MacBook Air 13" configuration advice please

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by LxHunter, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. LxHunter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    #1
    I borrowed 11" MacBook Air from the office.
    I like it so much I want to buy a 13"

    I know that 128GB is enough
    Should I pay for these"
    1.3GHz to 1.7GHz $150
    4GB to 8GB $100

    My work is financial/Business
    Word for business plans
    Excel for spreadsheets
    OmniGraffle and OmniPlan sometimes.
    Nothing graphic heavy
     
  2. krazykleo macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2013
    Location:
    Everywhere and nowhere
    #2
    For what people have suggested to me in the past is that the i5 is good enough. And everyone here will say to upgrade to the 8GB of ram.

    I have the i5/8GB/128 13" and I love it. Never gets too hot, stalls, or whatever lol...that's my opinion but then again I am no Apple or in general technology genius lol...:)

    Good luck!!
     
  3. LxHunter thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    #3
    Thanks for your advice.
    8GB looks like the worthy upgrade for me.
    Now just have to check all the rumours.
    Don't want to buy a week before new model released
     
  4. Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    #4
    There will definitely not be a new model of the macbook air before next year (probably summer 2014).

    Unless you want to wait and compare haswell retina MBPs you are quite safe in buying now.

    I just bought the 2013 13" MBA and it is great. Battery life is mind boggling.
     
  5. jadAce macrumors regular

    jadAce

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2013
    #5
    I've been using i5/256/8 GB RAM (13 inch though) and it's worked great for me (for student use). 8GB is definitely a worthy upgrade because it helps with multitasking. i7 - not really if you're not going to be doing heavy graphics-intensive tasks. 256 GB SSD ensures that I don't have to worry about storage.

    I wouldn't worry about new models - the 2013 MacBook Airs were released in June, and chances are greater than 95% that they won't be updated until mid or late 2014. Perhaps we might see Retina screens then, or we might see even greater battery life. But because you need the MacBook Air now for work, I would just buy it.
     
  6. snapper64 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    #6
    Definitely upgrade the RAM, it will be worthwhile if you're running multiple programs at once. I wouldn't bother with the CPU upgrade based on the usage you describe though.
     
  7. yosemit macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    #7
    Like almost everyone said, upgrade the RAM first. 4GB is a little bit small even for a web browser of many opened tabs.

    I have i7/8/256. The i7 is super quite, too, for daily jobs. But for what you plan to run, i7 or i5 would only make a little difference. Of course, if you have the budget, it's not a bad idea to upgrade to i7, just in case your usage changes in the future. I would upgrade the SDD before the processor, though. The 256GB SSD is faster than the 128GB SSD, and it's nice to get some extra storage.

     
  8. MaulRx Suspended

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    Aug 27, 2012
  9. Doublea6 macrumors regular

    Doublea6

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    Aug 3, 2013
    #9
    Yup there are more cells in the ssd resulting in faster read and write speeds.
     
  10. MaulRx Suspended

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    Aug 27, 2012
    #10
    Can it really be a significant\noticeable difference?
     
  11. yosemit macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    #11
  12. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

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    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #12
    I'm going get a MBA 13" as a gift for my wife. Apart of surfing the web and watching movies, she'll be using it for learning Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Is the i5/4GB/128GB enough for those purposes or is it better to upgrade the RAM and SSD to 8GB/256GB?
     
  13. Doublea6 macrumors regular

    Doublea6

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2013
    #13
    It sounds like that should be great for her. You might be tight on space if you load a bunch of movies on it though, besides that it sounds great.
     
  14. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #14
    I had a 2011 13" i5/4gb/256gb MBA and will go against the grain here. I think 4gb would be more than adequate for your needs. I ran professional software like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, FileMaker Pro, VectorWorks, Photoshop in addition to MS Office. I never noticed an issue with 4gb.

    That being said, I just replaced that machine witb a 2013 11" i7/8gb/512gb MBA. If at all possible, I like to get the fastest processor, largest amount of RAM and biggest SSD available and am willing to pay the premium.

    But if money is tight you should be fine with the i5 4gb. I would find the 128gb really limiting however. If I could only afford to upgrade one thing, it would be to the 256gb SSD. But that's me and not you. :D
     
  15. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    #15
    Photoshop would love the i7 as would Aperture, my 13" would be i7,8 GB,512
    But Im waiting for the Haswell MBP, cus at 65 I deserve it:rolleyes:
     
  16. L T macrumors 6502

    L T

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    Feb 24, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    I find the 4GB of RAM fine, I leave Safari (multiple tabs), iTunes, Twitter and Pages open all the time as I use them all the time. Big apps like iPhoto and iMovie run fine with those others open
     
  17. TType85 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    #17
    I find the order of importance for upgrades is Ram => SSD > Processor.

    4GB is enough for a lot of people; my wife's computer has 4GB ram and has never had any issues. For $100 it's not a bad upgrade. Same thing with the SSD. The processor on the other hand is very subjective. Most people won't know the difference. If some photo filter your doing takes 2sec longer will you notice?

    Edit: I have a 2013 13/8/256/i7 but I have a windows VM I run for work stuff.
     
  18. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #18
    Thanks for the advices.

    I took my wife to the local Apple store to test drive both 11" and 13". She said she'd be very happy with the 13". I am going to get her the 13" i5/4GB/256GB. I believe it's going to be a very good machine for learning Photoshop, Lightroom, and web design...

