Please help me choose my new MacBook (Air or Pro)?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ToTo Man, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. ToTo Man, Nov 7, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016

    ToTo Man macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2008
    I had grand plans to upgrade my ageing 2011 MacBook Air 11.6" 1.6GHz i5 4GB 128GB for the most recent 11.6" 8GB model from the refurb store, but it seems Apple's ill-judged decision to kill the MBA has put an end to that.

    I really don't like the route the new Apple laptops are going with regards to reducing port numbers, removing legacy ports, and killing MagSafe.

    With the choices left, I'm considering either a brand new MacBook Air 13.3" 2.2GHz dual-core i7 8GB 128GB for £1,079, or a refurb'd 2015 MacBook Pro 13.3" Retina 2.7GHz dual-core Intel i5 8GB 128GB for £1,059.

    Form factor and portability has always been a big deal for me, which is why my 2011 11" MBA gets a lot more use than my 2010 13" MBP which I find too big heavy and cumbersome by comparison. However I appreciate that the MBP form factor has become sleeker over the years, and since I no longer have a new 11" MBA option available to me, the difference in footprint between the 13" MBA and last year's 13" MBP is probably minimal.

    I wouldn't consider myself a CPU-intensive user, however my 2011 MBA has always struggled a bit with my habit of having too many Safari tabs opened at the same time. It's always handled my other demands ok (e.g. a bit of audio and video processing), but I tend to leave anything strenuous to my 2008 Mac Pro which gets the job done much faster with its 8 cores!

    I hold onto my computers for a reasonably long time, so whichever laptop I buy still needs to be able to keep up the pace in 3 years time.

    I'd be grateful for your thoughts on the two models I propose and if you think there's any options I've missed? Many thanks.
  2. Jazzman 76 macrumors newbie

    May 22, 2016
    --- Post Merged, Nov 7, 2016 ---
    If you do choose the 13" Macbook Air, are you really going to notice the difference between the i5 and the i7? Alternatively you could consider the 256gb Air with an i5 at £999. John Lewis are currently throwing in a 3 year warranty until the 9th November, although they seemed to be sold out online, however, you could ring around several branches to see who has actually got one in stock, get it reserved and collect it by the 9th to get your free, 3 year warranty. What do you think?
  3. ToTo Man thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2008
    TBH I'm not too bothered by the extra SSD space. If I were getting the i5 1.6GHz I think I'd just go for the 128SSD for £849 if I could still get this at JL. At Apple's inflated price of £949 for the base model, the £130 upgrade to the i7 seems not bad VFM. Unfortunately I'm away on holiday tomorrow so wouldn't be able to enter a JL branch for a couple of weeks.
  4. Jazzman 76 macrumors newbie

    May 22, 2016
    If you're not too desperate for the Air, you could wait until JL get more stock in, although I'm sure their new prices will match that of the Apple Store. They do still offer a free 2 year warranty anyway, but offer the extra year from time to time. Unfortunately, they don't tend to offer the option of any i7's on MacBooks as far as I can recall.
  5. pbasmadj, Nov 7, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016

    pbasmadj macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2013
    Los Angeles
    100%, get the new MPB. I have had many, many iterations of the Air over the years and just replaced it with the new Pro without touchbar, and it is the PERFECT replacement. I wouldn't go back to an Air, ever. Everything is so much more refined on the new machines.

    - Screen is immeasurably better
    - Battery about the same
    - Overall refinement is leaps and bounds above
    - USB C is great
    - Prefer the polished apple logo over the glowing, I know some don't
    - SPEAKERS are phenomenal
    - Keyboard is much, much better
    - Benchmarks faster than the old pro, Skylake processor, leaps and bounds over the Air in terms of performance..

    With a 14 day return period, just pick one up and see if it works for you. I will admit it takes a little getting used to the keyboard, but after a few days, you won't want to go back I can promise that. I went and tried out a friend's Air after using my new computer for a week, and it feels like an antiquated fossil. Also my 2c, try to snag up the student discount for $50 off. at $1,449, I felt the computer was a great deal for the amazing technology in it.

