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Old Apr 28, 2013, 11:45 PM   #1
cosmosis9
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macbook air for graphic designer

Hello, i'm a graphic designer and want to buy a macbook air, however i'm finding difficult to know wich especifications to choose. I'm mostly working in illustrator, photoshop and indesign.. i dont edit videos... so can someone please advise on which of the following will suite for my needs please:
1. Processor:
1.8GHz Intel Dual-Core Core i5 Turbo Boost up to 2.8GHz or
2.0GHz Intel Dual-Core Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz

2. Memory:
4GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM
8GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM

3.Storage:
256GB Flash Storage
512GB Flash Storage

Thanks!!
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Old Apr 28, 2013, 11:56 PM   #2
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Go with the 8GB ram option. Creative suite takes a lot of ram no matter what. If it came with a 16 option, I would suggest that. Before anyone comments on the gpu, it's use in Photoshop, Illlustrator, and InDesign is trivial. The display on the Air isn't anywhere near as nice as the 13" rmbp in case that is also an option. The color temperature and viewing angles are closer to ideal. The only thing I'm not sure of is how those applications are scaled. They are pretty close in weight.

In terms of drive sizes, it depends how much space you need. No one else can answer that. Creative Suite will also use it as a scratch disk which could mean anywhere from a few hundred megabytes to a few GB during a session depending on your file sizes. Either way you want to maintain some free space on the drive, even with an SSD.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 01:12 AM   #3
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I use the 13" 2.0GHz/8GB/256GB as my main machine and I work as a full time Art Director / Digital Designer. It handles Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign just fine - also large files. I have it hooked up to a 27" Thunderbolt display when doing serious work.

Just go with 256GB storage - you can always get an external USB3/Thunderbolt drive. The most important thing here is to choose the model with 8GB ram. As for the processor, you might as well go with the i7, when you are getting 256GB SSD and 8GB ram.
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Old Apr 29, 2013, 07:07 PM   #4
Knightimer
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8 gb

+1 with KIM's comment
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 12:42 AM   #5
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2.0GHz Intel Dual-Core Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz

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Originally Posted by Knightimer View Post
+1 with KIM's comment
+2 for Kim

8Gb & 2.0GHz Intel Dual-Core Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz

Then 256 ssd & external drives if you need more space, but only you have that answer since you didn't include any storage needs info.


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Old Apr 30, 2013, 09:51 AM   #6
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I don't think the MBA is the best choice for a designer. Try the rMBP.

If you don't have so much money to spent, try the 15" MBP.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 10:29 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by LiveinRiot View Post
I don't think the MBA is the best choice for a designer. Try the rMBP.

If you don't have so much money to spent, try the 15" MBP.
Why is that?

Do you only look at the specs?

I had the rMBP but found it to be a pain to work on, because that 99% of the time you will be designing for non-retina displays (72 dpi). So unless you are hooked up to an external display all the time, the rMBP would not be my choice, as you end up with either a blurry image at 200% or a tiny image at 100% when working in Photoshop. The (r)MBP is definitely a better choice if you are to make 3D, heavy video editing or motion design due to the discrete graphics card.

I chose the MBA over the MBP because of the portability and the fact that it handles everything I throw at it just fine.

Last edited by KimHansenDK; Apr 30, 2013 at 10:35 AM.
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Old May 1, 2013, 02:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KimHansenDK View Post
Why is that?

Do you only look at the specs?

I had the rMBP but found it to be a pain to work on, because that 99% of the time you will be designing for non-retina displays (72 dpi). So unless you are hooked up to an external display all the time, the rMBP would not be my choice, as you end up with either a blurry image at 200% or a tiny image at 100% when working in Photoshop. The (r)MBP is definitely a better choice if you are to make 3D, heavy video editing or motion design due to the discrete graphics card.

I chose the MBA over the MBP because of the portability and the fact that it handles everything I throw at it just fine.
The MBA is not designed for serious heavy duty work. While it will do some of the tasks for a graphics designer, a rMBP 15" has a MUCH faster processor and can have up to 16GB RAM. Much better option for serious work.

Now with that being said, the 15" rMBP is much more expensive and the OP may not have that kind of $$$$ to spend.
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Old May 1, 2013, 03:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by stchman View Post
The MBA is not designed for serious heavy duty work. While it will do some of the tasks for a graphics designer, a rMBP 15" has a MUCH faster processor and can have up to 16GB RAM. Much better option for serious work.

