MacBook Air vs Macbook Pro for University

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by BillieMay, Jun 27, 2015.

  1. BillieMay macrumors newbie

    BillieMay

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2015
    #1
    Wanting to buy a macbook for day to day life:
    University work (Online), having many different tabs open and different programs.
    Browsing online, emails
    Writing documents (word etc).
    Storing pictures and music but not large amounts.
    Is there any real difference in performance 1.6GHz v 2.5GHz that would be compromised by getting the air over the pro?
     
  2. BrettApple macrumors 65816

    BrettApple

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Heart of the midwest
    #2
    I personally use both a late 2013 13" MacBook Pro and a 2015 13" MacBook Air (typing on it now). The Pro is my personal machine I got almost a year ago and the Air I've had for a few weeks now from work.

    They both have 8GB RAM and 256GB SSDs and both are 13" models. If I had to choose between the two I would go with my Pro hands down. It isn't much faster as far as real world use goes unless you're encoding or in a VM but even then it isn't a huge difference, and the MacBook Air actually runs smoother since it doesn't have to push as many pixels but the screen quality on the Pro is miles better and the speakers sound much better too. It also has a smaller footprint than the Air which is kind of funny. BUT, the Air has much better battery life from what I've noticed. I can go an entire 8 hour shift without even plugging it in at my desk where my pro might go 6 or so. I just lasts longer since it's a lower power machine with a low power screen.

    It really comes down to a few things rather than the minimal price difference (for me the mid model Pro was $1,299 and this Air was $1,275 but it depends where you get them).

    1. Weight, the Air is noticeably lighter when carrying it around or in a backpack. Not significantly, about half a pound or so, but it's there.

    2. Battery life, the Air has better battery life. Can't argue that one. Both will easily make it through a 3 hour class no problem. But if you have multiple classes and no chance to charge the Air would be a better option. Though the pro can make it about 8-9 hours if it's not being used much at low brightness, it's just a compromise.

    3. Screen. The retina display is a wonderful high resolution IPS panel and it's beautiful. The Air uses an older TN type panel that is lower resolution and has poorer viewing angles. I wouldn't call it "bad" but it certainly isn't as nice. Though at default settings you do get a larger workspace (1440x900 vs 1280x800). The Pro can scale to 1440x900 or even 1680x1050 if desired. Also the internal speakers are better.

    For what you described a base model 13" Air would work, and can be found for a good price on the net. Or even a refurbished model from last year. 4GB of RAM will do for now. If you plan on using it for 5+ years though, I would go ahead and get the Pro since it comes with 2x the RAM, or add it to the Air. It just depends on your usage.

    If you haven't already, I'd go to a local store if you have one and check both of them out.
     
  3. Ovedius macrumors 6502

    Ovedius

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    Aug 2, 2012
    Location:
    Norway
    #3
    Personally I think getting a new Air right now is a bit of a bad idea.
    It seems like the Air might be going the way of the dodo considering the New Macbook.

    I'm assuming you're considering the 13" Air.
    Though there is a bit of a price gap between the top stock 13" Air and the entry stock 13" Pro you get much more for the extra $100:
    8 GB Ram (getting a new machine with 4 GB soldered un-upgradable RAM is not future proof, hell, it's not present proof)
    Much more powerfull CPU and a better integrated GPU
    The screen of the Pro is worlds apart from the Air
    Force Touch (personally I LOVE it)

    You might not notice the CPU boost in system performance on normal low-intensity usage but the fans on the Air will start spinning much sooner than on the Pro.
    -since you can tax the CPU more on the Pro before it really starts sweating and needs cooling down.
    This might not be an issue for some, but I HATE loud fan noise.
    Not only because I hate noise, but because I hate bothering people around me with said noise.

    The Air is lighter.
    But it's actually wider and deeper than the 13" Pro.
    (1,1cm wider and 0,8cm deeper)
    It has better battery life.


    I say go Pro.
     
