MacBook Air + TD enough for web/iOS design??

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by KimHansenDK, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. KimHansenDK, Sep 15, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012

    KimHansenDK macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    I just returned my MacBook Pro Retina because I found it too big and clumsy to take with me. I also had a lot of trouble with IR and uniformity - and had a hard time designing for web (72 dpi) on the retina display.

    So now I'm looking for something more portable. I have settled on a MacBook Air with 8GB - but haven't decided to combine it with a Thunderbolt Display or a 21.5" iMac. I would actually prefer the MacBook Air + Thunderbolt but I am not sure whether it would be enough for my needs.

    How does the Intel HD 4000 compare with Ati HD 6570M?

    I will most of the time be using it for designing websites, icons, iOS apps, some light video/photo editing and maybe some print design (300dpi). I will not use it for heavy video editing and 3D - and I will only play a few games such as Football Manager and Minecraft (not important).

    What are you thoughts? And would you prefer the i7 over the i5 in the MacBook Air??
  2. fireworksdesign macrumors member

    Apr 8, 2011
    Hi Kim , I have a 2011 13inch air and I do stuff life web designing, icons and some print design. Since you won't use it for heavy video editing and 3d , i think what's important here is to get as much ram available and the i5 can do the job.
  3. KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    Great reply.

    Anyone else using a MacBook Air for graphic design?

    I read somewhere that the Air could struggle to drive the Thunderbolt display? Is that true? I usually have photoshop, illustrator, 3-5 tabs in safari, spotify and maybe a few other apps open at the same time. Can the MacBook Air 2012 handle that when connected to a Thunderbolt display without the performance taking a hit?
  4. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    My old Macbook Pro (2010) with a Core 2 Duo and NVidia 320m could handle that workload just fine on a 1080p display. I've also been working on the new Macbook Air with the Intel 4000 chip and it works fine on a 1080p display.

    The difference is, the new Air is more fluid and faster, which is expected. The old Pro was certainly not impossible to work with, but it was slightly choppier in full screen animations. The Air is now more fluid and definitely up to the task.

    You would have issues if you tried to do motion graphics editing (ie. After Effects), but not quite as much with Photoshop. The benefit of having the new Air is that the Intel 4000 GPU is supported by Adobe's Mercury Engine in Creative Suite CS6.

    However, I am not using a TB Display, which does have a higher resolution. As long as you are not playing games at the native TB Display resolution, things should be similarly fluid and work just fine for desktop usage.

    I do graphic design work as well as web design and iOS programming, and the 13 inch Air is a fantastic machine, especially since I can not only "dock" it into a huge monitor at home, but I can take it to my office with no issues.

    But definitely get the 8 GB of RAM if you are serious about your graphic design work, since hopefully your increased productivity (and fewer computer slow downs) will "pay" for the $100 upgrade to the RAM.
  5. Zeke D macrumors 6502a

    Zeke D

    Nov 18, 2011
    Chalk another one up for designing on a MBA. I use cs3 still, so I don't know if newer versions will tax the MBA, but I use photoshop and dream weaver CS3 just fine.

    Minecraft tanks my MBA but I have a gen1, the newer ones are supposed to be much better.

    I don't do a lot of video and audio on my MBA, I prefer to use Logic Pro 8 and Final Cut Expess 4 on my G5 with a 40" monitor.
  6. KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    I work with graphic design for a living - and have used a MacBook Pro 15" with a non Apple monitor the last few years. But I just hate to bring the laptop with me and therefore I'm looking for something more portable but still powerful enough for my needs. And I just love the Thunderbolt display.

    So I guess the new MacBook Air would be enough for my graphic design needs. I would just like to hear from someone using the Thunderbolt display - if it is still fluid when having 5-6 apps open at a time...

    Now I have to decide whether to get the 11" i7 with 8GB or the 13" i5 with 8GB. I love the form factor of the 11" but I am leaning towards the better battery life and the screen realestate of the 13".
  7. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    One thing you might want to do is go to an Apple store and see if they have a Macbook Air connected to a TB display already, or ask a Genius if he or she can show you one.
  8. KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    I already did and with the apps on the MacBook Air in the store it worked fine - but of course they don't have all the creative apps that I use.

    I think it will handle it fine.
  9. KimHansenDK, Sep 15, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012

    KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    Will the i7 make a difference when multitasking? And could I make some light work in after effects?
  10. KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
  11. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    The i7 upgrade comes in at about 10% faster than the i5 *in benchmarks*. Realistically, this means that unless you are constantly taxing the CPU at 100%, you will not notice a difference.

    However, if you are doing rendering or Handbrake converting, for example, you will notice a difference of about 10%, but likely less.
  12. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    I'm running CS6 on my 11" i7 with 8GB RAM into a TBD. There's no lag; it's a seamless experience overall. I'm working with some fairly involved ID projects and the usual PS stuff, but no video editing to speak of.

    There's a world of difference between the '12 i7 and the '11 i5, especially with regard to lagging behind the TBD.

