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MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro (opinions)

127058 Views 101 Replies Latest reply: Mar 10, 2012 6:19 AM by pkpkpk RSS
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Jeremy Thompson1 Level 1 Level 1 (120 points)
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Mar 26, 2011 3:37 PM
So i've had my MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2008) since then, when they first came out; think they were the first unibodies cannot remember now...

Anyway its still going strong but i am starting to think about investing in a new one, well saving up for one.

My current spec is 2.53GHz 4GB Ram 250GB HDD.

Is the MacBook Air still quicker than the new MacBook Pros?

I read it was in real world scenarios regardless of the spec difference before the new MBP's but wondered if it was still the case?

How is this the case, solely down to the SSD?

Would having a smaller SSD mean it wasn't as quick, would you need a large one?

Could save some bucks getting a 4GB Ram 250SSD MBA rather than a new MBP i suppose...

Being a web developer i use Photoshop, Illustrator, Espresso, Transmit etc and a few other bits and bobs, but its never heavy photo or video work; i'm not sure i use the full capacity of the MBP? I do run VMware Fusion for Windows environment site testing.

Play films through Plex, listen to iTunes then the normal day to day browsing and mail.

I dont envision doing much upgrade, i've not upgraded my MBP since i got it, rather than a failed attempt to get an SSD working.

So would an Air be powerful enough to do these tasks and be fast and Apple agree?

Finally.. last me as well, my MBP is still fine almost 3 years later, just a little slower...

Thanks for any opinions
Macbook Pro Late 08, Mac OS X (10.6.7), 4GB Ram 2.53 GHz
  • rkaufmann87 Level 8 Level 8 (40,540 points)
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    Mar 26, 2011 3:56 PM (in response to Jeremy Thompson1)
    Is the MacBook Air still quicker than the new MacBook Pros?


    Tough to answer without knowing how you use your computer. If most of your work is Web based (surfing, email, and typical MS Office tasks) then in day to day use a MBA would be just as fast if not faster than a MBP. If you do lot's of CPU intensive work (3D rendering, database work etc..) then the MBP would be faster. I've found that my MBA despite only having 4GB of RAM and a 1.4GHz CPU is faster in day-to-day use than my MBP was.


    I read it was in real world scenarios regardless of the spec difference before the new MBP's but wondered if it was still the case?


    For many (if not most) users yes.


    How is this the case, solely down to the SSD?


    A SSD is dramatically faster than a HD. I've found that opening large spreadsheets on my MBA is a couple of second process whereas on my MBP because it had a mechanical HD the same task was about 30-50 seconds! Also startup, shutdown and wake from sleep on a SSD is much much much faster than any machine with a HD.

    Would having a smaller SSD mean it wasn't as quick, would you need a large one?


    Size has nothing to do with how fast it is. With MBA's you can get from 64GB to 256GB depending on the configuration you choose. A 64GB SSD is going to be as fast as a 256GB SSD.

    Being a web developer i use Photoshop, Illustrator, Espresso, Transmit etc and a few other bits and bobs, but its never heavy photo or video work; i'm not sure i use the full capacity of the MBP? I do run VMware Fusion for Windows environment site testing.



    For your needs I'd probably get a maxed out 13" MBA.

    Play films through Plex, listen to iTunes then the normal day to day browsing and mail.


    Not taxing at all. Depending on the amount of storage you need you may want to offload some data (like an iTunes library) to an external HD.

    So would an Air be powerful enough to do these tasks and be fast and Apple agree?


    I think a 13" would be fine for your needs. If you can get to an Apple Store and try one out, see if it sells itself.

    Roger
    24" iMac 6 GB RAM, 11" MacBook Air 4GB, 128GB SSD, Mac OS X (10.6.7), iPhone 3GS Airport Extreme Airport Express
  • hawleyrw Level 3 Level 3 (625 points)
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    Mar 26, 2011 4:34 PM (in response to Jeremy Thompson1)
    I totally agree with Roger. I've used a LOT of different laptops. I just finished configuring 3 Macbook Pros for the software engineers at work. Those I equip with Parallels to run Windows also. Though they're spec'd higher, I'll take my MBA over them in a moment: Boots faster, runs faster - just about everything.

    Now...I don't very often use my MBA for incredibly intensive applications. If I did, the MBA might not be a good fit. I do run Aperture and Final Cut Express....and find it does very well with both. Yes, it kicks up the fan some and works the CPU - but still doesn't tax it to the point where I'm waiting forever, or running it too hot, etc.

    This is hands-down the best laptop I've ever owned. I will by another as the next gen comes.

    Cheers!
    iPad 1, MBA 13" (2010), iPhone, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • JE13 Level 4 Level 4 (3,920 points)
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    Mar 26, 2011 5:19 PM (in response to Jeremy Thompson1)
    You can get SSD with the Pros (up to 512g!) and they'll match the MBA's speed and instant on. So what really matters in such a decision is:

    (1) Weight/Size: MBA is still the lightest and slimmest
    (2) Whether of not you need a disk drive on the computer (You've been three years without one; if that hasn't been a problem, then MBA is probably still the one for you)
    (3) Whether or not you think you'll need to upgrade (MBA can't be upgraded, Pro can).
    (4) If you need a larger hard drive (SSD 512 rather than max 256 on MBA--note, however, that these will cost you extra with a Pro--$1,250 for the 512--of course, the 256 will cost you extra on the MBA come to that--but you begin to see that if you want that SSD speed you won't save any money getting the Pro)
    (5) Battery life (you get 7 hours with the pros, 10 hours with the 13" MBA)
    (6) Whether or not you want a larger screen. Obviously, with the MBA the biggest you can get is 13"--no option for 15" or 17".
    (7) If you want "Thunderbolt"--it's still new and there aren't a lot of items that use it, but the Pros have it and the MBA's don't. So if you want it, you have to go Pro.

