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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Macbook Air vs. Pro, impossible to decide


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FurryPaws

 
Member Since: Oct 23, 2013
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Hey everyone,

after having used Windows for all my life, I recently tried out OSX on an MBA 11" I "borrowed" from Apple, and now I'm sold on the OS.
After going through some pain to get a smooth mouse experience, I absolutely fell in love with the Mac.
For instance, I did in five minutes in OSX what took me several hours in Windows: get a decent audio input latency.

Having sent back the adorable but but ultimately a little too small MBA 11", I'm currently deliberating to get one of these devices and I'm having a hard time deciding:

Refurb MBA 13" 256gb, 4 GB Ram, Core i5@1,3ghz: 1.099 €
MBA 13" 256, 8 GB, i7@1,7ghz: 1.450 €
MBP 13" 256, 8 GB, i5@2,4ghz: 1.400 €

Since I occasionally need Windows, I reckon 128gb Macbooks are out of the question.

What kills me is that the MBP has the smaller footprint and would fit into my bag better, while only being half a pound heavier. I'm not sure how much power I "need", or if I'll run into RAM-issues if I get the base model, so it's tempting to throw another 300 € at it to get the upgrades.

Here's what I do with the device:

1. A ton of writing and some office work at home
2. Do research at the uni library
3. Work with GarageBand
4. Work with GuitarPro
5. Play with Synthesia
6. watch videos in bed
7. mayhaps check out the upcoming Diablo expansion

What I can't estimate properly is how much the difference in screen resolution actually is.
Does one notice it at all? Can I scale down the Retina to the MBA resolution to improve battery life in normal use?

It would be awfully nice of you to help me decide.

Oh, before I forget, I also just picked up a used iPad Mini (32gb, LTE), because the 190 € asking price was too good to pass on, so is there any "synergy" between the devices?

I'd love to have a calender and 'notepad' that both devices can access without any hassle.
And since iOS apparently doesn't have a torrent client, is there a way to make my Macbook download a video via torrent and watch the video on the iPad without touching the Macbook?

Cheers boners,

FurryPaws
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post

Refurb MBA 13" 256gb: 1.099 €
MBA 13" 256, 8 GB, i7: 1.450 €
MBP 13" 256, 8 GB, i5: 1.400 €
Probably should have included the cpu speeds for easier answering.

You didn't tell us how much ram the refurb MBA has (I'm guessing 4gig). In these days of non-upgradeable ram...this is an important factor. If the refurb mBA only has 4gig of ram...then it really shouldn't be compared to the other two choices with 8gig of ram...since they are really not configured equally. Of course this refurb MBA could be the low cost choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
What kills me is that the MBP has the smaller footprint and would fit into my bag better, while only being half a pound heavier.
I don't think that the foot print difference is enough to "kill you". They both have 13" display's...so the footprint difference is certainly minimal. Yes...the MBP is a little bit heavier.

I would say if cost is an issue...go with the refurb. But if it only has 4gig of ram (which isn't terrible) consider this carefully. 4gig of ram may be ok today. But in the coming years (depending on how long you want to keep this computer)...4gig of ram may not be enough.

If you feel you should get 8gig of ram. Then that narrows things down to the other two choices. I don't know exactly what two models these are (you didn't give all the specs)...but based on the info provided...I guess I would go with the i7 MBA. Simply because it's lighter & the cost is very close to the 13" MBP with 8gig of ram.

- Nick

- Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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FurryPaws

 
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The stats I didn't give are base configuration.
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
The stats I didn't give a base configuration.
Base configurations or not...not everyone keeps these base configurations memorized. And since you are shopping at a different Apple Store than I do (prices are in euros)...I am not easily able to make direct comparisons to the models sold in the Apple Store I shop at (US store).

For the ease of folks replying & trying to help in this thread...instead of the post above...it may have been more helpful just to post the complete specs.

- Nick

- Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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FurryPaws

 
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Very good point, I've added the information.

I'm having a hard time to understand the processor speeds.

