Macbook Air (13 inch 128gb, i5) vs Macbook Pro base model???

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by TheCaptain95, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. TheCaptain95 macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2012
    Hi all,

    I'm looking at buying a new macbook. I have an old 2008 Macbook and want an upgrade for college. I have been comparing and researching both the Macbook air 13inch 128gb i5, and the macbook pro 500gb i5. Both are the base line 13inch in their respective models. I would primarily be using this laptop as my "home computer" so i need it to do everything and fast! I have a 1tb external hard drive so memory is not an issue, and i like the higher res screen on the Air. Optical drive I use really only to watch the occasional movie so I use it but it is not vital.
    So my question is...taking everything into account which one would you go for?

    Thanks guys :)
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
  3. TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    The OP is looking for a stranger on the Internet to tell him/her what to do. Your response leaves him/her stuck in their indecision.

    OP - get the MBA. An external hard drive is not 'memory', it's storage.
  4. LeeM macrumors 6502a

    Jan 1, 2012
    get the pro, upgradeable so it will last you longer. air is only really good if your laptop absolutely has to be the thinnest and lightest available.
    in 13" the air is hardly any more portable than the pro.
  5. TheCaptain95 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2012
    thanks for the reply, I am a bit of a newbie at all this tech stuff :p so getting a 128gb MBA and using an external hard drive as storage, is that a good way to go? to keep itunes, photos, videos ( lot of video ) on the External, and keeping documents and assignments on the actual hard drive? thoughts please :)


    well portability isnt really key, would be nice but I was mainly looking to use this machine as my main driver as such. Price is also a factor I dont really have much money to go over 1199$ :L if using an external hard drive for either you still think go pro? thought please :) thanks
  6. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    There's something like a pound in weight difference between your two picks ... the Air being the lighter of the two. If you are lugging books, etc., that might mean something.

    While the MacBook Pro is user-upgradeable, keep in mind that it has a spinning and relatively slow hard drive. The Air will certainly seem snappier in terms of performance.

    Your choice is likely whether to spend the money for an expandable design or to go with the limitations of the Air in favor of less weight and faster performance. Were I an undergrad again, I'd probably opt for the Air. The CD hadn't been invented when I was in college, so the optical drive would have been useless for me then! :)
  7. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    If you are a newbie (no insult intended) to computers, you likely won't be comfortable cracking open your laptop to add extra ram and an SSD (though there are shops offering such a service for a fee). In this case, an air would be a better option, in that it just works out of the box, and comes replete with that sleek form factor and SSD which we all know and love.

    My advice is to go with the base 13" model; those extra upgrades can really suck the cash out of your pockets, and with a little moderation (e.g.: no opening of safari with 20+ tabs or leaving 10+ programs running in the background), you shouldn't really need for than 4gb of ram for college. :)
  8. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Think "weight, screen resolution, and battery life". If any of those are important to you, get the Air.
  9. midtownhd macrumors member

    Jun 25, 2012
    My sister's MBP feels like a brick whenever I use it, compared to my MBA.
  10. LeeM macrumors 6502a

    Jan 1, 2012
    i love how my pro has the same 128gb ssd as an air, as well as a 500gb internal so i dont need to carry an external hdd for storage.
    also ill be upgrading to 1tb HDD and 256/512gb SSD with 16gb ram around christmas. i know the ram may be overkill but i like the option, if id got an air id be stuck with a 128gb/4gb compromise rather than a **** hot 1.5tb/16gb machine
  11. TheCaptain95 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2012
    Yea the weight is a minor issue, I am not an after market kind of guy so i wont be upgrading, switching RAMs or SSDs so what I buy will be what I stick with. I am not a pro by any stretch of the imagination, but when I do make videos or do a lot of editing I really need a machine that will consistently perform without lag or problem :L honestly if i actually needed a optical drive I could always buy apples superdrive :L thanks for the input mate :)


    I'm a mac user for a good while so I know a lot about computers, but I 'd say I'd rather cut off both my hands than open up my new Mac and tinker with it D: yea cash a factor :p and I dont think I will need much more than 4gb or Ram. Thanks for the advice :)


    Thanks bro


    sounds like a beast ;) I'm really only interested in the base line of each to be honest, cant really afford much more, extras etc.
  12. Alameda, Aug 22, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012

    Alameda macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2012
    The advantage of MacBook Air is portability. If you don't plan to carry it about, get the MacBook Pro (which is still light enough to carry about).

    The MacBook Pro has some definite advantages: More connectors, and it's easy to upgrade memory or storage or the battery later, if needed. The memory in a MacBook Air is soldered in place, so if you later decide you need more, there's nothing you can do... although the base 4 GB is enough for everything except extensive dual-Windows/Mac sessions.

