help an oldster configure please...

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by keepingup, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. keepingup macrumors member

    Jan 14, 2011
    OK. 2006 2GB iMac breaking down. I think I'm going to buy a MBair, 13inch. Will use it mainly for surfing the web, filing electronic bills with insurance companies (I'm a doctor) photo library (I have about 3000 photos now) and light word processing. No gaming, duh.

    Very confused though. Would someone explain
    1. difference between 1.3 and 1.7 ghz
    2. difference between 256 and 512 flash storage?
    3. 4 or 8 GB

    I know this is boring to you MAC whizzes but sure would appreciate a nontechnical education. Thank you!
  2. DisplacedMic macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2009
    short answer i think the i5, 256, 4gig model would be perfect for you, Doc.
    My wife and father are both physicians and that's what they use :)

    i bought the i7 8gig 256 myself because i'm a scientist and feel inferior to what my wife and father refer to as "real doctors";)

    I think you are wise to upgrade to the 256g drive first. more space is never a bad thing and i think 128g could fill up fairly quickly - although if you really want the new air on a budget it would be perfectly fine. Apparently the read write speeds are faster on the 256 and 512 than they are on the 128 drive but people on here could tell you more about that than i could.

    so - if you had more money burning a hole in your pocket the next thing i would upgrade would be the RAM before the chip (8gig).

    The way i think of it is your hard disk space is everything you know, the RAM is everything you are thinking about at one time right now and the chip is how fast you can think about it.

    For the tasks you describe, i don't think you'd notice a perceptible difference between "how fast your computer can think about it" or how much it can think about at one time...

    the biggest boost you will notice coming from that old iMac will be thanks to the use of the SSDs. My air has a slower clock speed (chip) than my old Pro but it is light-years faster...largely thanks to the solid state drive. The new generations of processors obviously helps, but it really is the drive in my opinion.

    The last piece of advice I would give you would be to go play with them in store if you can. I was SURE i wanted the 13" Air but after playing with it and comparing it to the 13" retina macbook pro I decided on the 11" MBA which is what I have had since the summer and absolutely love.

    To me there wasn't much difference in weight between the 13air and the Retina pro...and the screen was unbelievable... but i wanted an ultra-light so as tempting as the retinas were i went with the 11 air. I just know I would have ended up talking myself into the 15" retina pro if I pondered on it any longer.

    good luck - i can't imagine you could make the wrong choice either way...
  3. jondunford macrumors 6502


    Oct 22, 2013
    Going for a poo Moderator
    1. the 1.7Ghz is faster and will get certain tasks done more quickly but will consume more power - based on your uses it would probably do more harm (to battery life) than good i.e. you won't notice the increase in speed

    2. this simply the storage space. if you are thinking of simply putting everything from your current computer onto the new one you can get an idea of how much storage you use/need in apple menu > about this mac > more info > storage. i'm not sure but 512GB may be faster as well (or this may just be with MacBook Pro storage)

    3. for your uses 4GB should be enough for a few years to come however i notice your current computer is a 2006 iMac - if you were hoping to use this machine for a similar length of time i would go for 8GB
  4. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Get the entry level 13" Air and a Synology NAS (any model) for your music, media, photos & backup. Just my 2¢
  5. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    If the added cost isn't a big concern, get the i7/8gb/512gb model. That way you won't wonder "what if...." later on and will have a machine that remains useful for many years, like your 2006 iMac. :)

    I use a 2013 MBA with these specs and it's a very fast and powerful machine. But I am doing things like audio and video editing. For what you describe, if budget is a concern then the i5/4gb/256gb model is adequate.
  6. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    Presumably you have your 3000 photos backed up securely ?
  7. keepingup thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 14, 2011
    Thanks to you all for responding. I think I should go with the 256 i5 and 8gb. Can I ask one more thing? Do you think the migration assistant will work and if so that I can order from the Apple store and have it delivered? Or should I lug my iMac to the store and ask them to transfer everything. Please don't ask me if I am backed up in the cloud. I THINK I am but can't figure out how to verify.
  8. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Flash Storage = hard disk, without the disk (solid-state memory replaces the mechanical spinning disk).