    Does any of that help with your decision?
    MBA 11.6, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • JE13 Level 4 Level 4 (3,920 points)
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    Mar 27, 2011 8:14 PM (in response to Jeremy Thompson1)
    It sounds to me like the new MBA would be just fine for you. If the old MBA, which doesn't have all the bells and whistles of this new one, has served you so well, and, as you say, you could only get a mid-level Pro, then it doesn't sound to me like you need a Pro. It's not like you need or would get a larger screen or more disk space, so all you'd get with the Pro would be, in the negative, weight and thickness, and in the positive, a disk drive and thunderbolt, neither of which you seem to need, and the ability to upgrade which, if you'd didn't need to with the old one, there seem no reason to worry about needing to with the new one.

    If you are an "MBA" person, then, in the end, what matters the most is slimness, lightness, portability, and that great battery life. The new ones are ultra fast, ultra cool, and none of the other Apple laptops can match the 13" battery life. But if you're really conflicted, go to a store and check them both out. And go with which ever one you fall in love with. That's always the best way to decide.
    MBA 11.6, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • rredge Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 28, 2011 7:50 AM (in response to Jeremy Thompson1)
    Jeremy,

    The 13" MacBook Air (late 2010) is made for people who need to carry a computer around and who are prepared to accept the premium price and reduced capabilities of a 13" Air, compared to a 13" MacBook Pro (early 2011), in exchange for its lower weight.

    A late 2010 13" MacBook Air with 4GB of RAM (not upgradable) costs US$1400 with a 1.86GHz processor and $1800 with a 2.13GHz processor. An early 2011 MacBook Pro with 4GB of RAM (upgradable) and 2.3GHz processor is $1200 without a solid state drive and $1500 with one. With a 2.7GHz processor, it is $1500 without a solid state drive, and $1700 with.

    In addition, the 13" MacBook Pro has several capabilities that the MacBook Air lacks. For detailed information and analysis, I suggest that you read the following:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4205/the-macbook-pro-review-13-and-15-inch-2011-br ings-sandy-bridge

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3991/apples-2010-macbook-air-11-13inch-reviewed

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3341 (about the MacBook Air ethernet connection).

    Given the nature of your work, and the fact that you say nothing about needing to travel regularly with a computer, it is hard to understand why you are even considering a MacBook Air. Given your apparent needs, you might even be better off purchasing an iMac (starting at $1200), especially if it is true that the iMacs are about to be updated.

    With respect to Flash/SSD, the main benefit in your case is that the computer will boot/shut down, and applications will open/close a little faster. You have to decide how much of a premium, if any, you are prepared to pay for that. In your case, there would seem to be an argument that there are more important priorities.
    IPad, iOS 4, PC
  • rredge Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 28, 2011 7:58 AM (in response to rredge)
    Correction: an early 2011 MacBook Pro with 4GB of RAM (upgradable) and 2.3GHz processor is $1450 with a solid state drive, not $1500.
    IPad, iOS 4, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro
  • rredge Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 28, 2011 8:17 AM (in response to Jeremy Thompson1)
    Jeremy,

    I think you'll find that the AnandTech reviews are very helpful.

    I just got an 11" Air. The lack of bulk (same size as an iPad but 2" longer) and light weight were worth it to me, but there is no question that those advantages come at a price, both financial and in terms of functionality.

    Cheers
    IPad, iOS 4, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro
  • slyguy_28 Level 2 Level 2 (165 points)
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    Mar 28, 2011 11:18 AM (in response to hawleyrw)
    hawleyrw wrote:

    This is hands-down the best laptop I've ever owned. I will buy another as the next gen comes.



    I agree completely. I will also...
    Sly
    Apple Macbook Air 13", iOS 4, iPhone 4, iPad 16GB wifi
  • swifty8 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 28, 2011 3:04 PM (in response to slyguy_28)
    I have a 27 inch iMac as my main computer. The MBP or MBA would be a travel computer,a computer to take to class. I just won the Adobe CS5 premium suite, which includes Potoshop as well as Acrobat pro.
    My concern is that MBA would not have the power to handle the needs of Photoshop.
    The MBA wins hands down for ease of travel ,classroom and casual use from the sofa.
    Opinions and comments?
    IMAC G5, Mac OS X (10.4.10)
  • MJMP1 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 28, 2011 6:43 PM (in response to Jeremy Thompson1)
    I also have a 27" iMac that I have started to use as my primary computer. But I would like to have something lighter than my 15" MacBook Pro (late 2009 model I believe) to take to class. Does anyone have experience running Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac and Windows 7 on a MacBook Air (11" or 13")? If you do, what are your thoughts on it?
    27" iMac (2.8GHz Intel Core i5), Mac OS X (10.6.7), 15" MacBook Pro (2.8GHz), iPhone 4, iPad 32GB (Wi-Fi+3G), 27" Cinema Display
  • Michaelworks Level 3 Level 3 (695 points)
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    Mar 28, 2011 7:17 PM (in response to MJMP1)
    MJMP1 wrote:
    I also have a 27" iMac that I have started to use as my primary computer. But I would like to have something lighter than my 15" MacBook Pro (late 2009 model I believe) to take to class. Does anyone have experience running Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac and Windows 7 on a MacBook Air (11" or 13")? If you do, what are your thoughts on it?


    Users in the "I love my 11 MBA" have installed it on an external drive, and then transferred it to a thumbdrive It appear to work without issue.
    MP 2.66 16GB ATI 5770 MBP i7 17" iMac iPhone 4 32 iPad 3G 64, Mac OS X (10.6.7), MBA 11" Ultimate Canon 5D MKII
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