MBA - i5 or i7?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by abbeybound, Jul 29, 2014.

  1. abbeybound macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2014
    #1
    Hi everyone!

    I'm off to college in a couple weeks, and want to upgrade from a Mac laptop so hopelessly outdated that I won't even mention it ;)

    I've settled on an Air, 11in with 8GB of RAM. For the big stuff, I'll have a 19in monitor in my room. The question is, is the 300mhz i5-i7 upgrade worth the extra $140?
    How much of a difference does it really make in everyday computing? I'm going to use it to run iWork, maybe Office, a couple older games, web browsing/network hacking and a little coding. Typical techy college stuff. I would like it to remain useful for several years, if possible.

    What would you do?


    Thanks!
     
  2. citivolus macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 19, 2008
    #2
    Based on the profile of apps you describe, I don't think you would even be able to tell the difference between the two.
     
  3. iterva macrumors regular

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    Jun 16, 2013
    Location:
    Sweden
    #3
    If it's worth the $$ only you can decide. :)

    In everyday computing (as described above)... You wont notice a difference between the 2.

    With that said, you asked "What would you do" - I would choose the upgrade. But thats simply because my philosophy has always been to max out ram and processor whenever possible.
     
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #4
    I agree. Had a 2011 i5 MBA and now a 2013 i7. For the most part, the only differences I notice are faster rendering in Final Cut Pro and less latency in Logic Pro.

    But you might get the i7 if you can afford it, so you don't have that nagging question in the back of your mind… "I wonder how much faster it would have been if I got the i7" :D
     
  5. abbeybound thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 29, 2014
    #5
    Thanks for the replies. For perspective, my laptop now is a 12" 1.5ghz powerbook G4. It has/does serve me relatively well, but there are other reasons I've stayed with the PPC architecture. Either one is going to feel like greased lightning compared to it, and it has done just fine for 8 years.

    I agree that I wouldn't notice it now, but part of me wonders if I could future-proof it by another year or so with the speed bump. The clock speeds on these are, obviously, very deceptive.

    From other MBA owners, what is the typical life span?
     
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
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    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #6
    You probably already know this, but I will mention it just in case. All of your old non-univeral software will no longer work on the new machines. This is because Apple dropped support for Rosetta (the PPC emulator) with the introduction of OSX 10.7. When you migrate your old software to the new machine, any incompatible apps will have red slashes over their icons.

    As far as upgrades, I replaced my 2008 MBP with a MBA in 2011 because I was having some issues with the old machine. I later resolved these issues, but the MBA was about twice as fast in terms of CPU and way, way faster because of the SSD, so I was glad I upgraded.

    After two years, I replaced the 2011 MBA with a 2013. This was an "upgrade of opportunity" because a friend needed a new computer so I sold her the MBA at a big discount. Gave me a chance to get 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, neither of which were available in 2011. My friend still has the 2011 machine and loves it. I'm sure it will continue to meet her modest needs for a number of years.
     
  7. jimboutilier, Jul 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014

    jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

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    Denver
    #7
    Get the i7

    Given the MBA is fairly non upgradable and highly proprietary I tend to max them out and get Applecare both for future proofing and resale value.

    Also its a fairly low powered processor and I do max the CPU out periodically so the extra oomph of the i7 does help with hyper-threading and more cache and higher clock rate - overall it can make more than a 20% CPU speed improvement for much less than a 20% price increase.

    Thats just me though.
     
  8. abbeybound thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 29, 2014
    #8
    Boyd - Yes, thanks. I actually have quite a collection of Apples, from an Apple I replica onwards. I will end up retiring this laptop to it, just in case I find a need for Tiger.

    I'm not using any software that doesn't have an intel version.

    I was leaning towards the 1.4, now I'm completely on the fence. I really don't know that my workload will make it worth the extra money. Hm.. Thanks for the input
     
  9. Traverse macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    Mar 11, 2013
    Location:
    Here
    #9
    I mean, if you have the money I'd say go for it, it will be present, but weather you'll notice it much I doubt it.

    Unless you're doing CPU intensive tasks the running statistics software or VMs I doubt you'll see a difference. And even if you are, it wouldn't be THAT much. Maybe a move would take 45 minutes to finalize on i5 and then 40 with i7. Jumping between and i7 Haswell MacBook Pro and an i5 Ivy Mac Mini I don't see a difference with everyday tasks. The SSD makes the difference. If you were going to spend the money a RAM upgrade is much more beneficial than a CPU upgrade.

    Edit: I see you already said 8GB so you have to balance the money. I'm one of those that wants the top of line even if I don't leverage it. It isn't a smart financial mindset, but as it comes down to whether it will bother you. Like I said I don't see any difference between a current i7 and older i5 for daily tasks.
     
