Need advice on whether a 13" Air is enough for my needs

ltpco

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 1, 2015
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I'm a research freelancer. I do a ton of online research, work mostly creating Excel spreadsheets and Word documents. Thing is, I have a lot of them (6+ years' worth, several hundreds) and will only be creating more. My dearly loved 2009 MacBook Pro is, I think, about to go. I think the battery is getting too hot or something. Business hasn't been great thanks to the recession but is picking up and I can't afford to be down with a crashed laptop. I'm thinking about purchasing an Air even though I don't travel much. It just seems to be the most affordable. I don't have a lot of photos, no videos, don't game at all and infrequently stream movies. If I choose all the upgrades, a new 13" Air costs close to $2000 (w/ the protection plan and a One to One subscription - needed so they will transfer all my files). I do have a great Mac expert near me if I need repairs or service so maybe could do without the $249 protection plan which would help decrease cost. Any advice would be dearly appreciated on which upgrades are need-to-have if I only do lots of online research, Excel spreadsheets and Word docs. Thank you! P.S. Did try to research this. Read reviews and comparisons, buyers guides here and elsewhere but didn't quite seem to get the info/answers I need.
 
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estabya

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2014
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If you can make do with the 256Gb drive in the $1499 Macbook Pro Retina, I think that would be your best bet. The 8Gb of RAM is the same as in the upgraded Air, and the 2.7Ghz i5 offers almost identical performance to the 2.2Ghz i7 in the Air. The battery life is slightly shorter (10 hours vs 12 on the Air), but that shouldn't matter too much if you don't plan to travel much with it. If you get the Applecare and One to One it will be around $1850. If you don't mind spending a little bit more (~$2150) and want the storage, you can get the Pro with the upgraded i5 CPU and 512Gb SSD. This should outperform the i7 air pretty handily.

I have the 2013 Macbook Air with an i7 and 8Gb of memory and a 2014 MBP Retina with the 2.6Ghz i5 and 8Gb, and in day to day use (web browsing, movies, music, Word, Excel, light photo editing, and light gaming) they are pretty much identical performance wise. I LOVE the pro though simply for the screen. Damn that screen.

The Air is a great machine, especially if you get all the upgrades, but the screen and increased expandability options of the Pro make it an easy choice in my opinion.
 

ltpco

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 1, 2015
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Thank you so much for your time and advice in replying to me, estabya. Truly.
 

Meister

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Oct 10, 2013
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For your described needs, there is no point in wasting money on any upgrades.
Safe your $$$ and get a base Air. It's reliable, super fast, with great battery life!
 

estabya

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2014
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If he is upgrading every 5-6 years (his current Mac is a 2009 MBP), the i5 and 4gb of ram in the base Air are going to be struggling by then. I would recommend anyone buying a new Mac that plans to use it for more than a year or two upgrade to 8gb as a minimum.
 

Meister

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If he is upgrading every 5-6 years (his current Mac is a 2009 MBP), the i5 and 4gb of ram in the base Air are going to be struggling by then. I would recommend anyone buying a new Mac that plans to use it for more than a year or two upgrade to 8gb as a minimum.
Struggling at what? Web browsing, Word and Excel? Nonsense!!
 
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estabya

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2014
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I really don't think it's unreasonable to say that a minimum spec computer isn't going to last 5 years and still be usable. Mavericks (and even 10.8 really) with 2gb of memory on my 2009 mini was slow and bordering on unusable. All I'm saying is that if OP wants a computer that will last 4/5/6 years, 4gb of ram will likely not be enough by then.
 

ltpco

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 1, 2015
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I am really, really grateful for your time and advice estabya and Meister. Do you think I really need the protection plan?
 

Meister

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I really don't think it's unreasonable to say that a minimum spec computer isn't going to last 5 years and still be usable. Mavericks (and even 10.8 really) with 2gb of memory on my 2009 mini was slow and bordering on unusable. All I'm saying is that if OP wants a computer that will last 4/5/6 years, 4gb of ram will likely not be enough by then.
And why do you believe that the problems with your mini are ram related?

To take a guess it is extremely likely that your mini is slow because of:
  • Software issues
  • The hdd
  • Something is broken
Macbook Airs from 2009 still work exactly like on the day they were bought. (Unless something is broken)
 

estabya

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2014
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Macbook Airs from 2009 still work exactly like on the day they were bought. (Unless something is broken)
I guess you could be right if you ignore the fact that increasingly rich web content and more demanding and complex software/OS require more powerful hardware. Otherwise we would all be using 400mhz G3 iMacs with no complaints, right?

At this point it seems like you're just trolling.
 

Meister

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I guess you could be right if you ignore the fact that increasingly rich web content and more demanding and complex software/OS require more powerful hardware. Otherwise we would all be using 400mhz G3 iMacs with no complaints, right?

