MacBook Air or MacBook Pro 13"?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by skamen, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. skamen, Nov 10, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013

    skamen macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2013
    I have a 2ghz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook from 2007 and am looking to upgrade to a new MacBook in the coming weeks. I'm a PhD student in history and am frequently searching through 4 or 5 thousand documents either as images in Aperture or searching through their texts as PDFs. My current MacBook often performs pretty decently in these tasks but can sometimes get bogged down. I'm trying to decide between the $1099 13" MacBook Air with the 1.3ghz Intel i5 and the $1299 13" MacBook Pro with the 2.4ghz Intel i5. Battery life and portability are nice but I think that either the Air or Pro would be fine for my limited portability needs. I'm more concerned about cost and performance.

    How much of a performance improvement might I expect with either of these MacBooks from my current MacBook? Would I notice a dramatic speed improvement with the MacBook Air even though the processor is actually slower (1.3ghz vs. 2 ghz) than my current MacBook? Would the MacBook Pro perform significantly better than the Air in terms of dealing with thousands of images and PDFs? Would you expect the Pro to have a substantially longer lifespan? $1299 is more than I want to spend but it seems to bring quite a lot of more computing power. Do you see it as worth the extra $200? It's a lot harder to compare Macs these days now that ghz don't mean as much as they used to.

    I'm also weighing up the the option of adding more RAM (I currently have 2GB) and upgrading to SSD as an option instead of upgrading. Is it actually possible to put more than 2GB of RAM in a 2007 MacBook? I've read conflicting reports on that. My current MacBook can be slow sometimes but is not terrible. How do you imagine a SSD upgrade (and possible RAM upgrade?) might compare in terms of a performance increase compared to a new MacBook Air or 13" MacBook Pro?
  2. tooobe macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2008
    You should expect 2 to 3 times the performance of your current MacBook in either the Air or the Pro, with the Pro performing 10-20% than the Air in CPU and GPU. Of course the main edge the Pro has is its retina screen.

    Putting more memory in your current MacBook (if possible) would of course also do a great deal for its performance. An SSD would be an even bigger upgrade for your MacBook with it feeling like a new machine.
  3. skamen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2013
    I've just been working on some documents and am very much leaning towards a new MacBook over upgrading my current one. Would the new Pro only offer 10-20% better CPU performance than the Air even though it is 2.4 ghz vs 1.3 ghz on the Air? It also feels really weird to be looking at a new computer that is less ghz than my existing one. Things have really changed in the world of computing!
  4. raptor402, Nov 10, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013

    raptor402 macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2011
    First off, don't judge the CPU by it's base clock speed. MBAs use Intel's 15W (previously 17W) ultra low power processors (for comparison, 13" Pros have 37W processors and the 15" Pros run on 47W silicon) These processors have a very low clock speed to maximise battery life during regular use but can provide pretty good performance when needed.

    A point to note would be that the native output of the retina 13" pro will be 1280*800 (the display itself is 2560*1600). That of the Air is 1440*900. You can upscale the Pro to higher resolution outputs (up to 1920*1200, I think), but in my opinion, that loses the retina touch (many might disagree). However, judging from your use, you might need the performance of the Pro (though it isn't that great a difference).

    I would advise you to visit an Apple Store and check out the displays of both. Be sure to check the different scaling options on the Pro.

    If you decide to go for the Air, I would advise you to opt for the i7 Processor and 8GB RAM. If you choose the Pro, be sure to upgrade to 8GB RAM (at least). The reason behind this is that the RAM on these systems is non-replaceable since it is soldered to the board. 4GB RAM will be insufficient in less than a year.

  5. Kartram macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2013
    That is some good advice, second that.
  6. Hankster macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Washington DC
    I've been deciding on this matter as well. I've had two MacBook Air laptops and they are by far the best laptop I've ever used (and I've been using laptops for over 25 years).