  10. scaredpoet macrumors 604

    scaredpoet

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    Apr 6, 2007
    #10
    As someone who has the i7, I can tell you: no, it probably won't be worth the extra money. Not to say I regret buying the i7: there are some things it is a little bit better for. But I probably would've been fine with the 1.4 had I bought that instead, and judging by what you're planning on using it for, the extra bump probably won't help at all.

    I think you might be better off using that extra cash to max out the SSD if you aren't already planning on doing so.
     
  11. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #11
    You must have plenty of extra money to blow;)

    OP save your money and don't get the i7. You won't be able to tell with your usage.
     
  12. abbeybound thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 29, 2014
    #12
    Thanks everyone, I think I'll go with the i5.

    There is a little nag in the back of my head asking me why I'm buying a new computer that's slightly slower in mhz than the 8 year old one I have now. I guess that's the Megahertz Myth, but in reverse. ;)

    As far as the ssd, I think I'll stick with the 128gb. I've lived with 60 for a while, and never run out of space. My photo libraries usually live on external disks anyway, that's the only big disk hog.

    I'm also holding out that OWC will come up with a cheaper upgrade option for the 13/14 Airs. The RAM is more of a priority because it's soldered.

    Looking forward to my first new Mac!
     
  13. rrl macrumors 6502

    rrl

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    Jul 27, 2009
    #13
    Max it out and don't look back. If you're gonna skimp on something, skimp on the storage, not the processor or the memory.
     
  14. abbeybound thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 29, 2014
    #14
    You guys are really unhelpful :D
     
  15. Newtons Apple macrumors P6

    Newtons Apple

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    Jacksonville, Florida
    #15
    Agreed, if you got the money max is out. I got the i7 8gb with 512gb SSD 13" MBAir and it does all I need and more.
     
  16. rrl macrumors 6502

    rrl

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    Jul 27, 2009
    #16
    Doubling the threads and doubling the RAM could add years to the life of the machine. Those upgrades could easily pay for themselves. Not doubling the storage would mean you just have to do some house cleaning. But whatever you do, don't get less than 256GB. And if push comes to shove, the battery is replaceable and the SSD is upgradeable. Yeah, baby!
     
  17. DmbShn41 macrumors 6502

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    #17
  18. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #18
    You are getting terrible advice in this thread. These people all have more money than they do sense. Apple loves them because they throw away a bunch of money on unnecessary upgrades so they can say they have the "maxed out" model.

    A maxed out 11 inch Air costs 1649 before tax. It's inconceivable to spend that kind of money on an Air. You can get a refurbished 15 inch rMBP for less.

    You've already mentioned 128 is more than enough space, and we know the i5 is good too. Why don't you just pick up a base model from the refurb store, or on a Best Buy sale? You can get one for under 800. It's a MUCH smarter buy. It will still last you several years, and it will cost less than half of what everyone else is trying to spend your money on.
     
  19. rrl macrumors 6502

    rrl

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    #19
    So, you're trying to move him into a bigger machine. A 15" no less. I know you might find this hard to believe, but there are actually some of us that want the smallest and lightest computers we can find. Until the 2010 11" MBA, which I own a maxed-out version of, I wouldn't even have considered an Apple laptop. I've been paying a premium for tiny, powerful laptops for almost twenty years. They're worth every penny and I drive them till the wheels come off.

    OP, max it out and keep the beach balls to a minimum.
     
  20. maximusbibicus macrumors newbie

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    Jul 9, 2014
    #20
    + 1

    $140 over the course of a few year of use is peanuts. i7 all the way.
     
  21. mad3inch1na, Jul 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014

    mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2013
    #21
    You do bring up an interesting point, but I feel like you may be in the minority camp here. You are arguing that maxing out a computer is the best idea because it will last the longest, potentially stretching out 7-8 years. I bought a baseline 13" MBA for $700 last month, and I upgrade my computer every 3-4 years, so it will be more than powerful enough. It will realistically be powerful enough for the next 5 years. At that price, I could buy two computers over the course of 8 years. If I wanted to sell it, I could get $500 for it in 2016, so I feel like I can justify a baseline machine, especially considering it depreciates less quickly than a custom machine.

    In terms of the rMBP vs MBA, you pay a huge premium for portability. I personally have a MBA, but if I needed power, I would be willing to take on the extra 1.5 pounds of the 2012 baseline rMBP for double the performance. Capathy is merely pointing out that you need bleeding edge power, the performance/cost ratio of a rMBP is significantly better. There are some really serious tradeoffs to consider, and many people value power over weight if they actually need the power. Some people are less lenient on this, but in general, power and portability do not come cheap. 4.5 pounds is not that big a tradeoff to me.

