First Mac, Wait or Now?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by jc8081, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. jc8081 macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2011
    So Im going to buy a new mac shortly for college and have a few questions...

    1. will an air be enough for me? im going to a community college for computer science for 2 years and was hoping the air would get me through that. Im not sure which programs but probably like photoshop, and all those code writing programs...So should i get a Air or a just a macbook? I would love to make do with the smaller air if it could handle that?

    2. Should i get it now or wait? I read that a new air is coming out in july, is that confirmed and if so whats different?
    Also read if i wait i can get lion but i thought i could get that anyways just by downloading it from the mac store? also what is sandy bridge?

    Sorry for all the questions this is going to be my first mac
  2. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    I'm waiting for the refresh myself, which too would be my first Mac n_n

    But to answer your question, both an 11 and 13 could pretty easily handle your requirements. Programming applications (Eclipse, Xcode, etc) aren't really that computationally demanding (unless you're writing gigantic, complicating programs).

    Your main concern however, would be screen real estate. You'd want a lot of vertical pixels, so the 13 would better. But if you plan on using an external monitor when you code (recommended), you could easily get by with an 11 and just code small things on it during class or whatever.

    I have 2 semesters worth of Java under my belt, along with some C++ -which isn't much to be honest- but like what I previously mentioned, I've learned the more screen space, the better.
  3. jc8081 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2011
    Thanks and ya i can always hook it up to my tv or something if needed.

    Also do you think java and c++ is difficult? is that like for building apps? if so in your two semesters are you able to make basic apps? sorry im just trying to figure out how long this all is going to take to learn..
  4. KylePowers, Jun 10, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011

    KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Well first and foremost, I'm an upcoming third year electrical engineer, so required programming classes were always on the back burner for me; that is, my circuits/electronics/digital logic classes were always exponentially more difficult. But a lot of people I knew who were (or were going to be) CS majors (like my roommate) loved the classes, which of course depended on the professors, difficulty level, teaching assistants, university, etc.

    And while I love the idea of programming and the products that arise from it, I've really never been that good at it. I've dabbled in some Android development (which is primarily Java), but I'd like to jump into some iOS development (objective-c, Xcode, etc)... just as a side hobby, of course.

    So in the end, difficulty is relative. If you like it, if that's what you truly want to do, then no, it won't be difficult... because you'll be genuinely interested. And even when (or if) it does begin to get difficult (which from what I've seen, it easily can), you'll push through it, if you really want to.

    EDIT: Noticed a few questions I didn't address. I think it's worth waiting because 1) the new MBAs will have better CPUs (but worse GPUs), 2), they'll more then likely have Thunderbolt (which is more of a future investment, if anything), 3) 2010 MBAs will go down in price (if one decides that the 2010 is more than enough for them).

    As for waiting to get Lion: I believe all computers purchased after June 4th from Apple are eligible for a Lion "coupon"; that is, a free upgrade. More than likely, some of the upcoming refreshes (mini, pro, mba) will ship with Lion. Either way, you can get Lion if you want it, straight from the App Store.

    As for what Sandy Bridge is: It's a new microarchitecture for CPUs from Intel. It stomps current C2Ds (which the current MBA has... which is 3 years old), but unfortunately its graphic performance can be sub par for certain situations (like gaming). However, it's a pretty decent GPU (in terms of integrated ones) that can handle most things thrown at it (by the general public, at least). Intel releases a new architecture every 2 years, and on the odd years they do a die shrink (like going from 32 to 22 nanometer processing), which makes for cooler, more efficient performance. So next year, the die shrink is called 'Ivy Bridge'. A good read could be found here:
  5. jc8081 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2011
    Wow thanks for all that! and ya im most likely going to wait since i dont actually need it till the end of august.
  6. endhalf macrumors regular

    May 24, 2011
    I would like to add some of my experience about programming... Firstly, I study robotics, not classical PC programming so my experience might be little different and I study on one of the hardest schools in my country.

    The programming is the hardest part we do around here. It's not like we write thousand lines of code but the more you'll get into it the better logical thinking you'll have to have in order to complete your task. For example, we started with little blinking bulp and we completed our year with programmable robot wich had 6 sensors, 3 motors and controlled few other devices. Now this is just a start to whole new level of difficulty and I must say I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. Even those who liked it spend hours of thinking why their program isn't working and/or why it works only in certain situations. I must laught when I see TV shows like Stargate where someone create exact 3D simulation of what should happen in few hours... I spend just half year ago about 30+ hours on 3D simulation with 3 freaking cubes and 2 motors.

    A lot of us are repelled by this as it's hard as hell and I don't think that programming with Java, C#, or Objective-C will be a lot different. It will be easy at first and then it will become harder and harder. The sad part is that if you aren't really good at it, you won't find a job because there is a LOT of people who can do all you can do, but cheaper (in India for example, or China).

    Now about original question, I belive that 13" Air would be suffice, but with SB as that (I hope) will be great upgrade from current C2D. For example Visual Studio is CPU heavy and intensive so I would be worried if I had 1.4 C2D (yet it is by far the best programming environment I have ever used - kudos MS). With Sandy Bridge it shouldn't be an issue. Thunderbolt is nonsence as no1 knows if it become popular or not - right now there isn't single one device for it AFAIK.
  7. tbobmccoy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I say wait. In about a month or so, you'll be able to choose: a low priced, but increasingly obsolete refurbished/clearanced Core 2 Duo based MBA or the new Sandy Bridge one. Waiting right now is the best course.
  8. merkinmuffley macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2010
  9. voigtstr macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2008
    Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  10. endhalf macrumors regular

    May 24, 2011
    Vogistr, we can't really tell, but based on average 3D Mark 06 point for each GPU, Intel HD 3000 is 22.77% slower than GF 320M. Now we don't know how much powerfull will be new procesor compared to old C2D, but my guess is it will be around 50%...
  11. tungry macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2011
    Total agree 100%. I bought a C2D 2010 MBA ultimate only because it was a super deal on CL but even then I am still in the market for the SB update MBA.

    On the graphics issue, I installed SC2 and 'tried' to play it on lowest settings and it was not playable. I can tell you that 320m is better than HD3000 but the 'better' isn't anything significant. If you are going to do any gaming then MBA is not for you and don't let others that says oh it can do light gaming fool you. Unless you are playing old, ancient games or have very high tolerance for choppy graphics and frame rates otherwise MBA can never satisfy your gaming needs.
  12. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    That’s surprising to hear, as SC2 runs fantastic on my 11” (128/4), as do a lot of other modern games. Were you running it in Windows or OS X?

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