Help deciding on MB

Discussion in 'Apple and Mac OS X' started by hakira, Sep 15, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. hakira

    hakira <3 xkcd

    Reputations:
    957
    Messages:
    1,286
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    55
    Hello apples, it's not often I find myself in here. I need a mac for some upcoming work (because xcode), and it is also going to become my work computer that I carry on a daily basis, so portability and battery life are why I find myself looking at the 2012 MBA. I have some questions that range from broad to specific though...

    bootcamp vs parallels: I require windows as well as osx for what I do; I would also heavily prefer a linux install alongside the 2, so it would be a triplebooter. From a standpoint of day to day usage I already know that parallels is probably just fine for running win7/debian, but there have to be advantages to running win7 in bootcamp and not in a vm, I just can't recall exactly what they are. I'm not even sure if bootcamp will like debian on a 2012 MBA, read a couple horror stories about it already. Are there other vm options out there, especially free ones? And which is the better choice, bootcamp or vm'ing?

    performance: Parallels/vms can run programs just fine, but are they capable of doing simple games? Yes it's a work computer but I may find myself traveling far from home on business trips, so I'd like to have at least a handful of non-intensive games loaded for plane trips. The most gpu intensive game I'd ever put on it would be GW2, and maybe a valve game or 2. Is the hd4000 capable of running games equal/lower than those? Can it do it in a vm or does it need/should it be done in bootcamp?

    128gb vs 256gb: Because of the above points, I can forsee having an issue with space. Win7 is automatically a 30gb chunk gone after a couple program installs, debian is another 8 at least without any of my junk on it... all told after the OS and basic program installs I'm probably left with 50% (a higher but safe estimate) space on a 128gb ssd. Add a single game and that jumps to 75%. I will be getting a slight discount on whatever I buy (of course if some nice apple employee in toronto would let me use their fnf discount, that'd be cool), but pricing is still a concern. It irks me that for double the SSD space without changing anything else apple charges $300 more. So my specific question for this is, does anyone else have a similar position where they take their MBA on the road daily for work, and find themselves running out of disk space? I'd probably like having my music with me on it as well but my collection is over 75gb but that's out of the question if I go with a 128gb model. Should I grudgingly swallow the extra premium for a still-small-but-larger ssd now instead of possibly regretting it down the road? This sounds like I should obviously go with the 256gb model but again, that $300 premium is a lot to swallow for a machine that can't/won't do really intensive stuff like I do on my G73.

    apple refurbs: I've heard that refurbs from apple are exceptional - other than the box they come in they look and perform identical to a new one. Does anyone have experience buying a refurb from apple? How long have you had it and have you had any problems with it? It seems like a really good option to me (save $200 on a box and different serial #) but I have to be sure it will hold up.

    I'm aware that a lot of my concerns could simply be waved away by saying get a MBP13, but portability is extremely important for this machine. If it wasn't, I'd make my G73 a hackintosh and deal with the 15lb brute every day. Any advice would be great!
     
  2. Karamazovmm

    Karamazovmm Overthinking? Always!

    Reputations:
    2,365
    Messages:
    9,422
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    231
    1) Vms

    There is virtual box, its free. I use to it load several linux VMs, I never had any problems with it aside that the new KDE gui wont work that well, meaning it defaults to the usual KDE style, not the new one, and yes I prefer KDE over the other options.

    Bootcamp is good enough and provides very similar battery life on the mba, against the mbps, specially the 15.

    Currently in love with parallels, I have set my res on it for win as 1920*1200, I use it full screen, I have never gamed on the VM that I have for win 8, I do use it just for normal things, but never games. Basically what I did was to redirect the VM to the bootcamp partition that I already have.

    Thus currently I have set 3 partitions, OSX, Files, Win, this is in a 120gb SSD. Just so you know its extremely tight, I have only 12gb of docs in here, and I have uninstalled Xcode, visual studio aint installed yet, and CS 5.5 will eat another chunk.

    2) You can check owc for SSD upgrades (they use the SF 2281, irrrk), I dont know if their price is lower than apples, but you will retain your apple SSD. One thing worth mentioning is that currently, AFAIK, the 256gb are using the samsung 830, instead of the sf 2281 that the 128gb uses, I would swallow the cost for that one.

    3) Refurbs are always a good way to save a few bucks, all OEM refurbs are equally good. They usually inform you if there is any scratches or dents, I would go that way.

    Also have you thought about purchasing a SDXC card and putting your music there?
     
  3. kornchild2002

    kornchild2002 Notebook Deity

    Reputations:
    1,007
    Messages:
    1,925
    Likes Received:
    32
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Parallels will allow you to run some games under Windows though you would be better off obtaining the OS X versions of said titles or going the bootcamp route if you plan on playing games quite a bit (at least once a week). The HD 4000 is capable of handling Valve games at a decent resolution and image quality setting. I have Portal up and running (under OS X) on my mid-2011 13" MBA. It isn't running at my MBA's native resolution but it is higher than 720p and all of the details are set to (about) medium. Its very improper but I believe Portal looks better than the PS3 variant (which was a sloppy, sloppy port) and possibly even a little better than the Xbox 360 version. Portal might be alright through Parallels. I take it that GW2 is Guild Wars 2. If that is the case, you might as well kiss that game goodbye on the MBA (or any ultrabook for that matter). The HD 4000 are going to be a huge bottleneck with that game. Things might be OK at 640X480 but I wouldn't expect anything higher. Guild Wars 2 would definitely need to be run through bootcamp.

