MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro for Graphic Design

Mac and Graphic DesignApple’s Macintosh has been the preferred computer platform of graphic designers for many years. It is the main reason for owning and the biggest niche market for this type of computer. Designers who want a Mac and need portability have two excellent choices between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops. Both bring a lot of power and flexibility to design professionals and have their pluses and minuses.

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The MacBook Air comes with a choice of either an 11.6 inch or 13.3 inch monitor built in to the laptop. The version with an 11.6 inch display comes with a 1366 x 768 pixel resolution. The 13.3 inch version comes with a 1440 x 900 resolution. The more pixels, or dots that make up the images on the screen, the more information can be displayed on the screen. For this reason, a higher resolution is generally considered preferable. The CPU, or brain of the computer, that handles all non-graphics related processing is a 1.4 GHz Intel processor in the most common base configuration. The MacBook Air is available with either 4 gigabytes or a maximum of 8 gigabytes of memory. Available storage for files can be anywhere from 128 gigabytes of data up to a maximum of 512 gigabytes.
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The MacBook Pro gives you the choice of either a 13.3 inch or a 15.4 inch monitor. The resolution of the monitor is the biggest change from the MacBook Air. The Pro offers a 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution, enabling the display of a lot more information on screen at a time. The CPU of the MacBook Pro is also more powerful coming in either 2.6 or 2.8 gigahertz varieties. The available memory configurations are 8 gigabyte minimum and a maximum of 16 gigabytes. Storage options for your software and data files can range up to 1 terabyte in size on this laptop.

Another important consideration aside from simply the resolution of a monitor is what is called pixel density, which is expressed as ppi(pixels per inch). By having a much higher resolution on about the same size screen, the MacBook Pro has a much higher pixel density than the MacBook Air. The more pixels per inch forming your images the crisper and sharper those images look.
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If you can get a good deal on the MacBook Pro, it is clearly the superior computer overall. About the only technical advantage of the Pro over the Air is its longer battery life. The Air’s lower screen resolution means its graphics processor doesn’t have to work as hard pushing as many pixels around the screen when you are moving images, so its battery lasts about 12 hours as opposed to about 9 for the MacBook Pro. The biggest advantage of the Air is that it will typically be a couple to a few hundred dollars less than the MacBook Pro. You would then have to make a cost benefit analysis as to whether the extra performance or capabilities of the Pro are worth the price premium for the graphic design work you are using it for. If money is tight, the MacBook Air will still give you a capable computer for design work, but you will find yourself feeling confined by its maximum memory limits and comparatively slow CPU much more quickly than you will with the MacBook Pro.

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