Should I get a MBP or MBA?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by penyekz, May 12, 2009.

  1. penyekz macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2009
    Hi guys, I've just discovered this forum and I must say that its really informative. I know this question has been asked before but I really want to get some up to date opinions.

    This is my first journey into Macs. I've used a (friend's) MBA for a few weeks now and its great! He had the rev A SSD version. I would now like to commit to buying one and am trying to decide between the top range 1.86Ghz SSD MBA and the MBP (2.66Ghz, 320GB, 4GB ram). They both cost exactly the same.

    Here's a little about my needs... I have been a windows person all my life. I currently have a massively heavy dell inspiron 1520 15.4" laptop and a newly build quad core PC for my home needs. I don't do a massive amount of travelling. Probably just bringing the laptop to and from work daily by car. If the MBP is as heavy as my Dell then it would be a no brainer to go with the MBA but the MBP is quite a decent sized machine.

    As for computing power, I plan to do a little photoshop/apeture and just use the iLife/iWork/office suite of programs. I don't need the mac to play 3d games as I have a powerful desktop to do just that. What I do need is for the mac to last a few good years. (?is the MBA's fixed battery going to be a problem?). Also, being a bloke you have this tendency to chase numbers and using a MBP with 2.66ghz computing power just "feel" better than a 1.86 MBA.

    So far, my journey with the loan MBA has been ok as I'm still just getting used to the OS X. I find the screen a little small and with less real estate but not something I cannot get used to. The MPA has been fairly responsive but doing usual surfing and office work is not really pushing it. It is funny how my 2 year old dell has a similar processor (1.73ghz core 2 duo) to the MBA but just lags beind the mac even in office apps. On the plus side, the MBA is great for travelling and has that cool factor.

    I really want to commit now but am so undecided. Would appreciate any advice.

    Is the MBP too heavy to lug around?
    Is rev B MBA a lot faster than rev A?
    Are the advantage of the MBP really essential? (CPU, graphics, ram, glass touchpad, bigger screen, bigger HD)
  2. Eyedn macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2009
    I started a thread just like this not too long ago, the public chose the Macbook Pro, and so shall I.
  3. xhambonex macrumors 6502a

    Apr 17, 2008
    These are personal preferences really. I carry my MBP everywhere. I usually walk on average 1-2 miles a day with it. Doesn't bother me what so ever. Is the MBA lighter, sure, but lacks screen size and actual computing power. Those are things I need, however you don't seem to need them. So for you I'd probably say MBA. Though I wouldn't ever buy one because for that price a MBP could do so much more. There's nothing a MBA can really do that a MBP can't except fit in an envelope. That's cool but I don't need that.:D
  4. hookem12387 macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    I'm not sure how it would run aperture/photoshop, but if an MBA would get all your computing needs done, and you don't need the super slim design, why not save some money and just get a unibody macbook?
  5. michael.lauden macrumors 68020


    Dec 25, 2008
    my core duo 1.66 GHz Mac mini runs Photoshop fine, obviously not as fast as my girlfriend's MBP - but it runs it ok. iPhoto, Microsoft Office, and some gaming for my brother when he's over.

    you will be okay with the MBA - but take into account that if computing power is what you're looking for.. you might want a MBP
  6. xhambonex macrumors 6502a

    Apr 17, 2008
    The UMB doesn't have that "cool factor.";)

    On a more serious note, I agree. Why spend all that money when you don't even need the computing power or the super slim design. Which I am assuming you don't need because you are considering a MBP.
  7. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    I'd get the MacBook Pro. Even though you have a Quad-Core PC setup, you'll most likely start using your Mac as your main machine simply because of OS X. The extra power will be useful.
  8. michael.lauden macrumors 68020


    Dec 25, 2008
    the UMB 2.0 def has enough computing power for me, and most of my friends who are professional graphic designers......
  9. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    If you don't need the extra power and ports that the Pro offers, and portability isn't why you're looking at a macbook Air, why not just get a Macbook white and save yourself a $1000 (U.S.)?
  10. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    Given your needs, here's a compromise: get the Macbook 2.4.

    You get:
    + roughly equivalent computing power as the MBP you mentioned
    + the cool "features" of the MBP (mainly, the back-lit KB)
    + more computing power than the MBA
    + double the RAM of the MBA
    + smaller, more portable than the MBP
    + same screen real estate as you're used to with the loaned MBA
    + cheaper than both the MBP and MBA

    What I think it should come down to really is the MBP or the MB(2.4), for the reasons of above. It's a nice compromise between the size of the MBA and the power of the MBP. Where you need to make your decision is if you really want the higher screen real-estate of the MBP.
  11. penyekz thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2009
    This is how I feel as well. So far my experience with OS X is great and I may start using it as my main system. Isn't it nice to have something that just works compared to windows?

    The UMB is 13.3" and although it has better specs, I would prefer portability and don't mind paying more for the MBA. From what I've read, the differences in CPU speed are not really significant. Is this true? How much difference would you feel using a MBP 2.66ghz 5400rpm HDD compared to a MBA 1.86 with SSD?

    This is also true... But when giving presentations on keynote, lugging around a MBP may be a little large. I think I'll pop into the shops this weekend to have a play and feel of the MBP and UMB.

