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View Full Version : Switching from 15" MBP to 11" MBA




SnowLeopard2008
Apr 27, 2011, 12:41 PM
I just sold my 15" MBP and I'm planning on buying an 11" MBA. I just have a few questions about making the transition. I plan on using this MBA for 2 years and this upcoming fall I start college.

1. Is 2GB memory enough? I know everyone says to go 4GB for future proofing and resale purposes but even on my MBP, I use around 2GB or less day to day. Also, when RAM memory is full, the computer switches to the HD for swap. This normally would be a slowdown for magnetic platter drives but the MBA uses a remarkably fast SSD. In theory, there should be very little latency when using the SSD for extra RAM memory.

2. Is it able to edit movies using iMovie and FCP X? I'm not asking or expecting super fast exports or render times. I just want to be able to cut together some 720P/1080P HD footage for school projects and hobby.

3. Will it be able to handle first and second year college coursework? I'm a CS major and I start college next fall. Typically, third year is when major related courses begin and I will buy a new computer after 2 years. Is anyone using either the 11" or 13" MBA in college? How's it going for you?

Thanks in advance!
Jack



Angelo95210
Apr 27, 2011, 01:00 PM
I just sold my 15" MBP and I'm planning on buying an 11" MBA. I just have a few questions about making the transition. I plan on using this MBA for 2 years and this upcoming fall I start college.

I am in the same boat as you, 2006 MBP and I might be switching to the 11 inches. But it will not be my main computer. I was hesitating between the 11" and 13" but 11" is definitely enough for me as I don't need much screen estate.

1. Is 2GB memory enough? I know everyone says to go 4GB for future proofing and resale purposes but even on my MBP, I use around 2GB or less day to day. Also, when RAM memory is full, the computer switches to the HD for swap. This normally would be a slowdown for magnetic platter drives but the MBA uses a remarkably fast SSD. In theory, there should be very little latency when using the SSD for extra RAM memory.

If you know your memory usage you might be very well with 2GB yes. However Lion and future programs like CS6 or FC X might use more memory.

2. Is it able to edit movies using iMovie and FCP X? I'm not asking or expecting super fast exports or render times. I just want to be able to cut together some 720P/1080P HD footage for school projects and hobby.

If it's just cutting you will be fine. But if you use effects it will be damn slow. And forget about color, because of the small screen.

3. Will it be able to handle first and second year college coursework? I'm a CS major and I start college next fall. Typically, third year is when major related courses begin and I will buy a new computer after 2 years. Is anyone using either the 11" or 13" MBA in college? How's it going for you?

The CS suite will run fine, most computers are powerful enough now for this kind of applications. The more demanding are the 3D ones and video editing with lot of effects. However the screen might be a bit small for this kind of work don't you think?

chrismacguy
Apr 27, 2011, 01:45 PM
Having made a similar, if more phased switch (2005 15" PowerBook Hi-Res -> 2008 13" MacBook -> 2010 11" MacBook Air), I can report that 4GB is a good idea. My 11"er can edit 1080p fine in Final Cut Pro 7, and runs the entire suite (including Color on my 27" Cinema) fine, although Motion can choke a little.

My usage for my 11" Air is: CS(Computer Science) with Mathematics Degree work (Year 1 UK/ Year 2 US), Professional Video Editing in Final Cut Studio and Audio Editing in Logic Studio and also general life-stuff. While its not my main computer (I have my Mac Pro for that), it is easily my main laptop and I probably split my time 50/50 between the MP and MBA. The only thing I would say is you might want to spend a couple of days using the MBA full time just to get accustomed to the slightly smaller keyboard in the 11" Air (It took me a few weeks to get back up to full speed, as although its the right size, the function keys are smaller and all moved along one to accommodate the power button).

SnowLeopard2008
Apr 27, 2011, 01:49 PM
I am in the same boat as you, 2006 MBP and I might be switching to the 11 inches. But it will not be my main computer. I was hesitating between the 11" and 13" but 11" is definitely enough for me as I don't need much screen estate.

The main difference between you and me is that the MBA will be my main computer. My thinking was that if I want a 13", I might as well go for the 13" MBP which has much more CPU power and about the same GPU performance but costs much less than 13" MBA. Mobility is roughly the same since both screens are 13" and the weight gap becomes smaller.

