Need help choosing between air and pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Loa, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #1
    Hello,

    I'm a long time Mac user and very much at ease in the Mac Pro world. But now I'm planning on replacing my iPad 3 with either a MacBook Air or Pro (13 inch screen either way), of which I know next to nothing.

    This will be a secondary machine for me, so I'm leaning towards the Air, but the Pro's processor speeds seem to be overwhelmingly more powerful than the Air's.

    Will I see a significant performance difference between both machines?

    Thanks
     
  2. Cherrystick macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2015
    #2

    I've been wrestling with this one myself. Ultimately I think I've decided on the Pro, with Retina and Force Touch being the selling features. There's only a very small weight difference between the two, and for similar specs the price is pretty comparable.
     
  3. c55 macrumors regular

    c55

    Joined:
    May 3, 2015
    #3
    What do you plan to use your computer for? The Macbook Air is much more portable than the Pro. There is also a bit of a weight difference, especially if you are coming from an iPad in terms of portability. But the Pro handles everything you do much more fluidly. I owned an Air for a short time and found that I really couldn't install any 3rd party programs on it or it would get bogged down fast. I had the 1.7 i5 Air and only used it for web browsing and downloading pictures off of my SD card. It could handle moderate web very well, I just now need something as powerful or more powerful than my Mini and iMac so looking at a Macbook Pro. It sounds like you don't need another powerhouse like the Mac/MacBook Pro, but I don't really know your intentions with the machine.
     
  4. Cuniac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2013
    Location:
    Phoenix
    #4
    So both are very different machines. Starting with the most obvious differences:
    *The MacBook Air is 3lb and the MacBook Pro is 3.5lb.
    *The MacBook Air has a 1440x900 matte screen, the MacBook Pro has a 2560x1600 Retina Glossy screen.
    *The MacBook Air has two USB 3, one Thunderbolt 2, one SDHC, a headphone/mic jack and power connector.
    *The MacBook Pro has two USB 3, two Thunderbolt 2, one SDHC, HDMI port, a headphone/mic jack and power connector.
    *The MacBook Air has a 12 hour estimated battery life. MacBook Pro has a 10 hour life.
    *The MacBook Air 0.11-0.68in tapered thickness. The MacBook Pro is 0.7in thick.

    Now on to CPU and GPU Power, Number next to the CPU are their score, you can use these number to see how much better one is compared to another:
    *The MacBook Air comes in a 1.6Ghz i5 (5726) and 2.2Ghz i7 (6807) Intel 5th Gen configuration.
    *The MacBook Pro comes in a 2.7Ghz i5 (6860), 2.9Ghz i5 (7253) and 3.1Ghz i7 (7366) configuration.
    *The MacBook Air has Intel 6000 Graphics That is 10% slower than the Intel 6100 Graphics in the MacBook Pro.
    *The MacBook Air comes with 4GB Ram upgradable at time of purchase to 8GB
    *The MacBook Pro comes with 8GB Ram upgradable at time of purchase to 16GB
    *The MacBook Air is upgradeable at time of purchase to 512GB SSD
    *The MacBook Pro is upgradeable at time of purchase to 1TB SSD

    **Note** All of this information is comparing the 2015 13in MacBook Air to the 2015 13in MacBook Pro
     
  5. Loa thread starter macrumors 65816

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #5
    Hello,

    Thanks for the inputs. I'm planning on using this machine as my on-the-go device to replace my iPad. So nothing too extreme like games, PS or video edition.

    I'm curious about the real-world performance. In raw terms, the top Air CPU is essentially the same as the base Pro, or at worse 8% slower than the top Pro. This does not seem very significant. I went from 2.66 quad to 3.33 quad in my Mac Pro and didn't notice a remarkable difference, so 8% isn't all that big a deal. Then again, c55 said that he felt like the Air was bogging down under load.

    Also, the matte screen on the air is a big plus for me, even though the 8GB RAM limit is indeed a limit...

    After checking the prices, the top Air with 8GB of RAM is the same price as the bottom Pro (with 8GB RAM). Add 200$ and I get 16GB which is a lot more future-proof...

    Not an easy decision.

    ****New question: is there any significant difference between the current models and last year's? I usually buy my Apple stuff from the refurb section.