    My decision still comes down to if I prefer the light weight and portability of the Air versus the MacBook Pro which is thicker and heavier. I carry my Air everywhere in my bag and it's great to have a laptop I can pull out and work on for five hours. I use PhotoShop and Office most of the time and my Air can take the load. There isn't much my current Air can't do, the only thing is I wouldn't mind a better screen better I a great deal of photography on the side (hobby). But, if I went that route I'd lose the lightness of the Air which I love.

    Tough call.
  7. Average Pro macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    Air ?

    I'm in a similar situation. I need a laptop on the road to:

    1) Download video/pic files (to external HD)
    2) Review work

    All the editing (Aperture & Final Cut) is done at home on the MP. I would prefer the Air strictly for it's size/weight. I do not require a Retina display. The plan is for a 13", 128GB, 8GB RAM. Assuming the 128GB and 256 GB provide the same performance.

    So, in short, I need the Air to act as a data transfer to external HDs and to perform a quick glance at images/video to make sure I have what I need.

    Will the Air perform comparably to a MbP?

    Thank you,
  8. majkom macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    256 SSD is faster than 128
  9. Average Pro macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    Arghhhh! Just when I thought I had made a decision. Any chance you can direct me to an article that will provide the % increase/delta?

    Also, have any input on MbP < > = Air?

  10. majkom macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    Ssd speed rises with capacity, google it out, but if only motivation to get 256 should be speed, forget it and go for 128:)

    Air vs mb - if you speak bout retina, few weeks ago i would say rmb pro, but after two returns with image retention, i ended up with air 11;)
  11. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I have a 2013 11" i7/8gb/512gb MBA that works very well with Final Cut Pro, however I'm still using my old version (6.0.6). I know the 128 SSD's are much slower than my 512, which gives me over 700MB/s read and write. See this thread where one person lists about 400/700 for the 128gb SSD and another shows about 300/700. Seems to me I have seen slower numbers than these posted as well, but those people might have been using encryption which gives a significant performance hit.

    I had a 2011 MBA with the 256 SSD (biggest available at the time) and one of the reasons I upgraded was to get the extra storage space. I am shooting HQ HD with Sony XDCAM EX, and even a small project was just eating up too much of the 256gb disk for comfort. For me, I want to keep as much as possible on the SSD - that's one of the big plusses about the MBA (in addition to it's small size/weight). My camera with mattebox and tripod already weigh a ton, so every little bit helps. :)

    The 512gb SSD also gives me plenty of room for my iTunes library. Have been ripping my DVD collection, currently have about 70 full length movies and lots of music, but I still have 275gb free for video and other stuff.
  12. dirtnnasty, Jan 3, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014

    dirtnnasty macrumors member

    Dec 16, 2013
    MacBook Air or MacBook Pro 13"?

    If you don't need retina or have another additional screen at home, you are fine with the MBA...
    If you plan to use the screen I can recommend the rMBP.
    The MBA has more battery lifetime.
    My rMBP stands for 8-10h while I am surfing and writing...
    IR is no general problem... My rMBP is fine... And I am not alone...
  13. mattferg macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    Judging by your requirements (portability and battery life of the rMBP is fine) and the fact you read a lot of text and look at a lot of images, go for the Retina. The performance will be slightly better in all areas over the Air, but more importantly, it'll be a much better experience for viewing your documents with the Retina screen.
  14. w00d macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2010
    MBP Retina vs MBA display: one more consideration is the Retina screen is much more reflective than the MBA screen. The glossy Retina display is nice but not without compromises. This may or may not be something you find acceptable.
  15. lagisibuk macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2013
    Always Somewhere
    actually, if you compare with macbook core2duo model, i think it will be increase for 400%. i have macbook air core2duo (2010) and when i try using macbook air haswell, speed is very very amazing. cold and fast, and the important things that battrey durable is very good :D
  16. Average Pro macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    Thank you

    Thanks for all the input. I pulled the trigger on the 13". The only upgrade I included was the 8GM RAM.

    The only programs I'll be adding will be Aperture, PhotoShop and Final Cut Pro. I got a great deal on an external TB1 to store files.

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