Insanity! Trading "down" from a 17" MBP to a 13" MBA as my PRIMARY system

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by drvelocity, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. drvelocity macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    #1
    So I've placed my order for a fully decked out 13" MBA as many as you have, and after reading so many varying opinions on the new Air I can't help but throw my own into the mix. :p

    First a bit of background: I've had a 17"/2.8ghz/9600GT/4gb Macbook Pro that has served me well for a year now. My original thinking was that a 17" only weighs a pound more than the 15", and I had to have the 1920x1200 matte screen option which was at the time only available on this beast. After putting a 160gb X-25M SSD in this thing, I couldn't really imagine needing anything faster than this for my purposes. 99% of the time this computer waits for me, not the other way around. In essence I have zero complaints about my computing experience with this laptop other than the weight factor.

    In the past, I had thought about trying to move into an Macbook Air, but as already said by many other first time buyers here, it never quite had the oomph to justify the price. I don't like having more than one computer as it's just too annoying keeping track of files, etc., so I need something that's powerful enough to be my only computer. As we are finding out now, even the Ghz ratings on the old Airs were skewed due to the processors being so aggressively throttled to compensate for poor heat dissipation. So I think I made the right call in that it would have been a major drag as a primary system.

    Needless to say, I was very, very interested to see what Apple had in store last week. And after nearly falling asleep through endless pointless software demos, I think they hit this one out of the park.

    I think most of us can agree that the primary concern regarding the Macbook Air at this point is its potential lack of CPU power. Of course I can only speak to my personal computer usage tendencies, but I believe in this day and age the CPU is quickly falling in importance when it comes to real-life productivity. Essentially the only times I max out my CPU are when I'm:

    1. Playing games.
    2. Encoding/media processing.

    When it comes to playing games on a computer, multitasking ceases to be of importance. Every megahertz goes towards pumping out maximum FPS, and the more powerful the CPU the better. If this is of primary importance to you, then the Macbook Air is the wrong choice. Frankly, any Mac period is the wrong choice for such a person. But personally I have a PS3 for hardcore gaming, and very very few games are available on the Mac that I can't play on the PS3 (Starcraft II, CS Source to name two). And it just so happens that all of those games are running smoothly on medium graphics settings on the 320M. So essentially the new Macbook Air covers any mid-level gaming I need on a computer, while my PS3 covers everything else.

    As for encoding/processing media, I realized something: I don't do anything that requires enough CPU power to edit media in real-time, i.e. the kind of computing task where you are working on a single project, and CPU power dictates your ability to work efficiently within that project. Think 3D modeling, video editing, hardcore music production, etc. And outside of gaming, that's really the only time I can think of CPU power being all that important. Personally I do these things rarely enough to discount the need altogether.

    Case in point: I really don't care how long it takes to export 2000 photos from Aperture as long as I can open up 20 tabs from reddit or work on a web site while that export is taking place. I think the vast majority of users out there are in the same boat. And even the 11" MBA appears to be more than capable of this workload scenario.

    I guess my point is that thanks to the simplicity of OSX and the computer hardware we have today, I am no longer limited by my hardware in terms of what I can do in what period of time. I just don't feel that hardware restraining my productivity as I did up until perhaps a year ago (thank you X-25M). If I do feel restrained, it's by my own brain and my ability to process information quickly enough.

    The second concern, as with all Apple products, is the price of the Macbook Air. Well as a lifetime deal hunter I think the price is fan-f*ing-tastic.

    After well-publicized discounts and a 5% credit card rewards program, I was able to get the fully decked out 13" for $1600 (it would have been $1900 directly from Apple after tax). Now let's take the 256GB SSD - this would be $400 if you could buy one off of the shelves and install it yourself. Taking that away and adding $100 for an average 2.5" drive, you're at $1300. Considering what this computer is capable of and the form factor, not to mention the ridiculously slow depreciation of Apple products, $1300 is a downright STEAL for this computer.