    Is the Rev B MBA a lot faster than the Rev A especially with the Nvidia graphics and faster Bus and ram speeds?
  12. penyekz thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2009
    I'm also a little concerned that the MBA doesn't have a user replaceable battery. My dell batt died after about 18 months of light home use. If the MBA is the same then it would be a tragedy. The loan MBA I'm using shows the battery health to be 97% now after 14 charge cycles in 3 weeks.
  13. charlieroberts macrumors 6502a


    Feb 5, 2007

    I think it's best if you get the macbook, as it has been mentioned, it's cheaper and its a good compromise between MBP and MBA.

    And although it doesn't have the "cool factor" being your first OSX machine you'll feel plenty cool ;)
  14. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Go to an apple store or a best buy and lay hands on the machine. Despite all of the facts and opinions that have, and will be, thrown at you on this thread, the decision will be subjective.
  15. aaquib macrumors 65816


    Sep 11, 2007
    Toronto, Canada
    If you want the MacBook Air, go for it.

    In terms of day-to-day usage, like opening up apps, booting up your computer, shutting it off, sleeping, closing apps, saving, exiting. etc. the MacBook Air's SSD will be a major boost. I'll even go as far as saying that it makes up for the lack of processing power in day-to-day usage. The MacBook Air will run Photoshop and Aperture just fine as long as you don't do anything too processor intensive on it.

    On paper, the MacBook or MacBook Pro may seem like far better value, but the second you compare it to the MacBook you see why there is a premium. You yourself said it would be nice to have a nice, thin notebook for keynote presentations. You're not going to prefer the 6 pounds the MBP carries. You're going to enjoy the ultra thin, 3 pound package the MBA has.

    Plus, if you care about the quality of the display at all, you won't even bother with a MacBook. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are on completely different levels and the MacBook screen looks like absolute trash in comparison.
  16. penyekz thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2009
    Agree. I don't think I want to go for the Macbook. There's also a lot of talk about how crap the MB screens are. I don't mind paying for the price of the MBP or MBA. Its just tough trying to decide between the two.

    Will the 1.86ghz SSD MBA be able to run snow leopard?
  17. aaquib macrumors 65816


    Sep 11, 2007
    Toronto, Canada
    I'm using a Rev.A SSD MBA and it is running the latest developer preview of Snow Leopard.

    The results? Fast. Smooth. Snappy.

    The results are quite noticeable with a developer preview and horrible Intel graphics, so I can't wait to see the benefits once OpenCL comes into play with the Rev.B using the 9400M. Plus, there should be performance boosts to the SSD as well.
  18. ZeroCorpse macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Okemos, MI
    I'd go for the Pro, unless you plan on doing a LOT (and I mean a LOT) of traveling. Power beats compact size every day of the week!
  19. scottkifnw macrumors regular


    Jan 17, 2008
    Trophy Club, TX
    You won't go wrong

    I have a MBA and have used it as my home computer sine they first came out (~11/2 years). I do about everything you are wanting to do, and it is just fine. It is really great to travel with. I am used to the small screen.

    I am now thinking about a new machine now. so in a way, I am in a similar situation as you. I don't think I will ever go back to a desktop, liking the portability of a laptop. My next one will be a Macbookpro 15 inch. I will get the most power/memory that I can reasonably afford. Still, I will be using my MBA for years to come- excellent to hook up to a projector and give Keynote presentations.
  20. penyekz thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2009
    Noted. but from various threads in these forums, it seems like the SSD makes a huge difference in terms of everyday applications like opening up programs etc. Many have commented that the MBA rev B SSD is faster than their MBP 2.4.

    This is tough. I'm going to the store now.... All this thinking is driving me nuts:eek:
  21. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    don't waste your time with the macbook air.

    Get the 2.4 macbook, I think that is a great machine
  22. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    To a certain extent, this is the old power versus portability argument. They are both great computers. If you need power and performance (and a great screen) get the MBP; it is a superb computer (I have one and love it), and the 15" (which I have) is more than portable. I use it as my main computer. The MBA is stunning, but unless you move around a lot, and need the portability, I'd say go for the MBP.

    Cheers and good luck
  23. bigjnyc macrumors 603


    Apr 10, 2008
    My vote is for the MacBook PRO, and the main reason is because once you get used to OSX you will probably be using your Mac exclusively for most of your computing needs (except for gaming which you have a PC for). And I say this because this seems to be the general consensus amongst everyone who switches. The Air is a great portable machine but for power and versatility the MBP is the best hands down..... And its not like you cant carry it I mean unless you have the stength of a 12 year old girl you should be ok carrying it around. Best mix of power and portability in my opinion. Plus It just wouldnt feel right spending the same amount of money for so much less computing power, just for portability which the MBP offers anyway.
  24. Benguitar Guest


    Jan 30, 2009
    MacBook Pro.

    You can do a lot of graphic intensive work on a MBP, where on a MBA you will probably slow it down or cause it to freeze up by over heating. ;)
  25. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    You just making that up? Any proof that the rev B MacBook Air's "freeze up" when doing something graphic intensive like rendering in Photoshop or a game?

    While the Air will not perform that well (though it does use the 9400M chipset) it isn't something to slag off - it is better than the original Core Duo MacBook Pro in some aspects.

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