MBP 13" 2011 vs. MBA 13" 2010

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by terrificbatman, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. terrificbatman macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2010
    Hey guys,

    I've read a few threads like these so I'd like to add my story. I think a lot of pc users do want to switch to Apple but they're kind of confused with the release cycles, particularly with the Macbook ones, because there are three lines getting refreshed every year, and they're converging a bit. For a while the white Macbook caught up with MBP's specs, and now the MBA upped the ante too.

    So here's what I need. A new laptop for the next 4-5 years that replaces my former laptop (I haven't been using a desktop for 5 years now). It should be able to last, and by this I mean I expect a solid build, that doesn't get too noisy or dusty. To be honest, I've upgraded my current PC's RAM once, and noticed no difference at all. Most improvement around my current laptop came from better software and peripherals -- a good mouse, speakers, an external HD.

    My budget is somewhere between 1200$ and 1400$, and I'm looking for a 13", which I decided is the best size for me. Having said that, I only find two reasonable options - the latest 13" MBP and the 13" MBA.

    I was supposed to get the MBP a while back, and then the MBA came out touted as the 'next generation of Macbooks'. I believe Apple in this respect. I'm not at all fond of keeping a SuperDrive in the MacBook. Don't get me wrong here, DVDs can get even cheaper, and it still looks like a good way to give away 4-8 gigs of data to someone else; at the same time, it's been getting easier to share bigger files in the cloud, and I don't think video DVDs will be around for long, when you have Blu-Ray (discs or rips) available everywhere. I'm also very attracted to the SSD, which seems different from whatever SSD they use in the BTO MBP, and I yearn for fast-launching applications rather than a Final Cut export that takes 5 minutes less. I expect SSD's to perform better over time, not needing as much care as the HDDs, which I've constantly formatted and defragmented to get that 5% more speed. Finally, I have no explanation whatsoever for failing to update the MBP's resolution. It looks ridiculous all around, now that you know they can do it (unless it is related to the glass screen, I guess).

    Here's where I'm having trouble at: it seems the new i5 processor can really endure good multitasking/multitabbing, and it looks like a better candidate to serve whatever OS comes to replace Lion in 2013. Plus there's Facetime HD, and the whole idea of trafficking and consuming HD files all the time, which makes me skeptical about the MBA's talent, also considering that I plan to hook the laptop to an external monitor to work at home. So how will a laptop do when I'm watching a 1080 Youtube video in max res., with a few other apps running in the background?

    So, to anyone who already owns either one of these machines, can you help answer a few questions?

    1) MBP users: Intel HD. Is it "subpar" because it lacks the right drivers, or is it just that Intel cannot provide good GPU's (or, as good as nVidia)?

    2) MBA users: Any hangs so far? How far have you pushed the machine?

    3) MBP users: Fan noise. I've read that the new MBP's are cooler but noisier. Is this true? Is it something that bothers you, or just a tiny whirr in the background?

    4) MBA users: Screen problems. I've read the gamut is a little awkward. Can this be fixed via software or have you had to contact your store?

    5) Both users: has anyone tried the developer version of Lion? Can low resolutions be compensated with fullscreen app switching (which earns some screenspace)? Is the 1440 res. enough for having a few small windows sharing the screenspace, like you would in an iMac, or do you usually maximize (well, sorta) and use them one at a time?

    Sorry if this was too long. Thanks!
  2. trip1ex macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2008
    You win either way.

    But if you plan on keeping it for 4-5 years I'd get a MBP. It is more future proof because it has the much faster cpu, you can upgrade the ram and change the hd to a SSD. Plus it has Thunderbolt for fast transfers of data to external devices in the future. Not to mention it has the ethernet port too.

    YOU can even take out the optical drive and put something else there or so I've skimmed.

    You win either way.
  3. torbjoern, Mar 3, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011

    torbjoern macrumors 65816


    Jun 9, 2009
    The Black Lodge
    2) My fans went wild yesterday when i repaired some photos in Aperture 3 and had a CPU overload (not very noisy, though). Anyway, it didn't hang, and I have never experienced hanging with my MBA.

    4) The MBA does have a more narrow gamut than the glossy screen of the MBP - and AFAIK, there is very little there can be done about this. It's possible to calibrate the screen, but there's a difference in gamut even at optimal settings for either screen.
  4. terrificbatman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2010
    Yes, well, that still seems a little radical. Perhaps Apple didn't want to redo the whole casing this time, and so they wouldn't offer a two-HD setup BTO. That would be appropriate, but an HD with an opening on the side? Either way, I guess you're right. The upgrade on the MBP is much more gratifying than replacing the SSD plaques on the MBA (which seems doable now).

    Well, it looks like the tiny fan would need to do overtime whenever the CPU does tough work. On the other hand, the new MBP's have constantly running/noisy fans because of the faster processor. Or maybe it is just the excessive thermal paste. Can anyone confirm this?

Share This Page