    RAM = 2gb in 2006 is roughly equal to 4gb in 2013 (programs have become more demanding).

    i5 vs. i7 = i7 is desirable for certain, more-demanding programs. None of the programs/activities you mention would benefit - this is one place where you can save your money. Best analogy I can offer is that my Nissan Altima comes with a choice of engines, 2.5 liter and 3.5 liter. I have no doubt the 3.5 liter is wonderful, but for the kind of driving I do (no faster than 80mph on the Interstate, no more than 2 passengers), my 2.5 liter barely breaks a sweat (and I've never broken into a cold sweat when accelerating to highway speed or passing 18-wheelers). Consider the i5 to be that 2.5 liter.

    A key factor with Macbook Air is that you can't upgrade Flash or RAM after purchase, so if you plan to keep the Air as long as you've had the iMac, I'd go with 512gb Flash, 8gb RAM. (the extra 256gb is enough storage for nearly 12,000 20mb photos in RAW format, or over 42,000 6mb JPGs).

    Several have suggested using outboard storage (NAS = network attached storage), which would allow you to spend less on Flash Storage (which is relatively expensive). In your case, this may be an unnecessary complication. You don't seem the type who would want to manage "what goes where" on an ongoing basis. What I do recommend is a simpler, external hard disk for the sake of Time Machine backup. If you value those photos at all, you need a backup, and Time Machine is built into OS X - it just works.

    The one issue I'll raise is the size of the screen. At some point, you may want to get yourself an external monitor of at least 21" (same size as your iMac). No need to do it immediately, but if your eyes are getting as old as mine, bigger is better. ;-) The Air is a fabulous device, but its focus is on portability. If you spend most of your time at a desk, why sacrifice screen size at those times?


    Migration Assistant does work well, but there's always something to be said for having some help with an important and unfamiliar process.

    If by the cloud you mean iCloud... only limited things are saved to iCloud from a Mac, mostly Contacts and Calendars.

    If you're using a separate cloud-based backup service, they undoubtedly have a web page where you can monitor things like most recent backups, available space, etc.
  9. DisplacedMic macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2009
    do you have a time machine backup? that would make it easier. but yes - you can use migration assistant. you can do it over your local network (wifi or ethernet) or you can do it via thunderbolt or firewire cable.

    your imac doesn't have thunderbolt and your new macbook air won't have firewire but you can get a thunderbolt to firewire adapter.

    you could of course lug your imac to the store and they'd do it for you, but it sounds like you don't want to do that.
  10. qawsed macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2009
  11. JackHobbs macrumors regular


    Nov 1, 2009
    If you buy an air, storage and ram are not upgradable. What you buy now is what you get. Some things cannot be got round i.e. RAM and some things can, i.e. storage by using a portable external hard drive, therefore if you cannot afford more RAM and a bigger SSD my advice is to go for more RAM. If you keep your air for a long time newer software may come in that uses more RAM so if you go for the biggest amount of RAM you can then if sort of future proofs you a little more. That said, emotions can get in the way. I wanted a certain model of Air for travelling. When I got to the Apple store they didn't have that one. I felt "forced" to upgrade what I was buying!!!:D
  12. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Migration assistant has been virtually flawless on my last two mac upgrades, I have been very impressed. As suggested above, get an external hard drive - 500 gb is probably big enough for your old computer. Then use Time Machine to make a backup. Now just plug that drive into the new Macbook Air when prompted during setup.

    HOWEVER, the new operating system will not run many older programs because they depend on the old system architecture. Your iMac probably handles these programs seamlessly using an emulator that was included in older versions of Mac OS. But that is no longer supported.

    After running migration asst, go to your applications folder. Any programs that aren't compatible will have a slash icon superimposed on them, and you will need to replace them with newer software.

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