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Which MacBook?

Hi Zettlers,

since the expertise concentration on this forum is maxed out I'd be dumb to not posting this question.

I need a new MacBook. But I am not sure what MacBook I need.

There are three options:

  1. The Mac Air M1 with 16GB RAM
  2. The MacBook Pro M1 13'' with 8GB RAM (1 GPU Core more)
  3. The MacBook Pro M1 13'' with 16GB RAM

I don't need big power. I just write, zettle, zoom and similar stuff. However, I'll get more into simple video editing (include some slides, but nothing fancy) which begs the question if I am better off with option (2) than (1). Or if I even benefit (notably) with option (3).

I'd go with (3) if the benefits would be notably. But I am happy with either (1) or (2) if I just need to wait a minute or two until a video is rendered.

Live long and prosper
Sascha

I am a Zettler

«1

Comments

  • However, I'll get more into simple video editing (include some slides, but nothing fancy) which begs the question if I am better off with option (2) than (1). Or if I even benefit (notably) with option (3).

    You'll need good graphic card, 16go ram are required.

    I am quite exasperated by their wonderful product presentation : I can't see if they have a GPU card, what is the model, the power, the dedicated ram. It seems that they don't have any… Erk. Are Mac are so special they can rely on CPU only to practice pictures and videos edition ?

    I draw in my computer with a dedicated interactive screen, and a graphic card integrated to CPU was NO WAY. Basically, I paint on huge canvas because a lot of my drawings are for print, most of computer would not bear it. Editing video can eat a lot of ressource as well, depending on encodage and length of the video.

    If IOS was a requirement, I would buy a full Intel computer with no OS and install IOS myself. Best of all worlds.

  • I think that if budget is no limiting factor, 3 >> 1 > 2.

    • Favor RAM to not have a bottleneck when processing power is available
    • MacBook Pro over Air for video exporting

    @Loni The new generation of Macs has combo cores for CPU and GPU that are nothing like e.g. on-board Intel video. It's wild, and also super fast, actually, if software makes use of this. (Video export does.) The A14 etc. iPad chips were very capable for 3D gaming even, so that approach always has been better than Intel on-board video, and the M1 chips then trump these again.

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • The core question how much faster are 8 than 7 GPU kernels. But I didn't found any good benchmarks that apply to a vanilla user like I am.

    I am a Zettler

  • I have never regretted having more power and RAM than I originally thought I needed. I have regretted having less power and RAM than I needed when something appeared later that I couldn't use because I had been "rational" at an earlier stage.

  • @sfast said:
    The core question how much faster are 8 than 7 GPU kernels. But I didn't found any good benchmarks that apply to a vanilla user like I am.

    What make you hesitate ? The price, the ratio prince-performance, the overkill syndrom ?

    When choosing technologic, I tend to :

    • Establishing the average use of the computer,
    • Establishing the max use of the computer.

    The computer is an investissement, and you should have something you could use even at the max you could need and afford.

    However, from what I understand from that esoteric table of their and info I can find, the first one would be suits you as well if your need of treating video and photo are limitated.

    @Loni The new generation of Macs has combo cores for CPU and GPU that are nothing like e.g. on-board Intel video. It's wild, and also super fast, actually, if software makes use of this. (Video export does.) The A14 etc. iPad chips were very capable for 3D gaming even, so that approach always has been better than Intel on-board video, and the M1 chips then trump these again.

    Interesting, I understand why Apple does not function with anything but a limited set of CPU. However their technic files drive me nut : how we are suppose to care that the new one is better than the last one ? What does that mean ?

    I would be curious of users avis. I only used Apple at school.

  • Either 1 or 3 🙂

    Scott P. Scheper
    Website | Twitter | Reddit | YouTube

  • If you intend to keep using your laptop for a long time, buy the fastest one you can afford as invariably software will eat up more and more cpu and memory over time!

    If you mostly work from your desk, a smaller laptop, attached to external display(s) would be fine.

    If you do a lot of traveling, a lighter laptop would be better.

    For me larger fonts on a larger display are important as my eyesight has gotten worse. I intend to use the laptop for a long time. My previous laptop was a 2015 MBP (which died last year when I spilled coffee on it). I don't do much traveling but at the same time I rarely work on the computer at my desk.

