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Topic: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air  (Read 2777 times)

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Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« on: November 10, 2012, 03:02:01 PM »
I'm going to the US next week and am planning on buying a Macbook while I'm over there (either ordering online before I go, or buying when I'm there).

Problem is, I'm having trouble deciding which model to go with: Pro or Air.

So, I was wondering if anyone had any advice or thoughts on the differences between the two and which you prefer?

My current considerations:

- Originally the plan was to go for smaller and lighter, so the Air wins that one.
- I would ideally like as many ports and features as possible (i.e. USB and DVD drive), so the Pro wins for that.
- I really want to get the best spec I can, while still keeping the weight/size down.

I will be using it as my main laptop though and I want to get the most I can for my budget: which is the basic model of either laptop... either the $1,199 or the $1,499 model (haven't decided yet), but with no extra upgrades or added features.

My main issue is that while I would like to buy the Air for aesthetic reasons, I don't want to end up compromising too much on memory/storage/features if I go for it.

So my main debate is:

- Will I be missing out on anything major in terms of speed and performance if I buy the Air instead of the Pro?

- And will I get enough storage space with the Air?

(I currently have a 500 GB hard drive laptop, and I'm using 163 GB of it at the moment... but there are a lot of files on there that I probably don't need and I have a 1TB external hard drive if I need to store files elsewhere).

Any help would be greatly appreciated :).


Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 02:28:38 AM »
I'm not a technically gifted person so can't comment on your questions about speed and performance.

But, I have a Macbook Air and use an external CD/DVD drive with it. For the small number of times I rip (my own) CD's and watch DVD's, as opposed to Netflix etc, this is not inconvenient.

Aesthetically the Air wins over the Pro and, as I do a lot of traveling, I also chose it for it's light weight.


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2012, 02:36:56 AM »
Your timing of flying to the US is good because Black Friday is next week so you may get some deals except I don't think Apple gives deals. But if they do....


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2012, 07:52:57 AM »
But, I have a Macbook Air and use an external CD/DVD drive with it. For the small number of times I rip (my own) CD's and watch DVD's, as opposed to Netflix etc, this is not inconvenient.

Thanks - that helps actually, because I do still watch DVDs on my laptop. However, my current laptop still works, so if I got an Air, I could still keep watching DVDs on my Windows machine for now.

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Aesthetically the Air wins over the Pro and, as I do a lot of traveling, I also chose it for it's light weight.

Yeah, that's the main reason for me as well... I'm going to be travelling a lot next year, and out of the country for 6 months during the year, so lightweight would be better in that respect.

Your timing of flying to the US is good because Black Friday is next week so you may get some deals except I don't think Apple gives deals. But if they do....

Yeah, there is a reason I chose that particular week to fly to the US ;). Partly to visit my relatives for Thanksgiving and partly for the Black Friday sales :P.

However, I looked online to see if Apple offered any Black Friday deals last year and all they had was a $100 discount on the Macbooks :S.

I'm only there for 2 weeks, so I don't want to be in the situation where the stores don't have what I want in stock (I'm buying a couple of Apple products) and then it's too late to order online before I leave - which is why I was thinking of ordering online this week so that they arrive while I'm there.


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2012, 10:58:54 AM »
- Will I be missing out on anything major in terms of speed and performance if I buy the Air instead of the Pro?

These days, probably not. The Air used to be limited to 4GB of memory, but they've upped that to 8GB so it matches the Pro. The processor's a bit weaker, but still adequate, unless you're doing something super heavy-duty (film editing or running 50 applications at once).

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- And will I get enough storage space with the Air?

For the baseline model ($1,199), I'd say no, personally. (But then, I'm a computer geek so I have tons of stuff on my computer, plus a 1TB external drive.) I replaced my (older) Pro's SATA hard drive with a solid state one (256GB) last year and it's been fine, but I only have 40GB free. I think the baseline Air only comes with a 128GB drive, so you may want to consider upgrading to the higher-end Air to get the 256GB drive (you could also spring for a 500GB drive ;) but that sounds like more than you need).

