Real-Word comparison MB v MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by el-John-o, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. el-John-o macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Location:
    Missouri
    #1
    Hey all,

    I'm trying to decide on my purchase between the 13" Macbook Air, and the 13" Macbook (White). I don't need the kind of power of a Macbook Pro or anything, it will be primarily office type work, e-mail, word processing, etc. Additionally, some Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3 work as well. However, when I am looking at two computers that are relatively close in price, I would like to get the best performance I can.

    Are there any decent real-world benchmarks pitting the white Macbook against the new Macbook air? I can find some older-model benchies, but nothing for the newer models. Specifically, things like Application load times, time to encode in iTunes, that sort of thing. I really want to know which is going to be more productive. The Macbook has a quicker CPU, but of course the MBA has a lightning fast SSD.

    Finally, can the Macbook HDD be replaced by the user WITHOUT voiding the warranty? What about the RAM? For the price difference, I could almost pop a 2.5" SSD into the macbook, since I don't need much storage, and get even better performance (some of the lower-capacity ones are fairly cheap on Newegg, even some of these 64GB models would suffice. My current laptop has used about 65GB, that's with a Windows Vista partition, and an Ubuntu 10.10 partition, and a lot of junk!)

    If the RAM could be replaced that's another costs savings, 2 new sticks totaling 4GB is WAY cheaper than the $100 Apple is charging, and I don't think 2GB will be enough. (Then again, it's been a while since I've used Mac OS, maybe I won't need it?)

    -John
     
  2. adnoh macrumors 6502a

    adnoh

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    #2
    Given at the same price point you get a bigger screen I'd say go with MacBook. Also like you said, the money you save can then be used on a ssd and I would highly recommend that upgrade for a noticeable performance boost.

    You may also want to upgrade the ram but if you are Using it for mainly basic tasks like you mentioned I doubt you would see much of a difference.
     
  3. el-John-o thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Nov 29, 2010
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    Missouri
    #3
    The screen is irrelevant because, as I said, I'm getting the 13" either way, 11" is too small. So, given the cost of the 13" Air it would cost me more.

    But I'm from the show-me state, like I originally asked, does anyone know of some real-world benchmarks for the two? Everyone wants to bench the Pro and the Air, and I guess they forgot about the little ol' Macbook?
     
  4. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

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    Terra
    #4
    13" MBP and the MB have the same benchmarks as they are essentially the same computer.
     
  5. el-John-o, Dec 19, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010

    el-John-o thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
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    Missouri
    #5
    Hmm, never noticed that. Yeah apparently that backlit keyboard and gray paint cost $100! $1199 for an as-configured $1099 laptop, that's silly! Although the additional expandability to 8GB of RAM might make it worth it.

    Okay, what about user-upgradability. Does it void the warranty to replace the HDD and RAM on the Macbook?

    I'll google around for some 13" MBP vs 13" MBA benchmarks then, but if anyone knows of some good ones let me know!

    Edit: Finally, what I'm not finding, is heat. I hear the air stays remarkably cool during normal use, is that the same for the new unibody macbooks? Do they stay cool as well, or get hotter?
     
  6. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #6
    The RAM and HDD on unibody MBs/MBPs is user changeable w/o voiding the warranty. On the Air, the RAM is soldered in, so it's practically unchangeable. I haven't heard how they're going to treat the SSD. I'd assume that since they have security Torx holding the new Airs closed, they don't want people in there.

    The way I use my computer, "real-world" has my Air feeling many times faster than the i7 15" MBP that it replaced. I do very few things that are benefited by a faster CPU (so the Air's slower processor hasn't been a hindrance to me), but almost everything I do involves HDD access (so the Air's fast SSD drive has definitely made things feel so much faster).

    If you have an Apple Store or a Best Buy near you, go play with the machines and see what you think.
     
  7. el-John-o, Dec 19, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010

    el-John-o thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Nov 29, 2010
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    Missouri
    #7
    Well the SSD is soldered on as well, so that's not changeable either. In either case I would get 4GB, but two 2GB sticks is WAAAY cheaper than $100 that Apple charges, so that will save me some money over the air upgrade.

    But with the money saved, if the HDD is user-replaceable, then I could just swap it for an SSD, since some benchmarks I'm reading puts the air soldered-on flash memory in line with mediocre SSD's (but of course, calling any SSD mediocre is like saying slow ferrari). Anyway point being, it sound like if I buy 4 gigs of RAM and a cheap 64GB SSD (I don't need much local storage), and put the 250GB drive in an external enclosure for good measure, I'll be set with the Macbook for about the same price (but improved battery life and performance.) Undoubtedly the HDD in the macbook is the biggest power-sucker, I wonder how good the battery life would be with an SSD?

