From MBP to MBA to Alum MB review

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by lankox, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. lankox macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    #1
    In the last month I decided that I wanted more portability for my laptop so I decided to get a new one.

    At first I was going to get an alum macbook but I was scared off by all the critcism of the screen quality.

    Then I was going to get a Rev B Air but I was tempted by the refurb A prices so I bought a 1.8/SSD rev A. Nice machine but I was not happy with the performance or the compromises (Hulu video stutter, Eyetv download of old camcorder movies stutter, ichat video stutter, lots of beach balls as I was scrolling in Safari, fans blaring at 6500 rpms with RSS screensaver, etc).

    I was depressed as I did not want to spend the big bucks for a MBA rev B, so I decided to look at the Alum macbook again. I read a thousand posts here and headed off to the Apple store with my thumb drive filled with all kinds of pictures in hand. After viewing many pictures at all kinds of angles, comparing with the Air, I decided the screen wasn't near as bad as the hype. So off to ebay to find a deal. It took 1.5 hours to do a 15GB time machine migration over wifi. Here is my review.

    My MB is perfect, no issue with the sreen, keyboard, track pad, battery/hd hatch, etc.
    Trackpad difference is huge. The Air trackpad now feels like sandpaper.
    I have the 9c8c so ymmv. The Air has slightly better viewing angles, slightly better blacks, less reflections, but the MB has better whites and there is no graininess that exists on the Air. The Alum MB has a better screen than my wife's white MB.
    Much better speakers on MB.
    All of my thumbdrives fit, and no need to flip down a latch.
    Much easier to plug in the power adapter on the MB.
    MB ichat camera is better than the Airs but still not as good as the MBP.
    The wireless signal strength is the same on the MBP, MB, and MBA which is still not as good as my wife's white MB.
    No performance issues that plagued the Air.
    There is no hard drive plunk sound that plagued my mbp.
    The superdrive initialization sound is quieter on the MB than MBP.

    My only complaint with the MB is the fan noise. At 2000 rpms, in a quiet room, I can faintly hear the fan. It is no worse than the MBP, maybe a little better. At 2500 rpms, I could never hear the Air fan. I only list this as an issue because I have read several reviews that stated you could not hear the MB fan even if you held it to your ear.

    I really feel like the Alum MB is the perfect balance of portability, price, and performance. The new MBP's are too big and the MBA is either too costly or too weak in performance. I am very happy and will be happier when I install 4GB of Ram from newegg ($53) and the new OCZ Vertex SSD drive in a few weeks.

    Thanks for reading!
     
  2. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #2
    It would have been nice to see how you liked the Rev B Air because the Rev A isn't indicative of what they are like. Glad you're happy with your MacBook, I'm actually considering doing the same thing. Maybe someone wants to trade. LOL
     
  3. lankox thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    #3
    Unless portability is an ultimate priority, I just don't feel like the MBA Rev B is a good value. Still not as good as the MB in performance and you still have the compromises (no access to hd/ram/batt, speakers, trackpad, ports, etc.)
     
  4. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #4
    Its funny, but I'm holding out for a comparison. The Air has twice the cache so its performance may not be as far behind the MB as most MB owners think. My work is planning on upgrading us and it might be 17" unibodies. In which case a 3# Air will fit the bill for my personal machine.
     
  5. impact1290 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    #5
    I have a Rev A Macbook Air and as of late, selling it for a new Macbook has crossed my mind a few times. The size of the macbook air is spectacular, but choppy video playback and a spinning fan while watching normal youtube videos is a disappointment. Im just not sure I want to go thru the hassle of selling it and buying a new macbook.
     
  6. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #6
    The difference is nowhere near as large as the Apple apologists like to make out in terms of system stability in warm climates. I almost never look at youtube so that is not my yardstick for whether a system is usable or not.

    I too ended up going from the POS that is the Air (A/B) to the apparently less of a POS that is the Alu MB. So far although one arrived with a defect, I haven't come across any functional deal-breakers. However I haven't yet tried them in the same environment as I was trying the Airs last year so that opinion might change. To me, given the compromises inherent in the Air the MB seems to be a less debilitating - although still somewhat laughable compared to what I can get for Windows - compromise when I need OS X on the move.
     
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #7
    Exactly. If you had originally went for the rev B MBA and were not tempted by the prices for the rev A, then perhaps you would have never been dissatisfied, and would have never looked for a MacBook. ;)


    I'm glad you're happy with the MacBook though. :)
     
  8. lankox thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    #8
    For $1900 you can get a 2.4 MB with 4Gb of ram and a 64GB smoking fast OCZ Vertex SSD drive, all for $600 cheaper than a 1.86/SSD MBA. Pretty sure the 3MB of extra cache will not make up for all of that. But must admit that I'm not all that savvy on the significance of the cache?? I'm certain I would have been happier with the Rev B, but I would have also been a lot poorer :)
     
  9. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #9
    Yeah but that Air comes with a 128GB SSD.

    I haven't seen any benchmarks but I'd put the 1.86 at a bit faster than the 2.0 MB.

    Regardless, I'm glad you like your MB.
     
