How can the AIR be a better/faster purchase then the Pro as i was told?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by SD-B, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. SD-B macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009
    I am confused by the specs of the new MacBooks.

    Id like to buy a new Mac today but am not sure which one to buy

    Like most people, I have to try and keep my prices low, as much as i can, yet consider the long run and spend more IF in the long run it costs me less to do so.

    I have used laptops although admittedly I never take them out of my home so i suppose i could look at an iMac but it is also a bit more than I would like to spend unless absolutely necessary. So for now I am just comparing laptops.

    So, looking at the 13" Macbook Air.

    First, I need to know WHY this is considered such a great laptop when for just another $100 you can get the Pro?
    But, the AIR has UP to 1.7GHz dual core Intel Core i7 processor

    The MBP not only does not have up to 1.7GHz but almost double at 2.9GHz dual core Intel Core i7 processor.

    I spoke to a few people online not to long ago that told me that I needed to ignore that the AIR only has a 1.7GHz DCICi7 processor and that it is still faster and better than the Pros at 2.9GHz!

    I can't see how that can be?
    I would have assumed that the MBPro was more powerful??!!

    I have 2 Pros now but my most recent of the 2 is getting old at a late 2011 version.
    Its a 2.4Ghz Intel Core i5 version with 4 gig memory

    ( I seriously need to push this one to 8 gigs, something i want to do this week as well once i figure out the best price for it here in Toronto )

    In any event, IF my older MBP is 2.4GHz, HOW can someone tell me that the AIR at only 1.7GHz is still going to be faster and, as eel, a better option than buying the new 13" MBP?

    Naturally I am confused ;(

    /goes to look up the email that they explained why and will repost that answer if i find it in a few mins
  2. Tim0 macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2013
  3. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    What are your uses? For most users, any current CPU is far more powerful than they actually need to do their normal tasks. What you are probably seeming in your friend's recommendations is that the Air has an SSD while the 13" MBPro has an HDD. SSD vs. HDD is vastly more important for most uses than 1.7 GHz vs 2.9 GHz. Most tasks are memory and IO bound rather than being CPU bound. Of course there are exceptions, such as encoding video, professional audio and video editing and compiling code. If you do what most users do - browse the web, email, light word processing, YouTube, etc, than the overall increase in speed from an SSD is going to make the MB Air *feel* faster than the base 13" MB Pro.

    If you upgrade the MBPro with an SSD, or go to an MBPro Retina (which also includes an SSD by default) that advantage disappears - however, if you are just doing the 'normal' average user kind of stuff, a faster CPU won't really be noticeable anyway - that YouTube video isn't going to play any faster...
  4. SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009

    You are right in that i am the average user in that i am not encoding videos, or working in Photoshop.

    I do work on my computer and at all times i have perhaps 2 browsers open, with perhaps 10 windows between them.
    ( I need 2 )
    I also run an email program with about 15 email addressees.
    And then numerous smaller programs going at all times LOL

    I don't even run videos on this one as i have another macbook pro late 2010 that I use to download all Tv shows, etc and run that one though my Apple TV to my big screen no need for video on my main computer

    In fact to be honest for what i do, even this late 2011 is adequate although its sadly lacking in memory and i know that putting in another 4 gigs is the answer but i have been too busy to do it but plan on getting it done this week once i figure out where to buy it in Toronto ( other than apple )

    But even with more memory I could likely get another year of use out of this one I perhaps now that i am answering your questions, it might be a matter of want, more than need IF this one had 8 gigs.

    But either way b the sound of it, yes, I think it was mention of the SSD he mentioned but i was unable to find it to verify.

    I don't need the Retina. I think its likely best needed for those working in photosrhop or even video editing but for what I do, i think it would be a waste.

    Thank you. You answer has confirmed for me that it will be the AIR i will buy tomorrow rather than the MBP.

    i DO HAVE ONE question just out of curiosity then. Since these SSD's are better, why isn't the MBP using them? What is it I must be missing that would explain why it isn't being offered in the MBP?

