Economics - Buy Now or Wait?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mrogersscf, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. mrogersscf macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2012

    I'm interested in purchasing a 13'' Macbook Air 256 GB 1.8 ghz. I am wondering if I should wait or buy now...yes, I know this type of thread is a regular occurrence, but there's a catch. I can wait if need be, but I am trying to stretch my dollar.

    One can currently purchase a refurbished Macbook Air 256 1.8 through Apple for less than $1,500. If I were to wait and buy the 2012 version, would the economically comparable model (presumably the mid tier 13'' version) be comparable in power and long term viability to this 1.8 machine? Of course no one really knows the cost structure of the new Airs, so I have a few specific questions to help narrow this down:

    1. Have SSD prices fallen? Is it expected the cost of the SSD storage to be less for the new Airs?
    2. What is the power equivalent of the Ivy Bridge processors? I really know little about processor speed. Assuming 1.8 is the top speed for the current Air, how much faster would the mid tier model be expected?
    3. Graphics speed is expected to be faster, but is this expected to be a noticeable bump? I view CADS (don't create) and do play some 3D games, but gaming isn't a major concern. Would I expect to see a big boost for the mid level Air over the top tier Air vis a vis graphics capability?

    Am I missing anything? Basically, I am trying to figure out if economically it makes sense to wait and buy a mid tier model or buy a discounted high end model. I engage in basic computing activities (web, e-mail, music) and some more advanced activities (CAD viewing, light gaming).
  2. marioman38 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    Elk Grove, CA
    Rumor has it that dual core ivy bridge processors have been delayed until June, which would mean an MBA refresh around july. If you can wait that long, wait. If not, buy now.
  3. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    The Ivy Bridge processors will be offered in 1.8GHz and 2.0GHz base speeds, compared to 1.6, 1.7, and 1.8GHz for the current models. Note that all the processors turbo boost to higher speeds when necessary. There will be a similar boost in the turbo speeds. Overall, the CPU speeds should be about 10-15% better, which is just about the point where it becomes noticeable. The architecture is the same, but it uses a smaller die, and so is likely to be more power efficient.

    The GPU will see a more significant boost, perhaps around 50% in some applications. It will be most relevant to gaming, but may also help with CAD or other tasks that rely on the GPU.

    SSD prices have been relatively stable. Apple charges a premium for SSDs (jumping from 128GB to 256GB is $300, for instance, while the same differential in the OEM market is about $200 right now). I don't expect that to change anytime soon. However, it's possible Apple will drop the 64GB models, and might offer a 512GB model.
  4. mrogersscf thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2012
    So are you saying the 1.8 Sandy Bridge is equivalent to the 1.8 Ivy Bridge? It sounds like the biggest upgrades are to graphics processing and the rumored bump in resolution. Is this it?


    My question is whether or not it makes sense economically...specifically whether or not the top tier July 2011 Macbook Air will be equivalent to the sub $1,500 2012 Macbook Air.
  5. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010

    Roughly, yes. There will be some tweaks to the CPU architecture, but nothing like the jump from Core 2 Duo to Sandy Bridge. That said, it is likely that the 1.8GHz Ivy Bridge i5 will be cheaper than the current 1.6GHz Sandy Bridge, and the 2.0GHz Ivy Bridge i7 likewise cheaper than the current 1.8GHz Sandy Bridge.

    Ivy Bridge will also bring native support for USB 3.0, so it is likely Apple include USB 3.0 ports. Expect a noticeable improvement in battery life, as well. It may also run a bit cooler since it is switching to a more efficient manufacturing process.
  6. AppleSticker54 macrumors newbie

    Feb 21, 2012
    Wow mrogersscf, I could have written the very same post. I am also looking at the refurbished 13" 256gb 1.8 ghz for under $1500 but I, too, can easily wait. I have a new work laptop I take home every night but I want to leave it at work once I buy new whenever I take the MBA plunge.

