Help choosing between 2020 MBA and 16inch MBP

styates

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 25, 2020
3
0
Hi all,

I currently have an early 2015 MBP and need to upgrade, I would have loved to have waited for a 13inch MBP upgrade but unfortunately I need something within the next couple weeks. I was pretty sold on the 2020 MBA given the price difference between it and the 16inch MBP.

I then came across this review video
I've linked it at the exact time that is giving me some pause. As you can see there is a red square image that has something in it that can't be seen except on the 16 inch model. While I don't actually intend to do any heavy video or photo editing, I do light photo editing and this really threw me off. I recognize that the screen on the MBA will be inferior to the MBP but I was just wondering if this has ever been a real issue for anyone or what your experiences have been.

I currently have ordered a 2020 MBA with the i7 CPU upgrade and 16gb RAM upgrade it shows an arrival time of 1-2 weeks so I am still considering canceling and maybe going for the base model of the 16 inch MBP. Any thoughts on this are greatly appreciated. Also, because I am considering the 16inch MBP, do people consider this to be pretty unwieldy to travel with? Thanks!
 

wowee

macrumors member
May 23, 2015
66
10
You already have the 15. Get something light and portable. Get the air.
 

kreasonos

macrumors 6502
Dec 4, 2013
336
303
I picked up a 16" MBP at the apple store and man that thing is a tank. I'd much prefer a lighter laptop like the air.
 

iemcj

macrumors 6502
Oct 31, 2015
413
132
This guy may have mispoke, having the p3 display is great for video, but not essential for photographers. P3 is a colorspace that videographers and filmmakers will work in but as a professional photographer, all of our work is centered around how it will look when printed, and there's no pro labs (that I'm aware of) that are dealing in the P3 format. Having a screen that can "only" display the rgb colorspace is 100% fine since that's what you're going to be printing at anyway. There's an actual danger for photographers that if you set your screen wrong on these P3 displays and get your colors all looking the way you want on your screen, you can end up with desaturated and lifeless looking image when the lab converts it back to p3.

That aside, it's all going to come down to your usage. Do you need the bigger screen at the expense of portability? I jumped from a 2011 13" macbook pro to this 16" one a few months ago and while the screen realestate is nice, this thing is friggin huge. It's bulky to carry with one hand. It doesn't fit as nicely on my lap.

You already told us you don't need it for video work, and honestly if you were doing so on a high level you'd want an imac anyway. Considering the file sizes of modern dslrs you'd be working with external hard drives and if you're tied down anyway, may as well have a higher resolution and 4x size screen AND better thermals for sustained loads.

The 16" is for people who have big work budgets and want big screens. If that's not you then honestly man this air is half the price, get yourself the 1 tb harddrive upgrade, one of the quad cores, and you're set with a machine that will last you a long time. ;)
 
  • Like
Reactions: mick2 and throAU

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,711
2,872
Perth, Western Australia
Sorry my post was a bit jumbled, I have a 13inch early 2015 model of the MBP
You're in my boat.

I went for the 2020 air as soon as it was released. It has not arrived yet though (order "processing" still at Apple. the dongle i ordered for video out has shipped though, arrives today).

It will outperform your current 2015 13" by some margin (probably roughly 2x in most stuff if you go i5 or i7), be lighter, new, and cheaper than a 13" or 16" pro by a LONG way for a reasonable spec.

i went i7/1TB/16GB and it came out at about $1000 AUD less than a similarly specced 13" Pro.


I haven't tried the 16" MBP, but i have had many machines of different form factors over the past 15 years and 14-15" plus machines are always more painful to travel with in my opinion.

Whatever they weigh, they do not fit in bags as easily, they don't work on economy aircraft tray tables (too large to fit), they generally get worse battery life. Weight is the least of the problems, but they're also heavier, and have a larger heavier power brick as well. I say this as someone who lugged a 15" non-retina through europe for 6 weeks back when that was current. It wasn't so much the weight, just the inconvenience due to size whilst traveling.

I'd suggest that the people who would be better served by a 16" Pro are fairly limited. Either you need a big screen and aren't able to plug into an external display when this is required and/or you need a lot of GPU power away from your regular home/office.

If you spend most of your time away from a desk and are not doing heavy duty work most of the time away from a desk, 12-13" machines are much nicer to work with in my opinion. Better battery life, easier to pack, carry and use in confined spaces.


