Desperately need help choosing between MBA, MBP, or an iPad

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Mikeyswen79, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. Mikeyswen79 macrumors member


    Aug 17, 2011
    Hey y'all,

    I've been a lurker for a while and an avid reader of MacRumors for years now and finally set up a forum account.

    I need help choosing a new laptop. I am trying to upgrade my Macbook 2.4GHz (13.3-inch Intel Core 2 Duo "Penryn") - Early 2008. It's been good to me but I'm looking for a RAM upgrade and as much speed as I can possibly put into a a Mac laptop.

    Essentially, I'm trying to purchase a new primary computer.

    What I'd do with my computer:
    - Word Processing (Word, Pages, Notepad, Adobe Acrobat X, Excel)
    - Slideshow presentations (PowerPoint, Keynote)
    - Internet browsing (FaceBook, e-mail
    - Photo viewing/editing
    - Movie viewing/editing (homemade movies, DVD's, no editing beyond whatever one can do in iMovie)
    - Lots of file organizing
    - iMail, Adium (instant messaging), iTunes, Kindle, iPhoto, iCal, Dropbox
    - I'd do multiple things simultaneously: internet browsing, photo viewing, instant messaging, e-mail checking via iMail, calender viewing, text editing, viewing Excel, downloading minor things (almost never video files, occasional songs and pictures)

    My list of priorities are as follows, highest priority first:
    - Speed (RAM and processor)
    - Battery Life
    - Outside Design (I'm a student and need an ultra portable device)
    - Price (I'm a member of an honor's society that gives around 8% discounts and I'm aware of the Amazon 20% discount via Kindle if I choose a stock PC) (My cap is around 1600-1700 total, but I'm trying to bring it down lower if at all possible for obvious reasons)

    I'm considering between the following:

    Macbook Air
    11" 1.8 GHz i7 128 GB SSD 4 GB RAM
    13" 1.8 GHz i7 128 GB SSD 4 GB RAM

    Macbook Proq
    13" 2.7 GHz i7 128 GB SSD (I'll upgrade myself) 8 GB RAM (I'll upgrade myself)

    64 GB with bluetooth/attachable keyboard of some form

    So basically I want to do all those things I said I'd do above as fast as possible. I don't care about the loss of all those ports and DVD drives, so that's not a plus or minus for me. I just need USB ports and a headphone jack.

    My main questions are:
    1. Does putting an SSD in a MBP essentially make it faster in speed (since higher RAM & Processor) than an MBA w/ all the upgrades?
    2. Is the iPad as limiting as it sounds considering what I'd do with a computer? aka Am I crazy for even considering the iPad at this point?
    3. How badly does higher processing power compromise battery life?

    Any recommendations you can give me will be thoroughly helpful. I'm already guessing the iPad shouldn't even be considered as a primary computer yet, so for me this is really a battle between MBA and MBP in terms of speed and battery life. MBA's are tempting to me for their design and price drop, but if the MBP proves to be significantly faster w/ SSD and RAM upgrades I'd get it instead.
  2. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    Forget the iPad only route. iPad is a complimentary device. Its not ready to replace a real computer yet.

    If you put a SSD on a MBP, it will be faster than a MBA. The MBA's SSD makes it scream. For your intended use either one will work, bearing in mind the max RAM on the MBA is 4GB, which should be fine for your intended use.

    That being said, the MBA is a lot sexier looking... :cool:
  3. Epic Xbox Revie macrumors 6502a

    Epic Xbox Revie

    Jun 15, 2010
    Washington, D.C.
    Putting the SSD in the MBP will make it turn on and load apps at the same speed as the air. As I was reading what you were wanting I was thinking Air all the way. And I was glad to see that it was an option on your "considering" list.

    Definitely do NOT get an Ipad to do all that stuff, it would, blatantly, suck. As far as going from here.... I'd ask yourself very carefully if you need a DVD/CD drive... If you don't, I think the 13" Air would serve you perfectly. If you do, I wouldn't get that MBP, I'd get the base MBP 13" and then upgrade the ram and ssd youself.. (I think you had the higher one as "considering" and not the low one.)

    Good luck! And enjoy whichever you end up getting!
  4. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    As others said, forget the ipad. They're great and I really enjoy mine... but it's NOT a replacement for a laptop.

    From what you listed as the things you do, I'm unsure why you're insistent on the i7 CPU vs. the i5 in the 13" MBA or MBP systems. None of the tasks sound particularly CPU intensive, so the slight performance gain is likely not worth the added cost.

    Forget the Amazon 20% -- although some are still succeeding in getting reps to make exceptions, that seems to be increasingly rare.

    If you need firewire, built in gig-ethernet, built in optical drive (or ability to swap optical drive out for a 2nd HDD), and a wider color gamut, then the 13" MacbookPro may be your best choice. If you don't need those built in, can live with two USB2.0 ports until there's a Thunderbolt converter for firewire and other), want thinner/light, as well as a lower color gamut but higher resolution display, then go with the Macbook Air 13.

    I had a Macbook Pro 13" for several months and just moved to the Macbook Air. I can count on one hand the number of times I used the ethernet port or optical drive - both of which are available as aftermarket externals for the Air for far less than Apple charges.

