MBA: Is it right for me?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by LimeGreen416, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. LimeGreen416 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2015
    #1
    Hello,

    I'm due for an upgrade on my laptop. I am currently on the 13" Macbook (Late-2009, white unibody) that is running the 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo with 4GB of RAM.

    I am consider the 13" MBA. I am drawn to it's slimmer profile (as opposed to the MBP), but am wondering if it will meet my needs. I am a software developer and have a work laptop that I do heaviest development on. However, in my spare time, I like to dabble, learn, play with new frameworks, languages, etc. In doing that, I also spin up linux VMs using VirtualBox from time to time (I don't run, nor do i plan to run, any windows 8 or 10 VMs). Most of the time, I am just doing the typical stuff like watching videos online, e-mail, research--not things I'd consider are particularly CPU intensive)

    In looking at the MBA, I would be upgrading to the i7 and also to the 8GB or RAM. Given my expected usage, do you think the MBA is a decent choice? I know the 13" rMBP would handle what I'm doing no problem, but it felt so bulky when I went to the store. That's really the only reason that I'm avoiding it; however, if the MBA won't cut it, then I'm not opposed to going to the rMBP instead.

    Also, I should mention that I do all the things I mentioned on my current computer, so my assumption is that the MBA will work. Please correct me if my assumption is wrong though, as I haven't paid that much attention to hardware specs over the past several years.

    Thank you in advance for your opinions!
     
  2. joshlalonde macrumors 6502

    joshlalonde

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #2
    I'm a young programmer.
    I have a MacBook 13" (2014) i5, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD.

    I run VMs, run IDEs, etc. I even do gaming on this thing.

    If you intend to run VMs often, then definitely get 8GB RAM and then i7 will give you a small performance boost. But I would upgrade the SSD before I upgrade the Processor so you can store more VMs. Either that, or have a USB 3.0 SSD handy.

    You may prefer a better screen, but you can easily hook it up to a monitor or consider the Retina Pro. I don't mind the screen as is, and I program on this thing regularly for college and my personal projects. ( https://github.com/joshlalonde/IsometricJS (don't laugh, i'm still fixing up some problems) ). I recently bought a Thunderbolt > VGA adapter for my older 19" monitor.

    The MBA should conceivably do better than your old Macbook. It has a lower base clock speed, but it can accelerate to 2.7GHz on the i5 and 3.2 on the i7 if I remember correctly. You'll get lots of battery life (12 hours on 13") making it great for programming on the go, or even just casual use unplugged.
     
  3. Abbara macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2014
    #3
    Upgraded MBA should be fine for you performance wise right now. But at that price, I'd personally go with the rMBP. That'd be a machine that could last you into the next decade.

    At 10-12h battery and just 25% or so heavier, I'd be happy to get the better performance and better screen. MBA isn't retina. That's not bad, but I'd prefer the rMBP then.

    Also the MBA is bigger than the MBP, surprise! Only a little bit, but it's bigger with larger bezels.

    The MBA is thinner and I like that... but if money is not an issue (as you seem comfortable going 8b/i7), I'd go with the rMBP. You get more performance, better screen, a little smaller, a little thicker and heavier, the new touchpad etc.
     
  4. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
  5. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #5
    I upgraded to a 2011 i5 MBA from a 2008 15" MBP with core2 Duo 2.4ghz. The MBA CPU was about twice as fast as the old MBP. I now have a 2013 i7 MBA and it is about 30% faster than my 2011 MBA. So I would say the current i7 MBA will be about 3x the speed of your old MB for CPU intensive tasks. In fact, a family member actually had an old MB just like yours. I got her a refurb 2013 MBA to replace it last fall.

    The playing field isn't quite level because of the turbo mode on the i series processors. For example, I can rip a TV show from a DVD in handbrake on my MBA and it takes 15 minutes. My old MBP took about 75 minutes for the same thing. :cool:
     
  6. Paulg2uk macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    #6
    Hi guys,

    Sorry to hijack the thread but would I be totally mad if I wanted go from a 15" RMBP Mid 2012 to a new 13" 2015 air maxed out?

