MBA ...yes...no...?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Ankaa, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. Ankaa macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    #1
    Hi,

    I'm seriously in the market for a new MBA. I know that I should NOT buy one now and wait another 3 weeks. There might be an update - or there might be not.

    And that's the problem. I don't want a MBP, and I most definitely don't want a MB. I really do want a MBA, I've been a MBA user for 8 years now and it's just the perfect combination of portability, yet decent amount of power (especially since I do have an iMac and the MBA won't be my primary computer for heavy duty, but as a scientist still needs to be able to get SOME work done).

    I LOVE the form factor of the MBA. I hate the black bezels of the MBP/MB, always have. I kinda miss the illuminated Apple on the MB.

    I would buy one in an instant...if...if it weren't for the lack of retina, 8 GB starting RAM, and the fact that it's overdue for an update ... I would wait. If I knew the MBA's still gonna exist after the 22nd.

    I haven't been following rumours very closely. Is there ANY indication that the MBA will be discontinued? I am aware that nobody knows, but maybe people have a feeling about it based on...well..something. Experience? Insight?

    I was wondering if it's worth just ordering one close to the keynote, and if there is an update, return it. Would that even be possible for a BTO?
     
  2. macs4nw macrumors 601

    macs4nw

    #2
    I have not heard anything to make me believe the MBA will be discontinued shortly, but no-one other than Apple knows for sure. I expect Skylake to come to the MBAs sometime early spring, with improvements in processor speed expected in the 10-20% range, improved (Intel HD 520) graphics, as well as up to 30 percent longer battery life.

    Yes, you have the same 2-week return window on CTO, but if you are going to wait until just before the expected March 21 iPhone SE unveiling, why bother with that hassle, and instead wait the extra couple of days for a definitive answer on new MBAs.

    Depending on which model of MBA you currently use, taken together, the above mentioned expected improvements certainly could make for a worthwhile upgrade.
     
  3. Ankaa thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    #3
    Thank you for your reply!

    In case they are discontinued and won't be available afterwards.

    I'm on a 2011 model which is slowly, but surely, dying. So even the latest model would be a huge increase...but I'm kinda hoping for retina and those 8 GB RAM. Don't know anything about skylake, but especially the improved battery life sounds interesting.

    Somehow I doubt that a huge processor bump will hit the MBAs - after all, the MBPs are supposed to be for power
     
  4. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #4
    Since Apple is keeping the MBP non-retina around, I would expect them to sell the MBA for longer. And in any case, just because it is EOL'd, does not mean all stocks at retailers magically disappear overnight.
     
  5. macs4nw macrumors 601

    macs4nw

    #5
    Check sites like this one for MBA 'supply constraint' rumors, often (but not always) a reliable indicator of imminent product upgrades. If MBA supplies become constrained and you're worried about discontinuation, you could take your chances and quickly snap one up. Another indicator of impending upgrades is the estimated shipping dates on Apple's website; if they slip past an expected product unveiling or keynote, that often means upgraded models are pending.

    Once again some info on Skylake.

    Personally, I don't believe Retina is coming to the MBAs, but I have no more info on that than the next guy. It just would seem Retina would push the MBA's price point close to the MB, or even a lower end MBP, and all those extra pixels would surely require a bigger battery, not to mention more graphics horsepower, at which point it would no longer have the weight or portability of the current MBA, thus losing it's current, carefully crafted niche.
     
  6. Ankaa thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    #6
    That is, if the non-retina MBPs aren't discontinued, either. Also, it could mean the MBAs won't get retina...

    This is certainly generally true, but unfortunately doesn't apply to CTOs.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 5, 2016 ---
    I've seen this argument around couple of times, but then again the same constraint would apply to the MB ...yet it's even smaller/thinner.

    I can see the argument about the price getting to high, kinda taking away that entry-level macbook and getting too close to the MB. But then again, not giving the MBA retina seems pretty pretty out of date... that is where my concern re a discontinuation builds on.
     
