Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
So I am a second year computer science student. My 2017 15" MacBook pro recently had some problems so I need a new laptop.
I read the buying guides on this forum but I still don't have a clear decision

Currently, I am deciding between:
  1. 256GB MacBook Air 7 Core GPU and 8GB of RAM
  2. 256GB MacBook Pro 8GB RAM
  3. 512GB MacBook Air 8 Core GPU and 8GB of RAM
The reason I haven't considered any others is because these 3 are the only options that have stock in my local Apple stores. They told me they could also get a 16GB RAM 7 core MacBook air (at the same price as the base line Pro) but it would take a month to arrive and being a student I need the laptop within the next 2/3 weeks.

I don't use my laptop incredibly often, but I will use it time and time again (less than 2/3 hours a day)

The things I want to be able to do smoothly on this laptop are:

Code Python, C++, JS, Java, and Flutter using VSCode, IntelliJ Ultimate and Android Studio (With AVM)
A lot of web browsing, youtube tabs, forums etc
Using the Microsoft office suite at the same time that Im browsing the internet and coding
Some light UI/UX design using sketch and/or figma and invision studio

I also want to have a decent battery while doing all of this. My previous MacBook pro only lasted about 3/4 hours doing all of this

The touch-bar isn't a trade off or a need for me. Im neutral about it.

The things I was worried about with the Pro VS the Air are:
The greater brightness of the pro (my eyesight sucks) but I don't know if 100 nits makes a big difference and the fan in the pro to cool it down

Portability isn't a big concern. As long as it doesnt weigh down my backpack like my 15" MacBook Pro did

I plan on keeping this laptop for around 2 years but no more

What would you all recommend me to get?

Thanks very much :)
 

ssmed

macrumors 6502a
Sep 28, 2009
693
297
UK
If you can limp on until the newer machines are released and silicon software will be more mature then I would wait. Is your old laptop crocked or having problems? Have you wiped it and started again!

My old MPB was causing me problems last autumn, and I bought a M1 as I needed something for work immediately, but carefully stripping it back and installing everything again means it is now fine - but I have not gone back to Big Sur as that was not so good for the new machine. I normally use a laptop for 3 years, but often have the one before as backup.

Always a balance between need and time and getting the best value.

If you get an M1 I would get 16GB RAM. Hope this helps you deliberations.
 
  • Like
Reactions: betti21312

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
If you can limp on until the newer machines are released and silicon software will be more mature then I would wait. Is your old laptop crocked or having problems? Have you wiped it and started again!

My old MPB was causing me problems last autumn, and I bought a M1 as I needed something for work immediately, but carefully stripping it back and installing everything again means it is now fine - but I have not gone back to Big Sur as that was not so good for the new machine. I normally use a laptop for 3 years, but often have the one before as backup.

Always a balance between need and time and getting the best value.

If you get an M1 I would get 16GB RAM. Hope this helps you deliberations.
Thanks very much. So Initially, my 15 inch had keyboard problems. After sending it to Apple for repairs, I started to get random shut downs until it wouldn't turn on again. I sent it back to them and they "fixed" it but I have already given the laptop back to apple for a trade in as I was worried with it being out of warranty, that I wouldn't be able to afford or have time to deal with the future problems I may have.

If I do get the 16GB of RAM then I would just wait for the next model to come out as they have advised me 6-8 weeks of shipping and processing time

However, my iMac has 8GB of RAM and seems to manage fine with what I do - does the unified memory in the M1 laptops function in a similar way to what DDR4 does?
 

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
Try to borrow a computer until you can get one with more RAM; that's THE major limitation here, and you will feel it.
Sure. So do you think the upgraded RAM will be a better option over getting the Pro with active cooling and an 8 Core gpu?

Thanks for the help :)
 

svanstrom

macrumors 6502a
Feb 8, 2002
787
1,732
🇸🇪
Sure. So do you think the upgraded RAM will be a better option over getting the Pro with active cooling and an 8 Core gpu?

