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View Full Version : Macbook Air 2013 i7/8gb or cMBP 2.9 for music production




Hamersfx2
Aug 5, 2013, 08:47 AM
Hey guys,

I've been using PC's all my life, and i feel it's time for a change. Always really liked Macs, but either couldn't afford one, or haven't got around to buying one for one reason or another. I have however, used them plenty through work and friends etc. I've decided it's finally time to go for it, even though i know the new Haswells are due to be released within the next couple of months (and my current laptop has ultimately died on me so i can't really wait).

I do a lot of music production daily using mainly Reason (but would love to ReWire into Logic X) and Cubase with a host of VSTs, so i would love my new machine to handle such usage for the next 2-3 years. In my price range are the cMBP 2.9 8gb and the 2013 Air upgraded to i7 and 8gb RAM, most likely with the 256gb SSD option (as much as i wish i could stretch to 512 ). Of course the Air had the Haswell and sweet battery life + the ac wifi, but is it worth it for the tradeoff (though small) in processing power?

Which one do you think will suit my needs best? Will the Air have enough horsepower for new next couple of years to come? Or is the cMBP best due to the extra bite in the 2.9 and the upgradeability? Both would be a very similar price by the looks of things.

Thanks in advance guys, i look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Cheers



tann
Aug 5, 2013, 09:55 AM
Unless you want to upgrade the hard drive or run a dual hard drive setup or use 16gb of ram I'd go for the Air i7/8gb/256.

Using geekbench 64bit the 2.9ghz MBP scores 8498, the 1.7ghz MBA scores 8182. So the difference really isn't that much (like 4% more cpu power).

The Air also has the new HD5000 GPU, which is significantly better than the HD4000 in the current MBP line.

Air also has the higher resolution screen, better portability, weight and huge increase in battery life.

So really unless you want to at some point have a laptop with a very large hard drive or dual hard drive (or use a internal dvd drive) with 16gb of ram I'd say the Air would be a great option.

B...
Aug 5, 2013, 02:57 PM
The Air is a great choice.

mopppish
Aug 5, 2013, 04:34 PM
I agree that you should go with the Air.
The cMBP is a teeny bit faster in CPU, but the battery life, better screen resolution, and SSD in the Air more than make up for that.
I used an 11" i5 Air for the last 2 years with Logic and it was great. I just updated to a 2013 13" i7 Air and it's greater. :D

Hamersfx2
Aug 5, 2013, 04:53 PM
Thanks for the advice guys, you've put my mind more at ease. I'm leaning more towards the air now for sure. I worked out that it would actually come out cheaper than the cMBP in the end, due to me not having to spend extra on an SSD.
But do you reckon the Air will be ok as my sole machine for the next couple of years to come? I dont do anything as big a film scores (i'd have a desktop for that for sure), but i will be doing some recording at times with maybe 2 instruments at the same time max (plus several virtual instruments).

Thanks again!

B...
Aug 5, 2013, 06:55 PM
Thanks for the advice guys, you've put my mind more at ease. I'm leaning more towards the air now for sure. I worked out that it would actually come out cheaper than the cMBP in the end, due to me not having to spend extra on an SSD.
But do you reckon the Air will be ok as my sole machine for the next couple of years to come? I dont do anything as big a film scores (i'd have a desktop for that for sure), but i will be doing some recording at times with maybe 2 instruments at the same time max (plus several virtual instruments).

Thanks again!

It should be more than adequate for years to come.

Hamersfx2
Aug 5, 2013, 08:04 PM
Fantastic! Do you think i'd be bottlenecked by the 8gb memory (as i can upgrade to 16 in the pro)?

sableglass
Aug 5, 2013, 09:18 PM
hamerfx2,

i have the i7 / 8gb / 256ssd macbook air 13" 2013 model.

Im running ableton live9/push/op-1 and sometimes Reason 7 rewired to Ableton live9. works great. I also use Massive, Razor, NI Giant Piano, U-he ACE and DIVA. all them run great. DIVA was the one i was worried about it. Works great, surprisingly. She crushed my old cpu.

