Refurbished 2010 or 2011 vs 2012

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Atemporal, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. Atemporal macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2012
    Hey guys, first post here, so go easy. I did a search, but couldn't really find fully relevant material for my particular situation. A tl;dr version is at the bottom of this post for those of you who don't want to look through a block of text.

    I'm looking to upgrade my antiquated 3 year old HP laptop (whose battery will now no longer charge). Having a bit of difficulty deciding which year's model to get, though. A little background first:

    I'll be a senior in college doing programming work, and only really need OSX for running Xcode. However, after having to suffer 30 minute maximum battery life on lowest settings on Windows laptops for years now, I figure it's worth the jump to MBA/MBP. My priorities are pretty straight forward, battery life first and cost efficiency second. My other needs on this machine will be fairly similar to other college students: as a glorified typewriter for social media and casual use.

    Battery life's self explanatory. Cost efficiency is my next highest priority, and whereas I can afford to get a fully maxed Retina if I desired, it's overkill. That being said, I'm also not adverse to fully maxing out an Air if it's the best bang for the buck. If I need to do any serious processing capabilities, I have a custom built desktop that can take care of that. The only thing I'm really set on is a 13" screen.

    That's why I don't think a Pro is necessary for me either, since all "Pro" work can be done on my desktop. I would really only use my laptop to take notes, do Xcode side projects, and check Facebook/Gmail/YouTube, etc. Plus, the 13" MBP has a horrible screen. I like the Retina, but it seems horribly price efficient for what I plan on doing. Plus, whereas I can afford to even replace it if it gets stolen, I'd rather not.

    I've been looking at a 13" i5 2011 Air with 256GB SSD and 4GB of RAM, which seems to be the best fit, but I figured it'd be worth a shot to ask here.

    tl;dr version: Looking to get notebook with the best battery life and cost performance ratio. Cost isn't an issue as long as it's price efficient.
  2. alias99 macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2010
    I have a 2010 MBA 13inch maxed out.

    I just ordered my 2012 MBA because with 8gb RAM because I am struggling a bit at the moment with what I have.

    My use is similar to yours without Xcode but maybe a bit more casual use.

    I usually have 5-6 windows in safari, iTunes, MS office and few other non intensive programs but even then Im finding my 2010 a bit slow and definitely struggling for RAM.

    If I was you I would go for the 2012 MBA as you can afford it and you shouldn't need to replace it for a while plus you can future proof yourself in case your needs change after College.

    Plus with a student discount you should get 3 years warranty included as opposed to a 2010/11 which will run out earlier.

    This is just my view.
  3. Atemporal thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2012
    Xcode isn't that memory intensive, thought it does run a bit slow if I only allocate 2 GB RAM to my vboxed OS X VM. So I might need to push past 4 GB.

    I've been seeing some people mention that they are getting 3 year warranties, but when I go to the 13" Air's site at the US Apple Education Store, it says only one year is complimentary, and prompts me to buy AppleCare. Whereas I'll probably get AppleCare anyways (regardless of refurb or not), I've been only seeing the 3 year warranty available in the UK store, not the US. How are people managing to pull a complimentary full 3 years?

    I guess I should've pointed out that I'll be purchasing in the US.
  4. alias99 macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2010
    Not too sure on the warranty situation. When you go to customise the AIR through the education site, there is the option for Apple Care, that where it says you get 3 years (at least it does on the UK site). Either way even if its not included It should too much and is worth it for an extra 2 years.

    What are you swaying towards now?

    EDIT: Just checked your link and Apple Care is $180 for students?? At least theres something on the US site thats more expensive than the UK.
  5. Kungshi macrumors member

    May 11, 2011
    If I were you I would try to avoid going back in models when the newest just came out, you have the money, and it has some significant upgrades (USB 3.0, GPU). Also you get the student back to school gift card with the new model, and the 13" base was reduced by $100 at the refresh.

    You can also future proof with 8gb ram, because as you may know, you can't upgrade that on an air later. There are a million "4 vs 8 gb ram" threads on the air's forums. Check them out, but in the end I think you will see that if you plan on having a laptop for another 3 years it will probably be best that its a 2012 model with that 8gb upgrade. At least thats my opinion.
  6. macrominnie macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2010
    I agree generally with this reasoning.

    I also agree that the screen on the 2012 MBP is VERY disappointing. The 13 inch MB/MBP screen has not improved AT ALL in 5 years. The 13 inch Macbook AIR has had a better screen since 2010. This seems entirely an anti-consumer move to drive buyers to a forthcoming Retina MBP 13 inch.

    If weight and super-portability is very important (an you don't already have an iPad/tablet/netbook for lightweight on the go stuff), at least try out the MBA at a store.

    Otherwise, go with the 2012 MBP 13". It will easily meet your needs. The MBP 13 is upgradeable for drives and RAM I'd get the base model, and swap in an SSD and more RAM yourself, as budget and preference allows. As Kungshi says, the Back to School credit makes the price difference with older models slight. If you do file transfers frequently, USB 3.0 is a huge help.

    Use the savings to get an external display for your stationary computing. Any (even small) IPS monitor will be much better than an notebook screen, except possibly the RMBP. For mobile computing, you could always pick up an iPad 2 or 3 and run Air Display with the MBP for improved screen real estate.
  7. Atemporal thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2012
    My primary workstation will still be a desktop. I'll be using the laptop on campus for the most part, and as I tend to be on campus quite frequently, the 1200x800 on a 13" MBP is really steering me away. When I'm sitting in my room, I have my desktop. It's also worse than the 1366x768 on my 15" HP, and I find the HP really frustrating to use because of its screen.

    I guess it boils down to this: Is it worth $300 for an upgrade up to 256 GB from 128 GB on the SSD? A base 2012 13" runs at $1239 with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB on the hard drive, whereas bumping the hard drive up puts me at $1539.
  8. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    If you want a road warrior with great battery life and graphics, get the 2010 13 UMBA. I routinely get 8+ hours of operation with CoolBook, and it runs much cooler than the 2011/12 models. The tradeoff is performance vs heat/batt-life.
  9. Kungshi macrumors member

    May 11, 2011
    I have a primary desktop (iMac) that I put all of my programs, documents, music, etc on. This frees up a ton of space on my 128 gb 2012 air. I even had the 2011 model before upgrading this year and still never had an issue with the ssd size. If you take an honest look at how much space you would use on your MBA being that you too have a primary desktop, then you may find that 128 is extremely sufficient. Yet it always comes down to the unique individual and their use.
  10. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Since you have a desktop as your main machine, I think that the 128GB would be fine. If for some reason you end up changing your usage and want to carry a bunch of music/video around with you, USB 3 external drives are cheap and relatively fast.
  11. Atemporal thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2012
    Thanks for the input guys. Probably getting a 2012 13" at 8 and 256 now, since I somehow managed to fill 240 GB on my HP, though that might've been through negligence + duplicate backup copies of files after each year's reformat. How much space does OS X take up? I remember partitioning my VirtualBox for 20 GB and it wasn't enough for Xcode + OS X. If it's anything like that, then that leaves me with only 100 GB of storage if I roll with the 128.

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