What's the best Air option for relatively heavy multitasking

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by humbert, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. humbert macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #1
    I'll be buying my first Mac this week and I need some help choosing the right model for me. I was very determined on getting the base 13" Macbook Air until yesterday when I started having doubts about the RAM and the screen. I'm going to sixth form college in September so I need something easy to carry around but I also need it to be relatively powerful. I don't do any intensive video/photo editing and stuff, I'll use the computer for school work- spending a lot of time writing essays and reading articles so I want the crispest text I can have without having to spend £1800 on a Retina Pro. The Air's resolution is higher than the 13" Pro's, how much worse is its CPU though? Apart from word processing and reading, I'll occasionally watch films on it. I can't imagine this being a problem for it. The question is will 4GB be enough for relatively heavy multitasking- having a couple of Chrome windows open with a dozen tabs in each, Spotify playing in the background with Pages and Scrivener running as well? Whenever I check the task manager on my PC the most memory I've used is 2.8-2.9GB, however probably because it's got a slow HDD the computer lags a lot. Would I regret not getting 8GB in three years time? Does 8GB mean faster performance even if I don't do that much on the computer?

    It'd be silly to get the Retina since I really don't need so much power. Does anybody know how big the difference between text crispness on the Air and Retina Pro is?

    So yeah, what Macbook should I get?
    Thanks
     
  2. Steve121178 macrumors 68040

    Steve121178

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    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Bedfordshire, UK
    #2
    4GB RAM is ample for most people. I'd be more concerned about the HDD because once you start filling it up with photos, music etc, the 128GB could become a problem.

    I'd personally recommend the 8GB RAM & 256GB option. You don't need the i7 because the performance gain it offers is simply not worth the money. Having said that, if you want to save some money then there's nothing wrong with the base model. And if you want more performance for your money then look at some far cheaper PC's because they are all suitable for college.
     
  3. humbert thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 23, 2012
    #3
    I'm fine with the SSD, don't think it's worth upgrading it right now as it is so expensive. I can get a cheap USB 3.0 external drive if I need more storage. So you think 4GB's enough? Apple wouldn't make 8GB base models next year would they..
     
  4. Steve121178 macrumors 68040

    Steve121178

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    Apr 13, 2010
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    Bedfordshire, UK
    #4
    4GB is more than ample to run the operating system & various apps etc. If you want to future-proof your investment a little bit, I'd honestly go for the 8GB option, but that's just me.
     
  5. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 22, 2009
    #5
    I'd go for the 8 GB option. I'm pretty sure that even with the tasks you describe, you might fill up your memory pretty quick (10+ open tabs in chrome usually sucks up some memory). Also for future proofing, who knows what apps you might need to run in a few years time.

    Don't get me wrong, the 4 GB will work fine, but it probably _will_ start paging out after a while. Even though the SSD is very fast, it's just unnecessary wear-and-tear on the drive, and will be somewhat less responsive. I'd say 4 GB will work with no noticeable problem, but say you want to start editing video, play in photoshop, create Flash games or code in XCode, you're in for some trouble. Better to be safe and keep those options open, it's only like $100 price difference.

    About the memory limit you described, I've noticed that too - if you have 4Gb, OS X seems to pan out around 2.8-2.9 GB used memory (at least according to iStatMenus and similar memory meeters). I've tried this myself, opened TONS of apps and files, still only showed 2.9 GB used but the paging was off the chart. Not really sure why that is.
     
  6. Calot macrumors regular

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    Aug 6, 2012
  7. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    Location:
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    #7
    If you really plan to keep the computer for 3 years I would get the best model you can afford. You can't upgrade the RAM or the CPU later so spend your money on those options. You can always add an external later if you find yourself in need of a lot more storage space.
     
  8. LYFK macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    #8
    Working on an 13" i7, 8GB, 256 last night on 5 Spaces with Photoshop (working pretty much on one filter), Illustrator (livetracing), 4 tabs in Chrome (youTube, Pulse.me, Gmail and ArsTech), iMessages, and a small javascript graphics program called ONull, as well as running a time machine backup.

    The fan was going, but not loudly, and the computer was keeping up with everything I was throwing at it.

    In short, IT WAS GREAT. BUY ONE.
     
  9. asting macrumors 6502

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    Jun 10, 2012
    #9
    The base 13" will be fine for your needs. It sounds like you're budget conscience so there's no need to spend more than what you'll require.
     
  10. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #10
    The i5 in the base 13" Air is probably about 10-20% slower than the i5 in the base 13" Pro. The i7 in the higher-end Air is a bit closer. But for most tasks you wouldn't notice much difference between the 3. 4GB RAM is certainly enough for most tasks today. I opted for 8GB because I run virtual machines. If you intend to keep it for a few years, 8GB might be a good idea. That said, page-outs are a lot faster because of the speedy SSD.
     
  11. vladster macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    #11
    For what you do, just save money and buy something basic. If you are picky on how the font look then you should go in store and compare displays.
     