    Thanks for making that decision much easier.

    As for the poster above that gave the URL in which to compare, I did and thats where I was first, before posting here. But rather than help, it just brought up more questions :)

    Thanks though!!
  5. Tim0 macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2013
    To keep the price down, that's why - HDD is cheaper. SSD is offered as a BTO option in non-Retina MBP.
  6. jimN macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2005
    My wife and I share a late 2011 MacBook Pro (2.4/2.5 I think). Over the summer I upgraded the RAM to 16GB which it sort of supports depending on what you read but is probably overkill, and swapped in a Samsung SSD. The difference in the computer performance is night and day and, whilst there are some niceties that I'd prefer in the more modern machines, including hand-off, it more than adequately performs its duties and runs Yosemite.

    I think you'd get far better value from making those two upgrades than buying a new machine. You might be advised to wait for the consumer samsung 850 SSDs which are rumored to be released soon as they may bring SSD prices down further.
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    The new rMBP is faster but...

    the high density screen means that the air can feel snappier during use as there are a lot of pixels for the integrated graphics to push.
  8. SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009
    Thanks to the posters that answered me as to why the MBP does not use SSD and those that confirmed that the AIR is a good choice for me. I will go buy it today after lunch.

    This one comment surprised me though.

    I have a late 2009 that is 2.56Ghz-I just use it to download movies and run it through Apple TV

    The one I am on now is Late 2011, so likely the same as yours??!! Its 2.4GHz and it came with 4Gig ram but I only have 2 slots and it says you can only upgrade it to 8gigs.

    I am going to buy the AIR today. I like a couple of computers anyhow but beside buying the AIR if I am told by people here that I could install another 4Gigs to make it 8Gigs, would buy me a couple more years, I would likely do so as I understand i can likely buy 4 gigs for about $100 and its easy to install myself. I say that without checking prices of Ram today.

    This older mac, the late 2011 i speak of, will not be used as much. It will no l longer be my main Mac obviously so if i do install another 4 gigs of ram, it might super charge it, right?

    BUT I DONT understand how you were able to bump it to 16 gigs as I was under they impression it would only handle 8 gigs at the most?
    So no, buying the AIR even if i could bump it to 16, I doubt it would due to its age but if people think bumping it to 8 gigs is worthwhile on one of this age and it is only about $100 as opposed to $250, etc, than I might do it IF people think its worthwhile to do and could buy me a couple more years as a good secondary mac?

    I am curious how you bumped it to 16gigs for I am almost positive i Read it could only handle 8?
    Seeing as you say you can do it depending on which article i suppose you read, curious as to how much you paid for the RAM if you don't mind my asking AND how much for the SSD?
    I am asking only so i can compare whether it would be worth it due to age, etc........I might do it although I will still buy the AIR.
    I work 24/7 with a laptop so i do need more than one anyhow.
    I also have a 1 year old Samsung laptop that was about $800 then but I thought i wanted to at least try to keep my hand in windows but i NEVER use it and after switching to Mac, Im kidding myself thinking i ever will so I will sell it anyhow.............although its newer than this 2011 Id rather put money I think into the mac of 2011 than use the Samsung of 2013 ;)
  9. SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009
    1 last question

    I am surprised that the AIR only offers 4 gigs of ram.
    I really feel that my present MBP is lagging due to only having 4 gigs.

    SSD drive or not, shouldn't they be at least 8 gigs? Or maybe even 8 with the possibility of upgrading to 16?
    Isn't 4 just a tad shy these days?
  10. Tim0, Nov 7, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

    Tim0 macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2013
    While Apple indeed says it can only handle 8GB of RAM, the processor used in this MBP is in fact capable of much more:

    Max Memory Size: 16 GB
    Memory Types: DDR3-1066/1333

    Although from what I heard, some people have had issues with 2x8GB RAM, so it might depend on the brand.