    It is hard to convey the level of refinement the new machines have. Even the machining is on another level. It is by far, my favorite computer I have ever owned. That being said, I wasn't too crazy about the touchbar models, but at least they made this model.
  6. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

    Apr 1, 2008
    Based on what you've said, I'd be looking at the 12" MacBook. I suspect even a 2015 refurb will seem like a big upgrade on your 2011 MBA and won't actually be much bigger!
  7. Fozziebear40 macrumors regular


    Apr 14, 2008
    Newton-le-Willows, England
    I managed to get one of the last 11.6" from John Lewis. It's only the base 4gb model but it was half the price of the new MacBook Pro. I love the size of this thing and the old classic styling of Apple (glowing logo, mag safe, usb etc.)
    I umm'd and ahh'd over returning it for a rMB or a rMBP but I'm happy with it. I have an iMac for working, this is mainly for browsing in comfort and the 16:9 screen is great for video.

    All Apple had to do was up the RAM and SSD and put in a better IPS retina screen, simple!
  8. ToTo Man thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2008
    Thanks for the detailed comparison. At £1,449 the new 2.0GHz MBP is however too rich for my budget, hence why I'm looking at a refurb'd 2015 MBP which is almost £400 cheaper.
  9. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    I would make sure to try the keyboard in person before you take the plunge. I haven't tried the new MBP keyboard yet, but many many people (myself included) found the MacBook Retina keyboard to be totally unusable rubbish -- and this MBP one apparently has more or less the same design.

    I personally found losing MagSafe to even more of a pain in the @$$ than I thought it would be -- and remember that with the base model 2016 MBP, you're using one of your USB ports to charge, so if you're plugged into the wall, you only have get one remaining USB port to plug things in. Pretty weak for a laptop that expensive.
  10. pbasmadj macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Not entirely true, they updated it for the MBP. It is relatively the same, yes, but it is an updated mechanism. I know it seems totally different at first, but TRUST me, it will grow on you and you won't want to go back. I speak from experience and not liking it at first and now owning one.
  11. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    True, I haven't tried the new one yet, but from all I've heard it's more similar to the MacBook Retina one than it is to previous Mac keyboards. I'll stay cautiously optimistic until I have a chance to try it. I would love to be wrong about this.

    And yeah, I've heard from plenty of people who said "it will grow on you", and really wanted to believe them because otherwise the MacBook Retina was a very cool little laptop -- but I spent a month trying to type on it and it never grew on me. I "got used to" typing on it, but just felt awful every time I used it -- more like banging my fingers on a piece of metal than on a physical keyboard. I finally just got rid of it and went back to my MacBook Air.
  12. Obi Wan Kenobi macrumors 6502

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    Mar 9, 2011
    London, UK
    Last year I went from the 11" 2011 MBA to the 13" MBA. I love the extra screen real estate, while maintaining the portability. It's an awesome machine. But I only went for the 13" over the 12"MB because I need to have two documents on screen, side by side and have them both legible. For me this required the 13" screen. Otherwise I would have chosen the 12" MB in a heartbeat. I think the 12" MBs are brilliant. The keyboard is different, but my friends that have them got used to them quickly. They love their keyboards now.

    But the laptops you ask about are a refurbed 13"MBP, and the 13" MBA.

    I wouldn't buy a refurb'ed 2015 MBP at this point unless you're going to be upgrading again in a few years time. It's almost as fast as the new ones, but it is heavier, and clunkier I think you're really going to notice that, coming from the 11" MBA, and it's already obsolete.

    The 13" MBA is a winner on price, especially if you are satisfied with the 128GB size. It's also almost obsolete, but much better value than the MBP, IMO.