  12. stchman macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 16, 2012
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    St. Louis, MO
  13. blanco.juanfeli macrumors newbie

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    May 13, 2012
    #13
    4GB vs 8 GB of RAM????

    Hey,

    I'm planning to get a baseline 13 inch :apple: Macbook Air, but im just not sure if 4 GB are enough for my need, and if it is worth the extra 130 dollars (Macmall)... I´ll basically use it for iWork, MS Office, very Light gamming, lots of web surfing and maybe running windows occasionally using a VM, and I plan to keep it for at least 3 to 4 years, so do you think that the upgrade is necessary?

    I´m also considering a MacBook Pro, becuase of its "Upgradability", but i just cant justify spnding $1200 on a 1200x800 screen and a traditional 5400 RPM Hard-drive...

    BTW: Sorry for my bad english

    Thanks :apple: :apple: :apple: :apple:
     
  14. Hirakata macrumors 6502

    Hirakata

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    Mar 17, 2011
    Location:
    Burbank, CA
    #14
    If one has to ask this question, then the answer is always, "Yes." It's better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it. And if $100 for 4 more GBs of RAM is too much money for one to spend, then they need to rethink whether they should really be spending $1000 plus on a MBA (or any computer for that matter) anyway.
     
  15. asting macrumors 6502

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    Jun 10, 2012
    #15
    Please. There's always a $100 upgrade available that you "need" to buy. That sentiment is why I gold plated my Ferrari.
     
  16. Hirakata macrumors 6502

    Hirakata

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2011
    Location:
    Burbank, CA
    #16
    Yes, this is true. (Especially for me.:eek:) I guess I'm still a little shell shocked from a different thread where the OP was spending $900 but couldn't afford to spend $980. Most comments (which I agreed with) were along the lines of him rethinking his spending as he probably couldn't afford the $900 computer.
     
  17. blanco.juanfeli macrumors newbie

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    May 13, 2012
    #17
    Thanks, I guess you are right... if Im already spending more than a thousand dollars on a computer, a hundred more is not a big deal, considering that I plan to keep it for 3-5 years and that it is not upgradable... But I was just making sure that it wasn´t a waste of money... (I´m not cheap, just budget conscious) :D

    Anyways, I guess I might just wait until Black Friday (arround my Birthday) to be able to get the upgrade and maybe an external hd ;)
     
  18. Blackberryroid macrumors 6502a

    Blackberryroid

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    Aug 8, 2012
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    #18
    Heavy Multitasking? That's instantly 8GB RAM. Throw in an i7 if you could. It would definitely help you out.
     
  19. asting macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2012
    #19
    "Heavy Multitasking" Is rather subjective and isn't a particularly specific term. The tasks OP described do not warrant 8GB of ram, and the ~$250 upgrade they entail. This is assuming you don't purchase the base from apple (such as the $200 off best buy ran for students a few weeks ago), and you have to purchase the upgraded ram from them.
     
  20. O-Sho macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    #20
    I went with the i5/256/8GB and it's legit. Sometimes when I have Chrome, YouTube, Evernote, PowerPoint, Word, iTunes open at the same time it shows just under 4GB of RAM free so I'm definitely glad I went with the 8GB upgrade.
     
  21. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Pa
    #21
    I do programming on my air, and 4gb is good enough. You'll find 4gb of RAM is plenty for what you're describing, which I would call light usage.

    Remember, even if you run out of RAM, the SSD is so fast you won't notice as big of a slowdown as you would with a normal hard drive.
     
  22. FuNGi macrumors 65816

    FuNGi

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Location:
    California
    #22
    For your academic needs 4GB will be sufficient. Only if you plant on running Aperture 3 at full tilt would I consider 8 GB a necessity.

    To save $$ take a look at the 2011 refurbs.
     
  23. tdhurst macrumors 68040

    tdhurst

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2003
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #23
    If you're worried...

    I had a similar dilemma, just switching from a MBP 13" (last year's) to a MBA 11".

    The SSD makes such a huge difference that whatever you think you lose in processor speed won't matter for anything you're doing short of rendering 3d files and making movies.

    Go with the 13", double the ram, and you'll be just fine. Promise.

    ----------

    I have the 11" i7/128/8GB and I've never used a computer so quick.

    The i7/i5 doesn't mean much for 99% of what I do.

    But man...the SSD rocks.
     
  24. JimWPVB macrumors member

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    Jul 3, 2012
    #24
    1x

    The i7 helps with large PDF conversions. 8G RAM really allows for good performance.
     
  25. brig2221 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    #25
    This is what I got, only bummer is that you have to custom order from Apple and wait for them to ship :mad:

    I chose to have them ship to my local Apple store, and I received an email today noting mine arrived today, and I was given an estimated arrival date of 8/31 :D

    I thought this was the optimal and most budge conscious configuration. I will most likely sell it around this time next year when the Haswell models come out, and I'm thinking having the 256 Gb SSD and 8 Gb of RAM will be specs people are looking for, and hopefully that will be reflected in the resale value I get.
     

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