Question about new 13.3" MacBook Air...

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Apple..., Oct 23, 2010.

  1. Apple... macrumors 68020

    Apple...

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    #1
    So I'm still in High School and I plan on going to college for computer programming and working towards becoming a professional drummer (music major) and I'm just wondering if a 13.3" MacBook Air would be able to fit my needs? I know most musicians and programmers have MBPs, but I really like the MBA form factor. Thoughts?
     
  2. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #2
    Garageband works on the Air.

    Programming isn't particularly taxing.

    At home, you might want to invest in an external monitor for extended usage periods. But there's no reason the Air wouldn't work for what you want to do.
     
  3. C64 macrumors 65816

    C64

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    #3
    I've been programming on a 13" MacBook for years, without any problems. The 13.3" has an even higher resolution than before so it'll be fine. For programming you also don't need all that much power. It might take a bit longer to compile something, but you know.. it's a laptop.

    For music there's one disadvantage to the Air: it doesn't have an audio in, just a headphone minijack. So depending on what you'll be doing with it, this might be a problem.
     
  4. vow macrumors member

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    #4
    There has to be some sort of USB device with audio in, right?

    Programming on the MBA will be perfectly fine. Your projects probably won't be demanding until you reach your upper level courses so don't sweat it until then. I wish I had something like this when I was in college :p
     
  5. PBG4 Dude macrumors 68020

    PBG4 Dude

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    #5
    There are plenty of USB audio I/O devices out there, starting with the Griffin iMic and going up from there.
     
  6. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #6
    Demanding ? Maybe if the Macbook Air had specs out of the 80s or something. Having gone through college in Computer science, there is nothing in the course work that requires remotely anything "demanding" as far as programming goes. Quite the contrary.

    Heck, back in those days, I did a paper on OpenGL (this was circa 1997) and wrote up some example code for triangles, transformations, lighting, texturing. I ran it on the provided software implementation, not even GPU acceleratedv (though I did have a 3Dfx Voodoo Graphics card in there, the MCD 3Dfx shipped at the time was too limiting to run my example code on). I had some of the most graphically advanced examples in the class, since no one bothered with graphics as a subject to their papers and my code was the most demanding there.

    It ran on a Pentium 100 with 32 MB of RAM. While displaying the powerpoint presentation, while the CPU sat idle. My GF recently completed her degree in 2006 and she never wrote anything even remotely as demanding as those OpenGL examples which would run on your iPhone with some modifications (I used old style glBegin(); glEnd(); because that's how things worked back then, OpenGL ES dropped this concept unfortunately).
     
  7. Apple... thread starter macrumors 68020

    Apple...

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    #7
    Thanks. I'll make note of that. :)

    Yeah, that's the one thing I was worrying about when comparing the MBA and MBPs. :(

    :D

    That's nice to know! Thank you very much! ;)
     
  8. hachre macrumors 6502a

    hachre

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    #8
    If you are going to use a sampler for your music you should go with the 4GB RAM option. Everything else is no problem on the Air.

    For recording music you NEVER would use the internal sound card anyway. You almost always want special A/Ds etc so you will buy a USB audio interface anyway... The sound that the Air provides out of the box is a non factor really. If all you wanna do is handle Audio, 2GB of RAM is sufficient btw. The 4GB are only recommended if you plan on experimenting making your own music by using samples, maybe a synthesizer and sequencing...
     
  9. vow macrumors member

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    #9
    Yeah, I agree that there probably isn't anything in your general/typical CS curriculum that will require anything intensive but I would hate to believe that there isn't anything out there that wouldn't have you pushing your machine to its limits. Whatever you did back in the 90s and whatever your girlfriend did a few years ago doesn't mean that every other CS program functions the same way and that there's no chance of anything beyond the norm from happening.
     
  10. hachre macrumors 6502a

    hachre

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    #10
    I seriously doubt that has changed :) Education takes decades to change and adapt...
     
  11. vow macrumors member

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    #11
    I've read articles about CS programs getting rid of their old classes and replacing them with more up-to-date classes. Then again, I bet teaching FORTRAN and COBOL is probably still a required course at a ton of universities :p
     
  12. hachre macrumors 6502a

    hachre

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    #12
    Yea but come on unless you build a project with hundred thousands of lines or some gaming engine or anything the like you won't hit any performance issue of a dual core 1.8 or even 1.4 GHz processor...
     
  13. Apple... thread starter macrumors 68020

    Apple...

