MBA 11 or 13 or RMBP advice

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by tannyboy, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. tannyboy macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2004
    Hi All,

    I know this is been done to death, but i hope the Macrumors faithful can give me a hand.

    I've been looking at upgrading my 15' MBP (2008) to a MBA for the past couple of months but the RMBP had put another computer into the fray.

    Here's my lay of the digital land.

    - I design (Photoshop/Illustrator/Pixelmator), I code(Sublime edit), I take photographs (using Aftershot Pro as my main RAW editor) and dabble in a bit of Video work (far from primary use). My camera has CF cards, so the SD card reader is a non issue.

    - I currently have a 24' Dell that i hook my MBP up to and use that as an external.

    - My partner is going overseas later in the year and would like a laptop to travel with (leaving me at home to look after our dogs and taking her mum overseas). Looking at a laptop to buy now but she can take with her for a few weeks, put her dSLR raw files on while travelling.

    - Original iPad for just couch web surfing, casual games and videos.

    My Questions

    1) Would the MBA have enough grunt to RAW process/photoshop and edit the odd video (probably iMovie - have FC Express floating around if need be)?

    2) Is 11' plenty real estate or would i regret not getting a 13' (FYI, partner is leaning towards the 11')

    3) Anyone moved from a MBA to the bigger RMBP ? or bigger (non R)MBP and regretted?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. h00ligan, Jun 15, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012

    h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert


    No idea.

    You are a bit scattered. Name tue top three most important things to you. No more than three.
  3. stevelam macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2010
    i think people are vastly exaggerating whats needed for typical digital design work. the MBA will be just fine.

    here are some links from a designer and a developer (take note these were for the 2011 models, so 2012 MBA will be even better):

    as a developer/designer myself, i actually have the retina macbook on order right now but i am considering canceling it and just getting an upgraded MBA instead. i am not convinced the web is ready for desktop retina display yet and i'd save about $1000.

    as for screen real estate, i ALWAYS work with an external monitor. 11", 13", 15" are all too small imo.
  4. dmelgar macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005
    Thats quite a range of requirements.

    Given working on images, video etc. the retina seems ideal. You should have an idea of how portable/non-portable it is based on your current 15" MBP.

    At the other extreme, the 11" MBA can be a very powerful machine, but the display is clearly small. You could limit yourself to a 1366x768 window on your 15" MBP and see if there's enough detail within that space. It won't get the physical size right, but will give you an idea what fits in those pixels.

    Seems that you need to decide which is most important. Portability or clear display? I would tend to think any of them would have enough power. You should also decide how realistic it is to work while not plugged into an external monitor. I have a 2010 11" MBA thats ok while on the go, but at home I often (but not always) plug into a 28" monitor.
  5. LYFK macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2007
  6. dmelgar macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005
  7. PeterJP macrumors 6502


    Feb 2, 2012
    Leuven, Belgium
    Hi Tanny,

    As others pointed out, you have several confused messages in your original post. What do you want the machine for ? Is it for travel & photography on the road ? Is it to connect to the 24" and to do coding ? Or do you code on the road while travelling ? That makes a big difference.

    My take on the machines you mention:
    • 11": compare this to an iPad or a PDA. You can take it everywhere, yet still get things done. More than powerful enough to process photos or to code but if you want to do that extensively, you will want an external screen.
    • 13": this is laptop territory. I can't use laptops on the sofa, but I can do that with an 11". So the 13" is just a laptop that's more convenient. Mostly more vertical real estate, which is convenient if you need it. The MBA is the smallest and lightest laptop you'll find.
    • 15": extremely impressive feat of engineering. It's a big laptop, though, so more weight to carry when travelling. If you want a computer that will mostly stay fixed on a desk with some occasional travel (commute, walking to a meeting room, ...), then this is no issue. Not for hotel-hopping assignments.

    So, what do you want ? A machine that travels but compromises on desk usability ? Or a great office machine that compromises on travelability (yeah, neologisms !) ?

    If you have time, please do consider the 13" Retina MacBook Pro rumours :D

  8. Galatian macrumors 6502


    Dec 20, 2010
    I have just recently switched from my late 2008 MacBook Pro (2,53 GHz, 8 GB Ram, 256 GB SSD, nVidia 9600M GT) to the 13" 2012 base model MacBook Air.

    The processor - although ULV - is twice as fast as the Core 2 Duo, so you can get a lot of things done. If you need the extra oomph you can always opt for the i7 2,0 GHz one and the 8 GB Ram option, but question remains, how much you are willing to spend for a (questionable) marginal increase. The graphic card is of course not comparable (HD4000 ULV vs. discrete 9600M GT) but it appears to me that Mac OS X generally has a lack of programs actually supporting graphic cards assisted computing.

    The reason why I've gone with the 13" vs. 11" is for one the screen estate (especially the lack of vertical space seemed to hinder me on word and other office programs) and mire importantly the longer battery life. I can say the battery last easily 3 - 4 times as long as on my old MacBook Pro on my work load.

    The rMBP is of course another beast. The screen is great why could be important for graphical works, but question is how serious are you about this? It is big and heavy compared to the MacBook Air but perfect if you need a "portable workstation" and use this as a desktop replacement.
  9. bit density macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2004
    The rMBP is totally WAY too much machine for a 3 week trip somewhere. It costs too much, it is way too heavy, and if used only for holding images, just way too much.

    But her a netbook it will work fine for this. Or if YOU are willing to give up YOUR computer for that length of time, this is pretty indicative that the rMBP is probably more than you need. And that portability is probably more important.

    HOWEVER, if this is going to be the machine you live in for graphics, then get the rMBP. It is not for the reasons that everyone suspects, but for the fact that you will have the most comfortable workspace on a 15 inch screen. The image area and your tools will all fit on the same screen and be simply the best real estate for getting all your work done. This doesn't mean that you CAN'T do it on the lesser machines, just that you will like your life way more if that is the case.

    If you really don't live there, then you can talk about the compromises. My 11" is the computer I have waited my whole life for. It is fast enough, small enough, lasts long enough, the trackpad, the keyboard, it is simply the best machine for MY needs that I have ever used. I have a desktop machine that I can use for my real computing machine. I use my laptop everywhere else. Sometimes it's a compromise, most of the time it isn't.

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