Help! Can't choose between MB, MBP and Air

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by davem7, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. davem7 macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2007
    Well I have some money from a research grant to buy a new laptop as my trusty old Dell Latitude D610 is really starting to give up the ghost. I decided after I bought my Pro that I really didn't want to go back to crappy PC laptops, and I'm really psyched after the notebook update to get one of the new models, but I really don't know which.

    Anyway, I went down to the Apple Store today to play with new the new MBs/MBPs. Everything was going pretty well really - until I realised how bloody heavy and wide the damn thing is! It feels quite a bit heavier than my Dell even though it's only 250g more. I virtually always have my laptop with me, and the more I think about it, the more the weight factor might become a deal-breaker for me. Actually, not having my laptop in the bag for the first time in a while has really made me realise how heavy the damn thing is - I'm not sure I want to put up with that for the next couple of years.

    If I'm honest, the Air is really what I want. But I'm not sure how well it will cope with my daily routine, which generally has some of the following:

    • Running scientific programming applications - post-processing data, Fourier transforming it, etc. I've been really encouraged by the two-page thread on these forums saying that MBA is capable of doing this sort of thing. The 6MB L2 cache sounds really good.
    • Casual gaming is something I've not been able to do with my D610, and it'd be nice if it were capable of running some lower end games (for example CS:S, HL2) even at reduced resolution. I've heard the 9400M should be good enough for this, but maybe I'll wait on that. Clearly the MBP is more cut out for this.
    • As you can see from my sig, I like photography quite a bit. Most of my photo work is done on the Mac Pro, but often I'll find myself out and about and would like to download the photos; it would be nice to be able to run Lightroom.
    • I listen to a heck of a lot of music, but I don't think there will be a problem here.
    • I'm virtually always online, web browsing and e-mail etc but again I don't think this will be a problem.

    I think I can live with only the single USB port, and the lack of a DVD drive doesn't bother me greatly. Ethernet is a bit of a pain - ideally I'd like gigabit ethernet, so I'd need to give this some thought. Nothing I have has a Firewire port on it. Generally the only thing that gets plugged into my laptop is the iPhone and my headphones, so I think I'm good on that front.

    The MB is also a sensible option, with most of the pros of the Air without the drawbacks. Weight is slightly less than my existing laptop, and I guess it's probably just as portable. It also has the option of a higher 2.4GHz processor, and more in terms of expandability. Not sure whether I really want this or not, though.

    So... anyone got any thoughts or advice? Would really appreciate comments.
  2. dissdnt macrumors 65816


    Aug 3, 2007
    If you want ultra portability and take this thing everywhere and whip it out to do some email/web etc, then air. Your defiantly not playing some real time 3d games on it like hl2 etc. Would probably crawl, although the bump up they just did might help.
  3. davem7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2007
  4. AppliedMicro macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2008
    What does "HL2" stand for?
    Half-Life 2, I suppose?

    Can't really see the problem with the new MacBook Air. I mean... Half-Life 2 came out back in 2004, requiring a 1,2 GHz CPU, 256 MB RAM and DirectX 7 graphics. Sure, this might not exactly "fly" on the new MacBook Air (also mind the slow HD), but it should be playable?! Well... don't count on my word. I'm not a gamer, but I do check out benchmarks "ocasionally"...
  5. CaptainCannabis macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2007
    My recommendation is that you should wait for people who bought it to start receiving them and posting reviews.

    If you do like I did (bought the air 2 seconds after they announced it) then you might realise you have made the biggest mistake in the world. The MBA 1st Gen turned out to be the biggest crap ever. $3000 for a computer which promised a lot but is useless.

    In my opinion it was a bad investment.

    Wait one or 2 weeks to see what people say about the new one.
  6. davem7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2007
    Yeah, I think this would probably be the case. I'm sure that in the next couple of days some people are going to be testing the card out and we'll get some answers as to the benchmarks/capabilities. However I think there's a good chance of it being good enough to do this.

