MBA 13 (128, 4 GB RAM) or Macbook Pro 2011 13 (i5, 320, 8 GB RAM)?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Thylacinus, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. Thylacinus macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2011
    Apologies for yet another MBA 13 vs. MBP 2011 13 thread, but...

    I need a new computer: the elderly hamsters that power my 2006 Dell XPS M140 are finally dying. I've long since become a Mac fan thanks to my wife's iMac, and I need a small-ish laptop for general use and commuting. (I have a VERY long commute on Metro-North, and I want to carry my computer with me nearly every day).

    Typical uses: Word, internet, managing moderate photo and music libraries (with external storage at some point), and some InDesign.

    I think I would be a perfect candidate for the MBA 13 except for lack of Firewire, which I use at work, though not a lot. I'm also skittish about not being able to upgrade it. My gut tells me to get the entry-level 2011 MBP 13, which I can get at a 10% discount through my employer, and upgrade to 8GB RAM for a little snap and "future-proofing." I can then upgrade to a SSD if/when it becomes necessary. The screen resolution doesn't bother me that much; god knows it will blow away the Dell. And to be honest, I've compared the MBA 13 and the MBP 2010 in the stores several times and the weight differential didn't seem that dramatic.

    Anyway, many thanks for the advice.
  2. trip1ex macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2008
    Now you just have to decide.

    Don't think you need 8gb ram though. PUt the money towards your future SSD.
  3. Mikey7c8 macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    I used to carry my 13" Pro with me every day - of late I've been leaving it at work though.

    It's heavy enough to be a little annoying, though to be fair it is good exercise. Depending on the length of your walk ymmv
  4. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I doubt you need 8GB of RAM...

    buy whatever's cheaper...or, if you walk around a lot with your laptop, get the MBA.
  5. Thylacinus thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2011
    Very reasonable advice on the RAM, many thanks. Will put the money toward AppleCare...
  6. npropes macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2010
    The MBP will provide you with a considerable longer usable life than the MBA. If you're going to be carrying it around and able to replace it in 2-3 years, then the MBA would be the better choice.

    However, since you're going to be using it for primarily personal use, the MBP is probably the better option. Unless you going to be doing heavy photo/video editing or running virtual machines, you don't need more than 4GB of RAM.

    Good luck and enjoy!
  7. FuNGi macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2010
    The 13" MBP would give you a little future proofing as you can upgrade the harddrive to a SSD or just bigger if needed - that and the firewire. can easily add programs onto the Air using your wife's iMac drive - I've done it with 3 programs and it was really fast. You won't notice the difference between the pro and Air during your normal day-to-day usage and the Air's screen is a bit nicer to look at and provides the on-screen real-estate of a 15" laptop (everything is a bit smaller but really high res). It is light to carry and your wife will envy you ;).
  8. miabadboys macrumors member


    Jan 18, 2011
    On Top of The World

    I love the MBA but decided this weekend to get the new 13" MBP. If i had a iMac at home then id get the MBA for the commute.
  9. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I was faced with this choice this past weekend. I went for the MBA. Here's my thinking:
    I don't do anything so demanding that the air can't handle it (and it sounds like you don't either). The mbp is faster, but with the ssd, the air is a lot faster than you might think. (and the air may even be better at games, which mattered to me but maybe doesn't to you. On the other hand, the optical drive matters not at all to me but might matter to you.)

    So it really comes down to this - would you rather have the extra processing power or a higher res screen and 1.6 lbs less weight? I don't know if I'd even use the extra processor speed, but I'll appreciate the screen and weight of the air on a daily basis.
  10. hans1972 macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2010
    low resolution

    I can´t imagine anyone would be satisfied with the low resolution of 1280x800 for the new MBP 13"!?

    The MBA 13" has 1440 x 900.

    The low resolution of the MBP 13" makes it a huge disappoint for me.
  11. Derek87 macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2009
    Good pts already made by people, but i'll summarize and add my own:

    - lighter and more portable
    - out of the box responsive SSD
    - higher res screen

    - more futureproof
    - higher performance in the long run (relates to 1)

    i think it really comes down to portability vs. futureproofing.

    i just this morning ordered a refurb MBA. but this is entering a household that already has a MacPro (2+ years old) and the MBA will be primarily for web browsing and email by my wife. we actually have less need for the portability (i commute with my iphone and when i need to, i lug my work based MBP13 around) but didn't see the advantage in our case for spending the same money to get a slightly faster machine with more RAM capabilities since our uses are light for that machine.

    if you don't mind lugging a 4.5 lb machine around each day, then i'd go with the MBP13. but if you don't mind buying a new machine a bit sooner down the road (3 vs 4 years? or 4 vs 5), then i think the extra portability of the MBA wins over the MBP's power. (and this is coming from someone who is only valuing the portability around the house!)
  12. Thylacinus thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2011
    Just to complete the thread, in case anyone was curious or pondering the same question: bought the MBA 128 4 GB today. In the end it was all about portability, as so many have said.

    Thanks again for the input!
  13. steeex macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010
    Congrats! I patiently waited for the refresh to get a 13" MBP, but ended up going for a 15" because of screen resolution considerations...I would love an Air, but I use processor intensive applications (Matlab, Mathematica) and the C2D is just not enough (for me)
  14. gdeputy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    New York
    Yeah ultimately it's your preference. I would love a new MBP but realistically the most intensive stuff I've done on my air is Pixelmator, and it's been a flawless experience.

    I take the resolution for granted, as well as the lightness, and I don't think I want to give that up.
  15. andothfc macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2008
    The screen resolution of the MacBook Pro is pathetic and, unless you put an SSD in it, for most tasks it will feel slower than the Air.

    Unless you need loads of storage of have specific needs in terms of raw processor power, I'd always advise people to go for the Air.

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