Thanks for the help :)
Personally…

Right now I have a MBP16:
2,3 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9
16 GB 2667 MHz DDR4
AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 4 GB
Intel UHD Graphics 630 1536 MB
(And a 1TB SSD.)

My big regret with that one is that I didn't wait for a delayed build-to-order with 32GB RAM; and all I do is have about a gazillion tabs open in both Safari and Chrome. I don't do any graphic design, don't compile much software; but use Plex a lot, and some some javascript development. And I occasionally get a warning about a Safari tab using too much RAM.

As far as computing power I more than I need; but I would never go with a dimmer display, less storage, or only 16GB RAM if I bought a new laptop today.
 

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
Personally…

Right now I have a MBP16:
2,3 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9
16 GB 2667 MHz DDR4
AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 4 GB
Intel UHD Graphics 630 1536 MB
(And a 1TB SSD.)

My big regret with that one is that I didn't wait for a delayed build-to-order with 32GB RAM; and all I do is have about a gazillion tabs open in both Safari and Chrome. I don't do any graphic design, don't compile much software; but use Plex a lot, and some some javascript development. And I occasionally get a warning about a Safari tab using too much RAM.

As far as computing power I more than I need; but I would never go with a dimmer display, less storage, or only 16GB RAM if I bought a new laptop today.
As far as my tabs go - I normally never have more than 10 maximum (on some hectic research projects)
Normally its between 1-5

I'll normally always have my browser open alongside my code or my Word document.

Storage isn't an issue for me. I have more than I need in iCloud and I barely ever touch the 256GB I have on my iMac and had on my Pro

Before I had the 15 inch MacBook pro, I had the core i5 2017 13" MacBook with 128GB and that handled most of my tasks fine, although it was a but sluggish after a year.

However, as you said the display brightness may be a factor. Both my iMac and my 15 inch pro have and had a 500 nit display. I would have to take a trip to the Apple store in person to be able to tell what 400 nits looks like.

Thanks again for the reply, Ill take all of that into consideration
 

cardfan

macrumors 68040
Mar 23, 2012
3,326
4,280
Get base Air. Quit worrying about 100nits. Are you really a computer science student that already has owned macs with this many basic questions?
 

Psychbum

macrumors regular
Sep 18, 2012
194
43
RAM warnings in Safari should not be treated with any actual seriousness. (would link if could be bothered) - But search around and you will see people with 16GB+ RAM still run into the RAM message in Safari, blame safari.

When this occurs for me (only ever noticed on FB) - Activity monitor 'memory' is not correlated with the 'event' safari reports!

Open same webpages in edge however and I do not get any warnings about RAM usage! - and activity monitor still shows RAM in tip top shape and pressure way down in the green.

I use SPSS software that is emulated currently and that always ran poorly on my previous 2017 MBP, but it runs better under rosetta (2) 😂- SPSS is intensive when you start operating and analysing large data sets, but never been an issue.

I have 8GB RAM for the record, just don't tell me its not enough. As I know it is.
 
  • Like
Reactions: betti21312

svanstrom

macrumors 6502a
Feb 8, 2002
787
1,732
🇸🇪
Quit worrying about 100nits.
That's an extra 25% brightness of what a 400 nits display can provide; and that's a lot

I honestly don't know if I should blame it on physical age, or attribute it to mental growth; but I just have no ducking anything to waste on equipment that doesn't work when and where I need it, and…

My eyesight isn't bad, but when I'm in a bright environment with the sun hitting just wrong I really need every bit of those 500 nits to be able to keep working. I could work with less; but then I'd walk away from that with a pain in my back/neck, strained eyes, and a headache. So not worth it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: betti21312

svanstrom

macrumors 6502a
Feb 8, 2002
787
1,732
🇸🇪
RAM warnings in Safari should not be treated with any actual seriousness. (would link if could be bothered) - But search around and you will see people with 16GB+ RAM still run into the RAM message in Safari, blame safari.

