Need help purchasing a apple laptop (2013)!!

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Athelonious, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. Athelonious macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2013
    Hello MacRumors! <3

    Longtime voyeur, first time poster. :)

    My '07 laptop is barely crawling so it's time to get a new one! I'd really like some suggestions.

    I'm pretty sure I want the macbook air. I love how light it is and I think that I will be able to get everything I need from it as far as a portable workstation.

    Mostly I prepare documents, surf the web, do research, watch videos and do some video and sound editing/recording.

    The one other thing I'd be doing is some gaming! Probably the most demanding thing on any computer, I know!

    I have no idea what games require these days and so I'd really like to know what is most important. I'm very aware this isn't a gaming rig, but I'd still like to maximize its potential! :D

    Basically, I think I'll need at least 256gb harddrive space in the long run, so that's a no-brainer. With my budget, I can also afford to upgrade either the processor (from i5 to i7) or the memory (4gb to 8gb), but not both. Which of these would be more useful for gaming these days?



    I'm open to all sorts of suggestions about getting a laptop. :)


    EDIT: Another question is what aspect of my computer will be the most useful to have upgraded in the future? Ram or processor or storage?

    Kind of feel out to sea...
  2. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

    Jul 28, 2006
    The limiting factor for most games will be the GPU and not the CPU or RAM. Others may disagree but I don't think you'll see that much of a difference for games with either upgrade, however out of the two I would go for the RAM upgrade as that will help to avoid running out of memory if you either have a lot of applications open or use memory intensive applications (some games).

    Maybe take a look at AnandTech's Review of the MacBook Air with regards to the CPU.

    I'm not sure whether you mean which would be the most useful to upgrade now, for the future. Or whether you mean which would be the most useful to upgrade in the future.

    Just in-case it's the later, note that you cannot upgrade either the RAM or the CPU once you have bought a MacBook Air as both are soldered onto the motherboard. Whereas the storage can be upgraded, however it is a custom PCIe SSD so there are (and likely will always be) only a couple of choices for third party upgrades.

    For the future I would go for more RAM, as storage can be upgraded later either internally or externally (USB3 hard drive/memory stick, ThunderBolt, SD card, Networked storage).
  3. yosemit macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2013
    i5/8GB/256GB is a sweet point. i7 is about 15-20+% faster than i5, but most time the extra performance may not be needed.
  4. Athelonious thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2013
    Thanks for your replies! :D

    What I'm hearing is that they are both the RAM and the CPU good upgrades.

    AnandTech's article was really quite good. Those small processing time differences for technical work don't really draw me in. I don't do enough of that kind of stuff to care about it being done a little faster.

    It would be great though, if my computer didn't get bogged down by multi-tasking activities. For example, if I wanted to run some video editing software, a web browser (with some media open) and a word processor, I'd probably want to have the 8gb ram to ensure that things are running smoothly? I tend to multitask.

    Is it correct to assume that RAM allows you to have more processes happening at the same time, whilst it is the CPU that determines how fast the processes are completed? Do their jobs overlap a bit?

    I'd like to be able to multitask and also run games without the framerate slowing to a crawl. Is it ram that allows the multitasking and CPU that keeps the framerate up? - When I ask this I'm trying to understand yosemit's answer.

    What is the sweetness of that spot? Please elaborate. What would the 15-20% extra speed give me in terms of playing games? Better framerate? How much does the extra 4gb of ram contribute to the sweetness?

    Thanks! :)
  5. TwoCybers macrumors newbie

    May 18, 2010
    I am going to suggest you consider the 13 inch MacBook Pro. Cost of the top of the line 13 inch Air and a 256GB MBP are very close. The MBP has better performance specs.

    The big differences are battery life and cooling. The Air has one smaller cooling fan vs 2 larger fans on the MBP. When the Air gets pushed hard, it will slow down the CPU and the fan at 6,000 RPMs sounds like a kitchen vent.

    I have a Mid 2013 Air and my wife has a late 2013 MBP. I think both units will blow your socks off in terms of speed. Mavericks is excellent in terms of RAM management - 8GB is plenty.

