I'm a web developer / eLearning developer on Windows 7 looking to: 1) Get a Mac because I need to be able to test sites quickly and easily on my own; 2) Get a Windows-bootable unit that can act as my backup machine when my
throws a tantrum as it did this week; and 3) Get a reasonably portable Windows-bootable laptop that can handle Photoshop and other resource hogs so that I can work on it at client sites without having to barely squish the Asus (aka "The Clydesdale") into my largest backpack. Ideally, I could get all three in one machine that wouldn't cost the earth. Please join me as I anguish over the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro, the Mac Mini, and other options.
What I do with my computers:
- Adobe Creative Suite CS5 and CS6 / eLearning Suite 2 and 6 (Captivate, Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver)
- Some work in Illustrator CS4
- Other elearning tools (Camtasia 7 and 8, Articulate Storyline)
- Office 2010
I don't do any heavyweight video editing (just web-based work in Camtasia and the like). I don't produce graphics for print, just the web. Typical eLearning file sizes to open, save and convert to Flash are 25-90 Mb (Storyline files with videos can get huge, Captivate files typically max out at about 50-60 Mb).
I'm mostly happy with my Asus (Windows Home Premium, i7 quad core, 16 Gb DDR 1333 RAM, 750 Gb HDD at 7200rpm). I do find that when I was at 6 Gb RAM that I would have problems running Photoshop and Captivate or Storyline at the same time. My video driver is a little flaky, but it hasn't actually crashed in front of me since the last update a couple of months ago.
What I'm considering at Canadian pricing:
Laptops that could (maybe) do it all with Bootcamp and Windows 7 Pro OEM.
1) MacBook 13" i5 dual core (3rd gen/Ivy Bridge)
with 4 Gb RAM that I'll upgrade to 8Gb on my own. Small enough to fit in my smallest backpack, too.
I'm assuming mostly OK: any feedback?
It's on sale this week for $1049. 4 Gb more of RAM will be about $60 more.
The HDD spins at 5400 rpm, and all my recent Windows machines have been at 7200. Will I find this unbearably slow? Plus, at 4.5 pounds versus the Asus 6 pounds, it is an improvement but not all that lightweight.
2) Some kind of 13" Mac Air
(can't do 11" because the SSD drives only go to 128 Gb).
I could work with a 256 Gb SSD because that will hold all my apps and some data. It would certainly be faster than the 5400 HDD on the MacBook Pros. I know that I already get impatient with the 7200 rpm HDD on my Asus when opening, closing and saving 50-90 Mb files. But the importance of the processor speed is where I'm really confused.
a) Ivy Bridge i5
versus Sandy Bridge i5
. Is the latter significantly slower than the Ivy Bridge? It looks as if the RAM is slower, too, at 1333 Mhz instead of 1600 Mhz.
b) How does the i7 (dual core) Ivy Bridge
compare to the i5 Ivy Bridge? If I have the same fast RAM and an SSD in both, is the bump in processor speed worth it?
a) i5 Sandy Bridge: $1249 at Future Shop
b) i5 Ivy Bridge: $1499 with 4 Gb RAM. If necessary, I could add more 4 Gb more after I put it through its paces, so that's about $60 more.
c) i7 (dual core) Ivy Bridge: $1599 with 4 Gb RAM, plus $60 or so upgrade to 8 Gb on my own.
I haven't paid more than $1300 for a computer in years. These prices are a little above my comfort level. OTOH, I don't know if I could live with an HDD spinning at 5400 rpm. Apple can offer me an SSD or a potter's wheel, but nothing in between.
More complicated options:
1) Mac Mini (i5 or i7 dual core, 500 Gb or 1 Tb HDDD at 5400 rpm).
These are pretty cheap at $599/$799, but that slow HDD concerns me. Plus, I would still have to deal with the laptop problem, so I may end up spending anywhere from $500 to $1000 for a reasonably small but gutsy Windows laptop.
2) Sell the Asus for $400-500
and use the proceeds and what I have budgeted for The Perfect Mac Laptop to get a desktop like this
(I would still have to add memory) and a 13" MacBook Pro. Approximately $2050 for these units minus the CL proceeds works out to $1550-1650 to get a more powerful desktop and a good but not great laptop.
All this typing and now I think I know my answer, but any feedback, useful questions or a boot to the head would be appreciated. Thanks!