MacBook Air vs. MacBook pro 13"

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Actaeon, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. Actaeon macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2007
    I am switching setups and am wrestling with a notebook dilemma

    I am currently selling my MBP (early 2008).
    I am planning to replace it with:

    - iMac 24" at home on my desk to do the heavier stuff.
    - MacBook Air SSD OR MacBook pro 13" for on the road.

    Maybe you guys can help me decide with which notebook I should go for, cause I sure as hell can't.

    I am going to use the notebook to do basic email, internet, music, write papers (looking through lots of PDF's, using iWork and office a lot), watch a movie from time to time (on the train), etc. You know the basic stuff, I just have to be able to carry my books, while still being able to take my notebook with me.

    I am also starting to travel a lot starting next month so it's got to be light and easy to carry around

    You would probably say from this info that I should go for the MBA, but I have a few concerns about it:
    - Is it fast enough to switch rapidly between apps? (I'm an IT pro, so I need very fast app switching and snappy response from the machine)

    - Do you have problems with the lack of firewire, I use a lot of external HD's, but they can be connected through my USB hub so it's not that big of a problem)

    - Is the SSD worth the extra €200?

    - I've heard the SSD slows down over time, anyone has any experience with that?

    I can afford both of them, so that's not the issue.

    Thanks in advance guys!
  2. dubhe macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Norwich, UK
    If you want snappy then the SSD MBA is the only one to consider against the MacBook. I had the HDD MBA and it was slow opening apps, saving, booting etc.
  3. entatlrg macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    I've been in the same dilemma as you are now.

    I had an iMac and now a Mac Pro for desktop use. I bought my Air last January, 1.8/128ssd and love it, it's served very well with no problems the only thing I didn't like was the fan would come on when I'd plug it into my 24" ACD when I was browsing photo's, watching youtube clip and had 20 or so web pages open ... not a big deal for sure.

    But in the back of my mind I still wanted to buy a 13 or 15" MacBook Pro, so in March I bought a 15" MBP used it for a few days, determined it was too heavy / bulky and I didn't enjoy it as much as my Air, so I returned it ...

    Then when the new 13" MBP's came out and I ordered one. I liked it, noticeably heavier for sure, the screen is not as nice as the Air but I thought I'd need/want the SD card slot, bigger HD, Ram, faster processor etc... However in day to day activities I wasn't using the 13" MBP for things I couldn't do on my Air, and most importantly the Air was far more fun to use and type on, have on your lap etc. I quickly realized if I was going to have a 13" notebook then the Air was it for me for sure .... I mean it's so easy to grab, bring along anywhere .... my writing, drawing, and work is getting done faster because I'll pull my Air out and starting typing any time, it's just too thin and light not to bring along ...

    So, the 13" MBP got returned, I regretted it and if there was no MBA I would be a happy owner of the 13" MBP. Fact is the extra power, ports, dvd I don't need it at all, and I do fairly heavy tasks on my MBA everyday.

    In returning the 13" MBP I thought if I was going own a more powerful notebook than the Air I may as well go for the 15" and gain the screen real estate and resolution, plus the dual video cards interested me and it was 'just a pound heavier' than the 13" so I ordered it.

    I liked the 15" as well but again I found it too heavy to enjoy having on your lap for hours and if you're going to run the faster video card to do video or photo editing you need to be desk bound because it gets real hot on the bottom .... I missed not using my Air a LOT, the Air has so many key usability benefits over the 13" and 15" MBP that its really hard to go back to them after owning an Air.

    I know there have been posts here about people making the switch from an Air to a MBP and they're happy, but I'd guess the trend is the opposite way by far ... once you own an Air you don't want to go back :)

    My plan is to stick with my Air and use it until the next version of it comes out, I'll upgrade every time it advances, but I won't go to a MBP ... maybe I'd consider a 13" MBP if they came out with an AG screen option, I'd be doing it for the battery gain ... as far as SD card slot's go... usb SD readers are $20, a USB hub expands your ports in an instant so the MBA can easily do a great job.

    Post back what you end up buying and tell us what you think....

    Good luck on your decision!

