Sunday, June 11, 2023

Apple Has Made It Easier For Users With Different Needs and Usage to Pick the Right Mac

I'm learning coding to use my MacBook. Okay, I know how to use one but what I mean is that I am trying to utilize in such a way that can expand what I an do at work, enhance my skills needed for my hobbies that may one day turn into a "gig". It is an old MacBook so I will, one, outgrow it because if the speed and capacity or, two, when apps or OS no longer work support my efforts. Both reasons are beginning to become apparent. Still, there is time for me until I need to go down to the Apple and pick up a new one. 

Let's go through the MacBook lineup and visit some specs to see which MacBook works for a certain type of user and what specs they may need.
If you use it for home as a consumer - browsing, banking, watching video, the MacBook Air, both the M1 and M2 works great for you. With the newer 15" Mabook Air, you get a bigger screen to watching Apple TV content or Youtube. The 13" Air was for this before the 15" came out and it's still fine now. The base model comes with 8 GB of memory and 256b GB of storage. It is fine as it is. If you have more videos and photos, then you can consider going for one with more storage options. As for memory, I find it to be a bit more tricky because for writing (for most non-engineering/science students, bloggers, writers), it's fine. However, if you're an user who requires more heavy lifting with things like photo and video editing, going to 16 GB might be an option. 

Even a MacBook with 8 GB can handle a majority of photo editing tasks without breaking a sweat from the things I have seen users through at the MacBook Air in articles and videos. I still cannot hep but want at least 16 GB for future proofing. When it comes to some video editing work, I definitely would want to have 16 GB. For instance, I am trying to put some videos of my dog for family (maybe Youtube). I am doing that on my iPad. So, I am sure a MacBook Air will be fine. For a lot of special efforts, cameras, and things that start to look sort of professional, I have seen the Air hold its own but some users have opt to go in a different direction.

That's where the MacBook Pro comes into view. 

The "Pro" sort of gives it away. The question if you should go with the MacBook Pro is obvious if you make your living generating apps, media (not just writing), and do work like machine learning or data analysis. There is no mistaking if you need a pro. As a professional, this is what you want. I did read online that if you do a lot of work on the cloud, perhaps, an Air would work.

It's when you're on the fence, "prosumer". You want to turn your hobby or you're about to get into coding and developing professional level work. While I am not there yet, I can see the dilemma faced by this group of users. One option is to max out the memory on the Air to 24 GB and that would give you some extra push for when you need it. Still, I cannot help but think that a Pro with 16 GB and the internal fan (the Air lack an internal fan so the M2 is throttle to prevent heat from becoming an issue) would provide you with greater horse power and endurance to handle your work. Also, the Pro starts with the M2 Pro so you already have extra processing power. I am squarely in the Pro camp if you want to go a step beyond sharing edited family video or social media video to TikTok or Youtube.

That's me. You probably want to consider weight, cost, and, again, the type of work you will be doing with the MacBook Air or Pro.

Here are things I am getting into and it it my opinion only based on what I am learning on the Internet and what I plan on doing.
  • Coding like Xcode - for beginners and even coders who are looking to get into the market, the Air works great. Of course, a MacBook Pro is better but it seems like the Air can hold its own. 
  • Coding Python and deep learning - It seems like many users are using the MacBook Air for coding in python and using it for machine learning. But people have noted that optimizing ML using the GPU cores improves time by as much as 25%. I cannot speak with any authority on this matter because I have yet to try it myself. 
  • Video editing - I'm an iMovie guy. I do some simple work stitching together video for my pup and add captions to other videos for fun. Should I decide to put something more professional looking for Youtube, I think I can get away with iMovie. And It's iMovie on my iPad. When Apple released Final Cut for the iPad Pro last month, I began to look more deeply at Final Cut. For me, the MacBook Air with iMovie or Final Cut would be fine. I'm not a professional or even a prosumer in this category of work. My video is shaky and makes people sick. 
  • Gaming? One quick thought games to mind: gamers do not use Mac for gaming. I disagree to the extent that the Mac gaming community is not as big as Windows' so there is not as many game. And it seems like unless games receive special attention from Apple during special events, most games on Mac are not optimized as they should be and any port almost always seem to be after-thoughts. Have said that, I believe the M-series chips and Apple's effort to court developers could help grow the Mac gaming community. Since the Air is a consumer level laptop, gaming on it 
I want to revisit coding here a bit and then more in follow-up posts. The Air is perfect for someone like me. A beginner and very excited about learning fast and really "leveling up". The main thing is that I want to incorporate ML in my own curriculum. Given the specs I want, I would get a MacBook Pro today - possible the 14" MacBook with 16 GB (I would go for a 32 GB version if I can find it on sale). I think in the next few years, ML and the ability to handle and manipulate big sets of data and working with a model to provide important and actionable results is highly important. That's where I want to be.

Another word for students. I have been one. A poor one. But I saved and saved while I was in school and got a Powerbook that lasted me for years. Back then, you like workstations like the ones from SGI for modeling and that took hours a best but many projects took a couple of days.  For students today, it depends on what you plan on using a MacBook for? Writing papers, articles, or research, the Air is perfect. All it matters is if you want the 13" or 15" versions. However, if you plan on doing more like coding, well, I would go with an Air as well. You likely have powerful workstations in computer labs at school that you can book or sign up for to use. However, I have not been inside a computer lab in years so I cannot be sure. I am sure it also depends on your school and funding. So, definitely an Air for me. 

I hope this helps. I want to revisit ML and coding on MacBooks in future posts but let me say that Apple has clearly defined the lines for various users depending on  their needs. I also believe that whatever choice you or I make, you will be very happy with it.

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