Pro 15'' or Air 13'' for Design major student?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by thelastsky, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. thelastsky macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2011
    I'm a undergraduate student who is majoring in visual communication design. These days, I'm considering buying a new labtop which will be used as my sole computer. But I'm in a dilemma now, between MBP 15''(with 8GB ram) and MBA 13'' 2010 (with 4GB ram).

    The things I will do with my macbook.
    1. 2D graphic tools
    - Mainly Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and light After Effects...
    2. The Internet
    - Facebook, Mail checking sort of things
    3. Watching TV series or movies (No dvds)

    No 3D games, no 3D tools will be used.
    And I will buy a portable drive for storage.

    Well, I know that many design students would say Macbook Pro, but the weight does matter, cos I will travel around with it (with my extremely heavy DSLR together). And the new version of Pro will be launched within few months, so it'll somewhat irritate me...:(

    Vice versa, since it'll be used as my main computer, I'm hesitating to buy Macbook Air.... Less durability, lower specification...

    So which one will be the best choice for me?

    Thank you :)
  2. SatyMahajan, Jan 5, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2011

    SatyMahajan macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2009
    Cambridge, MA
    15" MBP for a few reasons:

    - Hi-res screen option. Also the panels in the MBPs seem to have much more accurate color reproduction (the MBA has a good screen, but the panel is definitely not as good as the MPBs). This will be important when you do print work.
    - 8GB ram is great when you have to work with larger images in Photoshop or need longer RAM preview in After Effects. Or when you multi-task.
    - Replaceable/Upgradeable hard drive
  3. darknite38 macrumors regular

    Nov 18, 2010
  4. dolphindolphin macrumors regular

    May 29, 2008
    New York
    I would go with the MBP, but wait until the Sandy Bridge processor makes its way into the laptop lineup at Apple.
  5. un.titled macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2011
    I work in photoshop a lot with RAW files from photography and my 24" iMac 2.16 C2D 4GB system runs flawlessly. I never understood the need for the highest end system when working with photography (I do a lot of photo manipulation as well). Now stepping into video, I would recommend the 15" MBP. I would also recommend the high-res screen.
  6. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    This is a no-brainer. Since you are dabbling in After Effects and doing quite a bit of Photoshop, the MBP is a must. If you sacrifice power for weight, you're going to hate yourself later. If you're worried about the weight, then look into some kind of carrying case. The ONLY way you could get away with an Air is if you have a more powerful desktop system to use when you actually want to get work done... or work in low resolution. By the way, After Effects will pretty much kill a Macbook Air if you can even get it to run decent on it.

    Trust me. I have a bachelors degree in graphic design and do a lot of motion graphics with After Effects, Flash, and edit on Avid and FCS. There are times I want to throw my Macbook Pro across the room because it takes too long to render HD footage. I recently exported footage out of After Effects and it took 4 hours with the fans running full blast. Imagine what that would have done to the Air? Probably a puddle of metal. :D I really need to break down and get another Mac Pro, but I hate the expensive space-heater ball & chain.

    Another option might be for you to get an iMac and a iPad. Use the iMac for work and the iPad for on the road and entertainment. Or, you could work at low resolution for everything and give up on HD or multi-layer composites.

    Don't worry about when the next computer is coming out. If you need it then buy it. You can always sell and trade up later.
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    your school should have a computer lab you can use for the heavy lifting. your laptop only needs to run the heavier programs adequately...but I seriously doubt an MBA will even run it adequately, so throw that out.

    a 13" MBP would be ideal since you want portability, though of course 1280x800 isn't much waiting for an update would be ideal for you, since SB will boost laptop performance greatly, and Apple will likely use those chips and boost the resolution in the 13".

    if you need a computer now, get a 15".
  8. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Agreed. I would get the 15" MBP with the hi-res screen option. As a design student, you'll learn very quickly that there's no real substitute for having desktop real estate.

    Additionally, a lot of the applications you'd likely be running as a designer are pretty resource-intensive (CPU, GPU, RAM). The MBA's limited hardware would have a lot of trouble keeping up with all of that versus a MBP.
  9. MUCKYFINGERS macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    MBP 15".

    It's true your university should have powerful machines in its computer labs, but what about when you're away from campus and need to get "heavy-duty" work done?

    The MBP is a more versatile machine IMO for what you would need it to do. Also, yeah it's heavy and you need to carry your DSLR around, but suck it up, you're a college student!
  10. opera57 macrumors 6502

    Feb 15, 2009
    Yep definitely the 15" pro, even if just for the extra screen space! The 13" may feel a little bit cramped and uncomfortable to work on for long periods of time
  11. raymondthimmes macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    You sound like you and I go to the same school.

    Let me tell you, you shall be a god if you have the MBA but even though looks are everything at design school... it's not worth it. Buy the 15 and don't look back.

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