MacBookPro 15" vs. MacBook Air 13"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by SaMaster14, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. SaMaster14 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #1
    I need a new laptop for college and I am deciding between these two. I know I am posting in the MBP section even though this is a comparison thread, but I didn't know where else to post.

    Right now, I have an older MacBookPro 17" (from 2008 or 2007 I believe). I have the one with a 2.33GHz Core 2 duo processor with 2GB of RAM at 667MHz DDR2. I believe it is the 160GB harddrive version.
    This laptop has become pretty slow and I've just about run out of harddrive space (though I could probably clean it up and get it running faster and with more memory, but I haven't had a chance). Now, I also have the 2010 iMac 24" with 3.06 GHz Core 2 duo with 8GB of Ram at 1067 MHz DDR3. This computer has the 1TB of harddrive space (and I am obviously no where near full on that).

    BUT, for college I need to replace that older MacBookPro and I am looking at either the:

    MacBookPro 15"

    2.0GHz quad core
    8GB of Ram at 1333MHz DDR3
    500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm


    OR

    the NEW MacBook Air 13"
    1.8GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7
    with the MB A superdrive (for CDs/DVDs)
    256GB model



    I know that the MBP is more powerful, but do you think the slightly larger processor and slightly larger RAM (plus more harddrive space) really make a huge difference to a college student? My 17" MBP has been amazing, and I assume its only slowing down a bit because the harddrive memory is low and its an old computer that I've had for 3+ years.

    Thank you for any input!

    Sam
     
  2. JephJ macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 26, 2011
    #2
    I'm pretty much in the same boat as you. I'm headed off to university in the fall and am looking to purchase a good laptop that will do what I need it to.

    What you need to do is assess your needs. For me, I plan on gaming on my laptop and unfortunately the new 13'' MBA just won't cut it for me due to the lack of a good graphics card.

    If you plan on doing simple non-gpu intensive tasks, I think the new air will be perfect for your needs since they are very portable and are now sporting fairly impressive hardware.
     
  3. SaMaster14 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Los Angeles, CA
    #3
    Thanks! I'm not much of a gamer at all. But I do like using iMovie to edit videos. But I will mainly be using the computer for the internet, note-taking (and essay writing), chatting etc etc. I do multitask and will have like my notes, chats, internet, facebook, etc etc open at the same time. But I'm sure the MB air can handle that.

    Also, I will be taking a Japanese course. I assume you can download a Japanese keyboard for both laptops.
     
  4. SirWilliam macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    #4
    It depends on what you want. I have a 15" MacBook Pro, a 27" iMac and I am planning on buying the new MacBook Air. If I were to only have one computer it would no question be the MBP but since you have a desktop I might opt for the MBA just because you will be more willing to carry it around with you as it is lighter and takes up less space.
     
  5. SaMaster14 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 23, 2010
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #5
    But I won't be taking my Desktop to College with me.

    I'm kind of leaning towards the MacBookPro. I feel its more powerful, has more features and even though its a little heavier, it really shouldn't be that much of a hassle. (My 17" MBP is heavy and annoying to carry, but its the older model, and the larger model...)
     
  6. Vihzel macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    #6
    I returned my MacBook Pro 15" today to my Apple Store and am waiting for the MBA to be in stores soon. It really comes down to your use. The MBA will be plenty fast for your needs for the type of work you're talking about. The amount of processing power that you need is really up to you. You're talking about a lot of power thats in the MBP. I can tell you right now that the weight of both machines are night and day. I used to have a MBA '10 that I took with me and literally almost could not even feel the weight in my messenger bag. It's so thin and light as compared to the 15". Keep that in mind when you're also carrying around books, notebooks, and whatever else you carry around daily to school. It can make a big difference in terms of space and weight.

    Can you give us the exact prices of both machines that you're figuring? I'm not sure if you're going with a high-res screen on the MBP or not (which I think you should or else it'll have the exact same screen real estate as the smaller 13" MBA). In everyday performance, the SSD will make a huge difference in comparison with the HDD in the MBP. It's not comparable.
     
  7. SaMaster14 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 23, 2010
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #7
    I will be getting the high res display on the MBP.

    Also what is the difference between the HDD and the SSD?

