Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air?

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    It seems to me that the Macbook Air is

    becoming Apple's most prominent computing

    product.


    I am quite intriqued by the fact that it's so

    lightweight and has such a small footprint.


    When it was first announced about two years

    ago, I pawned it off as being a lightweight laptop

    for those people that don't need to do any serious

    computing work.


    But now with this refresh nearly 2 weeks ahead

    of us, I am hearing about these rather substantial

    backbone upgrades that are being put into the

    Macbook Air.


    My question is this....


    The most important thing I need to do on my laptop

    is edit movies in iMovie. I need a powerful processor

    with lots of memory capable of encoding video projects.


    Will the Macbook Air be up to task for those sort of jobs?


    I have no idea if they are putting an i7 processor in the

    next revision or loading it with memory.

    I mean, the Macbook Air has a USB port on it, so I can

    plug my camcorder into it. I am just wondering it it will

    ever be nearly as powerful as its Pro counterpart.


    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
     
  2. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    If iMovie is the main use, definitely wait for the refresh and see what reviews say. Current 13" MBA maxes out with a 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo. For comparison, my mid-range 2007 MBP has a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo. And while it's competent at imovie, it's no speed demon. And running the stability compensation on 5 min of 720p video takes 30-60 minutes, fans roaring. So I think that's a CPU limted activity, and would be no faster despite the MBA's SSD. But for general editing -- trimming, titles, audio ducking -- as with my MBP it would be OK. MacWorld, in their review, didn't benchmark iMovie, but added this comment:
    http://www.macworld.com/article/155186/2010/10/macbook_air.html Perhaps the refresh with bring an i3 or faster, and make the MBA a competent video editor. Also, recent comments by Andy Ihnatko on MacBreak Weekly were that FCPX is faster than iMovie for same operations. I'd check into that.
     
  3. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    I'm waiting for the refresh of the Air but does anyone know if you can dual boot it with windows like the iMac There are still some things I need windows for unfortunately :)
     
  4. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    The primary reason to dual-boot is to play Windows games. You can run Windows under VMWare or Parallels. The optical drive is virtualized, making it easy to use an ISO file to act as the missing disc. But there are also more complicated ways to install Windows off a USB to dual-boot.
     
  5. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    Hi My main reason is educational Im a teacher and a lot of software I have used over the last few years in class only works on windows unfortunately I also prefer installing a full version rather than using virtualization programs
     
  6. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    Virtualization apps DO use a full version of Windows. That said...yes, the Airs can run Boot Camp
     
  7. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    Sorry my mistake Thanks for the info boot camp is what I want to use
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    You owe it to yourself to try one of the virtualizers, like Parallels or Fusion. They're so much more convenient than BootCamp and work very well.
     
  9. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    The problem is they just suck RAM up. Parallels with 4GB RAM is tolerable but I just doubled to 8 for no other reason that trying to do anything more than parallels at one time.
     
  10. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    It runs great on my wife's 4GB iMac, and is easily usable with Safari and Excel at the same time. But, you can't leave it open an Adobe suite also running. Perhaps on a fast booting Air it would be different, but my experience was the Bootcamp was such a bother having to quit everything, reboot, do Windows work, quit all that, and restart OS X and resume where I was that I was glad to get rid of BootCamp. And BootCamp requires a fixed drive partition that's a nuisance to increase and impossible to decrease without a complete reinstall of Windows; Parallels can be set to use much less drive space than BootCamp in my experience.


    Perhaps it's more tolerable on the Air, but Parallel's is *so* much more convenient than BootCamp. And it runs nearly as fast as native for normal "productivity" software.
     
  11. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    If you are running office style apps I'm sure it's fine. Try running it with any serious 3d game, even one circa 2008. It eats RAM in 3d mode
     
  12. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Right. But I was thinking of Simon's uses; I doubt Bioshock is in his education kit ;)

     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    A followup on video editing. I'm running a 2007 MBP with a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo -- a bit faster than the current top-end MBA. I just did a rough edit on 20 minutes of video (recorded on a Flip Ultra HD) in iMovie. Selecting, playing, cutting video is smooth. Now I'm running Stabilization and People on the ~20 of video. iMovie says that will take 4 hours, and Activity Monitor says it's using 135% - 175% of CPU. Disk activity looks high too.


    My guess is that doing basic editing on the current MBA would be OK, as long as you don't need the Stabilization-type post processing. But I'd definitely wait for the next revision if there's no hurry. I can only guess that even an i3 and SSD storage would make much quicker work of this than my C2D system.
     
  14. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    Store is down. Woo hoo!
     
  15. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    New Airs look pretty good Ron. The onboard RAM was increased to 4GB but don't forget with flash-based HD, even if the Air has to go to the HD it's going to perform much faster than a standard 4GB RAM Mac hitting a traditional 5400 or even a 7200 RPM HD. When the old models were out I went to a local Apple store and opened every program I could while browsing intensive websites and using Garageband just to see how it would perform once I maxed out the 2GB RAM. I came away impressed. I didn't have a stopwatch on me but I can say that I couldn't "feel" it swapping to HD memory like I can on a traditional laptop. And yes I did check Activity Monitor to confirm I had maxed out the RAM and it had a large amount of memory in the "swap used" section. I have to say: I needed my MBP in late 2010 for my new job. When the MBPs were refreshed in 2011 I was bummed but still, the 2010 MBP was no slouch. However after having it eight months now and lugging it to two conferences, I am sorely tempted by an Air (maybe even the 11" which 2 years ago I swore I'd never buy) for the sheer portability of the damned thing. I saw so many people bust out their iPads at these conferences but I hate typing on an iPad (even with external keyboard) and the feel of being limited by iOS. These Airs would be just a bit heavier than an iPad + Keyboard but give me so much more functionality and flexibility.
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Carlo,


    Thank you for thinking of me and sending me along

    your thoughts.


    I am tempted by the AIR as well. However, the biggest

    concern I have is editing movies. I need pure processor

    power to do that and I think that is where the Macbook Pros

    are going to have the edge.


    I do think, however, we are slowly moving towards the
    point where bulky laptops like the MBP will be replaced

    with equally powerful devices like the thin and light AIR.
     
  17. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Ron - the MBPs absolutely have a processing power advantage on the Airs, so you're right on the money. Don't get me wrong, I love my MBP(s) but with my new job now making me travel at least 2X, and I lug my MBP to and from work (I walk to work), those extra 3lbs+ in savings would really add up for someone like me. I think if I could do it all over again today, I wouldn't buy my MBP, but I'd buy a Mac Pro for home and power uses (my photography and music creation) and a MBA for work and portability.
     
  18. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Let's put it this way: I have a MBP and an iPad2. I'm keeping both and adding the 13" upgraded Air for daily work and short trips. And definitely getting at least one 27" Thunderbolt display. For me if I had to choose it would be the 17" MBP for video stuff, but I want to try out having an ultraportable too, and this looks like an awesome new option.
     
  19. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Well Ron, it looks like I might have underestimated the Air: http://www.macrumors.com/2011/07/20/early-benchmarks-reveal-new-macbook-air-rivaling-high-end-2010-macbook-pro/
     
  20. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    In some recent podcasts, there's been the argument made that the 11" Air is poor purchase for most people. the reasoning goes that it's an extreme set of tradeoffs for a very minor gain in real portability, and that gain is practically lost against the actual weight of, say, one's computer bag. I've not really considered it personally, but I'll throw that out there in case the raw sex appeal of the 11" is vying for your dollars :)
     

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