    I currently have a mid-2011 13" MBA with a 128GB SSD. Just to give you an idea, here are all the things I have installed:
    • Parallels 7
    • Windows 7 Ultimate x64
    • MS Office 2010 under my Windows VM
    • MS Office 2011 under OS X
    • The iLife package and every other program that comes pre-installed on Macs
    • iWork '09
    • MATLAB 2011R1 under Windows VM
    • Portal (OS X)
    • Half-Life 2 (OS X)
    • Two expansion packs for Half-Life 2 (OS X)
    • About 3GB worth of additional OS X and Windows programs

    I have about 7-10GB of free space on my MBA's SSD depending on what I am doing. My iTunes library is over 500GB so it would be impossible for me to carry it on my MBA. I haven't been able to put my iTunes library on any of my computers' internal hard drives since 2004 so I have become accustomed to carrying around an external hard drive. I currently have a 1TB Seagate external HDD hooked up to my MBA through Thunderbolt and it goes everywhere my MBA does.

    You should get the 256GB model if you plan on putting your iTunes library on your Mac, otherwise you might be able to get away with the 128GB version. As previously stated, OWC does offer aftermarket SSD upgrades for the MBA and their prices are on par with what Apple charges (though the capacities are a little different). They offer a 180GB SSD upgrade for $225, 240GB for $300, and 480GB for $650. So those are a possibility if you don't want to spend $300 up front but, if you are going to need the 356GB SSD, you might as well buy it pre-installed.
     
  4. doh123

    doh123 Without ME its just AWESO

    Reputations:
    996
    Messages:
    3,727
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    106
    *if* you can get a game running with Wineskin, Crossover, or anything else that uses Wine, its usually much higher performance than a VM, since its not having to emulate and entire computer and run Windows...

    It can get complicated, but some places have wrappers (mac apps you install the Windows game inside of so it works like a normal Mac app) that you can just download and use like at PaulTheTall.com, and Portingteam.com
     
  5. bogatyr

    bogatyr Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    85
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    30
    I would use VMWare Fusion or Parallels for the VM (if Parallels supports running the bootcamp partition as a VM under OS X). Then I would install Windows under bootcamp and Linux only under a VM. Afterwards, configure your VM Host to run the bootcamp partition under OS X.

    Now while running OS X you can use Windows and Linux as well. However, if you want to game, you reboot into the bootcamp Windows so you get full performance for the games. This will give you the best performance.

    I highly recommend the 256GB due to the extra space being used for VMs, games and Xcode.

    I personally used a 2011 MBA 13" 256GB 1.8Ghz Core i7 that was an Apple direct refurb. It was identical in appearance and reliability to my brand new identical model that work supplied to me. I would recommend going with the refurb (from Apple!), especially since the warranty is identical and you can extended it by 2 years just like a new laptop.
     
  6. Thors.Hammer

    Thors.Hammer Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    982
    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    216
    I really love the mid 2012 MBA I have. It is the i5, 8GB, 256GB model.

    I am not using bootcamp for Windows or Linux. All operating systems other than OS X go into a VM. I use Fusion 5.x for that and I use it primarily to let OS X manage power and thermals. I don't need the performance from native hardware in Windows or Linux. I also prefer KDE. :)

    Regarding the premium for the extra storage space, divide the amount by the number of months you plan to have the machine. Most people keep a machine 3-4 years so $300 ends up being eight bucks a month over three years. That and the resale value for the machine should hold up better in my view.
     
  7. kornchild2002

    kornchild2002 Notebook Deity

    Reputations:
    1,007
    Messages:
    1,925
    Likes Received:
    32
    Trophy Points:
    66
    It does and has since last year... Maybe even longer than that but I didn't get Parallels until version 7 and I don't feel like looking it up right now.
     
  8. bogatyr

    bogatyr Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    85
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    30
    Ah ok. I just didn't want to claim it did something it might not - I don't own Parallels and haven't tried it. I figured it did though which is why I listed it and just put in a comment about the support.

    I only use VMWare because I've had their Workstation product for my Windows machines for years and had an account with them.
     
  9. masterchef341

    masterchef341 The guy from The Notebook

    Reputations:
    3,047
    Messages:
    8,636
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    206
    but of course, since the OP will be triple booting, windows on boot camp will be an option, and that will deliver the highest performance and widest compatibility far and away.

    wine is not a great option for people with access to native windows
     
  10. hakira

    hakira <3 xkcd

    Reputations:
    957
    Messages:
    1,286
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    55
    Got a 256gb/8gb ram version for cheaper than usual, so I went with the VM route - I totally forgot about an old favorite, VirtualBox, which I know how to use well but didn't remember it had a mac host client. Now each OS has 2 cores/4gb ram each, and since GW2 magically released a native mac client this week most of my gaming worries are a moot point.

    I'm just happy that I can stop taking my g73 to work now, I like both machines but man does it weight a ton, the MBA is like 3 lbs with all the cords and everything in a tiny slipcase bag.
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page