Macbook Air vs. Pro for an Engineering student!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by lubp123, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. lubp123 macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2012
    Help! I really need some insight in deciding! :confused:
    First time buying a mac and I consider this a long term investment (at least 3 years).
    considering the macbook pro 13inch vs. macbook air 13inch (both base line models)
    I am a computer science Eng student. do a lot of programing. have a PC so I can use that for compatibility issues. I am really big on portability. not much of a gamer. occasional video editing. I watch a lot of youtube videos and stream videos online. I know that could be flash intensive.

    so, performance wise will both be good for the long run?
    I have also read articles that say the updates to the 13in MBP are disappointing (sounds like air is the new 13inch pro?). both reviews from CNET

    I don't want to regret in the long run :(
  2. kaielement macrumors 65816

    Dec 16, 2010
    What it boils down to is do you "need" a cd drive to be built in. if not or your ok using an external drive go with the air other wise go pro.
  3. lubp123 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2012
    I rarely use the optical drive. so I guess air would be a good option then.
    so the performance is the same. even after the SSD gets more full? and air has a lower clock speed?

  4. BigZ9 macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2012
    If you don't use the optical drive you can always put in a 2nd harddrive bay in the Macbook Pro. Meaning if you wanted to, you can put a 128GB ssd in your main harddrive bay, and put whatever harddrive that came with your computer in the 2nd harddrive bay. The ssd can hold your OS and apps while the hdd holds your media files and other large things.

    With this sort of upgradability you can probably milk more than 3 years out of it.

    Then again, if you need portability, you can't go wrong with the air.
  5. kaielement macrumors 65816

    Dec 16, 2010
    I never really do any real heavy letting so to speak and store everything on an external 1tb drive. I only have some music photos and a few word docs on the actual air so I never rurally notice any slower speed. and with the price of an external cd rive being so cheap you can pick one up for cheap. But I do notice the start up speed is super fast. Mu mom has a 13" pro and I did a test to see which was faster and my air was so much faster on the start up. Anyway hope this helps. oh and yes from what it sounds you need something a bit more portable another reason to go with the air.
  6. jabbawok macrumors regular


    Sep 30, 2004
    I'm an engineering student, for another 3 weeks anyway. I've had an 11" air all through my course. I started with a C2D one and sold it to buy an i7 later. Never regretted it for a second. I'm a mechanical engineer, so plenty of cad and maths. Only programming is PLCs once in a while.
  7. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Let's do a simple comparison between base line models. About portability, I don't know anyone in its right mind to claim the 13.3" Pro is not portable.

    As an engineering student, you may well need much RAM and CPU horsepower.
    • The Air has an 1.8GHz i5, the Pro a 2.5GHz i5. Pro wins.
    • The Air comes with 4GB base RAM, same as the Pro. Although you can upgrade the Air to 8GB when you order it, you can upgrade the Pro all the way to 16GB for a moderate price, and only when you'll need it. Which one wins depends on your needs, but I personally feel that 8GB is tight sometimes.
    • The Air has a faster stock drive, but smaller. 128GB may be enough if you only keep the very minimum of files on the internal drive, and use an external drive for storing everything else, but if you like having, say, your iTunes library on the internal drive, 128GB may not be enough. On the other hand, the Pro can take up to 1TB drive (from OWC), but more interestingly, a very fast SSD, and move the platter drive in the place of the optical drive using this kit. Pro wins.
    • High speed network access. As you work on different projects, maybe you'll need to access large data sets, plans, or files. Maybe 802.11n (if deployed on your campus) won't be fast enough. On the Air, you'll need an external adapter for Ethernet. Pro wins.

    Just because it's more it's more upgradeable, the Pro would be a better choice, because you're not forced to consider the upgrades when buying it, nor are you forced to buy them from Apple.
  8. lubp123 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2012
    Thanks for everyone who shared their opinions!
    I have better information to think about when making my decision. either options should be fine unless I am thinking of upgrades/configurations in the long run.

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