Macbook PRO vs Macbook AIR app development

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by staradder, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. staradder macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2011
    ok guys, Need one more piece of advice from experienced users here. I am an indie iphone/android app developer. Currently with a 2010 mac mini.

    I wanted to up my productivity by getting a portable device and using it when im on the bus or somewhere else where i could spare time.

    Now i know the benefits of both these devices on paper but how does the macbook air fair with photoshop? Honest opinions please. Does it stutter or lag or show any kind of resistance? Its is imperative that you guys understand i need a "lag-less" environment.

    My main programs ill be using is xcode/eclipse and photoshop but in the future should my app render some profits ill be moving on the 3d game development. But that would probably be next year or so. Advice please thanks.
  2. merrickdrfc macrumors 6502


    Jan 8, 2011
    I use a 2011 MacBook Air for iOS/Droid and WP7 development. I have the 13" 1.7 i5 / 4GB / 128GB SSD and Photoshop, Xcode, Eclipse and Visual Studio 2010 run perfectly on it.

    Both are capable machines, but the MacBook Air will be faster due to the SSD, and also is much more portable. The screen res on the MBA is also 1440x900 vs 1280x800 in the MBP, meaning that it is slightly better for programming.

    IMO I would go for the MBA 13" over the MBP 13"
  3. staradder thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2011
    Ok im going to take your word for it and get the mba.. thanks for ur input!
  4. tortura macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2011
    if you have a bit more money

    If you had more money, i´d say go for 15" even 17"

    i am it-engineer and using 17" for developing.

    i can say, even 17" is sometimes to small.
    Using a wave generator etc, or even go through hundreds line of code, you might be better with a bigger screen
  5. staradder thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2011
    I have this covered. Ill be using my monitor when it comes down to heavy coding. The main purpose of me buying a macbook is so i can code on the go like when im at places where i can spare time. So I think ill be getting the 13 inch if im getting the macbook pro. Just cant decide between the frigging two. Both are amazing in their own aspects :confused:
  6. davegoody macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2003
    Reading, Berkshire, England
    13" MBA and an external Monitor

    Photoshop runs great on the MBA, so long as you remember you only have 4GB of RAM to play with - definitely not a good idea to run it on 2GB though. Storage is the biggest issue, though if you are happy to archive all non-live / non-essential stuff to an external drive then this is a non-issue. Also as one of the other posters has stated the 13" MBA has a higher resolution than the 13" MBP, the same resolution in fact, as my 15" MBP. Use an external monitor whilst at home / office and you will be fine ! Good luck.
  7. Little Rich macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2005
    I'm having the same predicament, I've just sold my 2008 MBP 15" with the intention of downsizing in order to travel around easier and I'm torn between the 13" macbook air & 13" macbook pro.

    MBA Pros:

    • Thin & Lightweight
      SSD as standard
      High resolution
      Glossy screen has some kind of reflective prevention filter

    MBA Cons:

    • Only x2 USB2 ports, no firewire, no ethernet
      Max 4gb RAM
      Slower processor

    MBP Pros

    • Faster Processor
      RAM upgradable to 8gb
      Upgradable HD to SSD
      x1 Thunderbolt, x1 FW 800, x2 USB2, SDXC

    MBP Cons

    • Looks damn ugly and bulky next to a MBA
      Lower resolution
      Super glossy screen in comparison to MBA
      Weight nearly double MBA

    I think the question is what is going to hold value when the time comes to selling it?
  8. staradder thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2011
    Have you decided on what to go for man? Im still quite stumped :(
  9. Little Rich macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2005

    Hi dude, yep made a choice after a lot of consideration and went for the high end i7 MacBook Air... A mac user for 11 years and I can honestly say it's feels like the most solid piece of kit I've owned (having previously both pro & home Apple hardware) and the speed/responsiveness of the os and apps is seriously outstanding in comparison to my 4 yr old macbook pro.
    What sold it is the screen, high resolution and when sat next to the MBP with big glass panes behind the difference in screen glare was staggering - Air winning by a long shot! It's quite deceptive to look at too and feels like the 15" mbp. Was happy to take a hit on the performance because it's mainly going to be a travel machine and not for continuous intensive dev use but felt it's worth getting the extra processor power if needed along the way.

    Let us know how you get on / what you decide to go for.
  10. Titanium81 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2011

    Does Color Gamut have no effect on your work?

