Given the upcoming transistion to ARM, is this a bad time to buy a new Macbook Air"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by shiphawk, Feb 21, 2019.

  1. shiphawk macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2018
    #1
    I lost my 2011 Macbook Air a few months ago. Since then, I've been running Linux on an old PC laptop and have been using an iPad to supplement some of the things I used to do with my Mac (OmniFocus, spreadsheets, shared iCloud documents, etc.) but I'm not enjoying the compromises that I've had to make and want to get back to MacOS. I don't need a lot of power and money is an issue. I've been eying the 2018 Macbook Air. I'm very close to making the purchase but two things make me hesitant:

    • I've seen a lot of reports regarding keyboard issues, despite that the new MBA has a third generation keyboard. Given the one year warranty, I'm cautiously optimistic that I will be ok with this.
    • More concerning is the looming transition to ARM chips. I want to spend my money on something that will receive OS support for as long as possible and would like to expect 7-8 years. Would I be limiting the life of my purchase by grabbing what may be one of the last Intel-based Macs? Should I continue to work in my current state for one more year in order to get in on the newer ARM machines?
    I know that no one can say exactly what Apple will do but I would like to avoid a mistake if there is indeed a glaring issue that I'm missing.

    Thank you!
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    The move to ARM (whenever that might be) isn't like the move from PPC to Intel. PPC were so underpowered compared to the Intel mobile chips. The difference was glaring – quite literally, even just comparing the screen brightness from the 1.67 PowerBook and the 1st gen MBP.

    Even so, back then a couple of years would make a huge difference in computing power. The difference between the Core Duo and the Core 2 Duo, then when the first series "i" processors were released; these were enormous jumps. These days, Macs from 2012 still perform decently. The jumps aren't at the same ridiculous level, so you're not going to be left behind.

    Whenever the change happens, your Intel Mac will still run absolutely fine for many years to come.
     
  3. Nbd1790 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2017
    Location:
    New York
    #3
    If you need to buy a computer at this very moment, I would highly recommend going for a 2018 MBP over the Air. The processors are far superior from what I understand, and the price difference is small (relatively speaking), and you'll be getting more bang for your buck for sure. From what it sounds like, you'll hang onto the laptop for a while.

    As far as the processors go, I don't think they're going to make a huge difference when they switch. I have a 2013 and 2018 MBP 15 inch, and the 2013 still holds its own in terms of speed and overall capability (running some relatively CPU intensive tasks)

    If the Air was a few hundred dollars cheaper, I would view it as a wise investment.
     
  4. shiphawk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2018
    #4
    Interesting, I never even considered the MBP because I don't need all of the CPU power. But for not that much more, the 2017 MBP is comparable. What do you think of that second generation keyboard? Would a refurbished MBP be a good hedge that the keyboard may have already been replaced?
     
  5. theapplehead macrumors regular

    theapplehead

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2018
    #5
    The butterfly keyboards are a pain from what I’ve heard from friends and other buyers. If you like the classic style with the scissor keys, then I would advise you check out the 2015 MBP. I believe it’s in the same price range as the MBA you’re considering. Give it a look. You may like it. Good luck mate! Cheers
     
  6. blesscheese macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #6
    What is your price range? Are you looking for portability, or more power?

    I love the MBA, but I'm not a big fan of these new keyboards. If I was buying right now, I'd take a good look at some of the older style MacBook Pro's on the refurbished store:
    https://www.apple.com/shop/refurbished/mac/macbook-pro

    FYI, the "upcoming transition to ARM" has been a rumor for about a decade. It's coming sometime, but, I don't see it happening anytime soon. Even then, the average user probably won't notice a difference.
     
  7. shiphawk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2018
    #7
    I’m really looking more at portability than power and have a range of approximately $1200. I do not generally replace my laptops often and so would like something that will receive OS support for as long as possible. My 2011 MBA upgraded to High Sierra and it served me well.
     
  8. RUGERMAN macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    #8
    --- Post Merged, Feb 22, 2019 ---
    I just got a 2017 13 MBP and it's great for what I use it for. A little over $1200 with a 256 ssd and a 4 yr warranty on the keyboard. I like it much better than the MBA almost as light and much more power for not a lot more $$.
     
  9. MRrainer macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #9
    We don't even know if Apple is switching.
    Apple would have to tell Intel relatively early in advance - and Intel would have to disclose this fact at once, due to SEC regulations - or face numerous law-suites...
    Though, there are probably certain preparations Apple could make that could "foreshadow" such a decision without outright announcing the switch.

    I'm not even sure if the current laptops will work for your envisioned life-expectancy (mechanically).
    For the MBPs, Apple is really pushing their thermal envelope to the absolute limit.
     
  10. shiphawk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2018
    #10
    Do you mean that the MBP’s run so hot as to decrease their life span?

    My hesitation with 2017 MBP would be that second generation keyboard. Would it be foolish of me to get one when these problems are known?
    --- Post Merged, Feb 22, 2019 ---
    Where did you find a MBP with a 256 ssd and a 4 year warranty for $1200? That sounds like a great deal.
     
  11. Nbd1790 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2017
    Location:
    New York
    #11
    It's possible that a refurb would have a better chance of the keyboard being replaced. Regardless, you would be covered by an extended keyboard warranty (new or used). I'm personally not a fan of the newer keyboard in general, but you get used to it (as much as one can at least) - haven't had any issues with it yet, but I'm also very cautious with my laptop.
     
  12. MRrainer macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #12
    The thing is: nobody knows.
    Intel has programmed the CPU to throttle at a certain temperature. Apple runs it one degree below. Depending on what tasks it does, that may be for minutes or even longer.
    Nobody knows how that's going to affect the other components on the motherboard that are sitting close to it, in the long term.

    And 7-8 years is long-term.

    My main gripe with the current laptops is not that they break easily - it's that they are incredibly difficult and expensive to repair.
    I don't think anybody would bat an eyelid at paying ... let's say 80 for a new keyboard. You could do it together with the battery replacement, like every three years. That would be 300. Do this twice and you can get 8-9 years out of it. Maybe there's something else broken and the second "servicing" costs 500. If the MBP was 4000, that's 4800 over 8 years, 600 per year. That's not great and cheap - but it's somewhat within reason and not in the class of "your 4k notebook is a write-off after 4 years".
     

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