the free headphone promotion, with no difference in the offering.
 
Last edited:

Farrgazer

macrumors member
Sep 25, 2017
65
14
Given that you will do some photo and video editing, I would immediately cross out the 2017 MBA from your list because of the lower resolution display in comparison to what’s available in the market. Furthermore, even though the machine is new as in still having its plastic seal, the age of it will make it ineligible for future software updates earlier the 2019 models.

Furthermore, a lower resolution display is not usually a good idea if you’ll be doing a lot of reading on your display (YMMV, maybe your department will still opt for paper handouts and you may be reading more books at your school library, but the majority of academic papers are available in digital form more easily).

Here is an anecdote regarding resolution. I have an iPad 2 and an 8” windows tablet. The iPad 2’s resolution is 1024 by 768 while the tablet has a full HD screen. Despite the physically smaller screen, I find reading comics and text on the windows tablet far more pleasing and legible compared to the iPad 2.

My vote goes to the 2019 MBA with 256GB.
 

canuckRus

macrumors 6502a
May 18, 2014
554
176
No contest. Definitely Option #3. Depending on your CC you could get an extended Warranty in lieu of AppleCare as well?
 

iluvmacs99

macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2019
375
175
I am heading to grad school for the second time. Collectively I have over a decade of higher ed under my belt, and I have never once during that time had a new computer. There is no chance I’m going through my last college run with yet another dinosaur that barely runs, so I am going to buy a new MacBook, most likely an Air. The bookstore at my school, which seems like the cheapest place around, has 3 options I am seriously considering. If anyone knows of better prices, please let me know!

Option #1 is a (brand new) 2017 MBA, which I would immediately upgrade with a ~500GB SSD. Including the SSD, it would be around $900. I probably wouldn’t get AppleCare on this one.

Option #2 is a 2019 MBA 128GB, which I would add AppleCare Plus to, and budget for a decent tier of iCloud. That will be roughly $1,100 plus the monthly for iCloud.

Option #3 is a 2019 MBA 256GB with AppleCare plus. This would roughly be $1,300.

There is a 4th option, a 2017 Non-touchbar MBP for $1,200 including AppleCare plus, but it only has the 128GB SSD. While it is upgradeable, it’s pretty expensive to do so, so I’d probably end up using iCloud on this one as well. In my mind this eliminates the benefit of the MBP, but maybe I’m missing something.

With any of them I would be buying an external drive for home backup, and ASAP figuring out some sort of redundancy setup.

I need it for class work (lightweight stuff), but will probably also use it from time to time for some light to medium weight photo editing, and the occasional bit of 720p-1080p video editing.

I have reasons why I like each option, and why reasons I dislike each. I last bought a brand new Mac in the year 2000, and honestly that was an easier choice for me. I could list my reasons, but I’d rather hear what everyone has to say. Is anyone having a good experience with a 128GB machine? Do I need AppleCare on the newer models? I definitely want to hear other thoughts too. Thanks!

Edit: almost forgot, all of these options apparently come with the free headphone promotion, with no difference in the offering.
I have a 128Gb SSD Macbook Air and I found that very limited space wise; lost more than half of the storage to just the new OSX and a few apps which limits me in installing anymore apps unless I upgrade to 256Gb. So I would say start with 256Gb. 128Gb is good only if you're just using it to serve the web and do some light office work. Having said that, 500Gb SSD is more appealing as it gives you 256Gb more room to work with your photos and video editing if you don't want to lug around an external HD. The MBA 2019 has the improved 3rd generation butterfly keyboard and the 2017 MBA has the normal keyboard. If you haven't kept up with current events; older butterfly keyboards on the Macbook Pro are somewhat unreliable, that you would actually need Apple Care.

Most of the newer MBA/MBP are no longer repairable even by Apple's own repair depot, so Apple tends to offer replacement offers. Think of it this way; if you are going to do some heavy duty mobile work, choose the MBP. If it's lighter work, then the MBA. If you go for the MBA and do heavy duty mobile work, you will hasten its demise.

Apple Care is only valid if your computer is not water damaged. Unfortunately, Apple is very quick to deny your Apple Care once they spotted the water indicator turned red, which they usually do, and deny warranty coverage. The only saving grace with Apple Care warranty is that, you get a better discount on replacement computers if yours is deemed non-repairable. So it's up to you to decide whether you need Apple Care or not depends on your particular lifestyle. If you don't baby your computer, then Apple Care is a good discount card to allow you to get a cheaper replacement computer.