Refurb Macbook air v. new Macbook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by erch63, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. erch63 macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2007
    I have been looking at a new mac book to replace my macbook 2ghz core duo. I saw today that they have the 1.6mhz 2gb of ram, 80gb air for 999.00. It is a refurb, which does not really bother me. Besides the obvious size differences what might I expect in the following areas:

    I have heard the 1.6mhz is kinda slow. It will be used just for general use word, quickbooks, multiple monitors, email and web. Will the 2.4GHz new macbook show me a noticeable difference. Will a ram increase on the air make a difference, and is it easy to do on the air?

    Trackpad, does the air use all the same multi-touch gestures as the mac book.

    How well does the drive sharing software work for basics?

    Case build, I know the macbook is rock solid in structure how about the air?

    Monitor port, is there really a difference?

    The size of the devices is not really that important, however I can save about $600.00 over the macbook I planned to get.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. hellfire88 macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2008
    The $999 refurb Macbook Air 1.6GHz is the older gen release January 2008.

    I don't think it does the new "4-finger" multi-touch gestures the new aluminum unibody Macbooks/Macbook Pros do. just 3finger gestures (pinch to zoom, rotate pics, etc.).

    There is no RAM/memory upgrade option on the Air, it comes with 2GB soldered onto the motherboard with no slots to upgrade so 2GB is it.

    I had the 1.6GHz/80GB model and it was alright for web, email, office, but anything more (I tried to use Windows XP via VMWare Fusion) and it gets a bit slow.

    The monitor port the Air uses is microDVI, so you'll need to get a microDVI -> VGA or DVI adaptor (both included I believe) and the max res it supports is 1920x1200. The monitor port the new unibody Macbooks has is mini-displayport so you'll have to get a mini-displayport -> VGA or DVI adaptor (not included). The VGA + single-DVI adaptor ($30 each) can handle resolutions up to 1920x1200. You can get a dual-DVI adaptor that can go higher (2560xsomething, i forgot), but that'll run you $99 extra.

    The CD drive sharing works ok to install software, but you wont be able to play DVDs off of it. You'll need the external superdrive for that.

    Case build is comparable between the 2 IMHO (I had both).

    Good luck with your selection.
  3. erch63 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2007
    Thanks for the reply.

    I think i read you post correctly, but on the new mac book i could run 2 external monitors at once using a dual adapter, but not on the air. Anyone have any experience on how well this works and do you have individual control over each screen, based upon size, etc. What is the maximum recommended screen use one could use?
  4. Moriarty macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    What are you going to be using the computer for? If the (very slight) increase in mobility is not absolutely critical, you will very soon become frustrated with the shortcomings of the Air.

    Air Vs Macbook:

    The only thing the Air has over the Macbook is a better quality screen.

    Air is much slower - when stressed, the 1.6 GHz CPU decreases its speed even more to avoid overheating. The Macbook is a constant 2 or 2.4 GHz.

    Air has a slow hard drive, the sort used in iPods.

    The old Air has a much slower graphics chip than the new Macbook - the Macbook's Geforce 9400M can actually play games! (it has about half the performance of the old Macbook Pro's 8600m GT, so you'll have to dial back the graphics effects but it still goes MUCH better than the old Macbooks or Airs)

    The Air has very few ports - not a good desktop replacement!

    Cannot easily upgrade RAM, hard drive, or change the battery in the Air. This is easy in the Macbook.

    The 13-inch Macbook is still extremely portable - 0.95 inches thick, 4.5 pounds weight. Air is 0.76 inches, 3 pounds.

    I can only recommend the Air to you if it will only be used when "on the go". It is NOT suitable when used as your own computer. If you can handle the slight increase in thickness/weight (honestly, it doesn't matter, the normal Macbook is still very thin and light), go for the new Macbook.

    In time, you'll only become frustrated by the Air's many shortcomings for only one gain - 0.19 inches and 1.5 pounds. The Air may make you look rich, but it will soon wear off. I once considered getting an Air, and am happy I did not.

    Just my $0.02.
  5. Moriarty macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    The "Dual-link DVI" is not a dual external display adapter, it is an adapter to use a 30-inch (or other 2560*1600) res display, usual DVI only supports 1920*1200.

    With Displayport on the Macbook, 2560*1600 is supported. No idea about this dual external display thing though.... is it possible with only one video out? It's definitely not possible on the Air which supports one display up to 1920*1200.
  6. erch63 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2007
    Thanks for the help, I think you might be right that I might grow tired of the air in a shorter period of time. I do have 2 mac desktops, but I do use my laptop quite a bit. I just am enticed by the savings of $500.
  7. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    You honestly won't notice the difference with those programs in speed. And on a laptop you only have one output for the monitor so it will only support one monitor in addition to the internal display. For the RAM, the MacBook Air's RAM cannot be upgraded, but 2GB of RAM should be plenty for your needs.

    It supports all of the multi-touch except for the 4 finger gestures.

    I have the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air, and build quality is similar between them. Both feel very solid.

    The difference is that the MacBook Air supports displays up to 1920x1200 and the MacBook will support displays up to 2560x1600 but only with the dual-link adapter which is $99. You won't realistically notice the difference unless you plan to buy a 30" display.

    Hello, nice to meet you. I'm typing this to you from my MacBook Air right now and I've owned the product for a bit now so I've had plenty of time to compare it with other computers. The MacBook Air's processor is about 1/3 slower than the MacBook's yes, will you notice it in the applications that the OP mentioned, no. The MacBook Air will perform those tasks fine, I even use my MacBook Air with Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom and it performs decently.

    I use my MacBook Air to do any editing on the road, while at home I use a MacBook Pro which is faster, but the difference in speed does not blow you away like you would expect from your post. And my MacBook Air has not gone down from 1.6GHz when stressed, it runs at that speed throughout when being stressed (And that's when I'm doing photoshop and lightroom on it, I'd know if it slowed down).

    I really don't see where the OP would see the speed boost of a faster hard drive with the applications they listed. And I don't see where the OP mentioned gaming, so there would not be a perceived difference in the graphics power with those applications. The MacBook Air's ports can easily be extended with a USB hub (Which actually makes you quicker on the go since you only have to unplug one USB port and everything is practically setup when you come back). 2GB of RAM will be plenty for the uses the OP has for the computer.

    When I got the MacBook Air, I additionally had an iBook G4 12" which is very similar in weight to the MacBook and I noticed a huge difference in the weight. I immediately gravitated towards the MacBook Air because of it, the MacBook Air makes me want to use it everywhere. And you'd be fooling yourself if you think that the MacBook Air is only good for people who are on the go 24/7.

    I go to my MacBook Air first when I want to use a computer so it gets more home usage than my MacBook Pro which I now only use for extensive photo editing. And as you said, you're only basing your opinions on observations of the product specs (you said you didn't own the computer) while I'm basing mine on experience with the product :).
  8. Moriarty macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    A previous-gen 2.4 Ghz refurb Macbook costs $950...

    But then again, if you already have a desktop, and would only be using the Air on-the-go, it's not so bad. As long as you:

    a) Won't need the power, ie, you'll only be doing basic 2D apps, nothing intensive like video editing. Photoshop will work, just a little sluggish.
    b) Won't need a disc drive/extra ports.
    c) Don't need a user-replaceable battery.

    In that case, the Air may well be a decent choice. But the Macbook is better in every respect except portability and screen quality.

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