Mac laptops

Mon 22 Oct 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 9 Comments | Posted by: Gavin

As noted before, I seem to be somewhat rough on my laptops: Kelly and I have twice bought new laptops (new white MacBooks sometimes in the 2000s, then used MacBook Pros in March 2011) at the same time and I have worn mine out first.*

So now I have a question for Mac laptop users (as I will be Time Machining my current laptop & software over to the new one). I am probably moving from a 15″ MBPro to a 13″ and would love to hear user’s experiences with both the 13″ MacBook Pro and the 13″ MacBook Air. (I am tempted to buy the former with a steady-state drive.)

As I mentioned, I appear to be somewhat hard on my laptops—it goes to and from home with me and most of the press’s work is done on it. At any given day I will have Mail, Firefox (which seems to be crashing the current laptop, so I may switch to Chrome), Safari, Word, InDesign, PhotoShop, Preview, QuickBooks, Cyberduck, and I don’t know what else running so I would love to hear from people who are using their laptops for such things. Can the little laptops do these things or should I just go back to the 15″ (5.6 pounds/2.56 kg) monster?

Any help appreciated!

* There is a chance that I wear my laptops out for the same inherited reason I can’t wear a wind-up watch. I was horrified as a kid when I go a watch for the first time from Santa (memory serves: it was a Sekonda!) and it stopped working within a few hours. There’s nothing like the secret horror of thinking you’ve broken your big new present before lunch. I was hugely relieved to discover that my mum can’t wear a wind-up, either. I had a few more watches as a kid, then carried a robot pocketwatch for a while and now with the ubiquity of phones I don’t bother. I might be able to wear a modern, quartz watch, but I’m happy without one now. Besides, why give my “talent” with machinery more opportunity to express itself?


9 Responses to “Mac laptops”

  1. Anna Hight on October 22nd, 2012 11:14 am

    I’m always going to lean toward the Macbook Pro, not because I don’t like the Air (I think they’re great for people who travel extensively, who need their laptops on them at all times, etc) but because of power. The Air will only hold 8GB RAM and that’s becoming not enough for big-time multitaskers. The Macbook Pro (Retina Display only) can be configured to 16GB, which I think for the amount of work you’ll be doing would be the best option.

    Just remember, always get AppleCare. 😀

  2. Charles Tan on October 22nd, 2012 11:17 am

    Hi Gavin,

    Don’t own those units but here’s my tech advice:

    I don’t think the move from 15″ to 13″ on the Mac Book Pro will be an issue, as far as running those programs go. (What’s a comfortable screen size, however, will be, and perhaps any compatibility issues moving from a HDD to Solid State.)

    I’d hold off until this week’s Apple event as there are rumors of a new Retina Screen 13″ Mac Book Pro.

    If you’re running all those programs however, I don’t think the Mac Book Air is for you, since InDesign and Photoshop tend to consume a lot of power and memory (that’s not to say it won’t run InDesign or Photoshop; they can, but it might be slow, especially opening hi-res files or with all those applications open), especially if they’re all open at the same time. The rest of the Applications should work fine on the Air, although my experience is that Firefox tends to consume a lot of memory when it’s been open for too long. (Cyberduck for example barely consumes system resources.)

  3. Gavin on October 22nd, 2012 11:21 am

    Thanks, Anna. I don’t think I am going to pay for the upgrade to Retina (will I regret it in a year? Don’t know) but I always get AppleCare!

  4. Gavin on October 22nd, 2012 11:23 am

    Thanks Charles. I’m quite good at quitting the whole machine and restarting so that programs (er, apps) don’t run too long. Compatibility is an interesting question: will ask the Apple store people (or the internets!).

  5. Chris N. Brown on October 22nd, 2012 11:37 am

    Gavin — I have a Mac Book Air and love it. It does just fine with multiple browser windows, overstuffed mailboxes, and multiple word processors and PDF viewers running at once (though with the new OS it does get bogged down more often). But I agree with Charles that the Air is not the best choice if you want to run programs like Photoshop and InDesign that demand heavy rendering power—I don’t think it would be at all reliable for that and would go Pro (which is what my significant other uses for all of her heavy duty architectural programs, and it works extremely well).

  6. Gavin on October 22nd, 2012 12:00 pm

    Hi Chris, very helpful, thanks. I think I sense a drift toward a consensus. MBP wins.

    Anyone use them with an SSD?

  7. M Griffin on October 22nd, 2012 6:08 pm

    Not so fast… supposedly, the new Macbook Air models will have a higher RAM limit, which would eliminate much of the reason for going Pro versus Air. If you get an Air with 8gb RAM you could easily run InDesign and Photoshop comfortably.

    SSD is a huge speed boost… and if you’re hard on laptops, the “no moving parts” aspect of the SSD is just as important.

    That said, I have a Pro and I love it — my wife has the Air. You can’t really go wrong either way.

  8. Charles Tan on October 23rd, 2012 11:15 pm

    Hi Gavin,

    I checked the specs again and I made a mistake. The problem with the 13″ Macbook Pro (compared to the 15″ one) is that I thought it had a dedicated video card, when in fact it doesn’t.

    At this point, it’s only slightly better (faster processor) than the Macbook Air and has a CD-Drive. While the onboard video card is great, I’m not quite sure if it’s a good replacement for a dedicated video card, at least for graphic-intensive/memory-intensive tasks. If you do have to choose between a 13″ Macbook Air or a 13″ Macbook Pro, the former might be a better choice (lighter vs. a slightly better processor).

    SSD is theoretically better (and faster), but concerns is migration (Time Capsule’s great though; just double-check whether all the migrated Apps/data works) and whether you’ll have enough space (HDD usually have significantly more space vs SSD at the same price point).

  9. Gavin on October 24th, 2012 12:24 pm

    Argh! Also, thanks. Totally split between those two responses. I was hoping to move to a 13″ instead of a 15″ since I lug it around, but the graphics card might be the decider. Laptop has stopped dying (knocks on wood), so I will probably procrastinate and skip this decision now and see how long this one will last.

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