I wouldn't max out any of the other features (RAM, etc) as you can generally find better prices elsewhere than Apple. (And replacing RAM is quite simple, there are loads of website/YouTube tutorials.) You can also usually find the adapters (display, ethernet, what-have-you) on eBay or off-brand sites cheaper than Apple sells them (I bought an off-brand power cable for £12 a few years ago, I think Apple sells them for £60 or something).

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However, I looked online to see if Apple offered any Black Friday deals last year and all they had was a $100 discount on the Macbooks :S.

Offering any discount at all (other than education/business) is a new thing for Apple, so $100 is more than you would've gotten a few years ago. :P
Moved to London February 5, 2010


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2012, 01:06:58 PM »
Thanks, equestrianerd :).

These days, probably not. The Air used to be limited to 4GB of memory, but they've upped that to 8GB so it matches the Pro. The processor's a bit weaker, but still adequate, unless you're doing something super heavy-duty (film editing or running 50 applications at once).

Yeah, I'll mostly be using it for internet, Word processing and watching videos/playing music. I wasn't planning to go for higher RAM for the Air, so it would be a case of getting either a 4GB Air or an 8 GB Pro (for the same price).

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For the baseline model ($1,199), I'd say no, personally. (But then, I'm a computer geek so I have tons of stuff on my computer, plus a 1TB external drive.)
I replaced my (older) Pro's SATA hard drive with a solid state one (256GB) last year and it's been fine, but I only have 40GB free. I think the baseline Air only comes with a 128GB drive, so you may want to consider upgrading to the higher-end Air to get the 256GB drive (you could also spring for a 500GB drive ;) but that sounds like more than you need).

I'll either be going for the 256GB Air or the 750GB Pro - I'm not really sure of the difference between the flash storage in the Air and the standard hard drive memory in the Pro though - whether one is better than the other.

Unfortunately, it's another $500 to upgrade to 512GB for the Air, which I can't really afford (I'm trying not to spend too much, considering that my Windows laptop with a 500GB hard drive and 4GB RAM was only £450 in 2010 :P).

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Offering any discount at all (other than education/business) is a new thing for Apple, so $100 is more than you would've gotten a few years ago. :P

Yeah - I wasn't expecting anything to be honest (original plan was to try to get something cheaper in Hong Kong when I go in March, but apparently Apple is the only brand that is not cheaper there :( ). Thing is, the Amazon price is already $40 cheaper than the Apple website price, and I don't want to end up not being able to get one on Black Friday because they've sold out or something (I was in the US on Black Friday last year and most electronic sale items had sold out before we even got to the stores  :-\\\\).


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2012, 01:17:36 PM »
I'll either be going for the 256GB Air or the 750GB Pro - I'm not really sure of the difference between the flash storage in the Air and the standard hard drive memory in the Pro though - whether one is better than the other.

The flash storage is equivalent to solid state, so it's a bit faster to read/write than a standard hard drive. It's not life-changing, though. My solid-state drive means my computer boots in about 10 seconds instead of 60, and copying files is faster, but that's about it. (Enough for me to be happy, as a geek, but for the average user it won't really make a difference.) So in the end you'd just be looking at the space difference.
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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2012, 01:18:25 PM »
Have you checked the online refurb store? I normally always buy my macs via their own refurb store, they are always practically brand new and you can get a few hundered dollars off on their models, stock changes everyday, you still get your one year warranty. You can get the same base model air you're looking at for $180 cheaper.

Unlike with every other electrical item, I strongly recommend purchasing Apple Care to extend your warranty for three years, it's a fabulous care scheme and they'll fix pretty much anything if you have it.

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac

Personally, I'd go for this - $1,179.00

Refurbished MacBook Air 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7

Originally released July 2011
13.3-inch (diagonal) high-resolution LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
4GB memory
256GB flash storage
Thunderbolt port with support for up to 2560-by-1600 resolution
FaceTime camera
Intel HD Graphics 3000


You get the upgraded processor & double the memory for $20 less than the base Macbook Air price.


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2012, 01:26:51 PM »
Have you checked the online refurb store? I normally always buy my macs via their own refurb store, they are always practically brand new and you can get a few hundered dollars off on their models, stock changes everyday, you still get your one year warranty. You can get the same base model air you're looking at for $180 cheaper.