    Ouch. Sorry that you've had a bad experience with it! To be honest though, I will be ordering before the end of the month to capitalize on the iPod nano rebate. I'm going to a store today to test out the Air (1st gen obviously) and hopefully compare it to the new MBP... quite excited about that really.

    Thanks for the comments :)
  7. grimreaper1377 macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2007
    If you want to take a risk, order the new one. But I would wait to see how it compares to the first one in the real-world. But graphics card will definitely be better.

    Also - what model Air are you planning to get? I would go for the 1.83 Ghz upgrade, but not the 128 GB SSD.

    You could also consider the MacBook. Its only a 2 pound difference.
  8. davem7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2007
    If I was to go with the air, it would be with the 1.83GHz processor and the 120GB drive. I'd probably buy an SSD later and open it up myself to install it.
  9. Essjay macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Which iPod Nano rebate is this? Do you think you could link me because I would do the same if such a rebate is available.
  10. davem7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2007
  11. rittchard macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007
    While I can't answer the questions on how MBA would be for your work or photo applications, I can say this about gaming, a couple of the responses you got on this thread are flat out wrong. Here's a list of games I've run on the present version of the MBA:

    I was even able to get the recently released Warhammer Online to run on it, albeit at a relatively lower resolution and choppier than I'd like. The 9400m is not going to make the new MBA a dedicated gaming laptop, but you should be more than capable of handling "casual gaming" needs.

    In terms of portability, as much as I was loving it at home, the first out of town trip I took I really noticed the difference. Between the form factor and low weight, it really didn't feel like a burden whatsoever relative to my older laptop (which I believe was 5 or 5.5 pounds). You might think 1.5 or 2 pounds seems like nothing, but over an extended period of time it's more significant than I'd imagined. And as I mentioned in another thread, nothing beats the feeling of surfing the net holding the MBA on my fingertips. If you're interested, this is what I wrote about the original when it first came out:
  12. dongmin macrumors 68000


    Jan 3, 2002
    The MB is the way to go:

    1. It's lighter than your old Dell.
    2. It's build quality is as good as the Pro and Air.
    3. It offers the best bang for the buck.
    4. The extra Pro features (firewire, expresscard, more powerful graphics) isn't useful for you.

    Enjoy your new Mac!
  13. Muncher macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2007
    The air is the one for you then, it seems.

    The 9400M so far is exceeding expectations for gaming, and the Air has 6MB cache intel chips.

    I think the two most important differences between the air and the macbook are the slower, smaller hard drive in the air, and the slightly slower processor.

    120GB @ 4200 rpm HDD in the Air vs. 160GB @ 5400 rpm Macbook. This is a non issue with the 128GB solid state drive, of course.

    1.6/1.86 GHz vs. 2.0/2.4 Ghz. This is important for intensive apps. The new DDR3 memory in both laptops will help to offset this for the air, as compared to other laptops, but still...

    The ethernet shouldn't be that big of a deal, just pick up a cheap wireless router.

    My vote goes for the Macbook Air; I use my friend's fairly regularly, and it's a great machine, not to mention light as a feather comparatively. If you decide the Air isn't for you, the Macbook probably is.
  14. davem7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2007
    Thanks for all the further comments, guys. I think it's really down to the MB and MBA, the MBP is really going to be too heavy, and given that the 9400M is actually turning out to be pretty good, I'm fairly optimistic that either of these would be good enough for what I do.

    I am going to have a bit more of a play at the Apple Store, and I'll let you know what I choose :)
  15. tigres macrumors 68040


    Aug 31, 2007
    Land of the Free-Waiting for Term Limits
    Need some insight on this Air...

    Hi guys/gals

    I have had dismal luck with my MBP...(3) replacements ranging from kernal panics/Video striping/logic boards-- all within 3 months of the new product arriving. Now not to complain to highly; Apple has taken care of this for me (as they should on a 2500+ machine) but I am having my reservations.

    My 3rd unit is in the process of getting ready to ship out, and I feel I may want the Air instead.

    My business is financial, so I will be utilizing it for the following:

    VMware- windows xp, and some sql programs for my business. Word, and excel- that's it on that front.