  7. macs4nw macrumors 601

    macs4nw

    #7
    Although it is quite proficient at simple day-to-day computing tasks, keep in mind the MB is more of a design statement than a workhorse. For some additional insights, see this almost one year old article on the at that time, just released MacBook.
     
  8. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
  9. BenTrovato macrumors 68020

    BenTrovato

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    Canada
    #9
    In the case that the Air is discontinued, you could probably buy it refurbished and the latest models still have a chance of being brand new. I used to have an Air, but I can't tolerate that screen when the MBP and MB both have superior panels.
     
  10. Ankaa thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    #10
    Yes, that's exactly my point, the MB is only for those Starbucks users and doesn't come with much power, yet it got retina.

    Writing papers, Lightroom, Matlab, probably some parallels in the future. I don't need all the power of a MBP, but I do need some power.

    @BenTrovato: I've ben checking the refurbished store from time to time, but all I see is older models and CTOs are very limited, unfortunately.
     
  11. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #11
    For parallels I'd strongly suggest 8gb ram.

    For everything else, 4gb are fine.
     
  12. pjfan macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Location:
    Columbus OH
    #12
    Go 8 GB no matter what.

    Every usage you mentioned but Parallels would roll fine on the rMB, in my opinion. So upgrade to 8 GB of RAM on your mba and you'll be solid. Personally, everything, including my Adobe CC usage, runs above my expectations on my rMB and business doesn't suffer one bit. I can't stand to use our MBA anymore. To each their own, though.

    Keep an eye on Macmall, many custom designs there. A LOT of MBA deals currently.
     
  13. Ankaa thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    #13
    As I said, I'll go with 8 GB RAM either way. Not only for parallels, but editing 30+ MB files in LR is no real fun without enough RAM.
    I forgot another no towards the rMB: 12''. I think one needs a minimum of 13'' for decent work, especially when spending a LOT of time in front of that screen.

    Thanks for the tip re Macmall :) I'll keep my eyes open.
     
  14. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #14
    Nobody knows, but it seems likely that if the MBA disappears it will likely be because the 13" rMBP gets re-designed with a more Air/rMB-like form factor. Skylake should make it possible to pack more power into a smaller space and, well, what do you think Apple will do - keep the MBP the same size and pack more power or make it thinner and lighter?

    In any case - after an announcement of shiny new laptops can be a good time to pick up a bargain on old models and refurbs.

    I think the 13" MBP only lingered because either (a) they had a stack of unsold stock or (b) they have some big customers who insisted on conventional/replaceable hard drives, ethernet ports and/or internal optical drives. That said, I think the Air will stay around as the "entry level" option until they can get the rMB down in price. Remember: the original Air was eye-wateringly expensive for a year or so, but then became the entry model.
     
  15. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #15
    By the time you put in 8gb RAM and a decent sized SSD then you might as well get the 13 inch rMBP instead. For the cost of a couple of hours of battery life and half a pound of weight you get, retina screen, an extra thunderbolt port better CPU and better GPU to be honest the retina screen alone is worth the cash.
     
  16. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    #16
    I love the MBA.. my wife took over mine, so I bought an rMBP.. the screen on the MBA is good enough for me. It is such a small light and reasonably powerful machine,
     
  17. Ankaa thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    #17
    The 8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD MBA is still cheaper than the entry-level rMBP; even with the i7 the MBA would still be the cheaper option (when opting for the same SSD size). I really see no reason why I should get the MBP. I'm not a Pro and I don't see needing that better GPU. I'm not someone who buys the best available option there is, just because I can, even if I'm never gonna use it.

    Since I do travel a LOT, and with heavy camera equipment, I'm happy over every ounce I can save in weight.
     
