or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › Need advice, in a hurry
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Need advice, in a hurry

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

I need some advice, and i'm in bit of a hurry - will explaine..

I just ordered my first mac, a new Macbook Air 13.3", 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, but because of delivery issues here in Denmark i havent been able to get it yet (ordered 21 days ago, today).

Now the thing is, the store where i bought it has made it possible for me to buy another Mac, which i can get now, for ALMOST the same price. I have to answer by tomorrow, so i would really appreciate your advice.
The other option is a Macbook Pro 15.4" , 2.4ghz CoreI5, 320GB HDD, 4GB RAM.

Now portability is of course a factor, but other than that - what would you buy? How is the difference, performance wise, between these two mac's? Which is best "for the future"?

Please, any comment, can't make up my mind and i HAVE to decide by tomorrow..

Kind regards.
post #2 of 21
Well, it's really obvious that the 15" MBP will blow the MBA out of the water (except for disk access). You should take the 15" MBP instead of the MBA.

In my case, the 15" is too large. I need something like the 13" MBP. I'm still waiting for something better than the current models (I hate the screen on the 13" MBP).

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply
post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali View Post

Well, it's really obvious that the 15" MBP will blow the MBA out of the water (except for disk access).

For video encoding sure. For everything else the MBA will feel faster.

At least until you put an SSD in that MBP.

PS the OP needs to provide more info, such as intended use, before any useful advice can be given.
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, i just started at the university - but really, computers are not used very often in this context, so portability is important but not no. 1. factor - besides the macbook pro isn't that heavy, 2.54kg.

What i'm thinking is really, how does the future look. I'm counting on keeping this computer for the rest of the 5 years i have to study - i'm just affraid that the Air would more easily brake, or whith it's hardware, outdate quicker than the Pro.

I don't do a lot of really heavy tasks, as most people, but i guess this doesn't mean that computers will never have to get faster than what a Macbook Air offers?

I'm in love with the design of the Air and the SSD, also the screen is very nice. But other than that, the sheer performance of the pro should be considered, yes?
Plus the fact that it has bigger screen, more ports, more space (HDD) and a DVD-drive?

EDIT: I know that the Air feels faster than the base Macbook pro 13" but does this also apply to the 15" Core I5 ?
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

Well, i just started at the university - but really, computers are not used very often in this context, so portability is important but not no. 1. factor - besides the macbook pro isn't that heavy, 2.54kg.

What i'm thinking is really, how does the future look. I'm counting on keeping this computer for the rest of the 5 years i have to study - i'm just affraid that the Air would more easily brake, or whith it's hardware, outdate quicker than the Pro.

I don't do a lot of really heavy tasks, as most people, but i guess this doesn't mean that computers will never have to get faster than what a Macbook Air offers?

I'm in love with the design of the Air and the SSD, also the screen is very nice. But other than that, the sheer performance of the pro should be considered, yes?
Plus the fact that it has bigger screen, more ports, more space (HDD) and a DVD-drive?

EDIT: I know that the Air feels faster than the base Macbook pro 13" but does this also apply to the 15" Core I5 ?

What applications do you intend to use?

If the apps are cpu bound get the MBP. If they are not stick with the MBA. It will feel faster.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

What applications do you intend to use?

If the apps are cpu bound get the MBP. If they are not stick with the MBA. It will feel faster.

I HAVE used photoshop and Autocad quite a bit, but i don't use them very often right now.
Other than that, i would say relatively small programs. How about booting both Windows and mac, is any of them better at this?

Also if anybody can explaine the performance difference between these two.
Also if someone has owned/ownes both of these computers, please let me know what you think :-)
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

Well, i just started at the university - but really, computers are not used very often in this context, so portability is important but not no. 1. factor - besides the macbook pro isn't that heavy, 2.54kg.

What i'm thinking is really, how does the future look. I'm counting on keeping this computer for the rest of the 5 years i have to study - i'm just affraid that the Air would more easily brake, or whith it's hardware, outdate quicker than the Pro.

I don't do a lot of really heavy tasks, as most people, but i guess this doesn't mean that computers will never have to get faster than what a Macbook Air offers?

I'm in love with the design of the Air and the SSD, also the screen is very nice. But other than that, the sheer performance of the pro should be considered, yes?
Plus the fact that it has bigger screen, more ports, more space (HDD) and a DVD-drive?