When this occurs for me (only ever noticed on FB) - Activity monitor 'memory' is not correlated with the 'event' safari reports!

Open same webpages in edge however and I do not get any warnings about RAM usage! - and activity monitor still shows RAM in tip top shape and pressure way down in the green.

I use SPSS software that is emulated currently and that always ran poorly on my previous 2017 MBP, but it runs better under rosetta (2) 😂- SPSS is intensive when you start operating and analysing large data sets, but never been an issue.

I have 8GB RAM for the record, just don't tell me its not enough. As I know it is.
You are clearly wrong and simply don't know that you should be very unhappy with what you've got. ;)

Safari definitely should be blamed here, I agree; and it's likely that they will improve this in a later update. (Honestly, in most cases they could probably just prevent the warning from appearing.)

I still wouldn't recommend anything less than 16GB to anyone doing javascript-related development, though.
 

BigMcGuire

Contributor
Jan 10, 2012
7,684
9,502
the Alpha Quadrant
My first dive into the Mac world - my wife and I got BestBuy discounted $650 base 2015 MBAs 11' and used them heavily for 3 years with external monitors. We even did WoW on them! Then saved up and got our MBPs and .... now can afford a 32GB ram MBP. It's everything I've ever wanted in a computer.

@svanstrom is very correct - ram is HUGE. As a former CS student myself - yeah... it's a must. That said, budget can be a constraint. My wife and I really got our money's worth out of those 2015 MBAs - one is still used by mother in law today (daily).
 

Psychbum

macrumors regular
Sep 18, 2012
194
43
I hate that Safari provides such warnings, and then having them being taking seriously enough to convince people that RAM is to blame! - It isn't! Apple need to work on Safari, again!

I understand that for some RAM is going to be much more important to them than others, for reasons you state. Usage differences.

I guess Apple should stop claiming boosts and leaps in power and performance but still shipping 8GB/and even selling 8GB specs as 'the gold standard' - Yes straight form the apple sales mouthpiece! - You know more about this than I would ever claim to know in the Javascript development arena. - 16GB maybe should be sold as 'the minimum gold standard'

Who knew M1 next gen wouldn't include next gen RAM quantitates.

I may be ill informed, but I can't stop procrastinating. 😏
 
  • Like
Reactions: betti21312

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
Get base Air. Quit worrying about 100nits. Are you really a computer science student that already has owned macs with this many basic questions?
Ive owned macs, intel based macs. Also prior to the M1 models, the pricing and similarities were never this close. I have 0 experience with using the M1 macs and I haven't read or watched too much about them until now.
 

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
RAM warnings in Safari should not be treated with any actual seriousness. (would link if could be bothered) - But search around and you will see people with 16GB+ RAM still run into the RAM message in Safari, blame safari.

When this occurs for me (only ever noticed on FB) - Activity monitor 'memory' is not correlated with the 'event' safari reports!

Open same webpages in edge however and I do not get any warnings about RAM usage! - and activity monitor still shows RAM in tip top shape and pressure way down in the green.

I use SPSS software that is emulated currently and that always ran poorly on my previous 2017 MBP, but it runs better under rosetta (2) 😂- SPSS is intensive when you start operating and analysing large data sets, but never been an issue.

I have 8GB RAM for the record, just don't tell me its not enough. As I know it is.
Got it. Thanks :)

Is there a reason you went for the pro over the Air besides for the touch bar?
 

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
That's an extra 25% brightness of what a 400 nits display can provide; and that's a lot

I honestly don't know if I should blame it on physical age, or attribute it to mental growth; but I just have no ducking anything to waste on equipment that doesn't work when and where I need it, and…

My eyesight isn't bad, but when I'm in a bright environment with the sun hitting just wrong I really need every bit of those 500 nits to be able to keep working. I could work with less; but then I'd walk away from that with a pain in my back/neck, strained eyes, and a headache. So not worth it.
I agree, the 25% gain is big and as I said it is a concern
Since its been ages since Ive used a 400 nit screen and I think Ive become accustomed to the 500 nits which is what Ive been exposed to constantly.

