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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

Purchasing a New Mac


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RvGamers

 
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I am a Windows faithful of about 10 years and I am finally ready to make the plunge to the world of Apple.

My question at this point is really just what system to choose. I'm looking for a notebook (hence the section this is posted in) that will allow me to be portable but also function at a productive level. I will be using the laptop solely for web design and development. For those unaware, this involves heavy use of the Adobe Creative Suite as well as various other fairly demanding programs.

After a few hours of research, I am really impressed with several aspects of the MacBook Air. That being said, I'm really only worried about the processing capabilities. Can anyone with the new MacBook Air provide some input on processing capabilities and how it may affect my workflow?

Thanks!

- Tyler
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Raz0rEdge

 
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On a pure performance level..the base 1.3 GHz based new MBA scores a Geekbench score of 6066 while the last generation process running at 1.8 Ghz is in the mid's 7000's.

If you were to upgrade the base 1.3 GHz processor to the 1.7 GHz processor, the new MBA will definitely outdo what the older generation could.

The one downside of the MBA's processor is that it's a dual core version as opposed to the quad core that's available on the Macbook Pro's..

The Macbook Pro running at 2.7 GHz get a very wonderful score of over 13500.

So the MBP still remains the power workhorse of the Notebook line while the MBA is really growing up and provides CRAZY battery life (almost 12 hours) and great weight savings..

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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RvGamers View Post
I will be using the laptop solely for web design and development. For those unaware, this involves heavy use of the Adobe Creative Suite as well as various other fairly demanding programs.
If you use Adobe Creative Suite heavily...then I would suggest getting an Apple laptop with dedicated graphics hardware. The ONLY Apple laptops that have dedicated graphics hardware are the:

- 15" MacBook Pro's
- 15" MacBook Pro's with the retina display.

So I would say choose one of these...and you're good to go.

- 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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RvGamers

 
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Thanks for all of the feedback. Let me see if I can put my workflow into better perspective to get a more accurate answer.

I work roughly nine or ten hours a day. I would break down my day-to-day as follows:

- 10% Illustrator
- 20% Photoshop
- 60% Various browsing (non performance-intensive)
- 10% Various browsing (performance-intensive)

I would really like the portability (and price!) of the MacBook Air 13". I can't remember if I mentioned this earlier in my thread, but I do plan on purchasing a permanent Mac desktop solution in the future (at which point I will probably be selecting a Mac Pro).

I would just like to find the best balance of portability and power. My budget is really $1500 at tops.
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RvGamers View Post
I work roughly nine or ten hours a day. I would break down my day-to-day as follows:

- 10% Illustrator
- 20% Photoshop
- 60% Various browsing (non performance-intensive)
- 10% Various browsing (performance-intensive)
I want your job! 70% of your workday is internet browsing!!!

- 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 RvGamers View Post
I would really like the portability (and price!) of the MacBook Air 13".
- Are you also prepared for the upgrade limitations that come with a MacBook Air?

- Are you also aware that Photoshop & those other Adobe programs like lots of ram? The amount of ram that comes in a MacBook Air...may or may not be enough for you. And MacBook Air ram is not upgradeable after purchase.

- Usually folks that do Photoshop & Illustrator work need lots of storage for all those project files and photo files. The base MBA only has 128gig of storage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RvGamers View Post
I can't remember if I mentioned this earlier in my thread, but I do plan on purchasing a permanent Mac desktop solution in the future (at which point I will probably be selecting a Mac Pro).
For what you listed doing (10% Illustrator & 20% Photoshop)...you do realize that if you purchased a powerful enough MacBook Pro now...you wouldn't need to purchase a Mac Pro later.

- Nick

p.s. Just pointing a few things out to you...just so you know. If a MacBook Air works for you...get it!

Just don't get a MacBook Air...just so you can be "cool"...or think that it will make you "cool"!

- 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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RvGamers

 
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Haha. When I mentioned various browsing I meant non-performance intensive activities such as actually coding web pages (which as you may know hardly requires more than an IDE). I wish my job were to browse the internet all day !

"Coolness" factor really has nothing to do with my frame of mind. In fact, I can't really see a difference between the two besides in their thickness (which is certainly not a focal point in my mind). My reluctance really lies in past experience - I have owned a 5lb laptop and I have owned a 2lb netbook. While of course the 5lb laptop had dramatically faster performance, in terms of portability it was just an absolute disaster. I firmly believe in separation of desktop and laptop. I live in a two story home and I like to move around a lot and often times use the laptop in unorthodox positions (like sitting on a couch or in bed). The sheer weight difference is a key point to consider.

