Macbook Air vs Macbook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Monkeychemist, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. Monkeychemist macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2011
    Hello everyone,

    I am new here, just found this awesome site!

    I have been contemplating for a while buying a new macbook. However I am torn between mba and mbp. I did a quick scan and could not find this topic, if I am mistaken, I apologize, and please point me in the right direction.

    Anyways, comparing stats it seemed like the choice was obvious, you get much more mac with the pro. Design-wise air seems lighter and nicer. So I thought it was going to be performance vs design and in that case performance is much more important.

    I decided to give air a final chance by going to an apple store and trying it out for myself (and disregarding numbers on paper). The Apple employee was pretty worthless in terms of advice forcing me into mbp because you can get much more HD space...when I repeatedly told her that was not a concern because 128GB was perfectly acceptable to me. In any case after shooing her away, I tried the two on my own:

    Incredible! Even though mba was the older gen processor and carried half (or less) ram it was WAY faster. I launched word, excel and powerpoint at the same time on both machines and there was no comparison, air launches those in the blink of an eye while on pro the icons bounced around seemingly forever. I don't understand, is it the SSD? Would a mbp with a SSD work that fast? What are the limitations of the mba, because right now I don't know why anyone would get anything else than a mba...

    Thank you very much for comments and advice!
  2. orfeas0 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 21, 2010
    Athens, Greece
    Yes, an MBP with an ssd would work a lot faster than the MBA. But if I were you, I would wait for the refresh of the MBAs (july). They will get a sandy bridge processor too, which won't be as powerful as the ones in the macbook Pros, but it will still be a lot better than the c2d.
    And if you don't care about gaming (hardcore gaming, not angry birds) and cpu-intensive tasks (video encoding, photoshop etc), you should get the new macbook air (again, it comes in july).
  3. TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    Here's a multiple page thread, on the first page of threads, on a similar topic.

    Click Here.

    For ANY laptop, you trade speed and storage for portability. Since no one else has the same needs you do, no one else can make the decision for you.

    EDIT: Take with a grain of salt the posts that are the technical equivalent of 'mine is bigger than yours'. they are irrelevant.
  4. ChazB macrumors member

    Sep 29, 2008
    The speed enhancement is due to the SSD. You'd get better overall performance with a MBP that you've upgraded with a SSD and more RAM. If you're comfortable, or know someone that is, do the upgrades yourself. It's way cheaper and the SSDs you can buy on the open market are faster than the ones Apple uses. The new MBPs have SATA 3 so make sure you get a SATA 3 SSD for best performance.

    Mine are in the mail and I can't wait to have a showdown with my friend's MBA.
  5. love my mac macrumors newbie

    Jun 27, 2011
    Sydney, Australia
    Pro v's Air

    I have a 13.3" MBP now and love it to bits but I REALLY want a MBA for its portability. My biggest gripe is that the current MBA does not have a backlit keypad anymore. Do you think Apple will bring it back????
  6. islanders macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    For me it was between the 13'' MBA and 15'' MBP with the High Resolution Screen.

    I picked up a refurbished 15 HR from Apple for 1399 that is on the way. :)

    There are more upgrade options for DIY.

    The MBA is ultra portable and very functional for most people.

    Mostly it's subjective. For some the resolution isn't a big deal. I just didn't want to take any chances with the low resolution, as that is the one thing I really want to upgrade from my old one.
  7. sumone macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2011
    The decision is ultimately up to you, of course. I guess you have to ask yourself what you really need or want. While I like the MBA I tend to agree with that pushy salesperson you mentioned, lol. I'm more of a more-bang-for-your-buck kinda girl. If I have to spend about the same amount and can get better performance from one and not the other i'm going for the better performance to me its a no brainer. However, I wouldn't be opposed to picking up a used MBA (in addition to the MBP) after the refresh for a reduced cost if the portability was still a concern for me.
  8. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Oct 14, 2005
    It was the SSD, and yes, a MBP with a SSD would launch applications that quickly too! :)
  9. Brenzo macrumors regular

    May 1, 2011
    From what it sounds like, you mostly need a computer for basic office programs and web browsing, which makes me think that the MBA would be a great computer for you.

    It sounds like you're pretty well aware of the hard drive size and what you need or don't need, just keep in mind that the price of SSDs are significantly higher than a standard HDD at the moment. However, you can easily counter this by keeping most of your media (videos mostly) off the MBA and on an external hard drive. I'm planning on purchasing a MBA and will likely end up with 128GB as well because I keep most of my iTunes library on external hard drives and will simply sync songs, etc. to my iPhone or iPad. Also, SSD prices will only continue to come down so in a year or two if you find yourself bumping up against the limit of your hard drive, you could purchase and swap in a larger sized drive.
  10. TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    OP: This is the kind of reply you can expect when you ask a question like you did. What some people don't realize is what constitutes 'more-bang-for-your-buck' is different for everyone.
  11. Apple Expert macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    MBP will give you more for your money. But if you want the sleek thinness of the MBA, you will need to be willing to pay more and be willing to accept a slower CPU compared to the MBP. If you can do that, maybe the MBA is for you. Like others have said, wait for the refresh to get the latest and greatest MBA.
  12. HellDiverUK macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2009
    Belfast, UK
    Depends if you need or use those extras. I've a Pro, and I've never used the Firewire, I've used the Ethernet twice, and rarely use more than one USB. All I do is web pages and email, so really the MBP is wasted for my uses - I'd have got a MBA if I were buying again.

