MacBook Air 2013: light gaming and study - Which configuration?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by MrGrutty, Jun 29, 2013.

  1. MrGrutty macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    Hi all.

    I'm looking to buy a MacBook for my study. At first I thought a MBP was going to be my choice, but then it didn't get the haswell with it's improved battery life and graphics performance, so now I'm more leaning towards the new MBA.

    For the things I want to do with it: light gaming and word processing, surfing, watching movies and that's about it. No heavy lifting except for these games. I don't really play graphic intensive games, however it would be awesome to play Assassin's Creed 3 and possibly 4 in the future (low-med is fine). Still haven't played those...

    Is this possible, like at all? Is the base-model 13" good enough or will it be needing more RAM or a better CPU? Also, I have a USB 3.0 1TB external hard drive. On that I would install my games and stuff I don't need all the time. Would a 128 GB HDD be enough then?

    I would really like your opinion on this guys. Thanks.
  2. AppleMacNerd macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2013
    United Kingdom
    From my experience if I can play on my 2011 MBA full settings minecraft is it possible however the fans kick in straight away, keep the settings on low and the fan stays low.
    I'm guessing with the 2013 you will need to wait for someone who has tried gaming on it, but I'm having a good guess at staying it would run them games on low atleast with the fans been moderately quiet.

    I'd go for the 8GB Ram just because it tends to be the new 4GB. Most people now adays will always recommend 8GB ram but I can play a fair amount of games on my MBA with only 4GB.
    Personally I'd stay with the i5 normal and not upgrade and this may also affect your battery life.
    128GB will be fine for just for OSX if your using a 1TB HDD for (most) of your documents and mostly all games.
    I run a 128GB SSD with OSX and quite a few applications/documents and still have 80GB spare :)

    Just wait for someone who has played around with games on the 2013 MBA for a 100% answer.
  3. ylrd macrumors member


    May 25, 2013
    • 13" - good screen size/resolution and perfect for your daily tasks and gaming needs
    • i5 - no need for the i7 if you're not gonna do CPU intensive tasks (Photoshop, iMovie, Aperture, etc.)
    • 128GB - it's the perfect size if you have an external HD for your docs and stuff, but if you don't have a secondary Mac/PC and this is gonna be your main (and only) machine, I'd recommend you to go for the 256GB
    • 8GB RAM - like the guy above said, 8GB is the new 4GB... not too little, not too much, just perfect
    And stop worrying ;)
  4. Porkaysi macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2012
    I7 has a 10% higher clock on gpu and of course better cpu. Should give the air slighted better gaming performance.
  5. mattferg macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    Depending on how much you have to spend, I'd say minimum i5/8GB/128 and preferred i5/8GB/256, anything more than that is either overkill or crazy overpriced.

    As for games, the bottleneck is the 5000 graphics, so spending more money for a higher clocked CPU is a waste, regardless of whether it increases the 5000 clock speed or not, as that's not going to affect performance of games that much.
  6. MrGrutty thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    I've found this post. Looks quite promising in terms of performance!

    lol :)

    I now have a windows laptop, but I was planning to get rid of it and make the air my main and only machine.

    Yeah. That's a bit of a problem. Budget wise, I actually can't afford AND 8GB RAM, AND 256 GB HDD. So yeah.

    It's like upgrade one: RAM, HDD or CPU.

    So. RAM it is, then?
  7. Memole macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2013
    yes go for the ram

    as for CPU you wont have much improvement and battery life will be shorter

    as for storage 128 is ok and later you can buy USB or TB external HDD for your documents music and so :)
  8. tann macrumors 68000

    Apr 15, 2010
    Nottingham, England
    I would say, if you can, get the following:

    8gb ram - this will just be handy to have, especially since it appears to be your main machine.

    256gb - because you want to play the games you say (they aren't on Mac) you will need to bootcamp... I would never recommend bootcamping with a 128gb hard drive (especially if you intend on using both partitions like you want) because it leaves very little room for apps and files (even with an external hard drive). I read before I got my SSD for my MBP that a general rule of thumb is to have about 10% of your SSD free, after it goes to less than that performance drops.

    the 128gb comes with about 110gb free (I believe) so half of that is 55gb. 55gb - 20gb (for windows 7 64bit) leaves 35gb to use. Keep about 6gb free, so 29 gb to play with. Yes that is a good amount of room, but remember some games these days can take up 15gbs alone.

