Advice on purchase: iMac vs Pro vs Air

BiH115

Gif Guy
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May 12, 2011
Messages
9,327
Hey all,

So I need a new computer. My desk is pretty empty, and I'm confused on my next purchase. A few questions I can answer though:

- It's going to be a Mac :)rolleyes:)
- It's going to be used for Web Dev. and App. Dev.


Now comes the tough issue(s): Type + Size. I've been doing some in-depth research on the difference between the 11" and 13" Air, versus the 13" Pro, and then started contemplating if the 15" Pro would be a better choice since I do have all that desk space, yet still gives me the option of carrying it with ease. Then just yesterday I started looking into the iMac, and I'm now honestly not sure what I want aside from the two bulleted needs I have up above.

What I need now is real-world advice from fellow everyday users. What would fine people recommend me, in my situation. Please also add in your own reasonings and choices so I can try to understand pros and cons.

A few things to note, maybe those can get answered too: Would a almost top of the line Air be a better choice for what I want to do, over say a maxed out 13" Pro? And how does the 15" Pro fare against the 13" Air? What about gaming on the Pro (Which one?)? Would the iMac be a good choice at ALL for me?

Thanks! :D
 

AQ_OC

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 23, 2011
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2,131
Do you prefer to do development on a tiny 11" screen versus and much larger one? Is weight important to you at all? How often do you need to move it around? And how important is speed to you?

Me, I prefer a desktop first and a laptop second. I want a big screen for the desktop, but for the laptop I want it as light as possible but still powerful. I'd skip the Pro and get a top of the line Air, but only after I got my desktop needs satisfied. Your needs may differ.
 

BiH115

Gif Guy
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May 12, 2011
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I don't mind the 11" Air, in terms of weight and screen real estate. It's fine for me. Honestly I would prefer the portability, though I would not move it around ALL the time. I'd like to be able to get on the couch or somewhere other than my desk, so that might make my decision a bit easier, hence making it a Pro vs Air debate instead. In terms of a 13" Air vs a 13/15" Pro, which would give me the longest lifetime and best utility for what I want to do (web dev + app dev)? How about the 11" Air, is that suitable?

Thanks again.
 

shoota

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Feb 26, 2011
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Sounds like to me you would do well with a 13" Air and an external monitor. Plug in the monitor for work, unplug and go for play. Simple really.
 

BiH115

Gif Guy
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Ultimately, I think all the feedback I've gotten over the last week or so leads me to believe that the Air would be my best bet, since I don't NEED a desktop to be honest. The portability is just an enormous plus.

Any comments on how well it'll do what I need it to? How's the heat?

Thanks again all.
 

UnknownSouljer

Supreme [H]ardness
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Sep 24, 2001
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Depends on what sort of web dev and app dev work you do.

If you're doing 100 layer photoshop stuff, maybe it won't perform the way you want. But if you're talking about Dreamweaver, some basic Photoshop/Illustrator stuff, you'll be fine. I did a lot of editing on my last MBP in Aperture and Photoshop (some 140+ MP panoramas) and it went through all of them fine, albeit very slow (on the panoramas). The new Air's are faster than that 2010 MBP I was using. It's hard to gauge how it will perform for you in in-so-far-as relative experience since we don't know what you're using now to do your work.
 

Zinn

2[H]4U
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mabook air OS UI responsiveness is pretty choppy with an external monitor of any size. i would highly recommend the 15" Pro just for its discrete GPU, especially if you don't move around much. it's very noticeably smoother when scrolling or switching between spaces.
 

AQ_OC

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 23, 2011
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If you run the air hard, in terms of cpu utilization, it could get really hot due to the smallish enclosure. Somehow, however, I don't think that is going to be a concern for you.
 

BiH115

Gif Guy
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Depends on what sort of web dev and app dev work you do.

If you're doing 100 layer photoshop stuff, maybe it won't perform the way you want. But if you're talking about Dreamweaver, some basic Photoshop/Illustrator stuff, you'll be fine. I did a lot of editing on my last MBP in Aperture and Photoshop (some 140+ MP panoramas) and it went through all of them fine, albeit very slow (on the panoramas). The new Air's are faster than that 2010 MBP I was using. It's hard to gauge how it will perform for you in in-so-far-as relative experience since we don't know what you're using now to do your work.


I was using CS4, Flash/Photoshop/Illustrator on the system in sig. (now sold), and at any point in time I only had a few things going on. At no point will I have 2 trillion images open at the same time, or anything to that extent.