  18. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #18
    Based on the US site, the 13" rMBP is $200 more than an Air with the same RAM and SSD, eg:
    MBA 13" 8GB/512GB i5: £1599 rMBP 13" 8GB/512 i5: £1799

    ...for that $200, plus half a kilo in weight (apart from that, the rMBP actually has a smaller 'footprint' than the Air just without the taper), you get a vastly better screen, more ports and a faster CPU & GPU. Many people would consider that the extra $200 was money well spent, unless that 500g was really, really important to them (if you're lugging it around a lot, maybe it is).

    (a) "Pro" is a marketing label. I can buy a "Pro" toothbrush at the supermarket and I'm pretty sure its not marketed at dentists.

    (b) Some of that extra GPU power goes towards driving 4x the number of pixels.

    Valid point. On the other hand, if you care enough about image quality to be using 'heavy camera equipment' then presumably you take photography/video seriously and you will benefit from the retina display and a bit of extra CPU/GPU grunt.
     
  19. kingtj macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2003
    Location:
    Brunswick, MD
    #19
    I agree with this, although we have quite a few Mac users where I work -- and most of them have specified they prefer a Macbook Air with the 8GB configuration and a 512GB SSD.

    As an I.T. person, it makes no logical sense to me. We kept trying to steer people towards the 13" retina MBP -- but for whatever reason, they're still sold on what they're familiar with. (Most of these people started out with Macbook Airs back in the 2011-2012 time-frame and we're now reaching the point where some of those need upgrading.)

    I guess the extra battery life the Air gets is a big plus to some folks, though, and others do obsess too much with the weight. (I love how people act like 1lb. makes a big difference, but then they proceed to pack 5lbs. of unnecessary extra junk in their big laptop bag.)

     
  20. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #20
    Yeah there is really nothing that be done about people's resistance to change its a worldwide disease.....
     
  21. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #21
    Kids these days wouldn't know what a 'heavy' laptop was if it landed on their head. Just picked an old Powerbook G3 off the shelf... oof... and that was pretty sleek for its day.

    This is why Apple should probably call the Skylake replacement for the 13" MBP the "Air". Keeping the Pro moniker exclusively for the 15", maybe using the new mobile Xeon chips (and not gimping it to slim it down) makes sense to me.

    To be fair, the Air has to go down as one of Apple's best products - for its time. Hopefully, Skylake will let them fit rMBP-class innards into an Air-like case.
     
  22. Ankaa thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    #22
    Wow...so many generalisations and assumptions .... is it really that hard to accept that people have different preferences? Seriously?

    What if I told you I don't want the best specs-price ratio? If I wanted that I'd probably go Windows. I want the computer that's best for ME. May I get more for just a marginally higher price? Oh yeah, sure. But do I really NEED it? Most certainly not. I don't need a trillion ports and the best available GPU/CPU there is in Apple products at the moment... I just don't care if I don't NEED it...is it nice to have? Yes. Is it a dealbreaker? No. I don't get why people buy the Macbooks with the highest spec and all they do is checking emails ...but yeah, they at least can brag about it...

    Does a 0.5 lbs difference in weight matter to you? No. Great. Guess what, it DOES matter to me. And it's not nice trying to convince me to go with YOUR preferences or act like I'm overreacting... Oh and FYI I'm not one of "those kids nowadays". I used to have several heavy 15'' bricks back in the day, so yeah I know what a "heavy laptop" really means - things have changed. Maybe you are big, strong, guys...I'm not. Just accept it. It's that same stupid argument as "Oh come on, the iPhone 6 really isn't THAT big and I can use it single-handedly"...guess what, there are people with smaller hands. Broaden your horizon.

    Why would I need the better GPU? That is a serious question as I don't know enough about the technology. I'm not a gamer. I don't do any rendering/video editing. I process photos in Lightroom. As a hobby. How will the better GPU will benefit me for LR? I get the point about the CPU...and that's why I'm aiming for the better of the two...

    And just saying, but $200 more is a lot of money for some people...
     
