Which laptop for me? Portability Vs Power....

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by spiritlevel, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. spiritlevel macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2007
    I am in the market for a new laptop and I have been reading up on laptops here for the last couple of days and to be honest I am just as confused now as I was when I started...

    Here's my situation: I am a professional graphic/web designer and I already have a mac pro 2 x 2.8 with 10GB Ram, 2TB storage and a 23" ACD in the Office. I tend to work a lot of late nights, but as we have just had a new baby, my wife is starting to insist I spend more time at home in the evenings...

    So - I need a laptop so I can work at home too. I'll be lugging the laptop on my 10 min walk to the office and back every day. I have a budget of about £1000. I have been looking at:
    • Low end unibody MBP
    • Classic 2.4/200 MBP
    • 1.6 R2 MBA

    In an ideal world, what I want is a 14" MBA with a 9600 graphics card, firewire, 4GB RAM and a matte screen - but that doesn't exist!

    Therefore I am looking at the pros and cons of each option that does exist...

    • Low end Unibody:
    Pros: current, fast, powerful, firewire, big screen, good graphics, new display connector
    Cons: a bit over budget (but possible), glossy screen, heavy to lug about

    • classic MBP 2.4/200
    Pros: on budget (about £850), OK graphics (capability), 2 x firewire, big MATTE screen.
    Cons: Time bomb graphics card, old style, can't connect to new 24" display (and possibly new ACD's when they come out), heavy to lug about.

    • MBA 1.6 R2
    Pros: current, on budget (about £950) Gorgeous, Light, new display connector - did I mention it's gorgeous?
    Cons: less powerful (but powerful enough as 2nd machine?), 2GB RAM limit, no FW (but I have that on mac pro), smaller glossy screen (but again maybe OK as I also have 23" cinema in the office)

    So all these things keep going round in my head - no machine is perfect and each has pros and cons...

    So Can anyone help me decide? particularly interested to hear from any pro graphic designers in a similar situation (already had mac pro and bought a laptop).

    I was swinging more to the Classic MBP (mainly due to cost and matte screen) but I am worried that moving forward it may soon be made obsolete by its inabilty to connect to apples new generation of screens...

    but I am also very tempted by the MBA as I am a sucker for beautiful things...but maybe the I will wish I had got a MBP for the power...

    there - I have come full circle and back where I started - you see the problem...

    please help....

  2. jackiecanev2 macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2007
    Wirelessly posted (iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 2_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1.1 Mobile/5G77 Safari/525.20)

    The inability of being able to use the MBP classic with the futre ACDs is negated by the fact that those ACDs have extremely glossy screens, and that in the future as displayport becomes more available, there is a great likelihood that adapter (3rd party) will be introduced. Unless you have an external at home, I would advise against the MBA on that alone. The 15" classic sounds like it would serve you best. And it has been said tht the 8600gt problem will be fixd by apple, even a year out of warranty (but grab AppleCare if you can).
  3. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    I have the MBA revB/2. I absolutely love it. I use it as a one Mac System by connecting it to a 24" LED ACD. The MBA revB is an extremely capable machine. The first MBA was a pile of junk. The differences between them are night/day.

    Consider the xBench marks on the revB MBA. It's a quick machine capable of most tasks for most people. I do everything from office documents and email to Photoshop and Dreamweaver. It handles all quickly. I have the 1.86 GHz with SSD which allows fast startups and instant app opening. While that is quite a bit of the speed which makes it seem so much faster than my old MBP was or my unibody MB is, the HDD is still good in the revB MBA. A revA MBA 1.8 GHz with SSD doesn't score even close to a revB 1.6 with HDD.

    So you don't have to drop a small fortune to get the high-end SSD or 1.86. The revB in basic form is still a capable machine.

    45 NM Penryn SSF Intel Core 2 Duo CPU
    SATA-II drive
    Nvidia GPU
    1066 MHz RAM
    6 MB L2 Cache on CPU
    Mini Display Port running up to 30" external ACD

    All that means a very capable Mac. I vote MBA revB. Ultra compact and light but still powerful and nice size display with amazing design.

    Good luck to you.
  4. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    scotsdale.. I was wondering if you've ever connected your macbook air to a 30" display before? and if so how is the performance? I'm afraid it might stutter running such a big monitor
  5. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    OP: Since you already own a mac pro for the heavy lifting, I'll highly recommend the Rev. B Macbook Air :D it's really the perfect set up MBA + Mac Pro

    I have that exact same set up and it really is a joy to use. From a weight standpoint, the MBA wins hands down. Design wise however, I'll counter by saying the unibody macbook pro is gorgeous as well with the all glass and aluminium
  6. RainForRent macrumors 6502


    May 31, 2006
    Greenville, SC
    If you can swing it, I use a MacPro at work, and a 17" MBP for a portable. If the idea is being able to get work done at home, the MBA is gonna sputter. Get the last model before unibody, and love it. It has guts, a matte screen, and an actual optical drive so you can burn DVD's for clients if need be. A 17" notebook doesn't necessarily need an external screen, and if you want to get one but there isn't a displayport adapter at the time– buy a Dell monitor. I've been running with this setup for 8 months now, and it's great.

    If you do go with the unibody, there is a service out there that will replace that glossy monstrosity with a matte screen, for around $200, I think.
  7. MacbookAlum1536 macrumors regular


    Nov 21, 2008
    From the sound of it a new high end Unibody Macbook would work pretty well.
  8. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    Never had tried it. Until just now. Was at a client's office and tried it on one of the 30" ACDs there. Luckily another guy had the cable and uses his MBA revB with a 30" ACD there too. This guy is an engineer and is currently using his MBA revB instead of his Mac Pro. He has a 30" ACD at home too. He said he is absolutely addicted, as am I, to the MBA revB.

    Anyways, he told me his works perfect. I plugged mine in and saw for myself. Absolutely gorgeous display. Played HD video perfectly. With the resolution being turned all the way up, the desktop looked the same as plugging it into the Mac Pro next to the display. We watched the video go for about ten minutes.

    I love the Nvidia graphics. Apple made a very wise decision to stop using Intel's junk graphics. I am sure Intel with rethink the graphics and compete sometime in the future, but for now Nvidia rules on the MBA revB.

    I am telling you, this revB MBA never stops amazing me.

    Go MBA revB!
  9. spiritlevel thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2007
    Thanks for the replies and recommendations guys!

    While still being very tempted by the revB MBA I have decided to go with the classic 2.4 MBP

    My main reason for this is that I think I need to consider the laptop as a "main" home system rather than just an extension to the office MP.

    So the more powerful processor and the larger 15" matte screen + optical drive swung it for me.

    The 17" classic was definitely out due to being to0 heavy and the unibody MBP was out due to price and glossy screen.

    The thing that made me pull the trigger was a single brand new classic 2.4 MBP popping up on amazon for £850 - around the same price they usually go for 2nd hand on ebay. So I will get the full year's warrantee etc and no chance of a "mint" ebay one turning out to have dents and scratches etc

    I will use the £150 change to get a 500MB time capsule off ebay - giving me a wireless n network, backup for the MBP and some space to store my itunes library off the MBP - and that will be the home system sorted.

    Thanks again for all the input - much appreciated.

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