Replacing mid-2010 13" MBP - MBA going to feel too slow?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by brown.eyed.girl, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. brown.eyed.girl macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    As the thread title says, I am replacing my mid-2010 13" MBP (reluctantly). I'm considering the MBA but I'm concerned about a few things.

    1) Is the MBA going to feel way too slow? I know the flash drive is supposed to make the computer faster. I don't game or run graphics-heavy programs but I do tend to run a bunch of different programs at once and open up a lot of tabs. I would get the 4 GB RAM. My MPB has a 4 GB RAM. I'm not a tech person though - does this mean I wouldn't see a difference?

    2) I'm considering the 11 inch MBA because it's super portable and also because it's the cheapest. Do you think this would start to feel way too small (the screen)?

    3) Can someone tell me what kind of difference I would see between the 1.6 Ghz processor on the MBA vs. the 2.4 Ghz on the MBP?

    I think my old MBP was probably overkill for what I need my computer for (I'm a teacher, word processing, some presentations, internet, lots of tabs, some vid processing) but I'm deathly afraid of buying an MBA and being frustrated with its slowness. I'm using my old MB (2007) and it is slow as all heck and SO annoying.

  2. merrickdrfc macrumors 6502


    Jan 8, 2011
    You will notice a massive increase in speed with the 2011 MBA. The SSD coupled with the Sandy-Bridge (Latest Generation) Intel Core iSeries processors will mean that the Air will be much faster than the C2D MBP you are coming from. 4GB RAM is better and if you can afford it get it, however the SSD helps with Swap when the RAM becomes full as the SSD is much quicker to write too rather than a standard HDD

    The resolution on both models is very high, 1366 x 768 (11") and 1440 x 900 (13") meaning that even the 11" Air is almost on par with the resolution of the MBP, with the 13" being much higher.

    The 1.6 GHz i5 has a feature called turbo boost, which will allow the CPU to over clock its self up to speeds of around 2.8 GHz, with it being 2 generations newer than the C2D you are coming from, the MBA will be much quicker and able to cope with the tasks you require from it.
  3. komoornik macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2011
    2.3 GHz for one core and 2.0 GHz for two cores.
  4. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    this week i moved from a 13" mbp / 8gb to an 11" mba / 2gb. i originally bought the mbp to process pdfs (ocr, bookmarking, editing, etc.) and it definitely performed that better than the air. in fact, it consistently completed tasks twice as fast as the mba. if i was still doing this kind of work on a daily basis, i wouldn't have gotten the mba.

    as for everyday use like opening lots of applications at once, working on presentations, word processing, etc. i saw very little difference. apps open faster on the mba, to be sure, but after that, the performance seems about the same to me. i was really quite worried about having just 2gb. i suppose it wouldn't hurt to have more, but to be honest, for the kind of work i am doing (a teacher as well), 2gb is fine.

    in short, the ssd is nice and all, but i think it gets over-hyped. i would say that the differences are negligible. your mileage may vary, of course. however, i doubt you will feel it is slower.
  5. brown.eyed.girl thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Thanks all for the advice and weighing in! I'm still feeling a little torn. Went to the Apple store again today to play around with the different models. I think the 11" is just too small (screen size). I tend to have a few different things going at once, and I especially liked to have both a PDF and a Word doc up at once (dividing the screen) when I write papers that need to reference readings. The screen real estate just makes that tough on the 11".

    Between the 13" MBA and the 13" MBP - I love the aesthetics and size of the MBA and you guys have me convinced that I won't be seeing a decrease in speed, etc. I guess I'm having a hard time paying an extra $100 for a LOT less storage if I got the 13" MBA. I have an external HD but I'm thinking 128 GB isn't going to be enough....
  6. erasr macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    I did the same as you and yes I'm struggling with the 128GB storage 3-4 months on. I could get off my bum and buy an external drive though.

    As for speed, the Air is way way faster than my MBP 13" 2010. I believe you will see a big difference.