  4. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    Cimmerian End
    #4
    With that same logic, it could be the best idea because soon you may not be able to buy them as new anymore. If configured properly, it is a much better machine in terms of performance, and the weight difference between the two may seem like a lot if you look at a percentage on paper, but in the real world not so much. The only main thing lacking in the MBA right now is the display resolution, but it may be a willing sacrifice for hardware improvements over the rMB, namely in terms of the CPU.
     
  5. BenTrovato macrumors 68020

    BenTrovato

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    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    Canada
    #5
    Some pretty good answers in this thread so I think you'll make the right decision. I had the Air and loved it but I like the rMBP a little better. If I was in University and money was even the slightest of a concern I would get the Air and probably go the refurb route.
     
  6. Ovedius macrumors 6502

    Ovedius

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    Aug 2, 2012
    Location:
    Norway
    #6
    The Air is certainly a much more powerful machine than the New Macbook (is that what they're called? Or just Macbook?).

    Digression alert!
    But if the OP wants light and adequate maybe the Macbook is also a contender?
    The entry Macbook is $1299 and you get a decent performer that's absolutely quiet and has a really nice screen.
    Might be a pain in the ass if the photos OP wants to store come from a DSLR =/
     
  7. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

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    #7
    rMB typically.

    I'm not saying it isn't, I'm only saying to consider all ends of every spectrum. :)
     
  8. Ovedius macrumors 6502

    Ovedius

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    Aug 2, 2012
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    #8
    I'll make a note of that.


    Despite the fact that I'm quite absolute in my first post, I agree full heartedly! ;)
     
  9. Liquinn Suspended

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    #9
    I own a 13" Macbook Air, non retina 13" Macbook Pro and a 15" retina. I'd get the 15" or the 13" retina Macbook Pro if you need the screen.
     
  10. z31fanatic macrumors 6502a

    z31fanatic

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    Location:
    Mukilteo, WA USA
    #10
    In a perfect world, the 13" Air with a better screen would be the only laptop I'd own. Unfortunately the low quality screen kills it for me.
    I say go with the Pro. Your eyes will thank you.
     
  11. nStyle macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2009
    #11
    If you're only considering purchasing new, I'd go with the Air in your position. This is coming from someone who owns a 13" rMBP. Otherwise, find a nice barely used 13" rMBP.

    I still think the 13" Air is the best computer for most people. There's still a $300 gap between the base Air and the base Retina, which isn't insignificant. Plus, IMO, it feels better to type on because there's more room (slightly larger footprint). Also, it's 3lbs vs 3.5lbs, so not a huge difference but definitely perceivable since the larger surface area also spreads the weight out more than the rMBP.

    I couldn't personally go back to anything other than Retina in a laptop, and I know that's a bit of a contradiction, but still. I could easily live with the 13" Air's screen I think.

    You can get a used 13" rMBP late 2013 for < $850 which is cheaper than a new Air. In that case, I'd definitely go with the rMBP. Might be something to consider.
     
  12. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #12
    If mobility is important to you, the new 12" MacBook would fit your usage scenario perfectly. You won't see any performance difference between the 12" model and the 13" MacBook Pro or Air for those tasks.
     
  13. z31fanatic macrumors 6502a

    z31fanatic

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    #13
    That $300 gets you double the RAM, beautiful display that is a pleasure to work with, better graphic chip, and a 20% better CPU (which may or may not matter to some). It is well worth the price difference.
    The base 13" rmbp is a very good value.
     
  14. nStyle macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2009
    #14
    Like I said, most people don't need the 8GB of ram, better display, etc...And to be honest, most people don't care about those things. Us? Of course we do. And I agree the base 13" rMBP is a great value in comparison.
     
  15. SE43 macrumors member

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    Apr 2, 2015
  16. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68030

    Ulenspiegel

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    #16
    I wish you were right, but you are not in this case.
     
  17. Liquinn Suspended

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    Apr 10, 2011
    #17
    What machine performs better?
     
