Worth buying new MBA 13? Which one?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Eric8199, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. Eric8199 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    #1
    Looking to get a secondary computer that I don't really need. I currently have a mid-2012 rMBP 15" as my primary computer. I was considering the new MacBook but it's just so darned expensive for something with such little power.

    I've been eyeing the 13" MBA. Do you guys think it's worth it to get one with the new MacBook out now? Is it worth not going retina?

    I use an 11" first gen MBA base at work occasionally, and the screen isn't TOO bad, but the retina is so much better.

    Worth spending the extra money on the rMB, getting the extra horsepower with the MBA or skipping it all and waiting until next year?

    Use case: I'm a journalist and this will probably become my primary work computer. I do some YouTube video, and would use this device to edit small videos (no longer than 15-20 mins) on the road, but would use my rMBP at home.

    Next, if I go MBA, I can get a new 2014 with a 256gb SSD for cheaper than a 2015 with a 128gb SSD. Is the difference between the 2014 and the 2015 worth spending the extra money?

    Short version: Is it worth getting a 13" MBA versus a rMB, and if so, should I get the 2014 with more memory or the 2015 with less?
     
  2. JBat macrumors regular

    JBat

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    Apr 6, 2007
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    Washington
    #2
    I have a mid-2012 MBA and it's still a great computer. The 2015 is going to be that much better. I usually get my Macs as loaded as I can afford. YMMV.
     
  3. Cooee! macrumors member

    Cooee!

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    Feb 16, 2014
    #3
    I think the Macbook is perfect as a secondary computer. It will handle your needs. Only drawbacks i think are the lack of ports and shorter battery life vs MBA.
     
  4. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    Jan 1, 2011
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    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    #4
    I just ordered a new 13" MBA, not as a secondary, but to replace my 2012 MBP. Retina doesn't mean that much if the bulk of what you do is Word and email. My first Mac was the 11" Air, and I loved it. The only reason I gave it up for the MBP was I needed hard drive space for audio editing. I no longer need that, and the weight and form factor are very much worth it to me, so I'm racing back to the Air.
     
  5. newellj macrumors 601

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    Oct 15, 2014
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    Boston, MA, US
    #5
    13" vs your current 15" might not be enough size and weight difference? Only you can say. The 11" MBA or 12" rMB would be a much bigger and to me more logical size/weight break. How important is portability?

    BTW/FWIW, the 13" MBA with a 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM will cost you the same as the similarly-spec'd rMB.

    2014 vs 2015 MBA: the only notable difference is the 4-lane PCIe SSD (vs 2-lane in the 2014). Some disk operations will be literally twice as fast but in real life use, you're not likely to see the difference, and you can save some cash with a 2014 refurb. I would not get the 4GB RAM version of either year at this point.
     
  6. motrek macrumors 68020

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    Sep 14, 2012
    #6
    Under CPU load, the 2015 model will run cooler and last longer on battery power.
     
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #7
    Unless you are absolutely bowled over by the retina screen to the extent that you cannot conceive doing without it, I would suggest giving the rMB a miss until Apple decide to beef it up over the next few iterations or generations. This is because it is both underpowered and under-spec'ed for the price asked.

    For that money, the MBA is a far, far, better computer.

    When the MBA first came out, in 2008, it was a stunning looking but very underpowered machine. My first MBA was the third iteration - the so-called 'Rev C' which I bought in 2010.

    I acquired my current 13" MBA in 2013 and it is a first rate computer, fast, powerful, utterly reliable and exceedingly portable. It also comes with great battery life. Actually, it has travelled the world with me - quite literally, and is without doubt the very best computer I have ever owned.

    If you are sold on the idea of getting a rMB, my advice would b to wait a further generation or two. Meanwhile, get the MBA, possibly the best computer Apple has ever made.
     
  8. Eric8199 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    #8
    I ended up biting the bullet today and buying the rMB. Love it so far, but only had it a couple of hours so far...still getting it set up. I used the 10 percent off Movers coupon at Best Buy, and also found an open box deal that got me another 10 percent off. Add to that my triple points coupon I had and I think I got a pretty darned good deal on this puppy.

    As others have said here, I felt like the size difference between the 13" MBA and the 15" rMBP wasn't enough to make it worth it. And I have an 11" MBA I used to use for work, and the screen just isn't big enough. This 12" is perfect. Although the lack of ports is already annoying. haha. I did buy the stupid $80 Apple adapter though. Argh.
     