    I have a sony CX7 camcorder, so I use iWeb, Final Cut express, (memory stick reader currently is the expresscard- but i can replace with usb adapter)
    iPhoto, web, Office 08 with Entourage for work.

    iTunes lib. is on my home machine (iMac) and i sync my iphone/photos/music with that machine and my contacts/cal are over the air with exchange/mm.

    My problem pulling the trigger are these (2)
    only 2g ram (and not upgradable correct?)
    Speed/processing power for video editing with FCxpress.

    I would love your thoughts, if I do switch my order I will definately get the 1.8 with the SSD drive.

    Please enlighten me on your opinions; and thanks so much for your input.

  16. munckee macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005
    I'm sorta having the same dilemma. Trying to decide between the air and the MB. I really like the portability of the Air (the extra weight/thickness makes a HUGE difference), but I can't help but wanting the "latest & greatest"...
  17. tigres macrumors 68040


    Aug 31, 2007
    Land of the Free-Waiting for Term Limits
    yeah, hit us up if you find your answer.

  18. dongmin macrumors 68000


    Jan 3, 2002

    That's Apple's apples-to-apples comparison.

    If the $500 extra you pay for the MBA is not a big deal, then you should go for it.

    Note that the MacBook has as good, if not better, build quality as the MBA. Before the update, the MBA's fit and finish was MUCH better.

    Also note that the MB is gonna be at least 25% faster. You can put in a 320GB 7200 rpm HDD into the MB for around $100. That will give a HUGE boost to your overall system speed. The MBA will languish at 4200 rpm speed (unless you opt for the $700 SDD upgrade). With the faster HD and processor combined, the MacBook may approach something like 50% faster than the MBA. That's a pretty large tradeoff.
  19. SFStateStudent macrumors 604


    Aug 28, 2007
    San Francisco California, USA
    I've had all three, MB/BlackBook, MBA, and MBP within the past 15 months and I'm currently with the MBA. Not too much help in comparison with the new MB/MBP/or the not yet released MBA. Keep us advised on your choice...:cool:
  20. w00tini macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2008
    i haven't read the entire thread so excuse me if some of this has been touched on...

    I have the Air and the new 13" MacBook. There are a few similarities and a few differences at the same time that might sway you one way or the other.

    Screen: The screen on the Air is better. Much better viewing angles and overall just sharper.

    Keyboard & Trackpad: On the base model MacBook you dont get the illuminated keyboard, the Air has it by default on either sku. The MacBook's new trackpad beats the Air since it has the new gestures and no physical button other than the pad itself. After using it a few days, I'll never go back to the other pads.

    Chassis: Both very high quality. The MacBook feels sturdier since it is a bit larger to house the optical drive.

    Portability: Believe it or not, the new MacBook feels just as portable to me as the Air. I've had the Air since Feb of this year when they came out and have probably traveled for business 90% of the days since then, so believe me when I say I know how comfortable the Air is to travel with. But the MacBook feels just the same in my bag. Since the MacBook has the optical built in, I leave the USB super drive for the Air at home and they end up weighing nearly the same on my shoulder in a carrying bag. So I'd have to say if you're traveling, you probably wont feel that much of a difference between the two if you usually have your Air's optical with you. In fact, the sleeve I've used for the Air is what I'm using on the MacBook, that's how close they are in size.

    Cool Factor: Face it, we all want to be cool... and the Air gets you there a lot faster than the MacBook.

    Power: No question, the new MacBook feels snappier in applications and in loading up programs like Excel and Word. Obviously the larger HD in the MacBooks are appealing as well.

    Overall: For me, I'm going to go with the MacBook and sell the Air. Not because I don't love the Air (because man, that thing is awesome!) but because for my needs, having the ability to burn optical discs without a countertop is going to be extremely helpful for me in sales presentations.

    I really dont think you can go wrong with either machine. Just look at your needs closely and come up with a solution for yourself.

    hope that helped
  21. tigres macrumors 68040


    Aug 31, 2007
    Land of the Free-Waiting for Term Limits
    I thank you very much for your time spent on this reply.