    I'd heartily recommend 8GB of RAM and the i7. The 11" mated to a TBD negates most of the advantages of the 13" MBA with the exception of the SD card slot. I do enjoy the portability of the 11", which outweighs the screen real estate considerations for me. When I have the 11" docked to the TBD, real estate is obviously a non-issue.
  13. KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    Thanks - this was the reply I was waiting for :)

    When I come to think about it. I don't think I will be using After Effects that often. The last year I have maybe used it three times. And I guess you can do the same on the Air - it just takes a bit longer to render etc. And for web/app/icon design it should be fine...

    So now I just have to decide whether to get the 11" or 13".
  14. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    I have 11", 13", and 15" with a TBD. If you're going MBA, you're best to get an MBA 13 with 8gb ram. You'll want that extra screen real estate when using CS6 on the go. The 2012 MBA drives the TBD slightly better compared to the 2011 model as the fan doesn't kick on as much; however, there was no lag in either one.
  15. m00min macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2012
    Another designer here, web design mostly along with front-end dev work, which requires me to run CS6 Photoshop and Illustrator, my IDE and Windows 7 running in Parallels. I'm running all of that on a 2012 i7 MBA 11 inch.

    I've got an older MBP 2010 that I haven't switched on in the month since I got the Air. In fact I just geekbenched them both this afternoon as I'm trying to decide whether to even bother keeping the Pro. The Air beats the Pro in all but six tests, I was actually quite surprised by this, I thought the discrete graphics would count for more.

    Geekbench scores (the MBP also has an SSD)
  16. macmastersam macrumors 6502a

    Sep 14, 2011
    Essex, england
    just get a 13" macbook pro and be done with it. At least you will have the satisfaction of knowing you can upgrade it later on :D
  17. tiwizard, Sep 16, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012

    tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    I wouldn't be so sure to jump to that conclusion. The TB Display, above everything else, will require graphics horsepower. The 13 inch Pro has the same integrated graphics (Intel 4000) as the Air.

    In addition, the 13 inch Pro only performs ~10% better in CPU benchmarks than the Air, at the expensive of more weight and a thicker computer. For reference, that's about the same jump from an i5 Air to an i7 Air-- not necessarily noticeable in day to day usage. Plus, the Air has a SSD, which *will* make a noticeable difference in day to day usage. See this comparison for MBP 13 inch vs MBA 13 inch (note, the memory configurations are not the same, and the Macbook Air does have an i7 configured.)

    Yes, get the 13 inch Pro if you *need* expandability, more storage space, or a CD drive/ethernet without external adapters, but otherwise I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. It really isn't *that* much more powerful, unlike the 15 inch Pro with a quad core processor.

    I wrote an in depth comparison with benchmark scores and real world usage differences on Macbook Tips.
  18. KimHansenDK, Sep 18, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012

    KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    So you guys think that the MacBook Air 2012 (8GB) and a Thunderbolt Display will be enough for web/app/icon design (also larger files) and only some light video editing? Usually I run Photoshop, Illustrator, Spotify and Safari (5-6 tabs) at the same time - maybe playing a video (series) as well.

    Will the Air + Thunderbolt Display be able to handle that without lag?

    I just bought the 13" Air (8GB) and is trying to decide whether to get the Thunderbolt Display or the 27" iMac. I prefer the Thunderbolt Display if the Air will be able to handle that :)
  19. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    Yeah, it should be. If you're near an Apple store you can always walk in and ask a Genius if you can hook up your Mac to one of the displays there so you can try it out, since you already have your Mac.

    There's an article about the differences between the Macbook Pro 13 inch and the Air 13 inch on my site, which contains a snippet about how powerful the Air really is and what it is capable of. It may or may not be useful to you, but in summary, your Air will handle those tasks just fine.

    Of course, it depends what "light video editing" is to you-- that will be the most demanding task by far if you are using professional software such as After Effects or Final Cut. Generally people using those programs have projects that are more complicated and harder for the Air to handle.
  20. KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    By light video editing I mean some video of my son. Nothing serious. As long as it can handle the graphic design work perfectly - as I work with that for a living - I'm fine with it :)
  21. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    Yep, you should have no problem. I also do graphic design work and programming for work, and I haven't really had much of an issue :)

    As for video editing, even 1080p footage in iMovie works just fine-- it takes a while to render, but editing it is fine.

    I haven't tried my huge After Effects project though-- I didn't even bother on my older MBP because it slowed down so badly, but it should at least be a little better on the newer Air...
  22. c.s. macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2007
    Here's a pretty good thread on the topic already.

    I use the i7 with 8 GB of RAM and 27" and it's blazing.
  23. KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    Hmm I just tested out the 3D function in Illustrator - trying to create some basic 3D text and it was painfully slow on the Air. Well it was acceptable when creating it, but when I moved the objects around it took like forever to move one bit at the time.

    I don't know if that is just the Air struggling - or if this is a common thing in Illustrator. Can't remember my MacBook Pro having that issue.

    Maybe I will have to buy that iMac after all...
  24. KimHansenDK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2011
    I just tried doing the 3D stuff in Illustrator on a windows machine with 2GB graphics card at work - and the problem was still there. So this might just be painfully slow in Illustrator. So no need to buy the iMac instead. I tried everything else with the Air yesterday - working in larger Illustrator and Photoshop files and the Ait handled it perfectly. Really fast.

    So for web/icon/logo/app design the Air is more than enough! :)

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