My Macbook Pro was a refurb model - other than having to replace the SuperDrive (twice), it's performed like a champ. :) (I sprang for 3-year Apple Care since even with that it was still about the cost of a base model without warranty.)
Moved to London February 5, 2010


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2012, 01:43:21 PM »
The flash storage is equivalent to solid state, so it's a bit faster to read/write than a standard hard drive. It's not life-changing, though. My solid-state drive means my computer boots in about 10 seconds instead of 60, and copying files is faster, but that's about it. (Enough for me to be happy, as a geek, but for the average user it won't really make a difference.) So in the end you'd just be looking at the space difference.

Thanks for that :). Faster would be good because part of the reason I'm wanting to get a Mac is because my Windows machine is being slow at the moment... sometimes it just sits on the Welcome screen for about 5 minutes before it decides to load my desktop and other times I have to restart in safe mode and then in normal mode again just to get it to load :S.

Have you checked the online refurb store? I normally always buy my macs via their own refurb store, they are always practically brand new and you can get a few hundered dollars off on their models, stock changes everyday, you still get your one year warranty. You can get the same base model air you're looking at for $180 cheaper.

Ooh, thanks for that - I didn't even realise they had a refurb store :).

Unlike with every other electrical item, I strongly recommend purchasing Apple Care to extend your warranty for three years, it's a fabulous care scheme and they'll fix pretty much anything if you have it.

With Apple Care, does it matter if I won't be in the US - will they still cover a US-purchased Macbook in the UK?


Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2012, 02:02:34 PM »
Thanks for that :). Faster would be good because part of the reason I'm wanting to get a Mac is because my Windows machine is being slow at the moment... sometimes it just sits on the Welcome screen for about 5 minutes before it decides to load my desktop and other times I have to restart in safe mode and then in normal mode again just to get it to load :S.

Ooh, thanks for that - I didn't even realise they had a refurb store :).

With Apple Care, does it matter if I won't be in the US - will they still cover a US-purchased Macbook in the UK?

Yup, it covers it fine. I have a 17" MBP purchased with Apple Care in the US, I had my trackpad replaced a few months ago :)


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2012, 05:06:49 PM »
Hi Ksand!

Some good advice so far but a few bits to clear up as it were!

Only you can decide which is the better machine to go for as you'll be the one using the machine. You know what kind of level of requirements, usage and portability you need and, what your needs may be in the future. For instance, do you have specific software you need to run/use? what are the specifications for it to run well? All the specs are given so from that point of view, I'd say nip into an Apple store and have a look and play with the two machines in real life to further help you decide.

The upgrades (as well as the machines themselves) have the Apple 'tax' on them as well in terms of pricing, so this is also down to yourself if you wish to buy the machine already specified with upgrades or not. The 'flash' memory referred to earlier in the thread responses IS an SSD (solid state drive) component and for the 'most' part, many users will only see the much faster boot up times as a benefit. However, depending on what your usage is, there is far more benefits to an SSD drive than just a quick boot time. If your requirements include requirements for fast Read/write times an SSD is almost standard fitment nowadays. If you are going to carry your machine around alot, perhaps including potential terrain which could damage, shake the machine etc, an SSD is standard fitment as there's no mechanical or rotational aspects and the drive is also lighter.

You could specify a base option for the drive, and later go to an Apple care centre and have an SSD you purchase from an online discount retailer fitted and the OS re-installed. I've just picked up a 256GB SSD Crucial M4 drive for £145 and these are very well reviewed and favoured. You might have to double check with Apple if the warranty is still intact if you went this route. $500 for the 512GB upgrade isn't a bad price actually when you compare to buying a 512GB drive elsewhere, but I'd say unless your specific software and usage requirements (usually things like video, big databases, large file transfers etc) need a fast large size SSD, the price point of 256GB drives is much more appealing. You can of course later get big storage say 3TB for around £100 in the shape of an external hard drive using USB3 (or if they support apples proprietary connector) for fast file transfer rates.