    Given all that I bought the 16" M1 MBP and I am very happy with it. Even X86-64 programs from the older laptop get converted extremely fast and come up instantly. It is very quiet even when working hard. Its battery lasts a long time. Its sound is quite good. With apple's "handoff" technology, I even accept/make phone calls on it, in addition to social media, zoom etc. I also end up watching more streaming videos on due to its larger screen. But its heft means I am not tempted to use it from bed and end up staying late! Overall close to perfect.

    I did buy Apple Care for it as it has been worth it in the past.

  • Option 3 if you're going to do the video. I use option 1 and even when editing photos it sometimes runs into the limits of the graphic memory.

  • @sfast Here are a couple of the videos that might help you with you purchasing decision (these guys give great analysis in general, but also regarding the MBA for your purposes specifically):

    Summary: the MacBook Air is most likely good enough for light video editing if you are using Final Cut.

    However, I can say that owning an M1 Max that I use for both professional and personal work, the screen of the re-designed models are great, especially if you spend long hours on the computer. Also, personally, I would definitely stay away from the 13" since it still has the Touch Bar, which looks like it is being phased out (none of the new models have them).

    Also, depending on how immediate your needs are, you may consider waiting for the new M2 MBA which is rumored to be released sometime this year (even as early as WWDC in June).

  • 3, and done. (you're good for the next 5 years)

  • Since the consensus seems to be pointing towards number 3, I just wanted to share some evidence possibly against 3 in addition to my comments above:

    M1 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Pro - Full Comparison!

    Basically, both of these are old designs, designed around a different architecture with different thermal requirements. So the power and efficiency of the M1 processor and unified memory architecture make the two models very similar in performance. I would even suggest:

    • Best case scenario: wait for M2 MPA if possible (remember, even the current MBA was not designed around Apple Silicon, so even the hardware design itself is not optimized for Apple silicon).
    • Worse case scenario: if need is immediate, MBA and max out ram and then storage as your budget allows.
  • @Darryl This is my suspicion. With the M1 chips and the not yet fully harmonised architecture the difference between the air and the pro seems to be suprisingly low.

    I just need a notebook that can do some editing. So, not really any fancy stuff.

    But I did commit the fallacy that I don't need any fancy in the past. :)


    @ All So, the consensus seems to be: Make sure that you get those 16GB RAM?

    I am a Zettler

  • @erikh said:
    Option 3 if you're going to do the video. I use option 1 and even when editing photos it sometimes runs into the limits of the graphic memory.

    Overread this. So, throwing some more money into the throats of big tech it will be. :/

    I am a Zettler

  • The consensus is to get the beefiest one your money can buy. :)

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • @ctietze said:
    The consensus is to get the beefiest one your money can buy. :)

    Why am I still trapped in the Kapitalistische Verwertungslogik?

    I am a Zettler

  • Some more flip floping. :/

    @erikh What do you mean by hiting the limits? I mean practically? Longer export? Some stuttering when using a lot of effects?

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast : I will open a photo from Apple Photos into Affinity Photo and when do memory intensive edits (or sometimes even a simple edit that requires a lot of movements), it may just become unresponsive (force-quit-like). Or even in Apple Photos quickly browsing through many photos, and including animations or videos, may result in "double pictures", the previous picture superimposed on the next one (goes away with a little back-and-forth, but annoying anyway). I'm using the 16GB version, so I assume it is not a problem with the working memory but with the graphics. Of course, one can live with such thing, depending on how much money one is willing to offer to the gods of big tech :smile:

  • @erikh
    I'm using the 16GB version, so I assume it is not a problem with the working memory but with the graphics. Of course, one can live with such thing, depending on how much money one is willing to offer to the gods of big tech :smile:

    I knew it.
    The lack of dedicated GPU for the high price is shameful. Buy PC, and @ctietze just has to develop a Windows or Linux version of the Archives. Totaly selfless suggestion, of course :smiley:

  • edited May 11

    @erikh said:
    @sfast : I will open a photo from Apple Photos into Affinity Photo and when do memory intensive edits (or sometimes even a simple edit that requires a lot of movements), it may just become unresponsive (force-quit-like). Or even in Apple Photos quickly browsing through many photos, and including animations or videos, may result in "double pictures", the previous picture superimposed on the next one (goes away with a little back-and-forth, but annoying anyway). I'm using the 16GB version, so I assume it is not a problem with the working memory but with the graphics. Of course, one can live with such thing, depending on how much money one is willing to offer to the gods of big tech :smile:

    This is a real suprise to me since I am using a Mac Air from 2017 with a 1,8 GHz Intel Core i5 and 8GB. I can edit videos up to 10min within a reasonable frame of annoyance.