In summary i think you should consider this (given you're currently working with a 2015, and presumably have had no issues with that machine's power since you've owned it):

  • If you want a machine you lug occasionally from desk to desk, or very occasionally take out on the road with you - consider the 16". Think "more portable than an iMac"
  • If you want a machine that primarily gets carried around on the go every day - consider the 13" Pro or even better, the Air. And maybe pair it with a nice 27" 4k monitor for your desk, when you're at home. If you're shopping for that, I've been super impressed with my AOC U2790PQU (for example). Was $400 AU and the picture is great! That plus an Air will still be cheaper than a 13" or 16" Pro, even with the air being significantly upgraded from base spec.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Altherekho

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,711
2,872
Perth, Western Australia
The 16" is for people who have big work budgets and want big screens. If that's not you then honestly man this air is half the price, get yourself the 1 tb harddrive upgrade, one of the quad cores, and you're set with a machine that will last you a long time.
I pretty much agree with you entirely, except that i'd also add that the 16" really requires that you need more portability than an iMac *as well*.

I'm pretty much done with 14"+ laptops personally. I feel desktop + cheaper portable laptop > "wannabe desktop replacement" 15"+ laptop with discrete graphics, at roughly the same total cost. The desktop replacement laptops just never work as well as an actual desktop. Not by a LONG shot.

There's definitely a niche for people who need the 16" to be able to do high end tasks on the go, but it's pretty small in my opinion.

Of course if you want the larger display on a portable, all that goes out the window :D
 

Dubba

macrumors regular
Oct 4, 2006
179
10
Nairobi, Kenya
i went i7/1TB/16GB and it came out at about $1000 AUD less than a similarly specced 13" Pro.
I have ordered exactly this machine for exactly the same reasons. I was considering the 16Pro, bu I move my laptop around the office and to home throughout the day; it just didn't make sense to me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: throAU

kp98077

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2010
1,091
301
I just sold my 16" as MUCH as I love it, it is a complete tank, not only did I notice the heft and weight just going around the house, so do other... I am just ready for something lightweight again, even if it means giving up a bit in performance so ordered the new AIR - the 16" taking it on trips was a difficult task for sure!
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,711
2,872
Perth, Western Australia
I have ordered exactly this machine for exactly the same reasons. I was considering the 16Pro, bu I move my laptop around the office and to home throughout the day; it just didn't make sense to me.
Yeah, i spent the past 3-6 months agonising over having to buy a 16" to get a working keyboard, considering that maybe i could use it as a desktop replacement (to justify spending THAT much just to get a portable with a working keyboard) and use an ipad on the go (when i really need portability), but then came to the conclusion that I've been down that road many times before and for me it never works that well for me.

Plus it would mean i would ideally want a newer 12.9" ipad (to replace my 10.5) to cover the more portable "slightly heavier work" situation and suddenly i'm > $5-6k aussie in the hole instead of roughly HALF that by getting the air, which will cover my portable needs. For a larger more cumbersome machine with "meh" discrete graphics that i didn't even really want in the first place.

When i need a laptop, i need it to be easily balanced on my lap, small confined space, etc. - i actually use the portable as a portable for things like serial port programming of end devices, on aircraft, etc.

When i don't need a laptop - a desktop is far more powerful.

Don't get me wrong - the 16" is a great machine - if you actually need that power, and move around often enough that relocating a desktop (or remotely connecting to a desktop/server to do it) is not feasible. But that's a very small niche IMHO.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: iemcj

Altherekho

macrumors newbie
Aug 29, 2019
21
4
I have ordered exactly this machine for exactly the same reasons. I was considering the 16Pro, bu I move my laptop around the office and to home throughout the day; it just didn't make sense to me.
It would be really interesting how i7 works thermally .. could it have an heatpipe too ?
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,711
2,872
Perth, Western Australia
It would be really interesting how i7 works thermally .. could it have an heatpipe too ?
Guaranteed it won't.

Apple would not modify the design for that, they want economy of scale for this machine and fabricating different components for minor spec changes won't achieve that. Either all of them get the heat pipe or none of them. And we already know the non-i7 don't.

If you're wanting a machine for sustained high throughput workloads, don't buy an Air, that's not what they're for.

I'd also suggest that NO laptop is ideal for that, they're all thermally and power-budget constrained (100w is the limit of USB-C power delivery!), so if you want high performance for that stuff, buy a desktop, if you can. Better cooling more power available for higher sustained clock, etc.

Consider that you could buy a base model air (or high end ipad) and 23" imac of reasonable spec (or even low end 27" imac, and upgrade the ram yourself) for about the price of the 16" pro with reasonable storage, and suddenly the 16" machine looks a lot less attractive unless you really need that power while away from the office.
 

Similar threads

  • amgff84
2
Replies
2
Views
167
  • Clancenator
0
Replies
0
Views
149
  • Christopher Azzara
1
Replies
1
Views
503
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.