    So that's that, I'm a convert now and I haven't even seen the computer first hand. The only potential concerns I have: The "glossy" screen isn't ideal, but at least it's not the mirror finish glass cover other Macbook Pros are (in my opinion) plagued by. The .3 Megapixel camera is a slap in the face and more planned obselesence on the part of Apple, which pisses me off but it's not a deal breaker. And the loss of a backlit keyboard dents the coolness factor significantly, but as I have long since attained supreme-geek level 60, I rarely have the need to look down at my keyboard, so not a huge deal. I do love having those keys glow while using the computer at night, it just looks so cool. *sniff*

    Anyway, this long diatribe is my rationale of why lightweight "powerful enough" computers like this are destined to become more and more mainstream every year. Why lug around a 17" beast when I can have a 13" that can output to a 27" screen when I need it and grants me the same productivity potential 99% of the time? As far as I'm concerned, this is absolutely the future of the Macbook line, and laptops in general if the rest of the world manages to catch up!
     
  2. arun21 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    #2
    Where did you get the decked out 13" for $1600? Is that including only the 5% cashback through a particular credit card?

    thanks!
     
  3. drvelocity thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    #3
    I'm not sure if I can mention a competing web site here? In any case, google for a 3% discount on purchases through Macmall, (there's an immediate discount available, no need for 60-day cashback stuff). And Macmall already discounts systems, and I didn't pay tax through them either. You get free overnight shipping on the Air, and a free printer after rebate should you choose to buy it (I didn't, I hate rebates). And yes, that $1600 includes the 5% cashback through my credit card.
     
  4. macbook123 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    #4
    I'm in the same situation as you (exact same specs on the 17"), except I'm still debating whether to keep the MBP or sell it. Do you think we can still get $1500 for this particular model?
     
  5. arun21 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    #5
    I just sold my mid 2009 13" MBP 2.2ghz, 320gb, 4gb ram for $1230 on ebay. Planning on getting the new MBA 13".
     
  6. drvelocity thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    #6
    If you've got the 160GB X-25 SSD as well, anywhere from $1600 to $2000 is possible on Ebay from the prices I'm seeing. I've still got a year and a half of Applecare left which won't hurt either.
     
  7. nephilim7 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    #7
    I just did the same thing. Bought a base 11, used it for a day. Sold my loaded i7 17" MBP. I'm a developer, primarily iPhone and had I been using the MBP for video editing or post or something I would have kept it, but this little machine does everything I need and I went from a full sized travel bag weighing 10 pounds to a man purse netbook bag + air that weighs almost nothing. Commuting and traveling have been a dream and I can actually use it on the go without taking up a ton of space. The air drives my cinema display just fine, and I can even play wow on it when I want to relax a bit.
     
  8. macbook123 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    #8
    Btw, my only concern with this transition has been the graphics card's ability to drive my 30" external monitor for every day tasks (including watching high resolution video and iPhoto editing). The 9400M in the MBP wasn't able to do this reliably, and as I know the 320M card in the Air is somewhere between the 9400M and 9600M GT in the Pro, this will be the ultimate test for me.

    One awesome thing about the 30" monitor, especially in connection with the Air, is that it has 4 USB ports that are all driven through the one port needed by the MDP->Dual DVI cable.

    Btw, correction to my previous post: I only have the stock 5400 RPM 500 GB HDD in the MBP, no SSD like you.
     
  9. Platypusman99 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    #9
    I'm doing the same thing although my 17" MBP has a 1 TB hard drive so I won't be able to do everything with the 13" MBA that I can with the old one. I'm hanging on to my 17" for a while and will probably be handing it down to someone around Christmas time. Ho ho ho.
     
  10. MooneyFlyer macrumors 65816

    MooneyFlyer

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Location:
    Boston
    #10
    damn it -- you all just keep making it tougher to decide which one to get..

    <firmly back on the fence>
     
  11. nephilim7 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    #11
    yeah I had the same problem, I was looking at the 13" and planned to buy it, but it wasn't that much smaller than the MBP 13". At first I didn't think I'd like the aspect ratio of the 11, but it's grown on me. Storage space wasn't an issue as I use a billion external HD's and usb sticks... though I think 64 is too small, 128 is fine for me.