  10. Patriks7 macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    #10
    Glad to see you like your MacBook! I also don't see what's up with the people saying that it's horrible :confused: I had the old MacBook (late 07) and spent a long time at the store when I was deciding to buy my new laptop, and it wasn't really bad at all. In fact, better than most Windows PCs I've used.
    So was the Air really that bad? I'm planning to add one to my collection for portability (unless of course Apple decides to make that netbook or an ultraportable with a 10" or so screen.) But I might wait until Rev C Air to get the Rev B for a better price, as I read it's tons better than Rev A.
     
  11. lankox thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    #11
    Forgot to mention that my laptop is my primary machine, so performance is a little more important than someone who uses a laptop as a secondary machine.
     
  12. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Denver
    #12
    I got an original Black MB about 2.5 years ago. I got a 15.4" MBP about a year and a half ago. I've used a RevA MBA for about the last 8 months. Last week I got a unibody 2.4ghz 2gb ram, 250gb Hd MB. So I've got extensive user experience on all of these machines (for the MBA revB I can only say its a better performer than the Rev A but I have no day to day experience).

    The Black Macbook was a good travel computer. Its screen wasn't the greatest but it was portable enough (although heavier than my Sony SZ was) , powerful enough, and had enough capacity as an "only" and "all day use" computer. It served me well until I felt I needed a better display.

    So I got a MBP with 15.4" LED backlit display. Beautiful screen, plenty of power and capacity and ports. It ran a little warm for on lap use though. The backlit keyboard was addictive. An even better "only" and "all day" computer. But not a great travel computer - too big and heavy.

    So I got a MBA 1.6ghz, 2gb ram, 80gb HD. A truly amazing travel computer. Slower than my original Black MB, not as much memory or HD capacity/speed, but a brilliant display (better than the MBP, way better than the Black MB), great backlit keyboard, and "just enough" performance for my needs after a little tuning. I lived with its limited capacity and dearth of ports for its awesome portability. A good "all day" computer, but not a good "only" computer. The RevB seems more promising but I'm holding out for 2 USB ports, 4gb Ram, and a fast 250gb drive.

    Which brings us to the unibody MB. If it had been announced before I got my MBA, I probably would have never gotten an Air. The unibody MB had a great aluminum body, thiner and lighter than previous MBs, user upgradable standard HD and ram, backlit keyboard, and enough power and capacity to be a great "only" machine. Its screen's contrast ratios was scary bad though and I worried that I would not be happy with such a screen. As it turned out the screen is ok. Better than the original Black Macbook but not as good as either the MBP or MBA (or many good PC notebook screens. Still quite a portability difference from the MBA but livable. So far the best compromise.
     
  13. lankox thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 5, 2007
    #13
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 2_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1.1 Mobile/5H11 Safari/525.20)

    Summarizes my experiences to a tee.
     
  14. steve31 macrumors 6502a

    steve31

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Location:
    Edmonton Canada
    #14
    Congrats!! I also traded my MBA for the new MB. I miss the air every so often. I love how easy it is to replace the hard drive in the new MB! I dropped in a 500GB Seagate 5400.6.....it's a great having all the extra space!! Love the new tracpad!:D
     
  15. aznguyen316 macrumors 68020

    aznguyen316

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2008
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    #15
    two great reviews of the MBA --> MB experience. I too would've liked to know what could have been if you rolled w/ a RevB MBA. I love the MB though, will easy access upgrading, superdrive and CPU power as the graphics of the MBA I've read has been underclocked a little? Anyway the MB is a great portable machine.
     
  16. Patriks7 macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    #16
    Me too :cool: My only desktop was my first computer I had which was like 10 years ago. I had that for 2 years and then I got my first laptop and since then they kept rolling in :p But a laptop is the only thing I can have, as you can see on the left under my nick I live in 2 places (well three infact, but the third is only for the summer and some vacations during the year).
     
  17. poopo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    #17
    question for you....

    Do you have the latest MB aluminum 13 inch?
    If so, is it safe to use the RAM you plan on installing?
    Also how much is 250 GB of SSD to buy and is it compatible/safe to instal?
    Finally, how much better will my user experience be with MB 2.4 GHz if I install the 4GB of RAM and 250 of SSD? It's already pretty impressive as is!

    Thanks
    :D
     
  18. lankox thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    #18
    You bet
     
  19. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #19
    How old were those PC's? I understand that most Apple fanboys compare their Apple experiences on a PC that's at least 3 years old, but I usually compare with other machines I can buy at the same time for the same price. That aside, in terms of performance there's nothing wrong with the Macbooks. The Alu Macbook's overtly reflective screen is a problem I have, but such a problem - if the Macbook does end up working properly for me - pales in significance to the issues I had with the Air.

    Yes. I've been carrying ultraportables since they were introduced (The first proper ultraportable I had was probably a VAIO - I had a Duo before that, but that was still pretty weighty for smaller machine) and I'd have to say that relatively speaking to what else is on the market, it is the worst ultraportable out there - and grounds for picking it up is only for the way it looks. If you do nothing of consequence and if image is your only game, it's the perfect machine for you.
     

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