Perfect combo for a freelance web designer?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by djrod, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. djrod macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2008
    Madrid - Spain
    Hi guys, what combo do you think is the best for me, I work from my office home but sometimes I have to go see customers, meeting for new projects, but this is 3-4 times a month at most.

    I use Photoshop, Illustrator, Coda and every browser there is to make sure my designs works perfectly across browsers. This includes three virtual machines with several versions of Internet explorer, but because of screen space I only open one at a time ( VM + Coda ).

    Right now I have an 2009 i7 SSD iMac and an iPad. The iPad is mostly used to read RSS, couch browsing and some development books.

    So I've been thinking about selling the iMac & iPad and getting a i5 13 rMBP + Thunderbolt Display as son as a new Thunderbolt Display is launched.

    Will I miss the iPad? Or the iMac's much powerful CPU? I don't do any CPU intensive task so maybe I'm wasting all the power the i7 has, but I don't know...
  2. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    Why wouldn't you keep the iPad? Retina + TB display is definitely the way to go. You will love it, and you won't miss the power of the iMac because the current Retina's will smoke your current iMAC by so much, it'll feel like a Mac Pro. Especially the new PCIex SSDs.

    So I say, rMBP + TB, and keep iPad if you can.
  3. djrod thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2008
    Madrid - Spain
    My current iMac has this GeekBench 3 score:

    Single-Core 2005
    Multi-Core 7321

    The new 13 rMBP :
    Single-Core 2613
    Multi-Core 5248

    The rMBP is faster in single core tasks, but slower in the multi core ones.
  4. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Since the rMBP will drive two external displays as well as the internal (at least, I think so - right?) why not consider getting a pair of 1200p 24" monitors (something like Dell U2412Ms) rather than a single 27"? It will still come to less than a TB Display and you'll have 2-3 screens on which to park virtual machines and preview windows. Should work even better with the multi-display enhancements in Mavericks.

    Multiple screens can be easier to manage than trying to keep multiple windows tiled on a big display.

    I doubt that anything you are doing will make a MacBook Pro raise a sweat.

    However, since you can't upgrade RAM (at all) or SSD (easily) look at how much RAM and disc space your virtual machines are going to eat. I wouldn't go for the base model rMBP.

    As for the iPad - don't you need to test your web sites on iPad? Sure, you can use the emulator, but that won't let you test the usability on a touch screen.
  5. latestmonkey macrumors 6502

    Aug 13, 2002
    that is exactly the set up I have. The key is the 1200p. I love it. I also considered at 27 but because the retina can drive two easily, it was an easy call.

    Sometimes I dream about 3 externals.
  6. chorner macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2012
    Toronto, Canada
    Any developer or designer who's any good doesn't need to ask everyone else what he needs to do his job :p lol too funny.

    If you're an actual practicing professional you need at minimum a 27" thunderbolt display, and a machine with 16GB of ram and a 512GB SSD, an iPad and an iPhone + potentially another phone to test on, as well as access to a PC or by running Windows in a virtual machine.

    Since you're freelance, chances are you might have to travel out to a meeting or two so the MacBook Pro is going to be your best bet. Count on needing a variety of devices to test on since your sites will need to work on multiple devices and configurations.

    Any of the latest 4 core i7 processors released since the first rMPB have more than enough power for what you're doing with the machine; just don't go for the base configuration. The 2.6/2.7/2.8Ghz configurations will be what you want, and even better yet if you get the latest rMPB with the PCI-e SSD.
  7. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Any developer or designer who thinks they're too good at their job to ask anybody else's advice... isn't. The guy said he was a freelance web designer, not CTO at Google.

    Its also nice to have some corroboration if you're about to splurge $3k on a new shiny that you could probably do without.

    ...see, now I'm not sure if you're joking or being serious.

    16GB/512GB is sensible if (a) you can afford it and (b) you're buying a machine like the rMBP that can't easily be upgraded later. Otherwise, aw shucks, you're just gonna have to live with quitting Photoshop before starting your virtual Win XP machine.

    The Thunderbolt display is a very nice display that you can't go far wrong with, but absolutely not a requirement. Its Unique Selling Point is as a docking station that lets you hook up power & all your peripherals with 2 wires. If you're only moving your computer 2/3 times a month that's not such a priority. Also, not everybody likes the glossy display.

    There are far cheaper 27" 1440p displays from Dell and others, that also have the advantage that, unlike the TBD, they'll work with PCs and pre-2011 Macs.

    Also, as I've already posted, if your "screen real estate" need is lots of apps side-by-side, multiple smaller monitors may suit you better than one big one.

