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MacBook Pro 13" or MacBook Air 13"
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pickleydoo
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#1
8th August 2011
Old 8th August 2011
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MacBook Pro 13" or MacBook Air 13"

Hello folks,

I need a new laptop and also want to start putting together some demos for my website and so I'm looking for advice.

As far as what I need to record, I'm going to be doing two things: voice + piano and occasionally voiceovers.

I also do photo editing, web design and graphic design and while I have a desktop for that sometimes I need to make changes while out with a client. Needing to do this is what prompted me to get a new laptop.

I only have the budget for either the base MacBook Pro i5 13" or MacBook Air i5 13" + an audio interface (looking at the Apogee Duet 2 so I don't need to buy/carry an additional preamp) + a ~$500 condenser. I have CS5 but I'm hoping I can get by with Garageband for tracking + mixing.

Based on what I need to do, could I presumably use one of the new MacBook Airs for this or should I go for the Pro? I know the 15" would be ideal but it is out of my price range. I want to go Air because of the screen resolution and weight, and also the Duet 2 uses USB so I don't think I need the firewire port. I suppose the Pro is more practical because I can throw in 8 GB of RAM and it has more hard drive space. Thoughts?

Thanks for your help,

Chris
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8th August 2011
Old 8th August 2011
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If you're doing graphic design, neither has suitable graphics solutions; both use HD3000 graphics, which is difficult to recommend for professional use.
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8th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inthere View Post
If you're doing graphic design, neither has suitable graphics solutions; both use HD3000 graphics, which is difficult to recommend for professional use.
Does graphics software use the gpu? I thought it was only cpu
pickleydoo
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8th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mat1 View Post
Does graphics software use the gpu? I thought it was only cpu
Yes, I believe the CPU is the biggest factor here. I apologize, I should have mentioned that I am doing graphic design in Illustrator and InDesign rather than doing graphics work in CAD and Maya, which, as I understand, are very GPU dependent.
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8th August 2011
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graphic design on a 13" screen
pickleydoo
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8th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by re-animator View Post
graphic design on a 13" screen
Tell me about it... At least it's an improvement from the 10" netbook.
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8th August 2011
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Pro. The Air is a joke. Doesn't even make a good paperweight because it doesn't weigh anything!
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8th August 2011
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The only reason to get the Air over the Pro is portability. Just decide how important the smaller form factor is and you have your answer.
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8th August 2011
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9th August 2011
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I have both the 15" 2011 MBP and a 2010 11" MBA. I like them both and have different uses for them (MBP for audio, MBA for office/writing). I think, depending on your audio needs, the MBA will suit you fine. It's a quite competent computer, as shown in Timur's thread, and do not underestimate the need for portability. To some people, weight might not matter, but it sure does to me. I have no idea about the needs of graphic artists but for most of my work it's really good.
I'm considering upgrading to the new MBA to get faster CPU, thunderbolt and backlit keyboard...

My 2 kronor.
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9th August 2011
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I am in a similar situation. I was looking at the MBA 13" , The MBP 13" or The MBP 15".

Portability is important (the reason i was looking at the 15" is screen resolution). A MBA with an Apogee One would be super portable.

The thing that concerns me is the processor speed. I see posts that say things like "macbook air is a joke" or 'you need at least quad core for audio".
I was previously using my ex girlfriends 27" imac with logic. I don't remember the specs but I think she bought it in spring 2010 (think it was possibly the first 27" they made) and it was the lower spec of the 2 available 27" models so possibly dual core. It was perfect for my needs, I didn't even come close to it struggling. I'm not a big user of sample based software instruments I use the light versions of a couple but that's about it. i use a few softsynths (maybe up to 8 at a time, many of which are logics own instruments) and maybe run upto 24 tracks of audio with a 2-4 plugs on each track (again mostly logics own plugs but also decapitator, some airwindows stuff, Stillwell and I may get some softube). Could the 2011 MBA handle this?

I saw a post that linked to a bench test that said the 2011 MBA was as fast as the top of the line 2010 MBP..... how this relates to real world use I have no idea.
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10th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evets View Post
Portability is important (the reason i was looking at the 15" is screen resolution). A MBA with an Apogee One would be super portable.

The thing that concerns me is the processor speed. I see posts that say things like "macbook air is a joke" or 'you need at least quad core for audio".
That seems to be the big concern. Unfortunately while there are a lot of synthetic benchmarks out there that would suggest the Air is comparable to the performance of the Pros, it doesn't look like there are many accounts of real world tests with digital audio on their 2011 Airs compared to the Pros.

The base Pro is, however, cheaper than the base Air (13").
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10th August 2011
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JonesH , have you tried running a DAW on your MBA?

I went to the store today and had a look at the, I definitely prefer the Air to the Pro. How much performance advantage would the the 13" pro have over the 13" air? It seems the things that the air has over the pro other than size is the SSD and screen resolution.

To be honest I really like the 11" air, I'm just not sure if 128gb Hd is enough.

Having said that until last year (when it finally died) I was using a 12" 1.2 G4 iBook from early 2004 with with a 30gb Hd and 768mb of ram. It struggled like crazy as soon as I had a few softsynths and plugs running!
Compared to that even the 11" Air is a massive step up!
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11th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evets View Post
To be honest I really like the 11" air, I'm just not sure if 128gb Hd is enough.
You can upgrade to 256 Gb.
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12th August 2011
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Pro I would recommend. AIR doesn't have enough I/O ports to be useful as
a DAW.

jeff
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12th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmarkham View Post
Pro I would recommend. AIR doesn't have enough I/O ports to be useful as
a DAW.

jeff
depends on what happens with lightpeak. potentially thunderbolt can act as a hub and give you all the ports you could ever need.
pickleydoo
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12th August 2011
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I ended up getting a base MacBook Pro 13" because I was able to use a coupon for a discount on Amazon.com. I would have loved the Air for its SSD, screen resolution and portability, not to mention its processor is almost as powerful as the base Pro 13"'s processor, but I couldn't beat it for the price. I could have used the coupon on the Air 13" if I acted earlier but when I went to buy, only the Pro was available. For the difference in price, I can replace the junk 320 GB hard drive with a faster 120 GB SSD and add a 1 TB 7200rpm OptiBay + 8 GB total RAM. Then I can start recording without needing an external drive, even maybe using some virtual instruments on the go (if I ever go that route). The security of having the Firewire port is also nice.

I'll deal with the weight for now but as re-animator and jmarkham suggest when the Thunderbolt peripherals start coming out, I think we'll see this Air and moreso the Ivy Bridge Airs as viable alternatives to the Pros.

Thoughts?
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