If you know your memory usage you might be very well with 2GB yes. However Lion and future programs like CS6 or FC X might use more memory.

I think Lion should and will be more resource efficient. I currently use CS5 but my useage is quite light. I have no idea about FCP X though. I'm just afraid my usage will change and the current hardware on the MBA no longer keeps up with me. Nothing can be upgraded or replaced, it is all soldered onto the logic board. RAM, SSD, battery, etc.

If it's just cutting you will be fine. But if you use effects it will be damn slow. And forget about color, because of the small screen.

I don't use too many effects. But I do want to be able to make home movies and video projects for school. If I need more screen real estate, I already have a 24" external monitor on my desk that my MBP was connected to. If the 11" MBA can handle that, then it's a go for me.

The CS suite will run fine, most computers are powerful enough now for this kind of applications. The more demanding are the 3D ones and video editing with lot of effects. However the screen might be a bit small for this kind of work don't you think?

CS as computer science. Sorry I didn't make that clear. Currently, I do light graphics work in Photoshop, Illustrator and on occasion Flash. However, I write a lot of code in Xcode. For 3D applications and more advanced video editing, I wouldn't even consider a MBA or any kind. And the screen would be way too small to work efficiently.

torbjoern
Apr 27, 2011, 01:58 PM
I study CS at uni., and my MBA 13" takes care of 98 % of my computing needs. Xcode too, btw.

The last 2 % involve use of heavy recursive algorithms, which I prefer to do on the university machines (i.e. over ssh from my MBA). No practical difference, though, as long as I have internet access - and the only reason I do those things over ssh is to spare the fans on my own computer.

Vantage Point
Apr 27, 2011, 03:13 PM
The main difference between you and me is that the MBA will be my main computer.

That's a good argument for 4Gb of RAM. Better to have a bit more than you think you need than to kick yourself for the next few years wishing you didn't try to save. Personally, I would get 4Gb and the 13" if it was my only computer.

hcmitchellr
Apr 27, 2011, 03:14 PM
I have a new 15 MBP that replaced a Black MacBook Core2Duo.

I bought it because it had the minimum hardware requirements I want in a laptop. However, I quickly fund the weight and size uncomfortable.

So then I bought an iPad (one)to complement it. Great device and works for about 50% of my mobile needs. However, I wanted to do better.

I bought a MBA 11 2 days ago. I think I made the mistake of patching the OS because it has serious video issues. My iPad plays full-screen HD video without a stutter. The MBA chokes.

I think I may take it back. Its a great device, but a poor choice against other current Apple products. A 13 MBP (or MacBook) stomps it in hardware for a comparable price. The iPad beats it is size, weight, and cost while providing much of the same functionally (more if you installed 1.6.7 patch).

I may wait on the summer upgrades. I am willing to bet you will see RAM and HDD double along with the new Procs. That will make it stand out against the other products.

In the least I would opt for a 4GB RAM version. I just saw it was a $100 upgrade. If I had to have one now, I say its worth it.

macaddict3
Apr 28, 2011, 10:11 AM
I think you will need alittle bit of time to get used to it but its fine but you will enjoy the portability alot b/c its very light compared to your 15 inch.

Beau10
Apr 28, 2011, 03:50 PM
Did the same thing recently, early 2k8 MBP to 11" base. Went this way as the $850 refurb cost was just too attractive to pass up. Also decided to try this as an experiment in minimalism in my computing habits.

The MBP had 4gb and 160gb ssd and the drop in RAM hasn't been an issue... my use is mostly hobbyist programming (xcode/ios, scheme, ruby on rails, haskell, etc). My day job is an enterprise windows dev.

The only time I was experiencing page outs was from trying to run a fusion XP VM running Visual Studio 2k10 and Expression Blend studio. The VM had 1.1 gb allocated. If that was something I was doing on a regular basis I would definitely opt for more, but it was only for a class at work. Most of the time I have 500mb to 1gb free.

trip1ex
Apr 28, 2011, 04:14 PM
Just nabbed a new one off Ebay for $880 from MacMall plus 10% back in Ebay bucks.

Can't wait. I know the SSD will be fast, but not sure how the low storage and cpu speed will affect the experience. GPU is pretty nice though for the size of this machine. HOpefully its all good enough for all surfing needs including video, Office, and some fairly light iphoto/imovie stuff.