    But if I were you, I'd go for a 12" MB (and as someone else said, John Lewis may still have some at the old price too - that's a £250 saving straight away).
  13. eddjedi macrumors 6502

    Sep 7, 2011
    If budget is an issue (which it seems to be as you are turning down the new MBP) why not look at a used 11" MBA? The 2015 or even 2013 i7 models have geekbench multi-core scores of 6586 and 6245 respectively, which is better than the current m5 MB and on a par with the m7 MB, yet you can pick up a used one for less than half the price. This is exactly what I have just done for this very reason - my 2013 11" i7/8GB/512GB MBA was under £600 GBP. Based on the above geekbench scores, it will still be more than capable in a few years time. Like you portability and connectivity are important to me, hence why MBPs and the new MB were out of the equation. The 13" MBA is simply too big IMO.

    Also, you should be wary of the term "refurb" which is banded about far too often these days. Refurb simply means used, even from Apple. They do not replace the SSD, the memory, the CPU, or any other non-cosmetic parts. Sure they may give it a quick once over to make sure everything works, but you are paying a substantial premium for something you could easily do yourself.
  14. pbasmadj macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2013
    Los Angeles
    I agree, I didn't feel like I ever got used to the rMB keyboard. The new one, I have though. The one on the rMB is just too soft.

    Typing on it now. It is of course toward the low travel direction, but, it is quite a bit better. The MB should have been made like this one.

    MacBook: Notice the X shaped dome

    New MacBook Pros: Notice the full circular dome

    After using this keyboard for a day then trying out an old Air at the store, the old keyboards feel like they are off of a typewriter. For some people that might be a good thing I guess, but I do like the new slimmed down form. I agree with you that the rMB one was a little lacking.
  15. kiranmk2 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2008
    I'm also in this position, but am considering a 2nd hand MBA or a base MBP. I can get a 2013/2014 MBA with 8/512 GB setup for £650-750 depending on the CPU (i5 or i7) which, even at the top end is leff than half what Apple want for the MBP with 8/512. I've currently get a Alu 08 MacBook so even the MBA screen would be a resolution upgrade for me. I'd love the MBP, but surely I can't justify double the price can I?!
  16. ToTo Man thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2008
    I'm still on holiday at the moment but I dropped by a large consumer electronics store to see the current line of Apple laptops in the flesh to help my decision. They had a total of 4 on display. I can't be sure exactly which models they had on display because the product codes on the ticket were confusing and I couldn't get past the login screens. However my best guess is:
    11.6" MBA,
    13.3" MBA,
    2015 13.3" Retina MBP with 2xThunderbolt 2xUSB3 1xHDMI and 1xSD,
    and an even older 13.3" non-retina MBP with Ethernet, FireWire and internal superdrive(!)

    The 11.6" MBA was of course very familiar to me but did look rather vertically squat sat next to its 13.3" brother. The 13.3" Retina MBP had a superior display with sharper and more contrasty text (again I could only go by what I saw on the login screens), but the actual screen itself was a smeary fingerprint mess particularly around the black bezel which was very difficult to clean up. The screen on my own 2010 MBP and on the other old MBP on display had a glass front, but the screen on the 2015 Retina was soft to the touch, but a different kind of softness to the MBA screen, if that makes sense? It also seemed more glossy and reflective than the MBA. Comparing keyboards, my favourite was: old MBP -> MBA -> 2015 Retina MBP, because there was very little depression in the Retina MBP keys which felt rather unsatisfying. Not that this is an issue for me, because I have cerebral palsy and I always use an external bluetooth keyboard and mouse as I find it much easier. In terms of weight, there was very little difference between the 13.3" MBA and 2015 13.3" Retina MBP. The 2D footprint of the MBA was bigger than the Retina MBP due to the broader bezel, but the Retina MBP was slightly chunkier than the MBA. I preferred the MagSafe on the MBA because the cable exits via the rear of the laptop rather than straight out the side.

