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Old Apr 18, 2013, 05:00 PM   #1
student_trap
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Please help me decide on a MacBook Air spec for my intended use...

Hi all,

I'm about to start a new business and am looking to get a new mac to run it from. It will (obviously) have a website and will involve a lot of 'power surfing', but I'm not sure which specs to prioritise.

I have a Mac Pro that I can use for heavy heavy work (ie if I needed to shop some images), and I'm looking to get something that I can take literally everywhere with me to update the site, and keep up to date with emails, light photoshop etc.

At the moment I'm leaning towards the top end 11" with 8gb ram, but am unsure whether the processor or larger ssd options would really hold any value for the machines intended use.

1. After apps for the uses noted above are taken into account, would 128gb be enough?

2. How fast is the 1.7ghz at web, hd video streaming, office suite etc etc?

3. Is there likely to be an updated air very soon?

Please also note that the machine will obviously have some element of personal use, and over time I tend to pass my computers down to family, so I'd like it to also be able to handle basic web tasks in 3-5 years time.

Please help guys, the aim is to buy it within the next two weeks. Thanks in advance!
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Old Apr 18, 2013, 05:03 PM   #2
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If you want to buy in the next two weeks, it doesn't matter when the new one will come out (should be July-September though).

The Air will be very good at Office, great at portability, good at HD video streaming if your internet is good (however, the screen's resolution is not even 1920x1080, so don't expect full, real HD). If you want to use Photoshop the pictures will take up a lot of room, but if you are careful and buy an external USB 3 HDD, it shuld be fine/plenty.

So I would get an 11" with the 1.7 GHz and 8 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD.
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Old Apr 18, 2013, 05:41 PM   #3
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What's your budget?

A higher end MBA will start to run into 13" rMBP territory.

I recommend getting a 13" rMBP with an i7 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
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Old Apr 19, 2013, 04:04 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies guys.

My budget is really to get something that will do the job for as little as possible as I'm trying to keep my startup costs low. If I make more cash in the future ill have no problem buying bigger and better. But at the same time I don't want to waste the cash I have by buying something that will be useless in a couple of years.

Any other thoughts?
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Old Apr 19, 2013, 04:17 PM   #5
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In reality, a base-spec Macbook Air in either 11 or 13" would do what you want just fine. You will be just fine with text editing/Word and HTML/CSS editing for your website. The low-end machines play 1080p video just fine, and will even run Photoshop for decent sized images.

If you didn't already have the Mac Pro for a workhorse, I'd say you should think about getting something faster with more storage, but between Dropbox and other cloud services, it's super simple to have access to all of your documents on the go.

The current machines will still be quite capable in 3-5+ years, but they won't be bleeding edge (not that they are now, really). Anyway, you could even save some money and buy a refurbished or buy from someone local (like on Craigslist if it's available in the UK). By buying refurbished/used, you could also buy a slightly higher spec than if you were going to buy new (like going for a refurb 11/128 instead of a new 11/64).

Refurb 11/128: 899

New 11/64: 849

Refurb 13" MBP: 849 That can be upgraded to 16GB RAM & an SSD in the future.
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Old Apr 19, 2013, 05:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by student_trap View Post
Thanks for the replies guys.

My budget is really to get something that will do the job for as little as possible as I'm trying to keep my startup costs low. If I make more cash in the future ill have no problem buying bigger and better. But at the same time I don't want to waste the cash I have by buying something that will be useless in a couple of years.

Any other thoughts?
I hate it when people say "as little as possible". As little as possible is $0. You need to come up with a tangible amount you're willing to spend. $1000, $1500, $2000. Pick a number as a starting point rather than something vague. This way we can help you. If we don't have an idea of what your budget is, we cannot make a recommendation.
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Old Apr 20, 2013, 07:17 AM   #7
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I hate it when people say "as little as possible". As little as possible is $0. You need to come up with a tangible amount you're willing to spend. $1000, $1500, $2000. Pick a number as a starting point rather than something vague. This way we can help you. If we don't have an idea of what your budget is, we cannot make a recommendation.
i'm inclined to agree with this. you can spend $1000 on the cheapest MBA - which would be a great computer, but not one i would personally want to "run a business from"

however it sounds like it would fit your specifications exactly if you upgraded the ram and cpu...

one thing i would worry about is when you say that you are "looking to get something that I can take literally everywhere with me to update the site, and keep up to date with emails, light photoshop etc."

sounds like the battery on that 11" MBA might be an issue for you if "everywhere" doesn't include access to a charger.