EDIT: I know that the Air feels faster than the base Macbook pro 13" but does this also apply to the 15" Core I5 ?

I can say two things from my experience...

1) 2.5 kg doesn't seem like a lot until you have to stand all day with it slung over your shoulder. I am 200 lbs, and even I feel it after a few hours. Especially if you have to carry other things, the weight does matter. Any road warrior would agree.

2) Very few laptops last 5 years. They deprecate faster than desktops. Parts for laptops are generally made to lower tolerances in the name of conserving weight. As a consequence the failure rate on laptops is higher. I think its foolishness to expect a laptop to last longer than three years. It might, but after three years I view any lifespan as gravy.
Registered: Dec 1998
Reply
Registered: Dec 1998
Reply
post #8 of 21
In my opinion, the new 13" MBA is too fragile. It will bend and may be damaged after some years of usage (and you can be sure it will happen just after the waranty coverage). This is why I'm not interested in the 13" MBA anymore. It's just not sturdy enough for a portable, it's too thin.

I'm also a bit worried by the SSD problems on the long run (finite writes), and the limited size (even 256 GB may not be enough).

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
So it sounds like the core I5 processor and the nvidia geforce GT 330M and the rest of the the parts that should gain performance of the MBP really is outperformed because of the SSD in the Air (for every day use, and future purpose)? Does this mean that if the 13" MBP had fx. Intel core I7, and nvidia geforce GT420M and regular HDD , you would still be better of buying the MBA with SSD?
In that case it's easy, i will just stick with the air, if SSD makes it that mighty..

Please, all opinions will be appreciated..

About mac's not lasting more than three years, i REALLY don't buy that. I now have a shitty IBM laptop (was insanely expencive though), that lastet more than 4 years, so i expect at least the same from Apple.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

I HAVE used photoshop and Autocad quite a bit, but i don't use them very often right now.
Other than that, i would say relatively small programs. How about booting both Windows and mac, is any of them better at this?

Also if anybody can explaine the performance difference between these two.
Also if someone has owned/ownes both of these computers, please let me know what you think :-)

I have a two week old Macbook Air 13.3" and love it. I'm running Windows XP Pro under SnowLeopard to have access to AutoCAD and am experiencing no issues. The 15" MBP you've been offered will match the Air in specs and exceen it in upgradability, but for 95% of the stuff you do, the Air will operate faster. I use Parallels 6.0 for Windows, and it works well.

The screen res of the Air matches the 15" MBP, but in a package that's nearly 1 kilo lighter. Makes for a great experience... Good luck!

Tony
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali View Post

In my opinion, the new 13" MBA is too fragile.

This is not true. The Air is a very tight, strong machine. Your opinion is your opinion; you don't own one nor have you used one for an extended period of time.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by treynolds View Post

This is not true. The Air is a very tight, strong machine. Your opinion is your opinion; you don't own one nor have you used one for an extended period of time.

An opinion is just an opinion, and it can't be false as an opinion !

It is true that I don't own a MBA and never used one for a long period of time (neither is your case, by the way, since you used it for two weeks only).

Of course, I may be wrong about the MBA robustness. However, I tested it extensively in the store, and was able to bend the 13" MBA's screen very easily. Opening and closing the screen for several hundreds of times over two or three years may certainly affect some parts. And transport may also have an effect on the long run : you're standing in the subway with lots of people around you, and someone may accidentaly collide with you or the case with your MBA in it. I wont be surprised if the MBA suffered from this (be bended, etc...). The MBP is certainly stronger, in this situation.

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

In that case it's easy, i will just stick with the air, if SSD makes it that mighty..

The i5 2.4GHz benchmarks at 5500 in Geekbench and the 2.13GHz Air gets 3300 so you get 70% better performance from the i5 CPU.

The 330M is 50% faster than the 320M GPU so if you were running a game and the 320M gave you 20FPS, you'd get 30FPS on the 330M. Almost always you can lower the settings a bit though and get smooth performance. With 3D apps, you can go down to 5FPS anyway for modelling.

The Macbook Air SSD benchmarks at 160MB/s transfer rate whereas a hard drive gets 50-70MB/s at best.

You will appreciate the MBA weight when carrying it around. The MBP doesn't seem like a lot but you will notice it on your back.

