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View Full Version : Buying first MBA and can't decide




Lmn629
Sep 5, 2012, 03:18 PM
I'm planning to purchase a 2011 model MBA as my primary machine and have been tossing the decision around for weeks! I'm now under the gun as my old iMac has died. This will be a family computer but mostly mine (elementary school kids with little need for computer at this time). No gaming, light to moderate photo editing, iPhoto, word processing, etc. I'm trying to keep this as close to $1000 as possible, hence the 2011 model. The upgrades in 2012 arent worth it for my needs, i think. I've narrowed it down to either This 13" refurb, 2011, 4G, 128 ssd for $919
http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC965LL/A

OR
This 11" 2011 (new, unopened) 4G, 256ssd for $999.
http://www.microcenter.com/product/395538/MacBook_Air_116_MD214LL-A_Laptop_Computer_-_Silver

I prefer to buy Mac products from apple directly but that price on the 11" seems too good to pass up! I know that either is sufficient for my needs and that the most obvious upgrade to do is the RAM but that bumps the cost a few hundred (based on these prices). Is this really a tomAYto/tomAHto kind of decision that is really just about personal preference or is there something bigger I'm overlooking?

Fwiw, I do have a 20" monitor I can use when screen space is an issue, though that defeats some of the portability aspect, which really isn't a huge concern to me. Before that deal came up I'd settled on the 13" refurb but was nervous about such a small ssd so was hesitating on the purchase.
I'd appreciate thoughts. I reserved the Microcenter deal but am still hesitating!



plucky duck
Sep 5, 2012, 03:30 PM
I'd personally choose the 11" Air, without any second thoughts at that price. You mentioned it's your primary computer, but with a larger monitor, and the fact that it would be stationary, I'd go with the 11" still, for reason it being new and the fact that it has a larger SSD. If and when you need it on the go, for travel, you'll love the fact that it's so small and portable.

Have you tried playing with both at a store? Go by your first instinct and gut feeling. What's your first impression of each?

jmoore5196
Sep 5, 2012, 03:36 PM
I'd pull the trigger on the 11" at MicroCenter ... get it while you can! Were there one near me, I'd be headed there as I type.

stchman
Sep 5, 2012, 03:50 PM
$1000 for the 2011 MBA with 256GB SSD is ~$1395 today.

The only downside to the 2011 MBAs is they don't have USB 3.0 and don't have the Ivy Bridge processors with HD4000 graphics.

If those are not important, then pull the trigger before someone else does.

plucky duck
Sep 5, 2012, 03:58 PM
I paid $1080 for the 11" 256GB Air and considered that a helluva deal. Seriously, jump on it before someone else does! Hell, I'd jump on it if I can get my hands on it.

Lmn629
Sep 5, 2012, 10:59 PM
Thanks. :). I actually already bought it with store pick up so it's "reserved" for me for 3 days. If I change my mind I just don't pick it up and no harm done but figured it gave me a few (more! Lol) days to decide. ;)

I had originally considered also getting a one to one subscription since I'm coming from OS 10.4.11 and I know I wasn't fully using everything THAT OS could do, let alone a newer better system so wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for cheap training but can't do that with a micro center. It's probably not a big deal though.

virtualandy
Sep 5, 2012, 11:23 PM
I sweated the decision about the $999 micro center option before deciding what I really want is a 2012.

So if you're okay with the 2011s, $999 for that one is about as good of a price as you can find. You *may* be able to find an open box at Best Buy and use the $100 back to school coupon before it expires (end of this month) for a slightly better deal. But might involve some hunting (and a .edu email address if that coupon is still available. I got one from a friend.)

macrominnie
Sep 5, 2012, 11:31 PM
I agree that the 11 inch is the better deal price wise.

Having used both the 11 & 13 inch MBA's, my personal preference would be to go for the 13 inch unless super-portability is needed. But I've also done okay with the 11" and an external monitor.

Screen real estate counts for a lot-the 11" looks cramped sometimes. The 13" is easier for extended sessions, and the weight difference is minor unless you walk many miles. It's very likely that with a MBA at home, there will be times even at home where you'll enjoy moving it room to room, even though the intention is to keep it at one station.

It's good that you are getting the 4 GB RAM. While the 256 SSD is nice, it's pretty easy to improvise with external memory. IMO internal disc size is less important than RAM or screen.

