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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Struggling to decide between 13" MBA vs 13" MBP

Struggling to decide between 13" MBA vs 13" MBP
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matty-uk
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Dec 11, 2010, 09:01 PM
 
A little background to my current situation.

I had a G4 iBook a few years back but the airport card messed up so I've been using a laptop from work. It's time to get myself a new machine to replace the iBook.

I'm currently torn between a 13" MBP and 13" 4Gb MBA. I'll mainly be using the machine for the usual surfing, itunes, etc with a bit of photo processing because it's a new hobby. I don't have any real need for an optical drive and haven't ever had a backlit keyboard so it's not something I'll miss.

I'm mainly drawn to the MBA because of the higher res screen compared to the MBP. I understand the Pro is due for an upgrade in the near future but this will be a 30th birthday present so it needs to be bought now.

Is there anyone with a 13" Air able to help me decide between the two? I know the Pro will certainly beat the Air on the most processor intensive tasks but I won't be doing any video editing and the photo stuff will be simple photoshop tasks.
     
Maflynn
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Dec 12, 2010, 08:28 AM
 
I personally went with the MBP for the following reasons:
Price - the stock MPB costs less then the stock MBA
Expandability - I can add more ram and storage
More ports
Better battery
Backlit keyboard.
wider gamut display

I found a great deal at microcenter (not sure if its going) where the MBP was on sale for 999. That deal was too good to pass up.

I believe the MBA is 1.6lbs lighter and has a higher res display but thats about it. True the MacBook Air has the WOW factor going, its cool looking, has a great design, but the MBP is an awesome machine that does everything the MBA does and more. All of that for less $$
~Mike
     
mduell
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Dec 12, 2010, 03:07 PM
 
MBP. The ergonomics and performance of the MBA are dismal.
     
P
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Dec 12, 2010, 04:00 PM
 
I would suggest that you try them out in a store some time. The MBA isn't that slow - the SSD helps things a lot, even if it isn't awesomely fast for an SSD. I'm also a fan of higher resolutions, so the 1440*900 res would be an important factor for me - YMMV.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
matty-uk  (op)
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Dec 15, 2010, 06:03 PM
 
Well I've done it! I've ordered an ultimate 13"
     
PB2K
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Dec 19, 2010, 07:38 PM
 
In fact I am also deciding between a MBP and a MBA. I have been a Powerbook/MBP user since ages

I need a laptop that has OSX, a long battery life, and an SSD.

MBA
+ light
+ ssd
+ 1440x900 display
+ LED
+ looks
- processor is nothing special
- no backlit keyboard
- 4Gb max
- 256Gb max
- video only 256 mb
- no new fast ports
MBP
+ i5
+ LED
+ exchangable battery (I will be in areas without electricity a lot)
+ backlit keyboard
+ dvd drive exchangable with an extra harddisk
- 1440x900 screen
- weight
- design has been around for a while
- power charger too fatty



I think the media bay in my first powerbook G3 was genius, especially today. I am deciding between more battery and storage. Therefore a media bay would be excellent.
In fact, a PCMCIA kind of expansion slot would be excellent too.



those were the days
( Last edited by PB2K; Dec 19, 2010 at 07:45 PM. )
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Jasoco
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Dec 19, 2010, 10:40 PM
 
Actually, the MBP battery is not replaceable either so you can cross that off.

Go with what you need. Do you need storage or portability? Power or convenience? And are you (PB2K) talking about a 15" Pro vs. a 13" Air? Do you need the bigger screen? Even though they have the same resolution.
     
PB2K
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Dec 20, 2010, 07:17 AM
 
not replaceable? but they are for sale
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Jasoco
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Dec 20, 2010, 07:29 AM
 
Well, they're not end-user replaceable. They void your warranty if you try it yourself. Keep that in mind.
     
freudling
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Dec 20, 2010, 07:46 AM
 
New MBAs are very compelling. But, as a former MBA owner, older 2.13 SSD model, even though I know the new ones are faster, I wouldn't touch anything but the most powerful MBA. That's because OS X is a pig, and demands far more than 2 GB of RAM are plenty. You won't get far with anything but the top end BTO MBA with OS X.

And no backlit keyboard really sucks.

