MBA really worth it?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Sybrant, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. Sybrant macrumors newbie


    Nov 28, 2011
    So I currently own a 2.4 GHz Intel core 2 duo 3gb DDR3 ram MacBook from late 2008, I believe it's time for an upgrade. I am military, travel often and am deploying in a couple months. I was looking into whether I should get the

    11-inch : 128GB
    1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
    4GB memory
    128GB flash storage1
    Intel HD Graphics 3000


    13-inch: 2.4 GHz
    2.4GHz dual-core
    Intel Core i5
    4GB 1333MHz
    500GB 5400-rpm1
    Intel HD Graphics 3000

    the portability of the MBA is spectacular and I love the SSD, as opposed to an optical drive, but where the problem lies is that I'm not sure if the tech specs are enough. I usually do web browsing and what not but I love to play my emulators (i.e. Dolphin) to play gamecube or (rarely) Wii games. I don't want to go through the trouble of purchasing the MBA and finding that it lags when playing Smash Bros. Melee, or Zelda: Twilight Princess on a resolution higher than 720x840 (LMAO). I am well aware that the MBP has the better tech specs but it's a burden to have a large computer stuffed into a ruck sack that has countless articles of clothing like cold weather gear or ballistic goggles. I would love some personal experiences from MBA owners that do emulating or Steam games, thanks everyone!
  2. heyloo macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2006
    I haven't done any emulating or play Steam games on my MBA but have read multiple threads that these MBAs work decently well with these games. At the same time, I think it's quite 'understood' that MBA isn't really a gaming laptop, although it's capable of handling games at decent fps.

    With the amount of traveling that you do, MBA does seem like the logical choice; however I'm not sure if you'd enjoy looking over your shoulder each time a new game comes out - whether it would run well with the MBA. I guess the 13" MBP would feel much heavier compared to the 11" MBA, but when compared to a 13" MBA, the difference wasn't too significant. I had the hardest time trying to figure out which one to get. The MBA won for me as I don't plan on playing games on this MBA (I have a PC for that ;) ) and I could use the SSD and lighter weight. If I had played any games, I'd have gone with the MBP.
  3. Sybrant thread starter macrumors newbie


    Nov 28, 2011
    Thanks for the reply, this is definitely a difficult decision. I occasionally go into these phases where I'll want to play a pc game really bad and where I just don't care at all for pc games. I'll figure something out.
  4. heyloo macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2006
    Haha I definitely understand. I do have those phases myself (hence why I built a PC for myself on budget). I'd still think an MBP would be great for you :) That way you'd never have to worry if the next 'phase' wouldn't work on your MBA. But...yeah the decision is definitely NOT an easy one. I was scrambling around my Best Buy for a long time picking one up after another, and I continued to do so even after taking the MBA Box to the check out counter lol.
  5. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I Have Both

    A top end MBA and a 17" MBP. If I were you, and it's games you're after, then I'd go with the Pro. Why?

    1) More storage space

    2) Better GPU setup

    As posted above, you really don't want to be wondering if your Air is going to be able to run the latest games. I have no games on my MBA, it's speed is why I bought it and it's used in studio situations for data transfer and short term storage of files which are then bought home and transferred to my iMac and my MBP for further work. The real joy of the Air is it's ultra light super slim form factor...And of course the SSD. I truly think you would be better of with the Pro...These games take up a lot of space and the max on the Air is 256MB, fine for most work purposes, but not great for lot's of big games.

    You would very quickly be looking for more external storage if you went with the Air (IMO)
  6. ecib macrumors regular


    Jan 4, 2011
    Sybrant, being in the military, with space being at a such a premium and you travelling so often, the 11" sounds perfect for you. I travel a lot with my 13" MBA and it is awesome, but I bet your packing constraints are much more severe than mine.

    That being said, you MBs are not really gaming machines.

    So what about an iPad? It seems like it could work for you. You do mostly web browsing and play some games, while needing something super portable. The iPad is insane for traveling and web browsing, and it has a tremendous amount of games available in the iOS platform. The only question is can the iOS game catalog serve up the kind of content you want?

    I dunno, seems like a potential option worth mentioning anyway...
  7. waloshin macrumors 68040

    Oct 9, 2008
  8. vitzr macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2011
    I have both an 11" & 13" since I travel internationally for business. It's really personal preference as to size. I find myself using the 13"'more & more since it's not much larger than the 11, has a far more comfortable keyboard & of course the larger display which makes a big difference.

    The keyboard on the 11" is pretty small & cramped.

    As far as games, that's where the real trouble is, since Macs aren't design for even the most modest of games. Many will argue this point but only cause they're so single minded & pro Apple.

    I really like my MBA's since I've given up the idea of gaming on them.

    This morning I ordered one of the just released, new Sony VAIO Z models. They now have two tiers of pricing, the lower priced models are worth checking out. They have what you need for a good gaming experience. I was very pleased to see this line refreshed just a week ago.
  9. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    The only difference that you need to worry about between the two is the CPU performance.

    The 11" 1.6 i5 MBA scores 4608 in geekbench and the 13" 2.4 i5 MBP scores 6096; 1/3 more than the MBA.

    You'll definitely want the extra CPU grunt for dolphin.
  10. tusctodd macrumors member

    Dec 22, 2009
    Apple has a return policy.

    1) Buy it
    2) Try it
    3) Works: Keep it
    4) Doesn't Work: Return it
    5) Profit!
  11. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    If it's gaming you are concerned about, the 13" Pro won't be much better than the 13" Air since it also uses the Intel HD3000 (albeit one with a faster base speed). The 15" Pro has a discrete GPU.

    Regarding the CPU, is a 13" Air an option? There is a big step up between the 1.6GHz i5 in the 11" and the 1.7GHz i5 in the 13" model. Alternative, consider the $150 upgrade to the i7 in the 128GB 11" model. The 1.8GHz i7 is much closer to the performance of the 2.4GHz i5 in the base 13" Pro (I think it specs about 85-90% of the 2.4GHz i5).
  12. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    I like the idea of the iPAD as well. It's light, has longer battery life and probably easier to use in a variety of situations and positions.
  13. johnhurley macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2011
    There won't be any significant gaming differences between the mbp 13 and the mba line.

    Lots of people loving the mba 13 and 11 inch models but not sure if lacking a built in DVD drive is a relevant factor for you when deployed.

    If you are wanting to have a machine that you can just pop in a DVD and watch a movie ... the mbp should not be overlooked. The weight and ( slightly larger ) size difference between mbp 13 and mba 13 is pretty minimal.

    I do like my mba 13 and the ssd is much faster than stock hard drive in mbp 13.

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