    I'm looking for something a little more portable for work and band rehearsal. It doesn't have to handle major processing power but it would be nice. I use it for the usual emails, surfing. I'm using parallels 10 to run windows 7 as I need it for work and i have a couple of games like Batman arkham games and hitman. I use iPhoto and a few other programs but they are not processor heavy.

    Would it be a good move do you think?

    Many thanks
     
  7. Abbara macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2014
    #7
    What Arkham games? The first Arkhams from 2009, sure that's fine. But the MBA doesn't fit the recommended specs for the 2015 Arkham games. It might fit the minimum specs but it's not a great experience I'd say.

    All the non-gaming things you mentioned though, absolutely. MBA is perfect for that. You get a bit more battery life, bit thinner and lighter and if you don't fully upgrade it (still really fast) it's a hell of a lot cheaper, too.

    But I'd seriously go to the store and consider the 13' RMBP. The battery life is great on em, 10-12 hours. You get a retina screen. It's not as thin as the MBA, but it's actually smaller in the other 2 dimensions than the MBA (!) by a tiny bit. Compared to your rMBP 15, the new rMBP 13 is a full pound lighter and ~ 2 & 1 inches smaller in width/height.

    For that you get performance that can run games better, and give you a retina display. And it's not likely more expensive as the base model is perhaps even cheaper than the upgraded MBA 13' model, yet still performs better.

    The MBA will give you three things: tiny bit better battery life, 1 pound less than the RMBP 13', and it's thinner at its tapered edge.

    I'm a big fan of the base model + 8gb on the MBA as it's insane value at $1.1k... but if you're upgrading it to an i7, too, and want to play heavier games, you might as well go RMBP 13'.
     
  8. Pootan macrumors member

    Pootan

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    #8
    I run a 11" base ma with parallels win 7 and visual studio without problems. I also run eclipse, Xcode, unity without issues either. Only time it chugs is when I'm trying to compile heavy unity projects, which I have a separate build machine for anyways (you should just be able to offload that kind of task to your old macbook).
     
  9. Paulg2uk macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    #9
    Thanks for the quick reply fellas.

    I have Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. i did run Arkham Origins once but that was through windows and steam. I'd only play Arkham Knight on my Xbox One anyway. I have Hitman Absoulution as well. These are all for the mac and bought from the app store.

    I see what you mean with the 13" RMBP it does seem the obvious choice. i'll end up maxing that out if I went for that model I'll always do that if I'm given the option. I will check em out though but I think It might be the air for me. Does the air handle light video editing as well with iMovie?
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #10
    I use an older version of Final Cut Pro to edit Sony XDCAM-EX full HD video and it works fine. Also works well with Logic Pro for me. Same software also worked on my 2011 i5 MBA with 4GB RAM. But the 2013 i7/8GB machine is faster.
     
  11. Paulg2uk macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    #11
    Thanks for the info, that was my next question about logic pro. Does it handle a pretty decent session when you are recording etc?
     
  12. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #12
    My use of Logic is pretty basic, I have an EIE Pro 4 channel USB interface and record live audio on 4 tracks. IIRC, I get 9ms round-trip latency. No problems recording.
     
  13. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    England
    #13
    I wouldn't bother with the MBA, go for the 13" pro.
    The screen on the MBA is not as good. The questions has to be is why bother with the MBA at all.

    It's either rMBP or the new rMP. Portability and battery - rMB, performance rMBP. What's most important to you?
     
  14. Paulg2uk macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    #14
    That's pretty much what I'd be using it for 4-6 tracks max. Thanks for the info guys you've been a big help. Looks like the air will do what I want.