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    #13
    I was planning on maxing out the RAM and processor anyway. Thanks for the feedback, though! :cool:
     
  14. vow macrumors member

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    #14
    Well, like I said above, there has to be some course at some university out there that will require that type of programming. And if you're really passionate about programming then you'll be venturing outside of whatever your degree has you doing so who knows what that might entail. Or what if you're just setting up VM environments for your development? Jumping into programming can always have you diving into different things and the requirements will never be the same. Maybe I'm thinking too much outside the box but I won't rule out any possibilities.
     
  15. hachre macrumors 6502a

    hachre

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    #15
    But even when you use VMs, you won't need CPU power mostly, you will need RAM. Unless you wanna emulate foreign processors of course, I really don't see the point of more CPU power. The only time you need that is when you make complicated, lengthy calculations. And that is just a small fraction of programming. And if you're really gonna do that you will most likely use remote machines to do the calculation for you, like server farms, etc... I guess what I'm saying is, if you ever go into that direction, using 'normal' PCs of any kind won't be an option that makes sense fully anyway, so it doesn't really matter in this decision ;)
     
  16. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #16
    If a class that requires projects with hundreds of thousand of lines of codes even exists, I can show you a class with 100% failure rate.

    There's a reason programming assignements are short and undemanding : You're usually focusing on learning programming and not making enterprise/entertainment apps in course work.

    You're doing very focused examples. Even if you do get into a class about Graphics programming, you won't be building 3D worlds with lush environments. Go look at NeHe's OpenGL tutorial. That's the type of coursework you'll go through. Learning each individual parts and writing precise quick examples (actually, that's what you'll do at the end of the semester, I can guarantee you the first 60% of the class won't even require a single line of code. It'll all be math).

    The simple fact is, nothing that will tax a MBA. Look at games (the most demanding kind of software there is for mass-consumer computers) made by small teams/1 man armies. They are always very simple and run on a wide range of specs.

    Making 3D games is hard and requires a lot of different talents besides programming. Graphic Art, Music, AI Programming, 3D Programming, Storytelling, etc..

    And the fact is, the MBA will handle things like Portal. If you can code that up in your basement, you're already doing very advanced work and you can be proud of it. You're probably able to buy yourself a powerful desktop to go with your air too.

    Are you saying the Air can't handle VMs ? VMware has been around for more than 10 years. It was around back in the days of 200 mhz CPUs and machines with 64 MB of RAM as default. I think the MB Air can handle it just fine.;)
     
  17. vow macrumors member

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    #17
    I didn't exactly say that. That there might always be the chance of something down the line might require more processing power than your typical assignment. I never said that the MBA won't be able to handle anything you throw at it either, but for you to assume that no demanding project will ever see the day of light in a CS program is kind of far fetched.

    More words in my mouth? I'm not saying it won't, but there can always be times that a user would want to be able to throw more resources at a VM. My entire work day revolves around working out of VMs and I always wish I had more resources for all of them. Can it be done? Yes. But just because it can doesn't make it the most pleasant experience.
     
  18. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #18
    Again, you seem to have a hard time understanding that learning programming and making enterprise level apps is not the same thing. You can learn an algorithm without feeding it huge datasets to test it out and crush your system.

    Have you considered that maybe you're not a high school kid that wants to get into programming ? I think you're envisionning scenarios that are getting to be quite off-topic for this thread.

    And yes, the Air will run VMs in a pleasant way. I can run 2 VMs on my current Macbook without any hick ups along with OS X apps. 4 GB of RAM is fine for that. Would I try to run something like 35 Linux VMs running anything from Apache, WebSphere application server or Oracle like we do on the 16 core/128 GB machines we have at work ? Of course not, but that's not what the OP was asking about.

    Try to frame your thinking based on what was asked by the OP instead of trying to tell us the Air isn't equivalent to an HP Integrity RX8640 based superdome. We kinda know.
     
  19. vow macrumors member

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    #19
    What I am envisioning is that his needs now might not be the same in a few years. I'm not sure how many people can say that about themselves either (at least on forums like these). The Air will be probably be just fine for the most part, I'm not disagreeing with that, but there's always the chance at something more and the Air won't be the be all end all solution.

    Without any issues? I have 6GB right now and two Server 2003 VMs isn't exactly the most pleasing experience. I have one Win 7 VM with basic development tools (SQL Server and VS2010) and yeah, it works but it's not always the smoothest experience. Maybe I just suck at everything I try to do? :p

    At the end of the day, the MBA will be fine. I guess in my own experience, my computer needs always change as I continue to learn and I somehow end up doing a lot more than I intended to. And if that ever happens to the OP, I'm sure you'll realize it ;)
     
  20. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #20
    Then in a few years he can always upgrade. Again, you're going way beyond the scope of this thread.
     

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