    That Retina display is amazing.

    Finally a comment about battery usage - about the worst thing one can do in terms of battery life is run the battery down. The further down the greater the damage. There is a reason Apple says the battery life is X (want to say 300) cycles. When you are near a plug, keep it plugged in. Work to avoid running the battery below 50% of full charge. If you do this, changes are your battery will never need replacement. Any as you undoubtedly know, battery replacement on either an Air or MBP is not easy or inexpensive.
  6. B... macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    Most of this is misleading information. First of all, Apple says battery life is 1000 cycles down to 80% (normal wear), not 300 cycles. And it's a laptop---it's meant to be used while not plugged in and it is not bad for the battery to drop below 50%. Lastly, batteries need replacements when you get to 5+ years in regardless if you never let it go below 50%. I think most people will find it's far more restrictive to never use the laptop as a laptop than pay $120 5 years in to get a new battery.
  7. Athelonious thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2013

    After reading the responses and considering my options I'm actually considering the 2013 MBP. I'm going to go and check out the feel and look of the two computers tomorrow. I do like my roommates MBA, the size and lightness... but if the MBP isn't that much bigger/bulkier then I may be happy to invest in its power and display. I'm not sure if my budget can handle it, but I'll have to weigh the pros and cons.

    But... I still don't understand how RAM and CPU affect the framerate of a game specifically (if they have the same GPU), or even really how they affect the workings of a comp in general.

    Would be happy to hear more opinions on this topic. Thanks!
  8. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    Go for the either the MBP or the Retina MPB so you have the balance between portability and power.
    For gaming all matters the processor, the RAM, and certainly the GPU, having a dedicated one is always better.
    Remember to get education discount or look into the refurbished store for lower prices.


    I concur with your comments.
  9. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Let's break this down.

    i7 doesn't give games any performance gain at all due to the fact that most of today's games isn't very CPU demanding. i7 is good for those that needs to use their Mac for rendering/making videos, editing photos or doing music creation. i5 is therefore better value for money when it comes to gaming.

    8GB is a little bit too much RAM than most people needs today but seeing how rather quick the transition of the general "need" for RAM from 2GB to 4GB went, going with the 8GB is just a little bit more future-proof. Also, more RAM means more "snappyness" when having several applications open at once.

    128GB is also "enough" for most users but if you're going to be using your Mac for a few years, it will be a little small so 256GB generally gives you a bit more breathing room when it comes to expanding and using your Mac for a few years.
  10. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    For RAM the more you have the better, maximize it.
    I have 8 GB in my MBP and it is not enough.
    I am converting a video to mp4, while listening to Music in iTunes and browsing the web and it is slowing down with beach balls.
    Time Machine in the background is also running.
    Unless you are doing one thing at a time 8GB is not enough.
    The HDD speed is also a key for performance, SSD, Fusion drive, hybrid SSD-HDD, or HDD 5400 rpm or 7200 rpm and how they are connected internal interface vs external Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, or wireless.
  11. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    That's a truth with a modification.
    I have 8 GB and I can do many things at once, even though the MBP is from late 2009, and the SSD opens everything blazing fast. Surely, I have not tried converting a video for a long time but I can have 20+ tabs on Chrome + Spotify + playing a Flash game without beach balls. That is not just one thing.
  12. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I am getting more than 700MB/s read/write speed from the 512gb SSD in my 2013 11" MBA. Aside from the new "trash can" Mac Pro, that's about as good as it gets. ;)

    The 128gb SSD in the MBA is considerably slower. I think I've seen a spec like 150MB/s posted. But it really depends on what you're doing as to whether you would even notice the difference. Even the 128 will seem lightning fast compared to a spinning hard disk.
  13. Dsteller macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2013
    I have a 2013 13in MBA with 8gb i7 and 128GB... I have the same exact interests and was coming from the same type of situation! I decided to go with it because I need a lot more aid for the gaming! What I do is I run a windows VM through parallels on an external drive!!! That way i don't have to worry about taking up lots of space on the mac! Hope this helps!

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