I don't think 128GB is enough storage though, Windows partition will take 20GB at least and the Mac system + apps should be 10GB minimum so you will get under 100GB usable space. At CES on Jan 6th 2011, Intel should be introducing their 25nm SSD, which should double SSD capacity for the same price so buying an SSD now isn't such a good idea.

If you have to pick one, I'd go for the MBP now and have a look at what's on offer late 2011. Intel should be bringing quad cores to the low-end with Ivy Bridge, SSD will be affordable and NVidia will be on their next IGP revision. I'd say at that point buying a MBA vs a MBP would easily be in favour of the MBA.

Right now, the MBP would IMO be the better purchase given that Core 2 Duo is an old CPU, 128GB isn't that much and USB 2 isn't a fast connection and it's all you get. Light Peak and/or USB 3 will be great additions in the near future and won't be readily replaced.

It's actually not a good time to be buying a MBP as they are due an update soon. Sandy Bridge is being launched in 6 weeks or so. I expect new MBPs to arrive late January.

I'm hoping they restyle the 15" MBP to be like the MBA and go with a 256GB and 512GB SSD option and drop the optical drive.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

About mac's not lasting more than three years, i REALLY don't buy that. I now have a shitty IBM laptop (was insanely expencive though), that lastet more than 4 years, so i expect at least the same from Apple.

I didn't say anything like "macs won't last three years". I said laptops (macs and PCs) generally don't last more than three years. And by that I meant that, although you could use a laptop longer than three years, and in some cases you would, only rarely will that actually happen. And you certainly would be foolish to count on it in terms of budgeting. The machines are designed to have a shorter lifespan. 1) they are generally not upgradable, 2) they use lower speced components with design considerations meant to address weight and size issues rather than lifespan issues, and 3) they are actually designed with deprecation in mind. Why do you think so many mac laptops in the last three years were sold with a measly 2 GB RAM? Apple certainly knew that would be pushing the limits of what would work acceptable going forward. Answer: Given, points 1,2, and 3 above, there is little point future-proofing a machine for more than a 3 year time window.

As for SSD lifespan brought up elsewhere in this thread... I recently read that, for a 128 GB SSD with sandforce write controls, you would have to write 10GB new data to a machine everyday for a decade to reach the limits of usability. That was good enough for me.
Registered: Dec 1998
Reply
Registered: Dec 1998
Reply
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by wormboy View Post

As for SSD lifespan brought up elsewhere in this thread... I recently read that, for a 128 GB SSD with sandforce write controls, you would have to write 10GB new data to a machine everyday for a decade to reach the limits of usability. That was good enough for me.

Aah ! This is interesting. Could you give some sources about this ? I need a confirmation of this being true. Currently, I feel very insecure with SSD technologies, and this is one of the reasons why I'm holding my MBA/MBP purchase.

And what is Apple doing for the read/writes on its SSD ?

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

The i5 2.4GHz benchmarks at 5500 in Geekbench and the 2.13GHz Air gets 3300 so you get 70% better performance from the i5 CPU.

The 330M is 50% faster than the 320M GPU so if you were running a game and the 320M gave you 20FPS, you'd get 30FPS on the 330M. Almost always you can lower the settings a bit though and get smooth performance. With 3D apps, you can go down to 5FPS anyway for modelling.

The Macbook Air SSD benchmarks at 160MB/s transfer rate whereas a hard drive gets 50-70MB/s at best.

You will appreciate the MBA weight when carrying it around. The MBP doesn't seem like a lot but you will notice it on your back.

I don't think 128GB is enough storage though, Windows partition will take 20GB at least and the Mac system + apps should be 10GB minimum so you will get under 100GB usable space. At CES on Jan 6th 2011, Intel should be introducing their 25nm SSD, which should double SSD capacity for the same price so buying an SSD now isn't such a good idea.

If you have to pick one, I'd go for the MBP now and have a look at what's on offer late 2011. Intel should be bringing quad cores to the low-end with Ivy Bridge, SSD will be affordable and NVidia will be on their next IGP revision. I'd say at that point buying a MBA vs a MBP would easily be in favour of the MBA.

Right now, the MBP would IMO be the better purchase given that Core 2 Duo is an old CPU, 128GB isn't that much and USB 2 isn't a fast connection and it's all you get. Light Peak and/or USB 3 will be great additions in the near future and won't be readily replaced.