    ...actually, by far the best way to test these days is to use virtual machines. Apart from being able to have multiple versions of Windows, Linux and OS X on one machine, the ability to snapshot & roll-back can be invaluable (e.g. trying different versions of plug-ins or browsers). No need for a roomful of test machines any more, unless you're writing for specialized hardware.

    Both iOS and Android dev kits come with emulators for multiple models of handheld devices - although I do agree that you should have at least one flesh-and-blood touchscreen device to get a real feel for usability.
  8. LeslieAbuso macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2010
    Thank you for this input.

    I appreciate reading all the feedback. I currently have a MBP 2007 with a hard drive that is failing. I am using the opportunity to get a new computer. I am getting ready to step into a leadership role for an emerging international group that will be building a new website. While I won't be building it, I will be responsible for helping get it designed correctly, as well as maintaining it and helping users to access and use the site.

    I have already placed my order for the new rMBP 15" with the upgraded processor. After reading these comments, I am going to cancel it, and re-order with the larger SSD. It hadn't occurred to me that I might want to run Windows on a virtual machine and be able to see what my PC users are seeing as they navigate the new site.

    Thanks again!

    ps - Cudos for asking the question. I have worked on PC's since I used the Heathkit Z100 my dad built in 1980 to type my dissertation on in college, and worked as a trainer and helpdesk for many many years. I consider myself pretty savvy for a non-native, but the tools available change so much, it is hard to know what the best tool is for a particular situation.
  9. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    That seems insanely off. Are you running 32bit tests?
  10. djrod thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2008
    Madrid - Spain
    Yep, all those scores where 32 bits.
  11. aloshka macrumors 65816

    Aug 30, 2009
    Yea rerun them in 64. Geek bench on the older version rmbp was in the 15k's for me.
  12. djrod thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2008
    Madrid - Spain
    15k are for the 15", those benchmarks I posted where for the 13".

    What do you guys know about using the macbook in vertical clamshell mode?

    Is it noisier/hotter/louder?

    I like this setup:

  13. ahall52, Nov 16, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013

    ahall52 macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2013
    First of all, please ignore chorner. I'm not sure if he is trolling or being sarcastic, but his advice is about as useful as a Bob Ford's PR person.

    I design database driven websites and web applications (mostly for internal use) for a very large company - 80,000 employees. Lately it's been a lot of financial software so I'm more of a coder and less of a designer than I would like to be, but I use all of the same software that you do.

    I run a 15" rMBP as my primary design machine at the office, attached to a 27" Thunderbolt Display at work. At home, I have a 27" iMac with another Thunderbolt Display plus more iDevices than I could shake a stick at for mobile application testing and personal use.

    At the office, I use the rMBP in vertical clamshell mode (with a TwelveSouth stand) and it is perfectly silent even when I am running Photoshop, Illustrator, MAMP, iTunes, 6-8 Safari windows, my text editor, Finder, iMessages plus a WinXP virtual machine with multiple browsers and a couple of office applications open. The fans never kick up past the 2k rpm base setting and it stays at or below 55c. Sometimes I reach over and touch it because I feel like it should be hotter than it says, but it's always chilly to the touch.

    I probably spend 95% of my time working on the Thunderbolt Display and it makes me sad that I don't get to work on the Retina display more. It's beautiful and I envy your opportunity to show it off to clients. It can only enhance the appearance of your designs assuming you aren't just hooking it up to a monitor or projector.

    I will say that when I'm working with actual photos, I love using Photoshop on the actual MacBook. Aside from that (ie for web graphics), I prefer to use the Thunderbolt Display as it more accurately represents what my users will see - I dislike flipping between 100% and 200%.

    Working on the Thunderbolt Display, I'm able to use my text editor on about 60% of the screen and utilize the other for a web browser and file management. Again, I code far more than I get a chance to design, but the single Thunderbolt Display is excellent for this purpose. When I'm working from home, I utilize the second screen to monitor my database but aside from that, I actually find it is more space than I need - and I'm very much a pixel-ho.

    Ultimately, from someone who uses the same setup in a somewhat similar situation, I highly recommend going with the rMBP+TBD if the funds are available to you.

  14. djrod thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2008
    Madrid - Spain
    Just an update for those in my same position.

    I finally purchased a base 256GB 13 retina and since the TBD is due for a new version sometime soon, I decided to keep the iMac and use it as a monitor for the Macbook using Target Display Mode with a mini display port cable.

    For now i'm super happy with the decision, the Macbook is right now transcoding some videos (slower than the iMac though), doing a full disk time machine backup and the machine is just warm and inaudible!

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