New MacBook Air or wait for suppposed MacBook Pro update?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by hkodama, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. hkodama macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2010
    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking to buy a new computer...the current one I use is a three year old (in February) MacBook Pro (I believe it was the second to last upgrade before the new keyboards, but not sure). It has 2.4 GHz C2D processor, 2 GB 667 MHz RAM, 180 GB HD.

    It has served me very well, and I am going to miss it when I replace it, but it is starting to slow up and freeze, etc.

    I'm trying to decide between a new Air or Pro...and can use your help. I'm a student in college, so I use it primarily for word processing/internet/research/music/pictures. But I also dabble in video production (nothing for a class or anything too serious, but use Final Cut Express and iMovie, depending on the project.

    I know I can get the best Air for the same price as my current computer, and it has 256 GB Solid-State with 4 GB RAM, etc. but a slightly slower processor than this.

    Or I can get a new Pro with 500 GB and a faster processor for a similar price.

    Wondering what you think about all of this...I know I don't need 500 GB (after three years with this computer, I use about 150 GB), but how much, if at all, will I be able to notice the downgrade in processor (2.4 to 2.13). And will the Graphics disadvantage be noticeable, too?

    Basically, I will need a new computer by the end of school year; if I opt for an Air, I'll likely get it for xmas, and if for the Pro, I'll wait until April, when MacRumors is projecting a new upgrade.

    Thanks for any help
  2. Cavepainter macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2010
    Los Angeles
    How important is portability to you?

    If you don't do any real heavy lifting with your computer, then what is available now is thoroughly adequate for your needs... both the Air and the Pro. So there's no real need to wait- no real gain for doing that. Youll lose months of productivity and only gain a small improvement waiting for months for a new model.

    You mentioned you liked your Pro computer and you didn't complain about the weight, so I'd say buy another one. It has more performance for the money in most situations and personally, I would probably like to still have a dvd player for a couple years or so. My sister is looking at the same decision as you and she isnt comfortable dropping the superdrive just yet....
  3. And1ss macrumors 6502a


    Oct 20, 2009
    I think if you add 2 more gigs of ram, it'll help with your computing needs imo.
  4. guitargoddsjm macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2008
    I agree with this part here. Do you want a superdrive built into your computer? If so, I'd pull the trigger and buy an MBP. A lot of rumors are floating around that the next generation of MBPs will ditch the superdrive. If that's the case, I'll be very glad I bought my MBP over this past summer! Although I honestly don't use the drive very much and could live without it, I'm not 100% comfortable with that yet.
  5. andrewsd macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2008
    I agree

    You may be surprised how much that can help. Plus if you update the ram now you will get some improvent in performance to hold you over to the next MBP update and a little higher resell value.
  6. Pete A, Dec 7, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010

    Pete A macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2010
    This could be helped by adding more RAM, replacing the hard drive with an SSD, and/or reinstalling OSX. For less money than a new MBA, you'd have a faster processor and built-in superdrive.

    On the other hand, the 13" MBA has a better screen than the current and previous 13" MBPs. The resolution is the same as the current 15" MBP, and the glare from reflections is much less (which is very important to me; not sure if it is to you). Also the Air's new multi-touch trackpad, cool and usually silent operation, and extreme portability make it a joy to use. You wouldn't give up a superdrive, just give up having it to carry it when you don't need it. People say Apple's USB superdrive is quite small and light (I haven't seen it).

    Professional Apple-watchers believe the new MBPs coming next spring will be 17", not 13" or 15" models. No one knows for sure, but it makes some sense.

    Also, the rumored peace between Intel and NVIDIA could bring dramatically better MBPs, but not soon.

    Given all the above and what you've said about your needs, I would either upgrade your current machine or get a new MBA now. I would not get a current MBP now, unless you use your superdrive constantly or need the firewire and speed of the 15" (which it sounds like you don't). I would not wait for the new MBPs, because they might be a long time coming. The new MBA would make you very happy immediately.
  7. Monkey194545 macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Keep your current mpb, get two more gigs of ram and either get a 500 gb Seagate Momentus XT w/ the 4gb of solid state. Would only cost you about 150 for everything and it's so easy to do yourself even a philosophy major could do it.

    If you want to splurge go out and buy a SSD, if you've been living with 150gb this long you can probably still survive with it. Just buy a cheap external to go with it.