    I cancelled my replacement this morning on my New MBP. I changed my replacement to the new Air; 1.86 with the 128 SSD. Apple also threw in the external drive for no additional charge for my past troubles.

    I have decided that my work load and my travels with what I use it for will be just fine on the air.

    But... I could not downgrade to the MB as Apple looks at current market value and replaces with the like value product, if I decided on the MB, I would simply loose 1k; and well that would be stupid.

    So, I will now be the proud owner of a new MBA, and I hope my thought process serves me well.

    Again, thanks so much for all of the input.
  22. HiFiGuy528 macrumors 68000

    Jul 24, 2008
    I almost bought the new MB yesterday. After seeing it in person and comparing it to the MBA 1.6ghz. I decided to go with the Air. I sorry, I didn't read your entire post either. :) For me, I already have a white MB 2.1ghz, 4GB RAM, 320GB HD. The new entry model MB has less than what I currently own at $1300. Sure I like the new track pad. Okay... I love the new track pad! 15 mins. of use and it's hard to go back. Other than that, there is nothing more the new MB has that my MB already have. I just don't think I would use it any more often than my current one. I want something that I can use everywhere. MBA was the answer to my needs. In comparasion, MBA feel WAY lighter than MB. I could see myself taking it everywhere, 24/7. MB is 1.5 lbs. heavier than MBA. That's a lot!

    I went for a new 1st gen off Ebay. I paid $1225 shipped. That's $100+ less than entry model MB. The new MBA is NOT worth the money IMO. I don't care for the Nvidia GPU & the new xxx port. The new Air will be $1700+ 8.5% tax. That's a $619 difference for those two things. That's just crazy. I feel that the price I paid, I can turn it around in a year or two and I won't lose that much. The Air is SEXY and COOL.
  23. munckee macrumors 65816

    Oct 27, 2005

    You don't care FOR it, or you don't care enough ABOUT it to justify the price difference? I too would be hesitant to pay for a new MBA compared to a 1st gen, but the nvidia GPU's have shown significant benefits in the tests that are floating around...
  24. dannn macrumors regular

    Feb 3, 2008
    im deciding between the air and the glassbook too...
    i really want the air and think it's perfect for me. i need something light and i dont need top of the line specs.

    but after having seen the macbook, i'm reconsidering. i'm actually leaning more towards the glassbook. i just feel like it's a better decision

    my reasoning:
    -the air's hdd (can't afford ssd) is just a bad idea imho. i mean, it's an ipod hdd for goodness sake! This is going to be my primary computer and i just dont feel comfortable running my whole life on a 4200rpm drive. i guess i could buy an external drive and run backups, but i dont think ill find the time to carry them out regularly. and of course, after all the money ill have spent on the air, where will i find the money to afford an external?

    -the glass trackpad. sounds pretty dumb i know, but i WANT the glass trackpad. I don't like the idea of spending $1800 on a laptop with an outdated trackpad, especially when the air is marketed as a premium notebook.

    -and lastly, im just unsure of what's gonna happen with the air line. I think the air is a great idea, but im not sure if apple still does. I could definitely see apple forgetting about the air like they've done with the mac mini and even apple tv.

    even though i love the air, there are just too many factors that scare me.

    with the macbook, i spend less and get a faster computer with newer technology. what i lose is 1.5lbs of portability and the cool factor. not bad a trade off

    ill still wait however and see what this new update is like in november. who knows...maybe apple will throw in a glasstrack pad last minute.....................
  25. tigres macrumors 68040


    Aug 31, 2007
    Land of the Free-Waiting for Term Limits
    Correct me if I am wrong but I see very little difference between the MB/MBA/MBP except for the processing speed and Ram.

    All appear to share the same processor/video card, and the air shares the higher end front side bus as the mbp.

    So am I concluding correctly that the MBA will have some pretty good side by side comparison to the MB/MBP? Obviously with a 2g side by side look. With the air having the ssd drive.


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