Need a new Mac, but not sure of direction

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Michael CM1, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    I'm coming to you live from my MacBook Pro I bought in April 2007. I got it because I needed a portable -- a craptastic Dell wasn't working, dude. It's been great, but for the past year it has had what I figured were video adapter issues. It locked up from time to time and started taking longer to boot. I let the Genius Bar examine it about a week ago after making every fix I could (new hard disk, clean install of Snow Leopard, new battery -- old one was going bad anyway). Bad video adapter WAS the issue. Today, it started going into an endless reboot at times. So, it's time.

    I don't really need the portability as much anymore thanks to my iPhone and a potential iPad in the future, but I sure as hell love taking my software to work when ours craps out. But we're getting a huge equipment upgrade soon, so that won't even be as much of an issue. But it's hard to let go of my main computer being portable.

    I was REALLY impressed with the 13" MacBook Air after using it in a store because it is SO FAST. But I don't even know if I could jam just the essentials on an internal 128GB disk. I almost filled up a 320GB hard disk and just upgraded to 500GB (ouch). I can fix that by moving music, photos and the videos I haven't moved to an external to that drive, but then what's the point of a portable?

    So my head is telling me to go with an iMac. My dad got one not too long ago, and they're quite awesome. I'm on a 2.26 Ghz machine and his is 3.06 Ghz. I like to use HandBrake for some of my movies, and that's obviously awesome. I'm also using iMovie more to make videos, and that also loves it some horsepower. I can get way more bang for my buck on an iMac plus easily get enough storage.

    So if anybody has advice, I'd love it. I'm reading up at the buyers guide and also debating a refurb, although I really want to buy through Best Buy instead of getting ANOTHER credit card because of financing.
  2. htg macrumors regular

    May 2, 2009
    If you want to go portable, I would not go Macbook Air. I would go Macbook. WAY more processing power, and it's the same price as the Air. It's also a very easy Mac to upgrade (ie you can put an SSD inside), and with the Macbook Air, you cannot upgrade anything if you need to, which is one of the main reasons I don't like it. The Mac Pro would also be an option, but it's quite a lot more expensive for basically the same specs with a couple of add ons.

    If you want to go desktop on the other hand, the iMac is by far and away the best choice. It costs roughly the same as a Macbook Pro depending on what model you get, and you get a lot more power and processing speed. Again, if you want stuff to be quick, you can easily upgrade the hard drive to an SSD.
  3. Monkey194545 macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2010
    I disagree with the above post on the MBA (to some extent):

    13 inch MBA: 1.86 with 4 gb RAM and 128GB SSD - 1400 usd,
    13 inch MBP: 2.4 with 4gb RAM and 250GB 5400RPM -1200 usd
    Same graphics chip
    The MBAir has a much better screen resolution.

    For 200 clams more you get a faster computer (slightly less processing power but more overall speed due to the ssd. Sweet form factor, better battery life, and a plain cooler product.

    You could also just get the MPB and not spend 350(are they crazzzzy!) for a ssd and put one in yourself for a lot cheaper..

    IMHO (aside from the 27in i7 imac) the 13inch MBA is the best valued computer apple offers...
  4. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    $1000 if you have a Microcenter brick & mortar store within driving distance.

    If I'm not mistaken, 1440x900 on a 13.3" screen is 128dpi and 1280x800 on a 13.3" screen is 113dpi. That puts the MBA at about 12.5% higher resolution than the MBP. Whether a 12.5% increase is "much better" depends on the individual I guess. I doubt I'd really notice it one way or the other. I used to think I would, but since my work moved me from an old 14.1" 1400x1050 screen laptop to a 15.4" 1280x800 screen laptop I learned it really doesn't seem to make much difference in terms of getting my work work done.

    I also wouldn't be surprised to see Apple drop the 1280x800 13.3 screen on the MBP13 in favor of the 1440x900 display (or make it an option).

    The other thing is I can easily see the MBP13 serving as primary/sole computer for my needs. I'm very nervous about whether the 128GB SSD version of the MBA would be suitable; I could probably do it using external or NAS storage, but its an added layer of complexity. Plus with a $999 MBP, I could easily spend $330 for an OWC 120GB SSD and Data Doubler kit giving me SSD + 250GB HDD in the same chassis. Total price about the same as the $1339 price for a 1.86GHz/4GB/128GB Macbook Air (Edu discount).

    So from my perspective, with a Microcenter four miles away, it's:

    MBA13: 1.86GHz/4GB 128GB SSD -- $1340US ($1420 w/ tax)
    MBP13: 2.4GHz/4GB 120GB SSD + 250GB HDD -- $1330US ($1390 w/ tax)

    Knock another $100 off the MBP if I catch them on a day when they have an openbox MBP13.

    Thing is I don't really truly need it right now, so unless I just can't stand it any more my intention is to wait until early/mid January to see what (if any) announcements are made regarding the 13" MBP. Or maybe I'll pick up an openbox system and hold off on the SSD until the 3rd gen Intel's are out and see if that pushes pricing down to bring the 240-256's to a price I'm willing to pay. If Steve announces a MBP update in Q1 or Q2, then I'll sell the MBP13 and buy a new one. If I buy it right, then I ought to minimize the difference between what I pay and what I'd sell it for to something very reasonable for having three to six months use of the system.
  5. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    I would go iMac if you don't need portability. Plus it has a lot more processing power, especially for handbrake. If you need portability, maybe a 15" MBP would work well for you
  6. mbmosher macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2010
    Actually I think the MBP has the better in use battery life. 10hrs for MBP, 6-7 for MBA.
  7. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    Thanks for all the advice. I didn't get to read any of it beforehand because I think I used up the last bit of life I had in the MBP. I ended up going with the base 21.5" iMac. I was able to get it at Best Buy and get 24 months same as cash with a card I already had. I'm confident I'll like having the extra power in an iMac compared to a portable.

    For those who haven't tested the new MacBook Airs, you really should. Now I know that processor-intensive tasks like encoding video wouldn't do as well on a MBA, but you should see how fast it opens a Safari window. For "light" use, it's awesome. The fact that it doesn't weigh five pounds would probably have served me well lugging it around, but I won't be doing that as much anymore.

    I saw some benchmarks comparing the i3-based iMacs to the C2D iMacs and it seems that mine should be a good bit faster than my dad's. That's kind of awesome. I was jealous of how fast his was, but he also slugged it out through a few years of the iMac G5 when it was on its last legs.

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