13 inch MBA (4GB) Good enough for my needs?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by 2pxbTony, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. 2pxbTony macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    Facts about my current situation:

    1 - I would like to use it as my primary computer.

    2 - I am a web designer, software like Photoshop, Fireworks, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Coda from Panic will be running on this machine a lot.

    3 - I have 2 external displays at both my office and home, and I have to take the computer with me everyday from home to office and then back to home. I also would like to be able to bring it with me for all the client meetings.

    So my question is, will MBA 13 inch 4GB cover my needs in terms of performance ( see number 2) and mobility ( see number 3)?

  2. iMpathetic macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2007
    I might be a little sketched out about the whole Photoshop/Dreamweaver/Illustrator running on it a lot... maybe a maxed 13" Pro might be better for you?
  3. teski macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2010
    I can't speak to Illustrator and Dreamweaver, but I'm a part-time pro photographer and I run CS5 a ton on my maxed out 13" and it runs really well!
  4. halledise macrumors 65816

    May 7, 2009
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    short answer - Yes!
  5. 2pxbTony thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    What is a maxed out spec? CPU: 1.86G and RAM: 4GB?:confused:
  6. aleni macrumors 68020

    Jun 2, 2006
    man, i wish my work doesn't need me to do 4000x4000px 300dpi images in photoshop so i can use mba 13" as my only computer.

    i think the maxed out MBA will suit u just fine.

    the poster above suggested u to have a maxed out 13" mbp, that's a good suggestion, but if i were u, i still opt for the maxed out MBA since the resolution is higher on the MBA and the extra real estate is so important for your works.

    i know u have an external display that u can hook up if u need more screen real estate, but damn, it's really a hassle to hook it all the cables and things into the external monitor. might be ok for some other people, but it's really a hassle for me.

    one thing is why don't you wait for the updated 13" MBP? im sure the resolution of the screen will be bumped up to so it will be the same as the 13" macbook air. but the less weight is so tempting about the mba though.
  7. halledise macrumors 65816

    May 7, 2009
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    I'd say 'yes' though others may point to the 2.13 ghz / 4 gb / 256 flash.

    very little performance differential betwixt 1.86 and 2.13 imo
  8. pfjellman macrumors regular


    Mar 18, 2010
    the 2.13GHz / 4GB / 256GB is the "maxed" or "ultimate" configuration. you most definitely want the 4gb ram upgrade no questioned asked. the proc upgrade is debatable. however, if this is your primary computer and you do a lot of intensive design work, you'll also most certainly want the 256GB drive.

    the mba should handle all of these tasks fine. the speed boost from the SSD will be huge, especially when working with scratch files. coda will run along side anything just fine, but you may not want fireworks, dreamweaver, illustrator AND photoshop all open at the same time all the time. performance-wise, however, i think you'll be sufficiently pleased with the setup.

    put it through its paces when you get it and see how it performs for you. you have 14 days if you decide you'd rather swap for a mbp.
  9. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    Honestly, I love my 2.13/4/256, but if I were you, I'd be running a real MBP, and by that I mean a 15" or 17", not the machine that's dressed to look like an MBP. I really think you'll be a lot happier with the performance of PS.

    If you want it to fly, just get a small SSD for the boot drive and remove the optical.
  10. Mac Composer macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2010
    The aps you're running, if this is your livelihood, go with a MBP. The maxed out 13" will run them, but you will see some speed issues.

    My wife has the maxed out 13", I have a MBP 15" i7. We use Photoshop Elements, and did some very unscientific testing comparing them. In some of our tests, the Air was quicker, resulting from the Flash Storage I think. In other more processor intensive tasks, the MBP left the Air in the dust.

    For us, either machine will do the job, because Photos are a hobby. But if it was my business, I'd go with the higher end machine. As netdog said above, put a SSD in a MBP and you'll be flying.
  11. nephilim7, Nov 11, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2010

    nephilim7 macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2008
    I went from an i7 17" loaded MBP to a 13" 'ultimate'.

    With the 13" the only time I ever mentally note that I'm on anything other than my mbp's is when I do movie compression or handbrake or run a Nuke script.. or render (though I offload most of that anyway) I have access to my 17", 2 15" i7s (machines for contractor use) and the new 13" air is my 'main machine'.

    to the OP, go sit down in an apple store and ask for some time with the machine for your tasks.