    Either way it is a lot cheaper than new and IMO you would be more happy.

    Disclaimer: i would go for the updated mpd (2011) if you are set on the two
  8. gdeputy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    New York
    one thing alot of people say when talking about the MBA is that 'you wont notice a lb or two in an 11lb bag' type stuff.

    That's great, it really is, but I could care less about carrying weight of the laptop. For me it was the weight when it was on my lap. a heavier laptop on the lap is harder to balance, makes it more difficult to quickly adjust yourself, and overall just doesn't provide the experience of a MBA.

    As I type this on my couch my laptop sits on my lap, and you can barely feel this thing. The difference between this and my gateway 15" laptop is astounding when you factor in comfort and ease of use when actually on a lap. I don't care about carrying a heavy laptop, it's using one on my lap that i care about. heavier means less variation in how I can use it, if you can understand what I'm saying, and that is worth the tradeoff of a C2D 1.83ghz processor.

    Keep in mind I have a powerful desktop for heavy lifting, I never really wanted my air to do anything other than provide me with an ultraportable 2nd machine.
  9. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    How do you feel about replacing a 3yr old 2.4ghz C2D/2GB/180GB with a 1.6ghz C2D/2GB/128GB? Because you're essentially buying a thinner version of the same computer that you've been using for the last 3 years.

    For us, the wife is due for a Macbook Pro 13 upgrade and even though the current C2D version will be more than enough, it's not a good feeling to buy old tech at current tech prices. So I'm making her wait for the inevitable Macbook Pro upgrade.
  10. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    This is the first time I heard this reasoning.

    Heat dissipation, port location, screen angle, keyboard flex, key visibility, screen angle have all been factors in what makes me like/dislike a notebook. But l've gone through every weight class of computer from 10lb (Gateway 9100) to 2.5lb (MBA13) and "lap weight" has never been something I've noticed.
  11. Harmush macrumors 6502a


    Sep 21, 2008
    I think a MBP update could be another 5-6 months away maybe. I know there hasn't been a major update for a while, but the i3-5-7 processors are still pretty much the best in the current consumer computer market. So I can't see a major update anytime soon.
    Get a shiny new Air!
  12. Pete A, Dec 8, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010

    Pete A macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2010
    This is a typical comment from people who haven't used the new Air for any length of time. They look at the numbers (actually some of the numbers) and sniff "old tech".

    It is not old tech. It is the best laptop Apple has ever produced for the uses described by the OP. The only question is whether the OP wants to spend the money to get the best, if he is content with his current machine's screen, graphics card, trackpad, weight, operating temperature, and ports (no SD card slot).

    You have to work with the new Air to know what you're talking about. But let's at least be accurate about the numbers cited by urkel:

    The processor speed of the new 13" Air (which we were talking about) is 1.86 or 2.13, not 1.6 GHz. That is fast enough to run the OP's apps with ease, and it even runs heavy duty apps like Final Cut Pro with performance comparable to MBPs (except for exporting/rendering, which can be done overnight).

    The RAM can be upgraded (at time of purchase) to 4GB for a fairly reasonable $100. More importantly, it is faster RAM than the OP has now: 1066, not 667 MHz. The frontside bus is 1066 MHz. That makes a difference.

    The "hard drive" can be upgraded to 256GB (or probably more later). More importantly, it is not a hard drive. It is a solid state drive, which blows away anything with spinning magnetic platters. It is silent, consumes less power, and doesn't need pampering to protect it from jolts. And it is wicked wicked fast.

    To say that all this is "essentially a thinner version of the same computer you've been using" is simply ignorant.

    For the uses described by the OP, the new Air is wicked fast and convenient. It boots fast, goes in or out of sleep almost instantly, and opens apps almost instantly. The sleep light is gone because you don't need it to tell you when the machine can be moved safely. Just pack it up, or toss it on the couch (open or shut), or plunk it on your lap. You don't need to wait for it. It's ready when you are.

    As I said in a post above, the screen is much better than what the OP has now (higher resolution and less glare). The graphics card is better (same as the current 13" MBP). The trackpad is better, and just awesome. Once its multi-touch gestures have become a habit for you, you'll be whipping through your work and play like you can't imagine now. I don't press the trackpad to click, just tap it (you can turn this on in Preferences). This method is faster, easier on muscles, silent, and never causes false taps from my hands resting on the trackpad (which was a problem on old trackpads).