It's actually not a good time to be buying a MBP as they are due an update soon. Sandy Bridge is being launched in 6 weeks or so. I expect new MBPs to arrive late January.

I'm hoping they restyle the 15" MBP to be like the MBA and go with a 256GB and 512GB SSD option and drop the optical drive.

Well, it sounds like the HDD is a huge bottle neck. Ive read something about the SSD in the Air being more "directly" linked to the other components, and that this should make it faster, than a macbook pro with SSD - true?
BTW is replacing the HDD to SSD an easy task, and what type of SSD should i look for?

I WISH i could wait one year, but that is just not an option. I need a new computer now. I could wait for sandy bridge in the revised Pro's, but from the sound of it 13" (which is where my budget ends) will still be using Core2Duo, so no steps forward in that case - i would be better of with I5 520M in 15", i guess, with the discount i got?

I'm quite a design geek though, and in that respect the Air is sooo nice. See my dilemma?
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

I HAVE used photoshop and Autocad quite a bit, but i don't use them very often right now.
Other than that, i would say relatively small programs. How about booting both Windows and mac, is any of them better at this?

Not sure hat you mean by "small programs".

You seem a bit unsure exactly what you'll be using your laptop for and that not unusual. In your case, you might be better served by a MBP. Its more flexible than a MBA; in that the RAM can be upgraded, an SSD can be added later and there are more connectivity ports.

While you probably would be fine with a MBA you might be better off with a MBP. Most people who have a MBA use it for relatively specific purposes and work within its reasonable limitations.

Here is an interesting thread on the MBA at Ars Technica. Most of the interesting comments come at the end as people report there experiences with the new MBA. Some like it a lot (those that like it think its the best machine they've ever had ) and some don't. For someone considering a MBA its good reading.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali View Post

However, I tested it extensively in the store...

Well then, you're a certified expert.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

Well, it sounds like the HDD is a huge bottle neck. Ive read something about the SSD in the Air being more "directly" linked to the other components, and that this should make it faster, than a macbook pro with SSD - true?

No, not even if it was PCI as it doesn't saturate SATA anyway. It's just connected with a mini SATA so putting an SSD in the MBP would be just as fast. As for which model, Intel's x25M is generally regarded as being the best but they are expensive and their sequential write speeds are slow. The OCZ Vertex is a good option and does have fast sequential write.

I would suggest holding out for the X25M G3 in January for the upgrade if you decide on the MBP as it will improve write speed considerably.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

BTW is replacing the HDD to SSD an easy task, and what type of SSD should i look for?

The drive replacement is fairly easy in the laptops. there are step-by-step guides on ifixit.com.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

I need a new computer now. I could wait for sandy bridge in the revised Pro's, but from the sound of it 13" (which is where my budget ends) will still be using Core2Duo, so no steps forward in that case - i would be better of with I5 520M in 15", i guess, with the discount i got?

I don't think the next 13" will use Core 2 Duo due to the rumour that NVidia have found a way to bypass the Intel block - if this is the case, I actually don't see why they couldn't even replace the 13" MBP with the 13" MBA. There are some reasons against this like the $100 higher entry point but entry price never bothered Apple before.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, it ended up with the Pro 15", and MAN what a machine. It's my first mac, not first apple product though, but really, it amazes me just how beautifully they are made - not just for a laptop but in general, the finish, the tolerances, and everything is just tight as a drum. and that's just the technical aspect, the OS is a story of it's own.
Really the only thing wrong, is that it's my first mac, and that i just bought it now...

Even though this setup (core I5 2.4, 4GB RAM, Nvidia GT330M) is more than enough, i'm going to update to a SSD when prices get lower, possibly the next gen Intel SSD's..

Anyways, now you know how it ended - and a big thank you to everyone helping me decide.



Happy Black Friday..
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRK90 View Post

MAN what a machine. It's my first mac, not first apple product though, but really, it amazes me just how beautifully they are made - not just for a laptop but in general, the finish, the tolerances, and everything is just tight as a drum. and that's just the technical aspect, the OS is a story of it's own.
Really the only thing wrong, is that it's my first mac, and that i just bought it now...

Well then, welcome to the Mac World ! Once you made the leap, you'll never return to the PC world again !

Cheers !

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Current Mac Hardware
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › Need advice, in a hurry