Although, I hardly ever use my laptop outside and I only ever use it in my house and lecture rooms so it might not make that much of a difference indoors

Thanks for the reply :)
 

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
My first dive into the Mac world - my wife and I got BestBuy discounted $650 base 2015 MBAs 11' and used them heavily for 3 years with external monitors. We even did WoW on them! Then saved up and got our MBPs and .... now can afford a 32GB ram MBP. It's everything I've ever wanted in a computer.

@svanstrom is very correct - ram is HUGE. As a former CS student myself - yeah... it's a must. That said, budget can be a constraint. My wife and I really got our money's worth out of those 2015 MBAs - one is still used by mother in law today (daily).
Got it. Thanks very much :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: BigMcGuire

gnasher729

Suspended
Nov 25, 2005
17,980
5,554
My rule is: You decide how much you pay, then get the best product for that money.

You save about $200 with MBAir vs. MBPro. There will be a slight speed penalty if you use the MacBook intensively for a long time. Doesn't matter for most people. I'd go for the MBAir.

You save about $50 with 7 core vs. 8 Core GPU. You won't notice the difference. And you can get the 7 core with more RAM, bigger SSD drive, the only thing that is not available is 8 Core with 256 GB SSD. Save that money.

SSD drive: You buy as much as you need. If you are like me with 30 years collection of music, audio books, movies, you'll need a lot. 256 GB is plenty for most people but it's your decision.

RAM: I would go for 16 GB instead of 8 GB unless money is really really tight and you can't go above $999 at all.

Make sure that you know if there are any school or student rebates. If not make sure you check out offers on sale elsewhere.
 

ascender

macrumors 601
Dec 8, 2005
4,084
1,981
I'd order a MacBook Air with 16GB RAM and the size of SSD you need from the Apple Store online and deal with the week or so where you may have to muddle through for a bit.

No need to buy a Pro at the moment IMO as its a bit of a strange machine - the "real" Pro machines are coming later this year with more ports and more RAM.

16GB RAM will be more than enough for your use cases you've mentioned.
 

Psychbum

macrumors regular
Sep 18, 2012
194
43
Got it. Thanks :)

Is there a reason you went for the pro over the Air besides for the touch bar?
I had a 2017 MBP, that had continuously failing usb-c ports.

Took this to seniors at Apple and they offered a replacement under consumer Law in the UK, they had to replace with brand new machine and the M1 MBP is what they offered and I leapt at the swap obviously!

So I was upgrading from MBP to MBP of closest spec.

I absolutely cannot complain about this M1, only things I can complain about is EDIT: (Third party) software but that's to be expected sadly!

Get a MBPro, you would not regret it!

I have also never really clicked with the touch bar, if I could I would have it powered off constantly as its more of a distraction for me than a 'Tool'. - doesn't have 'tools' for the apps I use mostly and would like to see uses for.

I am a Psychology student and have to run in depth research databases (multiple journals and articles that are huge), SPSS for statistical analysis and this machine is incredibly quick, cool, and I have still never once heard the fan kick in!

Whats making you want the Air over the MBP?
 
  • Like
Reactions: betti21312

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
I hate that Safari provides such warnings, and then having them being taking seriously enough to convince people that RAM is to blame! - It isn't! Apple need to work on Safari, again!

I understand that for some RAM is going to be much more important to them than others, for reasons you state. Usage differences.

I guess Apple should stop claiming boosts and leaps in power and performance but still shipping 8GB/and even selling 8GB specs as 'the gold standard' - Yes straight form the apple sales mouthpiece! - You know more about this than I would ever claim to know in the Javascript development arena. - 16GB maybe should be sold as 'the minimum gold standard'

Who knew M1 next gen wouldn't include next gen RAM quantitates.