    Also, if you go with the MBP, give it some time with 4GB RAM before upgrading. You may be surprised at how well it handles working with 4GB.
  5. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    Just to clarify, I have an iPad AND a MBA. The two devices compliment each other very well. The iPad is excellent at handling email, light web surfing, and there are many apps that can be very functional But at the end of the day it is not a computer. You will need a computer to activate the iPad anyway, and its married to iTunes for content management.

    I think the iPad has its place alongside a laptop. There are times when you just want to check the weather, email, go to a website, and you don't want to crack open the laptop, and you don't want to use the tiny screen on most phones. Instant on and 3G connectivity are big pluses for the iPad.
  6. Mikeyswen79 thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 17, 2011
    Thanks for all the comments so far!

    To answer your question: perhaps it's that I'm misunderstanding the usage of a processor. My understanding leads me to believe that the higher the GHz and the more cores, the faster the computer will run regardless of what tasks I perform. (IE: Starting up a computer, opening Safari and iMail and visiting two websites goes faster on an i7 than an i5). Forgive my ignorance if that is incorrect. I think I may be mixing up the purposes of RAM with the purposes of a processor a bit.

    It sounds like you're saying the "better" processors only matter at all when I'm doing more intense tasks like more sophisticated video editing, gaming, etc? If so I'd take the i5 no problem.
  7. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    The i7 is faster than the i5.


    How much faster/hotter/battery draining is a subject of much speculation or debate. Whether its 8% or 24% or 10 degrees C more or less, or 20 minutes of battery more or less, or whether you are speed sensitive and notice it or not, the fact remains:

    i7 > i5.


    Bring it on... :D
  8. Fernandez21 macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2010
    if your intent on the fastest most powerful computer you can get, get the macbook pro.The core i7 in the pro is quad core, while the ones in the air are only dual core. (correction, the i7 in the 15"pro is quad core, the 13' only has dual). Plus the pro is upgradable, you can add more ram and more storage if you need it down the road. If portability is your biggest concern, get the air, it seems sufficient for what you want to do.

    And as others have said, don't get the iPad.
  9. Mikeyswen79, Aug 17, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011

    Mikeyswen79 thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 17, 2011
    Haha no worries I was genuinely thinking I might be wrong, not trying to be a troll/sarcastic. Thanks for putting into perspective the differences I'd be dealing with that aren't really that big of a deal to begin with. I guess it's just a matter of whether I'm willing to pay extra for the i7's then. I probably am, though I do find the price difference between the base MBP and the next step up questionable, especially when seeing you only have to pay 90-135 for the processor upgrade in an MBA.
  10. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    The choice of MBA vs. MBP really boils down to how much computer do you really need. The MBA is thinner, yes, but the MBP isn't exactly a dog in terms of portability. It has an integrated optical drive, can have a much larger (albeit slower) hard drive, a lot more RAM. If you need these things, MBP is an EXCELLENT choice.

    You just won't get as many chicks as you would with the MBA though... :cool:
  11. Nioxic macrumors regular

    Aug 13, 2011
    Yeah, as mentioned you can easily skip the ipad.. it doesn't do anything that either air or pro can handle (especially not if you got an iphone as well!)

    I got the 1.8 Ghz 11 inch air and i think its very fast! (havnt compared it to the MBP though!) (remember it runs up to 2.7ghz for single core processor programs!)

    as for batterylife.. for standard browsing and such it shows 5½~ hours ... however i do use only 1 point in keyboard light and 4 or 5 points in the monitor brightness (i simply dont need more) that might be a bit less than some people wanna live with.

    Ofc the 13 inch has a bigger battery, so that might suit you better. the processor powers are the same.

    PERSONALLY though i'd go for the mbp unless you got some sorta issue with its size.
    I love the size of my 11,6 inches! Girls love it as well. .ehm nvm!
  12. deeddawg, Aug 17, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011

    deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    Oh, certainly true at an absolute level. I guess I'm a pragmatist; what's inside only matters in so much as it makes a difference in my usage.

    Whether i5 or i7 makes a difference in a person's usage and whether that difference (if perceptible) is worth the additional cost and any secondary impacts (heat/battery/etc) is a discussion for a different thread.

    My point was only that given the listed usage, it wasn't clear the OP would see any benefits other than bragging rights, and should give it further consideration. :D

    Oh... and if "getting chicks" is even any part of your thought process in selecting a computer, you're on the wrong track. :) Borrow a friend's puppy, it works 100x better. ;)

    Not counting any discounts, just Apple store prices, it's an interesting spread:
    $1299 - Macbook Air 13 i5 1.7Ghz 128GB SSD
    $1449 - Macbook Pro 13 i5 2.3Ghz 128GB SSD
    $1699 - Macbook Air 13 i7 1.8Ghz 128GB SSD
    $1699 - Macbook Pro 13 i7 2.7Ghz 128GB SSD

    Doesn't seem that you can configure a 13" MBA with 128GB SSD and i7 CPU, have to select the 256GB SSD version.
  13. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    Ain't THAT the truth!!! :D

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