MBA vs MBP, Durability vs Power?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mbmosher, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. mbmosher macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2010
    So I'm looking to get a new laptop, which is also my primary (only) computer. I have mixed use for it, though as a visual artist I run some combination of photoshop / illustrator / indesign / maya about every other day. I'm looking at either a maxed out 13" MBA (2.13, 4gb ram, super drive) or the basic MBP 15". With AppleCare they are both about the same price, so I can't figure out which would be better. While the MBP is clearly better performance wise, my laptop travels 1+ mile a day by bike, and I've gone through 3 hard-drives in as many years with my current macbook, so the solid stateness of the MBA and light weight is really appealing. I know I could put an SSD in the MBP but can not afford to do that right now. So here's the big question, does the MBA have enough power to keep running the Creative Suite light duty for 3-4 years?
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Where will you keep all your files? The sizes of the SSD available with the new MBA are very limiting. If you use an external drive to keep older files you might get away with one of the new MBAs. I remember seeing benchmarks for the new MBAs that compared favorably to the existing 13 in MBP.

    You could always pop an SSD drive in your existing machine and be done with that whole hard drive replacement fiasco.
  3. applepearpp macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2010
    you'll need a 15" MBP and perhaps an external monitor. MBA is not meant for performance though its performance is impressive given the size and spec.

    with a MBP, you can add more ram and hard drive space. it's your call, nevertheless. a MPA can get more space by plugging it into an external hard drive.
  4. plumosa macrumors regular


    Mar 17, 2007
    why not get the MBP and then upgrade to SSD when/if the hard drive fails? The prices will be cheaper then and the capacity will be greater.

    Also, are you turning off your laptop while its in transport? It could make a world of difference in the longevity of your hard drive...
  5. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    I just bolded some things I wanted to comment on. I would recommend the MBP 15" but I don't know if that will be convenient for biking. You will need to determine that. If you can handle the weight/size of a 15", then I would get that.

    You want to try to get the best specs you can, so don't forget about a 2.66Ghz Macbook Pro 13" (with an SSD). Plus, it has better battery life. And (one big thing I like having) is the option for upgrading (RAM, HD). The warranty for the 13" MBP is cheaper than the 15" MBP by 100 bucks. Should be easy to cover the costs of an SSD. Or get the 15" and get an SSD later. Just make sure your computer is OFF when in transport.

    The MBA can run creative suite 'lightly' for a while, but why not get the 13" MBP that can do it better? Plus, I'm not exactly sure how weak the processor really is.
  6. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    ^ there's no difference between sleep, deep sleep, and turned off for the hard drive since it's turned off in those situations.

    MBP's have a much better display. I think that would rule out the MBA in your case. 13" w/SSD seems like a better option.
  7. Tempto macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2010
    I'd go for the 15 MBP. It's still a very portable machine, contrary to what most seem to think, and packs more performance/longevity.
  8. anth macrumors member

    Jul 19, 2005
    I bike commute daily, 6 miles round-trip, with my 15" MBP. I also travel pretty regularly with it. If you want the extra power and space, it's worth the extra pound.

    In a perfect world, I'd love a SSD, but I can't justify the expense right now for the size I would want. And I haven't had trouble this far as a result of the daily bike commute. Parked HDs are relatively durable.

    Remember, back-up regularly. Hard drives fail, notebooks get stolen and damaged.
  9. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    In my opinion (which will differ from everyone else), go find a place that lets you use the Macbook Air for a week, walk around Starbucks, go through airport security then visit a sorority house so you can get all those oooohs and aaaahs over with. Then return it and get a Macbook Pro.

    You say you're a visual artist so why would you use a crippled device for your PRIMARY computer? Because of the weight? Because of SSD speeds? It's really not as big a deal as some make it to be so IF you really want SSD then buy the drive so you can take advantage of it's limited benefits.

    Personally, I'd say you should get the MBP13. Its performance/power ratio is between the MBA and MBP15, it fits your budget, its got 10hr battery and it's plenty powerful. And since its user upgradeable then if you can decide down the line whether to buy a $85 500GB 7200 drive or a $250 128GB SSD + $70 external drive to store all your large visual art files.
  10. mbmosher thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2010
    Thanks for all the feedback! I do time machine back ups regularly, and do turn the computer off whenever I transport it. So yeah, don't know the hard drives keep dying. If they had an i3/i5 13" I'd jump on it, but I think I'll go with the 15" for the i5, big screen, and expandability.
  11. anth macrumors member

    Jul 19, 2005

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