    In short, I'm not really much further on in my decision on whether to get a 13.3" MBA or refurb'd Retina MBP. Please tell me if my logic is flawed, but to me a refurb'd 13.3" 2015 Retina MBP seems like a great buy to me given the superiority of the screen and faster processor than the 13.3" MBA, and the fact that it still has the legacy ports that the new line of MBPs do away with.
  17. ipsychedelic macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2012
    I'd say MBP 15 if you need the extra power.
    While I think USB-C is the future either on TB3 or USB3x flavors, the decision to reduce the ports to me is a big no, as I have many devices I'd like to connect and don't wanna go the dongle route.
    If you think ports are important, retina vs 900p screen matters, then the MBP is a no brainer IMHO.
    From what I see you use the MBs as your main computers so those two things would be crucial. The MBA still has the ports but the screen is lacking for sure.

    I just got a MBA 13", the base i5 model, 256 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM. Mainly to have a backup/portable Mac around the house. The screen is not that great but I can live with that. However I use a Hackintosh as my main machine so "I'm good". But in your case I'd say every extra bit of power is a plus.
  18. ToTo Man, Nov 15, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016

    ToTo Man thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2008
    I went back to the store to see them again today and managed to get logged onto some websites to compare the screens properly. The 2015 rMBP screen was significantly superior to the MBA with deeper colours that pop and vivid contrasty text that is pixel-free even when you stick your nose against the screen. However, a downside to the 2015 rMBP that I only discovered today is that I can barely use the damn trackpad! I have cerebral palsy and my motor skills are very exaggerated and imprecise, so I always find trackpads much harder to use than mice. That said, I can use the trackpad on my MBA ok because it provides a lot of depression resistance before it 'clicks'. By contrast, the trackpad on the 2015 rMBP was clicking far too easily with my heavy fingers, and changing the click setting from 'soft' to 'firm' made hardly any difference. This would be a definite deal-breaker if I didn't have the use of a bluetooth mouse, but luckily I do, so I suppose I could overlook this downside but it is rather annoying. Are there any other configurable settings on the rMBP trackpad that can make it behave more like the MBA trackpad? (I'm in Spain at the moment so all of the OS's of the store models are in Spanish and so it's rather difficult to understand the descriptions in System Preferences!)
  19. ToTo Man thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2008
    I found out that my local JL still has a few 2015 rMBP 13.3" 2.7GHz 8GB 128GB in stock at £999 so I've reserved one to collect when I get home on Sunday. £60 cheaper than an Apple refurb and £250 cheaper than the recently jacked-up new price from Apple so a no brainer I think! I'm still keeping my eyes out for a used or refurb'd 11" MBA with 8GB RAM or i7 CPU but if I don't find one then I'll just keep hold of my existing MBA for the times I need that extra bit of portability.
  20. missyagogo macrumors newbie


    Oct 9, 2016
    Thanks for your feedback. I am curious how are you adjusting to the new shape; i.e., without the wedge? The wedge shape on the Air may be a little thing to some, but it is important to me. :)

    Since you had many Airs and you now have a Pro, I would be interested in your opinion.
  21. pbasmadj, Nov 21, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016

    pbasmadj macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2013
    Los Angeles
    I can promise you, that if you go with the new model, after a week, you won't even think of the Air. I really, really like the new computer, more than any Air I have ever had (probably had 8 or so, I am a pretty frequent upgradee). The Air starts to seem like more of an entry college student computer in today's landscape.

    Also, the USB-C adapters from Apple are now discounted until the end of the year, so I recommend snagging up the USB-A to USB-C adapter for $9 as you transition to getting new cables and such. For $9, basically negligible.

    I think it is worth mentioning that with the uniform thickness, it is thinner than the thickest part of the Air. I personally like the flat design more than the wedge, but judging from some others and your post, that is a matter of personal preference. The Pro's of the new machine are immeasurably in its favor. I like this computer more than any Apple comp I have owned, very sincerely. And it only grows on me more the more that I use it. There is no way I could use an Air after using this machine. Probably the moments I have been most blown away by it are in the speakers, which will really wow you from time to time when a good song comes on, and the screen, which is just stunning. The keyboard is amazing, when you become used to it. There is no going back. I will admit that took a few days though.

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