    ALSO, although the link above doesn't show 1600 MHz RAM support for this processor, I have successfully used 1600 MHz RAM sticks in MBP 2011 at native frequency - both 2x2GB Elpida from Mac Mini 2012 and 2x4 GB off-the-shelf Samsung RAM.

    MBA is not user-upgradable, but you can choose a BTO version with 8 gigs.
  11. lizurd macrumors newbie


    Feb 5, 2013
    I have a mid-2009 MBP (2.23 GHz core 2 duo) which I expanded to 8 GB RAM and an SSD. It runs perfectly fine for my uses. After the additional RAM and SSD I upgraded to Mavericks. I probably could have kept running fine on Snow Leopard with the 4GB and HDD though.

    I understand everybody has different needs and tolerance for these things but for the prices we pay for Apple products 2-3 years and then it is outdated/too slow is outrageous. I expect to get a lot more than that for my $$.

    Your late 2011 should have plenty of life left in it.

    An 8 GB upgrade (2x4) is $86 from Crucial btw.
  12. SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009
    I fully agree.
    I am in a position today to do it.
    I may not be in 3 years.
    I am looking for my best bet if retired at that time.
    Hence in my situation a new one today is best.

    That said, rather than let this late 2011 remain as slow as it seems to have become, I will also very likely upgrade it as well. At which point the hubbie will start to use the older upgraded one for his minimal needs as I just need help with our business which requires him to take some of the computer responding mode off of me. UP until now I've been the only computer user in the house. He didn't have any interest and firmly believes life has not been made easier but busier with the onslaught of computers :p

    I might also ad that I understand the rest. I too have a late 2009 MBP that was top of the line whereas my late 2011 wasn't so even the 2009 is as good as the 2011 one I have, and even older has more processing power etc.

    Yes, I had to leave before i saw that comment and one other below it. For that reason i was thwarted in my purchase today and must redo it tomorrow.

    The apple tech kept telling me I didn't need the 8 gigs and that I would be fine with 4 BUT if I wanted 8, t hey don't carry them in the store and I must order it from apple tonight for an extra $100 which I am prepared to pay if its a good idea to do so.
    Ive never had a computer whether Mac or PC that didn't require a ram upgrade 3 years in so I can't help but think it is short sighted to buy only 4...what if i want to sell it in 2 years time? Whose going to want only 4 gigs?

    IF i am wrong, please tell me and why.
    If i am right, please let me know that it IS the right thing to do and i will order one with 8gigs rather than go back to Apple and buy the 4 gig version.
    I was just surprised the apple guy kept telling me 4 was fine. He doesn't work on commission so I would have thought he'd tell me to go with 8 but he said no one orders it, its really not needed, so I am not sure what to go with?

    Last but not least, when at Apple, although focused on buying the AIR, I did happen to stumble by the iMacs which i haven't ever looked at before and wondered if maybe, that wasn't the route to go?

    1) I never take the laptop out of my home and even if i had to, I have the 2011 version to do so with, but I also have a One Plus One 5.5" phone so outside whatever i need i can access from my phone......

    2) The 21.5", Its the same price and even comes with 8 gigs. It has, I think it was 3.5Ghz compared to my 2.4 on this MBP. Yes, I know, you guys keep telling me to forget processing power but I am trying but it was always a spec that was important before so I can't help but keep looking at the higher power

    Yes the 27" was beautiful but really a bit out of my range and to be honest, I kept looking at the regular 12.5" non retina, to the 27: inch retina and all I see is not much difference except about $1500 more money
    So don't need Retina, can live without it as i consider the Mac screen already exceptional.....but no SSD

    BUT, the 21.5 iMac is older technology. Its about 2 years old I think, the specs on this iMac??!!

    So I must are all raving about this SSD drive but up until recently we didn't have them and just used the ones that i have as I type this in my older late 2011 drive.
    So would i be making a mistake in buying the iMac 21.5" over the Air which I keep hearing is fantastic........LOL

    IF there are any known problems with this 21.5 iMac, let me know and i will go right back to the AIR.........
    I'm stuck on the fact that its not an upgraded iMac as of the recent upgrades of various macs...