    So if you can manage to only keep a few installed at any point, then you should be fine. But as I said above, I just recommend the 256 for bootcamping. Because 55gb really isn't much especially for a few years (at least for the people I know).

    i5 - the i7 will do very little for you.
  9. MrGrutty thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    You really do have a point there. I can also recall that some PC games require you to install the game on the main drive and you can't install it on any other one. Thanks. Maybe I have to get a bit more money together and go for i5/8/256 then... :rolleyes:
  10. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2010
    London, UK
    You can probably stick your games in a USB 3.0 external drive and barely suffer any performance decrease. They make take a bit longer to load, but otherwise they should run just as well. Saying that, I went with the 128GB and decided not to install a Windows partition - native Mac only for me. I have 30GB of music which I want to keep internal, so soon enough I'll have to start sticking games in my external.
  11. larry918 macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2013

    I have basically the exact same necessities as you, and have decided on the i5/8gb/256 model. I've looked around on some threads, and have discovered that i5 is actually better for both battery and heat. Would be a plus for you when you're studying or gaming. Trying to place an order, but need to wait for approval in my country...sigh.
  12. MrGrutty thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    Nice to know someone else's making the same decisions :)
  13. Appledreamer macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2011


    i do gaming and web and mail with photo editing and it runs sweet has even had its fan on yet.
  14. mattferg macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    bottleneck is the GPU so CPU improvements are nullified.
  15. MrGrutty thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    Let's make this a bit more silly with one last question: Is waiting for the next gen MBP not a better idea? Or is the air a good choice for me?
  16. hkim1983 macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2009
    I assume you're referring to the 15" rMBP refresh and not the 13" one. The only meaningful difference between the 13" rMBP and 13" Air is whether or not you value the retina screen. You could make minor concessions either way aside from that, but that's really the crux of the issue.

    As for the 15" rMBP, well, unless you're doing cpu intensive work that utilizes the 4 (8) cores, such as serious video encoding, or you want to get a lot more out of gaming on your mac (a dedicated gpu), there's very little reason to get a 15".
  17. MrGrutty thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    Being able to play games better sure is something I would like, but the problem with the 15" models is the price. If they would just make the 13" MBP with external graphics I would buy that one. But in this case, you are right. 15" is just too expensive and choosing between 13" Air and Pro is easy. Go Air! :)
  18. Porkaysi macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2012
    Still there is a clock speed increases in gpu, not much but still makes it a better chip to play games on.
  19. MrGrutty thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    So, what configuration do you think I should take?
  20. Porkaysi macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2012
    i7 will perform better but i honestly can not give you a solid difference in FPS, but anandtech writer tweeted about comparing the i7 vs i5 air and should be up soon. i would also read up on the hd 5000 gaming thread on this forum for FPS to compare.
  21. MrGrutty thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    Okay guys. These are possible:
    • i5/4/256
    • i7/8/128

    I could also buy it in half a year and get i5/8/256, but I want to take advantage of the BTS promo that runs until september.

    So yeah. It comes down to either performance or internal storing capacity. :confused:

    Wish I had the money to always get exactly what I wanted :p
  22. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Unless the 13" rMBP gets the Iris Pro graphics..
  23. MrGrutty thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2013
    Indeed. But reconsidering this matter, I think this model will be too expensive for me. Let's stick to the Air here now :)
  24. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Of course it is your choice and it might be the completely correct choice based on your usage. But considering the rMBP also gets the $100 price drop that the 2013 Air got, a rMBP 13" i5/8/128 would be $1399 and an Air 13" i5/8/128 would be $1199 so it's only $200 difference.

    For that difference you'll get a better processor, better graphics (if they go with the Iris Pro), better screen and, if Apple doesn't make it thinner, slightly less or same battery life as the Air even with the better processor and better screen due to more battery-space.

    As said, your choice and the Air might fit you better but I will definitely wait and see what the rMBP update brings!
  25. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    i5/8GB RAM and 256/512GB drive, depending on what you need/can afford.

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