    I am also going to take this opportunity to replace my late 2008 with something more up to date :D. I am torn between the upcoming Haswell 13" rMBP and 13" MBA i7/8GB/256GB. I'll be using it mainly for programming in Java, and learning Python/Ruby/Node/Android/iOS. I have two issues with retina:
    1) I have an external Dell Ultrasharp 24" IPS display and I want to use it whenever I can since it provides more screen real estates.
    2) The rMBP will likely use more CPU and GPU cycles to drive those 4M retina pixels. Does it mean that performance wise, the MBA and rMBP will have similar performance?
     
  19. flowrider macrumors 601

    flowrider

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    #19
    ^^^^Don't mean to mess things up here. But, IMHO, if your doing anything in Photoshop, you should have as much RAM as possible. On the Air, that means 8GB.

    Though my Air only has 4GB, it's fine for me because I do my Photoshop work on my Mac Pro that was 24GB. Photoshop is on my Air, but I only use it to open and save.

    Lou
     
  20. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

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    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #20
    My wife self-taught herself PS4 on a late 2007 MBP (see my signature). She still consider herself as a beginner but wants to learn more and take classes to become proficient.

    Do you think the 8GB are worth even for a beginner? How long does it take generally to become proficient in PS?
     
  21. ItHurtsWhenIP macrumors 6502

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    Aug 20, 2013
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    'Merica!
    #21
    Beginner or not has nothing to do with it.

    Photoshop is a processor heavy application. You want as much RAM for that as possible.
     
  22. sofianito, Sep 1, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013

    sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #22
    In order to contrast your statements with those who stated above that PS run without issues on a haswell MBA with 4GB, I'd appreciate if you could share your experience and the issues you faced.

    Nonetheless, if PS is a processor and RAM heavy application, then I'm afraid the 8GB won't be enough neither... Hopefully, if there ain't enough free physical RAM, OS will use disk (Paging) to virtually extend it. Since PCI-e SSD is very fast (twice than SSD), I believe and hope the paging in/out latency will be very reasonable... In that case, a bigger disk would allow to have "in theory" a bigger paging file...

    According to Photoshop CS6 for Mac requirements:
    Code:
        Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
        Mac OS X v10.7 or v10.8
        1GB of RAM
        3.2GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
        1024x768 display (1280x800 recommended) with OpenGL 2.0, 16-bit color, and 512MB of VRAM (1GB recommended)*
        Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services.†
    
    * 3D features are disabled with less than 512MB of VRAM. Read the Help article.
    

    I found this Youtube video where a MBA i5/4GB/128GB is used to run and test PS:


    At the end, I might upgrade the RAM too, but I'm tight on budget since I want to purchase a Superdrive and Applecare too. By the way, does anyone know why AC is cheaper at B&H ($176) than at Apple ($249). I read B&H AC is only sold in US, but in case I purchase it there, will I be covered by Apple Spain if I have issues?
     
  23. ItHurtsWhenIP macrumors 6502

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    Aug 20, 2013
    Location:
    'Merica!
    #23
    Show me where I said it wouldn't work with 4GB of RAM? Please.

    I said you want as much as possible. Nothing more, nothing less.
     
  24. Atomic Walrus, Sep 1, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013

    Atomic Walrus macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    #24
    Unlikely. If we're talking about raw CPU performance an upgraded current 13" rMBP already beats an upgraded Air. The difference is largely a matter of battery life; the Air will beat that upgraded 13" rMBP by some huge amount as far as battery life.

    The GPU concerns you mention could come into play to some degree in the current 13" rMBP (because of TDP limits the CPU can sometimes get throttled if the iGPU starts to use too much power, which might happen because the HD 4000 is massively underpowered for that resolution).

    With the new 13" running an HD 5100 I would expect this issue to largely be gone. The iGPU should be able to perform any "normal" tasks without cutting into the CPU's power supply, so under most conditions the CPU will be able to run up to its turbo frequency and should outperform the Air's i7 (assuming we're still talking about an upgraded 13" rMBP). Obviously 3D graphics are going to be an exception, since rendering at the native retina resolution can easily overwhelm any laptop GPU (even a 780M isn't going to like it).

    The question is mostly about battery at that point. Haswell is going to improve battery life, but likely not as much as it did for the Air. No matter how efficient these new CPUs are it's going to take more power to handle the higher resolution and run those faster CPUs, even at light load.

    I picked up an Air this week for the amazing battery life, but I have to admit that taking it back and waiting for the Haswell 13" rMBP is very tempting. It's an amazing machine -- fast and with ~9 hours of real world battery life (i7 version) -- but it's hard for me to go back to TN panels after using IPS for so long. If Haswell can significantly improve the rMBP battery life it might be a better choice for me, as the battery life I'm getting from the Air is actually overkill for my usage.

    This is getting kind of off topic, but I'll mention that my main issue with retina is how it's handled at the software level. I don't like the idea that I can't control system display resolution manually, instead being limited to a few types of scaling. If I want to set the display to half resolution (1280x800) and use 1->4 pixel mapping I should be allowed to do that (maybe there are 3rd party utilities to solve this by now, I don't know because I don't have a retina MBP yet). This mode would solve two issues at once: It would improve performance of windowed 3D rendering (for example, in 3D graphics software) and reduce the impact of retina on day to day battery life while still allowing me to have that amazing IPS panel.
     
  25. sofianito, Sep 1, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013

    sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #25
    According to http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks:

    13" MacBook Pro Retina (early 2013) i7 3.0GHz - 7752

    13" MacBook Air (mid 2013) i7 1.7GHz - 7274

    Not a big difference though...

    You might try Retina Display Manager app at your local Apple store. It allows to use different resolutions...
     

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