    PS: get the SSD option for sure!
  4. lazydesi macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2006
    Gr8 Adelaide
    as Secondary Mac , I will recommend MBA than MBP
  5. simplellama macrumors newbie


    Aug 20, 2009
    Recently got my wife a Macbook Air for school, and so far she loves it. It's no speed demon of course. But it's fast enough, and absurdly small. If you lug your laptop around a lot, you'll really appreciate it's lack of size / weight.

    Apps do take a tad longer to load up the first time... but not *that * bad. And once they're open, it's all very fast. I say get the Air all the way, since you have a powerhouse at home for the really hard stuff.
  6. entatlrg macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    Did you get the ssd version? My app's load as fast on my Air as they do my 15" MacBook Pro - very fast.
  7. dhc921 macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2009
    I have owned both 13 MBP and MBA Rev.C SSD version. I kept the MBA and very happy with it.
    Speed wise, they feel about the same. The weight wins me over. MBP does feel more solid and fancy, but nothing beats portability of MBA. You really have to own it to know.


  8. Actaeon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2007
    Thank you very much for the very helpful comments!
    The things you guys describe here perfectly address my fears and concerns.

    I am definitely going to go for the Air with the SSD now, I was already leaning towards the Air more because I have to carry it around a lot, but now I know for sure.

    Much appreciated!
  9. Actaeon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2007
    Just to let you guys know, I got myself the 2.13 SSD MBA last month.

    I've been traveling long distances till last saturday, which explains my late reply.

    The only complain I have so far is that it is difficult to go back to 128gig when you have had 500gig in a MBP.
    But I'm experiencing this difficulty because I use it as my only mac at the moment. The plan is to get either an iMac or a MBP, depending on what I need now that I'm going back to a dorm room.
    Once I have a second machine, it will be easier I guess.

    Overall, it is a lovely laptop which is unbelievably light and thin, I still hold it sometimes just to wonder how they did it and enjoy the lightness of it.

    Thanks again for the advice guys.
  10. jb60606 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 27, 2008
    Overall I've been satisfied with my MBA (REV. 3). Can't say I'd be equally pleased if it didn't have an SSD though.


    -I'm an IT Pro as well, and need to occasionally run Solaris, Windows and Ubunto from Fusion (not simultaneously). I generally get pretty poor performance when running a VM. 2GB and the processor just aren't enough, IMO.

    -If you'll ever need a CD-ROM, be aware that you can't attach Apple's external SuperDrive to a USB hub. It needs to run from the single USB port on the laptop. There are alternative drives available, though, slightly clunkier.

    If I could go back in time, I'd opt for a regular MacBook, then install an SSD. I'd also purchase a 2nd power supply to leave at the office and lighten the carrying weight a tad.


    -spectacular screen
    -So light I often forget I'm carrying it in my bag. You'll often find me double checking my bag to see if it's still there.
    -Snappy, with the SSD
  11. Disavowed macrumors regular


    Apr 10, 2009
    Take it from someone who leaves his 15' MBP home more often then he should, you did the right thing!

    Rev D and I am THERE!
  12. adamjackson macrumors 65816

    Jul 9, 2008

    Do whatever you want to do.

    Sorry this is like the 10th MBA vs MBP thread I've seen this week.
  13. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    Come on, you're smart enough to know by the post that it's either an HDD or the buyer simply gave it to his other never testing it for himself discounting its capabilities without ever using it.

    Just so OP knows, the MBA with SSD is very fast. If you want to read what thousands of others have chosen between 13" MBP and MBA or MBA with HDD or SSD just do a search with the same string as your thread title.

    Once people go MBA they don't go back unless they were not right for the MBA in the first place. Do you need CPU and graphics power? Do you have to plug in 4ports or more? Do you need seven hours of battery? Do you need to upgrade the RAM to 4/8 GB? If yes, go with the 13" MBP. If no, go with the MBA and prepare to be amazed and fall in love with the super fun MBA.
  14. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Or, you know, their needs change. :rolleyes:

    I started college with a desktop and went to a (somewhat) thin-and-light Sony VAIO. The docking station stayed at home and I took a 4.5lb notebook to class. (In hindsight, though, I wish I had considered the 12" PB). I did some light gaming on that computer and after college, I started doing drafting full time. I also started doing 3D building models, so I wanted (but never got) the 15". Then work gave me a desktop to do work at home. Then I got a new job which doesn't require (or allow) me to work at home. I've decided that all I need is an Air (and the previously mentioned desktop to pull server/encoding duty).
  15. NikFinn macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2009
    Just as an aside, I'm trading my MBP for a rev b, maybe C, (not really sure) with HDD this weekend.
  16. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    Why? Are they really equal value if the MBA has an HDD?