Have you considered a tablet or an iPad? What about a smartphone? Do you really need to be doing "light photoshopping" from the field?

and forgive me for saying it but if i were starting a new business from scratch i might consider limiting my initial large purchases and just stick with my MBP...at least until i decided i really needed the new computer.

new businesses are expensive as i'm sure i don't need to tell you and it might be a while before the profits come flooding in...
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Old Apr 20, 2013, 09:43 AM   #8
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11" with 2.0 processor, 8gb ram and 256gb ssd wuld be great. 1100 if you get away with using this link http://store.apple.com/uk_edu_500071...gure/MD224B/A? (my uni link, i know a few people who have used it with no problem)
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Old Apr 20, 2013, 10:14 AM   #9
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Wait a month or two and you'll likely have the option of Haswell CPU MBAs.
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Old Apr 20, 2013, 06:47 PM   #10
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I have a base 2011 11" model.
I upgraded the ssd to 180 gb owc and had an external drive as well.

I love mine. These really pack a punch even with the base model.

However, unless you are trying to fit it on tiny school desk like me I would get the base 13" over a specd out 11.

The battery / screen alone are worth it.
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 07:52 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone for all of the replies. They are really helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stchman View Post
I hate it when people say "as little as possible". As little as possible is $0. You need to come up with a tangible amount you're willing to spend. $1000, $1500, $2000. Pick a number as a starting point rather than something vague. This way we can help you. If we don't have an idea of what your budget is, we cannot make a recommendation.
The truth is that I could spend any amount. But I am trying to keep costs down as low as possible while still being able to do the work that needs to be done. Please note this is not a computer for consumer use like most threads that are started on this excellent forum. It is for business use.

You must remember that cost is not my limiting factor, practicality is, howeverI understand that you are probably more used to replying to threads where those two are switched.

As such, I am willing to pay whatever is required to meet my needs. After that criteria s satisfied, then I think about cost, and as this is a start-up, I would like to keep the costs down as much as possible (I can treat myself to a 'better experience' when/if the business is successful!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DisplacedMic View Post
i'm inclined to agree with this. you can spend $1000 on the cheapest MBA - which would be a great computer, but not one i would personally want to "run a business from"

however it sounds like it would fit your specifications exactly if you upgraded the ram and cpu...

one thing i would worry about is when you say that you are "looking to get something that I can take literally everywhere with me to update the site, and keep up to date with emails, light photoshop etc."

sounds like the battery on that 11" MBA might be an issue for you if "everywhere" doesn't include access to a charger.

Have you considered a tablet or an iPad? What about a smartphone? Do you really need to be doing "light photoshopping" from the field?

and forgive me for saying it but if i were starting a new business from scratch i might consider limiting my initial large purchases and just stick with my MBP...at least until i decided i really needed the new computer.

new businesses are expensive as i'm sure i don't need to tell you and it might be a while before the profits come flooding in...
Thanks for the input. I have thought about iPads (and have a iPad 2 and mini), but I will end up doing a fair bit of typing, so a keyboard is neccessary. I agree with you with regard to sticking with what I already have, however my existing units are all quite old and I wouldn't want to meet clients with them (I use a white macbook which looks very shabby these days, and a Mac Pro which obviously isn't the most portable mac!!!)


In addition, I checked out a 11" at PC World yesterday and the screen was abysmal, so much so that I am sure that it must have been faulty (it was really very blurry). I then looked at the retina mbps, and my god they were easy on the eye. This has really confused the matter further as even the 13" rmbp isnt as portable as i'd like, but if all mba screens are as bad as the one I saw yesterday (I'm hoping that they are not), then I'll have to seriously reconsider my buying strategy.