That being said, I don't want to belittle the importance of performance. After some careful evaluation of the new features available in the MacBook air. Somewhat to my surprise, after comparing my top MacBook options I am seeing little difference in performance between all 13" MacBooks. I have listed the technical specs and prices of all of the viable options (size and form factor wise) for my laptop needs:

11" MacBook Air - $1249
- 1.7GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
- 8GB 16000MHz
- 128GB Flash Storage
- Intel HD Graphics 5000
- 1366x768 Resolution
- 2.38lbs

13" MacBook Air - $1249
- 1.7GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
- 8GB 16000MHz
- 128GB Flash Storage
- Intel HD Graphics 5000
- 1440x900 Resolution
- 2.96lbs

MacBook Pro w/ Retina Display - $1699
- 2.9GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
- 8GB 16000MHz
- 128GB Flash Storage
- Intel HD Graphics 4000
- 2560x1660 Resolution
- 3.57lbs

The MacBook Pro would cost $450 more than the 11" MacBook Air. What would this $450 get me? A somewhat faster processor (which is slightly offset by the large resolution) and a greater resolution. This of course is at the cost of an extra pound of weight and 2 hours less of battery life. Is the extra $450 worth it?

That's really what I'm trying to figure out at this point. Also, as for the specifications of the Mac, they are all rock solid except for the CPU (which I am unsure of). I currently use 8GB of RAM and it is more than enough (in fact I could probably survive on 4), so 8GB will be more than enough for this laptop. Furthermore, I currently own a 256GB SSD but I only use about 30-40GB of it. The only reason I would need more storage is if I wanted to install games, which I obviously won't be doing AT ALL on this laptop. So the storage amount is fine. Now for the screen size. I actually owned an 11" laptop for over a year and I found it was really easy to get used to. Besides, if I am using this at a desk (until I get a more permanent replacement) I own two 23" Acer monitors. The screen size won't be a problem. And finally for the graphics: I haven't used a computer without a dedicated graphics card in over three years, so I'm not sure how it will perform for my uses. I'm not so sure if it will be much of a deal if I'm not doing any gaming though. Besides, I have heard wonders about the new HD 5000 graphics.

I have a cheap laptop sitting around (belongs to my sister). I'm not sure of the specs but I'm also almost positive that at $349 it has to be worse than (or at least on par with) the MacBook Air I'm looking at. I'll install some applications from the ACS and see how it fares.
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RvGamers View Post
While of course the 5lb laptop had dramatically faster performance, in terms of portability it was just an absolute disaster.
You need to start hitting the gym...and start lifting some iron!

I used to have a female supervisor who was 4'10" & 90lb's dripping wet...and she never complained (back in the day) about carrying around an 8lb laptop!

But on the other hand...if the perfomance, features, and price of a lighter computer work for a user...then why not!

I'm sure any of those computers you listed will get the job done!

Good luck with your decision.

- 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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Welcome Tyler! and good luck with your choice. You will not be disappointed.

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RvGamers

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
You need to start hitting the gym...and start lifting some iron!

I used to have a female supervisor who was 4'10" & 90lb's dripping wet...and she never complained (back in the day) about carrying around an 8lb laptop!

But on the other hand...if the perfomance, features, and price of a lighter computer work for a user...then why not!

I'm sure any of those computers you listed will get the job done!

Good luck with your decision.

- Nick
It really has nothing to do with carrying around. In fact, I would probably hardly even notice the difference between the two in a bag. The difference lies in what I would call ergonomics and usability. If I gave you a 2lb laptop to use while sitting in a chair on your lap and then a 5.6lb one, I'm almost sure you would understand what I mean.

Your statement is really just fundamentally poor in this day and age. After all, the whole purpose of a laptop is portability. Ignoring portability when buying a laptop is kind of like ignoring the sound of the engine when buying a sports car - it defeats the purpose of buying one in the first place! I mean, with the logic you just display I may as well carry around an iMac!

Maybe I'm a bit ahead of the times in that I actually value a laptop for portability as opposed to simply functionality. Actually, that's probably just because I'm in a position where I can value portability (and many people are not). In other words, I view portability as more of a necessity than a luxury simply because now that I am literally paying for an experience (considering the fact that I am overpaying for hardware for an experience) I may as well make that experience as enjoyable as possible, right? In terms of enjoyability, navigating around with a 2lb laptop really takes the cake.

