Is MBA sufficient or is rMBP needed?

Tanax

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
941
96
Stockholm, Sweden
Hi,

My brother is starting music college later this year and needs a laptop for making music (e.g Cubase).

He can not afford the 15" rMBP so 13" of MBA or rMBP are the ones he's deciding between.

If he gets the MBA he will get the 8GB RAM upgrade so the only difference is the retina screen and the better CPU.

The screen doesn't matter that much for him. Is the CPU upgrade between Air and rPro enough to justify the expense or should he just go with the Air? And is an i7 upgrade worth it for music production?
 

Blondie :)

macrumors 6502a
May 12, 2010
698
2
Prescott, AZ
Sound like he will need a lot of hard drive space.
Agreed. Music production takes a vast amount of hard drive space (production software, libraries of loops, etc). If he is concerned about cost, my recommendation would be to get a non retina MBP and install at least a 1TB hard drive. Make sure he has at least 8GB of RAM. This should get him everything he needs.
 

falconeight

Guest
Apr 6, 2010
1,866
1
Agreed. Music production takes a vast amount of hard drive space (production software, libraries of loops, etc). If he is concerned about cost, my recommendation would be to get a non retina MBP and install at least a 1TB hard drive. Make sure he has at least 8GB of RAM. This should get him everything he needs.
I agree. It also has a dvd drive to write to.
 

Badrottie

Suspended
May 8, 2011
4,317
332
Los Angeles
Haswell based MBA 13" is perfect because you have more screen estate and retina is not that important unless you are an artist. Also buy external portable hard drive to store music stuff there. MBA is so light and easy to carry around campus. :apple:
 

jafingi

macrumors 65816
Apr 3, 2009
1,468
154
Denmark
What is his budget?

The screen estate of a 13" Air is simply not enough for music production. The 13" rMBP screen estate is not enough when running standard resolution, but one of the higher resolutions will be better.

If he could afford it, I would buy the cMBP (the "old" MBP) with a HiRes screen (1680x1050), and then upgrade the RAM yourself (much cheaper than Apple). Then he'd have the possibility to upgrade the HDD.

OR he could just get the 13" rMBP and run it at higher resolution. That would be cheaper, but the disk space is more limited, so he would need an external HDD for samples etc.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
65,039
30,964
Boston
The screen doesn't matter that much for him. Is the CPU upgrade between Air and rPro enough to justify the expense or should he just go with the Air? And is an i7 upgrade worth it for music production?
Bolded the important part.

If the screen is not important to him, then a non retina based MBP is probably the best machine for him. It provides him with the ability to upgrade the ram, and hard drive. As others stated he'll need good amount of storage and the cMBP (either the 13" or 15") will give him that larger hard drive.
 

Tanax

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
941
96
Stockholm, Sweden
Harddrive space is not an issue, he will use an external drive for the libraries and samples.

The reason I asked if rMBP or if MBA is good enough is because I know that music production requires CPU power.

My question is more if the CPU difference between the MBA and the rMBP (both 13" versions) is that big and if that difference will make a big impact on his workflow?

His budget is around $1400. We live in Sweden though so prices here are higher.
 

jafingi

macrumors 65816
Apr 3, 2009
1,468
154
Denmark
Harddrive space is not an issue, he will use an external drive for the libraries and samples.

The reason I asked if rMBP or if MBA is good enough is because I know that music production requires CPU power.

My question is more if the CPU difference between the MBA and the rMBP (both 13" versions) is that big and if that difference will make a big impact on his workflow?

His budget is around $1400. We live in Sweden though so prices here are higher.
The rMBP would be best for him I think. It's 13.495 SEK.

1) More powerful CPU (when having loaded tons of plugins)
2) More screen real estate (if he run one of the higher resolutions - has to be set in preferences).

If he run samples etc. off an external HDD, he'll be just fine with the "small" SSD on the rMBP.

I don't think the Air resolution-wise and CPU-wise would be powerful enough for music production.
 

Tanax

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
941
96
Stockholm, Sweden
The rMBP would be best for him I think. It's 13.495 SEK.

1) More powerful CPU (when having loaded tons of plugins)
2) More screen real estate (if he run one of the higher resolutions - has to be set in preferences).

If he run samples etc. off an external HDD, he'll be just fine with the "small" SSD on the rMBP.

I don't think the Air resolution-wise and CPU-wise would be powerful enough for music production.
It's actually a bit cheaper after student price :)

Sounds like a fair suggestion. Do you think upgrading to an i7 will benefit him? It's only the 2-core i7 so is it really a great improvement?
 

jafingi

macrumors 65816
Apr 3, 2009
1,468
154
Denmark
It's actually a bit cheaper after student price :)

Sounds like a fair suggestion. Do you think upgrading to an i7 will benefit him? It's only the 2-core i7 so is it really a great improvement?
No, that won't be worth the money. The benefits of the i7 would not matter much in music production. That's more if he had a need for crunching numbers - but that's not the case :)

So I would just go with the 13" rMBP base model. Would be much better for him than the Air.
 

