Upgrade late 2011 Macbook Pro 13" or buy new Macbook Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by shibato, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. shibato, Jun 14, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2013

    shibato macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2013
    Hi guys,

    I'm using a late 2011 Macbook Pro 13" 2.4 w/ 8 GB ram for business and home use. I have OSX + Windows 7 on WM Fushion, as the software I use for business needs to run on Windows (damn it!)

    The issue is that it's painstakingly slow no matter what I do - and I need to resolve this asap. So I've considered the following:

    A) Upgrade with an SSD 500/512 Samsung 840/pro to extend the life of the laptop. Problem is that I was dumb enough to choose the slowest possible processor, which makes me wonder how much I'll actually extend it's life:confused:

    B) Upgrade with a Samsung Hybrid 1tb, and use it for home use, and buy the new Air 1.7, 8 GB, 128 GB for business use only - but will the Air be that much quicker than the Macbook with an 840 upgrade:confused:

    I'm totally lost, please give me your two cents on what to do...

    C) Since both bays are sata 3, can I install the ssd instead of the dvd drive? Or should I move the HD to the dvd drive and install the ssd in the HD bay to enable it to boot from it???
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    You will see a nice performance boost but its limited to all disk IO operations. Anything requiring CPU or even GPU will be the same. In essence your vm will boot up faster but the app may not run any faster.

    I'm not sure how much faster the new MBA will be versus a MBP. The ULV CPUs typically have less horsepower but you're moving to a Haswell from a Sandy Bridge based computer so there should be some improvements.

    One way to improve your win7 experience is to run windows in bootcamp. Virtual environments are inherently slower then if you ran them natively.

    I like the new MBAs but I don't think they're a cpu/gpu powerhouse as the MBPs are. Another option is to wait a bit longer for the new Haswell MBPs
  3. NewishMacGuy macrumors 6502a


    Aug 2, 2007
    While the newly announced MBA is pretty sweet you should only buy it if you just want a new computer. The only things about it that will significantly enhance your computing experience (other than the long battery life) can be added to your uMBP-13 for $200 or so.

    The newer and/or higher end CPU isn't likely to make much of a difference at all other than the aforementioned battery life so don't worry that you got the Sandy Bridge i5.

    The following 3 things will help:

    1. SSD - Though a good hybrid drive would make a real difference on the OSX side, the caching algo will not likely give you a significant improvement for your Windows speeds.

    2. 16GB - While 8GB is fine for light VM usage, if you are a moderate user, you might well be paging out.

    3. If those two changes are not enough, go with a Bootcamp partition.

    If you do choose to install another drive in your optibay, be aware that it may not run at SATA3 speeds reliably. In the 2011 uMBP-15 you must put a SATA2 drive in the optibay for reliable performance. I had thought that the 2011 uMBP-13s all had SATA2 in the optibay, in which case you can use a SATA3 drive, but it will max out at about 300MB/s (still 3x an HDD).

  4. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I doubt that processor speed is a bottleneck for your use. A little time spent with Activity Monitor will tell you where your speed issues are. The only time I get page outs is when running Parallels with Windows. I have 8gb and it's fine when running only Mac apps. An SSD upgrade makes a huge difference.
  5. shibato thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2013
    Thx for your help so far - highly appreciated!

    I think I'll add a Samsung 840 pro to the HD bay, and move the HDD to the disk/dvd drive, and try it out before I invest in an Air.

    Any thoughts?
  6. Dwinguel macrumors member


    Feb 2, 2010
    Geneva, Switzerland
    That sounds like a good start and as glenthompson said, check "Activity Monitor" to see if you are swapping data to the hard drive because your are running out of RAM.

    I strongly suspect the hard drive is the bottleneck in your case.
  7. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    The painstaking slowness you describe is almost assuredly because of a lack of an SSD drive. RAM could be a factor, but storage IOPS (or lack thereof) is most definitely the main culprit.

    You're essentially running two different workloads off the same physical disk. OS X and any apps it has open at the time, plus Windows in your VM and any apps it has open at the time.

    The PCIe based SSD in the new AIR makes it a very attractive offering at this time for a laptop. I'm very curious to see what Apple has up its sleeve for the next MBP refresh, because if they move to PCIe SSD storage there as well, then things will get very interesting.

    CPU speaking, the 1.7Ghz CPU in the new 13" AIR comes very close to matching the 2.9GHz CPU in the 13" rMBP for 64bit GeekBench scores. So, when compared against Sandy Bridge, it should be a bit faster. Real world, I would expect the new AIR to be very close to performance of the current 13" MBP when you account for the SSD changes along with the new CPU. This is another interesting tidbit, and something that hints at a nice boost with the next MBP refresh.

    Between upgrading a 2011 13" MBP and buying a 2013 13" AIR, the only reasons I would choose the MBP is if I needed more than 8GB of RAM and/or if cost was a major factor.
  8. crazee928 macrumors member

    Sep 29, 2011
    not sure if you're into photography, but color representation is better on the MBPs, albeit lower res than the MBA - that is why I would never trade up my MBP (I have the same one as you) for an air. sure, the 13" has lower resolution than I'd like, but it's a compromise I'm willing to live with for the color gamut and portability. I have a 15" for work and even though the resolution is a lot better there, the physical size is too big for my liking. I'm planning on throwing in a crucial m500 480gb SSD as soon as it drops below $350 or $300, or whenever my patience runs out :)
  9. shibato thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2013
    Problem solved!

    Thanks for your input.

    I ditched the optical drive and installed a Samsung 840 pro instead - and kept the 500 GB HD. Best investment ever, it run like the wind!
  10. esskay macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    BTW, here are the Geekbench benchmarks for those models, i7 vs i5 makes a difference for processing speed on the new MBAs, otherwise pretty similar to what you have already:

    MacBook Pro (13-inch Late 2011)
    Intel Core i5-2435M 2400 MHz (2 cores)

    MacBook Air (13-inch Mid 2013)
    Intel Core i5-4250U 1300 MHz (2 cores)

    MacBook Air (13-inch Mid 2013)
    Intel Core i7-4650U 1700 MHz (2 cores)
  11. 1somniac macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2013
    I have exactly the same problem with my macbook pro late 2011.

    The air is slightly faster than the pro but...
    - it last 2-3 times longer (12 hours)
    - it's 2 times lighter at 1.3kg
    - graphic card intel 5000 allows it to render games much better
    - it's also less noisy

    With the macbook air I also should be able to carry my laptop everywhere thanks to its weight.

    Seems like a no brainer to me. Just hoping to find a good deal and I'll get this new machine

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