    I am not one to upgrade (I still have and use my 1st generation iTouch, and I have no intention of upgrading my ipad2 anytime in the future) so I really, really want to get the biggest bang for the buck the first time out of the gate. I believe the 256gb with an external hd will be plenty now and into the future but I'm holding out for 8gb of ram because I'm thinking a year or two from now I will be sorry if I don't have it.

    Second on my wish list is longer battery life, because life without cords is always so much better. Here is the rest of the top ten I am (and I assume others are) wishing for, assuming Ivy Bridge is already a given:

    1. 8gb Ram
    2. 10 hours battery life
    3. iPhone 4S quality FaceTime camera
    4. Better brightness controls
    5. Reduced bezel
    6. Glass screen
    7. HD 1080p/retina*
    8. USB 3.0 x 3
    9. Full insertion SD card slot
    10. 512gb SSD

    This is my first time posting, so be kind if you can when I ask:

    How likely do you think - in your informed, better educated than mine opinion - I will be rewarded for waiting? :confused:
  7. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Wait if you're buying for the long term (> 3yrs). Otherwise buy a refurb 2010 and resell in July.
  8. Hawkeye16 macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2009
    Or do as I did and buy an open box/refurb 2011 and sell if you think the upgrade in July is worth it. If it comes with USB 3.0 and a better processor architecture (and more ram options) I will be upgrading. Otherwise the current version is definitely fast and efficient enough for my current needs.
  9. Mjmar macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2008
    You'll still be able to buy a refurb 2011 MBA after the new airs come out. I'm waiting until the new ones arrive and if they're nothing special I'll save money and get last years model.
  10. udflyer macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2011
    I would buy now (I actually did 2 weeks ago) for the following reasons...

    - Current Design is quite proven.
    - Still Intel Based (I have a feeling they may go AMD or ARM, which I do not want)
    - Last Design with Jobs's input / heavy influence
    o I do not trust yet product decisions going forward. Steve had a skill which is an Art for knowing what will/will not work.
    o Last time without Steve they created way too many products and almost went bankrupt.
    o I'm sure Steve may have helped next design get started , but he is not there to close it.

    My $.02
  11. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think knowing and be assured of the stable design is a big plus, the down side is its on downward slope of the life cycle of Sandy Bridge. Intel is gearing up for Ivy Bridge and while there's nothing wrong with the current crop of laptops, one has to consider the aggressive moves apple is making with cutting off older technology. Just look at the list of compatible machines for Mountain Lion. Waiting for Ivy Bridge will inevitably buy you more time with apple. The risk of course is dealing with a new revision which may have some bugs in the manufacturing process or design.

    Personally I'm on the fence of buying a MBP now or waiting and the stable design is it's influencing my desire to buy now rather then wait.

    I think you're putting too much stock into Steve's absence. The difference back in the 90s, is that you had people at the helm who had no computer experience. Sculley was the head of Pepsi, Amelio was at national semiconductor. Neither one of them was particularly experienced for the leading a computer company. Spindler, was the exception - coming from apple but my point remains - The leadership of apple was poorly chosen which was the cause of the problems and near bankruptcy.

    Fast forward to the 21st century and Jobs himself made sure he surrounded himself with top notch, people. There's no way to tell what will happen at apple, but the designers, developers and executives who helped may the MBAs/MBPs and other apple products very successful are still there.
  12. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Here's a CNet blog post that weighs in on Ivy Bridge's graphics performance.
  13. AppleSticker54 macrumors newbie

    Feb 21, 2012
    This sounds like the best plan, even though the CNET article on More reasons to wait sure make it sound like waiting will eventually pay off - thanks! :)
  14. mrogersscf thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2012
    Great CNet article. That will hold me over until April-June. I'm currently operating a dying laptop, but I can hold on until then. Thanks for all the input, folks. I'll be back with many questions once the refresh hits the stores.
  15. roofz macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2012
    Southern California
    Economics says that since there isn't a pressing incentive to buy now, that you should wait.

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