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View Full Version : Which macbook air to get? Would like more advice




macnerd123
Nov 6, 2010, 11:22 PM
Hello. I am a student in high school and have been pondering every single option for a macbook and have finally narrowed it down to two macbook airs.
-The 11.6 inch macbook air with the 1.4 GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB flash storage
or
- The 13.3 Inch macbook air with 1.86 GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB flash storage.
I will be using it for about three years as my primary computer. Mainly, I will be using, office, iwork, itunes, ichat, and safari. Occasionally I will use applications like iMovie, Garageband or iPhoto. The 200 dollar difference in the two computers is really the biggest problem. I don't mind the loss of the SD card slot and although the 13 inch screen is more appealing, I can deal with it. Which would you suggest? It all comes down to the difference in speed.
:apple:

**UPDATE**
Thanks you all for your posts. Here are some more things you might want to know. I do not care about the smaller screen size. I went to the Apple Store and looked at it and it was fine. Also, I know many suggest to wait for Apple to update it, but technology, and especially Apple, is always updating and I will be waiting forever if I wait for the next generation. The Core 2 Duo is fine. Once I get to college is when I will buy the best of the best macbook. I can afford both computers, but of course the 13 inch would drain my entire savings. Thank you.

This will be replacing my black macbook with a 2.16 GHz core 2 duo, 1GB of memory, 160GB hard drive,



T4R06
Nov 6, 2010, 11:34 PM
No brainer for the 13 on your current situation.. Most of the folks here bought the 11 as secondary. Like me, I just got mine today. I choose the 11 because I have Mac mini on steroids with 23" monitor as my primary.

Jaro65
Nov 6, 2010, 11:45 PM
For your primary machine I would definitely go with the 13" MBA.

ingramLee
Nov 7, 2010, 12:01 AM
You need to re-evaluate your thought process if the $200 price difference is more of a factor in your decision process of buying your primary laptop rather than an 11" screen versus a 13" screen... :confused:

bcaslis
Nov 7, 2010, 01:29 AM
Do you want a larger screen or a smaller size? That's the primary question you need to ask. From what you said it sounds more like the 13" would be a better choice but that's something you need to answer.

CaoCao
Nov 7, 2010, 01:32 AM
Hello. I am a student in high school and have been pondering every single option for a macbook and have finally narrowed it down to two macbook airs.
-The 11.6 inch macbook air with the 1.4 GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB flash storage
or
- The 13.3 Inch macbook air with 1.86 GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB flash storage.
I will be using it for about three years as my primary computer. Mainly, I will be using, office, iwork, itunes, ichat, and safari. Occasionally I will use applications like iMovie, Garageband or iPhoto. The 200 dollar difference in the two computers is what's tearing me apart. I don't mind the loss of the SD card slot and although the 13 inch screen is more appealing, I can deal with it. Which would you suggest?
:apple:
The MBA 11 is a great secondary computer and will perform quite well in that regard.
OTOH MBA 13 is a computer that is fully functional as a stand alone computer, it is quite a but faster than the MBA 11 and obviously has a bigger screen.

I also recommend picking up an external DVD drive

KPOM
Nov 7, 2010, 11:38 AM
If you are going to be using it for 3 years, my suggestion here may be to wait a year or so. I don't think that the next MB Air update will take another 500 days like the last one, and it's likely to be more substantial. There's a real possibility (probability?) that the next version will use the Core i-series processors along with a decent GPU (since Intel's solutions will be getting better). The current revision was more about getting the basics right (solving the heat issues, adding the USB port and getting the price to something affordable). I wouldn't be surprised if it arrives next summer.

In the meantime, if you want a speed boost, you can pick up a decent 128GB SSD for about $250. I'd also upgrade the MacBook to 2GB (which I think is the maximum that the 2.16GHz models will support). I think if you did that, you could squeeze another year or so out of the MacBook.

Also consider that once you go to college you might find that you want or need a faster computer than the current MacBook Air. Remember, the Core 2 Duo will be a very old processor in 2013 (sort of like what the original Core Solo and Core Duo are now). The current MacBook Air runs a slightly enhanced version of the processor that is in your 2007 MacBook.

Tomple
Nov 7, 2010, 11:40 AM
11.6"

its ultra portable and ultra awesome :)

Lord Appleseed
Nov 7, 2010, 11:47 AM
I go with the opinion of most people here: 13"
...since you want to use it as your primary computer.

4GB Ram and a Superdrive are addons you should consider.

SamTheeGeek
Nov 7, 2010, 11:50 AM
I would recommend the 13" as it is going to be your primary computer.