    I see a lot of people in these threads saying '6ish pounds isn't too bad' regarding the 15" and 17", I'm fairly strong but I wear business attire and I was really really getting tired of my jackets getting rubbed on the shoulder and having it pull my jacket down, pulling my collar/tie out of whack.. etc.

    with the insane speed of the ssd-like 'hd', and the inclusion of a real GPU you will not notice any difference until you crunch something or use handbrake, but I have desktops for that. In fact this little guy is faster in day to day than any laptop I've used. If you like the size of the 11", get it. I used it on a packed bus this morning with room to spare, never could have done that with my mbp 17".. didn't get much work done either because everyone wanted to oggle/talk about the air.
     
  12. brendanlim macrumors newbie

    brendanlim

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2007
    #12
    I'm doing the exact same thing. I'm getting rid of my 17" MBP - I travel quite a bit and that extra weight isn't fun to lug around all of the time. Also, it'll be nice to finally be able to open up my laptop on the airplane and be able to use it comfortably.

    I ordered the maxed out 13" from MacMall as well. I heard that they're not getting in their shipment in from Apple until 11/5. Hoping that it arrives sooner - getting impatient ;)
     
  13. drjsway macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    #13
    In 2006, I bought a 2.33ghz C2D MBP as my primary system. I gave that up for a 1.86ghz MBA in 2008. Last week, I just sold that for a 1.4ghz MBA.

    In the last four years, every laptop I've bought has been slower than the last.
     
  14. koobcamuk macrumors 68040

    koobcamuk

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2006
    #14
    But, what do you actually need? That's the point in all this. 10 years ago, the world wasn't really much more productive than it is now, but computing power was significantly less.

    I could probably use a 11" MBA as my sole laptop; and I am considering it. My 15" MBP is just sooo massive in comparison. It's the old design though; I'm reluctant to sell it!
     
  15. kernkraft macrumors 68020

    kernkraft

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2009
    #15
    Can I recommend an eMac for you? They cost something between $10 and $150. They are good value...
     
  16. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #16
    Personally, I never really understood the allure of the 17" laptop.

    Its generally to large to be used easily in many mobile situations and when in the [home] office you can hook up a monitor which there by mitigates the advantage.

    I think a 13 - 15" laptop is perfect for most needs, and the 11" is looking real sharp to me, except for the omissions by apple such as the backlit keyboard and small ssd options available
     
  17. MooneyFlyer macrumors 65816

    MooneyFlyer

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Location:
    Boston
    #17
    Me too. A tricked out 11" might be all I need for the next 2 years with my MBP 2.4G as a "server" / backup.
     
  18. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #18
    That makes me feel a bit better. I went from a 1.8GHz Air in February 2008 to a 1.86GHz Air w/SSD in November 2008, and just ordered a 2.13GHz Air. Prior to that I had a 1.3GHz single-core Pentium M Dell.
     
  19. koobcamuk macrumors 68040

    koobcamuk

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2006
    #19
    I am slowly beginning to think this! MBA plus the old MBP to just tide me over and use for my masses of media and also larger amounts of photo processing. The MBA would be fine for blogging. Much better than the iPad in my opinion, as the iPad is compromised by a lack of keyboard and the iOS lack of file system.

    I'm pretty much sold, I just need someone to buy my iPad now.
     
  20. drjsway macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    #20
    I simply realized that software is not catching up with hardware. In the old days, you needed a faster CPU every year because everything was so slow but there came a point in the early 2000s where that just stopped. Intel is making faster CPUs every year but the majority of software is not more CPU intensive.

    These days, you only notice a difference in tasks where time is not essential. A quad core i7 will encode a HD video in 30 minutes whereas it'll take 2 hours on a MBA. But since you're not actually sitting at the computer for those 30 minutes waiting for it to finish, it's irrelevant how long it takes.

    I'll look forward to the day when we have a ultra modern OS that requires a quad core to run but until then, I'll make my laptop upgrade decisions based on portability, weight/thickness, battery life, and style, not on speed.
     
  21. koobcamuk macrumors 68040

    koobcamuk

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2006
    #21
    I agree for the most part. I reckon if I sell my iPad and iPhone, then I can buy one of these MBA (I want 4GB I think) and then I'll have a very capable portable machine (can do way more than my iPad). In a year or so, I might well be settling down in the UK or Japan, and then I will no doubt get a desktop machine.
     

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