Which would you rather buy? 13" base MBA or 13" base uMBP w/SSD?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by dmk1974, Jan 11, 2013.


Which would you rather buy? 13" base MBA or 13" base uMBP w/SSD?

  1. 13" base MBA

    25 vote(s)
  2. 13" base uMBP w/128 GB SSD for $70 extra

    8 vote(s)
  1. dmk1974 macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    The base 13" MBP and base 13" MBA are the same price. Upgrading the MBP to a 128 SSD is about $70 extra (at least that's what I paid for a Samsung 830 128 GB SSD a month or so ago).

    So at that point, an extra $70 gets you the same 4GB RAM, same 128 GB SSD, same HD 4000 graphics, same footprint, and same advertised battery life.

    The differences with the MBP, are:

    * 8% faster processor (per Geekbench scores, even though you'd think 39% faster from 1.8 to 2.5)
    * an extra 1.5 lb (+50%) in weight and thicker machine compared to the MBA
    * lower resolution high glare screen (with better color depth though)
    * integrated SuperDrive
    * ethernet port
    * firewire port
    * further upgradeability of RAM and SSD (this is probably the most important differentiator)

    I think it just depends if you like it thin, light, and fast with a higher-res screen (MBA) but locked in to the configuration you buy vs the MBP trade-offs I listed above. Thanks!
  2. davenz macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2008
    The uMBP is basically useless now. The air is just as fast and doesn't have the useless optical drive (and weight that comes with it).
  3. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I much rather enjoy my MBA. :p
    I think the MBP is still a good computer but it's just not the same in term of weight. I just finally think with the 2011 models or higher, they finally have the power.
  4. coldjeanzzz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 4, 2012
    The MBA, it can't be stated enough how portable this little guy is. It's not just the weight, but the way it's designed. It's so quiet too, I can't ever hear the fan unless I put my ear right up to it and it runs super cool.
  5. A Hebrew macrumors 6502a

    A Hebrew

    Jan 7, 2012
    MBP if I need the storage, I would just get rid of the OD.
  6. dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    Thanks so much for the replies so far everyone.

    Storage-wise, I doubt I would need past 256 GB, and even 128 GB is sufficient for now. I only use about 60-70 GB right now on my laptop since in my house we have a server computer that houses all of our music, photos, and videos.

    I just wish Apple didn't bend everyone over with their ridiculous cost to configure upgraded machines. $100 to go from 4 GB RAM to 8 GB RAM? What a joke. I bought 16 GB RAM for $50 for a Mac Mini.
  7. LeeM macrumors 6502a

    Jan 1, 2012
    Pro is more powerful, upgradable, and will fit in 99% of the bags that an air will so its just as portable.
    Most of us see the SuperDrive as a bay for an ssd, eliminating the need to carry an external drive like you would with the air if you wanted 500gb+
  8. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    First off, if you have a server (like myself) that hosts all your content, why not make it so it's accessible outside of your network? I wish Apple would let us use some kind of APIs to deliver our content from our server, though there are other protocols you can use (SSH & others). I just haven't found an acceptable one for photos (as I really do like the simplistic nature of iPhoto, maybe not it's file system).

    Secondly, why are you complaining about memory upgrade? $100 isn't bad to upgrade memory on a logic board. Also keep in mind that it covers AppleCare on it as well. Then the last thing to keep in mind is costs of implementing memory into such a small space, yes there are cheaper options though they don't fit right in such a small space. I think tis not a joke, only your opinion is. Think logically of how Apple implements their technology, how they use their manufacturing process, their standards, their quality control. The joke is your logic sir. No offense. Just in this case. ;)
  9. dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    I completely disagree with you on this point. Integrated to the board or not, Apple price gouges on the RAM upgrades. Even for the MacBook Pro models, they have the same price/GB RAM upgrade price steps, so don't tell me that it's all because of being integrated. For the Pro, it's a simple chip they are popping in to a socket.

    Also, check out the Mac Mini. They advertise how that machine is so easy to remove the bottom cover and install RAM yourself. Yet, they charge the same $100 upcharge to go from 4 GB to 8 GB and $300 extra to go from 4 GB to 16 GB. Again, they price gouge on this and are taking advantage of idiots or something by charging $300 for something that is so easy to upgrade yourself for $50-$60.
  10. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I'm not saying just how they integrate it on the logic board. It's not the same chips they use in the MacMini. It's a new chip so they have to make each one. So when you go inside the MacBook Air it is the same RAM as the Mini? The Pro? No, it's not. Check it out.

    Listen, this is a small machine, the same RAM that fits in the Mini or the Pro would not fit in this MacBook Air. Yes, the prices are a bit higher on the Air or in general on their lineup because they have a warranty on them. Not only that but if it does fail, they have to replace the logic board on the MacBook Airs. I'm saying, $100 is not bad at all for the MacBook Air.