    For my uses, a 11" MBA would probably be the better choice - but when I bought my MBP the Air was a POS with GMA graphics and crappy 1.8" HDD.
  13. Apple Expert macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Knowing what you use it for now, which would you purchase if the MBA comes the the sandy bridge processor.
  14. HellDiverUK macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2009
    Belfast, UK
    Air, without a doubt. I'd even change from this machine to the current 13" Air, just for the 1440x900 screen. 1280x800 sucks.
  15. Apple Expert macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    I'm in the same boat as you. The MBP is nice, just seems a bit dated compares to the MBA. The only thing that scares me is the CPU won't be enough for me. I generally do web, email, iTunes and iPhoto. Small photoshop edits, but nothing major. Everyone seems to think the MBA is for me. Just not sure I want to go that kind of processor. It will just mainly be for home. I doubt it will leave the house. But the MBA just looks so nice. I never use FireWire. Ethernet only to configure a router and that's only for a few moments. So an adapter should be fine. Cd, what's that? LOL. I only use to
    Burn for the car. So the MBA sounds right for me?
  16. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Oct 14, 2005
    If you're using a Mac right now, start the Activity Monitor app. Click on View > Dock Icon > Show CPU History. Close the Activity Monitor app window. You should see a Dock Icon that shows the last few minute or two's worth of CPU activity.

    I'm on my work Mac right now (a mini with a C2D processor). I've got Lotus Notes (email), Firefox, Things, terminal (running a SSH tunnel), Adium, TextEdit, Remote Desktop Connection, VMWare Fusion running a Windows 7 VM, Word, Addressw Book, and Preview open, and it's barely using 15% of the CPU.

    Running the same workload on a faster i7 processor may only use 10% of the CPU. IMO, as long as you're not frequently using 100% of your CPU, having a faster CPU isn't likely to make a noticeable difference for the day-to-day things you do.

    Attached Files:

  17. islanders macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    If the MBA can handle the apps you want to use the pros and cons:

    pros of MBA:

    1) ultra portable, quiet, doesn't run hot.
    2) great his res screen
    3) solid build
    4)nice key board and track pad (I don't need back let) it works well and fees good (All macbooks do IMO)
    5) SSD included
    6) good value

    Pros of MBP:

    1) more processing power
    2) easier to upgrade... can install another HDD in optical bay, can add 8 GB Ram for under $100... etc
    3) Hi Res screen is an option that would provide more screen (the standard res screen isn't as good as MBA)
    4) more ports, FW800, ethernet etc

    Highest priority for me was the screen resolution, followed by the ability to upgrade things myself. I don't want to send my machine back to Apple to change out the battery.

    I haven't owned either one though and haven't taken them apart yet.

    If my 15 MBP HR AG is hot or loud or I just don't like it I'll send it back and try a MBA. Altough I think I would be fine with either one and want the larger screen and upgrade things myself.
  18. Monkeychemist thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2011
    wow, thank you everyone for your input!

    I will be using this computer mainly for writing my dissertation. The applications I'll be primarily using (in order from most to least) are:

    MS Office
    VMWare Fusion

    I have a 1.5TB External HDD so space is of no concern really. I saw the "bang for your buck" comment (and rebuttal) and honestly to me speed is more bang for you buck than storage space.

    So here is where I stand... Macbook Air 2011 ... why?

    1) I'm going to be writing and surfing the web mostly so the lighter quicker computer will be better

    2) Photoshop & VMWare are intensive but will be used rarely and for nothing really complicated so no clear advantage for fact I have been monitoring my RAM usage and I typically range in the 1-2GB of my current 4 GB, so anything over 4GB seems wasteful.

    3) On another thread someone pointed to a page comparing battery usage and in that page I found a VERY nice comparison with a MBA and MBP 15" w/ SSD. It looks like the MBA is still faster despite the inferior processor and less ram because the firmware is better tuned for SSD technology on the MBA. Here's the page (first table):

    4) Finally my own observation with apple is that the MBA is pretty much a last gen MBP in terms of spec numbers on paper. So if I wait 2 weeks or so for this next gen MBA then it will probably be a super fast MBP until the next MBP comes out in 6 months.

    Again, thank you so much everyone! Even though my mind is pretty made up, there are still a few weeks ahead until purchase so I am open to other comments, and perhaps this thread can help others faced with this dilemma.
  19. badtzwang macrumors regular

    Sep 1, 2009
    For what its worth, I prefer the keyboard on the Macbook Pro over the Macbook Air by quite a lot. The keys on the Macbook Air offer very little travel compared to the Macbook Pro, meaning the keys don't go very far down in order to register the key press.

    If you're a fast touch typist like me and you plan to do a lot of typing, you may want to consider this.
  20. Monkeychemist thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2011
    VERY good point! Since I'll be typing a lot in the long run I better head back to the Apple store and feel the keyboards out.

  21. Apple Expert macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    I never noticed a difference between the keyboards. Maybe it's just yours?
  22. sumone macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2011
    It seems as though your mind was pretty much made up from the beginning why people come for advice and seem to be only open to hearing one side is beyond me. But as I said in the first line of my original post the decision is ultimately up to you anyway. Hopefully you'll be pleased with your purchase.
  23. Minhthien macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2011
    What kind of Photoshop you be using? Lightroom or CS5? I am also in the same boat as you right now! I just sold my 2010 MBP and wanted to get the 15 MBP but I'll wait and see how this new MBA will handle photoshop!
  24. Monkeychemist thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2011
    That's not true. About 2 weeks ago I was all about MBP, I even bought the 8GB ram kit to make my own update. Then last week it was MBA. The past few days until just about today it was back to MBP... and now MBA :D

    I'll be using CS5 for graphs/figures/drawing and maybe Aperture for my raw photos.
  25. Apple Expert macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Me too. I bought the ssd and ram upgrade for the MBP. However I'm having seconds thoughts and thinking of going the MBA and returning the upgrades.

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