    And then there's storage: I have a 256 GB drive, and it's only got 67 GB available, and that's without my digital photos and very few videos. Windows is 31 GB of that. It's not bad, but I'd prefer a bigger hard disk. Again, if you're mostly at your desk, external storage is cheap.

    Because I carry my Air everywhere, though, I prefer it. If it were mostly desk bound, I'd get a 15" MacBook Pro.

    I'm just pointing stuff out. At the end of the day, go with your emotions and you'll be happy. I honestly don't think you can make a mistake. If you planned to carry it to all your classes, the Air would be the only clear choice, but I do t think you'll go wrong either way.
  13. stchman macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2012
    St. Louis, MO
    As far as performance goes, it is unlikely that someone will be able to feel a difference between a 1.8 i5 MBA and a 2.5 i5 MBP. Now anyone will be able to feel a huge difference between SSD and HDD performance.

    The screen on a MBA is higher resolution than a MBP.

    You can get an external DVD burner for the rare occasions you need one.

    The MBP is more upgradable than a MBA.

    All in all, it is the OP's decision as to what they want.
  14. koigirl, Aug 22, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012

    koigirl macrumors 6502a


    Jul 29, 2011
    Raleigh, NC
    One more thought for you. I have two college-going kids with MBP's and just got myself a new (and first) MBA 13. I really love it because it's thin, light, highly portable, and fast. However, I cringe to think about my family members carting this machine around campus in a padded backpack with heavy textbooks, etc., or leaving it lying around in a dorm room or apt. with other (perhaps careless) people. It just seems to be much more delicate and prone to damage simply because of its lightness and thin form, especially the thin display. I know I use mine at home mostly and am being much more careful to not leave it lying around unsleeved when not in use. I would hate for the family cat to walk across it closed and lying on a tabletop... Anyway, they are both great machines and you can't go wrong with either. If you do go with a MBP, splurge and order with the SSD if you can afford it now or do an upgrade yourself later when you can afford it. It makes it much snappier. When our MBP's hard drives inevitably die, we will be replacing HDD's with SSD's. It's nice to have the option to do that easily with the MBP.
  15. vladster macrumors member

    Jul 25, 2011
    Just my thoughts:


    In few words, Air’s superior performance is due to SSD. Period. But Pro may be equipped with BTO or self upgraded SSD. Period.

    Other than SSD, Pro’s processor speed is superior to Air’s. Applications load faster on Air, which gives an impression of overall system responsiveness, but once loaded they perform slower than they would on Pro, given enough RAM is available. The exception would be applications that do a lot of disk input\output. Again, - order\replace SSD in your Pro and be even faster than Air.


    Pro wins.


    - Weight - Air (2.96lbs) wins Pro (4.5lbs) here. However, SSD equipped Pro would weigh less than 4.5 lbs.
    - Dimensions - 13” Pro and 13” Air will require the same bag to fit... Yes, the Air is slimmer, but is it that important?
    - Battery life - even.
    - Shock proof - SSD equipped Air wins against HDD equipped Pro, as there’s danger of damaging information on HDD. But again...

    Overall the Air wins in mobility area, but not much per my preferences. 11” Air is where real mobility is.

    So for me, if I can have only one, that would be 13” Pro. If I can have two - 11” Air + 13” Pro :)
  16. stchman macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2012
    St. Louis, MO
    If the OP wants to spend ~$200 more, you can get a $256GB SATA SSD from Newegg and slap it in.

    Re-install OS X and be up and running with an SSD.

    If you are going to take the time to open up the 13" MBP, upgrade the 4GB of RAM to 16GB. That'll cost you an extra $100 from Newegg.
  17. plucky duck macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2012
    I like the upgradability and flexibility of the MBPro. I like the portability of the Air. It's not even so much as the weight of the MBPro that bothers me as it is quite bulky. The MBPro reminds me of my old Dell Inspiron laptop, half the weight but just as bulky.

    If I was still in school I'd pick the Air myself, nice compromise of power and portability. CDs are going the way of the dinosaur, I'd just get an external for the rare time I would need it. Mind you though, I wouldn't even get the 13", 11" is where its at for me personally.
  18. blesscheese macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    I'm a big fan of the MBA, but with college and the problem with loss & theft, I would recommend getting the cheaper of the options, and spend the savings on a good insurance policy, and a spare external HD or two to back up your stuff with.
  19. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    Go for the base 2012 MBA. You'll thank yourself later from the difference in weight and the better resolution. You already made that decision for yourself when you said you prefer the higher resolution and can live without the superdrive for movies. If the MBP 13 goes retina, then reevaluate your situation.
  20. TheCaptain95 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2012
    Hey every one , thanks a million for every ones answer. I'm gunna throw another question out there, I actually can stretch to a 13 inch 256gb air or a 750gb 13inch pro. They are the standard versions as on the apple store so they are both 1499$. I know im going into high ground here, but taking every previous comment into consideration any new ones? :) thanks guys
  21. blanco.juanfeli macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2012
    If you go for the Air, you could get a 13 inch i5, 128, 8GB for about 1,250 in Macmall + External USB 3 HardDrive and Superdrive (about $70 each).