- Tyler
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RvGamers View Post
It really has nothing to do with carrying around. In fact, I would probably hardly even notice the difference between the two in a bag. The difference lies in what I would call ergonomics and usability. If I gave you a 2lb laptop to use while sitting in a chair on your lap and then a 5.6lb one, I'm almost sure you would understand what I mean.
Actually not a very good analogy whatsoever. If I'm already sitting in a chair...give me a 20 pound laptop...I don't care.

And more in reality. I have an Early 2011 17" MacBook Pro which I love. It weighs 6.6 pounds...and is not a problem at all!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RvGamers View Post
Your statement is really just fundamentally poor in this day and age. After all, the whole purpose of a laptop is portability.
I'm not sure what facts you're basing this on. A 5lb laptop this day in age is really not that uncommon...in fact it is very common. The current 15" MacBook Pro weighs 5.6 lbs...and I'm very very sure many Windows laptops with a 15" display weigh in the 5lb range.

But all this is off the topic of your computer purchase. Again...any of those computers you listed will get the job done. If you need to tease them part based on weight or price...then do that.

I will say (given the work activities you listed)...you might find doing Photoshop or Illustrator projects on an 11" MacBook Air a bit cramped!

- 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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I went from a 5 lb 15" MBP that I used while sitting in my recliner in front of the TV for over 4 years to the 13" MBA. Even with my old degrading eyesight - have no interest in ever going back to that heavy a machine again.

On top of being lighter, longer battery life, the combination of CPU/GPU being used in the MBA - no more semi-permanent red scorch marks on the legs when not using a laptop stand either.


Better graphics in the MBA (at least temporarily).
Geekbench scores of:
MBA, i7-4650U averaging 7400-7500
MBP, i7-3520M averaging 7800-7900
that's going to give you about a 3% faster machine - e.g. you'll likely never ever notice any difference.
For me - and at $450 cheaper, picking between the 13" MBP and MBA, the MBA is a no brainer.

Moving up to the 15" MBP with dedicated graphics does raise the bar to another level though.

I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
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I'm actually pretty darn happy with my 13" MacBook Pro...and it's supposed to weigh 4.5 pounds. That's pretty darn close to 5 pounds...and I don't find that sort of weight to be an issue at all!

- 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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RvGamers

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobtomay View Post
I went from a 5 lb 15" MBP that I used while sitting in my recliner in front of the TV for over 4 years to the 13" MBA. Even with my old degrading eyesight - have no interest in ever going back to that heavy a machine again.

On top of being lighter, longer battery life, the combination of CPU/GPU being used in the MBA - no more semi-permanent red scorch marks on the legs when not using a laptop stand either.


Better graphics in the MBA (at least temporarily).
Geekbench scores of:
MBA, i7-4650U averaging 7400-7500
MBP, i7-3520M averaging 7800-7900
that's going to give you about a 3% faster machine - e.g. you'll likely never ever notice any difference.
For me - and at $450 cheaper, picking between the 13" MBP and MBA, the MBA is a no brainer.

Moving up to the 15" MBP with dedicated graphics does raise the bar to another level though.
Thank you. This post was very informative! I'm glad to know that the system doesn't run excessively hot (which was also one of my fears).

Thank you for confirming my suspicions about the negligible performance difference! It really seems like MBA is the only way to go without upgrading to 15" (which I have no intention of doing).
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I started with a Macbook Pro, then changed to an Air. I'm now on my second Air that is two days old. I don't see anything in your list that would challenge the processor on the old MBA, let alone this new one. However, my opinion is that the 11 inch model is too small for creative work.

Be advised that if you need 8gb in an MBA, you have to order it. You can't get that model from the store. No big deal - it will arrive very quickly.

As to the storage problem - yes, 128 gb isn't a lot now days, but that still holds a lot of work. A little 1tb laptop drive in your carry bag will fix that problem if you start running short. Just offload the old stuff. I used to carry one till I realized that I could write Perl and C programs (my hobby) until the end of time and not fill up my machine.

Also, I don't see that anyone has mentioned that you can attach a large monitor, a keyboard and a mouse and make a really good desktop out of it - and when you unhook and take it with you, your work goes along. Thats the setup I had until I got a Mini for my desktop.
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