MBA 13" Ultimate on Lightroom, Starcraft 2

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by BiscottiGelato, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. BiscottiGelato macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2011
    I was sorely disappointed by the recent MBP refresh, which I have been looking forward to all year. I was hoping for Optical drive removal, hoping for blade type SSD, but with dedicated graphics and backlit keyboard. I was prepared to shell out top dollars for a 15" if that happens.

    With the let down, I made up my mind to wait another year, to see what the next MBA refresh and even the 2012 MBP redesign will bring.

    And then my C2D desktop went bust... I have to either underclock my PCI-E slot or overvoltage my PCI-E slot for anything to show up on POST. And even at that it's intermitten... I don't know if it's worth the $ and effort fixing, especially if I need to possibly do a reinstall if a MoBo replacement is in order... or if I should just buy a new rig...

    So, here comes to the main question... How bad is a 13" MBA Ultimate as my main computer? What I plan to do with it is...

    - Lightroom 3 with 18Mpix RAW files (from Canon 7D).
    - Occassional Photoshopping of these 18Mpix files. Not more than half a dozen layers usually
    - Starcraft 2, up to 4 v 4 ladder games (potentially 800/800 supplies on screen), or 4 v 4 custom games (potentially 300~400 supplies per player). Gonna drive a 1680x1050 external display for this. Currently running Medium on my 07 C2D rig with my crappy video card
    - Expect to drive 1080p HDTV for stuff like Youtube HD, etc.

    Will a 13" MBA Ultimate be running smooth for the above scenarios? Or will it crawl? I half expect that anything I buy for almost 2k will at least be slightly faster than my current PC rig (2.5GHz C2D w/ 4GB DDR2 RAM, RAID 1 HDDs) fo things like LR3 and Photoshop. I don't think I can live with playing SC2 at Low settings either...

    Am I asking way too much out of a MBA and probably should pay 200 and spend a weekend fixing my rig and wait for something better down the road? Please shed some light! THx!!
  2. stockscalper macrumors 6502a


    Aug 1, 2003
    Area 51
    Somebody will probably have more experience with photo finishing than me, but I can give you some idea. I don't have Lightroom, but use Canon DPP and PHotoshop on raw files from my 1D Mark III and they do just fine. In fact, the MBA Ultimate is smoother and faster than my previous 15" MBP. Now, mind you the files from my Mark III are 10 mp, but they are big files due to it being a pro camera.

    Basically, I haven't thrown anything at the MBA that it hasn't handled better than my previous MBP, but I don't do really heavy stuff. I'm sure if I did some video files or something intensive with Handbrake I might see a slow down. But so far I've been real pleased with how Apple has engineered this thing to take out the bottlenecks you typically run into with laptops.
  3. Gemütlichkeit macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2010
    They at least need an option for the MBP optical drive to be removed and have a larger SSD array.

    Basically use all that room for a pimped out system, more battery/HDD space.
  4. BiscottiGelato thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    No one tried playing SC2 ladder Medium graphics on MBA Ultimate 13"?
    How does Lightroom performance compare to Core i5 offerings? Thanks!
  5. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    Lightroom isn't great in that scenario. Nowhere near the new Mbp.

    Honestly why not get the 13mbp? It's cheaper and way more powerful.
  6. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I can answer for Starcraft II. You will not get a smooth experience with medium settings at 1680x1050. I run it at native res and initially had it on medium everything. It started out at around mid-30s fps and dropped to the mid-20s early game and as low as single digits in large fights (I generally do 2v2 and 3v3 but also sometimes 1v1 or 4v4). I've now gone to a mix of medium and low settings, and that gets me a few more fps. All medium on a higher than native res will NOT be a good experience, especially if you play 4v4. Sorry. Honestly, this is the one disappointment with my 13" ultimate, as it does everything else I want extremely well.
  7. keviikev macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2010
    Using my MBA ultimate with LR 3.3 and PS to process my 7D raw files without issues. I have no clue what starcraft 2 is.
  8. chenry macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2011
    I'm running LR3 on my MBA 11 1.4/4G with 5D RAW files. It can handle it, but its quite slow to render the images. For light work in the Develop module and exporting JPEGs its OK, but I think for heavy image processing on multiple files its going to be taxed.

    Its usable but the CPU can get overwhelmed. For photo's I really use it as a storage device, and any real image editing can wait until I get home and transfer the images to a more powerful machine.

    I also have CS5 installed, but can't recall having to use it yet, but given the screen resolution and CPU its going to be painful.

    The wife has the 13 MBA with the upgrades (I hate calling it the 'Ultimate') but she uses Aperture and its quite nippy when processing her 550D RAW files.

    Personally, I can put up with the slower CPU given its portability (it fits in my Domke).

    - Colin
  9. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    The biggest hindrance for my MBA 13 Ultimate for heavy CS5/LR3 use with my D700 RAW files is the lack of hi-speed ports on the MBA for transfers/backups. The WirelessN never really runs as fast as advertised and the lack of a FW800/Thunderbolt ports is a time killer for me. The CPU is also easily taxed with raw editing in lightroom 3. My 2011 MBP 15 2.2 sandy bridge is more than twice as fast for image editing. It's not even funny...

    PS you're working with 17MP files, which will be even slower than my 'lowly' 12MP files.
  10. BiscottiGelato thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2011
    It seems like a 13" Ultimate won't be enough to cut it. Don't think I'd want to pay 2k for anything that would be less capable than my old C2D desktop. I am going to see if paying a few hundred to repair my old rig would be feasible and wait either for a MBP with the optical drive removed, or a more competitent MBA. Thanks for all the feedback!
  11. keviikev macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2010
    In LR 3.3 a 25MB raw file is processed to 107MB psd file in 7 seconds on my MBA ultimate.

    From reading your post you claim a 7200rpm drive on MBA 15'' 2011 writes a file this large in 3-4 seconds?
  12. keviikev, Mar 13, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2011

    keviikev macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2010
    As a 7D owner and MBA 13" ultimate owner I politely disagree.The MBA is my only computer. This picture was taken with 7D and processed in LR 3.3. The new MBP are faster but MBA Ultimate is more than capable of being a photo editing solution. I am processing large files over 100MB in less than 8 seconds on average.

  13. josh2012 macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2010
    Just have to say that is an astonishing picture, love it :apple:
  14. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Nothing stopping you for doing it. 512GB SSD is over $1000.

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