And SSD real-world, I am willing to bet you will run into the same issues many of us early SSD adopters have run into with OS X. That is, OS X does NOT address SSD very well at all. It performs well at first, and then, there's a good chance it will cause issues and slow down. I can't generalize completely, but read around...
     
mduell
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Dec 20, 2010, 11:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by freudling View Post
And SSD real-world, I am willing to bet you will run into the same issues many of us early SSD adopters have run into with OS X. That is, OS X does NOT address SSD very well at all. It performs well at first, and then, there's a good chance it will cause issues and slow down. I can't generalize completely, but read around...
OS X still can't TRIM.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 20, 2010, 12:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jasoco View Post
Well, they're not end-user replaceable. They void your warranty if you try it yourself. Keep that in mind.
You'd have to be pretty inept for them to be able to tell.


According to the only tests I've seen, OS X's lack of trim doesn't do any harm at all. That was using the slooooow SSD from the original MacBook Air however.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Jasoco
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Dec 21, 2010, 02:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
You'd have to be pretty inept for them to be able to tell.
I guess as long as the battery is exactly the same model. But don't they put serial numbers on them to match up? I guess if there's no telling factors, and you can do it without disturbing anything, go ahead.

According to the only tests I've seen, OS X's lack of trim doesn't do any harm at all. That was using the slooooow SSD from the original MacBook Air however.
I got a SSD a few weeks ago and it is a lot faster and haven't had problems. I don't know what TRIM does, but I haven't had problems.
     
sdilley14
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Dec 21, 2010, 07:26 PM
 
How would these two machines match up against each other?

http://hardforum.com:80/showthread.p...hlight=macbook

VS.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v3...1at51701PM.png

The first link is a MBA I am considering purchasing. The second link is a screen shot of the "About This Mac" of the MBP I currently own. My MBP is 2.16C2D, 120GB, 2GB.

I realize the MBA has a slower clock speed. Which one of these is truly faster/more powerful? My typical day to day activities included standard web surfing (Facebook, YouTube, Hotmail, ESPN, etc.) and I also do a lot of iTunes and watching music videos. I am considering getting into web design, so I would need to be able to run Dreamweaver and do some light photo editing.

I like the MBA because of the size and portability factor, but performance is what truly matters to me. My current MBP has been good to me but I am starting to see a few more spinning beach balls than I feel comfortable with.
2.3 GHz Intel i5 MacBook Pro
iPhone 4 - 16 GB - Black
8gb iPod Nano
     
PB2K
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Dec 21, 2010, 07:38 PM
 
the other MBAVSMBP threads are top5 how can you miss them
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PB2K
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Dec 21, 2010, 07:44 PM
 
the Sony vaio and Alienware with a true 4 core i7 have become contenders too. For the first time in 12 years I am thinking outside the mac spectrum. Apple needs to upgrade their videocards, make batteries replaceable and make backlit keyboards standard.
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OreoCookie
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Dec 22, 2010, 04:41 AM
 
I think it's better if we use only this thread, so I've merged the two threads.
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Waragainstsleep
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Dec 22, 2010, 05:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by Jasoco View Post
I guess as long as the battery is exactly the same model. But don't they put serial numbers on them to match up? I guess if there's no telling factors, and you can do it without disturbing anything, go ahead.


I got a SSD a few weeks ago and it is a lot faster and haven't had problems. I don't know what TRIM does, but I haven't had problems.
They do track the serial numbers on certain parts, not sure batteries are among them or not these days but since you could have had a battery changed at any number of AASPs there is always the chance of the new serial number being misreported back to them or not reported properly at all. As long as its an Apple part, they shouldn't complain much. In fact the chances are they'll only bother to check it if its the battery they are replacing. Or if it looks different in some way. So remove any 3rd party stickers.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
zerostar
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Dec 23, 2010, 12:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by matty-uk View Post
Well I've done it! I've ordered an ultimate 13"
Uhh which one?
     
PB2K
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Dec 23, 2010, 04:03 PM
 
And does the ultimate MBA run Fallout 3 or Stalker call grom pripyat ?
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Michael Jolly
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Dec 23, 2010, 08:18 PM
 
Having had a MBA and a MBP, i would surgest the MBP,

I love the Air as a wonderful example of design its greet. But i really feel that the Pro just has the edge on it, The HDD size, CD drive extra ports all add up to just a little better but of course that is my own view.

Your millage of course may very!
Macbook Pro 2.4GHZ 13inch, LED Cinema Display, Iphone 4G 32gb and Ipad 64gb Wifi

Apple addict Since 2004
     
   
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