You will of course save some money if you do go for an official refurbished product. Another point is your current Windows machine just needs a fresh re-install of the OS and it'll be 'quick' and responsive again - without wanting to turn this thread into the usual slanging matches often seen online, if one of the reasons you wish to buy a new machine is down to the older Windows machine slowing down, then a quick bit of maintenence on it might be all you need in terms of computing requirements ?.. and thus saving you having to spend.

Hope this helps

Cheers, DtM! West London & Slough UK!





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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2012, 06:05:24 PM »
Thanks for the detailed response, Dennis :).

For instance, do you have specific software you need to run/use? what are the specifications for it to run well? All the specs are given so from that point of view, I'd say nip into an Apple store and have a look and play with the two machines in real life to further help you decide.

There isn't any specific software I need to run or use, other than the usual stuff.

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The upgrades (as well as the machines themselves) have the Apple 'tax' on them as well in terms of pricing, so this is also down to yourself if you wish to buy the machine already specified with upgrades or not.

I was actually thinking of purchasing through a different retailer, such as Amazon, partly because they are slightly cheaper and also because the Apple website only accepts cards registered to a US address and I only currently have $250 in my US bank account :P.

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If you are going to carry your machine around alot, perhaps including potential terrain which could damage, shake the machine etc, an SSD is standard fitment as there's no mechanical or rotational aspects and the drive is also lighter.

Yeah - I'm leaning towards the Air at the moment, as I'm going to be spending 5 months in the Falklands next year (on the military base) so will be moving around a lot then, plus I have trips to Hong Kong and Italy coming up in the next few months, and I'm planning on taking the laptop.

Quote
Another point is your current Windows machine just needs a fresh re-install of the OS and it'll be 'quick' and responsive again - without wanting to turn this thread into the usual slanging matches often seen online, if one of the reasons you wish to buy a new machine is down to the older Windows machine slowing down, then a quick bit of maintenence on it might be all you need in terms of computing requirements ?.. and thus saving you having to spend.

Yeah, I'm aware that there are way to speed up my Windows machine again, but it's already 2 years old and I've been hankering after a Macbook for years (and I finally have enough disposable income to justify buying one now), so I'm using that as an excuse at the moment :P. I've also spent a fair amount of time programming using Unix/Linux over the last few months and so a Macbook would be more useful than my Windows machine in that respect (as I've had problems trying to program on a Windows machine in the past).


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2012, 06:07:28 PM »
If you are considering third party retailers, check Mac Connection as they usually have great Thanksgiving sales.


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Re: Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2012, 08:09:02 PM »
I had this very dilemma last week when we went to buy my birthday present - MacBook Pro or Air?

I'm writing this right now from the Air and I have no regrets, especially on the wallet side. Here's how I came to my decision, or rather how the sales dude helped me decide.

He asked me what I was going to be using the computer for. I answered:
1) writing
2) work - which means it needs to be lightweight
3) photo editing
4) internet

He said I should go Air, which kind of surprised me, because of the photo editing. If you don't need the fancy screen or massive amounts of on board storage, Air is the best choice. Since I'm not doing any video editing or large scale graphics work, I won't need that kind of resolution or power or storage. Besides, we have a whole server system to keep all of our media, documents etc straight ("NAS", interjects the DH) so the amount of storage isn't really an option anymore.

All of my media consumption is via streaming, either from the net or our server. I haven't watched or used or bought a DVD in years. Besides that's what the PS3 is for - the random Blu-Ray that we already own. DVDs have gone the way of the CD in my lifestyle, and my old MBPro's DVD drive rarely got used.

So, in the end I bought the 13" Air and an hour later was home, writing away. It's lightning fast, even when photo editing, which was my only concern. It's so lightweight that I almost forgot it was on my arm yesterday :). In fact my poor iPad 2 barely gets used anymore. I'm thinking of selling it and getting the iPad mini.

On a side note, I feel like in this day and age we have to think differently about how we do our computing. Keeping all our docs/media in one place isn't really the done thing anymore. If my laptop was stolen, I'd be a bit sad, but not upset because all my documents and memories are backed up not only on the NAS but (apparently, and I haven't checked this out yet first hand) on the cloud. But that's a whole other conversation.

Good luck shopping!


 


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