Help! MBA or Win laptop?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by skorseri, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. skorseri macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2013
    Hi everyone first of all i'm not a native english speaker, so if you hate when someone makes mistakes in your language please don't be rude i´m learning.

    The thing is that im going to CS college and starts in 3 weeks, i didn't knew it starts that soon so i'm in hurry to choose a weapon, i was hoping for the haswell non retina MBpro get release, but maybe i wouldn´t be able to wait, so my candidates right now are (these are between my budget n' are officially sold by the manufacturer in my country):

    MBA 2013:
    Intel core i7, 8GB, 256GB, 13 in.

    Alienware 14:
    Intel core i7 (haswell quad core), 8GB, HDD 750GB/msata 32 GB, Nvidia gtx 765m 2gb gddr5, 14 in 1080p ips, Win 7.

    Dell Inspiron 15r:
    Intel core i7 (ivy-bridge dual core), 6GB, HDD 1TB/msata 32GB, AMD Redeon 8730m, 15 in touch 720p, Win 8.

    IF you don´t care about the details, just skip to the doubts section :)

    The facts:

    °The strong is the alienware, but the battery life (on extreme energy save mode= 3hr 30~50 min) it's gonna be an issue in classrooms (i type faster than handwritten so im expecting to take all my notes with the computer) and is the priciest.

    °The pretty is the MBA, looks so good and i can develop apps for my iOS devices but i could need more power (i've never owned a mac).

    °The friendly is the inspiron, it is between power n battery life, but with 15.6 in. is too big for the armchairs in class (the extra screen is always welcome when coding, but it will not fit in my actual messenger bag so i'll need to get a bigger one or a backpack)

    My Concerns:

    I'm a gamer but i prefer to play on consoles, so alienware looks atracttive to me but not too much, anyway i think it's the one where i get the most for my money also it could be a good desktop replacement when retired, but the battery life is too limited n' i dont wanna look like a swank showoff typing on a alienware which is not meant to be a notebook.

    I like to write stuff specially when i can't sleep so the retro-iluminated comforty apple keyboard seems my best bet also i wanna try Mac OS X looks friendly for college n' coding, the whole Mac experience looks incredibly attractive, however the lack of a dGPU, small screen size n' resolution makes me feel i could regret it, and the price of a macbook pro with dGPU is too damn high.

    My counscience tells me that the inspiron suits my needs n' anything more could be just luxury n´comfort, no matter if i think that the inspiron looks ugly, bulky n' the touchscreen in a laptop is useless, n the fact that im paying a licence of a OS i don´t like (i'd rather get Win7 than 8) after all is my parents money and even when they offered me enough to afford the alienware doesn't mean i have to take it all.


    To MBA owners:

    is the Air core i7 8GB enough to flawlesly run Visual studio 2012?

    would it run autoCAD for some light 3D drawings?

    how does it feels to develop for iOS in the 13 in Air?

    To anyone who recently switched from win to mac:

    The OS n' design really worth to get less capable hardware n better user
    experience for the money?

    To hardware experts:

    Do you think that intel 14 nm broadwell processors will be released before 2015?

    Because is way better if i get a cheap laptop, save money and wait just year1/2 for the generational jump from 22 nm to 14 nm (broadwell and skylake) with ddr4 to get an expensive pretty machine like the MBA, if that jump is that close better wait am i right?

    To Mac experts

    Assuming i'll take care of my MBA like it was made in gold how many years being a smooth well performance machine will last?

    More or less which date apple use to release new products? (i know is september or octuber but im not sure)

    Assuming you have to choose "not considering any of my personal concerns and needs"

    which one would you get and why?
  2. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    I can answer some of these:

    For what it's worth: with the right external monitor and display adapter, you can get a great desktop experience with the MacBook Air. I use this way a lot at work and it's quite fine.

    And, coming from a 15 inch MacBook Pro with discrete GPU, I haven't found the 13 inch to be that much of a sacrifice. Now, an 11 inch screen, I'd probably never be able to do comfortably. But I've been fine so far with 13.

    I would factor into this concern build quality. We deal a lot with PCs and laptops where I work, and we switched from Dell to HP as our main windows-based system supplier because the long term reliability and build quality of the Dell desktops and laptops have been abysmal these past several years. In at least two cases where we've bought relatively large (200+) batches of Dell Inspiron models for mass deployment, a critical design flaw was discovered that caused long term failure rates approaching 100%... usually things like power supplies that would burn out, or motherboards with GPU issues or bad solder joints. On the LOW end, mass buys like that would have 30% failure rates... we'd consider ourselves lucky if we didn't have to replace more than a third of the Dell systems we've purchased before their expected three year lifespan.

