MacBook Pro or MacBook Air

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Jlabertone, Jul 26, 2015.

  1. Jlabertone macrumors newbie

    Jlabertone

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2015
    #1
    I know this question is probably asked hundreds of times but I am having a lot of trouble deciding on getting the MacBook Pro or the MacBook Air. I am going into my senior year of high school and need something powerful but light and portable. I love the air, but I am just worried that it will not be powerful enough. I love to photoshop and edit videos in my spare time. I would get the MacBook Pro but I really like sitting with a laptop on my lap in bed or on the couch and don't know if it will be to uncomfortable or heavy. Thanks for you help in advance!!
     
  2. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    #2
    What do you use to edit your videos (software)? And how big are the videos?

    Some things to note:
    1. The MBA is not retina and it's screen looks fairly old and washed out
    2. The MBA has better battery life
    3. The MBA is thinner but actually wider and taller than the rMBP 13"
    4. You can change the retina resolution on the rMBP 13" so things can become smaller if you need to see more on your screen

    Just some things to throw at you.
     
  3. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #3
    The rMBP is slightly heavier than the MBA, but not unbearably so. I'd say the rMBP is worth it due to the Retina display, and you'll also get a better GPU and Force Touch trackpad as added bonuses.
     
  4. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #4
    It's worth pointing out that the processors in the Air lineup are not exactly slow - they are the same processors used in the vast majority of PC's running Windows - even expensive business and gaming machines.
     
  5. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    Jul 29, 2011
    #5
    If possible, go and have a look at a 13" retina Macbook Pro in a shop: it is about half a pound heavier than the Air, actually has a smaller footprint than the Air, and is thinner than the thickest part of the wedge-shaped Air. The Air is a great machine but if you're having power anxiety I'd go for the pro - it gives you significantly more bang per buck.

    (The main problem with actually using a laptop on your lap is not weight, but heat)

    Sorry, that's just plain wrong. There's more to processor power than the i3/i5/i7 labels (which are really just marketing labels and have no consistent meaning) - they all come in multiple flavours with different power consumptions, graphics performance and numbers of cores. The Air and 13" Pro use ultra-low power "U-series" i5 and i7 processors, which don't compare directly with the higher-power consumption versions found in bigger laptops and desktops. Don't ask me to explain the full complexity of Intel processor model numbers or I might start to whimper.
     
  6. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #6
    I would go pro, the screen is worth the 1/2 pound weight difference and 2 hours less battery life hands down everything else that is better is just a bonus.

    The air has become an expensive for what it is once you match RAM and SSD with a pro there is not a lot in it, I can only reccomend them if your primary need is the best battery life possible. For almost anything else then the pro is a better buy at the same RAM and SSD size.
     
  7. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #7
    Thanks. I'm intimately familiar with the Intel lineup. The U-series processors used in the Air (15w TDP, up to i7-5650u)) is by far the most common processor used in Windows laptops in recent years. It's used in the Thinkpad T450s, Lenovo's most popular business laptop (up to i7 5600u). It's even used in the Thinkpad W550s - one of their 15" 'workstation' class machines (i7-5500u). In fact the latest model used in the Air is a bit higher performing than either of those processors, with better graphics. Other versions of these processors are used in many of Lenovo's 'gaming' laptops, and even lower-tier models are what are used in the Dell XPS-13. The 26w parts used in the 13" Pro are rather uncommon in Windows laptops, let alone the 47w parts of the 15" Pro. For either of those, you need to look to the bulky and extremely heavy workstation or high-end gaming machines to find that class of processor on Windows.

    It sounds like you need to brush up on those processor differences, and a bit more humility before taking someone to task would be advised in the future.
     
  8. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    Jul 29, 2011
    #8
    The problem is that what you actually said:
    "they are the same processors used in the vast majority of PC's running Windows - even expensive business and gaming machines"

    ...is not the same as what you actually meant, which now appears to be:

    "they are the same processors used in many Windows laptops and even entry-level desktop and cheaper or thin'n'light business and gaming machines (oh, and a gaming machines with U-series better have a decent discrete GPU to be credible)"

    Or to put it more simply: the processors used in Apple's entry-level laptops are the same as used in other manufacturers' entry-level laptops. Well, Duh!
     
  9. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #9
    I went through this same decision recently and went pro.

    The killers for me for the air were that to spec it with 8 GB RAM, and a decent size SSD you're looking at Pro money basically (on a 13").

    And the Pro gets 2 thunderbolt ports, a retina display and a force touch trackpad, better WIFI, more powerful CPU options, better GPU, etc.

    Yes, it is a tad heavier, but it is by no means a heavy machine, and battery life is still great. Like, really great. Been browsing on mine for 30 minutes now and it is still at 100% battery with 13 hrs estimated time remaining...



    If you're looking at a base spec air, it is definitely cheaper, but if you're looking at the BTO options, just buy a 13" rMBP in my opinion. Adding options to the air just blows the cost way, way out.
     
