Base MacBook 11.6 powerful enough to playback 720p 60fps, 1080p 30fps?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by sgdnfan, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. sgdnfan macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011

    Long time lurker, first-time poster...

    I'm considering buying a refurbished 11.6 base (2gb ram, 1.4 GHz) MacBook air as an 'on the go' PC. At $899 CDN the price is right. I have liked what I've seen so far at the Apple Store and local Best Buy.

    Anyway, I do some 720p 60fps recording with my GoPro HD while snowboarding. I would say the videos on average are around 1.5 GB in size, and I was just curious if the base model 11.6:
    - Is powerful enough to playback this 720p 60fps video (mp4) without stutter?
    - Is powerful enough to playback 1080p 30fps without stutter?

    Secondary to the playback, I would like to do some light video editing using iMovie. Obviously the export process will take longer, but I was curious if the MacBook air was powerful enough to battle these videos.

    I think it would be cool after a day of boarding to go back to the room and take a look at all the videos of the day, and maybe even share some on YouTube.

    Any input is appreciated!

  2. james4cet macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2009
    My MBA 11" is a 1.4ghz with 4GB RAM. In my experience, no it can't. The video (720p) stutters when playing back on QuickTime. However, for some reason, the video plays fine on iMovie once imported.

    Just thought I'd say that this video does play on my Core i5 HP desktop, so there's no problem with the footage or camera.
  3. Silverbird0000 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2006
    Fort Myers, FL
    The base Air that the OP is referring to is 1.4Ghz and 2Gb RAM. It will struggle with iMovie and HD video. iMovie's minimum requirements for RAM is 2GB. If you want something portable and fast, i'd recommend the 13" MacBook Pro. It can handle iMovie great and any HD video you throw at it. While the MBP is not as slim as the Air, it is still very portable and to boot, cheaper than the Air. I have the 15" MBP and I still carry it everywhere.
  4. sgdnfan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    Thanks for the information!

    Are you trying 30fps 720p, or 60fps 720p videos? Are they MP4 or some other format?

    I was also wondering if other media players (VLC, Mplayer, etc) may have better playback? Odd that iMovie can play it fine, while Quicktime cannot :p

  5. macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2008
    The Netherlands
    my experience is that QT 10 is much worse than QT 7.6.6

  6. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    My 13" MBA (1.86GHz, 4GB) can play 720p movies (mp4, mkv, avi) just fine. It all boils down to the bitrate. The movies I have have bitrate of around 5Mb/s so nothing dramatic. Obviously, 60fps video will have twice the bitrate of 30fps when using the same quality. I've been using VLC to play them.

    My advice is to transfer some footage at different bitrates (720p 30fps, 60fps, 1080p 30fps etc) to an external HD or flash drive and go to an Apple Store and try it out. That way you will be sure whether it works or not.
  7. sgdnfan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    Thanks for the information!

    I was thinking about the 13" MBP, but my reason for the 11.6 MacBook air is that it is perfect as far as form factor, size and portability (not to mention the refurb price of $899 being very attractive!)

    I won't be doing a lot of video editting on the air (I have an iMac for that) -- just the odd video here and there while out snowboarding. It would be nice to be able to playback the videos from the day with little stutter (the odd stutter is fine).

    Currently, I'm using a crappy Samsung netbook with an Ion processor when out on a trip. That thing is choppy has hell playing back 720p 60fps... Probably every 1-2 seconds it stutters. So anything will be an improvement over that -- just curious how the base Mac Air will compare :)
  8. Silverbird0000 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2006
    Fort Myers, FL
    Oh, ok, if you have an iMac at home for the major stuff, then I think the 11" Air would be fine. It will def be a huge improvement over that Samsung. Have you thought about the iPad? With the camera connection kit you can import your videos, watch them super smooth, and on iPad 2 you can download iMovie and edit away. I take my iPad up to Colorado with me when I ski instead of lugging the MBP. I import all the videos and pictures and then I can share and edit.
  9. sgdnfan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    Good idea! I'll headout to my local Best Buy (no Apple stores close to where I live) and report back on the playback. I'm mostly recording in 720p 60fps, so I'm hopeful it plays it back without loads of stutter.
  10. BENJMNS macrumors 6502


    Dec 28, 2005
  11. simeezee macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Which program do you use to play your 720p videos? I had a hp mini311 netbook and I use media player classic. I was able to watch 720p videos.
  12. EsspeN macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2010

    I own a 11.6 with 4gb and 128ssd disc with 1.6 cpu.
    I also own a GO PRO HD camera.

    No problem watching 720p 60fps.
    I also used imovie to edit all my goPRO material and it works.
    Actually this is my primary computer.

    Havent tried 1080p 30fps feasture yet though.

    All my filming is also 720p 60fps.
  13. sgdnfan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    Thanks! This is great information to know and saves me a trip to the Apple store/Best Buy to check this out.

    (Great camera too btw)

    Thanks everyone! I think I'm going to pull the trigger today on it.
  14. darknite38 macrumors regular

    Nov 18, 2010
    With 64 GB of space, your hard drive is going to fill up very quickly.
  15. sgdnfan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011

    Just a quick update on this thread...

    I ordered my refurb base 11.6 macbook air on Wednesday, and received it yesterday (used standard free shipping)! (despite apple estimates saying I would receive it 2-3 weeks from now?)

    Anyway, tried out some 720p 60fps videos, and the playback is flawless. Also tried some light iMovie editting, and that seems to work well also (not choppy). Tried throwing some 720p and 1080p MKV's at the thing (using VLC as the player) and they played great -- streaming via my wireless N network from my iMac. 1080p had a few stutters here and there, but generally was watchable.

    So far I'm really liking what this device has to offer! I have an external WD Passport drive I'm using for extra storage (movies, mp3's, etc)

  16. eemzah macrumors member

    Nov 11, 2009
    Hi guys,

    I have a macbook air 11" 1.4GHz with 4GB RAM. I seem to have problems playing a 1080p mkv movie smoothly. I tried copying the file to my anorexic HDD but it still stutters a lot. I am using VLC for playback btw. Any ideas/suggestions on how to play it smoothly on the MBA? Thank you in advance.
  17. Susurs macrumors 6502a


    Jun 18, 2010
    I use Plex to play all my HD. I do not remember any 1080p stuttering.
  18. tmoerel macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2008
    I second this!!!

    Plex uses the MBA's GPU for hardware acceleration and as such should play 1080p back smoothly. It does for me!
  19. amt-austin macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2010
    I have not been able to reliably play blu-ray MKV files, or files transcoded to h264 @720 resolution either. The original MKV's are just terrible, and the h264 conversions are a lot better, but they still don't cut it on hit bit rate scenes. Even with Plex and h264 HW acceleration, it still cannot play the converted files flawlessly. My little linux box with Intel Atom and Nvidia ION can play all of these (including the MKVs) fine. I guess these Air's are limited to Apple sanctioned video (which do seem to play fine).
  20. ZenoVT macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2009
    I have the Macbook 11.6 Ultimate 2010 and it doesn't handle 1080p mkv files smoothly at all. I've tried movist, mplayerx, quicktime, vlc, and plex. All have stuttered at action scenes and bits throughout movies, making everything unwatchable. Youtube 1080p videos play fine...

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