Which Macbook Should you get? (Macbook Air vs Macbook Pro)

Which Macbook Should you get? (Macbook Air vs Macbook Pro)

 ‘The Ultimate Macbook Air v the Macbook Pro Guide’

Page 1 – Macbook Air (current page)

Page 2 – Macbook Pro

Page 3 – Criticisms and Recommendations

So you’re in the market for a new Macbook, but can’t quite decide which one to get (or even which model)? Well fear not fellow mortals, because we’ve put together this guide (spectacular guide we may add) to help you out in your buying decisions. There are 3 pages in this guide so remember to head on the the bottom and click that button to get to the next page! Thing’s might have been simpler, and the decision would have been straight forward on which model to get until Apple decided to refresh their Macbook Air’s, and fit them with powerful new processors. Well, follow our guide and we’ll be sure to get you that much closer to being able to decide on your choice of Macbook. For the sake of this guide, we’ll be using the prices (and specs) from the USA Apple store, but it shouldn’t matter either way. Just remember, if you still have any further questions on this guide, just ask away in the comments and we’ll be there to help you out!

General summary of specs

Click on the table to view have a bigger view.

Note: These are not the basic specs you will get, but these are the minimum recommended specs that we feel will suit everyone. To configure for yourself, please go to the Apple Store

So a few explanations about the table:

  • Screen Size – Self explanatory, it’s the model’s screen size. Remember that screen size is always measured diagonally from corner to corner (see pic below)
  •  
  • Weight – Weight of the model.
  • Processor – The option’s Apple give you in relation to the Processor (which is the speed of the computer in general terms). The higher the number the better (in relation to Processor type).
  • Processor Type – This is the type of performance each processor gives you. Dual Core usually means they have two cores, and they are a combination of two cores (thus being twice as fast). A Quad Core processor means there are four cores, thus making it twice as fast as a Dual Core processor. This means that even thought a Quad Core processor has a lower speed than a Dual Core, by having twice as many cores it makes it twice as fast.
  • Hard Drive – The amount of on-board storage a computer has. The number’s we have given are not the only options Apple provides, it is the one we feel that would suit most people. The Macbook Air’s use Flash Storage while Macbook Pro’s use SSD (Solid Slate Drive) storage (explanation a bit below)*
  • RAM – Random Access Memory (RAM) is known as the computer’s memory that allows the processor to read and write data to be accessed by the Processor. Certain Macbook model’s allow 8GB of RAM as well.
  • Basic Price – The Basic Price based on our configurations. Every model can cost more depending on how your configure it, and some can cost less as well than the price we have provided.

*What is Flash storage?

Flash Storage is fairly new to the Macbook Air’s and thanks to Flash Storage, Macbook Air’s can be thinner, lighter, and faster than ever. Basically let us put it like this – Imagine an iPad (or iPhone/iPod Touch). You know that when you click the home button, it takes less than one second to turn on. If you take that technology, and put it in a Macbook Air, then you’ve got a device than can go from off to the login screen in under 20 seconds! Furthermore, you should be able to go from sleep mode to the login screen in a matter of seconds!

With Apple’s utilization of flash storage in the new MacBook Air, the MacBook will be thinner, lighter, and faster than ever. If you have ever seen an iPod Touch, and iPhone, or an iPad wake up from sleep mode, you know that it takes less than a second for it to go from sleep mode to fully functional mode. Imagine having this capability for your MacBook. Well, with flash storage, this dream is now a reality. The MacBook Air now takes less than 5 seconds to go from sleep mode to ‘on’ (the login screen). Furthermore, programs and apps will start quicker and the device will be generally much faster! (Flash is still part of Solid Slate family, but uses flash as opposed to a drive on the Macbook Pro)

Why Get a Macbook Air?

 

-Size and Resolution

11-inch

Let’s not kid ourselves, the Macbook Air is thin, light, and small. The 11-inch model is 11.8-inches (29.9 cm) long and only 0.68-inches (1.7 cm) thick. It’s the smallest Macbook Air available and it’s one of the thinnest and lightest laptops in the world.

As for the resolution of the screen, the 11-inch model features a 1366 x 768 screen resolution and a LED-backlit glossy widescreen display.

13-inch

If the 11-inch model is a little too small, the 13-inch model should suit you find. It’s 12.8-inches (32.5 cm) long, and it doesn’t gain any thinkness either as it is 0.68-inches (1.7 cm) thick as well.

Obviously with a bigger screen you do get slightly better screen resolution with the 13-inch mode, and you get a 1440 x 900 resolution with the same LED-backlit glossy widescreen display.

-Speed

Thanks to Intel’s Turbo Boost technology, all computers with Intel Core Processor’s can turbo boost to a certain limit depending on which applications they are running. That’s why they are better than older processors despite the fact they may have lower speeds (they don’t… they’re really fast). In term’s of the Time to Boot graph’s below, we have compared to Macbook Air to 2 similar computers (which are similar in both size, and thinness) as well as the average for other computers.

11-inch: 1.6GHz -> 2.3GHz (The 1.6GHz dual core i5 processor on the 11-inch model can turbo up to 2.3GHz)

13-inch: 1.7GHz -> 2.7GHz (The 1.7GHz dual core i5 processor on the 13-inch model is much more powerful, and can turbo up to 2.7GHz)

Note: i5 processors were used for these tests. The Intel Core i7 processors should give you slightly better results.

-Cheaper option

Remember to choose which options you need, not only what we recommend.

11-inch: The cheapest 11-inch model you can purchase right now will cost you $999 and you get the basic specs as seen in the table above. The most expensive 11-inch model will cost you (in terms of specs only) $1,649 and for that you’ll get a aster processor and higher storage.

