Which MacBook? (Graphic Design/Photography)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by heidikat, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. heidikat macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2012

    I need to purchase a new laptop and I'm feeling overwhelmed by the options. Here's my situation:

    - Graphic designer, mainly for print
    - Going back to school this fall for textile design (4 yrs)
    - Amateur photographer
    - NOT a gamer at all

    The most complicated my workflow gets is running InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat Professional simultaneously, maybe with email and a couple web browser pages open, maybe iTunes. I don't want to be frustrated with slowness using larger Photoshop files, RAW files or intricate vectors in Illustrator. I hate clutter so I try not to open too many things at once. I dabble in web design for my personal portfolio site, but it's not my priority. I need portability but not to the point where it impairs performance. I will probably keep it for a few years.

    Best Options (?):
    - MacBook Air 13" 2.0 GHz i7/8GB RAM/256 GB Flash
    - MacBook Pro 13" 2.9 GHz i7/8GB RAM - ATA or SS Drive?
    - MacBook Pro Retina 15" - base price or top of the line?

    I like the lightness of the MBA but can it handle multiple CS6 apps? Or will it be okay if I store music and photos externally? MBP 13" has much more storage space and customizability but will it become obsolete sooner? Retina is the wave of the future but is it a good investment or a bit overkill for my situation? I have examined the specs a million times but I don't know how they will play out in real life.

    Thanks in advance to all who had the patience to read and answer this! I have read tons of similar threads but none quite fit my situation.
  2. FastEddiebags macrumors 6502

    Jun 1, 2012
    Why exclude the 15in mbp(non-retina). With all those programs open at once, I would expect you to need a good amount of Ram and will be able to save some money by installing it yourself. If you can afford a rmbp with 16gb of ram then get that one though.
  3. stevelam macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2010
    well the retina doesn't have any of those apps updated yet. the only one adobe has committed to so far is a photoshop update that could arrive possibly by the end of this year, but who knows really.

    i would assume you're using an external monitor anyway, so just get the 13" pro. the 15" would make sense if you did some gaming but since you don't, you probably don't need the discrete gpu.

    since you're heavy in graphic design, heres some caveats and potential dealbreakers you may encounter by adopting bleeding edge tech like the RMBP:

    and here are some current photoshop benchmarks which show a relatively poor performance on the RMBP:
  4. Shambles, Jun 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

    Shambles macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2011
    Well my Macbook Air handles Photoshop CS6, Illustrator CS6, Firefox, Mail, and iTunes just fine. And that's the base 2011 13 incher... I'd imagine that this years model you're looking at will handle your workload without a problem. However, I don't really do any work with super big files so maybe you'd benefit from the processor power of the Pro's.. If I was you I'd go for the Air though. The Retina Pro looks like a good machine if you're willing to spend that much, but between the standard Pro and the Air, I'd choose the Air anytime.
  5. heidikat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2012
    Thanks for the generous replies and links!
    I guess my hesitation with the non-retina 15" is the size/weight. Is it hugely different? Can I add extra RAM to the 13" later on? The retina Photoshop situation looks frustrating, but if it's only temporary I'm willing to persevere. Budget is tight, but I'm willing to make other sacrifices if retina is by far the best option. However, I don't want to get carried away with all the retina hype and extra power if a MacBook Air is more than good enough.

    Perhaps I just have to choose and deal with the consequences? It's not like any of the options are bad.
  6. stevelam macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2010
    the 13"s ram and hdd can be upgraded on your own. you can also remove the ODD and install a second hard drive for faster scratch disks for your editing applications.

    the RMBP can't be upgraded at all (maybe the SSD but thats not possible right now without custom sized ssds most likely by OWC).

    i believe the non-retina 15" is about a pound heavier than the retina.
  7. Shacklebolt macrumors 6502a


    Sep 2, 2004
    Graphic design + photo editing require some processing power, but not nearly heavy enough to warrant top of the line (be grateful! you're saving a few thousand bucks). InDesign's a big program, but it's not particularly rough on your hardware.

    If you think you're going to take up gaming + heavy duty FCP work, then go for the top of the line. Otherwise, if you're a graphic designer, why not go the "MacBook Pro 13" 2.9 GHz i7/8GB RAM" route and spend the extra scratch on a giant monitor? S'what I'd do.


    I'm gonna double down on the 13" + giant external monitor route. You're gonna go nuts running illustrator + InDesign + Photoshop on a 13" screen all day. I can barely stand it on a 17".
  8. bap3221 macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2012
    Go with a 15" Macbook Pro. Its not only about processing power and RAM you have to worry about but also working on a bigger screen. It was alittle frustrating to work on a 13" trying to fit the applications on your window. You dont have to get the retina one. it be much cheaper to get one from last year and not have to worry about recalls or problems with the new MBP.

    Imagine if something happens to it and you have to fix it? This computer got the worst ratings for being able to be repaired. They said it is mainly only going to be repaired by Apple, which can cost alot...

    Plus you keep alittle extra for yourself. You can upgrade the RAM or hard drive for more space.

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