Help please - Refurb MBP vs New Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by kai0219, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. kai0219 macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2017

    I'm new to this board and you all seem so much more knowledgeable than myself about the different Macbook options. Wondering if anyone could give me some advice.

    I am replacing my old 2010 MBP, finally.

    Given my budget, I've narrowed it down to a Refurbished 13" Macbook Pro (2.7 GHz Dual Core intel i5 with Retina Display) or a brand new Macbook Air 13" which I could even upgrade to the 2.2 GHz option.

    I'm getting conflicting advice from a variety of people at work and even at Apple

    Some say the MBP is a much better machine and value for my money, even if this model was first released in 2015
    Others say it's better to get a brand new 2017 machine, since all updates going forward will be for newer machines. They say buying refurbished, the computer will "age out" sooner. Since this is what happened to my 2010 MBP which now cannot even handle updates...this has me worried.

    Looking for some advice here. Thank you in advance!
  2. danf1 macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2017
    Definitely go with the Pro. Even a 2015 Pro is in many respects more modern than a 2017 Air - and the refurbs are like new (some people would say they are even better!)

    The main issue with the Air is the screen quality. I owned a 2013 Air until a few months ago, and I absolutely LOVED that computer. But if I was buying now, I just couldn't bring myself to get an Air. Also, it'll likely be discontinued in the next 12 months. I have a 2016 Mac Pro now and the difference in the screen is night and day.

    Hope that helps!
  3. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    In short, the Air is the cheapest bottom line laptop they do now, the Pro is the highest end. So it's a choice between a 2 year old top end computer or a brand new low end (Not really that simple of course, the Air is extremely capable); either way that's how I'd look at it to simplify your choice.

    In terms of worrying about updates and stuff it's fair, but realistically you're getting an extra 2 years. So you can have 5 years of great performance, or 7 years of good.
  4. bodonnell202 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2016
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Go with the refurbished MBP. The Air that is currently still on sale is a 2015 model as well and the 2015 MBP is more powerful than a new Air, and comes with a much better screen. You'll be better off in the long run with the MBP.
  5. EugW macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    At this point I personally would get nothing less than a 2017 MBP or MB. The media updates coming in iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra definitely favour the 2017 machine.

    In the very least, I would get a 2016 MacBook Pro refurb. The screens are just not the same on the Airs. Plus the default font size is "wrong".

    But what do you do with it? If you are short on cash, what about waiting 4 months and then picking up a refurb 2017?

    Put it this way:

    1) 2017 MBP: Full support for Apple's new media ecosystem going forward.
    2) 2016 MBP: Partial support for Apple's new media ecosystem going forward.
    3) 2017 MBA: Half-assed support for Apple's new media ecosystem going forward.

    OTOH, I bought a 2017 MacBook. It fits into category 1, but with much less performance than the MacBook Pros and a dearth of ports.
  6. wiffle macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2017
    The retina screen alone is worth going Macbook 12" or any variant of the Pros.
  7. retnuoc macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2014
    2015 MBP:
    Much better display (2560x1600 vs 1400x900), higher contrast ratio and quality
    More powerful processor (5th gen 2.7ghz vs 5th gen 1.8ghz in MBA)
    Force touch trackpad
    More I/O (HDMI + 2 TB2)

    2015 MBA:
    Lighter (1.3kg vs 1.5kg)
    Longer battery life (13h vs 10h)

    I bought 2015 MBP refurb unit cause it seems better almost in every aspect other than battery life.
  8. bopajuice Suspended


    Mar 22, 2016
    Dark side of the moon
    What kind of support are you referring to?
  9. kai0219 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2017
    Thank you all! I'm definitely convinced to stay with a MBP

    The only thing I didn't consider was waiting for a 2017 Refurbished MBP -- but I really don't know if those would be available anytime soon, since they just came out. I'd also guess they'd start at a higher pricepoint -- the refurbished MBP model I bought was 24% off, compared to most of the other refurbished products that were around 14% off or so...
  10. OneSon macrumors member


    Jan 6, 2013
    I just went through this exact same dilemma. I'm in the UK by the way.

    I went for the refurb 2015 MBP for £889 plus quidco discount.