    I am not saying you shouldn't voice your opinion, as you do bring up some valid arguments. However, telling a college student to spend excessive amounts of money on a machine they may not need, especially if money is short at hand, can be detrimental. Here is something to think about. If a $700 MBA will essentially perform just as well over the course of their college education (4-5 years), why spend extra money? Sure, if this person wanted the computer to last 8+ years, a maxed out MBA would be a better option. In this scenario though, I would be willing to bet that a 4GB/128GB machine would last even beyond college. There is some benefit to maxing out a machine, but often times it is greatly outweighed by the cost.

    Matt

    Edit: Just by the way, up until a few months ago I had a 2GB/128GB 2010 MBA running Mavericks flawlessly. The only reason I upgraded was because a relative wanted it. I watched movies, browsed the web, wrote papers, and did some light gaming (Portal 2, League of Legends). An i7 processor would not have any appreciable effect in the next 4 years for any consumer task. If the OP does heavy photography work then we can start talking about beach balls, but if not, a baseline MBA will keep beach balls away just as well.
     
  22. rrl macrumors 6502

    rrl

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    Jul 27, 2009
    #22
    The OP is getting an 11", and you people keep talking about 13" and 15" models. Shhhh, the lad is making a good decision, let us try and help him finish the deal. When the specs have been finalized, and he still wants to save money, than a referb is certainly a good way to go, but stop mentioning the desktop replacements already.
     
  23. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2013
    #23
    Just by the way, the GHz rating on a processor is irrelevant between generations. In comparison to your old powerbook, the i5 in the MBA has literally over 500% the compute power! If you managed with a powerbook, all an i7 processor will do is eat away your battery life. If you plan on keeping your MBA for more than 5 years then go ahead and get 8GB of RAM, but I would really recommend getting a baseline model for $300 less, put that money in the bank, and use it to get a new MBA 3-4 years from now. I would only get 8GB of RAM if you can use it right now. 95% of tasks will not benefit from it.

    If you want to get a maxed out machine, you should either be working on stuff that requires bleeding edge technology, or planning on holding on to your machine for 8+ years. You could seriously buy 2 baseline MBAs for the price of a maxed out MBA, and most people would not notice any difference between the computers except for better battery life on the baseline model. If anybody has an actual reason for this college student to get a maxed out machine, I would love to hear it. To me, it seems that if I could buy a baseline MBA every 3-4 years for the same cost of purchasing a maxed out MBA every 6-8 years, wouldn't I actually end up with more power in the long run? The maxed out model is about 30% faster than the baseline model. The 2013 baseline MBA is about 130% faster than the maxed out 2010 model. Just something to think about.

    Matt

    ----------

    Sure, he can get a baseline 11" model for even less money. There isn't really any difference between the 11" and 13" models, other than the fact that the 11" is $100 cheaper. This thread was started to discuss the merits of an i5 vs an i7 processor, or at least I hope. If you want to stroke your ego, then I guess go ahead. I'll be around if you actually want to have a reasonable discussion that doesn't involve sushing people that disagree with you.

    Matt
     
  24. rrl macrumors 6502

    rrl

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    #24
    That's what the 13" owners keep telling us, and we just keep telling them that they don't know what they're talking about.

    Yeah, and your first comment was mostly about size and weight.

    Not sure what your point is here, but you and others were producing too much noise.

    I have an i7-4790k, these things like to pop-up into their turbo mode like nobody's business. Depending how the MBA sets its bios, this guy may have an MBA that virtually runs 4 threads at 3.3GHz as opposed to 2 threads running at 2.7GHz. Having that kind of headroom is good.

    Max it out, kid.
     
  25. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2013
    #25
    The specs of the machines are exactly the same. The only difference between them is size and weight. Did I miss something?

    About 1/3 of my first comment was devoted to size and weight, and that was in response to your comment about size and weight to be fair.

    What does having a desktop i7 processor have to do with this? Right now, as a college student, I am using 5% of my processing power while running a flash video. When will that headroom be useful, considering I am not using 95% of my i5 processor right now? In what scenario will a college student benefit from an i7 processor? I think that the costs vastly outweigh the benefits.

    I am a 3rd year college student majoring in neurobiology and economics, and as of right now my baseline 2014 MBA is more than powerful enough for my uses of taking notes, writing papers, doing online homework, and watching movies. A few months ago, my baseline 2010 model was doing those things without any lag either. Do you think I should have purchased an i7/8GB/256GB MBA for $1400, double what I paid for my computer? If so, why? I am honestly interested and I am happy to consider a well developed argument.

    Matt
     

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