    The joy of the Air's extreme portability is hard to describe. gdeputy tried to do it above, and urkel sniffed that he'd never heard that before. Well, start listening. Here's another attempt:

    Some things are not adequately described by numbers. You have to experience them for yourself.
  13. Pete A, Dec 8, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2010

    Pete A macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2010
    more numbers

    For people who get a sinking feeling from these numbers, here are some others that may help.

    A poster compared Xbench numbers for a top-of-the-line MBA (2.13 C2D/4/256 SSD) to a top-of-the-line MBP (Ci7/8/500 7200rpm HD). The Pro won in tests of CPU and RAM (of course). The Air won in tests of disk (of course).

    The winner in overall score? The MacBook Air.

    If you need to do heavy processing (such as video compression on a deadline), get a MacBook Pro. If you need to do everyday tasks like the Original Poster, the MacBook Air kicks ass.
    (Thanks to poster lucashungaro)
  14. hvierdal, Dec 10, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010

    hvierdal macrumors newbie

    Dec 10, 2010
    I have pretty much exactly the same problem as op. 3yo 15inch mbp, which is getting old and slow. However I think I have decided not to go for the mba, but my predicament is waiting for the update as opposed to buyin a new 15inch now?

    Im playing Civ5 atm on this old mac, and its pretty laggy, what matters the most as far as specs when playing games? I am clueless when it comes to techstuff... :p Would I be able to run civ5 on a mba?

    Edit: I have a 2,5ghz C2D, so I am guessing I wont be able to run Civ5, or any other high performance programs on an MBA?
  15. Pete A macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2010
    I'm not a gamer, but others say the Mac port of Civ5 is one of the worst of any game. It will run (with low settings) on a 13" MBA, but gets slow after 100 turns. But it also does this even on i7 MBPs. It runs better on Windows7 in Bootcamp.
  16. shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010
    umm can you site the resources again, the link doesnt lead to the article you mention...

    OP: buy the (i believe MBP 13 inch right?) the lower end 13.3 inch MBP- the 2.4 Ghz, 4 GB, the on that is in the US stores for only $1199. (or if you are from a foreign country than from that store) and well upgrade the drive. what i mean is buy an SSD and buy upgrade the current drive. if you use 150 GB, than the best would to buy a 250? unless you want a 160?

    now if you have a microcenter near you- buy it from there (the 13 inch MBP is for only $999) and you still would have $200 left on your budget. you might be able to to find an SSD but wait until next summer or something when OSX Lion comes out. then upgrade the drive and OS to the newer ones (and the SSD should be cheaper by then!)
  17. Pete A macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2010
  18. urkel, Dec 11, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2010

    urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    Wow Pete. "What should I Buy" discussion should be based on the needs of the OP, not ours. My ideal setup would be a MBP15 + MBA11 + iPad + iPhone 4 and I can go on about how much I want all of them. But what does that matter when we're supposed to be looking at it through HIS own Decision Tree.

    2010 Macbook Air 13" C2D/SSD
    2011 Macbook Pro 15" SandyBridge CPU / New GPU / SSD Options

    Next years MBP update should be a significant one. It will bring all the benefits of SSD but put in a machine where every other component is next gen.

    I owned the new MBA13 for a few weeks so running Aperture, PS and iMovie. While I dont claim to know everything, I do have enough personal experience to give an opinion without being shot down.
    First off, "best" is a far stretch. The OP states primary usage for "word processing/internet/research/music/pictures" so for those tasks then Yes, the Air is okay. BUT he never said weight is an issue so claiming "Best Apple Laptop" is far from accurate since the MBP15/17 have bigger screens and backlit keyboards.

    And as for his other needs, he says "But I also dabble in video production (nothing for a class or anything too serious, but use Final Cut Express and iMovie, depending on the project". While the Air is "capable", he's comparing to next years 15" MBP update. And there's no doubt that the 2011 MBP will be better suited for those tasks than the Air so pushing "good enough for now" is not what is always the best choice.

    Yes. You definitely do. And while the Air was an awesome machine, the two major benefits it had over the MBP is the advantages of SSD and Thin. Two things that the OP didn't mention a need for.

    Apologies for saying 1.6 when we are discussing 2.13. BUT, the point remains in that the OP is choosing between C2D and the potential of Sandy Bridge. As offended as you are by claims of "old tech", it's an accurate term because the first Core2Duo came out in Jan 07 and the industry (as well as Apple) has been moving away from C2D.