    Thanks

    Loa
     
  6. Cuniac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2013
    Location:
    Phoenix
    #6
    Little bit. The new models have PCIe hard drives that were 2.5x faster than last years models. They also offer force touch (I like it a lot). One thing to consider is while the Matte on the Air is nice (I like matte myself) the Pro has a much higher rez and looks very nice, but could have glare if you plan to use in sunlight, similar to the iPad.

    The CPU in the Air was a decent Jump from last years model, Last year had options of 1.4GHz i5 (5238) and 1.7Ghz i7 (6180) 4th Gen Intel. The Intel 5000 Graphics in last years model are 50% slow than this years.

    The CPU in the Pro had a jump but not quite as large with 2.6Ghz i5 (6546), 2.8Ghz i5 (6840) and 3.0Ghz i7 (7188). The Intel 5100 Graphics in last years model are 40% slow than this years.
     
  7. Cuniac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2013
    Location:
    Phoenix
    #7
    On a side note. I looked a MacBook's like a mad man over the past month. I went from the 13in, to 15in with dGPU, to Maxed 15in back to base 15 with dGPU lol. During all of this and countless hours in the Apple store, along with crunching numbers like crazy I realized a few things when thinking about the 13in Air vs Pro that may help.

    When side by side the screen on the Pro blew the other out of the water. After seeing how good it really looked I could nto look at the air the same way again. Now, as I said above if you are planning to use this in the sunlight, The air may be better, but the pro just looks so good.

    The other thing was Price vs Specs. When it came down to it 4GB of ram is not enough, and for me 128GB was not enough I really needed at least 256GB and that 2.2 as it was so much faster the total after tax came to $1,569.27. The MacBook Pro 13in with 2.7 and 256GB and 8GB was $1,623.42. The difference was so small for the CPU bump, Graphics bump, better screen, more ports. The only downside was it weights .5lb more but that's not a lot.

    Granted I was looking for more of a rounded computer for everything use when I ended up on what I have now, so if you don't need that much power and 1.6 or even 4GB is enough you could save some money. You could even same some money either way if you only need 128GB vs 256GB as the 128 Pro is $1,406.82 and the 128 Air with 8gb and 2.2 is $1,352.67. But even then the difference in price is even smaller.
     
  8. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #8
    Go with the pro by the time you set the ssd size and RAM amount the same they cost the same give or take $100 and the pro is a far better macchine, more importantly the retina screen is not to be missed it makes interacting with your computer so much nicer than not having it, the extra cost is worth it for that alone...
     
  9. MushroomMan macrumors member

    MushroomMan

    Joined:
    May 31, 2015
    Location:
    Australia
    #9
    Agree with above comments.

    Compared to the pre-retina design, the Air rocks. But now comparing it to the rMBP generation the physical difference is far smaller where as the performance/quality differences are much greater - with the screen and max RAM for example.
     
  10. Loa thread starter macrumors 65816

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #10
    Hello,

    Definitely leaning towards the Pro now. One more question: in the 2015 edition (macbook pro), is the SSD blade user-changeable? Apple probably doesn't want us to do it, but is it soldered? I seem to recall that it's the same many of us are putting in our classic pros, that can reach dazzling speeds. Is it the case?

    Loa
     
  11. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    #11
    It is user-replaceable in the sense that it is removable. But nobody makes them, so you'll have to find a used one on eBay pulled from another machine should you ever want to upgrade.
     
  12. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Location:
    Cimmerian End
    #12
    I'd recommend the Pro. It seems to provide more given the faster base clock speeds and the higher quality screen. Since you will be going 13'' either way, I can't imagine the Air being that much more portable. Sure, it will weigh less, and it is thinner but the footprint will be the same. Doesn't sound too appealing when you will then be dealing with a small screen at a low resolution and going with a less capable processor. You will more than likely not notice the difference in the processors during daily tasks but if you decide to push the machine a bit more when you're away from the Mac Pro it is definitely a plus.
     
  13. mlts22 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    #13
    I wrestled over this myself, but went for the Pro, so I could use the machine as a secondary desktop if need be, and the 2013 rMBP has better cooling, since I run VM heavy, so I peg the CPU fairly often.
     
