College bound: MBP 15" vs. MBA 13"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by trojan, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. trojan macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2011
    Hi all ~ this is my first post on this forum and, appropriately, it deals with my first Mac. I've been back-and-forth for two days between the new MBA 13" and the sturdy MBP 15" in my deliberations over which to buy for my freshman year. I don't need a laptop for heavy video/photo editing or dedicated engineering/math programs, but I will watch movies and play medium-quality games (no Crysis 2, more like Mass Effect 2, Minecraft, Starcraft 2, etc.). As I would opt for the best processors (both Intel Core i7) and 256 GB SSD for each, I'm left with a significant price difference (up to ~$1000 through the Apple store online). My question is whether the performance boost and supposed greater longevity of the MBP is worth the tradeoff in price and buying cycle, as I'm more inclined as a smart buyer to spring for the just-revamped MBA than the 6-month-old MBP, even if it does ship with Lion. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
  2. Invisible Elf macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2011
    You will hardly be able to play much games on the MBA due to the lack of dedicated graphics. If you want to play, definitly go for the 15" MBP. If you go for the MBP, don't buy SSD directly from Apple, it's much cheaper to install one yourself, and it is quite easy.

    Also don't think about that the MBA was just refreshed while the MBP was not. They both contain mostly the same technology (same processor generation etc)
  3. YEEZY macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2011
    I really think the MBA 13" will be the best choice for you. Here's why:

    I have both of the machines, and I originally wanted a MBP 15" because of the sheer power of it. But I realized and asked myself a couple questions about portability and if I needed that CD drive. In the end, the MBP 15" is tiring to carry around with you all the time, but it will perform the tasks you want for it and then some. But the MBA 13" (the machine I chose and bought) actually does what you want to. I've been playing Minecraft and Team Fortress 2 at Medium settings and at a playable framerate (never drops below 30). So yes, the new MBA 13" seems like a great choice for you, but if you really don't mind lugging around all the weight with you and you have the money, go for a MBP 15".
  4. trojan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2011
    Alright - thanks guys. I think I've eliminated the MBP 15" based solely upon cost, but now I'm entering the MBP 13" vs. MBA 13" debate. Same purposes as listed above, with these specs:

    MBA 13"
    1.8GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7
    4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    256GB flash storage
    + MBA SuperDrive

    MBP 13"
    2.7GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7
    8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB
    128GB Solid State Drive

    I'm open to a third-party SSD, but I'd like to have it right out-of-the-box, hence its presence in the MBP. I honestly don't think I'm going to need a ton of storage as it's mostly going to be for documents, songs, and the occasional game or two. The prices for both of these are also comparable... what do you think?
  5. bloijs, Aug 1, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2011

    bloijs macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2011
    The double reflection (glossy screen + glass) on the MBP 13" drives me nuts, and there are a lot of strong feelings about this on the forum. The MBA has a glossy screen, but no extra layer of glass on top, so it's a lot more tolerable.
    Can you give examples of games you would be playing? The difference between the 1.7GHz and 2.7GHz is significant based on what you're playing. Both have the HD 3000 with 384MB RAM, which isn't fantastic.
    Personally, I'd go for the 15" MBP or a 13" MBA, but I don't play games (on my Mac). The former for raw power and matte screen, the latter for weight. Taking an Air to class or the library is no big deal, but even with my 13" MBP things get pretty heavy as soon as I add a textbook.
  6. trojan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2011
    I agree, I went down to my local Apple store and did not like the high reflection on the MBP 15" (regular glossy finish), but they did have a matte 15" and I loved the look. As for portability, I'm an athlete and I believe I can deal with the added weight of the MBP 15". If I were to go with one, it would look like this:

    2.2GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7
    8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB
    500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
    MacBook Pro 15-inch Hi-Res Antiglare Widescreen Display

    I would also buy a third-party SSD, probably from this line and either replace the optical drive with the HDD or use the HDD as external storage. At this point, I believe it's either this setup or the aforementioned MBA 13". Also, I've heard chatter about hard freezes with the MBP 15" running Lion and somehow involving iTunes?
  7. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    i love the glossy screen myself. try it before you buy it. but, i don't see why you wouldn't be looking at the 15". it seems like you would be better off with that.
  8. sukion macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2011
    If you wanna do all the things you've listed, I'd say go for the MBP 13''. It's a power house and I love my 15'' MBP but I wished it was a 13'' instead for portability issues (The weight really kills you especially if you have to carry your textsbooks as well). But like others said, get a third party SSD instead since you can save yourself from burning a whole in your wallet.
  9. Mr Kram macrumors 68020

    Mr Kram

    Oct 1, 2008
    if portability is not an issue, MBP 15" would be my choice of a sole computer.

    are you going to usc?
  10. bloijs macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2011
    If you got the 15", would you go with dedicated graphics? Because that would actually make the machine competent at playing games. You'd also have one of the best laptop screens on the market to play them on. ;)

    EDIT: man, I really need to look at this stuff before I post :) With the 2.2GHz it obviously comes with the 1GB 6750M which is what I was trying to get at. That's actually a pretty good card.
  11. trojan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2011
    Yes I am. Fight on!

    I wanted to thank all of you for your help, advice, and perspectives. I ended up going with the 15" MBP and getting an OWC Mercury 240 GB SSD, because I really wanted a dedicated do-it-all machine that'll fulfill my needs for the majority of my years in college. For anyone viewing this thread with questions similar to mine, I hope you've found it helpful.
  12. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    Good choice; you should get a good case and backpack because you're going to be doing a lot of walking around with it. Get some good applications and learn how long the battery will last and know what you can do if you're planning on it lasting the entire day without bringing the charger.

    It's a great machine; install Windows 7 sometime soon and bootcamp all of your games as well :)
  13. Man9z0r macrumors regular


    Feb 25, 2011
    SLO, CA
    If you are going into school I would recommend the MBP! Here are my reasons:

    With the AIR what you buy is what you get. You are not going to be able to upgrade so two or three years from now if you need more space or memory tough luck. Then I don't know about your school but mine often has you get school books with cdroms. It is nice to have a built in drive and not have to carry one around.

    With the PRO you basically have all those bonuses! If you end up maxing out the ram and putting in a ssd in you will have a very powerful machine that will last you well through college!

    This is how I personally looked at it when I got my PRO!
  14. TDinstinct macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2011
    how about the 13" MBP upgraded to the max? its the perfect size for lugging around the campus or sitting at a small coffee table at starbucks, i would never trade my 13"MPB for a larger MBP

    also weighs less than a 15"! plus you can get the 1499.00 model and be set for like 5 years!
  15. rockyroad55 macrumors 601


    Jul 14, 2010
    Phila, PA
    Get the base MBP 13". The difference is not worth going to the i7 because it won't be that noticeable. For that money, I would rather decide between the base 13" or base 15".
  16. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    op already got a 15".

    as for the 13", i've got it, and i would recommend it to a lot of people in university, but for the op's needs, i think he made a good choice going with the 15".

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