    I just want to hear what people think about this iMac and/if or the AIR is much more highly thought of for if so then the decision has been made but if the iMac is quite well liked, than i must make a decision between the two but never having used an iMac before, I need to ask others


    I will also read the link posted above about the 16gig ram later tonight so thank you for that link and info..
  13. SD-B, Nov 7, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014

    SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009
    Comparing Refurbs? And knowing my needs which one would u suggest please?

    I am now considering a new 21" iMac as i am not wealthy and can't afford the 27" new one at the moment but also because i already have a late 2011 MBP and i NEVER take laptops out of my house.....

    Can anyone experienced suggest out of these ones below knowing what i HAVE described my usage as being?

    I run 2 email programs as i have about 15 programs although i might be down to one with this new PC as I buy, and i need 2 browsers..I will have 1 Password in the background working, SleepyHead (sleep apnea software) and suffice to say my 4gig late 2011 MBC is lagging way to much with all of these going ( yes i know i can upgrade the 2011 and forgo this but i need a new one anyhow for to her reasons

    I have read over and over that refurbs are a good way to go?
    I am not sure when they last upgraded the specs on the MB Air, but would one from April 2014 be the upgraded model or is there one newer than this one?

    I am looking at it only because if I buy a new AIR tomorrow, I have to wait 5 days and pay extra anyhow for ram, but this one comes with 8 gigs, so i am not sure WHAT i AM LOSING yet I would save ......LOL.......of course now i look that is the only one that doesn't tell me how much i am saving so i am not sure if i am saving anything, or much for one second hand after all. :)

    But I assume it too has the SSD drive?
    iM not sure what specs to be looking for so as to know which one it is, whether SSD or the other one and I notice they don't hilight the drive, i think?

    IF I were to get this one below, the Refurbished 21.5-inch iMac 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, although its saving me $250, I don't like that its already 14 months old.
    How long realistically would i have this one, having 8 gigs, before needing a new one? I don't edit videos, or Photoshop, but am a heavy email user, heavy web user ( 10 pages open at once and need to move between them all frequently so I am a heavier user than just a light email/browser user)
    And it doesn't use the SSD drive, right? Will I find this slow?

    OR this one from Sept 2013 - $1649
    Refurbished 27-inch iMac 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
  14. tooobe macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2008
    Put an SSD in your 2011 Macbook Pro. Cheap and easy to do, and your MBP will gain several more years of usability (together with upgrading your memory to 8GB). And any new machine you buy should have a SSD in it, in my opinion.
  15. SD-B, Nov 8, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014

    SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009

    Thank you. Thats not the question I was asking but i will likely do that anyhow.
    I need a new one and was trying to get some help choosing between those.

    When you say ANY new machine should have SSD are you referring to iMacs as well?
    They don't, why?
    Are they upgradeable?

    Going back to the 2011 option, I don't want to take this machine into apple.
    I was a smoker at the point of this machine and although it looks clean to me and I can't smell anything on it, I KNOW they will make me go and spend $100 somewhere else first to clean it.
    I really don't have time to deal with that on top of it. I had a problem with an earlier mbp when i was a smoker.........

    And i know myself, i am too busy if i can't do it myself, it will never get done, since i can't take it into apple and i am not going to go running around to have it professionally cleans just so they will work on it.
    And no techie guys living with me :)

    If its fairly easy to do, i will do it myself, BUT i still need a second one anyhow........
  16. Naimfan macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2003
    I'd suggest the 2.6/8/256 rMBP.

    It will run rings around the Air, has a vastly better screen, and should last longer.
  17. SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009
    I don't want to buy a MBP right now as I don't like the idea that it can't be upgraded in ram, at least the Retina version.

