Why is a MacBook Air better?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by bertbekkelik, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. bertbekkelik macrumors newbie

    Nov 24, 2015
    I am going to college soon, and I'm thinking about getting a MacBook Air.
    I've been a MacBook user for over four years now, and — coming from Windows — I automatically went for the Pro back then because I thought the Air would just be a horrible laptop with those specs.
    Last year, I decided to buy a new Mac, and without thinking about it, I went for the Pro again (maybe because it has a Retina screen, this time). This guy asked me if I wanted 8 GB or 16 GB of ram, and because my old MacBook was getting horribly slow, I said I'd go for 16 GB of ram (really stupid choice). I swapped the HD of my old MacBook with an SSD and it's actually an awesome 2nd computer right now.
    *I'm sorry for this unnecessary information.*

    But, like I said: I'm going to college and even though the MacBook Air doesn't have an *awesome* display or silver bezels around the screen (that I might like), I kinda fell in love with it.
    It has all the ports I need, and it has a 12 hour battery (which would be awesome).
    But I'd like to know what you guys think. Would you swap a MacBook Pro Retina 13" for an Air?

    I only really browse the web, use Word, PowerPoint, Excel, iMessage, FaceTime, Skype, iStudiez Pro, Mail, some other basic apps and Parallel Desktop to run Windows 7 (for some Windows-only programs that I need for school).
    I enjoy playing old-school games like GTA San Andreas (Mac) and Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 (and The Sims 4) using Parallels. Works fine on my current Mac.
    My little brother sometimes plays Trine (1, I guess) and Scania Truck Simulator on my laptop (I tried to let him play this on my old MacBook Pro (late 2011), but it's kind of laggy)... Can a MacBook Air run all of this?
    Oh, and I do use Final Cut Pro for video editing, but really not that much... Maybe once a month, for a 30-minute video in 1080p...

    I also noticed how my laptop has Intel Iris 1,5 GB inside, and how the MacBook Air has Intel HD Graphics 6000... Is there a big difference? How much video memory does the Air have?
    If I'd buy the Air, I'd buy the latest model, which is the Early 2016 model over here in Belgium (and everywhere, I guess).

    The MacBook Air also has a native resolution of 1440x900... My old MacBook Pro has a native resolution of 1280x800. Does that mean the Air has more screen space, or that everything will look better?
    For example, my MacBook Pro Retina is set to the best resolution for this computer, and it looks like 1280x800 in terms of size. If I set it to 1440x900, I get *way* more work space.
    Does a MacBook Air have more screen space than a Pro? And how is the screen quality? I remember anything higher than Mavericks looked horrible on my old MacBook, because of the non-Retina display, but I heard it's better on an Air. I went to the store to check it out myself, and it's not Retina, indeed, but it's not *too* bad (but obviously, you only really notice when you have to work on the computer for a few minutes).

    And does the fan make the same soft noise that the Retina MacBook Pro makes, or is it more like the old MacBook Pro? I really love how quiet my Mac is when the fan is at full speed.

    Anyways: my question is: do you guys think I'd better stick with my current MacBook or get an Air?
    I'm somebody who really likes to have a reason for the decisions I make.
    And if you think an Air would we better for me, could you give me a few arguments why you think an Air would be better? Or why you think my current MacBook would be better?

    A Retina MacBook isn't an option... I don't really like it and I definitely don't like the butterfly key mechanism.
    Thank you guys so much for your time and help! :D
  2. Shirasaki macrumors 604


    May 16, 2015
    Too much stuff packed in this single thread.

    My short answer of MacBook Air is its ultimate portablility, especially for 11" model. The freedom to carry a computer in backpack and forget about it when on trip because Of its negligible weight addition on your back is super enjoyable.
    I have 11" MacBook Air and it is perfect to do simple stuff, like showing a website to someone or a document. It has iTunes so I can keep all of my apps updated, and add lyrics or fix wrong metadata for songs. It has can even run photoshop and do simple crop/editing.
    Tried MacBook retina multiple times but still hate it. No matter how thin it is, one Port is always a no-no. Plus Apple ditches its MagSafe charger.
    However MacBook Air is not designed for heavy duty use so don't expect running parallel fine on it. Gaming is also not something it can do unless game itself does not require much graphic hardware power to run.
    Hopefully you can get some ideas.
  3. bertbekkelik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 24, 2015
    Sorry I'm not perfect and like to tell my story as detailed as possible even though I shouldn't.
    I also forgot to ask if it's actually still worth getting an Air, because I heard Apple wants to ditch it? :(