  18. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68030

    Ulenspiegel

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    #18
    Both machines in the title of the thread perform better than the rMB.
     
  19. Toutou macrumors 6502a

    Toutou

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  20. cambookpro macrumors 603

    cambookpro

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #20
    I'd personally go for the 13" rMBP.

    It's the computer I see most at our sixth form, and everyone who has one says they love it. It's not much bigger than the Air, but the screen is absolutely beautiful (and definitely is much nicer if you do lots of word processing and photo editing) and it's very powerful. It can handle most tasks you throw at it with ease.

    There is one person I know who bought a 13" Air a month before the 13" first rMBPs came out. He likes the Air, but does regret not waiting for the rMBP as it's such a nice machine for not a great deal more money.

    I'm probably downsizing to one from my 15" cMBP next year.
     
  21. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #21
    Most people certainly care about mobility and display quality. For an average user, there is not much point in a fast CPU or a lot of RAM — they are not going to notice the difference. However, everyone who works with text will appreciate a retina quality screen.

    We have two people in the office who use the 12" MB. One of those had a 2015 13" rMBP and another had a 2014 MacBook Air before. Both use the computers for office applications, latex and doing light statistics. Both are very happy with performance and can't feel any difference from the old machines. I tested the 12" model extensively when we got them and I also can't tell any difference for day to day tasks. Your mileage might vary. But I think its quite silly to dismiss the Core M just because its a low-power CPU. In fact, it was more responsive in Safari then my previous 2012 15" retina model.
     
  22. Apple Maniac macrumors newbie

    Apple Maniac

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    Jun 25, 2015
    Location:
    reparacionmac.es Ibi, Alicante - España
    #22
    Hi, I'm technical specialist in electronic repairs and maintenance of Apple computers in Spain. I have repaired hundreds of them and I know very well their plates and structural weaknesses and design flaws that as a coach, I know long before the user communities.

    This knowledge is worth a lot of $$$ !!
    performance difference? Of course, a lot of difference, better 2.5 Ghz.

    on macbook pro or macbook air, I say: macbook pro 13 ".I have one of 2010 and is perfect.

    the macbook pro 13 "of the end of 2011 are very good machines, and these have no design errors of their older siblings.

    The Macbook Air is magnificent equipmet, but very fragile. If you go to much move equipment, outdoor, student flats ... will run serious danger !!!! your screen is very fragile, ahead and behind. Also, you never will have so much power and durability as with Macbook pro. Macbook pro 15" and 17" is ok, but, MAINTENANCE OPERATION AND ELECTRONIC ESPECIALIST REVISION IS NECESSARY!!!

    VERY IMPORTANT !!!

    It buys buy which is fundamental to all computer equipment, but even more with the apple, realizarles a maintenance operation to change the thermal paste and clean the ventilation system. This is the cause of most problems graphs and damage apple logic board equipment. ARE NOT PERFECT, BUT ARE VERY EXPENSIVE, let them PERIODICALLY MAINTENANCE OF A SPECIALIST IN HANDS OF TRUTH, NOT official stores.

    Good Luck!
     
  23. newellj macrumors 603

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    Oct 15, 2014
    Location:
    Boston, MA, US
    #23
    Have you owned the machines in question here?
     
  24. newellj macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2014
    Location:
    Boston, MA, US
    #24
    One point to add to this very thorough post: the footprint of the rMBP is 8 square inches less than the MBA. That is a noticeable difference if you're working at a conference table with a group of other people, and depending on how your classrooms are set up, it might matter to you.
     
  25. Apple Maniac macrumors newbie

    Apple Maniac

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2015
    Location:
    reparacionmac.es Ibi, Alicante - España
    #25
    of course , hundreds and hundreds . many more macbook pro , macbook pro retina also repair and vintage equipment. I think I'm one of the greatest connoisseurs of eletronica of these teams across Europe , but this is difficult to prove.

    So strongly hitting the crisis, repair services have been boosted in Spain and not in Germany , for example, there had been no need .

    You need to resolve any question ?
     

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