Now with that being said, the 15" rMBP is much more expensive and the OP may not have that kind of $$$$ to spend.
What can the rMBP do that the MBA cannot when it comes to graphic design? If I can do my everyday work as an art director, and design websites etc for big clients on the MBA, I guess it is more than enough for most graphic designers - also for serious work?

Check out some of the respected designers around the world - some of them are doing just fine with a MBA...

But yes, specs wise the rMBP is way better and faster.
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Old May 1, 2013, 04:55 PM   #10
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I don't know how much memory and processor power that CS for Mac uses but you should probably consider the rMBP or even the MBP. They will be more expensive but more likely that they will meet your needs. Though you can get (I forget which) 14 or 30 days to try the MBA out and decide if it does meet your needs. I would say get it with the i7 and 8GB and stress test it. Run CS and a bunch of other programs that you could conceive running at the same time. If it passes that, then keep it. If it fails, then return it.
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Old May 1, 2013, 05:15 PM   #11
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For some graphic designers and other professions, a discrete GPU card is necessary or at least saves time. But for most CS programs, it's not GPU dependent but rather CPU dependent. I get by just fine with a MBA. I'm not struggling or meeting any bottlenecks. I run VMs, CS6, FCPX, Logic pro, Xcode and other IDEs and the usual Safari, iTunes, Mail, etc. No problems.

I agree with KimHansenDK. RAM is more important. You can supplement a smaller SSD with external drives (USB 3 is plenty fast) but RAM doesn't work like that. The i7 CPU doesn't offer that much computational performance gain over the i5. Nothing that is significantly faster. This information is from many synthetic CPU benchmarks of the 2.

I recommend 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB depending on your storage needs/preferences and i5 CPU.
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Old May 1, 2013, 05:39 PM   #12
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Well said. Of course *some* graphic designers might benefit from having a discrete graphics card. Especially if you are doing motion design, video editing and 3D. But for regular web/app design the MBA (8GB ram) is just fine.

Remember that it is still faster than the 2010 MBP in almost every aspect - and graphic designers were using that for serious work. Hell, some of them might still be using it

That being said, the rMBP is a wonderful machine but my no means a necessity for a graphic designer.
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Old May 1, 2013, 07:19 PM   #13
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There is no one requirement for a Graphic Designer's machine. The thought of an MBA makes me gag, but that's because it wouldn't work for me.

Providing they are working on similar projects, why don't you see what your coworkers are using, and see if they feel they have any limitations.

If you don't have a gig then I would say don't limit yourself for the sake of portability. Not everybody comes to the office and sits down in front of a 27" monitor and a bunch of external drives they can plug into. Expandability will usually lengthen the productive working life of your computer.

The one truth is get all the RAM you can afford.
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Old May 2, 2013, 02:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KimHansenDK View Post
What can the rMBP do that the MBA cannot when it comes to graphic design? If I can do my everyday work as an art director, and design websites etc for big clients on the MBA, I guess it is more than enough for most graphic designers - also for serious work?

Check out some of the respected designers around the world - some of them are doing just fine with a MBA...

But yes, specs wise the rMBP is way better and faster.
It depends on how long to want the task to take. As long as you're not using HUGE RAM hog programs, the MBA will do anything you want, is might just take significantly longer to do the task. This is especially true if one chooses the base MBA.

For example, a task that takes 5 hours to do on a MBA, might take 1.5 hours on a rMBP. If one was to get a maxed out MBA i7/8GB/512GB, that machine would cost them ~$1900. A 15" rMBP with i7/16GB/512GB would cost ~$2500.

The i7 in a rMBP is a quad core vs dual core in the MBA. The rMBP can have 2X as much RAM. Not to mention the rMBP has a 1GB discrete Nvidia card vs HD4000 only for the MBA. If I was to be doing heavy duty high end graphics work, the $600 would not be that big a deal.
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Old May 2, 2013, 04:32 PM   #15
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It depends on how long to want the task to take. As long as you're not using HUGE RAM hog programs, the MBA will do anything you want, is might just take significantly longer to do the task. This is especially true if one chooses the base MBA.

For example, a task that takes 5 hours to do on a MBA, might take 1.5 hours on a rMBP. If one was to get a maxed out MBA i7/8GB/512GB, that machine would cost them ~$1900. A 15" rMBP with i7/16GB/512GB would cost ~$2500.