    I went from a 12 pound travel monster bag to a 13.3" 4 poundish little kenneth cole 'man purse' that can run PS, fireworks, Nuke, Maya, PTrack, Houdini, XCode, eclipse, FCP.. and can handle rendering and compressing in a pinch.

    get 4G ram, don't go with 2, I went with the 256G SSD and 2.13Ghz because it was the only way I could get 4G ram in the store.. if you order online you can skip those proc upgrade and bigger SSD.
  12. nephilim7 macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2008
    edited, misunderstood the person I replied to.
  13. czeluff macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2006
    Weren't people successfully using Photoshop 10+ years ago? Has the program become that much more cumbersome in the process of becoming more powerful that it has made today's new machines like the Macbook Air "useless" as a development machine?

    I have a hard time believing that....
  14. LinkMx macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2007
    You clearly haven't used Photoshop...
  15. Boston007 macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2010
    I agree with this poster 100%
    MBA is not for you bro
    DO yourself a favor and get a 15 with 8G ram you will be happy and so will your programs.
  16. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008

    If this is your first Mac I would recommend the 15" i5 MBP. Swap out the boot drive with an SSD and the replace the optical drive with a 500+ GB HD. That setup would be VERY capable and fairly portable.

    The MBA would probably be "OK" but If you're earning a living with this machine I suspect you want something more than just "OK".

    good luck
  17. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    Wow. Really? Some people in here have no clue what they are talking about, and are total spec whores.

    Anyways...I've been using Photoshop for YEARs. Photoshop runs FANTASTIC on my 2009 Macbook Pro Core 2 Duo 2.66 ghz, 4 GB Ram. And it runs great on my work PC Core 2 Duo 2.93ghz 4 Gb ram. Neither has an SSD drive.

    I think your air will be FINE with 4 GB of ram. The only drawback to the air is screen real estate. You absolutely do NOT need 8 GB of ram to run photoshop.

    BTW...I'm almost always running Photoshop with something simultaneously. Be it Parallels, Firefox and Chrome, Outlook, Mail, Adium (I'm mixing PC programs in), I've never had issues. Again, this is with 4 GB ram. I'd increase the ram if I planned on using virtual machines more.

    So yes...go for it.
  18. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    I also think MBA is not meant to be used as a primary computer. You'd be much happier with a MBP with a fast processor and a large screen for your client meetings.
  19. 2pxbTony thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    Great replies guys, here are the stats I have collected so far:

    2010 13" MBP 2.66GHZ scored around 157 (xbench)
    2010 MBA 13 inch baseline 2gb ram scored around 160 (xbench)
    "MacBook Air 2010 13" Ultimate" MacBook 178.22 (xbench)

    I think with 4GB ram, MBA 13 inch will score even better than 160.

  20. iMpathetic macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2007
    I guess HDD performance is a lot in XBench. If a 2.66GHz MBP scores less than an MBA... but yeah, that looks about right. I'm still not sure you should go with an Air as your primary machine.
  21. kp98077 macrumors 6502


    Oct 26, 2010
    **LOL dude you are SO wrong this 13 ultimate air BLOWS my 13 or 15 MBP away in every way period! Its unbelievable, unless you are a computer programmer of course then the MBP is what you want anyone else would be more than happy with the air.
  22. miata macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2010
    Silicon Valley, Earth
    The OP is a web designer with needs for Photoshop and other heavy weight Adobe apps.
  23. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    You've obviously never toyed around with a 2008 and up unibody MBP with an Intel G2 or Sandforce SSD installed (much faster than the slow toshiba SSD crap that Apple does for CTO's) The only spec the MBA would win at that point is the weight/size issue. Many people are taken aback by the relative speed of the new MBA's as they haven't had much exposure to SSD's.
  24. mark28 macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2010

    I did some test at an Apple store launching Garageband and I ran into beach balls. The i5 was faster with it's HDD. ( this was the 11"MBA however, but the MBA still had Flash instead of HDD )

    So I find it a pretty funny statement if you think a MBA will blow away a 15" MBP i5/i7, especially if they will put in a SSD that is so fast, it saturates the SATA connection.
  25. 2pxbTony, Nov 13, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010

    2pxbTony thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    I guess the score does not tell the whole story.

    Any one here have used program like Photoshop CS3+ on MBA 13 inch? How was it?

    P.S For us, web designers, the PSD files usually will be around 5MB-30MB.

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