    No, Ignorance would be to tell someone that it's wise to spend +$1500 to replace a computer that performs very close in performance. And I definitely couldn't claim that exporting/rendering should be delegated to being "overnight tasks" is a valid argument.

    Actually, none of that stuff is on the list of the OP's needs so those selling points are catered to you. And this thread isn't about you (or me), it's about the OP.
  19. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    The comments about weight...funny, I was looking at an Air and thought about how it is so small and light that it might actually slide around on my lap and be a bit of a bother compared to my old MBP 15 in actual laptop use.

    It would be a real nice device for sure, and presumably wouldn't burn my legs anymore...
  20. gdeputy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    New York
    a heavy laptop is more difficult to use at an angle.

    When I'm on my couch (it's a sectional) i'm usually on the sectional part, meaning, I kick my legs out, i cross my feet and this puts my lap at an angle, the laptop leans to the right. Heavier laptops are harder to hold at this angle for long periods of time, their more top heavy/bottom heavy and feel awkward. It's hard to explain. Basically, I use my laptop in alot of non traditional seating positons, the MBA is awesome for this. Also, I tend to adjust ALOT when i'm sitting, my dog jumps on the couch, my girlfriend comes over ect. it's much more convenient to adjust with the MBA than a MBP or similar laptop would be.

    Also, it is worth noting the laptop never gets hot (in my experience anyways).

    Also, please save me from any comment about how "wow u must be weak if it's too heavy" bs. I'm an amateur bodybuilder, It has nothing to do with weight, more like comfort level and ergonomics.
  21. jazziethomas macrumors member

    Dec 5, 2010
    Adding an additional RAM would be ideal for i will save you more while waiting for the next upgrade on April
  22. NickZac macrumors 68000


    Dec 11, 2010
    I bought my Dell Latitude around September of 2007, about 3 years ago. Stat wise it is a not so beefy 1.66GHz Core Duo processor (2mCache @ 677bus speed) with 2 gigs RAM (originally 512 mb), 75 gig hard drive, a slow graphics card (mute point for me anyway), and XP Pro. So my old Dell is around the age of your MBP.

    Your computer now is not archaic. It will run most modern software and for us virtual paper pushers, it is more than capable. The longevity of the MBP is common knowledge. Provided it is in good running condition, one option as suggested is to add more RAM and maybe a Solid State Drive and it will boot and load most programs faster than the current (standard) i5 MBP (maybe even reinstall OS X). On the downside, it means spending money on an older unit, as a student you probably depend on battery life, get a discount on new models, and you may benefit from increased mobility.

    Think about how many hours you spend on your computer. I am on my MBP around 12-18 hours a day; my computer is practically my mate. You use your computer for everything from work to play. You should have something you like/enjoy, and if finances permits, the bigger question is 'are you going to like a new one more'? I really like the new Unibody design MBP; I have a 5,5 gen 13 inch with 2.53/4GB/512Nv blah blah plus a 128 gig solid state drive and I absolutely love it. I love it more than any other computer offering (except maybe that $4,500 Vaio) and while my Dell wasn't ancient (and I have a newer iMac for resource intensive apps), I decided to get a MBP anyway. It is my 11th laptop/notebook and by far my favorite ever.

    My mother has an older and newer Air and my brother has an older Air. They are great computers and mobility to the tenth power, but personally, the additional battery life of the MBP is where I went myself as battery life is critical for me. The 13 inch MBP is very portable, relatively light, very capable, robust and it really suits my lifestyle. Even with the faster 15/17 inch MBP and lighter 13 inch MBA, I would still get the 13 inch MBP if I purchased another one. BTW I would say 5 hours a day I keep my computer on my lap; it is much cooler running than previous Mac laptops. If you get the Air, don't listen to people who say its fragile. My mother dropped her first gen air (w/ 64 gig SSD) down a flight of concrete stairs and then the computer fell a good 6 feet onto asphalt. The case is beat to hell but the computer still functions fine...she was so upset about the cosmetic damage that my father got her a current gen Air which she likes even more.

    If you go for a 13 inch MBP, look at the previous gen that I have as it is power wise, a near no difference, and has good graphics despite an older card. You can probably find one for a nice discount this time of year, esp. if it's refurbished.

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