MacBook Air 13" handles Adobe CS5.5 fine

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by bangak, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. bangak macrumors member

    May 14, 2010
    I've been trolling the forums regarding the usefulness of a base 13" MacBook Air for a full-time graphic designer who spends 8 hours a day going between Photoshop, Illustrator, inDesign and Flash and decided to find out for myself.

    In short, it's more than adequate, especially coming from a 15" C2D. With all 4 bloated apps open, in addition to numerous large PDF's, a time tracking app (On The Job, by Stunt Software), and safari with probably 10 tabs, this machine is running without a hiccup.

    I do have the latest maxed out 27" iMac (with 16 gigs of ram) for heavy lifting, and I should say that the Air is really just for hauling around to deal with unforeseen client "emergencies" that pop up while I'm away from my office.

    That said, I'm honestly having a hard time noticing a major difference in most of my CS5.5 workflow between my iMac and the Air. I suppose the real issue is for those who deal with rendering all day long, but for your run of the mill print/web designer the Air will do just fine as a secondary machine.

    Don't listen to the people that say the Air is just for e-mail.
  2. soco macrumors 68030


    Dec 14, 2009
    Yardley, PA
    The first syllable of your username made me smile.
  3. bangak thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A406 Safari/7534.48.3)

    Changed my mind after a seriously trying to make it work. The one issue I have is the screen. Color reproduction simply isn't up to par with my needs. I love the form factor and pretty much every other aspect of the machine but can't live with the consequences of basing design choices off of what I'm seeing on the MBA screen. Switching back to a MBP and hoping future Airs can live up to the screen quality of other Apple products that I've come to expect.
  4. entatlrg macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
  5. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I don't know about others. I've never suggested it was only good enough for email. I do suggest against it for 3d apps because the gpu isn't well supported under them. I suggest against it if you'll need more ram over the life of the machine. The cpu isn't bad, but photoshop and illustrator are rarely cpu bound these days. I'm not sure about Flash.

    I want to mention regarding the displays, if you're trying to match a print workflow, none of those are suitable. Trying to get a good match to a cmyk rip printer + viewing booth is unlikely. What you're really saying is that the other displays are okay for eyeballing the color. If you're on the go and thus needing a laptop, that's not the time to judge color anyway. Most displays shift quite a bit while warming up. The Apple ones take around 30 minutes which is pretty typical of most brands. It might be just a little less when they're new.

    Last thing is that while the mba is impressive this is still anecdotal. I can definitely choke one of them, but I can come pretty close to choking a mac pro too ;).

    By the way the times I'd suggest against them would be if you absolutely need more ram (SSD makes virtual memory less of an issue but it doesn't fix everything) or you're dealing with OpenGL applications where the integrated graphics can have issues. Photoshop doesn't count. Its OpenGL needs are minimal, and even then it's not well implemented (not sure if this is the fault of Adobe or Apple).
  6. jablko macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    The only laptops these days with color accurate screens are the Lenovo w520, Dell M4600, and the HP 4560w (admittedly though, it's been a while since I researched it). Apple abandoned color accuracy for laptops long ago. You could always plug in a good external monitor, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a portable workstation.

    It's actually a bit funny that the iPad is a much better graphic design screen than the MBP or MBA; if only the rest of it were as functional for design. I've heard of photographers using iPads as a mobile second monitors for their Macs just because it has such an awesome IPS display. (There's apps that will make it work, but with slight lag.)

    With the rumors of "retina" displays for laptops, my fingers are crossed that the next generation mobile Macs will have the quality and color reproduction of iPads, and I'll be able to eventually ditch my Lenovo.
  7. bangak thread starter macrumors member

    May 14, 2010
    I'm running a 15" MBP high res glossy in addition to my 27" iMac.

    Agreed that the screens can't be trusted for print uses. It's a compromise with any screen. It was simply too much of a compromise on the Air for my tastes. A shame too.
  8. kellemar macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2010
    My MBA 13 runs fine with FCP, CS5.5, Xcode and Office thrown at it.

    If you're particular about colour reproductions, just attach it to an external display. Otherwise, it's a perfect workhorse laptop barring the small SSD.
  9. vladi macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2010
    You eyes will not last a long time if you continue to use small screen thats why MBA and for the most part MBP dont work when it comes to graphics. Save your eyes before it too late. Only time I justify working on laptop is if I am on a go and something needs to be done asap, other than that I choose desktop tower as my weapon of choice anytime, anyday.

    Speed is subjective and perceptive, MBA might seem fast enough unless you try something faster or if your projects gets more complicated.

    What MBA can comprehend very well is web work, in other words RGB 72dpi projects within some reasonable resolution. Forget about large scale print jobs and high res photo retouching. Also be careful with vectors in Illustrator as well, dont overkill it with too many points its very CPU extensive and if you are working in ID make sure that raster preview is set to low quality (unless its 72dpi). If this fits in your workflow then MBA might complete you to some extent.

    All in all there is a big difference between low-voltage and full-voltage CPUs just like there is a difference between two cores, four cores and six cores and just like there is a difference between 4GB of RAM, 8GB and 16GB. It doesnt necessary mean double performance but it means double workload which is really important in multitasking environment.
  10. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    I have to agree, for professional graphics or print use the MBA isn't very good. However, the Pro is actually a very good screen. Found this test in a swedish magazine where they pitched the Air against the Pro in several areas.

    The Air:


    .. and the pro:


    The triangle with square corners is the sRGB space, and the triangle with circle corners is the measured color space. The smaller diagram is the deviation of each color from the standard. As you can see, the Air is quite bad, while the Pro screen is pretty much spot-on.
  11. gottan macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2012

    thats true, i had a both in my hands these days (my mbar 13" 2011 and my brother mbpro 13 2011) and ts clear that colors are better in the mbpro.

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