    8 might be fine today but i know my needs and 16 is going to be what i need and require IF i can't upgrade later on

    Ive now almost ruled out a laptop and have started looking at iMacs which i discuses in another thread

    I know everyone is raving about Retina but I was comparing in the apple store, just yesterday, the iMac with it and the one without and i was unable to see the difference.
    It was not the optimal time to compare being so busy there but its certainly to so different it hits you over the I'm not yet sold on retina
  18. Naimfan macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2003
    Well, then, you're looking at a 27" iMac, which sound like huge overkill for what you do (I don't think you can upgrade the RAM on the 21.5" iMac after purchase).

    Your best bet might be to look for a 2012 quad-core Mac Mini.
  19. SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009


    Ive decided to sit on it for a few days for every choice i am making has something wrong.
    I am usually very easy going and can make decisions easily but I have not yet found one that I feel great about buying.

    I would the iMac 27" retina. Its got everything i want but i so far just cannot bring myself to spend $3000+

    Going to read up a lot more as i have been doing today on various mac sites and magazines and at least learning more about each one.

    I was about to just buy the $1400 iMac, throw 16 gigs of ram into it and then the Fusion drive for $200 so I thought i had finally made a choice but I am yet sure about the Fusion and i am not willing to throw $500 on top of that for the SSD back to the drawing board :(

    Thanks for everyones help. Ive learned a lot even if i haven't purchased one yet


    Admittedly i don't know how everyone is happy with machines they can't at least upgrade RAM for

    i just don't believe 8 gigs will be acceptable in 2 years time :(
  20. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    You will be fine with 8GB. Memory is cheap, so sure, 16GB if you can get it. But 8 is fine. Mac has very efficient memory management.

    What you NEED is an SSD. That is the game changer in performance. You can get a 500GB SSD for around $200. Crucial MX100 is a good one. Buy that first and put it in your current laptop and you will be golden. Upgrade to 8GB of ram at the same time if you want. But, if it's one or the other, the SSD has waaay more bang for the buck. Plus, with an SSD memory swaping and paging from disk is so much faster, you will be so far ahead of where you are.
  21. SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009

    You're the second person to suggest this.
    Curious, if i do as you suggest and I install just a SSD, or do both, which I would do, memory and SSD, how long do you suppose that would buy me on this macbook pro before i felt it was time to buy a new mac?

    This particular MBP I am on only takes, I think 8 gigs. Someone in this thread, or another left a link where by I could read it and upgrade to potentially 16 gigs but i am not sure i would bother to do in this one, from 2011 but would for a new one.....but I haven't read it to see yet if it is really possible or not.
  22. snorkelman macrumors 6502a


    Oct 25, 2010
    Your existing hard disk is not only a lot slower than an SSD, it could also be on the way out. If so that could make your machine feel a lot slower than it used to even though the tasks you use it for are the same as before.

    so SSD in first and see if thats enough for the stuff you're doing (you might not actually need more RAM if the existing HDD has been failing and turing things all sluggish)

    still feel it's not quite up to scratch throw 8GB RAM into it. for the stuff you've described theres no need to go to 16GB.

    In the 3 years since you bought the fall 2011MBP with Lion on it OSX has been updated 3 times (ML Mav and Yosemite) The OS's basic memory footprint has only really grown about 1GB in all that time.

    Throw 8GB into your 4GB machine and you'll not only compensate for that 1GB of accumulated bloat, you'll have given the system another 3GB for future bloat that might creep in in the foreseable future :)

    The only reason to go from 4GB to 16GB is if you're expecting to put the machine to radically different uses to what you currently do Got a sudden burning desire to edit 20-odd megapixel RAW photos and build a humungous library of them? Sure 16GB it is then

    But to just delay the day your machine doesnt cut it any more with latest OSX/App updates and still do what you always do then 8GB is the way to go.

    Chances are the graphics card CPU and all other sorts of stuff will see your machine too long in the tooth way before 8GB of RAM begins to impose a restriction.

    e.g. the 2009 6 Core Mac Pro I've got sat here is finally going from 6GB to 12GB of RAM (the virtual machines Im using with it are bigger than the ones it had to deal wth previously)

    Difference there is the CPU is socketed, the graphics card is replaceable and theres expansion slots to add USB3

    If it was stuck with the 4 core 2.66GHz CPU and GT120 graphics it originally shipped with? It would have been retired by now no matter how much RAM I could have thrown at it.
  23. SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009
    Thanks for all of your help........