    So far, our HP failure/defect rate has been closer to 15%-20%. Not much better, but still an improvement

    By contrast, the failure.defect rate on our Macs has been around 2% mark. ANd we've tended to hang on to Apple hardware for a lot longer. We even have an 11-year-old G4 Power Mac that still functions nicely (though not really used for anything serious these days).

    Even Intel thinks this is unlikely.

    It's not unheard of for Mac Laptops to last 6 years or more, if taken care of. Realistically, you can expect Apple to support your hardware on a current version of OS X for 4 years, maybe 5 but that would be pushing it. And you could run an "out of date" OS X version for 2-3 years after release, with most software still supporting you and Apple still providing security updates.

    September/October is usually reserved for mobile devices. Summer (June through September) tends to be the timeframe for major releases of new desktop/laptop models, though occasionally processor speed bumps and price reductions might be quietly slipped in anytime throughout the year.

    For me, the MacBook Air wins, any day. Mainly that's because my workflow doesn't flow well without a good *nix-based operating system, so Windows is out for me. The battery life, the tight hardware/OS integration and the great performance for such a small form factor seals the deal for me.
  3. Suraj R. macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2013
    Air any day of the week. Day of the month. Day of the year.

    The integrated GPU in the Air (1GB) is a lot more powerful than the integrated GPUs that it succeeds. I run COD 4 on an external monitor (connected to my 2013 MBA) at 1080p and I consistently get 30+ FPS (usually around 45-60 FPS).
    It has all of the power you will need, in a beautiful form factor. Get it, you won't regret it.
  4. paymonGT macrumors member

    Mar 26, 2009
    You came to an Apple site, to a MacBook Air sub-forum, asking if you should purchase the MBA or a Windows laptop.

    You were going to buy the MBA before you posted.
  5. skorseri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2013
    I found an expert

    Thank you sir your answers were clear, direct, objective, and extremely helpful especially the info about the build quality of the Dell desktops and laptops, also i´ve noticed that a lot of people self claimed "harware pros" tend to bash macs as overpriced, but all people i know that professionally work with computers (windows all cases) actually prefer Macs as their own personal computers, is that a coincidence?

    Isn't a question that requires to be answered i just wanted to thank you for getting through my whole case written in awful english and answering, so thank you sir :D


    thanks for answering :) cod fps are pretty impressive, which other games do you play? besides gaming do you use any other gpu intensive program/app?
  6. skorseri, Jul 13, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2013

    skorseri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2013

    xD yeah sounds like i'm going to the Vatican, questioning if catholicism is the right religion.

    Nope but these forums are pretty active and crowded also i need answers that only macbook 13 in/Air owners could answer or at least have a clue.

    Most important, i've used windows OS all my life and i tried Mac OS X only with my cousin (she graduated this year as a designer), and high school teachers when they needed help for the printer or wifi... minimal stuff, and it felt like a fierce, good looking linux.

    Anyway if i purchase the alienware i know how it would work how the OS is, which programs i´ll need how to organize my archives, and there will be nothing new, besides the lights and the powerful portable performance, but with the mac everything will be new stuff, stuff that people easily love, so i know that the answer to the last question i made will always be "the air", but i wanna know from actual air owners why they choose the macbook air.

    which one would you choose and why?
  7. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    It'll be fine.
  8. chumawumba macrumors 6502


    Aug 9, 2012
    Ask the NSA
  9. beautifulcoder macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2013
    The Republic of Texas
    I'm really beginning to think the PC industry was selling us a gimmick with tech specs.

    A better question is, what good is high tech specs when the build quality is crap, heat dissipation unaccounted for, and software runs completely out of sync with the hardware?

    For example, for me, an MBA is measly clocked at 1.3GHz yet it runs smoother than any PC with twice that speed running Windows.
  10. rabidz7 macrumors 65816


    Jun 24, 2012
    Get the alienware.
    A MBA might run auto can, it might not.
    The alienware will be so much faster.
    14nm x86 chips will not be out until intell has enough time to copy IBMs 14nm design for the Power8.
    A MBA is not PowerPC, it will last two years tops.


    I am trying to quit using iCrap (any apple device made after the intel transition plus the iPod and the Mac Pro pre 2013 is excepted) apple stuff and it is super hard. I have already gotten rid of all desktop intell desktops, and am now working to get an MSI Dragon and HTC One.
  11. cake1 macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2013
    Hi, here is my perspective, hope this helps
    You need to know what you are gonna be using the machine for. If you study software engineering kind of stuff, MBA is more than powerful enough.
    If you want to go around with your computer ... lectures, meet ups, group work etc, the MBA can offer you more - you dont have to take the power adapter with you. Its lighter and much much more portable.

