With the new MacBooks out, it is time to ask which one is for me? It depends on whether you’re more professional or more of a consumer. I will go through the pros and cons of each one and I will help you determine if you will need a MacBook Air or Pro.
First, should you buy a MacBook in the first place
One rule you must remember when buying Apple products is that you get what you pay for. When you buy a cheap product (Windows-based computers), you will get what you pay for, the computer will probably be a bad one. However, all Mac computers are a little (sometimes quite) overpriced, however you get what you pay for. The extra money allows you to have a better computer. Better hardware and software. So now that you know to avoid Windows alternatives, which MacBook should you buy? Let’s find out.
MacBook Pro (Old) vs MacBook Air
When deciding to get a MacBook you must ask yourself one question. Do you consider yourself a consumer or a professional? A consumer is going to follow into the lines of someone who just does light-weight tasks such as listening to music, searching the web, writing documents, blogging, social networks, making lightweight movies on iMovie, lightweight photo management etc. A professional is someone who does more heavier duty stuff such as Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Logic Studio, designing, hardcore gaming among other things. Do you need a laptop just to have one and do basic things or do you need it for demanding tasks? If you need it for basics get a light weight, easy to carry around MacBook Air like the one I’m typing on now. If you need it for heavier tasks get a heavier but more powerful MacBook Pro. You will be pleased with either one. Now should you decide to get a new MacBook Pro, which one should you get?
MacBook Pro (old) vs MacBook Pro Retina
A few things that the Retina Display MacBook Pro (or MBPR for short) that the other one doesn’t are 1. the retina display, 2. no optical drive which gives you number 3. thinness which will also give you number 4. lighter than the other 15 inch (about as heavy as regular 13 inch). Don’t all these awesome features sound great! Well they do, but they come with a price, a $400 or $600 price tag lower to higher end respectively. A lot of money for what in my opinion is not worth it. But, should you have the money and want to spend it, the Retina Display MacBook Pro is a great machine. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have it, but Apple is charging a little too much for me.
MacBook Air vs MacBook Air
So you want to get a new MacBook Air? Well, choosing between the four (plus configurations) is a difficult choice, hopefully I can help ease it. First, what screen size should you get? There are 11 inch and 13 inch configurations. The 11 inch does not have a lot of real estate but it is cheaper with the low end model starting at $999 (or $859 + $100 Mac App Store card with education pricing). The 13 inch has more real estate but it comes with a price. The low end 13 inch Air model comes with a $1199 price tag ($1059+$100 Mac App Store card with education pricing). I personally think it is worth the extra money for the additional size and Ghz. I myself just bought a new low end 13 inch MacBook air with 4 GB RAM. I will advise you to make sure you buy enough RAM to start with since the RAM is soldered to the logic board which simply means you can’t add more. For me, 4 GB is plenty. RAM assists in the ability to handle higher powered applications and/or more applications. The ideal MacBook Air is the low end 13″ (128 GB) 4 GB RAM MacBook Air. Of course, we all have our needs and if you’re on a budget the 11″ is still a very solid machine.
MacBook Pro vs MacBook Pro
I do not own any current MacBook Pros (nor any for that matter) but I will try, to the best of my ability, to assist you in your purchase of a MacBook Pro. First off, there are 2 13″ MacBook Pro models and 2 15″ MacBook Pro models. Choosing between the 13 and 15 inch models will be a little more costlier. The difference between the low end 13 and 15 inch models is a costly $600 from $1199 to $1799. So that is a question you must ask yourself. Do you really need the extra real estate from the already comfortable 13 inch? Some people do. Some people need the extra space. I also want to point out that there are technical differences between the two. The Ghz is 2.5 dual-core and 2.9 dual-core on the 13 inch models and 2.3 quad-core and 2.6 GHz quad-core on the 15 inch models but with a better graphics on the 15 inch along with i7. I just want to make a point that even though the GHz on both the 15 inch models are lower than the higher end 13″, they are actually faster because of the fact that they are both quad-core also the higher end has a Turbo-Boost of 3.7 GHz which will help even further in speed (the average person doesn’t need to know how it works, they just need to know that it works, so I will not try to explain it)
13 inch MBP vs 15 inch MBP
The screen size is an obvious difference but there are a few other things. The 15 inch Pros have a better screen (1440 by 900 as compared to 1280 by 800 on 13 inch models). The 15 inch models also have i7 in both models while the 13 inch only has it in one model. Both of the 15 inch models are upgradable in terms of HDD to SDD. You can upgrade the HDD all the way up to 1 TB (1000 GB) and you can upgrade to 512 GB of SSD. The 15 inch will also weigh more. The 15 inch weighs a hefty 5.6 pounds while the 13 inch weighs a lighter 4.5 pounds. The high end 15 inch model comes with a full GB of GDDH5 memory. Both models come with the following ports: MagSafe Port, Gigabit Ethernet port, FireWire 800, 2 USB 3.0 ports, Thunderbolt port, Audio line in/out (separate ports on 15 inch as compared to conjoined on 13 inch), SDXC and Kensington lock ports. The ports are all the same on each device. The batteries on the two devices are different. The 13 inch has a 63.5 watt battery while the 15 inch has a 77.5 watt battery (the 15 inch has more watts to be able to support more).
13 inch MacBook Pro lower end vs higher end
There are two configurations in the 13 inch MBP line. The first one is $1199. The higher end is $1499. Both models support the same screen resolution. The lower end model has a 2.5 ghz i5 processor while the higher end has 2.8ghz i7. This is a pretty good deal. The lower end model is configurable to 8 GB RAM (comes with 4) while the higher end already comes with it. The lower end comes with 500 GB of storage and is configurable to 750 GB HDD or 512 GB SSD. The higher end comes with 750 GB HDD and is configurable to 1000 GB HDD or 512 SDD (SDD is known to boot up faster, shut down faster and not break as easily, MBAs come with it and I love it). Everything else (battery, weight (4.5 lbs), graphics, ports and camera) are the same. For my budget, the lower end would be my ideal MBP should it have been lighter like the Air. Of course, I am not you so whatever fits you, fits you. Again the lower end starts at $1199 and the higher end starts at $1499.
15″ MacBook Pro lower end vs higher end
The lower end 15 inch model starts at $1799, a huge investment for some people but the higher end will take a huge chunk out of your wallets, a whopping $2199. Thats as much as the new Retina Display MacBook Pro. You might as well get a new retina display MacBook Pro but I will only talk about these two aforementioned MacBook Pro models and their differences. To start, both models sport the same the 1440 by 900 display. The lower end model has a 2.3 GHz i7 processor while the higher end is a 2.6 GHz i7, configurable to a 2.7 GHz i7 processor. While the lower end model is 4GB of RAM and is configurable to 8GB of RAM, the higher end model has it already built in. The lower end model has a 500 GB HDD built in while it is configurable to either 1000 GB (aka a TB) or different configurations of 128, 256 and 512 GB SDD. The size and weight of the models are exactly the same. The models also include the Intel 4000 integrated graphics. However the video support, is different. The lower end model comes with 512 MB of GDDR5 while the higher end model comes with a GB of GDDR5 and automatic graphics switching (a technology built into the computer to assist with battery life when working with different types of graphics). The built in camera is the same as all other models of MacBook (Pro and Air). Both models have the same 77.5 watt battery built in providing the same 7 hours (or in some cases more) of battery life.
So which MacBook model is for you? I believe that there is a lot to goes into buying a new computer, desktop or laptop, so I know that no one will look at this article and say “I am absolutely getting a MacBook”. However, I do expect that the article will help in your decision whether to get one or not and should you want to get one, which one to get. It is my hope that you will come out of the article with better knowledge about going forward with one or if you should back out of one. Personally, it took me months to completely decide if I wanted one, but in the end I decided it would help me in areas that I needed help in. Each one of you will have your own reasons for getting one. For the consumer, the new lower end 13″ MacBook Air with 4 (or 8 ) GB or RAM would be best while the higher end 13″ MacBook Pro will be best for the professional who doesn’t mind 13 inches of screen space. For those who need the space, the lower end 15″ MacBook Pro will work very well. Should you want to get a higher end 15″ Pro just get the lower end MacBook Pro with Retina Display since they have the same price. Of course, as I said before, I am not you, and if you want a MacBook, please go by what you needs are. I know thats a lot to take in so if you’re not so tech savvy, I will provide a “glossary” of terms used frequently in the article to better explain the terms and to hopefully give you an ultimately better reading experience because that is what we want to achieve here at CoA.
Consumer- One who performs lighter weighted (but still important) tasks on their MacBooks.
Professional- One who performs heavier oriented tasks such as PhotoShop (Photo editing software), Final Cut Pro (movie editing software), Logic Studio (music studio editing software), heavy duty games and more.
Retina Display- Very high resolution screen that has more pixels in it than a HDTV
Optical Drive- Basically a DVD drive in a computer, it allows you to put DVDs in the computer but it adds a lot of thickness
GHz- While not the sole determinant in speed, the amount of GHz a processor allows the computer to perform tasks and apps faster
Ivy Bridge- Intel’s newest processor, faster than its predecessor, Sandy Bridge
RAM or Random Access Memory- RAM, contrary to the popular belief does not directly assist in speed. Instead, the more RAM there is available, the more demanding tasks you can have open at the same time (Professionals are the only ones who really care about this, so people who didn’t know what it was before probably don’t need to really care about the number as long as it is greater than or equal to 4)
Real Estate- I figured you probably already know this but in case it isn’t clear, Real Estate is the amount of space on a computer screen
Soldered- Whenever something is soldered to the Logic Board it means that it is not accessible to you and you will not be able to replace it or upgrade it.
HDD- Hard Disk Drive- A storage device used in a vast majority of computers. It is comprised of several different moving parts which could prove troublesome in the future since too many moving parts allow for a greater chance of breaking.
SDD- A SDD (or Solid State Drive) is another form of storage device that does not use moving parts allowing for a far less chance of breaking.
Ethernet Port- This port will allow you to have much faster internet connection however it is a wired connection.
FireWire- An older Apple technology that transfers information faster than USB. Unfortunately for some, I see it as a technology that Apple will kill in coming years, if not next year.
GDDR5 memory- GDDR5 is a type of memory that assists in graphics and the more you have the better graphics you will receive. Just 1 GB of GDDR5 will make a great deal of difference.
MagSafe (2) Port- a charging port
SDXC- A common digital camera storage card
ThunderBolt- A newer Apple technology that is double the speed of USB 3.0. Only works (for now) on a number of peripherals.
Automatic Graphics Switching- a technology built into the computer to assist with battery life when working with different types of graphics
Dual Core vs Quad Core- The Quad Core will always have a vast improvement in speed over the Dual-Core as long as the specs are similar. For instance 2.5 GHz Quad Core is better than 2.7 GHz Dual Core.
I hope the added “glossary” helped people understand the terminology in the article a bit more.
Thanks for reading,