    Edit: Just noticed you said 11". Why?! Get the 13" if you've been used to 13" MBP. I have the 13, sorry, that's the one I was talking about.
  7. jbromer macrumors 6502a


    Jul 13, 2008
    MD, USA
    My 2 cents:

    With regard to speed - my 11" i5 air blows away even my i3 iMac due to the SSD. My C2D macBook is like frozen in time... I don't care about benchmarks and calculation speeds so much, but for real-world performance, you will notice a HUGE difference from the C2D, both from the processor, but again even more from the SSD.

    With regard to screen size - This is more a personal preference. I have been very happy with the 11" due to the similar resolution to a 13" macbook or macbook pro. I love that combined with the portability of the 11" size which is barely bigger than an iPad when shut. But ultimately, this is more a judgement call.

    Definitely go for the 4GB RAM/128 HD minimum configuration though. In that case, the $100 price difference between the 11 and 13 is almost negligible...
  8. Joined:
    Jul 1, 2007
    I agree. It sounds like you would make use of the screen real estate, so the 13" MBA is a better bet. You could always try looking at Best Buy for open box deals if money is a factor. The ones around here are selling the 13" MBA i5 models (base) for $925.
  9. convergent macrumors 68030


    May 6, 2008
    I think the MBA will be faster, because the affect of the SSD is significant and pervasive in everything you do. I have the 13" MBA with 4G/256G. Pretty much all day long I have the following open simultaneously and its blazing fast:

    - Safari with 10-15 tabs
    - Firefox with 2-4 tabs
    - MS Office 2010 - Excel, Word, and Powerpoint with several files open for each
    - Lotus Notes (this is a pretty heavy app)
    - Mail
    - OmniFocus
    - DevonThink Pro Office with 3 databases open
    - Adium
    - Pathfinder
    - Parallels with Win7 and Internet Explorer open with several tabs

    Those are open pretty much all the time. I then open these other apps from time to time and do heavy use at times.

    - Photoshop CS5
    - Lightroom (my databases have around 50K images in some cases)
    - iMovie
    - Handbrake
    - Cyberduck

    I think I run a pretty intense load of apps, and often my swap file is up to 4G. The MBA is consistently blazing fast. I came from a MBP with 6G of RAM and 500G disk. I had to clear out some things to get comfortable with the 256G disk, but it hasn't been a problem once I set down and cleared out things I hadn't touched in years.
  10. johnhurley macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2011
    I for one do not think the speed difference in moving to an ssd is over-hyped.

    My guess is that you are feeling the difference between moving from a system with 8 gb of RAM to a system with 2 gb of RAM.

    That is a huge change and although you can run Lion on 2 gb does not mean that the experience is anywhere close to optimal.

    Just my opinion.
  11. palpatine, Dec 4, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011

    palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    EDIT: John Hurley is right. On the whole, I am pretty impressed with the 11" MBA base model, and I used it for about a week without seeing any huge difference in performance. As I remarked above, the SSD certainly didn't feel much faster, but overall, it didn't seem any slower either.

    However, I think that was because of how I was using it: only a few applications open and using a lot of web-based applications. As soon as I started working seriously with PDFs I noticed a lot of page outs (more than the page ins), and this evening I had several times when it locked up entirely. I did speed tests with my MBP and my MBA and it wasn't even a competition. With one file open and doing something really simple like scrolling through, no problem. But, as soon as I opened another file and started manipulating things (moving pages around, etc.) it pinwheeled and slowed to a crawl.

    The processor doesn't have as much power as the one in the MBA, but I think the killer was the RAM (as mentioned above). I would still recommend the base model with 2GB RAM, but only if you are sure that you won't be using processor intensive programs (you wouldn't think a few PDFs would be such a burden). Otherwise, 4GB will be the way to go.
  12. orfeas0 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 21, 2010
    Athens, Greece
    The 11" is small but it has a high resolution (like the 13"mbp).
    I got the base model macbook air and the 2gb isn't that much problem, and as of multitasking and screen real estate, OSX Lion with mission control and spaces really helps.
  13. snorkelman macrumors 6502a


    Oct 25, 2010
    I've owned 2010 MBA 11", 2010 MBP 13"(with SSD), and 2011 13" MBA all with 4GB RAM

    Performance wise, provided RAM is equal across all three as mine were, then that's the order I'd rank them in.