    And even if you go with the high end model, its only 1450, and I´d recomend you to get memory upgrade if you can, for a total of $1,580. It´s about the same as the high end model bought from Apple (After Taxes :eek: )

    I´m getting the base 13 Air with 8GB of ram, maybe in Black Friday (Arround my birthday) :D :D
  22. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    I dunno, the weight difference may not seem like much on paper, but when I was copping a feel (the laptops) at an apple retail store, the disparity in weight felt very real and significant. Basically, after lifting up the 11" mba, every other laptop now seems too heavy by comparison, even the 13" MBP. And I am a 1.83m male and still consider myself moderately fit. :(
  23. Ricanlegend macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2009
    You need to hit gym bro or buy some dumbbells cause even my sister carry my 15 Inch MacBook pro every where she goes
  24. m.demian macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2012
    I'm sort of in the same boat as the OP deciding between the 2012 MBA or MBP. Both are quite appealing. With the MBA, the most compelling factors are the size and weight. Also, the native 1440x900 on the MBA just makes the MBP resolution feel so small to me for some reason, although I know it's not much of a difference.

    On the other hand, I've owned the early 2011 13'' MBP, but ended up selling it after school because I was strapped for cash (I now have a steady job and can afford a Mac :)). Anyway, my initial response when I first got the MBP was that it was quite heavier and bulkier than I expected, although not as much as some Windows machine counterparts. In terms of a pure price/performance standpoint, the MBP wins out pretty easily. I have no problem buying and adding my own SSD and memory myself. I've done so with my previous MBP and it was an easy and fast process (less than 5 min). Overall, upgrading the MBP myself should come out a couple hundred cheaper than an upgraded Air.

    I suppose if the decision is just between the base line models with no upgrades, the MBA should edge out fairly easily. I've read various claims on the CPU performance between the two machines and have yet to see any consistent results. However, a reputable source (Anandtech) says the ULV processor on the MBA performs similarly to the normal-voltage i5-2410m (2.3GHz Sandy Bridge) that was in the 2011 MBP, which is more than sufficient for me and other users who are not doing serious video editing work.

    I never thought it would be so hard to just choose a damn machine. On the one hand, I like being able to upgrade my machine myself when I want and with what I want. The higher clocked CPU is a plus as well. On the other hand, the size and weight of the Air plus the slightly higher resolution (although apparently lesser color quality) is appealing as well.

    I suppose it may just come down to visiting an Apple store and comparing the two, since I've never actually played around with an Air before and seeing if the form factor + resolution is worth it. Does anyone here use a 2012 Air as their primary machine?
  25. Alameda macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2012
    I'm moving to using my 2011 MBA (acquired 2 months ago) as my primary machine. The only issue relating to the Air itself is the more limited storage space (256 GB), but I can manage with that much.

    Virtually all of my issues arise from the Windows-to-Mac transition, such as keeping my office email up and running... Outlook for Windows works one day, and won't connect the next, and I have to re-configure some setting, etc. (This won't affect a college student -- it has to do with my company's security configuration). And, when given a high pressure task, like quickly throwing together a presentation, I can still be more productive with PowerPoint for Windows than PowerPoint for Mac. But I expect to overcome this in time. I have VMWare but I hate using it, especially with the 4 GB of RAM and the way the fan runs loudly the entire time it runs. So I don't think VMWare is my long-term strategy for moving to Mac; in fact, I'd like to delete it.

    For me, MBA beats MBP. I prefer the light weight. I dislike the fact that virtually everything needs a dongle. I think that's more a factor of being a mobile businessman, which isn't an issue for a college student. But if you want Ethernet, use the USB Ethernet and not the Thunderbolt Ethernet, because you can't use Thunderbolt Ethernet and a display at the same time. By the same token, USB3 storage is an obvious choice over Thunderbolt storage (Just as fast, cheaper, doesn't use up your display connection). I think a lot of these things are true for MBP as well.

    Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Study hard and make your parents proud and your future secure and happy. Enjoy school, there's a lot of great stuff to learn.

Share This Page