    Oh, I forgot to mention. If I'd pick a MacBook Air, it's definitely gonna be the 13".
    13" might look small (as a Pro user, even though the two MacBooks I have are 13"), but I think it's the perfect size.
    The 12 hour battery life of the 13" Air is also really attractive...
    I'd feel stupid going to college with a MacBook that doesn't have the best battery life (I'll need that in college), but I guess I'll feel even more stupid if I have a Mac that I'm not happy with (like when the Air isn't really for me, or if the Pro is just too powerful for my needs).

    Same. I actually like the 'one port' idea, but it's not for me.
    The Retina MacBook is more something in between an actual computer and a tablet to me, and perfect for light users. Your $1,000 iPad only has one port as well, and everybody thinks it's fine.

    Oh really? Because a Mac is pretty efficient, so I thought it might be able to run Parallels, but if it can't run it (properly)... That'd be a bummer. :(
    I don't care too much about the games, but I definitely need Parallels Desktop.
  4. SusanK macrumors 68000

    Oct 9, 2012
    Get the Air because you love it. That's why I have all of mine.
  5. Shirasaki macrumors 604


    May 16, 2015
    Apple has planned to ditch it with that subpar yet overpriced MacBook retina. It is inevitable.
    The reason I say running parallel not well is I tried VMware fusion on my midrange MacBook Air and it ended up with poor performance on both sides. Maybe parallel is better but your guest OS should not be something like Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. Windows XP is the perfect.
    iPad is a tablet, so people don't really mind having only one port. But MacBook retina is NOT a tablet. People requires it having more than just one port.
  6. Pakaku macrumors 68020


    Aug 29, 2009
    The Air is a nice compromise between more-powerful laptop, and a laptop that looks like it was designed as an artistic statement rather than for any actual work.
  7. Gjwilly macrumors 68030

    May 1, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    I ran VMs of XP, Win-7, and Win-10 on a 2011 Air using Fusion and I never had any problems.
    I didn't run them all at the same time, of course.
  8. oldmacs macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2010
    The Air is thinner and lighter plus it has better battery life than the pro (13 inch that is), but besides that the Pro has better screen, more ports and is more powerful.
  9. noisycats macrumors 6502a


    Jun 1, 2010
    The 'ham. Alabama.
    My Air is my favorite apple laptop ever, and I've had a slew of them.
  10. EmaDaCuz macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2012
    I have a 2011 entry level 11"MBA, still going strong. I did 4 years of Post Doc in biomedicine with it, lots of stats, lots of image analysis, quite some heavy papers/articles, posters for conferences. Never had a problem.

    It is a great little laptop, you take it with you wherever you go if you need to. My battery is almost gone, lasts no more than 2-3 hours with light use, or 1 with heavy use, so I need to bring the charger with me. Nevertheless, still an amazing portable device.
    I also have a Surface Pro 2, which I love, but it is very bulky compared to the MBA.
  11. MarvinHC, Aug 12, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016

    MarvinHC macrumors 6502a

    Jan 9, 2014
    I run windows 7 on Bootcamp on my 2013 11" Air without trouble. Only the battery lasts a lot less long (half I would say) and it gets hot quite quickly, just showing the 'efficiency' of windows...

    And although it has already been side, I want to underline it: The 11" Air is the best thing ever for me. Hardly bigger than an iPad but a full grown-up tool. And by the way same footprint and only a tiny fraction thicker than the over-hyped MB Retina with its horrible keyboard.
  12. bertbekkelik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 24, 2015
    Yas! (I love the Pro as well), but awesome reason! :)

    I know, the MacBook Retina is 'actually a computer', but it's also not.
    It's pretty much a computer that you should be doing tasks on you'd do on an iPad (which is enough for most people).

    True. But do you think the Air is powerful enough?
    Coming from Windows (*sigh*), I always thought the Air would be horrible, but now I know how efficient Apple computers and Mac OS X are.
    I even think that if I bought an Air back in 2012, I'd still be using that same MacBook right now, because it has an SSD and features like Handoff and Continuity that my Pro didn't have. I'd maybe have to replace it by now, though.

