Most bang for my buck? RAM or processor?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mynameistom, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. mynameistom macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    #1
    Hi everyone,

    I'm going to be making a purchase on one of the new 13" 256GB MBA's when my next pay day hits, and I was wondering which one of the configurable upgades (can't really afford to do both) would give the most noticeable speed difference, and provide the most future proofing.

    Should I opt for the 2.0 GHZ i7 (up from 1.8 i5 - £120 extra) or the 8GB RAM (up from 4BG - £80 extra)?

    I work in TV production so out on the road I will often be working on multiple documents, researching using plenty of active tabs in Safari, as well as running iTunes, Twitter, Mail, Skype, Dropbox, Bowtie etc.

    I will also be needing to do a lot of transferring of footage from CF cards via a card reader to external drives (yay for USB 3!).

    Outside of work I do a bit of photo editing in Aperture, but noting too professional, just the odd polish and tweak here and there. It would be nice to have that option when I'm mobile, but I can always do it on my iMac if it will be too much heavy lifting for the Air.

    Any advice appreciated. :)

    Thanks!
     
  2. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida
    #2
    In this case, RAM for sure. But given the low price of both, I'd save some extra cash and get both. Its not like you are getting the 512gb SSD...
     
  3. palpatine macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #3
    Normally, for regular folk like me, I'd say stick with the base configuration. But, given your usage, you do seem like someone who could really benefit from the spec bumps. I would definitely consider upgrading both.
     
  4. brig2221 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    #5
    Complely agree. There aren't many situations where I would ever think upgrading the chip (incremental upgrade) would be better than upgrading RAM, that is unless you are talking about upgrading from 8 to 16, or 16 to 32, where you mostly likely won't ever notice the difference due to the large amount.

    In your case, moving from 4-8GB of RAM should produce noticeable results, much more so than upgrading to an i7 chip IMHO.
     
  5. currahee2100 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    #6
    You said the magic words, "transferring footage"... in your case I would opt for a MacBook pro 15" with a true quad core IF you're going to be doing some light editing. The i7 is only a dual core in the MBA. My i5 MBA 13" took 30 minutes encoding gaming video to 1080p...
     
  6. Brett.F macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Location:
    Manhattan, NY
    #7
    My honest opinion is if you're buying a $1500 laptop, and you're questioning if you should upgrade a component that cost only $100 more compared to the entire cost of the computer, you probably shouldn't be buying the computer at all.

    But if you really want the computer and had to choose between one of the two, then I would definitely recommend the RAM.
     
  7. OptyCT macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #8
    I'm in the same boat as the OP. Most likely, I'll be opting for both the upgraded processor and RAM. Regarding the processor, it looks like you get a 13% performance boost (per Geekbench), for a 6.7% cost increase ($100 added to $1,499). That's a win! The RAM is more difficult to quantify. However, you can bet the type of RAM used in the new MBA's will be very expensive. $100 to double your memory will probably turn out to be a pretty good deal.
     
  8. mynameistom thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    #9
    Thanks for advice everyone.

    My thinking was that upgrading both would also put me well over the cost of a 13 Pro. While I do put some value in the extra portability and higher res screen, it's not worth that much to me that I'd pay a fair chunk more than I could get the Pro which obviously has more power under the hood.

    I'm surprised at the suggestion that this machine might struggle with data transfer. Isn't that more to do with the external drive/USB 3? How much say does the power of the processor have?
     
  9. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida
    #10
    Well, you either need a Pro or you don't. These two systems are not in the same league. Portability vs. power. Pick one and run with it. :cool:
     
  10. mynameistom thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    #11
    Well my inital thoughts were that I didnt need the power of a Pro, and portability is a big plus when travelling. The suggestion in the thread that the i5 processor might not be up to moving large file sizes between media raised a question mark...
     
  11. palpatine macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #12
    I assumed you had already decided on portability, and so that is why you were talking about the 13" MBA, but given your work, the quad core, screen size, and customizable RAM (up to 16GB?) in the 15" MBP would be much better for your use. At least, that is how it looks to me.
     
  12. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida
    #13
    That suggestion would be inaccurate.
     
  13. jimmy5150 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    #14
    I can't speak to data transfer, but you really answered your own question right here. If you are constantly working with multiple applications open at once, more RAM will give you a huge increase in performance.

    Then again, if you've got the cash, both are quite good bang for the buck upgrades.
     
  14. mynameistom thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    #15
    I dont think I need the extra screen real estate or 16GB RAM to be honest, and portability is a key consideration. As I said, photo editing is something I do for fun, and I have an iMac for that.

    I know I will have to do a fair bit of data wrangling on the road so obvioulsy I need a machine that can handle that. I had assumed the Air would be more than capable.
     
  15. palpatine macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #16
    It certainly can, but I suppose it depends on how much heat, fan noise, etc. you can tolerate.

    Ideally, it would be nice to sit down with a friend's 13" and give it a go in a "typical" day of use. If it runs fine on the 2011 model, then you'll be fine with 2012 :)
     
  16. dona83 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2004
    Location:
    Coquitlam, BC
    #17
    If you can only upgrade one, the RAM for sure.
     
  17. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida
    #18
    The USB 3.0 interface is sweeeeet. It cut down my file transfer times to/from an external drive in half.
     
  18. mynameistom thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    #19
    Generally when I'm doing transfers it'll be after a shoot has wrapped and I'll just set it going at my hotel and watch TV or have some music playing, maybe browse the net. It's not like I'll be multi-tasking and running multiple programmes like I would when I'm on set working.

    I'm thinking that if the crappy Dell laptop work sends me out with can handle it, an MBA could too. :cool:
     
  19. palpatine macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #20
    Agreed! Maybe I misread your post, but from what you said here, the MBA would be perfect :)

    Sometimes it seems that people on the forums want a computer that could do everything from the most hardcore game to email, and they want the computer to run cool, fast, and with long battery life. You seem to know pretty well what the parameters of the machine are, and you are just here for confirmation about the best way to get the most out of your money. I think you already knew the answer to that, though, as well :)
     
  20. Logos327 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    #21
    I honestly think the Air will handle your workload quite admirably. And if you are carting this thing around all the time, the extra portability of the air is a huge factor.

    As others said, definitely go with the RAM if you only choose one. I also doubt you would see noticeable differences between the i5 and the i7 in most of your uses.
     
  21. amien macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2012
    #22
    Any one knows what the impact of the i7 is? Heat and battery wise
     
  22. currahee2100 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    #23
    Oh well in the case of no video encoding I recommend the ram. CPU power increase is trivial ... it maybe 10% faster but its also faster clock speed wise and I don't think you would need more... last night I had safari running, a lot of background apps, and team fortress 2 and the i5 seemed to handle it fine.
     
  23. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida
    #24
    Minimal.
     
  24. amien macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2012
    #25
    Any benchmarks, articals on this yet?
     

Share This Page