I was looking at the 13.3" MBPro, I kind of am leaning now towards the 13, versus the 15" Pro. Played with a friends 13" 2010 model and it fit me just great for use and size. Performance seemed spot on for what I want to do.

Now the difference between the 2.4 and 2.8 clocked cpu's, how big of a difference are we talking here for Creative Suite and Programming? Minimal? Sizable?
Worth it to get another 4 gigs of RAM?

Thanks.
 

450

Fully [H]
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Personally, I would wait 2 weeks. Updates might come.

I'd also get the 13" MBP and get 8GB RAM installed. Do the RAM install yourself, save yourself a bunch of money.
 

somehipster

Weaksauce
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Feb 28, 2012
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If you do end up getting a MBP, do yourself a favor and ditch the optical disc drive and put an SSD in there instead. It is worth it.
 

BiH115

Gif Guy
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Personally, I would wait 2 weeks. Updates might come.

I'd also get the 13" MBP and get 8GB RAM installed. Do the RAM install yourself, save yourself a bunch of money.

2012 models eh? I'll keep an eye out, thanks.
 

martinmsj

[H]ard|Gawd
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Messages
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Macbook Pro 13" Dev here. Not sure what Apps you're working on. Here are my reasons for the Pro.

I need access to both OSX/Windows/Linux Platforms and I need to run them in VMs.
I need a fast CPU, so I went for the 2.7 i7. It actually saves you battery in that it finishes task much fast and goes idle faster.
I need the most ram possible. Things the AIr could not give me.

I saved myself money and installed the ram and SSD but kept the disc drive (still need it.)
Honestly, I would just pay Apple for their validated SSDs if you want the best reliability (and guarantee).

I have a HP 23" S-IPS with a matte screen at work. I would go crazy programming on the MBP13's reflective screen all day.
If this computer will mostly be used on your desk at work (without an external monitor) I would go for the 15" and get the
upgraded matte screen. I like the form factor of the 13" but I rarely if ever use it anywhere outside of a desk or
classroom (grad school.) I didn't go for the 15" because it felt like too much money and the difficulty in managing the
switchable graphics. (dGPU will kill your battery with no reliable way to force it to always be off.) In addition, in school I
may not have access to a power outlet.
 

BiH115

Gif Guy
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May 12, 2011
Messages
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Macbook Pro 13" Dev here. Not sure what Apps you're working on. Here are my reasons for the Pro.

I need access to both OSX/Windows/Linux Platforms and I need to run them in VMs.
I need a fast CPU, so I went for the 2.7 i7. It actually saves you battery in that it finishes task much fast and goes idle faster.
I need the most ram possible. Things the AIr could not give me.

I saved myself money and installed the ram and SSD but kept the disc drive (still need it.)
Honestly, I would just pay Apple for their validated SSDs if you want the best reliability (and guarantee).

I have a HP 23" S-IPS with a matte screen at work. I would go crazy programming on the MBP13's reflective screen all day.
If this computer will mostly be used on your desk at work (without an external monitor) I would go for the 15" and get the
upgraded matte screen. I like the form factor of the 13" but I rarely if ever use it anywhere outside of a desk or
classroom (grad school.) I didn't go for the 15" because it felt like too much money and the difficulty in managing the
switchable graphics. (dGPU will kill your battery with no reliable way to force it to always be off.) In addition, in school I
may not have access to a power outlet.

Almost exactly what I was looking for. Great post man, thanks. So you're FOR programming on the macbook's screen? Works well?

Thanks.
 

UnknownSouljer

Supreme [H]ardness
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Messages
7,138
Well he's saying that he prefers the matte screen over the glossy for programming. I personally prefer glossy. It's pretty subjective, I would highly recommend checking both out in an Apple store if you have an opportunity.

He also notes that he uses an external monitor whenever he gets a chance as he feels 13" is too small. I used a 13" MBP for a year as my exclusive machine without an external display, and I was happy with it, with the exception that viewing 21MP photos all day involved a lot of scrolling if I was looking at 100% detail, but that caveat didn't bother me.

What's usable for each user is subjective. I would really recommend going to a story and getting a good feel for what you can handle with both monitor size and glossy vs matte.
 

plac

Gawd
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Apr 20, 2006
Messages
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i had a macbook air 11. then i sold it for a air 13 because it was so nice i wanted more screen size.