I may be ill informed, but I can't stop procrastinating. 😏
I agree with that. The way the apple stores here choose to import also adds alot of constraints on my decisions. There are 0 M1 models here with 16GB of ram (including the mini) and all of them require an 8 week custom import. 8GB has worked for me in the past but I feel with the way things are going that 8GB might not be enough for the next 2 years based on what Ive seen in your posts and others

Thanks for the help :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Psychbum

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
My rule is: You decide how much you pay, then get the best product for that money.

You save about $200 with MBAir vs. MBPro. There will be a slight speed penalty if you use the MacBook intensively for a long time. Doesn't matter for most people. I'd go for the MBAir.

You save about $50 with 7 core vs. 8 Core GPU. You won't notice the difference. And you can get the 7 core with more RAM, bigger SSD drive, the only thing that is not available is 8 Core with 256 GB SSD. Save that money.

SSD drive: You buy as much as you need. If you are like me with 30 years collection of music, audio books, movies, you'll need a lot. 256 GB is plenty for most people but it's your decision.

RAM: I would go for 16 GB instead of 8 GB unless money is really really tight and you can't go above $999 at all.

Make sure that you know if there are any school or student rebates. If not make sure you check out offers on sale elsewhere.
This helps alot. Storage isnt a concern for me, especially with iCloud and thunderbolt drives.

I have taken into account the student discounts available to me which is 5% less the selling price

I agree with the RAM, the only issue is waiting for it to arrive might be pointless with the rumoured release of the next generation of M1 around the corner, since 8 weeks is the suggested time for the 16GB model to arrive here

Thank you alot for the help and reply :)
 

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
I'd order a MacBook Air with 16GB RAM and the size of SSD you need from the Apple Store online and deal with the week or so where you may have to muddle through for a bit.

No need to buy a Pro at the moment IMO as its a bit of a strange machine - the "real" Pro machines are coming later this year with more ports and more RAM.

16GB RAM will be more than enough for your use cases you've mentioned.
Thanks very much :) will take this into heavy consideration
 

betti21312

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2021
20
4
I had a 2017 MBP, that had continuously failing usb-c ports.

Took this to seniors at Apple and they offered a replacement under consumer Law in the UK, they had to replace with brand new machine and the M1 MBP is what they offered and I leapt at the swap obviously!

So I was upgrading from MBP to MBP of closest spec.

I absolutely cannot complain about this M1, only things I can complain about is EDIT: (Third party) software but that's to be expected sadly!

Get a MBPro, you would not regret it!

I have also never really clicked with the touch bar, if I could I would have it powered off constantly as its more of a distraction for me than a 'Tool'. - doesn't have 'tools' for the apps I use mostly and would like to see uses for.

I am a Psychology student and have to run in depth research databases (multiple journals and articles that are huge), SPSS for statistical analysis and this machine is incredibly quick, cool, and I have still never once heard the fan kick in!

Whats making you want the Air over the MBP?
Mostly the cost. I also wasn't a huge fan of the touch bar on my MacBook Pro
A lot of the videos Ive been watching show little performance loss in favour of getting the Air

Im also a fan of how light and portable it is in comparison the the 15 inch pro which was even uncomfortable to use in bed

Unfortunately we don't have a consumer law like that here and I was lucky apple even replaced my logic board in the first place

I was a huge fan of the form factor of my 2017 13" Pro though, so I will take this into consideration :) Thanks so much

Did you get the 16GB RAM model then? :)
 

Psychbum

macrumors regular
Sep 18, 2012
194
43
Mostly the cost. I also wasn't a huge fan of the touch bar on my MacBook Pro
A lot of the videos Ive been watching show little performance loss in favour of getting the Air

Im also a fan of how light and portable it is in comparison the the 15 inch pro which was even uncomfortable to use in bed

Unfortunately we don't have a consumer law like that here and I was lucky apple even replaced my logic board in the first place

I was a huge fan of the form factor of my 2017 13" Pro though, so I will take this into consideration :) Thanks so much

Did you get the 16GB RAM model then? :)
I absolutely do not need 16GB of RAM! 😏
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.