I do have a 25gb photo library and counting so ssd may be too small for me in the long run. But can always upgrade as the price I'm paying means I won't take a bath reselling it.

Would also like to cram my music on there, but that may be asking too much. Photos are on there for the wife as it probably will turn out to be her machine. Don't want to tell her that until I'm sure it will be serviceable though.

SnowLeopard2008
Apr 28, 2011, 05:06 PM
I looked at MacMall since not having a computer of any kind except my iPad and iPhone 4 feels like one of my limbs is missing.

Does anyone have any feedback regarding MacMall? Is it brand new and not refurbished? Also, will the SSD be one of the newer Samsung models that have better, faster performance? Any SSD will be above my expectations since my MBP had a 5400 rpm HD so it's not a big deal but I just want to know.

Scottsdale
Apr 28, 2011, 05:39 PM
You absolutely must get 4GB RAM even if you just want Lion later. For $929 you can get the refurbished 11" with 4GB RAM.

Also, why would you drop all the way to 11" when the 13" MBA has so many advantages and the same resolution as your 15" MBP. The 11" MBA is settling whether you think it's cheaper or more mobile. It really is a light Mac versus a full Mac that the 13" MBA provides.

If I wanted a primary Mac, I would go 13" MBA. If I wanted a Mac for secondary purposes on the go I would select the 11" MBA. I think many people settle and would be far better off with the 13" MBA.

SnowLeopard2008
Apr 28, 2011, 05:55 PM
You absolutely must get 4GB RAM even if you just want Lion later. For $929 you can get the refurbished 11" with 4GB RAM.

Also, why would you drop all the way to 11" when the 13" MBA has so many advantages and the same resolution as your 15" MBP. The 11" MBA is settling whether you think it's cheaper or more mobile. It really is a light Mac versus a full Mac that the 13" MBA provides.

If I wanted a primary Mac, I would go 13" MBA. If I wanted a Mac for secondary purposes on the go I would select the 11" MBA. I think many people settle and would be far better off with the 13" MBA.

I wondered when you'd show up. No MacBook Air thread is complete without input from Scotttsdale!

You're absolutely right about the 4GB RAM though. I went to Fry's to check out the MBAs before and the 13" just felt really big. It's much smaller and lighter than my 15" no doubt but the 11" felt just right. I have a 24" Samsung external display that I will use if I need a bigger screen.

The only problem I have with the 13" MBA is that the 13" MBP is cheaper and offers much better performance. It's hard to justify paying so much extra for only a pound or two weight difference, SSD and higher screen resolution. The GPU is negligible since Anandtech benchmarks seem to suggest that the IGP and NVIDIA 320M perform roughly the same.

Jaro65
May 6, 2011, 05:28 PM
I completely agree with Scottsdale's reasoning. That was my decision process also when I chose my 13" MBA versus the 11" one - regardless of how much I liked the form factor of the latter unit. If you still feel that the 11" one is the computer for you, definitely try maxing it out (at least as far as RAM goes). You'll be saving yourself from pain down the road.

Cheffy Dave
May 6, 2011, 06:25 PM
You absolutely must get 4GB RAM even if you just want Lion later. For $929 you can get the refurbished 11" with 4GB RAM.

Also, why would you drop all the way to 11" when the 13" MBA has so many advantages and the same resolution as your 15" MBP. The 11" MBA is settling whether you think it's cheaper or more mobile. It really is a light Mac versus a full Mac that the 13" MBA provides.

If I wanted a primary Mac, I would go 13" MBA. If I wanted a Mac for secondary purposes on the go I would select the 11" MBA. I think many people settle and would be far better off with the 13" MBA.

SD my dear friend, I hear you," but".....
After installing the OWC 360 GB SSD in one of the 2 11" MBA, I find it wicked fast, I disagree in this fact, I have become minimalist as far as computing goes.
My first gen iPad is my couch buddy, so the screen real-estate on The 11" is a bonus, that said, I am so very pleased in my two 11" MBA's.
I am as happy with this beautiful 11" machine as you are with you 13 " MBA's
Arthritis has crippled me, so the lighter the better, and since I demand Apple, the 11" is it. It is an I Pad on steroids!:cool::apple::apple: