Guide: Buying a Macbook


Sep 7, 2010
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So I've noticed quite a bit of traffic with the same initial question...What Macbook should i buy? So i thought, HEY! Why not make a thread that kind of points out the pro's and con's of each model, and gives a person a kind of reference tool when looking to make the, where to begin?

Apple offers two laptop models...Macbook Air and Macbook Pro. Here's a link to the specs and pricing:

Mac - Shop MacBook & Mac Computers - Apple Store (U.S.) it's tough to do a break down thread like this without offering some opinionated answers, but I will try my best to keep it relatable to a broad spectrum of consumers, let's start with the Pro's and Con's of each system:

Macbook Air - Starting at $999

Pro's - SUPER light weight (11" @ 2.38lb's and the 13" @ 2.96lb's), Incredible battery life, Compact and Portable size, Fast and reliable Solid State flash storage
Con's - Inability/Limitations to easily upgraded internals (storage, RAM, graphics card, etc), with the MBA, you have pretty much a single integrated piece that houses the RAM, logic board graphics card and processor, and upgrading these things has become almost impossible aftermarket wise and upgrades from the factory tend to come with an exuberant price, no retina display model at this time, No Super Drive (CD/DVD drive)

...the major difference between the two Macbook Air models is obviously the screen size, but also the addition of an SD Card reader on the 13" model. Other than those, the two machines are mirrors of each other, including the available upgrades to the processor and RAM from Apple.


Macbook Pro (Non-Retina Display Model) - Starting at $1,199

Pro's - Cheap and extensive internal storage and performance options (the non-retina display model still uses a normal hard drive setup, which gives you a plethora of storage options for a relatively low cost, but can also be equipped with a solid state drive either as replacement or as a secondary unit of storage giving you a major storage advantage with this model...RAM is easily user replaced up to 16GB as are the internal storage drives). The Macbook Pro is offered in 13" and 15" models, come equipped with the super drive (CD/DVD drive), a more extensive graphics card and more USB drives as well as external display drives built into the machine. The MBP line also gives you a much higher spec'ed processor option both stock and upgraded.

Con's - Weight (this is probably the biggest con, because the difference in weight is significant compared to the Air), No Retina-Display, less battery life than the MBA.


Macbook Pro (Retina Display Model - Starting at $1,499

Pro's - Beautiful Retina display (arguably the best display on the market, it is truly a perk of this model), fast and reliable SSD internal storage, smaller size and lower weight than normal MBP, external display inputs, better graphics card options, higher performance processors (vs. MBA) and better battery life compared to the non-retina display MBP.

Con's - Like the Macbook Air, this model suffers from the same limitations on internal performance're essentially stuck with 8GB RAM max (16GB on the 15" model) and whatever SSD options Apple has available when you order it (at their cost), hopefully this will change in the future, but right now, the retina display Macbook Pro and the Macbook Air are kind of slaves to their own internal setup. The only other con i can really legitimately think of with this model is cost...they are expensive (starting at $1,499 for your base line model). there are some pro's and con's of both models. Here are some of my own thoughts that kind of cover the kinds of questions I've seen.

Why are Macbook's so expensive? Expense is in the eye of the beholder, but Macbooks are a luxury brand, and thus, they cost more than most computers do. There are a few superficial reasons for being one, and there are certainly some out there that buy a Macbook because of the Apple logo on the outside...but, at least in my experience, much of the cost also has to do with the experience you get with any of Apple's products. You pay for an intimate customer service experience that is 2nd to none, you pay for a machine that holds it's value like no other company on the market, and you pay for the safety, security and stability found within the products. They have a slogan "It just works.", and that couldn't be more true, if you want to buy a product that performs without the kinds of hiccups you find from other manufacturers, you'll pay the extra premium you find in Apple products, especially the Macbook line.

Which one should you buy? Who knows! Really though, it's hard for one person to tell another which model will fit best for that comes down to what you're going to use it for. Are you a user that just likes to browse the web, check emails and use the basic features found in OSX? Then the Macbook Air could easily be the best model for you. Do you find yourself dabbling more into the graphics extensive functions? Do you want to do some gaming on the machine? Are you a full on developer who needs the best resolution and processing options that mac offers on a laptop? Then the Macbook Pro is probably the direction you want to head. It all comes down to what YOU will use it for, all of them are capable, but the road you need to take is all in the details.

I love GAMING! Which one would be best for that? This comes up a lot when people are getting into the Macbook world. All Macbook models are capable of gaming to an extent, but obviously, the better your performance from your internals, the better the games can run on the machine. That said, the Macbook Pro models will be able to more extensively run games that have higher graphics demands (because of their graphics cards and also the higher spec'ed processors and RAM capabilities. Can you game on the Air? Yup...but you'll get better performance out of the Pro.

I'm on a budget, which would be the best model for me to get to last a few years but remain relevant? Macbook's are a luxury line of computer. You can easily and cheaply mimic the performance and features that you find on a Macbook with used equipment and/or Microsoft based PC's. If you're scrounging pennies together, it's even more important for you to dissect what these machines can do individually and see which one fits your needs the far longevity goes, these machines are, for the most part, reliable and, like mentioned before, come with the best customer support on the market.

To close, I know there are tons of questions that people ask that pertain specifically to them, and that threads about these things will continue to pop up...I was just hoping that maybe a central point of a lot of the core questions could be answered in a sticky thread and maybe people could reference that in the future.

I've been a Mac user for about a decade now, and I can't imagine going anywhere else for my needs...they perform perfectly for me, and the security i have knowing Apple backs their products (sometimes even far out of warranty) is enough to keep me coming back, the amazing hardware is just icing on the cake.

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