Laco

macrumors 6502
Apr 23, 2008
375
1
Hi,

My brother is starting music college later this year and needs a laptop for making music (e.g Cubase).

He can not afford the 15" rMBP so 13" of MBA or rMBP are the ones he's deciding between.

If he gets the MBA he will get the 8GB RAM upgrade so the only difference is the retina screen and the better CPU.

The screen doesn't matter that much for him. Is the CPU upgrade between Air and rPro enough to justify the expense or should he just go with the Air? And is an i7 upgrade worth it for music production?
I know that you said that he "needs a laptop" but perhaps if he can do all his work at a desk in his room he could just get an imac, which would probably meet all of his requirement minus the portability of course.
 

Tanax

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
941
96
Stockholm, Sweden
No, that won't be worth the money. The benefits of the i7 would not matter much in music production. That's more if he had a need for crunching numbers - but that's not the case :)

So I would just go with the 13" rMBP base model. Would be much better for him than the Air.
Alright, cheers :)
One more thing, what do you think the chances are that the Haswell rMBP 13" will be able to have 16GB RAM?

----------

I know that you said that he "needs a laptop" but perhaps if he can do all his work at a desk in his room he could just get an imac, which would probably meet all of his requirement minus the portability of course.
We live in 2 places, thus a desktop would not work unless he gets 2 desktops..
 

JeffiJers

macrumors 6502a
Sep 12, 2012
552
1
U.S.
Would hate my life working with DAW's on a 13inch screen lol, actually at times I struggle with my 15r.


MBP15.
 

Freyqq

macrumors 601
Dec 13, 2004
4,016
169
Hi,

My brother is starting music college later this year and needs a laptop for making music (e.g Cubase).

He can not afford the 15" rMBP so 13" of MBA or rMBP are the ones he's deciding between.

If he gets the MBA he will get the 8GB RAM upgrade so the only difference is the retina screen and the better CPU.

The screen doesn't matter that much for him. Is the CPU upgrade between Air and rPro enough to justify the expense or should he just go with the Air? And is an i7 upgrade worth it for music production?
I recommend the MBA 13" with a USB3 hub and couple external 1+ TB USB3 hard drives. The thing is, no laptop is going to have the space he needs to store all his files anyway, so might as well get a laptop with a small SSD for his current projects and have the externals for long-term storage.
 

Tanax

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
941
96
Stockholm, Sweden
Would hate my life working with DAW's on a 13inch screen lol, actually at times I struggle with my 15r.


MBP15.
He cannot afford the 15". And the cMBP 15" is too heavy.

----------

I recommend the MBA 13" with a USB3 hub and couple external 1+ TB USB3 hard drives. The thing is, no laptop is going to have the space he needs to store all his files anyway, so might as well get a laptop with a small SSD for his current projects and have the externals for long-term storage.
That's the plan, keep SSD rather small and have an external for the samples and libraries. Why MBA over rMBP?
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,403
2,387
Perth, Western Australia
Buy MBA and sell/upgrade sooner.

MBA in 2-3 years time will be faster/better than today's rMBP, most likely.

Intel GPU is plenty for music.
MBA CPU is plenty for music.


I doubt he'll be doing much music whilst truly out and about (all his instruments probably won't be quite so portable) so use a cheap external monitor for that.

Plenty of pro musicians use the MBP 13" classic and have done for years.
 

fskywalker

macrumors 65816
Nov 6, 2009
1,223
3
He cannot afford the 15". And the cMBP 15" is too heavy.
What about a refurbished 15 inch rMBP? That probably he can afford (can get over 40% below original retail price) and will provide him the best option, look for a 16gb RAM version, the 256gb solid state drive will suffice if he's using an external USB drive anyway.
 

NewishMacGuy

macrumors 6502a
Aug 2, 2007
636
0
Sound like he will need a lot of hard drive space.
I agree. It also has a dvd drive to write to.
The screen estate of a 13" Air is simply not enough for music production..
The ideal laptop is a uMPB-15 (the old one). He will appreciate the additional screen real-estate, the quad core processors will be faster, an internal Superdrive might be very useful, FW800 will likely be useful at some point, and having the additional HDD space without having to lug around an external is priceless.

Not having to carry around external accessories that compensate for the lack of internals in the MBA & rMBP will make up for the weight & convenience difference in the slightly heavier uMBP platform.

On top of all that, it'll be cheaper too, especially if you get a a used 2011 or 2012. (Sweden is beautiful, but the socialism is mighty expensive!)

The old one might not be the latest sexy Apple gadget, but it's the right machine for the job.

Let the girls be sexy and encourage him to buy the right tool.


___
 

sonicrobby

macrumors 68020
Apr 24, 2013
2,376
396
New Orleans
cMBP is too heavy.
Try lugging around an Asus G73 gaming laptop around for weeks :p The cMBP is not all that heavy, especially not the 13" model. And its not all that much thicker then the rMBP. I agree with most of the people on this thread about getting a 13" regular MBP. It will be cheaper, have more storage, it will take up the same desk space as the other computers, its just less than 1/4 of an inch thicker (if that).