  9. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #9
    Oh no. Might see if you can return that. I don't know what adapter you're referring to but I imagine you can get something similar from a different company for much less. Try Amazon?
     
  10. newellj macrumors 601

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    Oct 15, 2014
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    Boston, MA, US
    #10
    Not to any noticeable degree. Can you measure it? Probably. Is it significant? No. Is there a price difference? Quite a bit.
     
  11. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #11
    Broadwell is 30% more power efficient than Haswell.

    When the computer is idle, this doesn't make much of a difference because Haswell is already in the 1-2W range. Battery life will be dictated mostly by screen brightness etc.

    But throw a load on the CPU, e.g., watch streaming video, and Haswell will use ~7+ watts and become the main gating factor to battery life. Your battery life will decrease from say 10 hours to 5 hours.

    Reduce that 7-10W by 30% and you get a couple hours of battery life back. Depending on what you do with your laptop, that could be a pretty significant gain.
     
  12. newellj, Jun 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015

    newellj macrumors 601

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    #12
    No one is showing a multi- hour battery run time increase in real life. I've owned both the 2014 and 2015 MBAs. The differences in real use were minimal.
     
  13. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

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    May 19, 2009
    Location:
    Midwest US
    #13
    I'm sure this was just a typo, but I'm very interested in your real-world experiences. Would you mind clarifying which MBAs you own or have owned, and how your usage varied? Thanks!
     
  14. motrek macrumors 68020

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    Sep 14, 2012
    #14
    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2015/0...nce-trailblazing-design-is-showing-its-age/2/

    The 2014 and 2015 MBAs have similar battery life when web browsing but the 2015 model lasts almost an hour and a half (25%) longer when under some load.
     
  15. newellj macrumors 601

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    Oct 15, 2014
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    Boston, MA, US
    #15
    Whoops, you're right. 2014 and 2015 11" 4-256. I did not notice any differences in speed or battery life. I am sure that you could measure them in the lab, and lots of people get torqued up about these differences, but most of us don't work in a lab running benchmarks either for our day job or on our personal time. ;) "Measurable but not meaningful."
     
  16. newellj macrumors 601

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    Oct 15, 2014
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    #16
    First, thanks, I stand (partly) corrected. It's interesting that the web/wifi numbers are inverted (the 2015 got shorter battery life) compared to the load test. On one test, the 2015/2014 numbers were 812 vs 874 minutes; on the other, 381 vs 303 minutes. The last sentence in the quote from the Ars review is making the same point I've been making.

    "Our tests suggest that the Haswell Airs do a little better when the system is mostly idle, as showed in our Wi-Fi browsing test. When the system's CPU and GPU are being used constantly, as they are in our WebGL test, the Broadwell system pulls ahead. In real-world usage, we expect the changes will mostly cancel each other out."
     
  17. motrek macrumors 68020

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    Sep 14, 2012
    #17
    Point taken. I have a 2014 model that I'm satisfied with, and I'm not about to run out and upgrade to a 2015 model. But if you're going to list the differences between the models to help somebody with a purchasing decision, you might as well list "battery life under load" as an advantage for the 2015 model, because it is.

    And the difference isn't necessarily as impractical/esoteric as you might think. If I'm stuck in an airport terminal on a layover and there's free wifi, I will often watch some streaming video (Netflix, Hulu, etc.). If I had the 2015 model, it might mean running on battery power more often and not having to hunt around for an ever-more-elusive power outlet...
     
  18. newellj macrumors 601

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    Oct 15, 2014
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    Boston, MA, US
    #18
    It looks like you'd get different results between the 2014 and 2015 if you were just browsing web sites, though. I am a little puzzled by the differences in battery life, though it's not going to keep me up at night. ;)
     
  19. shawndc1 macrumors regular

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    Feb 12, 2014
    #19
    Went to best buy myself, luckily they had the gold mb next to mba for display use, comparing the two screens the MB has a slight edge and i mean slight, can hardly tell the diff as i played the same video on youtube at the same time on both, id save money & go MBA also consider the extra battery life
     
  20. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    #20
    I like the MBA. The screen doesn't bother me, but I would really really miss the ports especially thunderbolt for backups
     
  21. shawndc1 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    #21
    Im getting a mba myself this week, maybe today best buy has a sale 849 13" basic model
     

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