    I have a license for Windows 7 Enterprise, so that's what I'm running (more than enough for me).
    I don't know about Fusion, but Parallels is *way* better than any virtual machine app I've ever used.
    It has 8 GB of ram, so I guess it'll be fine, but 1,6 GHz... But I don't know: it's Apple. It might actually work. :)

    Indeed... But the thing is, if the MacBook Air is powerful enough for the things I do, then why would I keep on using a Pro...

    Honestly, they look good. But the Pro doesn't look bad either...
    The Pro Retina isn't that bulky anymore, and it looks great because it has the same thickness on the entire body (don't know if that's a correct English sentence), but the Air is thin as hell and cute!

    If I bought an Air in the first place, I'd still be using it for sure.
    I bought my current MacBook Pro Retina on Feb. 18, 2015 and it still has only 229 charge cycles (and I use it daily). But if I really use it for school, I definitely need to charge it twice a day (good thing that it charges really fast).

    Maybe the battery would be dead by now, but still...
    Taking this laptop to school works, but I always feel like I'm carrying a ****ing Mac Pro with me, and that I'm not using an Apple laptop with the best battery life out there. Just feels like it's not the perfect laptop for me. :)
    But obviously, if an Air would not be powerful enough for me, I'll have to stay with my Pro.

    Of course, Bootcamp is something completely else. I loved using Bootcamp, but not with a 256GB SSD.
    What I like about Parallels is that you can have a Windows window open next to a Mac window, and use your favorite Mac apps, and the one Windows app you need. You don't see the Windows UI (in coherence mode), even though it's there: you only see the window you need.
    Or you can launch it in full screen and pretty much slide between two OS'es with four fingers on the trackpad.
    But that means your computer will have to power 2 OS'es...

    Anyways, thanks, guys, for the helpful reactions.
    And excuse me for this gigantic post...
    Is there anyone that can confirm that you got more screen space on an Air with 1440x900 vs. a Pro? Or does it just look like 1280x800 as well, like they do on Pro Retina's?
    And is Intel HD 6000 'good'? Or is it way worse compared to Intel Iris?
    How much video memory does an Early 2016 Air have? Thank you guys!!!! :D
  13. geachy92 macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2012
    If you use your rMBP on 1200X800 resolution then yes you will get more screen real estate. It would be the same as using the 1440X900 on your retina
  14. Shirasaki macrumors 604


    May 16, 2015
    As long as you run parallel and load windows, you always load two OS at the same time, whether coherent mode or not.
    Only difference is coherence mode can allow you to better accompany windows applications with Mac applications, while full screen mode you cannot, but you can enjoy full windows/Mac experience.
    Wine is also a good alternative to run windows applications and it does not fire up another system, results in smaller footprint. However compatibility is something wine does worse than parallel/VMware + guest OS.
  15. Buggyflayer macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2014
    West Sussex, UK
    If you have a 2015 MacBook Pro Retina with 16GB of RAM (a good thing actually), you'll find that the 13" Air is marginally larger albeit 1mm thinner on the wide end of the wedge. Your existing machine is more powerful than a brand new Air. Its not much heavier and your existing screen is better. Buying a new Air is a waste of your money.
  16. organic bond macrumors regular

    May 5, 2007
    No problems at all with Parallels, I was using it even with an Air 2010, even more so with a 2015 model. Windows 8.1.
    Screen, yes more screen estate with an Air, one of the reasons I prefer it. Longer battery life, yes. Fan? Usually silent.
    That said, I'm not sure it would be a good move to swap your MBP for an Air, and I love the Air. But that's just up to you.
  17. bertbekkelik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 24, 2015
    Thank you! It's set to 1280x800 out of the box, even though the screen itself is 2560x1600, so it could've been possible that an Air is set to 1280x800 as well, even though the screen resolution is 1440x900.
    So I assume that text looks as fuzzy as on my old MacBook Pro? Because the resolution is bigger, but text is smaller. Or am I wrong here?

    Sure! But I meant that Bootcamp isn't an option for me.
    I need to have the two programs running next to each other, and if one of the two is Windows-only, then I really need to run 2 OS'es at once.