  23. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #23
    The main thing that will benefit you in Lightroom is the retina display: it has about twice the linear resolution (4x as many pixels) so your photos will look sharper and more detailed. However, given that a retina display *does* have 4x as many pixels to push around, having the better GPU is a good idea.

    Also, some graphics applications also use the GPU to speed up calculations when doing filters, resampling, converting RAW etc. I don't know whether Lightroom does (you'll have to ask a lightroom guru).

    Its your call whether the extra weight is a deal-breaker.
    Its your call whether you can justify/afford spending an extra $200 on your hobby.

    Nobody here is saying the Air is a bad choice - however, If I were buying a laptop for serious (hobby or not) photography I'd seriously recommend the rMBP rather than upgrading the CPU on the Air, if only for the display.

    Neither do I - even the base 13" Air is overkill for that. However, it sounded like you planned to do a bit more.
     
  24. tentales macrumors 6502a

    tentales

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    #24
    I'm with you 100%.
    Every time this question of MBA vs rMBP comes up, it turns into a heated argument.
    It reminds me of the old PC vs Mac flame wars. Some people are just inflexible in their minds.
    Once they've decided for themselves what's best, nobody else's opinion or needs matter to them.

    I'm a 30+ year IT veteran, including Macs from the 80s, but I've worked with everything in the industry and am really beyond petty "my choice is better than yours".

    To answer some of your specific questions:
    1. I'm pretty certain BTOs are returnable. I see them in the refurb store all the time. It's not like your ordering a custom orange coloured version. In fact, there's an 8GB/i7/512GB SSD 13" in the refurb store available right now in my locale.

    2. Apple's changed the keyboards. The current new MB will set the standard going forward. I hate it, including the version on the new Bluetooth keyboard, even though that one has a tad more travel.

    3. It's anyone's guess whether the March event will include new MBs. Just like the rumour about a new 4" iPhone, it's quite feasible that the MBA will get one more refresh with Skylake and maybe (wishful thinking) an IPS screen instead of the current TN panel, but don't hold your breath.

    4. The 2013 13" MBA was the last major step forward and the 2014/15 were minor incremental changes.
    I just bought the refurb entry level model because I like running Mavericks.

    5. You said you're a scientist, not a photographer, ergo colour accuracy on your MBA is not a priority.
    Hence, retina display is not high on your list.

    6. You're not a video editor or gamer, so the MBA GPU is fine. If you were an architect, you'd need the dedicated GPU in the high-end 15" MBP anyhow. So don't sweat the minor diffs between Intels 5000 or 6000.


    I've always believed the best time to buy a new computer is when YOU need one.
    There's always something new around the corner and it's not always better.
    Look how many cMBP 2012 are still being sold, especially in the edu sector.
    Or that 2012 Mac Minis with quad i7 are fetching more on eBay that when new.

    I bought my "new" MBA a month ago, and am super happy with it. Go for it!
     
  25. Ankaa thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    #25
    Thank you!

    Yes, I'm very tempted to buy right away. I bought my current MBA just a few weeks before new models came out and I never really regretted it. But for this time around, there is this slight hope that an update in the MBAs will get them 8GB entry RAM and maybe Retina, and of course Skylake which hopefully will even further improve battery life (I'm kinda on no battery right now...let it bet 1.5hrs at most). Retina certainly isn't high priority and I've been doing more than fine without it for the last 4 years. But having recently updated to a 5K iMac (another reason why I don't need a - high-end full-power - rMBP), I noticed it is a "nice to have", after all.

    I have to admit I fear that features from the MB will make it to updated MBAs, such as the keyboard. I really do not like that keyboard.

    It really comes down to the Pros (maybe 8GB RAM, maybe maybe Retina (although less likely), probably Skylake) and Cons (Keyboard, increase in Price, discontinuation) of a potential update. Right now I feel like I'm gonna wait and IF the MBA is discontinued or I don't like the update at all, I'm kinda hoping to snatch one of those BTO models at Macmall (or do they order from Apple directly and don't have them in stock?)
     

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