Any other thoughts guys?
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 10:34 AM   #12
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must be faulty, my 11" is very sharp
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 11:26 AM   #13
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11" with 2.0 processor, 8gb ram and 256gb ssd wuld be great. 1100 if you get away with using this link http://store.apple.com/uk_edu_500071...gure/MD224B/A? (my uni link, i know a few people who have used it with no problem)
Wow, university discount is massive! I thought you had to order from within a university campus to qualify? How do you get away with ordering from it outside of university? Or not even going to a university?
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 02:33 PM   #14
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So I have now been and compared a number of macs in the covent garden apple store, and the displays were much better than the one I saw in pc world. But they were ALL lg screens, and I wasn't sure about the slight leaning towards green in the display colour.

So I went back to pc world and checked the dodgy screened one, it too was and lg!

I would really like to see what a Samsung dispkay looks like, but I was surprised that 7 out of 7 airs I looked at today were all lg
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Old Apr 23, 2013, 02:56 PM   #15
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Wow, university discount is massive! I thought you had to order from within a university campus to qualify? How do you get away with ordering from it outside of university? Or not even going to a university?
you cant get onto the education site from outside a uni campus, but if you have the link you can access it anywhere. i just bookmarked it when i was on my uni network one day. theres no confirmation of attendance required at any point during the purchase process, like i say a few people i know who dont attend uni have used that link from home and received discounted machines. you also get 3 years applecare free.
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Old Apr 24, 2013, 07:56 AM   #16
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you cant get onto the education site from outside a uni campus, but if you have the link you can access it anywhere. i just bookmarked it when i was on my uni network one day. theres no confirmation of attendance required at any point during the purchase process, like i say a few people i know who dont attend uni have used that link from home and received discounted machines. you also get 3 years applecare free.
Wow. Seems too good to be true, but I'll make a note and try that out some point. How do you get the free AppleCare?
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Old Apr 26, 2013, 04:04 AM   #17
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So I went to the regent street apple store yesterday to check out the airs on display there, and after checking display models, found they had a LG, Samsung and (the other) screened airs all on display.

So I put them all in a line and here are my thoughts...

LG: Absolutely abysmal for contrast, so really not great for reading, also colour balance seemed to be slightly greenish, which I dislike. BUT the colour of the apps etc themselves were quite natural, and the screen was brighter.

Samsung: Fantastic for contrast, much easier to read from and just felt sharper all round. BUT it almost seemed to have too much contrast, so with the space desktop background, the screen seemed particularly dark. In addition, the screen seemed unnaturally warm, so that colours were overly yellow (as a photoshop user, it was like when you push contrast to a point where it is unnatural).

(other screen): Sorry but not sure of the manufaturer of this one, but it seemed to sit inbetween the other two. Basically a bit more contrast than the LG (enough to make a decent difference for reading), and a more natural, less dark appearance than the samsung. BUT it did seem to have a slight pink hue, again leading some sites (notably macrumors) to look a little odd.

Wildcard comparison...

I then took a look at the rmbp 13" and the screen was not only nice and contrasty but the olours were also natural.

Now I'm really confused!
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Old Apr 26, 2013, 05:41 AM   #18
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Sounds like you want and might even need a retina! The photoshop work will be better, and although it is expensive, you could probably get by with the base model and a USB 3.0 external drive. So that is $1499 vs. $1200 ($300 extra, but you get more screen real estate, much higher resultion, an IPS display, better cooling, a 2.5 GHz processor vs. 1.8, 768 MB vRAM vs. 512 vRAM in Air, etc for $300).
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 08:07 AM   #19
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Hey all so I think I have come to a decision, I am definitely going for an air, but want the AUO screen, and will be upgrading to 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. and I have just 2 questions...

1. How rare are the AUO screens? Anyone got one in a mba recently?

2. i5 vs i7. It is easier to go for i7 (can just buy the 'best' model in an apple store) but I'm concerned about heat and battery.


(For those interested, I decided on the air because after seeing a few more AUO screens without comparing them to retina, I decided that they were actually very nice. The rmbp 13" would be fantastic, but I have a policy of not buying rev A hardware, and my head has won out over my heart!)
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 10:11 AM   #20
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Hey all so I think I have come to a decision, I am definitely going for an air, but want the AUO screen, and will be upgrading to 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. and I have just 2 questions...

