Which would you choose for these criteria? MBA vs. MBP

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Capt Crunch, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. Capt Crunch, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011

    Capt Crunch macrumors 6502

    Aug 26, 2001
    Washington, D.C.
    I'm trying to decide between two wildly different computers.

    Currently I have a 2.26 C2D 13" MBP with 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB Intel SSD. I'm doing the following things with it:

    Textmate for LaTeX writing
    iTunes with tunes playing
    Chrome with 10ish tabs open
    Papers with all my academic literature
    VMware Fusion running Windows 7 for coding purposes in Visual C++

    Right now the fan is running constantly, switching between apps is sluggish, and my computer hangs for 10 seconds at a time twice an hour or so. It doesn't help that my simulations in Windows take forever. I should point out that my simulations are single threaded.

    I'm trying to decide between a base 13" MBA, or a somewhat tricked out 15" MBP with 8 GB of RAM, the upgraded resolution and the same SSD. The difference is $700 and some change, I think.

    I love the portability of the MBA. My wife has an old one and she takes it everywhere in the house or outside. I imagine that if I had the 15" I wouldn't take it with me on the couch too much, which is a bummer.

    That said, I like the idea of the performance of the MBP. Mostly, I worry about the 4 GB RAM limitation of the MBA. In fact, if the MBA could be ordered with 8 GB, I don't think I would be having this decision right now. That said, geekbench says that the MBP is much faster than the MBA, and I'm wondering if it's the kind of performance I would appreciate for my uses.

    I don't need an optical drive, I don't need large amounts of storage, and I don't play games. I'm not considering the 13" MBP because the resolution is too small (I have an external monitor now, and would be giving it up for the upgrade).

    So, what would you choose and why?
  2. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    i am not sure why you would even consider the mba for all of those tasks. you sound like a perfect candidate for the 15", because you will actually be able to benefit from the extra performance, especially if you have the extra ram and ssd.
  3. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    You have a C2D MBP, right? So even the new MBA would be an upgrade as it is i5 based. This year's base 13 in MBP is faster than last year's fastest MBP. You mention fans running all the time and 10 second freezes. I assume none of this happens unless you have Windows going in its virtual machine, right?

    I think you answered your own question. Because you need so much RAM and are already accustomed to SSD, you are looking at the 15 in MBP. If you can find a way to make everything live in 4GB, you might get away with the MBA. Why not spend some time now figuring out how to get everything to play nice in the 4GB of RAM you already have. If you figure out how to make it on 4 GB of RAM, you can have it both ways: i5 MBA with SSD and only 4 GB of RAM but no constant fan running issues.
  4. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    So then how is this question not already answered? If you don't want the 13, get the 15. Problem solved.

    Get the 15, upgrade the RAM yourself, and be done with it.

Share This Page