    The i5 in the 13"MBA is significantly better performer than the C2D in the 2010 13" MBP regardless of the respective clock rates.

    If you've already got used to Lion on the 2010 then you shouldn't have any problems, if you're still on Snow Leopard on the 2010 then that's the only potential niggle you might find moving over to the 2011 Air (some folks cant stick it and there's no practical option to run SL on the 2011).
  14. cplush macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    I just had to decide between a new MBP and MBA. I went with the MBA really due to the portability and SSD. My brother has the MBP (all most recent editions), and the performance is like many have noted above. Mine will open stuff significantly faster than his, but after that they are the same. Unlike him, i am not cringing every time my bag gets banged LOL
  15. brown.eyed.girl thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Ok, 13" MBA is out just due to price.

    11" MBA (128 GB, 4 GB RAM) vs. 13" MBP (500 GB, 4 GB RAM) - about the same price.

    Still the MBA? Or does the MBP win out?
  16. snorkelman macrumors 6502a


    Oct 25, 2010
    2011 MBP with an SSD yes, its faster again in CPU stakes over 2011 MBA's

    2011 MBP with conventional harddisk? will be faster at calc intensive tasks but wont feel anywhere near as snappy as the Air due to the lack of SSD

    Only reason I stuck an SSD in our 2010 MBP was I found it unbearably slow at loading up apps etc after using the SSD equipped 2010 MBA
  17. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    Even a 2010 CD2 MBA performs well with the SSD. Apple and others are still selling refurbs for this model way cheaper.
  18. gdeputy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    New York
    If I were you I would wait another gen.

    When ivy bridge drops upgrade.. there isn't going to be that big of a difference coming from your MBP to the 11" MBA.. if anything buy the new pro refurbished.

    You'll be losing color gamut too if thats important at all.
  19. brown.eyed.girl thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Another question guys, and thanks so much again. Would it be worth getting a Closeout deal on a 13" MBA, 2.13GHz, 4GB RAM, 256GB Flash Storage, NVIDIA GeForce 320M. However, the memory installed is DDR3 1066MHz compared to 1333MHz of the 2011 model. The processor is also Core 2 Duo only compared to the i-series of the 2011 models.

    Same price as the 11" MBA or 13" MBP.

    Good deal? Or no?
  20. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    i think what you are asking is whether you should buy the previous model of the mba, which used an ancient processor, ran at least 2 1/2 times slower than the current one, came without a lighted keyboard, and ran on snow leopard.

    it doesn't sound like a deal to me at any price...
  21. brown.eyed.girl thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Wait, the difference is that drastic?

    It's this one:
  22. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
  23. brown.eyed.girl thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Oh, darn, ok that one's out. Thanks for the info!

    I was playing with my friend's 11" MBA today. It's SO portable and light but the screen is so tiny.

    My friend has the 13" MBA which looks awesome.

    I think I may just get the 13" MBP though.
  24. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    There are some inaccuracies in the thread. The SSD doesn't make everything run faster. It quickens things like loading times, booting/rebooting, waking from sleep, launching applications, and saving really large files. If everything is kept in ram, the SSD has very little effect. Now you say you're reluctantly replacing your machine. What is making you want to replace it?

    I would suggest looking at pricing from third party retailers which is sometimes less. If you buy directly from Apple, make sure you use the education option on their site for better pricing rather than buying it through the retail store. That would save you at least $100 or so. If it was me personally, I wouldn't look at the 11". No one likes a small display. If they make a 15" Air like the rumors suggest, I expect it to be very popular.

    Oh and the old Macbook Air (the original one) truly sucked. I wouldn't touch it. Both the design of the Air and Intel's ultra low voltage processors have improved greatly since then. Also that pricing at macmall is absolutely awful. It's almost as much as the new one.
  25. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    ssd is ok. doesn't live up to the hype for me. i may purchase one for my mbp someday. but, no rush.

    i love the small display. i won't complain about 13 or 15, of course, but neither of those will fit in my man bag :)
    amazon has nice deals sometimes. it's good to check there frequently.

    i don't know if it sucked, but it was an old processor even when they put it in the 2010. i agree about the price. that was ugly.

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