Please give me some advice

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by osu731, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. osu731 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2010
    #1
    Hello all,

    I'm currently debating which version of the macbook air to get. I know there have been some other threads on this, but it seems as though my situation might be a bit different. I'm going to be attending medical school next year and would like to get something a bit lighter to take around, since I currently have a 2008 macbook pro 15'' 2.4GHz c2d.

    I know that I wan't to get the 13'' but I'm not sure as to whether or not I should go w/ the "ultimate" configuration (2.14 GHz, 4gb ram, 256 gb hd) or the base configuration but with upgraded ram (1.86 GHz, 4 gb ram, and 128 gb hd).

    Realistically, I only have 53 gb of hd space being used on my current macbook pro so I probably don't need the 256 gig hd. I'm not so sure that I will really notice a difference between a 1.86 GHz processor and 2.14 GHz processor, as I don't think I really am doing any cpu intensive tasks. But do you think my computer will be better optimized to run microsoft office, aim, itunes, safari, mail, and calendar opened simultaneously with the 2.14 GHz processor. Those are the applications that I typically have running throughout the day.

    Also, I would like to buy something that will last for the next 4-5 years from a technology standpoint. I'm not sure as to whether or not applications that I will use in medical school will demand a more powerful processor or if my hd needs will be much greater in the future. Perhaps the faster processor will also be able to run OSX lion better as well?

    Lastly, the lower configuration that I have mentioned is approximately $400 dollars cheaper and would allow for me to purchase an external monitor, mini-display adaptor, and superdrive.

    Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    #2
    I would go with 1.86, 4GB and 128GB for your situation. The faster processor won't really have any benefit for you, but with multiple apps open at once, the extra RAM will. Not to mention the extra money to buy accessories.
     
  3. osu731 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 9, 2010
    #3
    It's fantastic that a fellow buckeye was the first to respond! Thanks a lot!

    Specifically, where do you think one would notice the difference in processor speeds?
     
  4. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    #4
    Great school, isn't it? Anyhow, the difference in processors probably wouldn't be too noticeable unless you were editing videos, ripping dvds, etc. Even at that, the difference isn't too huge (~266MHz), and you wouldn't really want to be using an Air for anything very CPU intensive anyhow.
     
  5. hcho3 macrumors 68030

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    May 13, 2010
    #5
    If you run 3D games or intense apps, yes you will see the difference. But, most of times, you won't.
     
  6. darngooddesign macrumors G3

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    Atlanta, GA
    #6
    4-5 years pretty much requires the maxed out 13"
     
  7. jayo123456 macrumors regular

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    Jun 29, 2010
    #7
    im basically in the same situation as yours. Getting rid of a 15", for a 13" air, for school.

    I basically run the same apps multitasked also give or take. I ran all these apps on a 1.83 at the store, and the CPU was at 85% idle, 63degreesC cpu operating temp, 2000rpm fan, so it can handle it easilyyy.

    you don't even need the 4gb ram really, but it's worth to throw in cuz u can't upgrade later.

    I'd personally go for a 2.13Ghz upgrade for $100, but then U'd have to get the 256ssd (which I don't need). For $400 to get a minor CPU bump, not worth it IMO (unless u need the ssd space).
     
  8. jayo123456 macrumors regular

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    Jun 29, 2010
    #8
    oh, and I compared a 15" to a 13" side by side.

    And wow, the 15" is mammotthh.

    eying it, it's easily 3x the volume of the 13" air.
     
  9. osu731 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 9, 2010
    #9
    Thank you for all the responses.

    What is your specific logic in stating that 4-5 yrs requires the maxed out version?
     
  10. a2applegirl macrumors regular

    a2applegirl

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    Jun 16, 2010
    #10
    4-5 years is going to push the technological boundaries of even the maxed out air.

    If you are going to be running graphics-intensive biological simulation apps the faster processor will help. I think given the long time frame you want to keep the computer, and given the inability to perform upgrades on it, you should max out the memory and ssd drive.

    You can always get a monitor and external peripherals later as you need them.
     
