another intel graphics question

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mentaluproar, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. mentaluproar, Jul 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011

    mentaluproar macrumors 68000


    May 25, 2010
    Ohio, USA
    I touched on this in another thread earlier, but I think the specifics warrant another thread, so here goes.

    I have been going back and forth between a new air or iPad 2. I have a 24 inch iMac at home (which will need a trip to the genius bar soon, grrr) and a mac mini connected to an LCD tv in the living room. Obviously, I like having space on a screen.

    These aren't powerhouse machines, particularly the GPUs, the 2600 HD and 320m, but they never give me any trouble. I'm stubborn with games, and don't like the frustration behind playing new ones, so I usually play an old one, beat it, and take a break from gaming for a few weeks. The newest games I have are Crevures and portal 2. Otherwise, I just play portal 1, sims 2, and old playstation (in epsxe via crossover) and NES games.

    Why is this relevant? The more I play with lion and see how well it runs on these machines, the more confidence I have with it. As much as I HATE using laptops, I can see myself enjoying one with lion. Full screen mode is an excellent feature, and gestures are simple. Hence, I am considering getting an air and replacing my iMac with a thunderbolt screen. I don't need much space, as the mini will be the server soon anyways.

    My question: If the performance of the current GPUs at native resolutions is fine, then what would the intel HD 3000 be like, both on the 11" air's built in screen and on a TB screen? I'm most interested in emulator performance since that seems to be an obscure topic.

    I know it isn't a gaming machine, but I don't really play anything that strains my systems. Sims 2 can cause issues, but only if there are tons of sims trapped in a burning house. (Which I certainly didn't ignite on purpose. :rolleyes:)
  2. PaulWog Suspended

    Jun 28, 2011
    I'm somewhat confused about your last question: You have an iMac, so I'm wondering why you'd be concerned with the Air's gaming performance on a Cinema display (which has a majorly huge resolution).

    The Air handles most games very well at medium settings at its full resolution. At the resolution of a Cinema display (2560x1440 ), you'll be able to manage things like 1080p video (since that's only 1920x1080 output), and you'll be able to handle some intense games at low settings I suppose. Light games (games that really don't require much graphics horsepower at all) will run just fine. But the Air is designed to handle its own resolution. Any higher resolution and you're looking at very basic functionality as far as gaming is concerned.

    If you need to get on-the-go work done, go for the Air. It's a computer. But for on-the-go gaming, I wouldn't recommend it: the battery life will not turn out to be very good, the Air will run hot (running your laptop at peak temperatures all the time isn't ideal), and overall you'll just... well... you won't have the best product for the purpose. So if the main purpose is gaming, I'd stay clear of the Air for now. If the main purpose is actually portability, then go for it! It's great.

    The iPad 2 could be a superior choice, especially if you're on the bus, in a car, or in another seated traveling position often. For example: I am on vacation with my family right now. We do this every year for about 10 days or so; we all travel in the car together and head out for about a 6 hour drive to our destination. Anyways, I took my recently purchased Macbook Air 2011 with me on the trip (11-inch model). I thought I'd be watching a video possibly, or playing a game, or doing some word processing of some sort. What really happened? In short: nothing. Driving around is too bumpy and difficult to use a laptop. For one, the screen must be vertical (facing toward your face), so the brightness needs to be kicked up (assuming you're traveling by day). Second, the touchpad is responsive and really is difficult to manage in a bumpy car (it's like trying to write neatly in a bumpy car... it can't be done). Third, it just didn't make sense... even the 11-inch wasn't sensible for use in the car (at least for myself). However, an iPad 2 would be much more useful in that sort of scenario: the screen would be more horizontal, which is beneficial in high-light scenarios; the device is entirely touch-based, so it would simply be easier to use in a car. Etc, etc.

    Really I'm ranting on at this point. I'd say go for the Air if you want it... but don't get it as a gaming machine. Get it if you have things to get done on it. The iPad 2 I wouldn't personally purchase... but if you have to fill a void of some sort, and you already have a main computer, and the Air doesn't really make sense for you, then the iPad 2 could be a good entertainment/light productivity product that can be used from time to time (or frequently), depending on the scenarios you find yourself in from day to day.
  3. mentaluproar thread starter macrumors 68000


    May 25, 2010
    Ohio, USA
    I already have an iPod touch so I'm having trouble convincing myself to go with another iOS device.

    I have a laptop that I don't use too often, normally I look stuff up on my iPod when I'm not in front of my iMac, but when I need to head out somewhere to fix someone's dell, my laptop is generally more useful than the iPod touch since I can download drivers, tools, digital antibiotics, whatever.

    The laptop is dyeing and I figure with an external screen, I can get one machine that could fill the role of both. The iMac has some issues, like image persistence (nothing I can do there), I can't burn CDs anymore (I don't care about that), and some error with the HDD fan (which will be fixed next week).

    The only reason I'm looking at the TB display, which I do think is overkill in terms of size, is that it acts as a dock. As far as I'm concerned, the 24 inch is the perfect size desktop for me.

    In short: If an air can do everything my iMac does with equal or better performance, I'll lean that way. If not, then I'll get an iPad and just keep a bootable ubuntu flash drive with me for computer work.

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