Either choice will be pleasing.

----------

Thanks. :)
I had originally considered also getting a one to one subscription since I'm coming from OS 10.4.11 and I know I wasn't fully using everything THAT OS could do, let alone a newer better system so wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for cheap training but can't do that with a micro center. It's probably not a big deal though.

You might take a look attending workshops at a nearby retail Apple Store. Those may give you some ideas for doing more with Mountain Lion or the area you'd like to know more about.

mattpreston11
Sep 6, 2012, 03:00 AM
Having used 11'' + 13'' I would personally recommend the 11'', Although the 13'' is usually better value.

Lmn629
Sep 6, 2012, 03:50 PM
You might take a look attending workshops at a nearby retail Apple Store. Those may give you some ideas for doing more with Mountain Lion or the area you'd like to know more about.

I wasn't aware they offered these. Will have to look into that. Thanks!

Lmn629
Sep 7, 2012, 06:03 PM
I picked up the micro center 11" today and the machine is a little better than advertised, as the processor is 1.8Ghz i7 rather than the 1.6/i5 listed in the description. Nice surprise. I think I'm still lusting after the 13" a little bit for screen space and ability or buy 1:1 sub, but I'm really pleased with the deal I got. Now to determine whether the hubs backed up the entire hard drive on my iMac or just the photos- and whether the data is recoverable if he only did photos....

Thanks for the help all! Much appreciated. :D

stchman
Sep 7, 2012, 06:14 PM
I picked up the micro center 11" today and the machine is a little better than advertised, as the processor is 1.8Ghz i7 rather than the 1.6/i5 listed in the description. Nice surprise. I think I'm still lusting after the 13" a little bit for screen space and ability or buy 1:1 sub, but I'm really pleased with the deal I got. Now to determine whether the hubs backed up the entire hard drive on my iMac or just the photos- and whether the data is recoverable if he only did photos....

Thanks for the help all! Much appreciated. :D

That's a strange configuration. An 11" i7 with a 256GB SSD but only 4GB RAM. If you're going to get an i7 and a 256GB SSD, then might as well get 8GB RAM.

Lmn629
Sep 8, 2012, 12:05 AM
That's a strange configuration. An 11" i7 with a 256GB SSD but only 4GB RAM. If you're going to get an i7 and a 256GB SSD, then might as well get 8GB RAM.

Dunno. It is what it is - that's the only configuration they had available.

jbzcar
Sep 8, 2012, 12:23 AM
I'm planning to purchase a 2011 model MBA as my primary machine and have been tossing the decision around for weeks! I'm now under the gun as my old iMac has died. This will be a family computer but mostly mine (elementary school kids with little need for computer at this time). No gaming, light to moderate photo editing, iPhoto, word processing, etc. I'm trying to keep this as close to $1000 as possible, hence the 2011 model. The upgrades in 2012 arent worth it for my needs, i think. I've narrowed it down to either This 13" refurb, 2011, 4G, 128 ssd for $919
http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC965LL/A

OR
This 11" 2011 (new, unopened) 4G, 256ssd for $999.
http://www.microcenter.com/product/395538/MacBook_Air_116_MD214LL-A_Laptop_Computer_-_Silver

I prefer to buy Mac products from apple directly but that price on the 11" seems too good to pass up! I know that either is sufficient for my needs and that the most obvious upgrade to do is the RAM but that bumps the cost a few hundred (based on these prices). Is this really a tomAYto/tomAHto kind of decision that is really just about personal preference or is there something bigger I'm overlooking?

Fwiw, I do have a 20" monitor I can use when screen space is an issue, though that defeats some of the portability aspect, which really isn't a huge concern to me. Before that deal came up I'd settled on the 13" refurb but was nervous about such a small ssd so was hesitating on the purchase.
I'd appreciate thoughts. I reserved the Microcenter deal but am still hesitating!

I am typing this on the exact Microcenter deal you linked. Got the last one from the Houston location!

Go for it! This thing is awesome. The portability, speed, and roomy SSD are amazing.

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That's a strange configuration. An 11" i7 with a 256GB SSD but only 4GB RAM. If you're going to get an i7 and a 256GB SSD, then might as well get 8GB RAM.

4GB was max on the 2011 models.