    I'm loving it so far. The retina screen is fantastic, the keyboard is lovely, it's very thin and actually has a smaller footprint than the air. Battery life has been great so far.
  11. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    Just a funny (IMHO) observation - the thread just before this one at this point in time is named "Bought the Kaby Lake MBP day one, returned it day 14", in which several posters returned their rMBP (with the Touch Bar). I'm surmising that there's going to be some of these on the refurb Store soon.

    My contribution here. I recommend buying AC for a refurb rMBP if you choose an older, not current rMBP. I've purchased several over the years, including the unit I'm using right now, and every single one of them needed to have repairs performed, under warranty. I bought my AC from a reseller for about $100 less than Apple's price for my current rMBP: a memory module crapped out, and it was replaced under warranty - by replacing the motherboard, a $900 repair. OTOH, my new/used rMBP is rocking a new motherboard, a new battery, a new SSD, and a new Samsung display. Several of the "last model" purchases that were refurbs experienced issues that were covered under AC.

    Other rMBP owners have zero issues with refurbs - all of the refurb 2012 Mini Servers I bought have been running smoothly since Day 1, as have both nMPs that are cranking away 24/7. Cheers!
  12. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I'm confused as to how the 2016 MBP (which is faster and more capable than a 2017 MB) has "partial support" for Apple's "new media ecosystem" (not sure what that means). Can you explain further?
  13. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    The only thing I can think is a confusion over something like HVEC or other media solutions being on the Kabylake chips. Obviously these things are software related on 2016s, and make use of the GPU. So maybe something to do with that, but no, there is no better actual support in the sense of obsolescence.
  14. ApolloBoy macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2015
    San Jose, CA
    Not sure if they know either, I think they might have been referring to the improved H.265/HEVC support in High Sierra since the 2017 models offer hardware acceleration for it. Metal 2, which is Apple's new graphics API, is also supported by a lot of the pre-2017 machines too.
  15. EugW, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017

    EugW macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    The 2016 MacBook Pro does not include hardware 10-bit HEVC decode in it. If you're a pro dude into video, this is IMO a big deal. Hell, I'm just an end user, and I think this is a big deal.

    For HD 10-bit HEVC material the 2016 will still be able to play such video no problem, but it will have moderate CPU usage, and it will have poor battery life. For 4K material the 2016 likely won't even be able to play it cleanly. Doesn't seem very "Pro" to me if it can't play such a file. Now, if you never have to deal with these files, then that's OK, but Apple's spec requirements tell us the direction they're moving with regards to video.

    Think of it this way: Some guy sends you a 4K 10-bit HEVC file for review. You pull out your 2016 MacBook Pro 13" to play it, and you discover you can't play it. So then you try your 17 year-old kid's 2017 MacBook 12" that s/he uses for social media and homework, and it plays it just fine.

    The good news is that the 2016 models do have hardware 8-bit HEVC hardware decode. The older models don't even have that though, which means the MacBook Air is definitely out of the question IMO. Even the 2017 MacBook Air has no hardware decode, mainly because Apple is using 2015 era Broadwell chips in the 2017 MacBook Air.

  16. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Interesting, thanks for the explanation. I'd guess that would be a very big deal to some people and almost no deal at all to others, but it's good info to have.
  17. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    If you are on a tight budget, the MacBook Air is the winner by default IMO. The exception would be if you use a system in a way that would necessitate the performance of the MacBook Pro (i.e., more than just standard-use/business-class software.)

    The Air can be purchased for half the price of the Pro - literally, for as low as $650 brand new via some recent sales. Consequently, it is hard to compare the two because they are in such different tiers.

    With the MBP, you get a great industrial design, a better screen, better speakers, better CPU, faster RAM, faster SSD, faster iGPU, far more external display options, and the more capable TB3/USB 3.1g2 over Type-C. In other words, it is better in virtually all areas. And at twice the price or more, it better be!

    With the MBA, you get a platform that has established itself as being proven over the test of time, exceptional battery life, what is arguably a more durable keyboard, and traditional portage with USB-A and the SD slot (this is big for some since, unlike the MBP, you can add up to 256 GB of additional internal flash storage for a reasonable price using a third party option.) Lacking TB3 and USB-C will eventually become a big deal, but if you buy one for only $650 you have a lot of flexibility to upgrade in several years given you can save the other $650. So while the system will age out sooner, with as much as you are saving...