13-inch: The cheapest 13-inch model will run you $1,299 and the most expensive 13-inch model will run you $1,699 and all you get a faster processor and more storage.

(Note: Costs can get even higher with the purchase of accessories and Warranty)

-Other Features (That you may not know of)

11-inch:

  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • 2 USB 2.0 Ports
  • High Speed Thunderbolt Port
  • Up to 5 hours Battery Life
  • Backlit Keyboard
13-inch:
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • 2 USB 2.0 Ports
  • High Speed Thunderbolt Port
  • SD Card Slot
  • Up to 7 hours Battery Life
  • Backlit Keyboard

-Type of people it is suitable for 

Students – It’s easy to take to school/university. It’s light, small, thin not to mention the fact it looks sexy.

Travelers – Like we’ve already mentioned, it’s light and small, and thus won’t provide any problems carrying it around, nor will be hard to get it in and out of your laptop bag for security checks at the airport.

Casual Gamers – Let’s face it, this isn’t a gaming powerhouse but you will be able to play games such as World of Warcraft on it. And any kind of casual game, this bad boy should churn through.

Writers – Carry around this machine with you, no matter where you go. Because it’s so light and portable you’ll be able to whip it out whenever inspiration strikes. The Macbook Air’s Flash Storage helps as it will never take longer than 20 seconds to turn the machine on.

 Click here to go to page 2 (Macbook Pro)


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Founder and Chief Editor of Techin5, currently based in Melbourne Australia. Has always had a deep appreciation of Technology and how it helps people, which led to the birth of Techin5. You can follow me on Twitter at @jubbing and on Instagram
  • http://www.facebook.com/lukepsaila Luke Psaila

    that 17inch is surely expensive! Personally i’ll always go for a bigger screen than 15inch.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, if I permanently getting one I’d go for the 17-inch. Nicer screen too

  • http://www.facebook.com/AdamTam Adam Tambakau

    great article man :)

  • Pingback: Which Macbook Should you get? (Macbook Air vs Macbook Pro) | Techin5()

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Adam!

  • Pingback: Acers Aspire 3951 is the new Macbook Competitor and look alike | Techin5()

  • Anonymous

    Why would you use boot time to compare processors?  The reason the macbook air is booting so fast compared to others is because it has a solid state drive, not because it’s processor is better.

  • http://techin5.com Jubbin Grewal @Techin5.com

    Never said processors were the only reason, they were in the speed section because we were showing how much turbo boost the sandy bridge processors had. The Boot times just happened to follow suit. And Macbook air’s use flash storage which makes it faster to boot (clearly explained on the page).

  • http://www.facebook.com/israelwolf Israel Wolf Alves

    Congratulations! Awesome comparison and recommendations!

  • http://techin5.com Jubbin Grewal @Techin5.com

    Thank you. I’m glad you found it useful!

  • FjRxx123

    I’m 14 and i will be going to highschool next year but I am trying to figure out which one i should get. Should I get the MBP or the MBA 13 inch?

  • http://techin5.com Jubbin Grewal @Techin5.com

    Hi Fj, well the first thing you want to think about is what you’re going to use it for. If you’re not thinking of using it for anything powerful (aka graphical designs, video editing, etc) then a MBA is perfect. If you are, then you might even consider the 15″ MBP.

    However if price is an issue, I’d highly recommend checking out a Windows Ultrabook (they could be considerably cheaper and they rate really well when we had a test of one not too long ago). And you could probably use that extra cash to buy a new phone.

    However, if you’re definitely sticking with Apple, then just use our guide to see which one suits you best from the Recommendations above. Hope this helps.

  • gringo_locodc

    Thanks for this review. I’m in the market for a new laptop. I currently have (and always have had) a PC. I use my laptop to browse the internet, occasionally watch videos on Hulu, edit my photography (but only as a hobby. I don’t do hardcore editing.  Just touch up). I have A LOT of music on my iPod and I have an iPhone that I like to do mobile photography with. 

    I’m torn between a Mac and a PC. I can afford a Mac, but I feel like I could save a good $500 with a PC, and not have a problem with my basic needs.  But I feel like the support from Apple is better, and it’d be nice to have a Mac for ease of syncing my iPhone and iPod.

    Judging from these comments, do you have any initial thoughts?

  • http://techin5.com Jubbin Grewal @Techin5.com

    Personally if you’re ok with a PC, then you should go for it. Otherwise if you want to plop some extra PC cash, going with an Ultrabook is a great idea, as you’re getting the same iTunes integration anyways. 

    If you’d prefer to go for a Macbook Air, that’s the same as an Ultrabook with a different OS. If Macbook Pro, then a refresh is coming this summer (June/July). 

  • Marion

    we’re looking to purchase some more Macs and trying to figure out whether to go with the MacBook Pro  or MacBook Air and looking for some guidance – one of the things that is important is that I often have several documents opened at the same time and do a lot with power point presentations – I was using someone’s new MacBook Pro 13 and it seemed slow and I often got that whirly colored circle so think I want a machine that is faster to avoid having that and that functions well with many things opened – what would you recommend and what are the key items that make the difference in the speed – and also how does the resolution of the screen factor in – THANKS for your help

  • http://techin5.com Jubbin Grewal @Techin5.com

    Hi Marion,

    Basically, I’d always prefer the Macbook Air 13″ over the 13″MBP. Why? Similar power but the MBA is thinner, lighter, and just better. However, the 13″model is expeceted to be refreshed this summer (June/July – http://techin5.com/2012/05/macbook-pros-to-be-updated-with-ivy-bridge-retina-display-by-summer/) so I’d expect it to be faster then. However, if you can’t wait, the 15″MBP is the best bagn for buck. To save money, you might even like to get a slightly more powerful Windows Laptop for less cost though, unless you’re set on Apple computers.