    -John

    Edit:
    Macbook - $949
    Mushkin 4GB kit - $48
    64GB SSD - $95

    $1142 for the Macbook

    ($1242 with 128GB for a fair comparison)

    OR a similarly configured by Apple Air (13", 4GB):
    $1339


    (This all assumed my Education Discount)

    If I can find out for sure on the heat issue, that appears to be the way to go. In theory, the Macbook should be a bit quicker configured with an SSD than the Air, especially since most reviews I've read say there is nothing special in terms of speed for it's soldered on SSD and RAM (It's just as fast as snap-in RAM and a 2.5" SSD).

    That mushkin kit is also timed a bit quicker than what Apple typically uses on their laptops, so that's another performance plus.

    -John
     
  8. engram macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    #8
    I don't have any benchmark tables at hand. You might try googling for "Geekbench macbook". I can however tell you which real world concerns drove my choice.

    1) Virtualization
    2) Code compiles

    I don't require an aluminum case. In fact I prefer the white polycarbonate. I think it looks better and it dissipates heat better (in my subjective experience.) 4 or 8 gig of RAM in there, with an SSD if you like, and you have a very nice system

    The Air has its insanely sexy looks and portability going for it. It is a cool gadget and everyone lusts after it. With any operation that has disk reads/writes as more than 30 percent of its measurable work performed the Air will feel like the stealthiest most nimble of gadgets that has ever made your wallet weep.

    If however you wish to use your portable for certain other processor/RAM instensive tasks you may find yourself heading to the kitchen to make a sandwich whilst you wait. Good luck with your decision! Have fun with your Mac, whichever you choose.
     
  9. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #9
    If the weight matters to you, I'd still favor the MBA as configured. The MacBook is quite a bit heavier.
     
  10. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

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    Jan 20, 2010
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    Terra
    #10
    Not really. The MBP is actually made entirely out of aluminum, no grey paint involved. It's also slightly thinner and lighter. It also has the all-important FW800 port, and separate audio in and out ports. All that combined with the backlit keyboard seems like a good deal to me for an extra $200.

    While Apple states that the current MacBook can only go up to 4 GB, it will accept and use up to 8 GB RAM.

    The SSD in the current MBA is not soldered to the board directly, it's on a removable stick. That being said, no one makes replacements for it (yet) so that doesn't help you very much. This one company was selling them for a week or two before Apple got them to stop.
     
  11. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

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    Jan 20, 2010
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    Terra
    #11
    Aluminum definitely dissipates heat better, that's why the laptop gets so hot! Technically polycarbonate is a much poorer dissipator of heat, so that's why the laptop doesn't get as hot. The heat has to go out through the vents more instead of just dissipating through the body.

    Weird, eh? :confused:
     
  12. adnoh macrumors 6502a

    adnoh

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    #12
    I have the 2010 MB and it doesn't get hot at all anywhere! I should mention I don't stress the CPU though.
     
  13. el-John-o thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Location:
    Missouri
    #13
    Thanks for the answers about heat. And yes, I knew it wasn't actually paint, but, to quote Sarah Palin, "That was my lame attempt at sarcasm".

    So I think that's what I will do then, thanks for the heads up on the 8 gigs though, I'll use a single 4GB stick so I can "keep my options open". I bet with an SSD it screams.

    I'm looking forward to it though. I used Macs for a long time back in the PowerPC days, but it just hasn't been affordable in the past. But, I'm sick of crappy support, cut-corner manufacturing, a worthless OS (I use Ubuntu now, can't stand Vista. 7, I must admit, is alright. But just on the principle of the fact that 7 shouldn't cost anything to Vista owners I'm not gonna upgrade! haha). It's time to get back into the Mac game. I'm quick pleased with my Windows Desktop, but perhaps that's because I built it. I've never been satisfied with anything OEM unless it came from Apple. Makes sense that I stick with the company I like, right?

    -John
     
  14. AlexM-1997 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    #14
    Well have you tried using this to solve your problem?
    http://www.apple.com/uk/why-mac/compare/notebooks.html
    i found it to be very useful when deciding between the air and white MB
    (i purchased the white MB and i'm very pleased)

    would you mind telling me what you plan on using it for and will you be doing lots of travelling or leaving it at home
     
  15. HawtTuna macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2010
    #15
    The white Macbook supports using 8 gigs of ram. Apple doesn't say so but I have heard it works.

    Personally, I don't think the baseline pro is worth it. I could buy a SD card reader for about 3 bucks. Firewire's not too important unless you have tons of 300 dpi photos or do alot of video editing. Backlight Keyboard is a nice thing but if you can touch type, it's not a big deal.

    On the otherhand, the white Macbook scratches very easily and can stain if you're not careful.
     

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