    Also, it depends on whether I bring my iMac with me or not. If i do, I may get a 13" MBP or the Air.

    Price wise, the pro is a bit more expensive. (maybe $500 at the most when priced out). I don't have the exact prices though.
     
  8. NZed macrumors 65816

    NZed

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    Jan 24, 2011
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    Canada, Eh?
    #8
    Slightly larger CPU?? WOW Understand the difference between 2 and 4 cores. Big difference.

    Well what do you do??? if you're just an everyday guy using your computer to browse the web listen to music and watch some movies, not playing too much games or intensive games or not playing at all, then i'd say go with the Air. And if you wanted a 15" i'd say go with 2.2Ghz cos its better and more future proof.
     
  9. SaMaster14 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 23, 2010
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #9
    I'll probably go with the pro. Maybe 13" though, with the biggest processor. Since I will also have my iPad with me, and now I'm thinking ill also have my desktop (that i messages in the first post).
     
  10. Vihzel macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    #10
    To keep it short, SSD is far superior to the HDD. There is a significant noticeable difference between the two. One simple test is boot time and another simple test is file transfer. There is no contest between the speeds of both. Also, the SSD has no moving parts so it creates no sound and you don't have to worry about it failing in the future. Its up to you if you need the extra space that an HDD provides. Space is really the only reason that someone would choose an HDD over an SSD (ignoring price per GB).

    When you're looking at the 13" MBP and MBA in the store... be sure to compare their resolutions and size. The MBa has much better resolution and makes it's MBP counterpart look chunky, especially when you see them side by side.
     
  11. jetblk328i macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    #11
    As a college student using my 2011 13" mbp to do similar tasks, I can say that the new air should fit your needs nicely. The added benefits of a larger screen, quad core, better GPU, etc are not that much of a factor in everyday stuff like note-taking.

    However, you will benefit everyday with a smaller, lighter, more portable laptop with SSD.
     
  12. SaMaster14 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 23, 2010
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #12
    What's the difference between the serial ATA drive at 5400 rpm and the SSD?

    Would I be better off with a 13" MBP or the 13" MB Air??

    Or should I just get the 15"?? Haha.

    Thanks for all the replies guys!
     
  13. Vihzel, Jul 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011

    Vihzel macrumors 6502

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    Jul 9, 2010
    #13
    I recommend going on YouTube and just seeing videos of people comparing SSD vs. HDD. That'll be your best indication of how much faster an SSD is. Especially with the 5400RPM drive, think about this... SSD technology is like a Ferrari while HDD is like a Honda. The Honda will be fast enough and more spacious but if you want serious performance, SSD is the way to go.

    I'd personally recommend the MBA over the MBP as I'm doing that today, especially if you're taking your iMac with you. Don't choose the 13" MBP over the 13" MBA in this situation.

    Advantages of MBA over 13" MBP:

    Screen real estate
    Thinness
    Weight
    SSD

    Advantages of 13" MBP over MBA:

    Processor speed

    I would not consider an optical drive an advantage or disadvantage as it really depends on the user. For me, it's just wasted space that adds unnecessary bulk to the laptop. The last time I've had to use an optical drive that wasn't related to making a computer into factory settings was back in 2008 when my brother wanted me to play a movie on my laptop then.
     
  14. SaMaster14 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 23, 2010
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #14
    I thought the MBP had the sdd... not the air. I'm confused haha. (so then what's the serial ata drive??)
    So the air is faster and had better performance than the pro? What about the whole quad core vs. dual core?

    I wouldn't get the 13 pro, I'm sticking with my original question. 15 MBP vs. 13 Air.
     
  15. sparky1499 macrumors regular

    sparky1499

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    Glasgow, UK
  16. Vihzel macrumors 6502

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  17. Vihzel macrumors 6502

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    Jul 9, 2010
    #17
    Both the MBA and MBP have the SSD. The thing is... the SSD for the MBP is only an option while the SSD in the MBA is included in the price. You'll have to pay extra for the SSD in the MBP. The hard drive performance is hands down with the MBA but the processor speed is hands down with the MBP, especially with the quad core processors. For everyday use, you'll be better off with an SSD rather than a jump in processor speed. If you do a lot of CPU intensive work, then the jump in processor speed will benefit you. Keep in mind that you can get the SSD for the MBP, but it'll cost extra. If you want the 256GB, it'll cost a good amount extra.