    A lot of people overvalue their MBA because they paid far more than it's worth now. An MBA with 1.86/128GB SSD is worth $1349 like new with one year warranty. A 1.86/HDD is worth $1099 like new with full warranty. It goes downhill fast from there. The worst thing someone can do is pay someone too much because the seller is basing the price on what they paid and not current value.

    Finally, I would not buy or trade for an MBA with HDD at all. As a real life valuation, it's just not worth much of anything, because the price difference for SSD is so low over what it was four months ago.
  17. Actaeon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2007
    Get the SSD model, you won't be sorry. It's faster than my early '08 2.5 MBP with a 7200rpm drive, 4GB Ram.

    The only thing where it suffers from the low ram is if you're into 1080p HD content, it stumbles on that. But it's not meant to be your only mac so it's not a problem which can't be solved
  18. NikFinn macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2009
    Hmm.. I usually don't do HD content or anything else taxing on the cpu. Not to hijack this thread, but is there anyway to buy the stock apple ssd? The run core seems a little much at nearly $500
  19. macboy4 macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2009
    I sold my Rev B HDD for $1000 back in August and was pretty happy with that. Due to all the price changes this little guy has seen the value is pretty low. Especially for those who bought Rev A SSDs.

    I'm in full agreement. If you're going to get a MBA the SSD is worth $300. I used a HDD for 6 months. It's slow. Even the SSD is lacking raw power (the reason I had to switch), but the SSD masks that very well with it's super fast read speeds.
  20. macboy4 macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2009
    Yep. That was me. I found myself needing to run Windows in Fusion. The ability of the extra processor speed and RAM cannot be overstated for VM.
  21. jedivulcan macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2007
    I went with the 13" MBP over the MBA for my second Mac. I personally wanted the glass screen/trackpad and possibility of RAM expansion (although it'll be unlikely I'll upgrade from 2gb anytime soon) and the SuperDrive is nice. Granted it is thicker and heavier than the Air. Its really a matter of preference. My only complaint with the Macbook Air is the soldered RAM... wish they at least offered a 4gb option.
  22. tigres macrumors 68040


    Aug 31, 2007
    Land of the Free-Waiting for Term Limits
    + 1

    I have and do own 4 iMacs (for my office) 1 iMac at home, and a MBA rev B. I had replaced my MBP 15" with my current SSD rev b MBA and cannot live without it.

    In fact, as I hired a couple of more employees recently; I decided to use my MBA full time as my office/and road machine. Surprisingly it has worked very well. I picked up an HP 2009m monitor and DVI adaptor and am very pleased with the performance.

    I use it w/ a Vaio bluetooth mouse (slick) and the apple bluetooth keyboard, with the lid closed. All day I run VMware/fusion, Entourage, a wireless network, safari, mail, and adobe writer. All day it runs without too many hiccups, although with the latest VMware I have had a couple of kernel panics (2.0.6).

    **On a side note, the MBA sucks for HD vid, so if you need it for that; forget the rev B anyway- I cannot comment on the 2.13 SSD version.

    Anyway the weight, speed, power, and portability is top notch for what I use it for on all of my business purposes.
  23. bmstrong macrumors 6502a

    May 30, 2007
    How many use the Air as their main or only computer?
  24. stoconnell macrumors 6502

    Mar 22, 2009
    Rockville (Despite REM's plea.)
    There was a whole thread (and/or poll) on that a while ago.
  25. justit macrumors 6502a

    Dec 1, 2007
    Why isn't anyone taking into consideration that:
    With an MBA you *have* to tow the charger along as 4 hour battery doesn't cut it. That's an extra ~1.75 lbs.

    With a 13" MBP it holds 6 maybe 7 hours easy of battery, so you can leave the charger behind. So that's like ~.5 lb less than MBA/charger.

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