    That still leaves the question open how much of a difference an additional GPU core really makes. It is not that I wonder if 8 or 16 are appropriate but do 8 make a real difference than 7.

    @Loni said:

    @erikh
    I'm using the 16GB version, so I assume it is not a problem with the working memory but with the graphics. Of course, one can live with such thing, depending on how much money one is willing to offer to the gods of big tech :smile:

    I knew it.
    The lack of dedicated GPU for the high price is shameful. Buy PC, and @ctietze just has to develop a Windows or Linux version of the Archives. Totaly selfless suggestion, of course :smiley:

    The price to value ratio is worse. But honestly, I like the overall feel of the mac compared to PC.

    I am a Zettler

  • I will open a photo from Apple Photos into Affinity Photo and when do memory intensive edits (or sometimes even a simple edit that requires a lot of movements), it may just become unresponsive (force-quit-like).

    May be this is due to CPU throttling?

    I'd suggest finding some benchmarks that are closer to your workflow to get a good idea of what to expect. Plus may be visit forums of your favorite apps to see what people say.

    Note that 2020 13.3" M1 MBA + 16GB RAM + 512GB SSD is about 3/4 the price of 2021 14.2" M1 Pro MBP + 16GB RAM + 512GB SSD. But the latter has much faster memory interface + at least 2x faster SSD interface + a few more goodies.

    https://www.apple.com/mac/compare/?modelList=MacBook-Air-M1,MacBookPro-13-M1,MacBook-Pro-14

    Given that Apple devices are not upgradable, in general I agree with @ctietze to get the beefiest one your money can buy (or you have the budget for)!

  • edited May 11
    Model Screen SSD RAM CPU/GPU Price
    MBA 13" 256GB 16GB 8/7 Core CPU/GPU M1 1359 €
    MBA 13" 512GB 16GB 8/8 Core CPU/GPU M1 1629 €
    MBP 13" 256GB 16GB 8/8 Core CPU/GPU M1 1679 €
    MBP 13" 512GB 16GB 8/8 Core CPU/GPU M1 1909 €
    MBP 14" 512GB 16GB 8/16 Core CPU/GPU M1 Pro 2249 €

    The MBP 13" has the same chip as the MBA 13" with 8 Core GPU but better thermal control, so the 50 € extra there would make sense. @sfast can haul both machines and won't collapse under the non-airiness, so form factor is negligible :) -- Then the Pro's SSD is smaller, though, so a true comparison is the 1909 € model vs the 1629 € model. That's 280 € or 17% more for better 'peak performance'. The Air might do just as well then.

    But the bottommost entry, the 14" MBP with the M1 Pro chip is 620 € or 38% more expensive than the beefiest Air in Germany. It's faster all over the place, but €€€€

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • edited May 11

    The primary issue I try to tackle is that I want to have surplus processing power in a year or two. Right now, I am on an 2017 Air because I never thought that I dive into edited video and didn't anticipate it being so resource intensive.

    All three options are not creating the resource surplus that I think is rational if I don't want to buy something new every two years.

    The pro just has one GPU kernel added which which is only 14% more which results in perhaps 12% more power since the benefit is not linear.

    So, I tend to believe that I will buy a Mac Studio in the near future just to have the surplus power for a long time. This surplus power eleviates the time stress. I only have an issue because I bought without any consideration for any buffering. If there would be no video editing in consideration I wouldn't even notice the difference between my MacBook now and any other Mac: I just type, browse and watch video at my desk. I could even downdgrade to an even older model and wouldn't have any issues. :)

    Since I am typing on the Laptop, the Air has a more comfortable slope instead of being flat. And typing is the most important issue here (I don't like external keyboards because I like my desk tidy). I ditched the external Monitor and am very happy with it even though I need to change some workflows (having two windows next to each other)

    So, one plan is:

    1. Buy the Mac Air now.
    2. Buy the studio in a year or two.
    3. Perhaps never buy any computer.

    I am thinking out loud ("loud") since my geek-o-meter is a 1.5/Emacs. So, I appreciate all poking holes in my thinking.

