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  1. #1

    Ctrl-Opt-Del's Avatar
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    Question What are the practical capabilities of a MacBook Air?
    I had bought myself a high-spec PC laptop for my Aeronautical Engineering degree (Windows being a necessity for much of the required software), with the intent of later purchasing a Mac desktop of some kind once I'd saved the money.

    However, I'm already getting sick of lugging this beastly machine around to every class, and so was wondering just how capable a fully-tricked MBA (dual-booted with Windows 7 to run said software) would be, if I sank my Mac fund into one of those instead?

    I need to run graphics-heavy software like AutoCAD & SolidWorks; given how resource-intensive they are, I'm not entirely sure how they'd fair, even on a machine with (taking the specs straight from Apple's own website) a dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Core i7 CPU with 4MB shared L3 cache & 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM, when the graphics are "only" an Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU with 384MB of RAM shared with main memory...

    Anyone else have experience running such graphics-intensive software on a MBA?
    For my purposes as an engineering undergraduate; Windows is respectable (& generally necessary), Linux is admirable (& often useful), OS X is enjoyable (& requires no further justification, although plenty could be given)!

  2. #2

    19birel's Avatar
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    Nov 02, 2011
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    Late 2011 13" MBP 2.4 GHz i5 16gb RAM, Early 2008 Mac Pro 2.8Ghz 8-Core Xeon 6gb RAM OSX 10.9.x
    For the price of an expensive Air you can get a decent Pro (maybe for a little more) And you can upgrade it's RAM to 8gb if you feel the need.
    I MISS SNOW LEOPARD ;(

  3. #3

    Doug b's Avatar
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    15-inch Early 2008; Processor 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; Memory 4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 10.7.5
    Quote Originally Posted by 19birel View Post
    For the price of an expensive Air you can get a decent Pro (maybe for a little more) And you can upgrade it's RAM to 8gb if you feel the need.
    Good advice. Though you might want to view the specs of your current "beast" Laptop, and a MacBook Pro, to make sure that they're not very similar in terms of weight. MBP's are surely portable, but to carry one around all day (especially a 15") will certainly take its toll over time.

    MBA's are great machines, but due to them being so inflexible (memory soldered to the logic board) I'd have a hard time recommending one for your specific tasks.

    Doug

  4. #4

    MacDude121's Avatar
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    Sep 22, 2010
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    Black MacBook 2.2GHz C2D, 4GB Ram - iMac G4 700MHz, 512MB Ram
    You really have the issue here of wanting the "best of both worlds" I'm afraid. Sacrifice power for the portability of the MBA...or keep your high spec PC laptop and continue lugging it around. Just remember the MPB isn't necessarily clunky, but is definitely much heavier when compared to the Air. You might want to do some checking, see how the MBP compares in weight to your current laptop before making a decision.
    -Evan

  5. #5

    IvanLasston's Avatar
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    Feb 26, 2010
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    Specs:
    1.8 GHz i7 MBA 11" OSX 10.8.2
    The new Macbooks score better benchmarks than my 2009 17" MBP. Anyway Autocad runs native on Mac now - and from Solidwork's website the HD P3000 works. You may want to ask if that is the same card - but according to Apple's tech specs the MBA has the HD 3000 - don't know if the P is important.

    I run EDA CAD on a VM on an said older/slower MBP - but I don't have 3d graphics requirements. I did do a search and found this thread - so for 3d software the MBA may not be enough.
    Intel HD 3000 and CAD? Please Help

  6. #6

    Ctrl-Opt-Del's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies; you've all basically said exactly what I expected, I just thought I'd double-check!

    I was given to understand that Apple had really streamlined the operation of the logic boards in MBAs, meaning they ran much smoother & faster than any other Mac (or PC) would with those specs.

    I did think I was expecting a bit much even so; but, still, there's no harm in asking!
    For my purposes as an engineering undergraduate; Windows is respectable (& generally necessary), Linux is admirable (& often useful), OS X is enjoyable (& requires no further justification, although plenty could be given)!

  7. #7


    Member Since
    Dec 27, 2011
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    And you can run windows on a macbook pro as a dual boot option

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