  11. darngooddesign, Nov 9, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010

    darngooddesign macrumors G3

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    #11
    5 years ago Macs were using significantly slower processors than the Core Duo (not C2D) and YouTube wasn't even around. Imagine trying to do all the things you do now on a computer that is more than a fifth of the power of the Air. Its the equivalent of trying to run Vista on a medium quality Netbook with 512MB of RAM (an actual netbook not the 11" Air).

    You don't fill your drive now, but what if your school starts distributing its lectures as video files to store on your computer. Apps get larger in size, not smaller, and almost never place fewer demands on your hardware. Case in point, google the common apps you use now and see how their system requirements have grown in the past five years.

    If you upgrade computers every two years you could make do with the slower 13 with 4GB ram, but because you said 4 - 5, my vote is to max everything out. When spread over the life of your Air, the additional cost amounts to a cup of coffee per month.

    If you can't swing the extra just don't skimp on the RAM. The drive is actually upgradable so in two years there will probably be a bigger one available.
     
  12. shadowbird423 macrumors regular

    shadowbird423

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    Chapel Hill
    #12
    Take this guy's advice. I have nothing to add.
    Arn, frame this post in your office.
     
  13. KPOM macrumors G5

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #13
    Realistically, any MacBook Air is going to struggle to stay current in 4-5 years. The thing to remember is that they are running the Core 2 Duo processor, which first came out 4 years ago and is at the end of its life (it isn't even featured on Intel's main processor web pages now).

    If you need something to last 4-5 years, you are much better off with a Core i5 or i7-equipped device. Unfortunately, the smallest Mac that has one right now is the 15" MacBook Pro, which is considerably bigger than the MacBook Air. If you must upgrade now, I'd suggest going for a base model (perhaps the base 13") and upgrading again in 2 years when for sure the Core i5/i7 will have made it to the Air. I don't think the extra speed of the 2.13GHz model will make much difference.
     
  14. osu731 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 9, 2010
    #14
    Several of you have mentioned that even the macbook air will struggle to remain current in 4-5 years. I would certainly agree with that sentiment, especially considering the fact that many new computers already have the i3/i5 processors.

    That being said, I don't think it will be a situation where in 4 years, a maxed out air is so obsolete that it won't be able to run most of the software that is being created. After trying one out in the store, (which was a base model) I know that it certainly was fast enough for me and I can't imagine myself needing something that really opens an application any faster than 2 seconds.

    So unless it's a matter of my computer not physically being able to run programs, I think it will be fine.

    Thoughts?
     
  15. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #15

    5 years ago, I was running a computer with a single core 1.3GHz Pentium M. It certainly seemed "fast enough" for web browsing, spreadsheets, and iTunes, but I couldn't imagine using it now. 5 years before that, I was using an 800MHz Athlon, and 5 years before, a 90MHz Pentium. Just as Moore's law seems to dictate processing power doubling every 2 years, it seems that application's demands on the processor double to fill it.

    The thing to remember is that we'll likely see 2 or 3 versions of OS X in the next 4-5 years (Lion is coming next year). While the Core 2 Duo will run "current" programs for the next 2-3 years, eventually there will be software that needs the extra boost from the Core i-Series.
     
  16. osu731 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 9, 2010
    #16
    I've decided to get the 1.86 with 4gb ram. I kinda don't have the extra $400 at the moment and need to purchase soon.

    My only remaining question is this..

    Do any of you think that I'll notice any difference in my daily use going from the 15'' macbook pro with 2.4 ghz c2d processor and 2 gb ram. As in, my programs will "seem" slower/less responsive? I know that programs will definitely open much faster due to the ssd, but with regards to my previous post about the basic apps I'm running, any thoughts?

    Thanks so much for all of your help.
     
  17. pjfan macrumors regular

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    May 24, 2009
    Location:
    Columbus OH
    #17
    Yes, you will be floored at how much faster things operate w/ an SSD.

    I'm currently switching from 15" 2.4 C2D w/ Intel SSD to 13" Air - no noticeable slow down thus far.
     
  18. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #18
    I think there are several factors that you should consider.

    RAM is a no brainer, it should be upgraded if you want to keep it for a while.

    Even though you're not in need of 256GB Storage now, you might be in the long run, but it looks like we will be able to upgrade these.

