MBA 13" replacement for iMac (late 2009)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ojwk, May 2, 2011.

  1. ojwk macrumors regular


    Sep 5, 2007
    I currently have the base model 21.5" late 2009 iMac (3.06GHz C2D, 4GB 1067 MHz, 500GB etc..) and am thinking about replacing it with a MacBook Air.

    I bought the machine in January 2010 and am a bit apprehensive in getting rid of it.

    At the time a laptop wasn't necessary but having a desktop is fast becoming a nuisance. I much prefer the large screen and numeric keyboard and mouse of the iMac to those of laptops but with the traveling I'm doing I don't really think keeping my iMac is practical.

    The 13" MacBook Air is the only laptop I would consider with its flash memory and high-res screen. Screen resolution is very important to me and having flash memory seems like a no brainer.

    Mainly for iWork, iTunes, internet and mail
    Frequent editing of 18MP RAW photos in Aperture/Photoshop
    Graphic design in Illustrator and Photoshop, web-layouts in Photoshop
    Very occasional video editing in FCP (footage shot on iPhone 4 converted to ProRes)
    Would like to be able to run some legacy games, would probably need space for a bootcamp partition (as I have on my iMac) or happily use virtualisation software to run old games requiring minimal GPU acceleration if you guys think it would run ok. (Age of Empires II, Stronghold Crusader, Medieval Total War 2)

    Needs to be able to handle Lion and FCP X when released.

    Basically I will be waiting for the next revision of the MBA at any rate. I don't know when it will come but I'm in no great rush. Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge seems worthwhile to wait despite losing the nvidia GPU..

    My main concern is really losing the large screen the iMac affords. I briefly considered getting a 27" cinema display but costs soon mount up. I don't know if there are any 1080p 21" displays out there that support mini-dp natively. If not I guess i'll just get one with DVI input.

    My questions are really:
    1. Will the MBA be good enough for my modest requirements?
    2. Do rumours/speculation suggest that the next MBA will support 8GB RAM?
    2.1 If they do then is 8GB useful for what I'm doing or will the bottleneck be the low-voltage CPU?
    3. Running legacy games on Mac OS via parallels/vmware. Which is better or is bootcamp required?
    3.1 I don't think its possible but can Windows be installed on an external HDD for bootcamp? I'm pretty sure this is impossible. Equally, is Windows XP still supported in bootcamp?
    4. Any high pixel-density mini-dp (failing that DVI) display that you can recommend? Around 20-24" is preferable.
    5. Best slim sleeve for 13" mba. This one looks ok.
    6. And finally a very subjective one. What should I do with my iMac? If I don't get a large monitor I'm inclined to keep it but at the same time I don't want my work and life spread across multiple computers, no matter how useful iDisk, Dropbox et al are. I would sell it but it probably wouldn't fetch a very good price. Its in immaculate condition but what with the new ones out soonish I think I'd only get around £400 for it - if that. Might give it to my parents if thats the case.

    I was going to post these questions in separate forums but I thought that would be a bit spammy. Apologies for consolidating all my questions into one post.

    Many thanks,

  2. Karr271 macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2011

    i think it will be great, especially once it get sandy bridge. you might want to upgrade the processor to help things run smoothly since you do some power editing. and the SSD will greatly make things run smoothly.

    2)im not sure if they'll have 8gb of ram in the MBA anytime soon and if so, i think it'll be fine and the processor should not be a bottleneck.

    3) running windows virtually will use more ram, as you'll have os x and windows running at the same time. With boot camp, all of the ram can be used for windows. but if they are legacy games, they won't require much ram.

    4) some dell monitors use miniDP and come in large sizes. you can also use a miniDP-HDMI adapter to hook up to a 1080p monitor or TV that can also do audio out.

    5) not too sure on the sleeves, although i personally use a Timbuk2 sleeve and i love it!!

    6) maybe you can sell your imac for around $800 and buy a nice monitor for around $200

    hope i helped with your questions.
  3. ojwk thread starter macrumors regular


    Sep 5, 2007
    Thanks for your reply, very insightful.

    I'm never really that sure about upgrading processors in the same generation as it were. Eg. the 1.8GHz C2D to the 2.13 in the current MBA. I doubt, for example, that the 2.13 one will be 18% faster than the 1.8GHz model. Not that I expect performance to scale linearly but I'd be surprised if it was anything more than 10% faster. I may well be wrong though.

    Also I'm guessing that with the sandy bridge MBA the processors on offer will be i5/i7 rather than both i5 for example.

    Not sure if the difference between 4-8GB in the MBP is big. Would quite like to see some benchmarks on that.

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