    Neutral areas include one's preference for the keyboard style, the trackpad, and the portage - much of this is subjective, and IMO both styles are plenty usable.
  18. danny_w macrumors 601

    Mar 8, 2005
    Austin, TX
    I'm interested for $650. Where did you see it on sale this low? Before the new models came out Best Buy was routinely running sales for $800 but not since.

    And before anybody says it, for some (probably most) the rMBP screen clearly worth the price difference, but for others with old eyes like mine the difference is minimal. Yes I've looked at them side by side and yes I can see some difference but nothing to pay money for (to me).
  19. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    That's not quite right.

    AMD 400 series support 10-bit hardware encoding, Skylake support hybrid (GPU/Software). Decoding isn't an issue on any Skylake as they have plenty of power for it, so long as the software is written to take advantage of it. The main element of Kabylake with regards to 10-bit was adding a pure H/W feature on the chipset, meaning both 13"/15" models would support full encoding of 10-bit from a dedicated chip as opposed to a hybrid (Slower) method; it's worth noting this 'hybrid' system has been around quite a while, possibly only in windows, but pre-dates Broadwell. Kabylake does add main10 support which I don't think is available before, which will be great for people wanting to steam Netflix 4K onto a none-4K device; but, that's all DRM stuff.

    Anyway, older Macs are entirely capable of support assuming the software is there. Encoding was the main concern for "pros". Playback should be fine on older Macs but definitely 2016 onwards. So no need to panic people! If you really want to watch 4K content then you're best bet is to purchase a 4K TV, a $100 Blu-Ray player will sort you out.
  20. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    Micro Center had them on a $650 promotion for a few days after the 2017s were announced - they were selling like mad even when they were like $800 but at the $650 promotion it was insane how many sold. IIRC BB has had them for as low as $700 and I believe I have seen open box ones advertised on their site for even less. The MBA is an incredibly popular computer since it's Apple quality for mid-level Windows PC pricing, and it seems that many existing MBA owners prefer another MBA over a MBP because the MBA does everything they need for a very fair price.

    I really like the screens on my retina MBPs, but the MBA screen is plenty nice, and it's a tremendous value IMO. I'm glad Apple did not eliminate it given the base 128gb nTB still is not able to fill the MBAs role because of such a pricing disparity.
  21. MacRobert10, Jun 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017

    MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2012
    I would go with the refurbished MacBook Pro. I would avoid the new MacBook Pro's unless you get the 13" model without the touch bar. Hopefully Apple will come to their senses regarding design when newer models come out (supposedly in 2018). If you opt for the MacBook Air, go to and make sure the SSD is was in the past, but it's not on most of the new MacBook Pro's (not the one you're considering). In any case, verify that the SSD can be replaced.

    And now for my "new and improved" MacBook Pro rant...

    With the new MacBook Pro's, the SSD is soldered into the logic board, with the exception of the non-touch bar 13" MacBook Pro. SSDs are write cycle limited, which means that once enough of the blocks start reaching their write limits, the SSD starts faulting, and the unit either needs a new logic board or it's just toast...depending on how you decide what to do. The design is ridiculous, possibly the worst designed computer I've ever owned, but I needed it for work. Additionally, I noticed that on the extended warranty, it states that the RAM is covered but it didn't mention the SSD. Possibly they consider the SSD to be memory, but I doubt it.

    Additionally, the soldered in SSD apparently cannot report SMART parameters, so you can't even tell if it's in the process of failing. The only tool I know that you can use to test it is Scannerz ( because it can find bad blocks and check the SSD for resizing because of blocks being retired. Once the over provisioned area is depleted one of the following will happen: a) the SSD will just stop working b)it will become READ only, c) it will continue working but keep reducing its capacity. Once one of these things happens, you can't just open the unit up and put in a new SSD, you need a new logic board unless you always want to be connecting via an external drive, which almost defeats the purpose of being portable.

    There's no doubt in my mind that USB C is the future, but with the new MacBook Pro's, adapters are a necessity. There are too few peripheral available that use USB C. Mac's have always had some trouble with drives on hubs, and the new units are no exception.

    When I picked my 13" MacBook Pro w/TouchBar they had a refurbished 15" one for the same price, and I wanted to get that. It's a better computer and it's compatible with what's available today without adapters. The SSD is also replaceable. Unfortunately, the boss said "get the new unit...we need it for testing" so I did. It's the first time I've ever acquired a new computer in my life and been disappointed by it. It's really just an expensive throw away. It's a terrible design, IMHO.

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