    The CPU is the other option not upgradeable later. In the short term, 1.86 GHz seems plenty sufficient, but it's not that easy. A lot of apps like HD video playback suggest 2 GHz CPUs. Even though most seem to play well on 1.86 GHz MBAs, I think the 2 GHz barrier is an important one in the long term for these types of reasons.

    If this is going to be your only Mac, and you plan to keep it for more than two years, I think you should go ultimate. The reason is the 2.13 GHz CPU upgrade requires you to buy the 256GB SSD. I feel like you're paying a little more for the storage now, but you're getting the opportunity to upgrade the CPU with that purchase.

    If you're going to just use it for two years, and you don't want to run Windows 7 via a VM, and you don't need more than 128GB storage, maybe you should just go basic model without even getting the RAM.

    I really think time is the biggest factor most people don't consider. 2GB RAM is pretty good right now, but apps and even the same OS requires more and more RAM over time. Over time you will need more drive space as files get larger, apps get larger, and entertainment uses up more space. And the CPU requirements are already seeking out 2+ GHz from some apps.

    It all comes down to purpose over its entire life... and in the end, when it comes to reselling or retiring it, the more you upgrade now the more it will be worth or the longer it will last you before it becomes useless.

    And of course there's the financial factor. If you can only afford the bare minimum, just get the bare minimum and make it work for you. If you're going to do that though, you might just want to get a rev "c" v 2,1 MBA with backlit keyboard, 128 GB Toshiba SSD, and full warranty for a year from Apple for $1099 refurbished!

    Good luck with whatever you choose.
     
  19. osu731 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 9, 2010
    #19
    pjfan:

    Do you have the 1.86 GHz with 4 GB ram?
     
  20. kp98077 macrumors member

    kp98077

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    Oct 26, 2010
    #20
    i was in your shoes 10 years ago and trust me you are going to need the ultimate for med school as you will be reviewing many images, MRIs, etc which can all be process intensive. And then in five years from now you'll be going to a residency where they likely will give you a new mac :}
     
  21. pjfan macrumors regular

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    May 24, 2009
    Location:
    Columbus OH
    #21
    I purchased the 1.86 GHz 4GB 128 GB. Like you, I could not accept the price premium for the 256GB... I would gladly paid $200 for 4GB and 2.1 GHz processor, but I have no need for the storage for the Air.

    I have another thread with benchmarks proving that this MBA is certainly slower than my 2 year old MBP w/ SSD drive (tested when brand new). It's too fresh to tell you that there is a noticeable difference yet.

    Bottom line, for my travels & work, I never needed the MBP's CPU power. The MBA now can handle my standard day-to-day practice - it, so far, is a no-brainer for me.

    The best performance upgrade so far in my computer years has been the SSD (OSX is close ;) ), I'm hoping that the Air will become the best physical upgrade.

    Go SSD whatever you do, and enjoy! The system flies for today's needs, that's for sure!
     
  22. osu731 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 9, 2010
    #22
    kp, or anyone else...

    So is even the 2.13 not enough for those types of tasks? I hate the idea of spending all this money and not even being able to run the appropriate software once I start school next fall.
     
  23. EARL97850 macrumors member

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    Dec 21, 2009
    #23

    Ok...I'm also thinking about a MBA 13in but also not sure which configuration to get.
    My needs aren't near what the original poster needs are, and I apologize for jumping in but the argument of needing as much computer as possible for a term of 4-5yrs makes a lot of sense.

    All I need for me is surfing and email with the normal social networking now and then, but I also need Windows Internet Explorer for a small portion of a work program.

    I think the light bulb just went off in my "PEA BRAIN".....I probably need the maxed out version. I tend to keep my laptops for quite a few years.

    Cya
     
  24. kp98077 macrumors member

    kp98077

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    #24
    I think it would be enough, im here now on my new 13" air and looking at angios, NO problem, same on my ultimate 11"!
     
  25. osu731 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 9, 2010
    #25
    kp:

    Doesn't that contradict your earlier statement about needing the 2.13 to view those images(angiograms) if you're saying your ultimate 11'' can do it no problem?

    If that is the case, why wouldn't the 1.86 GHz be enough?

    Thanks a lot.
     

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