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Hi guys, I am planning on buy the new Macbook Air with following specifications: 

  • 1.6GHz dual-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz; Retina display; 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory; 256GB SSD storageIntel UHD Graphics 617.

I wonder if someone around here has it - or something similar - and can ask me about how is the performance on Ultra Graphics.

I currently have a Macbook Air 2012 where I need to be almost all the time on Low Graphics. 

Before anyone suggest I get a PC, I may say that I also have an Acer Nitro Gamer, where I use SL on Ultra Graphics all the time. The fact is that I tried and found out I prefer Macbook Air design and ergonomics, and I would love having Ultra Graphics  experience on it.

Thank you in advance.

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I doubt that any MacBook Air, or any machine with Intel integrated graphics, will run SL on Ultra settings.

My main gripe with an Air, or any "thin and light" laptop, would be screen size.  I want lots of screen space for SL...but according to your post, you're OK with a smaller screen.

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That Intel UHD Graphics 617 is going to really struggle running ultra graphics.
Also be aware that having a retina display is going to kill your performance even more.

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20 minutes ago, AmySmith1973 said:

Oh ok. Thank you, I was not aware of that retina display issue.

The higher your screen resolution, the more taxing it is on the system to render the screen.
If you're going to get a system with a high resolution display for SL, you need to be extra careful that the system has the power to handle it.

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I'm a little confused about how SL works on retina Macs (which is everything but the entry level 21" iMac). My iMac pro shows 2560x1600 in SL regardless whether I launch it in full or low resolution mode. UI elements look better in full retina resolution, but the scene looks the same either way and the frame rate is unaffected. There is, of course, some overhead for refreshing four times as many pixels per frame, but I think the SL drawing engine is writing four retina pixels with the same data for each native SL pixel. That's not as computationally intense as rendering at full retina resolution. So, it may be that retina displays don't slow down a Mac as much as one might expect, because SL isn't taking advantage of the extra resolution. All that said, ain't nobody gonna run Ultra on Intel integrated graphics, except for photography.

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5 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

I doubt that any MacBook Air, or any machine with Intel integrated graphics, will run SL on Ultra settings.

My main gripe with an Air, or any "thin and light" laptop, would be screen size.  I want lots of screen space for SL...but according to your post, you're OK with a smaller screen.

Yes I am ok with the screen size :) I gave up screen space in order to get mobility. Thanks for you information Lindal :) 

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1 hour ago, Whirly Fizzle said:

That Intel UHD Graphics 617 is going to really struggle running ultra graphics.
Also be aware that having a retina display is going to kill your performance even more.

Oh ok. Thank you, I was not aware of that retina display issue.

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Macs are... an ordeal. Especially the MacBook Air, I would suggest investing more into a standard MacBook or MacBook Pro if you really want to go Mac. The airs have a life long history of being little housefires because of their terrible cooling.

As for how it'll perform in SL, at ultra probably not great. I'm not sure specifically what resolution the Retina display is on the 8th airs, it can mean anything apple wants really, sometimes it's slightly above 1080p, sometimes it's 5k. Lets just presume 1080p. You're gonna see overall adequate performance but at max settings it just won't handle complex spaces or large quantities of people at all, expect to drop ALM or at least shadows just to keep the framerate up when people are around.

If you like the whole thin and light thing but want actual performance out of it and not obscene amounts of thermal throttling like every other MacBook Air before it, Gigabyte Aero. 

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55 minutes ago, cykarushb said:

I'm not sure specifically what resolution the Retina display is on the 8th airs, it can mean anything apple wants really, sometimes it's slightly above 1080p, sometimes it's 5k. Lets just presume 1080p. You're gonna see overall adequate performance but at max settings it just won't handle complex spaces or large quantities of people at all, expect to drop ALM or at least shadows just to keep the framerate up when people are around.

If you like the whole thin and light thing but want actual performance out of it and not obscene amounts of thermal throttling like every other MacBook Air before it, Gigabyte Aero. 

Apple defines "Retina Display" as having sufficient resolution to make individual pixels indistinguishable at normal viewing distance. That's around 300ppi for something like a phone, held 12" from your eyes. The larger the screen, the further away you are likely to view it, so pixels per inch (ppi) would reasonably go down as screen size goes up. Apple has consistently met or exceeded their initial definition for Retina displays since introducing the marketing term.

For iPhones, resolution ranges from 326ppi to 458ppi.
For iPads, 264 to 326 ppi.
For laptops, 226 ppi.
For desktops, 219 ppi.

The only Apple devices sporting 1080p or less displays are the entry level, non-retina 21" iMac (108ppi), Apple Watch(326ppi) and iPod touch (326ppi).

The MacBook Air's 13.3" display is 2560x1600. That's 2x the pixels of 1080p. I don't know how the SL viewer will use that available resolution. On my 5K iMac Pro, the viewer appears to run at 2560x1600, which is 1/4 the native pixel density. It's possible the MacBook Air would run SL at 1280x800. The GPU must still shovel 2560x1600 pixels to the panel at 60Hz, but the renderer would save some time by drawing at lower resolution and replicating pixels. Even so, I agree that the integrated graphics probably won't impress at Ultra settings.

Edited by Madelaine McMasters

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