    I don't think the new RMB is gonna be that powerful processor wise. Ideally I like both, portability and performance. At the moment the retina screen does seem like the deal breaker. Oh apple why didn't you put a Retina display on the air lol
     
  15. xylitol macrumors regular

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    Nov 2, 2013
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    Finland
    #15
  16. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #16
    Several reasons actually. I started with a 13 inch MBA. Went to the 13 rMBP and while the rMBP is great, it just isn't as great as the Air in several area's.

    First, the battery life isn't close. On paper the battery on the Air is only 2 or 3 hours more. In real life use, it's more like 5 or 6. I consistently get 12-14 hours on my Air and even though the 13 rMBP advertises 9-10, I could only get 8 tops on the rMBP. The 2015 rMBP adds an hour of battery life but it's still going to be a 4-5 hour difference. It may not seem like much, but it can be the difference between getting through a full work day and not.

    While only being a half pound lighter, the overall design and thinness of the Air make it feel more portable and comfortable to transport or use in different places. The Air also runs much cooler overall which makes a difference if using it on your lap.

    The wedged front of the MBA makes it much more comfortable on the wrists for typing. The design itself is subjective but I much prefer not having the hard edge of the rMBP against my wrists.

    Of course the screen is no comparison, the retina is clearly superior. However, I feel that even though the MBA isn't retina it is a better choice for those who want a lightweight and portable machine with amazing battery life that is still powerful enough to handle the majority of tasks for the majority of users.

    ----------

    I think so. Other than the display, Everything else would be better for what you are looking to use it for. I went from retina to non and while it is a little bit of an adjustment. It's fine.
     
  17. Abbara macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2014
    #17
    Don't see the MP handling the gaming and video editing he's interested in. It's also got the fewest ports by far and the worst battery life of all the laptops he's considering, while having the weakest performance, despite not being very cheap. And lastly, it's 12", just 0.4" up from the 11". Coming from a 15" MBP, I'd say he'd much rather want to stick with the 13.3" screen, 12" really is quite tiny. And lastly, it's not like the MP is cheap, either. Keys have little travel and little space between them, and a 480p camera?

    I'd give the MP a huge miss, unless you're willing to wait a year as future versions are probably gonna be really awesome.

    As for MBA... best battery life, thinner and lighter than the MBP. A bunch cheaper, too. And while the MP's weak performance can't quite handle his use (especially in future, say 2018-2020), the rMBP might be a bit overkill, unless money isn't any concern.

    While the MBA is slightly wider/longer, I much prefer the design personally. And the half pound less weight helps, too. So there's that. But mostly it's the sick battery for me and the awesome value.

    I'd go Air but not max it out, amazing performance/price ratio. If you max it out and money ain't an issue, I'd get the rMBP. Or if you really want retina I'd get the rMBP too.
     
  18. Paulg2uk macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    #18
    Thanks for your comments guys its much appreciated and a big help.

    I was just looking at prices of both the MBA and RMBP over here in the UK if I max out the air to the faster processor, 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD, it basically comes out at £1449.

    If I go for the RMBP I'd have to go for the more expensive base model so £1399. If I did go for the RMBP I would spend the extra £400 and get the 1TB SSD just because it would be worth it in the long run. That then takes it up to £1799. I'd probably get around £1000-£1200 for my mid 2012 15" RMBP on eBay that's what I've seen them go for at the moment.

    I think I'll have to go to the Apple store again this weekend and check them out. Obviously the deal breaker for me is the retina display you do get more for your cash going for the RMBP but is it too overkill for me? probably yes but as I'm spending around £1500 on the air anyway. Battery power is definetly something to consider as well if you get more out of the air that would also be a deal breaker as well. The longer I can go without plugging in and charging the better.
     
  19. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    England
    #19
    But how many people does it impact in reality..

    ----------

    You don't know that about the performance at all - seems this type of comment is more like a wish from the MBA owners than fact. The synthetic benchmarks of the rMB processors seem to suggest otherwise. Air is pointless it doesn't offer anything the other two models don't do. But it's all subjective in terms of looks as previously stated. Video editing while on battery is that a real requirement? Games, Mac is just the wrong platform.
     

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