    I didn't at first want to hear that I should just be upgrading this Late 2011 MBP instead of buying new, which just seemed easier and much more fun...

    I would never think to bring this older one up to 16 Gig R am but certainly 8 Gigs. It was the new iMac I wanted to buy that I would have taken to 16 when ordering, but not this one.

    In another thread, someone has even suggested i throw an upgrade to 8 gigs of Ram into my Mid-2009 and possibly a new battery as it has even more processing power than the Late 2011 does.

    It might be worth upgrading both from what I am being told and just use these for another 1-2 years........

    Everyone says you save money to buy a desktop, that its more cost friendly to do so over a laptop but the only iMac that interested me was at least $2100 yet i could have purchased a new mac air and with an upgrade to 8 gigs been happy for $1300 or so.

    Still not sure i see why the desktop is better fiscally for i am not someone that will likely use a computer as my main for 7 years so I think i am better just sticking to laptops as i just can't rationalize spending $3000 for an iMac, no matter how beautiful it is to look at so...........maybe upgrading is the way to go now and i might just hold off on buying a new one........even if not at least until there is a new iMac out, such as a 21" retina maybe..

    Anyway, thwarted for now but i see you are all correct that it is in my best interest so thank you very much. I will keep looking over the next few days but i just can't see being happy with the present 21" iMac specs
  24. snorkelman macrumors 6502a


    Oct 25, 2010
    I expect you would have been, but from a performance POV the 2.5GHz or so processor in your 2011 MBP is broadly equivalent to the 1.4GHz processor in the current 2014 macbook air

    so chances are an SSD and 8MB of RAM in your existing 2011 MBP will get you most of the benefits with significantly less than the 1300 dollar costs.

    Sure the Air has much better battery life (thats what its processor is optimized for) is lighter to carry around and has better integrated graphics than your 2011MBP. But as your machine is permanently sat on your desk 2 out of three of those benefits dont apply to you.

    If nothing else, should the 2011MB with an SSD and 8GB of RAM still not be up to scratch for what you want to do, then at least you'll know that an Air isnt likly to cut it for you either and without the pain of laying out $1300 bucks to find that out :)
  25. SD-B thread starter macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2009
    The way you put it, I don't think that the AIR would have been as powerful as i was expecting it to be.

    Its starting to look as if i will just have to do what you and another are suggesting, adding a SSD drive here and maybe another 4 gigs if that doesn't make it faster for i am getting really tired if the spinning beach ball on this one.
    I am just not someone that likes to open these things but never have the time to take them in....but will have to do it this week, pick up a SSD drive and have my local guy install it for me ( assuming its not an easy job to do-Ram no doubt i could do myself once i find the time )

    The problem was that I can write off about $1600 on a new machine right now for this year that for certain reasons i might not be able to do again, hence, why I felt it was best to to put it into the middle iMac, the $1400 one with 8 gigs memory and a fusion drive.

    Just not sure that will be powerful enough in that i don't have video editing type needs but i also don't want to go backwards with less power than I am used to

    I still might have to do both but certainly either way i am going to bump up this MBP

    i don't like this direction I am seeing here at Apple of computers that can't be upgraded easily ;(

    As for the more powerful late 2009 MBP someone suggested i upgrade, I think its too damaged to make it bother with it.
    The keys are a bit screwy but i have a wireless apple keyboard i use with it while its up on a Curve stand but the battery is at 32% or some such figure plus i was a smoker back then and the DVD drive stopped working. Guess oils from smoking got into it and mucked it up---otherwise it runs perfectly and does all the downloading i do........but thats it so i am not going to bother upgrading it at all. Too much damage to do so..

    Thanks again

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