MacBook Air - powerful enough for LR raw and Silver Efex Pro2???

Started May 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Ray Sachs
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MacBook Air - powerful enough for LR raw and Silver Efex Pro2???
May 19, 2013

Hi all,

I'm a Lightroom (4.4 for now) user who also uses some of the Nik Plug-ins (mostly Silver Efex, Color Efex, and Viveza). My previous iMac wasn't cutting it, particularly for the Nik plug ins, so I upgraded almost two years ago to a "mid-2011" 27" model. My current iMac does pretty well, although it slows down some on the larger 24mp raw files (Sony RX1). My current model has a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 gb of ram, and the stock AMD Radeon HD 6770M 512mb graphics card.

I'm getting ready for some fairly extensive travel this summer. My primary approach has been to use a hard-drive backup to backup my SD cards each evening and then I upload to an iPad, where I cull out the garbage files, process and upload a few of the jpegs to Flickr (I shoot raw + jpeg when I'm travelling with the iPad), and then store the raw and jpegs, to upload and process further on my desktop when I get home. As long as I cull out the garbage and get down to maybe 50-75 shots per day, I seem to do OK for about a month or so at a time with my 64gb iPad. And I've still got all of the originals on the backup hard drive if I decide I deleted something I should have kept.

So my question is, how would I do with a MacBook Air? I'm thinking the 13" version, which I figure I can limp along with for a screen size. But how will it do processing/editing larger raw files? The Air appears to have a 1.8 GHz processor, with "turbo boost" up to 2.8 GHz, but its a dual core i5 rather than my current single core, so would it actually be faster? Or I could upgrade to a 2.0 dual core i7 with turbo boost up to 3.2 GHz if that would be notably faster or get it closer to my desktop speed. The graphics card is an Intel HD Graphics 4000 - no idea how that compares either. I'd plan to upgrade the ram to 8gb - going from 4 to 8 gb of ram seemed to really help on my desktop machine.

So I'm wondering how this MacBook Air setup would likely compare with my roughly two year old iMac, which I'm still pretty satisfied with? If its a little slower I could cope. If its a lot slower, I'd probably just rather carry on as I have been with my ipad. But I hate re-processing stuff when I get home at the end of the trip when I've already done it once (albeit with the jpegs and something basic like iphoto and/or Snapseed) while travelling. But being able to process my raw files while travelling and editing the good ones with a similar workflow to what I'm using at home sounds like a nice option if I can make the MacBook Air work well. I'm just not sure how the dual core vs single core (?) processors at varying speeds compare and how the graphics capability compares. If its up to snuff, I'll probably go for a MacBook Air. If I'm gonna just be frustrated, I'll probably stick with my iPad and save the money toward the next desktop upgrade when my current iMac can't hack it anymore...

Thanks for your thoughts...

-Ray
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