What to buy: MBA 11" i5 2GB 64GB or C2D 4GB 128GB?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Lomaxfairchild, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. Lomaxfairchild macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2003
    For my girlfriend - will mainly be used for web and writing.

    The C2D is a refurb with double the memory and SSD of the new i5 - but will the i5's performance make up for the lack of RAM?

    Comments appreciated.

    The C2D is also £30 cheaper.
  2. DaLurker, Dec 14, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011

    DaLurker macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2006
    Get the C2D with double the memory and double the SSD.

    Extra Comments:
    A C2D is more than fast enough for 90% of the usage scenarios that your girlfriend will have. She's much more likely to complain about slow app switching (because of RAM) and not enough space to put photos and other files. The RAM and SSD will give your laptop more longevity.
  3. Roman2K~, Dec 14, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011

    Roman2K~ macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    Get the 2011 model.
    • i5 vs. C2D: the newer model won't make her work any snappier, but it's more efficient, using less battery for equal workloads.
    • 2 GB vs 4 GB: she will never need the extra 2 GB of RAM. Should she need them, the SSD makes for quick swapping anyway.
    • 64 GB vs 128 GB: I don't think she's got enough SSD-worthy files (non-music or -video) to warrant the extra 64 GB.
    • Backlit keyboard: such a convenience!
    • Keyboard feel: much, much better than the 2010 model. Not advertised in the specs, but it's definitely improved. Smoother and tighter feedback, quieter, satisfying clicks.

    Really? Isn't that already mentioned by the OP himself, in the title at that?
  4. Xikum macrumors 6502

    Oct 19, 2011
    I actually had a similar choice when I bought my MBA, and I choose the 13", for the following reasons;

    -more battery life
    -bigger screen is better imo
    -extra SSD space; 64 GB simply isnt enough, especially if its your main computer
    -and in your case, 4 GB RAM is a nice extra.

    The backlight keyboard is a bit of a novelty imo, if you can touch type then its pretty useless. Ultimately though, I think it comes down to if your girlfriend needs SSD space, and if she likes the extra screen real estate. Battery life of the 13' is something to bear in mind too
  5. thuglove macrumors member

    May 12, 2011
  6. adamtj11 macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2011
    2011 model for me

    1. Better resale value than 2010 model
    2. i5 is far far superior to C2D
    3. As Roman said above the keys are nicer, and also the trackpad seems better too.
    4. Honestly the 2gb of Ram paired with an SSD has yet to slow for me.
    5. Thunderbolt in the future while it gets more and more mainstream.
    6. Backlit Keyboard, better in the dark.
  7. Xikum macrumors 6502

    Oct 19, 2011
    The i5 is superior to the C2D, but really, OP said its going to be used for writing and browsing. Absolutely no CPU intensive tasks there.
  8. craigsharp macrumors regular

    Aug 2, 2008

    but will it play quake? i kid, i kid...
  9. Lomaxfairchild thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2003
    Thanks for the replies, all.

    So that's 2 votes for the i5, 2 votes for the C2D. Mmmm.

    I hear the comments about the fast writes to the SSD making the RAM ceiling less critical, but won't frequent writes to the SSD reduce its lifespan?

    Xikum - they're both 11" so screen size isn't an issue.


    One more question, can any owners of either model running Lion tell me how much RAM is used by the OS?
  10. Xikum macrumors 6502

    Oct 19, 2011
    Oh sorry, I thought the 2010 was 13". Constant paging to the SSD does technically reduce its lifespan, but SSDs are smart in the sense that they spread the writes over all the cells, making the SSD last alot longer. I would be very, very surprised if anybody keeps their MBA so long that the SSD dies.

    On my 2010, C2D 2 GB RAM MBA, there is 462.2 MB of wired RAM using Lion.
  11. Kendo macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2011
    For Internet and writing use? Definitely the 2010 model.

    She might not need 4GB now, but it will become the norm in a year or two (technically it is already the norm) so it is already a bonus that she gets 4GB.

    I would also take double the SSD storage over the i5 simply because she isn't doing anything processor intensive. Also regarding the resale value, 2011 model with 64GB SSD vs a 2010 model with a 128GB SSD is pretty much a wash.

    And it is cheaper for you.
  12. Doc750 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2010
    My wife took my C2D MBA 11" 2 gb, 64 gb.