2 weeks ago i bought the wife a imac 21.5". it is killer, except for the slow disk. So I did an SSD upgrade on it last weekend as a secondary drive. Now its as fast as my air stuff, but a lot bigger and nicer to work on.

i almost bought the 27" imac for her, but it was just too big.
 

martinmsj

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Messages
1,581
Yes, the reflection with the fluorescent lights at work just does my eyes in after so many hours(strain.) Natural Light is alright with the MB13". Programming is alright on the 13" except when I have to look at multiple code files/Database Tables/Excel files back and fourth.

I run Visual Studio 2008 /Windows 7 using vmware with Unity. With Unity the VS2008 runs as if it was running Mac OSX that I can manage with the gestures which is great. The gestures to manage program windows is great, I like them, especially for working on a 13" screen. Also the MBP track pad is awesome.

The fast i7 2.7 (2.8 in new models) with the even higher turbo mode (3.4 GHz) works fast. Especially when doing data analysis and indexing data given to me in random formats. Either way, need to study for a grad test.

Good night and good luck.
 

plac

Gawd
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Messages
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some times i want to now sell my 13" airbook and buy a 13" pro instead. but my favorite thing about the air is the weight. tough call.. is the screen any higher quality on the pro? or the same?
 

The Oatman

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 19, 2007
Messages
415
The screen is actually better on the 13" Air. The Pro is 1280x800 while the air is 1440x900. Personally I would avoid the SSD upgrade hassle with the Pro and just go with the 13" Air and lots of RAM (purchased separately, of course).

The 11" is a non starter for me as the squished down 16:9 display (vs the 13" 16:10) on a notebook that's already too tiny would give me neck cramps.
 

Andross182

Gawd
Joined
Sep 20, 2005
Messages
527
The screen is actually better on the 13" Air. The Pro is 1280x800 while the air is 1440x900. Personally I would avoid the SSD upgrade hassle with the Pro and just go with the 13" Air and lots of RAM (purchased separately, of course).

The 11" is a non starter for me as the squished down 16:9 display (vs the 13" 16:10) on a notebook that's already too tiny would give me neck cramps.

The ram in the MBA is not upgradable. It is soldered to the logic board. It never has been on any MBA model and probably never will be. You have to upgrade it at time of purchase and be prepared for the apple tax rape :(
 

The Oatman

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 19, 2007
Messages
415
Oops. You're right. For the Air it's not even upgradable above 4GB at all it seems, not even on Apple's site.
 
Joined
Oct 31, 2006
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I am actually in the same boat as the OP. I am looking into buying another mac again. I believe i'm gonna go with an iMac though cause mine will be used for video editing. My last MBP was awesome for coding and everything though. Just need a little bit more speed now.
 

lamboman

Gawd
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Jul 17, 2007
Messages
598
The screen is actually better on the 13" Air. The Pro is 1280x800 while the air is 1440x900. Personally I would avoid the SSD upgrade hassle with the Pro and just go with the 13" Air and lots of RAM (purchased separately, of course).

The 11" is a non starter for me as the squished down 16:9 display (vs the 13" 16:10) on a notebook that's already too tiny would give me neck cramps.

No it isn't better. It is a higher resolution display, but that doesn't make it better. Colour gamut on the MBA is far, far worse than that of the MBP, and the difference is, for some, huge.

This made me go for the MBP. The MBA display was just too washed out for my eyes, and I really, really struggled to look at it.

To the OP, the only things to factor in when it comes to MBA vs MBP is the size difference, the displays, and upgradability. Peformance of the MBP is of course better, but the difference is slight, and isn't worth fussing over at all.

My advice isn't about which system to pick. Decide whether or not you need the portability, don't worry too much about performance, then go into a store, have a play, and pick the machine that you prefer. The extra resolution, weight, upgradability requirements...all of which only you can judge based on your personal preferences.
 

plac

Gawd
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Messages
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The screen is actually better on the 13" Air. The Pro is 1280x800 while the air is 1440x900. Personally I would avoid the SSD upgrade hassle with the Pro and just go with the 13" Air and lots of RAM (purchased separately, of course).

The 11" is a non starter for me as the squished down 16:9 display (vs the 13" 16:10) on a notebook that's already too tiny would give me neck cramps.

great info thanks. i guess ill hold onto my airbook 13 then.

mine has 4GB ram, i didn't know you could add ram to the 13" air.
 

martinmsj

[H]ard|Gawd
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great info thanks. i guess ill hold onto my airbook 13 then.


mine has 4GB ram, i didn't know you could add ram to the 13" air.

You can't upgrade the ram on the Air.

Can't say it enough, I love the high clocks on the dual core i7 part. (From a dev perspective.)
 
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