2018 Macbook Air vs. 2017 13" NTB MBP
There's been a lot of discussion this week week comparing the new Macbook Air vs. Macbook Pro. There are lots of views, but almost everyone says: do not buy the 2017 NTB MBP. But this doesn't seem like such a no-brainer to me. I'm curious what folks think about my case for this model Pro.
Now, for starters let's assume we're talking about an entry-level Macbook. After all, if you're considering the Air that's what we're talking about. (Lots of folks compare the 2018 MBP to 2018 Air, but they're just different animals). With that, let's say you're going 13" and outfitting it with 256 SSD. The 2018 Air runs $1400 and the 2017 NTB Pro runs $1500. This is how I see them stacking up:
- Size - Footprint is the same. Air has a narrower wedge taper, but Pro's thickest point is actually 1.5mm thinner. Air is 0.25 lb lighter (but I'd argue this is almost negligible). Both are very portable, Air slightly more so.
- Battery - 1-2hr difference. Pro is a reported 10hr, Air is reported 12hr. But we all know this also depends on usage (screen, activity, etc.) so there's wiggle room here. And remember we're talking ntb Pro, so there's no draw from touch bar / T2. Air has an edge, but not a great one.
- Keyboard - Air has gen3 (gasket) and 2017 has gen2 (slight adaptation over the problematic 2016 keyboards). Sadly there's no great data on the failure rate on these, particularly if we're talking 2017 models. Some things to consider: 2017 ntb MPB is still covered by Apple recall, while 2018 Air is a completely unknown, such as whether the gasket is an improvement or not. All things being equal I'd take the gen3 keyboard, but tbh the Apple recall does have you covered for Pro.
- Touch ID / T2 - Air has it, Pro doesn't. I admit this is cool. Although with touchbar the use is rather limited to un/locking at this point. I'd argue that using 1Password or something like it makes your life easier whether you've got Touch ID or not. That said, this is a perk of the Air.
- Graphics - Different. Air has UHD 617. Pro has Iris Plus 640. Tbh I assume the Pro has an edge, but I'm not sure how much and don't know enough about these to argue there is/isn't a significant difference. Pass on this.
- Processor - Air has 1.6 Ghz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core 8th gen. Pro has 2.3 Ghz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core 7th gen. We don't really know yet, but initial geekbench stats suggest single-core performance is roughly the same, while the Pro scores around 30% better on multi-core performance. The multi-core difference strikes me as significant.
- Screen - No difference I think.
- Color. Who cares about pink.
So I'd argue the advantages are:
- Argument for Air: Slightly more portable, slightly better battery, maybe / maybe not improved keyboard, Touch ID, and $100 less.
- Argument for Pro: Better multi-core performance, maybe slightly better graphics, and keyboard is covered by Apple if problems arise.
Conclusion: It's not such a open-and-closed case. I'd argue that keyboard and size are actually close enough not to be deal-breakers / decision-makers. As far as factors that are 1) certain and 2) significant, really you're trading the Pro's performance edge for $100, touch ID, and some extra battery. It seems to me--assuming you're entering the low-end of the Macbook line--there's a good argument either way. Do you want to drop $100 / Touch ID / 1-2hrs battery for 30% better multi-core performance? I think a reasonable person could say yes or no, depending on their use-level. (Personally, I think I'd take the better processor for $100.)
Am I missing something? Is there another reason why the 2017 NTB MBP is garbage? Help me out.