1. How rare are the AUO screens? Anyone got one in a mba recently?

2. i5 vs i7. It is easier to go for i7 (can just buy the 'best' model in an apple store) but I'm concerned about heat and battery.


(For those interested, I decided on the air because after seeing a few more AUO screens without comparing them to retina, I decided that they were actually very nice. The rmbp 13" would be fantastic, but I have a policy of not buying rev A hardware, and my head has won out over my heart!)
The i7 does not have significantly more heat and power consumtion. Actually, the i7 is not a very helpful upgrade, because you are only getting 1 MB more cache, .2 GHz clock speed. You are not gaining quad core or hyperthreading. The i5 has this. I would say just stck with the i5 if you are not using 90-100% of all four cores (virtual) of the CPU regularly. With light photoshop and emails, I you should not come close to that.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 10:28 AM   #21
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Hey all so I think I have come to a decision, I am definitely going for an air, but want the AUO screen, and will be upgrading to 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. and I have just 2 questions...

1. How rare are the AUO screens? Anyone got one in a mba recently?

2. i5 vs i7. It is easier to go for i7 (can just buy the 'best' model in an apple store) but I'm concerned about heat and battery.


(For those interested, I decided on the air because after seeing a few more AUO screens without comparing them to retina, I decided that they were actually very nice. The rmbp 13" would be fantastic, but I have a policy of not buying rev A hardware, and my head has won out over my heart!)
Interesting, I've never heard anyone specifically wanting the AUO, just out of interest may I ask why?

I have one on my 2012 MBA and it's fine, I noticed no difference when i took it to the Apple store and compared it with a samsung, but then again I don't do intense graphics work.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 01:53 PM   #22
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The i7 does not have significantly more heat and power consumtion. Actually, the i7 is not a very helpful upgrade, because you are only getting 1 MB more cache, .2 GHz clock speed. You are not gaining quad core or hyperthreading. The i5 has this. I would say just stck with the i5 if you are not using 90-100% of all four cores (virtual) of the CPU regularly. With light photoshop and emails, I you should not come close to that.
I have an i7 and it does not get that hot. I get about 5 hours of battery life when not using Flash.

Test have shown that the i7 is ~15% faster than the i5 in the MBA, so IMO it is a worthwhile upgrade at only $100 more.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 02:05 PM   #23
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I have an i7 and for everyday use there's nigh on zero difference (unless your everyday use pushes the CPU to 100% eg encoding).

For the cost and battery hit, if I was to choose again, it'd be the i5, 100%. Unfortunately I didn't have the benchmarks before I bought.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 02:38 PM   #24
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Interesting, I've never heard anyone specifically wanting the AUO, just out of interest may I ask why?

I have one on my 2012 MBA and it's fine, I noticed no difference when i took it to the Apple store and compared it with a samsung, but then again I don't do intense graphics work.
Basically I went to the apple store to check out all three screens. I put them all side-by-side and preferred the AUO by quite a distance.

It is by no means perfect, but I found the samsung too overly saturated and dark looking (and it had a nasty colour hue towards the yellow end of the spectrum as you tilted the display backwards), while the LG was the opposite, a little washed out, leaning towards a green-white, and seemingly not very sharp.

The AUO did seem to have a slight pink cast, but sat between the other two in terms of brightness and sharpness. To me at least, it is the best of the bunch.

Its interesting what you say about the i5. What tasks do you use your air for?
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 02:42 PM   #25
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Quote:
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I have an i7 and for everyday use there's nigh on zero difference (unless your everyday use pushes the CPU to 100% eg encoding).

For the cost and battery hit, if I was to choose again, it'd be the i5, 100%. Unfortunately I didn't have the benchmarks before I bought.
Thing is, yes the i7 uses a little more battery when under load, but the i7 gets tasks done faster than the i5, so IMO it's a wash.

Test results have shown that the i5 and i7 use ~ the same battery juice when under light to no load.
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