The only thing that i wished the air had was more 2x usb3.0 ports. other than that i love the air. battery life is fantastic. and its super speedy compared to my old desktop. (i5 2.9ghz /8gb/ 128ssd hackintosh)

no regrets :)

AXs
Aug 6, 2013, 01:30 AM
Hey guys,

I've been using PC's all my life, and i feel it's time for a change. Always really liked Macs, but either couldn't afford one, or haven't got around to buying one for one reason or another. I have however, used them plenty through work and friends etc. I've decided it's finally time to go for it, even though i know the new Haswells are due to be released within the next couple of months (and my current laptop has ultimately died on me so i can't really wait).

I do a lot of music production daily using mainly Reason (but would love to ReWire into Logic X) and Cubase with a host of VSTs, so i would love my new machine to handle such usage for the next 2-3 years. In my price range are the cMBP 2.9 8gb and the 2013 Air upgraded to i7 and 8gb RAM, most likely with the 256gb SSD option (as much as i wish i could stretch to 512 ). Of course the Air had the Haswell and sweet battery life + the ac wifi, but is it worth it for the tradeoff (though small) in processing power?

Which one do you think will suit my needs best? Will the Air have enough horsepower for new next couple of years to come? Or is the cMBP best due to the extra bite in the 2.9 and the upgradeability? Both would be a very similar price by the looks of things.

Thanks in advance guys, i look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Cheers

Hey man, if you don't need it immediately I would recommend waiting for the Retina Macbook Pro refresh, due in about a month. And THEN decide.

Your i7/8 upgrade price on top of the 256 should be the same as that of a 13" rMBP base. The Retina will likely come with a better graphics card built-in (Iris, to go with the faster processor.

But more importantly, for a music producer - you will have the option to connect to 2 external monitors simultaneously with the rMBP. You'll have more ports as well, which is always handy for a music person... including hdmi.

I just don't think an Air is suitable for production work. Yes, maybe it can handle the softwares and tasks NOW... but what about 2 years?
Definitely go with as much performance for the price. The rMBP 13" Haswell should offer just that for the same price as a an i7/8 Air.

Think About it! good luck! As long as you feel good it's the right buy :D

Hamersfx2
Aug 6, 2013, 02:05 AM
hamerfx2,

i have the i7 / 8gb / 256ssd macbook air 13" 2013 model.

Im running ableton live9/push/op-1 and sometimes Reason 7 rewired to Ableton live9. works great. I also use Massive, Razor, NI Giant Piano, U-he ACE and DIVA. all them run great. DIVA was the one i was worried about it. Works great, surprisingly. She crushed my old cpu.

The only thing that i wished the air had was more 2x usb3.0 ports. other than that i love the air. battery life is fantastic. and its super speedy compared to my old desktop. (i5 2.9ghz /8gb/ 128ssd hackintosh)

no regrets :)

Again, thanks for the great advice dude! It's great to hear from someone in a similar situation :) How do you feel with the 256 gb? Do you find it limiting at all with everything installed? Any slowdowns to speak of at all due to the processor?

Macman45
Aug 6, 2013, 02:14 AM
Given the choice, I'd also go with the MBA....the menus in X are vastly I proved from 9 and are easier to read. I have a dual installation...one copy on my iMac which does the majority of the recording, and a copy on my rMBP for edits...works great, and although I have the retina screen on my MacBook, I tend to drop down in resolution in order to get more real estate anyway.

Hamersfx2
Aug 6, 2013, 04:33 AM
I've just noticed the base 15" cMBP with the 2.3 ghz quad, 4gb memory (would upgrade of course) on the refurbished page for the same amount that either the air or the 13" cMBP would cost. It has the 1440x900 screen, but i'm really not massively bothered by that (same PPI as the cMBP 13"). Do you guys thing that is a better option due to the processor?

sableglass
Aug 6, 2013, 11:56 AM
Hey man, if you don't need it immediately I would recommend waiting for the Retina Macbook Pro refresh, due in about a month. And THEN decide.

But more importantly, for a music producer - you will have the option to connect to 2 external monitors simultaneously with the rMBP. You'll have more ports as well, which is always handy for a music person... including hdmi.
:D

something to consider.

my only tiny issue with the air is the lack of ports. BUT i still have no regrets about it. i love the size, weight, performance, battery life the air has. works well for me.

Once ableton 9/reason 7/ vsts/ ableton packs/samples loaded on the ssd, i still have 195gb free. so far...;)

Boyd01
Aug 6, 2013, 02:53 PM
I used an 11" i5 Air for the last 2 years with Logic and it was great. I just updated to a 2013 13" i7 Air and it's greater. :D

So true - I just did the same thing. But I had a 13" i5 MBA for two years and just upgraded to an 11" i7 MBA a few days ago. :)

As far as ports go, I would need a USB hub no matter what laptop I got. I missed firewire initially on the MBA when I upgraded from a 2008 MBP. But just recently got a Seagate thunderbolt dock that you can snap hard drives into. It's really fast.

Having USB 3 on the 2013 MBA is a nice plus, coming from my older machines.

I don't use ethernet, but just got a thunderbolt adaptor for my friend who purchased my old MBA. It works seamlessly, although it ties up the port. I could plug it into my thunderbolt dock if I needed it, but then I wouldn't be able to plug in my DVI monitor however.

AXs
Aug 6, 2013, 03:44 PM
do you mind sharing the dock that you got? I mean a link or something?

Most of the docks are going for $300, which isn't a good but imo (I'm planning on getting the Thunderbolt display which is more or less a dock + giant retina display for $1000).

Hamersfx2
Aug 6, 2013, 07:45 PM
something to consider.

my only tiny issue with the air is the lack of ports. BUT i still have no regrets about it. i love the size, weight, performance, battery life the air has. works well for me.

Once ableton 9/reason 7/ vsts/ ableton packs/samples loaded on the ssd, i still have 195gb free. so far...;)

195 free after that is pretty good actually... I see what you mean about the lack of ports, but i guess a hub will sort that out. I do quite like the firewire ports on the cmbp's i gotta say. I guess it gives the option to have an interface and a display plugged in at the same time :)

Boyd01
Aug 6, 2013, 08:23 PM
do you mind sharing the dock that you got? I mean a link or something?

This is what I got: http://www.seagate.com/external-hard-drives/desktop-hard-drives/goflex-desk-mac-thunderbolt/

It was on clearance at Best Buy a little over a week ago for $139 which seemed like a good price because B&H sells it for $189. Check your local store to see if they have it.

Works with their Backup Plus desktop drives (must be the desktop series, not the smaller ones). I couldn't find speed ratings on any of these drives however. But on the Best Buy shelf, the 3TB model claimed it was 7200 RPM while the 1, 2 and 4TB models didn't list a spec. Took a chance with the 3TB drive and it sure seems fast - a 45GB file copy to the drive took exactly 4 minutes. I really haven't used it for much else yet.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Seagate+-+Backup+Plus+3+TB+3.5%22+External+Hard+Drive+-+Retail/5597959.p?id=1218671137972&skuId=5597959

I also picked up a 2TB drive that I'm using with Time Machine. Haven't done any benchmarks, but it doesn't quite feel as fast as the 3TB.

Here's the strange part - the dock scanned with the SKU of this product, which isn't what I got. Don't know if they labels were wrong of if the Best Buy website is wrong. Either way, I'm happy. It's pretty inexpensive to add more Thunderbolt storage with these pop-in drives. They have a cap on the end that gives you a USB 3 interface. Pop that off and there's an e-SATA (apparently) connector for the dock.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Seagate+-+Thunderbolt+Adapter/6691933.p?id=1218780228000&skuId=6691933

Note that the website says $150, but it rang up as $139 and indicated a $11 price reduction for a clearance item.

I was especially happy that my old DVI Apple Cinema Display works fine plugged into the Thunderbolt pass-through port. I couldn't find any documentation to confirm that in advance, so I just took a chance.

AXs
Aug 6, 2013, 11:26 PM
Thanks a lot buddy for taking the time to share.
I really like the Idea of getting a TB storage device as I don't have one yet (only 3.0s).

cheers!

Hamersfx2
Aug 7, 2013, 04:39 PM
Thanks for all your advice everyone, you've been really damn helpful :D

debudebu
Nov 2, 2013, 11:36 PM
Thanks for all your advice everyone, you've been really damn helpful :D

I'm facing the same dilemma between Pro and Air for music production. So what did you get and are you happy with it?

Constantine.T
Nov 3, 2013, 01:49 AM
I also do music production and choose air 13 i7 8gb. It has a bit better performance in comparison with basic configuration of pro retina 13". I7 handles multitask operations in sequencers more effective. But for serious music production in studio the choice is evident - 15" pro. IMO