    Simply... the SATA HDD is the method of storage that we've been using for a long time now. You have one in your iMac. It's where everything is stored. Think of SSD (solid state drive) as the next generation method of electronic storage that will eventually replace the HDD... kind of like how the CD replaced the cassette tape.

    Again simply... quad core is much faster than similar dual core processors because they have more cores running to handle processing tasks. Think of it as an assembly line. You'll get more work done if you have 4 assembly lines vs. 2 assembly lines.
     
  18. SaMaster14 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 23, 2010
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #18
    Ok, thanks for that info.

    But i'm still a bit confused in the difference between the Serial ATA drive (regular for MBP) and the SSD. Like what is the difference in? Isn't the harddrive just where stuff is stored? Is the ATA more susceptible to damage/viruses/crashes or something? I'm still leaning toward the MPB because I do have an iPad if I want something thin to use instead of carrying around my laptop. But I haven't put the Air out yet. If I have my big desktop, I may not need the Pro.
     
  19. jaykk macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    Location:
    CA
    #19
    I recently bought a MBP 13"inch with HDD, and use it mainly for Development. But I upgraded the HDD with OCZ Vertex 2 64gb SSD, the performance improvement (perceived, didn't benchmark via any toos) is so great that I will never be able to go back to HDD. The Java IDE's suck (on mac anyways), and without an SSD, i was about to give up on MBP.

    The single most upgrade you can do to your computer these days is SSD, I will rather upgrade SSD first than Memory.
     
  20. Vihzel, Jul 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011

    Vihzel macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    #20
    I have to get to bed now. My last recommendations are to look up YouTube videos on SSD vs. HDD so you can see a visual difference of how much faster an SSD is (primarily look at people who compare them on MacBook Pros since there are quite a few of them) and figure out the exact costs of how much each would be and weigh the cost difference. It seems to me that the MBA would suit you just fine, especially as a college student. I don't know where you would need a quad core CPU if you're just doing everyday stuff and moderately CPU intensive tasks. Worst thing that I can see is that you have to wait like 2 extra minutes to get a process finished like video encoding.

    Remember that you always have the return policy. Id recommend going with the cheaper one if you really just are undecided on which one to choose. If you end up really satisfied with the cheaper one, then you'll be happy in the long run. You really can't go wrong with a 15" MBP or 13" MBA. It's really up to you to decide which one you should get. Apple has no restocking fee as long as you keep all of your original materials like the box and inside contents.

    SSD = incredibly fast, nonmoving parts, no noise, kind of just looks like a processor chip
    HDD = old technology, in almost all current desktops and notebooks, moving spinning disc, creates noise, can fail in the future with age or damage

    I edited my post above.
     
  21. SaMaster14 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 23, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #21
    Thank you for all of the comments, and goodnight! haha

    Money really isn't an issue. So I will most likely get the 15" mbp and really just add all of the best options, at least so I can futureproof the machine for my college experience or at least 2-3 years!

    Thanks again for all of the support and suggestions!
     
  22. Vihzel macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    #22
    No problem. You'll be happy with your purchase. :) One thing though... if you despise reflections, definitely get the matte screen. I had it on my MBP and loved it. Compare both the glossy screen and matte screen in person.
     
  23. SaMaster14 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 23, 2010
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #23
    I have the matte screen on my current MPB and I have the glossy on my iMac. I kinda like the glossy better, reflections/glare has never really been an issue. (plus if I'm outside and its sunny I always have my Polarized Ray Bans to block the glare :p
     
  24. a9205 macrumors member

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    Aug 28, 2009
    Location:
    England
    #24
    with MBP it will be a lot easier to keep it future proof, in the future you can upgrade ram to (16gb if supported) and chuck an ssd in when the price falls..eventually
     
  25. RobQuads macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    #25
    Interesting discussion. I'm going through the same types of thoughts as I am trying to decide between the 13" MBA vs a 2010 17" MBP (with SSD)

    The trade off really between the smaller lighter air and the higher res MBP. Really undecided

    one thing I do wonder is which will loose more in 1 or two years
     

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