Its worth the extra bucks for a 3 year investment. In my opinion i think the 11.6" is just too small and might strain your eyes during long hours of use.
( thats just my personal opinion )

comparing them both the 11.6" and 13.3" its a pretty good boost and a bang for your buck :) + i think it looks soo sweet :D 13" that is


Good luck on your decision.

teski
Nov 7, 2010, 11:50 AM
I'd go with the 13 as the others have mentioned. You'll enjoy the screen real estate and the improved perf...Depending on how much you plan to store on it, you might want to look at the extra drive space as well.

KPOM
Nov 7, 2010, 12:03 PM
You need to re-evaluate your thought process if the $200 price difference is more of a factor in your decision process of buying your primary laptop rather than an 11" screen versus a 13" screen... :confused:

The OP is a student in high school. I'm guessing budget is a big issue here.

Again, if cost is the issue I think it is better to find a way to squeeze a little bit more out of the current MacBook. The Rev D MacBook Air is squeezing out just about the maximum that Apple can from the aging Core 2 Duo architecture (the same architecture underlying the 2007 MacBook). In order to improve the Air further, Apple will need to change to the newer processors.

The 13" is $1399 in the configuration the original poster is looking for, and realistically the minimum MacBook Air I'd recommend for anyone contemplating holding it for 3 years (at which time it will be quite a bit behind the times). By contrast, it would cost $40 to upgrade the RAM to 2GB and $250 to upgrade to an SSD. Put aside the remaining $1000 and see what happens in the next 9-12 months. True, it would only have 2GB and slow integrated graphics, but it would still be a substantial speed boost with the potential for another big speed boost next year.

Loonytik
Nov 7, 2010, 12:06 PM
I have the exact 13 that you mention and it's great. Fast, certainly very portable, maybe not as much as the 11 but still very much so.

For as long as you say you need it....13, no doubt.

iDave
Nov 7, 2010, 12:06 PM
Personally, if I was going to choose a portable Mac as my primary computer and price was an issue, I'd go for the 13" MacBook Pro rather than either of the Airs. Since you say you've narrowed it down to the two Airs, go with the 13" model because it's a bit faster. The only reason I'd get the 11" model is is I wanted light, small and cool primarily for use on my lap or for traveling.

Gen
Nov 7, 2010, 12:07 PM
Go thirteen

koobcamuk
Nov 7, 2010, 12:13 PM
In the meantime, if you want a speed boost, you can pick up a decent 128GB SSD for about $250. I'd also upgrade the MacBook to 2GB (which I think is the maximum that the 2.16GHz models will support). I think if you did that, you could squeeze another year or so out of the MacBook.

It's actually 3GB RAM, like mine.

Adidas Addict
Nov 7, 2010, 12:16 PM
13" for your main machine, for sure. I have the 13" in the spec you are considering and it's a fantastic machine, truly the best portable ever IMO.

KPOM
Nov 7, 2010, 12:33 PM
It's actually 3GB RAM, like mine.

If so, that's even more reason to consider upgrading the existing MacBook.

zRedbullz
Nov 7, 2010, 12:34 PM
If you are going to be using it for 3 years, my suggestion here may be to wait a year or so. I don't think that the next MB Air update will take another 500 days like the last one, and it's likely to be more substantial. There's a real possibility (probability?) that the next version will use the Core i-series processors along with a decent GPU (since Intel's solutions will be getting better). The current revision was more about getting the basics right (solving the heat issues, adding the USB port and getting the price to something affordable). I wouldn't be surprised if it arrives next summer.


I really don't understand your logic. It is a very flawed suggestion.

We are talking about the status quo here. That is what we do when we buy something. If it is your view to wait 12 months on the assumption of a potential hardware/chip/processor blah blah upgrade, then you'll be waiting for a new computer forever!!

Technology is constantly moving all the time, at an unbelievable pace. Yes Core 2 Duo is an aging processor but proven and will easily serve the average user well for 3 - 4 years. I know of several people still using their core duo processors and are happy with the performance so far.

If you need a new computer, buy it now and be happy. :rolleyes:

KPOM
Nov 7, 2010, 12:44 PM
I really don't understand your logic. It is a very flawed suggestion.

We are talking about the status quo here. That is what we do when we buy something. If it is your view to wait 12 months on the assumption of a potential hardware/chip/processor blah blah upgrade, then you'll be waiting for a new computer forever!!

If you read my posts on other threads, you'll see that I'm purchasing an ultimate 13" for my own use.

