Macbook Air for 3D Game Development

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Falcon80, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. Falcon80 macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2012
    Anyone currently using macbook air for 3D Game Development? That would mean using 3D engine such as Unity3D and 3D modeling tools like 3DS. Can Macbook Air handle it?

    Any advice appreciated. Thanks.
  2. Calot macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2012
    Sure. i7 with 8GB of RAM should handle simple game development. Just don't think you will be developing for the PS4 on it. Or the PS3 for that matter.
  3. Falcon80 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2012
    Oh.. You mean it can only handle simple game development (2D?). It will have trouble with 3D games?
  4. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    If you're buying a machine *just* for game development, I'd recommend against getting the Air. The Air is great and portable, but it is by no means super powerful. I'd recommend a desktop workstation if you're serious about it, or minimally a 15 inch MBP or Retina MBP. You can also take a look at a tool here to roughly gauge what sort of computer you need.
  5. Falcon80 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2012
    Yes, mainly for app/game development for mobile platforms. Desktop will be out of questions because likely to be on the move. Considering macbook air because performance seems really good.
  6. Calot macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2012
    Well, I mean that you can develop a 3D game that will run on a 3DS or an iPhone. But you can not develop a PS3 game.

    If it's 'simple' 3D games you're after, AND need portability, the Air should get you through it very well.
  7. SimianSquared, Oct 28, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012

    SimianSquared macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2012
    What EXACTLY is it that you're going to be doing? Games development encompasses a wide range of skills and jobs - are you an artist, programmer, level designer, sound guy, one-man-studio? We need more information to properly assess what your requirements are.

    At this point with so little information, all I can do is give you my own experiences as a guide:

    I still use my 13" 2010 top spec Air as one of my main machines for it's portability but you need to be clear on whether portability is something you actually need. For me, I move around a lot and need to be able to take my work with me but if that's not a concern then maybe the Air isn't for you.

    As for real world scenarios:

    - It handles upward of a million polygons absolutely fine in Zbrush,
    - Typically have 20-30 Photoshop documents open (texturing, concepting, sprites etc)
    - Unity runs absolutely fine, typically takes 10 secs or so to compile a build,
    - I use Logic for composition and sound effects and it is also fine.
    - 3DS MAX is fine, though really high polycounts can slow it down (we're talking 200k+, for reference - a typical xbox 360 character probably clocks in at under 10k at the highest LOD.)
    - On top of all of those running simultaneously, I am also procrastinating online with 20-odd tabs running so I can safely say, the Air is a capable machine.


    It struggles a bit on things like lightmapping, some kinds of rendering and any intense calculation but these are few and far between - and manageable.

    As a whole though, if you REALLY want to get an Air, you should be fine.


    Edit: I'd like to add - YES, you can develop a PS3 game to full quality on an Air. You may run into performance issues running the game at it's intended settings* but you'd probably want to run them on an actual PS3 dev kit if that was the case.

    *also with intense calculation during development, light lighting. but in terms of actual content generation (graphics, sound, code itself) the Air is perfectly capable.

    All in all though, I highly doubt you're developing next-gen games. If its some kind of mobile game you're doing- the air will be fine.

    But frankly, I'd get a huge, beefy iMac or a top end pro and be happy with superb performance guaranteed.
  8. Falcon80 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2012
    Understood. Thanks for your advise. :)


    Thanks for the detailed input. :)

    I am a programmer, using mainly Unity3D for development. Occasionally, will need access to graphics tools like photoshop, illustrator and 3ds MAx to make minor modifications to art assets. At the moment, doing development only for mobile platforms. Portability is nice to have but not crucial. Would love to have machine that can last me at least the next 3 years.
  9. SimianSquared macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2012
    The Air will do it, but if you can afford it go pro i think
  10. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    Don't bother with the 13 inch Pro, if you do go with a MBP. 15 inch or 15 inch Retina models will be faster.

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