The i7 in a rMBP is a quad core vs dual core in the MBA. The rMBP can have 2X as much RAM. Not to mention the rMBP has a 1GB discrete Nvidia card vs HD4000 only for the MBA. If I was to be doing heavy duty high end graphics work, the $600 would not be that big a deal.
Yeah, but then again, what is high-end graphic work? If we are talking rendering you are absolutely right. But other than that the MBA will be just as fast as the rMBP for most graphic design work. It is not like it will take longer to design a website or an app on the MBA? And when is photoshop using more than 8GB ram when doing websites, apps etc? And if you have tried doing 72dpi design on a rMBP you would know that it is a pain if not hooked up to an external display.

I had the rMBP but found myself using even more time on my design work due to the fact that 99% of the time the clients were requesting a non-retina solution.

I rated the portability higher - and chose the MBA because it handles my (professional) design needs just fine. But of course we are all different and have different needs.

Last edited by KimHansenDK; May 3, 2013 at 03:03 AM.
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Old May 3, 2013, 06:28 AM   #16
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The funny thing about this thread (and many threads on tech forums BTW) is the number of folks who DON'T do graphic design telling the guy who DOES do graphic design that he is wrong about what piece of hardware will work in a graphic design situation. Real world usage and experience beats specs, benchmarks and hypothetical situations most of the time...
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Old May 3, 2013, 06:33 AM   #17
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The funny thing about this thread (and many threads on tech forums BTW) is the number of folks who DON'T do graphic design telling the guy who DOES do graphic design that he is wrong about what piece of hardware will work in a graphic design situation. Real world usage and experience beats specs, benchmarks and hypothetical situations most of the time...
Which begs the question, why did the OP even start this thread?
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Old May 3, 2013, 10:27 AM   #18
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I made the mistake a few years ago buying a 13" mbp and plugging it into an external monitor. While i dont do any designing really, as a programmer i am in photoshop all day cutting up images and all from designers to turn them into applications/website/whatnot.

Its a 2009 with a core 2 duo 2.4 i believe with 8 GB ram and intel SSD. When i have a bunch of PSD's open and working on stuff, i notice it gets laggy, not impossible to use laggy but annoying as hell laggy. Im waiting for the v2 imacs to come out (never bought a v1 never will) and cant wait to get off this slow MBP. Granted the airs are i5, but still their mobile i5's and there is lack of cooling in airs that i dont know if i would trust with a 10-12 hr work day for 2-3 years...

If you really want a laptop i would personally go with a MBP over an air, if possible 15" so you can have that discreet GPU. but thats just my opinion
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Old May 3, 2013, 11:02 AM   #19
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macbook air for graphic designer

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Originally Posted by sperry1988 View Post
While i dont do any designing really, as a programmer i am in photoshop all day
I don't think I've ever heard that said in 35 years of programming.

If any of the programmers I've known spent their day in Photoshop all day; I'd not only fire them, I'd blacklist them.
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Old May 3, 2013, 11:13 AM   #20
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Which begs the question, why did the OP even start this thread?
He may be new to Macs, and therefore wants to understand how the Apple hardware lineup performs. Perfectly acceptable question from a person who is kicking the tires on a new piece of hardware.

When I made the jump from a PC to a Mac, I did the same thing. I did lots of photo-processing on a PC, and at the time (early 2008) was considering going with a quad core HP. I wasn't sure the dual core iMacs would be able to handle Capture NX, Photoshop & Premiere Elements; I knew my P4 was dragging and assumed I needed to go to a quad core. Well, after following many threads on here about photo-processing and the 2008 iMacs, I knew the dual core would work fine. I would have asked the same question if there wasn't already a lot of discussion on it.
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Old May 3, 2013, 12:15 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sperry1988 View Post
I made the mistake a few years ago buying a 13" mbp and plugging it into an external monitor. While i dont do any designing really, as a programmer i am in photoshop all day cutting up images and all from designers to turn them into applications/website/whatnot.

Its a 2009 with a core 2 duo 2.4 i believe with 8 GB ram and intel SSD. When i have a bunch of PSD's open and working on stuff, i notice it gets laggy, not impossible to use laggy but annoying as hell laggy. Im waiting for the v2 imacs to come out (never bought a v1 never will) and cant wait to get off this slow MBP. Granted the airs are i5, but still their mobile i5's and there is lack of cooling in airs that i dont know if i would trust with a 10-12 hr work day for 2-3 years...

If you really want a laptop i would personally go with a MBP over an air, if possible 15" so you can have that discreet GPU. but thats just my opinion
The integrated graphic cards have improved considerably the last few years - the MBA 2012 is actually faster than the MBP 2009/2010 with discrete graphic cards. But like I said before a discrete graphic card would help a lot if you are doing a lot of rendering in your type of work. Personally I have several files of 200+ MB open in Photoshop and Illustrator a long with browser, Spotify etc. And I have yet to run into problems concerning lag of ram.