    Yes, you are paying more per GB but do you get any of the same quality control? The same build quality? The same design? You can't compare these models to others. You argument is wrong there because of these different technologies.
  11. dmk1974, Jan 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013

    dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    It's still a rip-off for what they charge. Quality control? In that teardown as well as in recent Mac Mini's and MacBook Pro's that I have upgraded, the stock RAM has been that cheap Hynix stuff as well. I'd much rather have Crucial or even G. Skill for the prices I quoted earlier. I do not follow our argument for the "quality control". If you are referring to the RAM chips, the ones Apple integrates are no better than what you can buy off the shelf. If you are referring to the MBA vs MBP, Apple makes both so they should have equivalent build quality (designs are of course different, but Apple does not market one vs the other as an "economy" machine).

    I am not disputing that there is a difference in the chips being different when soldered to a board vs modular chips. But Apple sure as hell isn't paying Hynix a premium for those chips in either case. It's just an implementation difference. Bottom line, Apple over charges for the BTO RAM upgrades because apparently they can.

    MBA vs PRO design, I do very much like the design of the MBA. Thin, sleek, light. But I rarely take it out of the house (mostly used in different locations in the house or on my desk while closed and connected to a 24" monitor). It really just comes down to which of the trade-offs in my first post that are preferred I think. Taking an MBA to an 8/256 config costs an extra $400. To do the same with a MBP (by upgrading with your own parts) is only an extra $170-$180. Or even a MBP to 16/256 costs only an extra $200.
  12. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I can understand what you are saying though the Hynix are required to meet a certain standard and quality that Apple demands otherwise they will not have a contract for long.

    I do understand but why get the 256GB SSD? I invested my money into a server instead of investing into storage of a computer. Less moving around my data.
  13. coldjeanzzz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 4, 2012

    It's definitely not as portable even if they fit in the same bag, a thinner and lighter laptop is just less of a burden to keep in your hands and move around.
  14. JoshMKB24 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2013
    I mean it depends on the situation. If its going to be your only computer I'd definitely opt for the MBP, but if you have another computer I'd get the MBA. As someone who has owned both a retina MBP and an Air, the MBA is far more portable, granted I have the 11" and not the 13" but its just a lot lighter in a bag or under your arm.
  15. dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    I think I am probably fine with 128 GB for now (since I have that home server computer), but was thinking about maybe creating a Bootcamp partition for Windows where a 256 GB drive would provide more space.


    I have a home server computer for all of my main media files. I use the laptop in a few locations in the house and it only leaves the house maybe once a month or so. If I carried it out of the house daily, the MBA is the definite choice for me.
  16. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I see. Though I don't use Windows. I have a computer from 4 years ago that I built to be my desktop. It cost me like $600 to build and it's still running strong. I format it once a year and mainly use it as a PC gaming box, Plex and some programs for school if I have to have Windows which usually isn't the case anymore.

    It is totally worth to invest into your own server. Though we just need ISPs to stop being lazy.
  17. dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    Wow, pretty overwhelming in favor of the MBA. Maybe results would be reversed in the MBP forum? :)

    I saw at my local BB an open box 13" uMBP for $957 but didn't grab it.
  18. nilk macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2007
    Kind of depends on your needs and what your needs will be in the future.

    The MBA maxes out at only 8GB RAM. But you said you are getting the base model, which only has 4GB RAM; I'd highly recommend getting 8GB because you can't change that, it's soldered on. 128GB SSD isn't a lot either. In theory that can be upgraded via 3rd party, but that's probably going to be expensive for the foreseeable future.

    You can buy the base 13" MBP and then upgrade the RAM and HD later. That's what I'm doing with my wife's 13" MBP. We just upgraded it to 16GB RAM when she started using Aperture, and we'll likely install an SSD in the next year or two. I considered getting her a MBA (with the maxed out config at the time), but I'm glad I didn't because we'll be able to keep her MBP useful for a much longer time with the upgrades.

    The main downside to the 13" MBP (other than it weighs more than an MBA) is the 1280x800 screen. If you'll use it with an external display or you're fine with 1280x800 this is not as much of an issue.

    Note that with the MBP you can swap out the optical drive for an extra 2.5" drive (SDD or HDD).

    In either case, I would look at refurbs to get more for your money. This includes older models; anything after 2011 that has Thunderbolt is pretty decent. If you care about USB 3.0 you'll want to get one of the more recent models, though.
  19. HipHopTrex macrumors member

    Mar 9, 2012
    I'm in a situation similar to the one you described. I really can't decide if I want an Air or another Pro. I'm gonna upgrade pretty soon from my finally showing more age than youth, 2009MBP. And I just can't seem to decide if I want to go with an air with 8gb ram, or a pro with 8. Weight isn't an issue really, size of the storage could be an issue, even though I have a 2TB time capsule, I do have a 20ish gig iTunes library, so that's a fair portion of the 128 SSD gone right there. And I also prefer using HandBrake (really the only big CPU eating app I use) on a pro. Because I'm afraid of the heat it would cause on an Air. But I also really want an SSD. sigh.
  20. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    The pros for the MBP-13 are: expandable to 16GB ($70 in aftermarket for Patriot), and DVD drive, and affordable disk drive expansion (to 1TB if you need it).

    The pros for MBA 13 are: much lighter, higher resolution and much nicer screen. 8GB memory is more expensive.

    Who cares what Apple charges for memory? Pay their price. Or not. Your choice.

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