    The Air has significantly less color gamut than the Pro.
  11. staradder thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2011
    Okay, i went with the MBA too.. the higher end one with 256 gb but with i5 as this set was in offer.. original price with free iworks and applecare. Ill keep you posted on how it is soon!
  12. nspindel macrumors member

    Sep 12, 2011
    Remember the new Air has Thunderbolt. I have the Thunderbolt Display, which gives the MBA more USB ports, Firewire 800, and Gigabit Ethernet. Works like a charm. I realize it's quite an expensive way to get these things, but I'm sure there will be a product out soon enough that gives you similar hub functionality without being integrated into a screen. I have mine hooked up to my gigabit, and have two firewire 800 devices daisy chained off of it. A setup like this simply cannot be beat. And for what it's worth, the Thunderbolt Display is just gorgeous. Pricey, but gorgeous.
  13. r018u macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2010
    What are you talking about? My Oct 2008 Aluminum Macbook Pro 15" has a max resolution of 1440 x 900...

    Edit: are we only talking 13" models?
  14. Titanium81 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2011
    To the OP.

    You stated that you need a "lag-less" environment.

    If you need a "lag-less environment" while using xcode/eclipse and Photoshop then moving on to 3d game development, the 4GB Ram limit and the lack of a dedicated GPU in the MacBook Air is really going to make your experience far from "lag-less".

    I would get a 15" High Res MBP. Then upgrade the ram to 8GB and put in an SSD drive from OWC.

    You would have one sweet mobile power house that would handle any thing you throw at it. :)
  15. staradder thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2011
    This was exactly what i was debating about 13inch macbook air or 15inch macbook pro. I decided to go with the air as i still have a 2010 mac mini, with a dedicated gpu at least.

    I can upgrade that to 8gb ram and get an ssd for it and i think i can use that as my main desktop.

    Ill be getting it this thursday so for anyone else curious, Ill check it out and post my review on it
  16. nakshatraa macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2012
    Android App Development

    Apple Hardware Topic in this forum describes about the Apple Products.

  17. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Pretty sure only the 2011 mini was the first mini to get a dedicated GPU. Although the 320M is fairly capable.

    I'd choose the MBA - sounds like you're looking for something to work with on the go, and your more likely to take the Air more places more often.
  18. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Assuming display is a non issue (i.e., you will be connecting to external display such as Thunderbolt Display as needed), here are my concerns.
    • Android development is generally done on Eclipse, a Java-based behemoth that has appetite for RAM. 4 GB is the bare minimum for getting reasonable performance out of Eclipse (which needs at least 512 MB for itself, ideally 1 GB, and additional 512 MB to 1 GB for running Android runtime).
    • Frequently rewriting files over and over (saving source code periodically) can cause SSD to wear out quickly, each block having about 10,000 write cycles. At the very least, get much larger SSD than you will need to decrease premature wearing (at least twice as much as you will be using).
    Aside from those two concerns, I do like the idea of MBA though. My 15" MBP feels very bulky in comparison.
  19. JustDom89 macrumors member


    May 7, 2008
    I'm seeing more and more developers that use MBA as their main computer.
  20. Eddy Munn macrumors 6502

    Eddy Munn

    Dec 27, 2008
    I would sell the Mac Mini and push for a refurbished 2011 17" MacBook Pro, throw in a 3rd party SSD and you're laughing.
    Great screen size and resolution for development, plenty of processing power for anything you would ever need.
  21. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    The MacBook Air is fine for Photoshop for light use (by which I mean things that wouldn't benefit from a discrete GPU). The 13" MacBook Air has the better screen resolution over the 13" Pro, but realistically, if you're serious about Photoshop, you'll use an external display in which case the resolution disparity between the 13" machines is more or less a moot point. Plus, for how light the MacBook Air is (and really if that's a big issue for you, physical therapy might be in order), you can't really beef up the SSD capacity or the RAM, whereas you can up both on the MacBook Pros. As for the speed of the MacBook Airs, slap an SSD into a MacBook Pro and you'll suddenly see it running circles around the Airs.

    I'm also rocking a 2010 Mac mini, and what I'm going to do is sell and replace it with a 15" MacBook Pro and a NAS. Personally, I need the dedicated GPU for gaming and video editing. You might not, though I'd still recommend the 15" either way over the 13" (given that it's such a large leap forward), plus the larger screen can be nice for tracking lots of lines of code. There's nothing wrong with your Mac mini as there's nothing wrong with mine; you might want to keep yours in addition to whatever you end up buying; though I'm starting to adopt the belief that I don't need multiple Macs, I just need one really good one. Best of luck.

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