I'm not saying that the MBP is a bad choice for a graphic designer. Not at all! I'm just saying that the MBA is just fine for most design work - also professional work. People just tend to underestimate the MBA...

Last edited by KimHansenDK; May 3, 2013 at 12:28 PM.
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Old May 3, 2013, 02:11 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KimHansenDK View Post
The integrated graphic cards have improved considerably the last few years - the MBA 2012 is actually faster than the MBP 2009/2010 with discrete graphic cards. But like I said before a discrete graphic card would help a lot if you are doing a lot of rendering in your type of work. Personally I have several files of 200+ MB open in Photoshop and Illustrator a long with browser, Spotify etc. And I have yet to run into problems concerning lag of ram.

I'm not saying that the MBP is a bad choice for a graphic designer. Not at all! I'm just saying that the MBA is just fine for most design work - also professional work. People just tend to underestimate the MBA...
I don't think Apple designed the MBA to be a designer and developer powerhouse. The MBA was designed with portability and weight concerns first. The MBA with a the i7 processor and 8GB of RAM is definitely a more powerful laptop, but the rMBPs are better from a pure computing standpoint.
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Old May 3, 2013, 02:44 PM   #23
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You are right - the rMBP is indeed faster and more 'pro' but that doesn't mean you cannont do professional design work on the MBA. The Mac Pro is also more 'pro' than the rMBP but that doesn't mean you cannot do professional design work on the rMBP....you get my point

I personally did not notice any difference when designing websites and apps on the rMBP and the MBA 2012 when hooked up to an external display. I actually found it to be more of a pain on the laptop alone on the rMBP because you either see a small image at 100% and a blurry image at 200% when designing at 72 dpi - in retina mode.

But let us just agree that we have different needs. I design websites and apps for a living and I am fine with the MBA 2012. Others may like the (r)MBP more and have the needs for a quad core processor and a discrete graphic card. But if you rate portability and don't need the discrete graphic card for the design work that you do (web/app/icon/illustrations etc) I would still recommend the 2012 MBA with 8GB RAM, 256/512GB SSD and the i7 processor (not that important) hooked up to an external display.
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Old May 4, 2013, 03:21 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KimHansenDK View Post
You are right - the rMBP is indeed faster and more 'pro' but that doesn't mean you cannont do professional design work on the MBA. The Mac Pro is also more 'pro' than the rMBP but that doesn't mean you cannot do professional design work on the rMBP....you get my point

I personally did not notice any difference when designing websites and apps on the rMBP and the MBA 2012 when hooked up to an external display. I actually found it to be more of a pain on the laptop alone on the rMBP because you either see a small image at 100% and a blurry image at 200% when designing at 72 dpi - in retina mode.

But let us just agree that we have different needs. I design websites and apps for a living and I am fine with the MBA 2012. Others may like the (r)MBP more and have the needs for a quad core processor and a discrete graphic card. But if you rate portability and don't need the discrete graphic card for the design work that you do (web/app/icon/illustrations etc) I would still recommend the 2012 MBA with 8GB RAM, 256/512GB SSD and the i7 processor (not that important) hooked up to an external display.
Yes, the Mac Pro is indeed more powerful than the rMBP, but try taking your Mac Pro with you. The rMBP and MBA can be considered in the same family of products, the rMBP and Mac Pro are not. Please keep the discussion to portables.

Website design is a far different animal than high end graphics design and even video editing. Website design requires far less computing power than graphics design and video editing.
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Old May 4, 2013, 04:13 AM   #25
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High end graphic design is also web design as well as ui/app/icon/logo/illustrations etc. The MBA can handle of of this with no problem at all. If we are to keep it to portables only - and not take into account that you can hook it up to an external display, the retina display of the rMBP is not ideal for regular graphic design in 72 dpi.

Like I said. For video editing, 3D and motion design where you need rendering, the quad core processor and the discrete graphic card will help a lot. But for graphic design (2D) the MBA will do just as good as the (r)MBP.

It seems like you don't actually know what you are talking about. I on the other hand speak of experience - I do this for a living and have tried both machines. And I will certainly call my work high-end when the clients pay a lot of money for the work that I do.

End of discussion!

For the OP: Get the MBA 2012 with 8GB ram and 256 GB SSD and you will be fine

Last edited by KimHansenDK; May 4, 2013 at 04:20 AM.
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