    It's a Mid 2014 MacBook Pro Retina, which was the newest model in February 2015.
    I notices how the Air is indeed larger, probably because the bezels around the screen are larger as well. It's the same size as my old MBP.
    16 GB isn't necessary for me, at all, and a new Air would indeed be way less powerful, but maybe it'd be a better computer for me if an Air is powerful enough?
    It's not much heavier indeed, and I love to read on this beautiful Retina display, but the Air has a battery that lasts up to 12 hours... :eek:
    I really don't know... :/

    Thanks! Great.
    And I was asking about the fan because my old MacBook got pretty noisy sometimes when the fan kicked in, but the fan is usually silent, though.
    This RMBP makes such a quiet noise when the fan is at full speed. I heard the Air has the same fan as the old MacBook Pro's, but I wasn't sure, so better ask you guys. :)

    I set my MacBook Pro to 1440x900 and you really get *a lot* more real screen estate. My eyes still have to get used to it, though, lol.
    My only concern is that the screen might look kind of bad if everything is this tiny.
    Why didn't they just choose for 1280x800 with a resolution of 1440x900? Wouldn't things look sharper then (the same way they choose for 1280x800 as standard for this MacBook with a resolution of 2560x1600, which makes everything looks so beautifully crisp).
  18. geachy92 macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2012
    The reason the rMBP displays 1280X800 is because it's easy to scale from the exact doubling of 2560X1600. They gave the 13" Air 1440X900 to give it a higher resolution display. To give the option of displaying the air at 1280X800 would cause all kinds of issues with the GPU having to do scaling that would be completely unnecessary (or at least that's my understanding). If you want to know what text will look like go to an Apple store, or somewhere that stocks MBAs, and have a look.

    Although personally I think you'd be better off just keeping the MBP you have, unless you can sell it and buy an Air whilst not losing money, it just isn't worth the hassle.
  19. canuckRus macrumors 6502a


    May 18, 2014
    Anyways: my question is: do you guys think I'd better stick with my current MacBook or get an Air?
    I'm somebody who really likes to have a reason for the decisions I make.
    And if you think an Air would we better for me, could you give me a few arguments why you think an Air would be better? Or why you think my current MacBook would be better?

    Why not take one out for a test drive & decide for yourself?
  20. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    The MBA is simply the best computer Apple have ever designed.

    Now, the design is several years old, and when it first appeared the Air was a gorgeous, but underpowered and quite expensive machine.

    As it happened, it took Apple a few years, and several generations of the Air to develop it into the machine we have today.

    But, if you are looking for a computer which hits that sweet spot of portability (hand if you are mobile and moving around, such as college), power, speed, and battery, nothing - but nothing - touches the Air.

    Okay: It doesn't have Retina, but I value portability, power and battery life more.

    My Air is a 512GB SSD, 8 GB RAM and has a Core i7. Power? This thing is blazing fast and can take almost anything I can throw at it.

    I have had a number of Apple computers (including a MBP when I first switched to Apple, and several earlier Airs). My current Air is easily the best computer I have ever had, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
  21. tentales macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2010
    First of all, let me say this, you kids are so spoilt these days.
    The minutia of feature differences people waste time on debating sometimes astounds me.
    Get some perspective folks!

    Now to your "worries"

    Compared to your current MBP, you might think that text looks fuzzy, no matter the resolution. Everyone knows Retina trumps TN panels.
    Go play with an MBA at a store or "test drive" one at home and YOU tell us what YOU think.
    I don't think text looks fuzzy at all on ANY Macbook model over the past 10 years.

    16GB + MBP is definitely a great choice for frequently running VMs and multiple programs. Not to say that 8GB + MBA wouldn't work, but you already have the BETTER OPTION for this use case.

    So you're willing to sacrifice a better display, not much added weight, double RAM, more powerful CPU for 25% more battery life? You sure those 25% will eliminate recharging during you day ? If so, maybe go for it.

    I'm all for the MBA 13", I own one, but I would not be selling a MBP and buying an MBA for the reasons you've stated, unless money was not an obstacle and I'd have enough to keep both.
  22. bertbekkelik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 24, 2015
    I'm definitely going to do that. I guess you can test a brand new one for 30 days over here.
    If it can do everything I want it to do, then I think a MBA is definitely not 'worse' for me. In fact, it might actually be a better computer for me.