    She absolutely loves it
    only uses it to write briefs,and surf the web, iChat
    keeps it in her purse
    Loves the battery life

    She doesn't care about resale value, upgrading to latest OS, or faster processors.
  13. DaLurker macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2006
    I like to answer the OPs question in a full sentence. Why do you have to be antagonistic with your rhetorical question?
  14. Roman2K~ macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2011
    It wasn't nice I admit (downrated to -3 already ;)). That's because at the time, there was no "extra comment" so it was dull.
  15. devinci99 macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2008

    i5; you *could* uprade the 11" i5 with 4GB RAM/128GB SSD too if that were a factor...

    Otherwise if the same price range, i5 over c2d. c2d is a very old architecture, and it took a long time before Apple/Intel was able to put a capable CPU into the MBA. i5 really brings the MBA into more modern computing.

    Also look at all the reviews. Because of the i5/i7 upgrade to the MBA, the MBA is one of the best notebooks out there. The c2d version when it came out was nice niche for portability, but you had to compromise a lot! While the i5/i7 version performance was in par with the macbook pros (at the time). Just google it and read the reviews and comparisions!
  16. DaLurker macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2006
    Fair enough :)
  17. Xikum macrumors 6502

    Oct 19, 2011
    What are you talking about? Your acting as if the C2D is absolutely incapable of even the most basic of tasks. The computer came out last year. It is not a completely null CPU. Sure, the i5 would trump the C2D when it comes to video encoding; but OP wouldn't even realise a difference doing such basic work.

    There is a reason Apple picked the C2D+320M over the 1st generation i3/i5/i7 CPUs. OP said that the computer was just going to be used for web browsing and writing documents. I could do that on a Pentium 4 computer comfortably with 512 MB RAM.
  18. Lomaxfairchild thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2003
    OK, I went for the C2D in the end on the grounds that, while the work she does won't be particularly processor intensive, she does like to have 400 Safari tabs open at once so the extra RAM will likely be more benefit than a better processor.

    Thanks for your help up thread - it certainly helped clarify things.
  19. Xikum macrumors 6502

    Oct 19, 2011
    Very good choice. I'm sure she will love the new MBA.
  20. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009

    Agreed definitely core2duo model. 4gb ram is a must, double the hard drive space is definately a good idea, the battery lasts longer on the core2duo version according to some tests and it is fast enough for everything she will want to do and then some
  21. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006
    I laugh at all the folks who trash talk the C2D MBAs. They fly really. I have a brand new 17" MBP and for day to day tasks the MBAs work just as good. Encoding video and RAW photo processing definitely the MBP is much faster. The MBA works great for 95% of what I do, including playing Skyrim on Bootcamp with medium settings.

    Oh and resale values? WTF? Any computer you buy will drop a lot right after you get it. In fact, I think a used C2D will maintain a greater % of resale value than a new 2011 MBA. Yes, the 2010 MBA will retain more of its value!
  22. cedwhatev macrumors 6502


    Oct 22, 2011
    I am all for the C2D as well.. it is really annoying how people completely knock them in favour of the i5.. it's really not that much different. I've been watching resale values, and the C2Ds have been selling for just as much, and in some cases, more than some used Core i5s..
  23. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I would go for the additional RAM and storage capacity based on what you say your GF does. She is less likely to have to worry about space left and a program or two having swapping issues due to lack of memory. If she needs Windows, she can allocate a proper amount of space to both OSes as she sees fit. You can't do much with 64GB which comes to 60GB usable.

    I don't own nor do I see myself owning a Thunderbolt storage device anytime soon, so I don't see the point in that feature. For me the miniDP would be fine.

    The Core 2 is still a powerful processor. It's still capable. For a lot people, I don't think they could really tell the different.

    The backlit keyboard on the newer model is just something else that can break. No serious writer going pecking for keys, so why would she need the backlit keyboard? Personally I have that feature disabled on all my computers with it. I sort of wish there was an option we could order that read "backlit delete" or something like (much like a "model delete" when you purchase an automobile and they debadge your vehicle).

    Good luck!
  24. cathyy macrumors 6502a

    Apr 12, 2008
    C2D is more than capable for pretty much all daily tasks such as web surfing and word processing. The only real justification I can see for the i5 model would be if you really love the backlit keyboard that much.

    2GB is sufficient for most needs too, but 4GB is fine if you want extra breathing room. 64GB vs 128GB depends on how much songs/photos/videos the user stores on it.

    I have a C2D 2GB 64GB model, and it's perfect for web surfing, chatting and videos. Heck, I even have 3 spaces open with Visual Studio 2010 running via virtualization, and it still runs extremely smoothly. Not only that, I still have more than 50% of my SSD space left.

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