    If you want to play games on your computer get the Alienware.

    The 13 inch is not that small. Its fine for most people. Also I consider the lack of dGPU an advantage - more power efficient and better battery life. The machine doesn't get hot to the touch which is pretty damn nice imo.


    If we are talking light drawings then yes.

    Not an iOS developer here. I program in Scala and Java. I enjoy developing on this machine. Its extremely fast and responsive.

    Im not 100% what you are trying to say there. But to me the MBA offers a lot and I think it is cheap for what it offers.

    I am not a hardware expert. However common sense tells me no, it will not be released this year as it doesnt make sense.

    Let me give you my view/advice on this matter. Your primary focus right now should be how to become good at the thing you will be studying. Get the machine that does the job right now and if you are good and successful with your stuff you will have plenty of money to buy whatever computers you want in the future.
    The MBA is worth buying now since its a good computer. As long as you wont be starving yourself over buying an expensive computer now dont torture yourself with a crappy laptop.

    If i were in your position I would buy the MBA because:
    - Its a good quality computer
    - Battery life and portability are a big deal
    - It is a cold machine and I find it so much easier to work comfortably when the computer Im using doesnt burn my fingers
    - Price - it is priced cheaply for what it offers
    - If you want to be successful at your stuff you SHOULDNT have time to play games.. honestly. Therefore you dont need a gaming laptop.

  12. Suraj R. macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2013
    minecraft, but only to test the gpu of the machine, and it has also been very impressive. Other than gaming, no I don't do many GPU intensive things on it.
  13. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    AutoCAD 3D and 3D modeling in general can be quite demanding on the GPU. So far I've only had a few small hiccups with Sketchup not being able to redraw fast enough. This is on a 11/i5/4.
  14. paymonGT macrumors member

    Mar 26, 2009
    I have a '12 13" MacBook Air. It's nice. The portability is great. But not being able to upgrade the SSD and RAM kills me. I thought I'd be okay when I purchased it last year (256GB SSD, 8gb, i7). Doing video editing for research however has hit me hard and requires a lot of painful transfers to an external drive to make room for the video. I get by fine, but would love to have a 768GB HD, and 16GB RAM would be nice too.
  15. skorseri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2013

    Thanks to all of you for your time, advice and answers, they were extremely helpful, i´ve made a decision, and even when is totally different than my original thoughts, what you wrote gave me a wider view about situations, facts and real user experience.

    Thanks again strangers i'll never forget your kindness have a nice uumm.... life :)

    If you wanna know, here's my decision if you don´t, i said all i got to say :) Farewell thanks

    I choosed the MBA but when i was introducing the credit card and was rejected for some weird reason, i decided to wait till next day.

    Anyway in my night thinking a new concern appeared in my mind; if i get the MBA or the alienware, i´ll be carrying around a more or less 2k USD computer, anything could happen! i mean even in good reputation countries like USA & canada i've read that some people have had their pc's stolen in college or streets, n i'll have to take public transport and walk a cosiderable distance, so skinny white guy in streets and expensive possessions is not a good combination.

    Next day i recived a mail from dell with "special offers", the best one was really atracttive:

    DELL XPS 8700

    core i7 4770
    Nvidia GTX 650 ti....

    I don't remember the whole configuration, however i looked in local and online stores to build a custom pc with the same specs, it surprisely matched exactly the price of the dell, but dell gives me a HD monitor speakers keyboard and mouse also 1 year warranty and financing for only $1205 USD.

    Maybe in usa is overpriced but here it's an amazing deal, and satisfies my concerns of power, viability, and promise to last like my 9 yrs old gateway desktop pc, i only updated MoBo RAM CPU GPU once like 3 years ago, and still is more capable than many modern average pc's.

    Since the budget was 2k USD i still have like $700-800 to spend in a decent basic laptop, unfortunately not enough for a macbook, but im hunting online and retail stores for promos and waiting for the best deal, i think i'll go for a core ivy i3 toshiba only to suffice my portable needs like take notes, light coding and presentations.

    That's my decision and maybe its not as fancy and good like the MBA or alienware, but for today i'm a student living by my parents, and that decision is the best suited for the budget and concerns, of course in the future when a professional i would convert that xps and toshiba into a Mac pro and MBA, but today i need to work hard and make the best with the money i have to surpass myself. :D

    Thanks again strangers i'll never forget your kindness have a nice uumm.... life :)
  16. johnjey macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    Northern CA
    LMAO...i don't need to read whatever is written at the top on this thread as the title itself is a joke...close your eyes and buy an AIR...u will NEVER return to windows ever again !

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