  10. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #10
    Yes, I could have been clearer, but from context I believe that it was relatively clear that I was speaking of other laptops given that they were the topic under discussion. And no, the T450s nor the Dell XPS 13 nor their Inspirons, nor many of the other laptops that use the U-series processors are not 'entry-level' by any stretch of the imagination. The MacBook Pro machines use processors that are considerably more powerful that most of the world's pc laptops, yet people here constantly seem to think they are underpowered.
     
  11. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    #11
    No one posted that they are under-powered. For similar money in PC land though you get similar CPUs.

    However in the context of this thread:

    The air is good value if you buy one of the off-the-shelf options. Those off the shelf options are (IMHO) crippled in terms of RAM, display and storage when compared to the other options available.
     
  12. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #12
    That's the point. In the PC-land, you don't get similar cpu's for similarly priced laptops. The vast majority of Windows laptops competing with the likes of the MacBook Pro use processors most similar to those used in the MacBook Air. Yet here, in general, you have all sorts of posts of where people are buying the Pro or even the 15" Pro because they are worried about their computer not being fast enough. If there is anything that the average user doesn't need to worry about when buying an Apple laptop, it's the CPU. They are all extremely well spec'ed at their respective price points.
     
  13. throAU, Jul 27, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015

    throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #13
    Nothing to do with the CPU, its everything to do with the RAM, the screen and the GPU vs. the money. And the cost of SSD upgrades... The better CPU in the Pro is just a bonus.

    Most PCs can have RAM stuffed in them. The air can't. In 2015, 4 GB is being stingy. Especially when it's shared with the GPU.

    (and i'm sure here you'll perhaps bring up the surface as a non-upgradable PC. and here i'll suggest that 4 GB in a surface pro is being stingy as well)


    edit:
    And BS to the same CPUs in the air being used in Pro competitor laptops in PC land.

    We buy 850G2s with quad core i5s in them. We buy Elitebook 8570W workstation class laptops (and whatever it's replacement is) with i7 quad cores and better-than-Macbook-Pro video in them. For similar money. The screens, keyboards and trackpads are nowhere near as good, i'll grant you that, but cpu/gpu spec is competitive.

    Apple vs. PC - the CPUs are basically the same, except with PCs you have the option for garbage if you want to pay no money for a miserable experience. Pay macbook family money and you get macbook family spec CPUs, give or take a speed-grade.
     
  14. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #14
    This is all very dull but it doesn't answer the OP's question.

    Get the pro as everyone points out, at the same ram and SSD size they are much better deal.
     
  15. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #15
    No, just no.

    The HP 850G2 maxes out at the dual-core i7-5600u processor - exactly the same lineage as the MacBook Air. The 8570W is a SEVEN POUND workstation (before the 1lb+ power brick). I specifically acknowledged that you often have to go into workstation class laptops in order to get the same processor class that Apple puts into their laptops - in this case the 15" model which is significantly thinner and lighter.

    You can get something somewhat similar from HP in the Probook 640 which can be spec'ed with an i7-4712MQ quad-core at 37w TDP which is somewhere between what is in the 13" and 15" rMBP's - but at the 14" size, it's over a pound heavier, considerably bulkier than the 13", being closer in size and weight (and still much thicker) than the 15" Pro, plus it uses SATA SSD's, has no high-resolution display option, and no Iris graphics - while still being a couple of hundred dollars more expensive.

    The point stands; the vast majority of Windows laptops being sold are using processors most similar to those used in the MacBook Air lineup, and they are plenty fast for the majority of users.
     
  16. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    Jul 29, 2011
    #16
    OK, I'll give you that one. I should have said "comparable". Some of the really cheap'n'cheerful options tend to use i3s or Celerons. But if you look at the gaming/workstation options, the U processors are acceptable because they're coupled with a discrete GPU and the next models up within the range use a H or HQ series (or, like the rMBP 15, have stuck with gen 4 chips). The only thing I see that qualifies the W550s as a "workstation" is that it can take 32GB RAM and has a Quadro-branded GPU.

    Nobody in this thread has been saying they are underpowered - and they're certainly not underpowered if you compare like-with-like. What has happened elsewhere is that people have specced up laptop PCs with faster processors, more internal storage, more RAM, discrete GPUs etc. for bargain prices... and conveniently neglecting the fact that they are thick, heavy bricks with 30 minute battery life. Occasionally, though, that fills the bill: the problem with MacBook Pros is when you need discrete graphics you're limited to the top-of-the-range, and if you want a shedload of internal storage you're stuck.
     
  17. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #17
    It should be mentioned that Intel's naming scheme certainly doesn't help this situation. I have no idea why they have to make it so confusing. Right now I have sitting on my desk a brand-new T450s and w541s - both have 'i7' processors in them, and they even have the exact same Intel sticker - yet the details of those processors is hugely different - one is a 15w 5600u dual-core part, the other is a 4710MQ - a quad-core 47w part.
     

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