However, what I gather from the original post, budget is a key issue (note his or her biggest objection to the 13" is the extra $200 cost). It occurred to me that, apart from the GPU, the current generation MacBook Air is not a significant improvement over what the OP currently can obtain by upgrading the existing MacBook with some relatively inexpensive components. I think it is very reasonable in this specific case to weigh the benefits of upgrading an existing computer and waiting, vs. buying a new computer that isn't upgradeable and is built on a very similar architecture.

I'm also considering 2013 here. A current Air would be fine in 2011 and early 2012 for most of the tasks mentioned. However, I question whether it will have the staying power to be "current" through late 2013. The Core 2 Duo is clearly on its way out, in contrast to 2007, when it was a relatively new processor (and in contrast to the current i5 and i7 processors).

zRedbullz
Nov 7, 2010, 01:03 PM
If you read my posts on other threads, you'll see that I'm purchasing an ultimate 13" for my own use.

However, what I gather from the original post, budget is a key issue (note his or her biggest objection to the 13" is the extra $200 cost). It occurred to me that, apart from the GPU, the current generation MacBook Air is not a significant improvement over what the OP currently can obtain by upgrading the existing MacBook with some relatively inexpensive components.

I'm also considering 2013 here. A current Air would be fine in 2011 and early 2012 for most of the tasks mentioned. However, I question whether it will have the staying power to be "current" through late 2013. The Core 2 Duo is clearly on its way out, in contrast to 2007, when it was a relatively new processor (and in contrast to the current i5 and i7 processors).


Cool. I too have purchased a max'd out 13'' to replace my much loved Powerbook G4 1GB RAM. Yes! My Powerbook was coming to its fifth year when I noticed that it was struggling to run most of today's modern apps, even Office 2008 wasn't too bad either. Five years is pretty good going and I cannot see why the MBA can't do the same. As you would imagine, it is a BIG upgrade for me. Then again, people who buy MBAs aren't going to be wringing its neck on a daily basis, like most with a MBP would do with CPU intensive apps.

I agree with you there re: macbook. My advice to OP would be stick with his current Macbook (just bump up the RAM) as it is still very capable machine and can run most of today's current apps - plus capable of running for two more years at least before it's due for an upgrade.

KPOM
Nov 7, 2010, 10:25 PM
**UPDATE**
Thanks you all for your posts. Here are some more things you might want to know. I do not care about the smaller screen size. I went to the Apple Store and looked at it and it was fine. Also, I know many suggest to wait for Apple to update it, but technology, and especially Apple, is always updating and I will be waiting forever if I wait for the next generation. The Core 2 Duo is fine. Once I get to college is when I will buy the best of the best macbook. I can afford both computers, but of course the 13 inch would drain my entire savings. Thank you.

This will be replacing my black macbook with a 2.16 GHz core 2 duo, 1GB of memory, 160GB hard drive,

I'm guessing you can net about $400-$500 after selling costs on your old MacBook (be sure to wipe the drive, though).

If you are set on a new Mac, I'd go with the 13". SSD or not, there is likely to be a big difference on some tasks between the 2.16GHz Merom in your current Mac and the 1.4GHz Penryn in the 11" MacBook Air. The latter has just 3MB of L2 cache vs your current 4MB, while the 13" has 6MB of cache.

macnerd123
Nov 7, 2010, 10:31 PM
I'm guessing you can net about $400-$500 after selling costs on your old MacBook (be sure to wipe the drive, though).

I wish could sell it for that much. It seems like I can only squeeze 200 dollars out of it.:(

pfjellman
Nov 7, 2010, 10:37 PM
the 13" screen is actually a lot bigger than the 11", you wouldn't think so. but after using the 11" for awhile you will feel cramped.

the faster processor (not just faster but it has more L2 cache as well) will be nice and noticeable in everything you do (some tasks more than others). the SD card is nice, and if you ever plan to get a camera in the next 3 years you'll be glad you have it, especially when traveling -- one less USB cable to bring with you and possibly lose.

also, if you're a student and plan to be bringing the computer with you, remember that the 13" gets 2-4 hours more battery life than the 11".

p.s. you should easily be able to get $300-400 for your existing BlackBook.

KPOM
Nov 7, 2010, 10:54 PM
I wish could sell it for that much. It seems like I can only squeeze 200 dollars out of it.:(

Interesting. I've seen bids of $350 for Core Duo (not Core 2 Duo) MacBooks on eBay. A broken Core 2 Duo MB Pro is going for over $150 right now. I'd check again. Perhaps get a trade in offer from one of the resellers who does trade ins.