  14. Loa thread starter macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    Location:
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    #14
  15. snaky69 macrumors 603

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    #15
  16. mpfuchs macrumors regular

    mpfuchs

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    Sep 19, 2014
    Location:
    VA
    #16
    I went through this whole ordeal myself not too long ago.
    Ended up getting a new 2014 rMBP with upgraded storage to 256GB for $1299 and a free Apple TV from bestbuy.
     
  17. TechZeke macrumors 68020

    TechZeke

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Location:
    Rialto, CA
    #17
    First of all, you won't need 16GB of RAM. I can tell you that off the bat. You probably don't need 8. You're replacing an iPad for goodness sake. 16GB isn't going to save that mobile dual core processor in 5 years. $200 would be much better spent on more SSD space. Processor upgrades on the both machines are also pointless.

    I think that as a secondary machine, the base Air or Pro is more than enough. Anything more than the base Air + 1 BTO option, you should just get the Pro.
     
  18. Loa thread starter macrumors 65816

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #18
    Hello,



    Maybe. Just not sure and since it's soldered... I think the CPU gains are slowing down (we're in a Moore's law lull, if you consider that multi-cores isn't useful for many things), and that dual core CPU could be looking still pretty fine in 5 years. My own 2009 MP CPU is 6 years old now, and I don't feel like it's dragging... (This is the first time since I bought my Mac Plus SE that I've kept a computer more than 4 years.)

    8GB in 5 years? Not sure.

    The non-replaceable battery in 5 years? Probably dried up.

    Maybe I shouldn't think about 5+ years with the current crop of Apple's "soldered-and-glued-and-unrepairable" Macbooks...

    Sad...

    Loa
     
  19. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2011
    Location:
    Ridgewood, NJ
    #19
    With only a $200 difference between the two (256gb/8gb config), I would go with the Pro. The CPU/GPU and screen are much better, the extra ports are great, and it'll have a better resale value. IMO it's not even a contest.
     
  20. MarvinHC macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Location:
    Shanghai, PRC
    #20
    I agree with most comments above and if you have set your heart on the 13" I would probably also go with the Pro. The battery in the Air is however reasonably easy to replace, when it comes to the Pro that seems to be rather a big challenge (google ifixit to see how it's done).
    Out of curiosity: If you want to replace your iPad, why not consider the 11"? It is only a bit wider than the iPad but otherwise quite similar in size and the perfect tool for travelling, you hardly notice it in your bag.
     
  21. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #21
    Well you asked for advice, the advice you were given is spot on, you don't need 16GB of RAM for your stated use and you won't in 5 years time. CPU gains are slowing down in some ways but gaining in others, I think quad core low power CPU's will be the norm with canonlake and more and more apps make use of multiple cores and GPU compute, these will be the limiting factors in years to come.

    5 years is about right for a laptop anything longer is a bonus, If you need a new battery in 5 years pay apple the $200 they charge to replce it it is a reasonable price (bang in line with other OEM's) and their batteries seem to be the best in the business lasting far longer than in any other makers electronics I have used.

    Lastly if you don't want something you can't tinker with yourself buy something else, it is clear what the restrictions are in terms of tinkering for the rMBP and if that's not your bag, don't buy one.
     
  22. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #22
    I understand the angst yet as you mentioned this is going to be a secondary machine and for the majority of users 8GB is sufficient from now and into the foreseeable future.
     
  23. Loa thread starter macrumors 65816

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #23
    Hello,



    Because I regret the decision of buying that iPad: I want a full fledged computer. And even though the iPad screen is a decent size for iOS, I've seen 11" Macbook Airs and, for me, it's too small for Mac OS.

    Looks like a 8/256 Pro is the best combination for my needs.

    Thanks for the advice.

    Loa
     
  24. Badrottie Suspended

    Badrottie

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    May 8, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #24
    I think 13" rMBP will be your best friend.
     
  25. MarvinHC macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    Shanghai, PRC
    #25
    Understand. It also depends on where you want to use it. I was flying economy for 12 hours this weekend and was very happy with the 11" which had just enough space on the table in front of me (with the person in front reclining the seat), no chance to fit the 13" in there.
     

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