    OK, thanks for the advice. :)
    It's kind of like when you're alone but you drive a truck... A Prius is smaller and has less power, but it might be able to do more km's when the tank is completely full, because the engine needs less fuel.

    The only reason I'd like to have an Air is because then I use my computer for what it's made for.
    I use Photoshop and Final Cut Pro very rarely, so I think I just got the wrong Mac in the first please (it's still a great Mac tho).

    Really? You absolutely don't know me, so you shouldn't be saying how I am 'spoilt'.

    No, I meant compared to my old MacBook Pro with a non-Retina display.

    It really didn't enjoy using my MacBook Pro with a native resolution of 1280x800 after the update to Yosemite.
    The font is too 'light' and small for the display (and I'm not the only one who thinks that).

    Okay, thank you.

    That's why I made this thread: to ask you guys if it's worth it to make the change...
    It's a question, and I'm interested in other people's thoughts.
    I don't know if it's worth it, or if those 25% will help, that why I made this thread. Chill.
    + it's a fact that I probably won't be able to charge my laptop during the day (one day is 5 to 8 hours straight). I'll *never* get 9 hours out of my MBP or 12 hours out of my MBA, definitely not if I'm running a virtual machine, but *maybe* I'll ever be in a situation where I'll have one more hour of battery charge left on my MBA, where as my MBP would've died.
    But if y'all think I should keep my Pro, then I know that's the best thing to do.

    I don't know if I'd sell it, but I also don't see the point of owning multiple computers if you only use one.
    I like to have one computer (+ an external display on my desk) for all my tasks, and that's why I choose the Pro, but maybe an Air is good enough.
    The only reason I kept my old MBP is because it's hooked up to my beamer 24/7, runs AirServer so it's kind of like an Apple TV, and I use it as a 5 GHz AP for big downloads (because 2,4 GHz can't offer me the full speed of my internet connection).

    I'll have to bring this computer back to the store anyways, because it freezes quite often. I'll either get a refurbished Mac, or a coupon for a new one.
    I did buy all kinds of new accessories for my MBP, so at one side I hope to get a refurb one, but if I get a coupon, I might as well get the Mac that fits me best.
    If I somehow get obsessed with MacBook Air's after I tested one out, I'll probably give my refurb MBP away to someone who needs it (there are plenty of people in school who need a Mac but can't afford one) and get the Air.

    But if I should keep my Pro, I'll keep it, of course. ;)
  23. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Look, only you can decide what features you really need from a computer and choose accordingly.

    You have to ask yourself what are the features you need most?

    If portability and battery life are what you need - with power coming a close third - the MBA is as close to a 'perfect' computer that you will ever get.

    However, if you want more power, keep your MBP.
  24. tentales macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2010
    Then you have your definite answer. The Macbook Air's 1440x900 is the same type of panel that you "really didn't enjoy" on your MBP. You think those extra 100 pixels will make your perception of text less fuzzy? smh

    I really don't know why I or others bother giving advice if your preconceived idea is already set in stone and any differing opinion is responded to with "CHILL".

    So good luck mate. Go figure it out yourself.
    I'm chillin'
  25. bertbekkelik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 24, 2015
    If I could, I wouldn't make this thread. Not everybody is super smart when it comes to computers.
    I said what I need to do with my computer, and asked smarter people which computer would be better.

    If you worked for the IT department in a company, and your boss says "I need a computer, and it needs to do this, this and this" and you reply with "only you can decide what computer's best for you", I guess you'd be fired.
    All I'm trying to say is that I *don't know* how good an Air is, and if it'd be worth it, so I'm asking people who know more about computers than me.

    Lol, this guy. Tells me I'm spoiled, and gets offended when I ask him to chill.

    Yes, because you were definitely being helpful.
    If you don't have anything helpful to say, then go away and don't even reply. Thank you.


    To all the others: thank you guys for your replies. :)
    I'll definitely get a MBA to test it out myself.
    If I think that a MBA is less exciting than I thought, or that there isn't really a big difference compared to my current Mac, I'll stay with my MBP, and if I really fall in love with a MBA and think it's worth making the switch, then I'll definitely do that.

    The advice and experience of MBA owners (what I asked for) was very helpful. Thank you guys! :D

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