They are all Dual Core, and the i7 has 1,7ghz to 3,1ghz turbo boost, whereas the i5 in the MBA has 2,4-2,9 ghz.

Does that mean the i7 is faster if need be?
Does a 'core i' compare to a Core 2 duo when they have the same clock speed?
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
Very good point, I've added the information.
Thanks a bunch...that helps a lot!

Here's the deal with the two new laptops you listed (both with 8gig of ram):

- The MBA has significantly better cpu benchmark scores than the MBP (7097 vs. 5482)
- The MBP has the newer Intel Iris 5100 graphics...where as the MBA has the older Intel HD Graphics 5000.
- The MBP has a retina display (MBA does not).

Thus looking at these two models:

- If graphics performance and the retina display are more important...then get the MBP.
- If cpu speed (benchmark scores) and weight are more important...then get the MBA.

Definitely a personal choice.

- Nick

- Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
I'm having a hard time to understand the processor speeds.

They are all Dual Core, and the i7 has 1,7ghz to 3,1ghz turbo boost, whereas the i5 in the MBA has 2,4-2,9 ghz.

Does that mean the i7 is faster if need be?
Does a 'core i' compare to a Core 2 duo when they have the same clock speed?
You updated/edited your post...so I'm answering in a separate post.

Yes...all this cpu & cpu speed info can be confusing. I simply look at benchmark scores...which pretty much boils everything down to a single more easily comparable number (which I mentioned in my post above)!

- Nick

- Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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bobtomay

 
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And to answer the latter question the iSeries are drastically faster than a Core 2 Duo at the same clock speeds.

I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
In the Windows world, most everything folks don't understand is called a virus.
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dbm

 
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In terms of retina vs non-retina displays, as soon as I looked at one in the shop I had to upgrade to a retina MBP - the difference was dramatic to my eyes.

In terms of your question re synergy there is a very strong synergy between Apple devices. Assuming that you have the latest OS on both then you can synchronise contacts, reminders, notes, calendars and more using iCloud at no cost. Apple's productivity software (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) have good version for both platforms at a very reasonable cost (free now IIRC?) and you can, again, synchronise documents between devices using iCloud.
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FurryPaws

 
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Gaming certainly isn't a priority. I can make do with lowest details and there's only very few games I'm interested in and even then the interest isn't too big.

I think in terms of graphics performance, the difference between the rMBP and the MBA isn't too large, so it comes down to battery vs. screen...
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
I think in terms of graphics performance, the difference between the rMBP and the MBA isn't too large, so it comes down to battery vs. screen...
If this is the case. The cpu benchmark scores are pretty substantially different (MBA 7097 vs. MBP 5482). I wouldn't overlook that.

- Nick

- Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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FurryPaws

 
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Yeah, the benchmarks differ by like 10%, but the real-time performance does more so.

But since CPU and graphics have a shared memory, shouldn't the faster CPU nudge that a bit back into the i7's favour?

Anyways, taking about real life performance, I doubt I use any programs that even push the computer so far, so that shouldn't be my priority.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbm View Post
In terms of retina vs non-retina displays, as soon as I looked at one in the shop I had to upgrade to a retina MBP - the difference was dramatic to my eyes.

In terms of your question re synergy there is a very strong synergy between Apple devices. Assuming that you have the latest OS on both then you can synchronise contacts, reminders, notes, calendars and more using iCloud at no cost. Apple's productivity software (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) have good version for both platforms at a very reasonable cost (free now IIRC?) and you can, again, synchronise documents between devices using iCloud.

That just leaves the retina screen. I'd check it out in a store, but I have a bad conscience walking in there and checking out the **** with no intention of buying anything.

Thanks for the information on synchronisation and 'synergy' (Christ on a stick I hate that word).
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
Yeah, the benchmarks differ by like 10%,
Actually the cpu benchmark score is very close to 29.5% faster.

- Nick

- Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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FurryPaws

 
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Yes, I was talking about comparing the GPU performances.
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
Yes, I was talking about comparing the GPU performances.
Good deal.

- Nick

- Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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