    Post edited by sfast on

    I am a Zettler

  • edited May 11

    @sfast said:
    I just need a notebook that can do some editing. So, not really any fancy stuff.

    ...

    @ All So, the consensus seems to be: Make sure that you get those 16GB RAM?

    ...

    Given that Apple devices are not upgradable, in general I agree with @ctietze to get the beefiest one your money can buy (or you have the budget for)!

    I want to disagree here. I think, the MBA with 8GB RAM is hands down the most bang for the buck. It is a general rule of thumb, that the "basic" models from Apple are just better value. Buying an upgraded version makes sense if you are buying used, but otherwise it's just insanely overpriced for what you are getting. In the case MBA 8GB vs. 16GB, I think the difference in performance - even in the next years to come - is irrelevant, because most users will barely notice it.

    I picked up an 8GB MBA right after it came out, so I use it as my main machine for over 9 months now. My most intense task is music production in Logic Pro and even big projects are no problem. A friend of mine has the same model and does (light) video editing on it. You can see the results on his YouTube-Channel, which I would describe as reasonable:
    youtu.be/xNBIfbn6-c8

    My recommendation: Buy the cheapest M1 MBA and if you later realise, that you need more power you can get one of the workstations/studio. But I honestly think the MBA will do the job just fine.

  • @runit Thanks a lot!

    It might be ironic that a LowTech Penner like me could benefit from a video on perfume. (I am really suprised that the packaging is something that is considered, additionally. But you never stop learning).

    I am a Zettler

  • For those also struggling, this video sums up one side of the coin:

    The other side of the coin are the benchmarks. So, the sum of my research is:

    1. If you go by benchmarks the pro is of course better.
    2. In the real world however, those difference seem to disappear because of the surplus ressources the new technology already offers.

    Just to give you an example: If a slightly edited video takes me about 10 Minutes to export a 20% difference would save me 2min. But if I can work in the background simple tasks (like every task in my life), there would be no difference. Also: If a task is considerably longer and ressource intensive most of the time I'd let my laptop do the work and schedule it, so I can walk my dog in the meantime.

    Relative numbers deceive in a lot of cases (especially when it comes to anything that relates to the way of living). To me, this is a case of the relative numbers showing a different picture than the real world.

    So, my decision is made: I go with the air and 16GB for margin of error. In some time, I will purchase an external device to offload any intensive tasks and perhaps never ever need another computer anymore. (like GRR Martin)

    Thanks at all. I hope I remember to give you the results of my experience in a couple of weeks when that thing finally arrives.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast, get the most powerful Mac you can get your hands on. Max out the processor, SSD and memory. If you don't use the additional power at first, the spy- and malware will need it. You surprised yourself doing video editing, and you'll surprise yourself again.

    Erdös #2. ZK software components. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport.

  • Get 16 GB and refurbished. If you have time, why not see what the M2/new MBA can do?

  • @NiranS said:
    Get 16 GB and refurbished. If you have time, why not see what the M2/new MBA can do?

    I didn't have time because my old Mac was slowly detiorating.

    The first impression of the new mac: Very snappy. Everything is just fast.

    I am a Zettler

  • Just to give you all a little update: I am very happy with the new Mac Air. It is bizarrely fast and way faster than expected. I use QuickTime when I just want to add an intro and outro to a video. A task that took my old Mac about 10-15 minutes is now done in under 1 minute.

    The actual goal of the computer being the invisible background work bench is achieved. I can't tell anything about benchmarks since I don't max out my computer at any time. But there is nothing that obstructs my work at any time. I think the M1 broke the normal rule to beef out on the stats to have the most long-term solution.

    If anybody has a question about the M1 Mac Air (16GB) I am happy to answer.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast: Great to hear that you are happy with your new "invisible background work bench" (such a good definition).

    Before the M1 MacBooks arrived on the scene, I previously followed the "...rule to beef out on the stats to have the most long-term solution", purchasing an overly-expensive 16" MacBook Pro when they appeared. I am still happy with it - apart from the fan roaring when I render video - but it has perhaps less performance than your machine. I still cry a little about that, but that is the cost of a good life-lesson ;)

    As you are doing some video with your new device, I am interested in how much storage you chose? Everybody's needs will be different, but I get the impression you plan to use it for a long time, and took that into consideration.

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