At this point it seems like you're just trolling.
You are spreading misinformation and I am correcting it.
There are plenty of people using macs from 2009 and maybe upgraded to an ssd and they work better than when they first bought them.

You have not given any reason why your mini is not performing well under mavericks except some random mentioning of the memory amount. I assume the reason is the hdd. Hdds are thirty year old tech that is still built into certain machines today. Macbook Airs are not sold with hdds but with ssds inside. There is no sane reason why a base Air should not perform well in 5 years.
 

redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
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I guess you could be right if you ignore the fact that increasingly rich web content and more demanding and complex software/OS require more powerful hardware. Otherwise we would all be using 400mhz G3 iMacs with no complaints, right?

At this point it seems like you're just trolling.
My SSD-upgraded 2008 MacBook Air 1.6 works fine as a web browsing machine, running Snow Leopard or even Yosemite.

A 400 MHz iMac G3 is a bit older than 6 years :)
 
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estabya

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2014
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I have an SSD and increased ram in my mini now and it works fine.

Not my point.

OP wants to know what he should buy now. He suggested a budget of around 2k. As we all know, ram is not upgradable in any current Mac laptop. For optimal longevity on a computer that is not upgradable after purchase, it's generally a good idea to spend a bit more on upgrades if you can afford it. Call me crazy, but I think [read: I am certain] in 6 years an i7 with 8gb is going to be running things better than an i5 with 4gb. If he is ok spending 2k, why buy a computer that won't meet his needs for as long?
 

redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
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I have an SSD and increased ram in my mini now and it works fine.

Not my point.

OP wants to know what he should buy now. He suggested a budget of around 2k. As we all know, ram is not upgradable in any current Mac laptop. For optimal longevity on a computer that is not upgradable after purchase, it's generally a good idea to spend a bit more on upgrades if you can afford it. Call me crazy, but I think [read: I am certain] in 6 years an i7 with 8gb is going to be running things better than an i5 with 4gb. If he is ok spending 2k, why buy a computer that won't meet his needs for as long?
Yosemite 10.10.3 runs surprisingly well on the non-upgradable 2 GB in my MacBook Air today. In fact, I would even call it the best since Snow Leopard.

If the OP is truly looking for longevity, they shouldn't be considering a MBA at all. They should be considering a 13" rMBP. Mainly for the Retina display (the display on the Air is already outdated today), but it also has the added bonuses of a better integrated GPU and Force Touch trackpad.
 

estabya

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2014
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Yosemite 10.10.3 runs surprisingly well on the non-upgradable 2 GB in my MacBook Air today. In fact, I would even call it the best since Snow Leopard.

If the OP is truly looking for longevity, they shouldn't be considering a MBA at all. They should be considering a 13" rMBP. Mainly for the Retina display (the display on the Air is already outdated today), but it also has the added bonuses of a better integrated GPU and Force Touch trackpad.

Which is exactly what I suggested in the first place. Thank you :p

I had little luck with 10.8/10.9 with 2gb of ram (although I regularly have at least 4 apps open including several browser tabs). Upgrading to 6gb helped a ton, and of course adding an SSD was like a whole new system.


Basically I just want OP to get a computer that's going to fit his needs for as long as possible within his budget. I think the best choice is clearly either the $1499 or $1799 MBPr with AppleCare if he wants it.
 

jdechko

macrumors 601
Jul 1, 2004
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I'd say that the base Air + the RAM upgrade (and maybe the 256/512GB Option) would suit you for several years to come.

Whether you go with insurance or AppleCare, this is a business machine and so you have to decide whether it's better for your business to invest in insurance or if you will have the money to replace the machine outright if something breaks outside of warranty.

Migrating files is easy enough, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend the One-To-One just for the transfer. There are plenty of guides out there, and Time Machine (which is built-in) can perform the transfer just as easily.
 

estabya

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2014
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Migrating files is easy enough, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend the One-To-One just for the transfer. There are plenty of guides out there, and Time Machine (which is built-in) can perform the transfer just as easily.
This is very true. Using Time Machine to back up the old system and then restore the new one is pretty painless, and it will set up your new mac exactly the same as your old one. Super convenient and easy.
 

ltpco

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 1, 2015
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Thank you all for your advice. Am "processing":) it all as quickly as my inexpert brain can. (i'm a she, btw, but no worries it's not important.)
 

zhenya

macrumors 604
Jan 6, 2005
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I have to agree with the suggestion to get the 13" Pro rather than the Air. The overall size and weight is not that much different, and the screen on the Pro is worth it alone. On top of that though the Pro uses a more powerful series of processors than the Air, extending its useful life all the further.
 
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