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View Full Version : MBA as main/only computer. Anyone else out there?




RobbyIdol
Apr 22, 2013, 02:18 PM
I just purchased a 13" MBA 256SSD earlier this week to replace my dying 15" MBP from late 2007. Since so many years have passed, the current base 13" MBA is more powerful than my trusty and worn old MBP! The only thing the MBA is lacking is a superdrive and significantly more drive space. I know the space is something I could have pushed higher in the upgrade, but 256GB was expensive enough for me.

I love my machine. I use some heavy duty graphics applications on it (Autodesk Maya, VMWare, Motion Builder, After Effects) and it runs even better than my outdated MBP.

However, as much as I love my MBA, I'm getting "phantom pains" from the quiet knowledge that I no longer have a superdrive! Anyone else experience something that silly before after making the transition? My MBP was my only machine, and often times my only TV/DVD player, over the years as I travel a lot for work. Unless at home (where an external superdrive can do the same thing), I never carried physicals DVDs around with me. So I made the conclusion that I didn't need the superdrive and could get by with a sleek, portable and fast MBA -- and just plug in an external when I want to watch a movie at home.

And yet, even though my MBA has performed BEAUTIFULLY on all necessary applications, I keep fearing I'll hit a wall at some point and wish I had purchased a new MBP. Is that just outdated retoric echoing in my head? Is the performance gap between the MBA and the MBP getting smaller these days? Between the 13" MBA and 13" cMBP, I would say there is almost NO difference. Not to mention the screen on the MBA is amazing and the 13" 1280x800 screen is just too ancient to go back to after having used 1440x900 for years.

I still have my 14-day return window if I just can't handle not having a superdrive built in, but so far so good!

Am I taking a risk having the 13" MBA as my only machine? Take into consideration that a 2007 15" MBP was my only machine for about 6 years. Apologies for the scattered post, sorting out my feelings on a new machine -- not something I settle on easily, like buying a new car for me, haha! :p



B...
Apr 22, 2013, 02:22 PM
The performance gap between the two is small to negligible depending on what you do (13" 2012 MBA and MBP). The Air might actually feel faster due to its SSD vs. a HDD. But I would say that, for me, the SuperDrive is just a part of the computer making it heavier and thinner than it has to be. TV shows? I will watch them online; same with movie. The last time I used a CD for something other than TV or movies was a few years ago. I will take the 1.5 lbs less if it means no Superdrive, ethernet, or FireWire.

MacDawg
Apr 22, 2013, 02:22 PM
I am using my MBA as my only Mac and I haven't looked back
I came from a 17" MBP

I have not missed the SuperDrive at all
I do have an external for an occasional rip, but it has not been an issue at all
For me the storage restriction is much more of an issue for me
But that is more than offset by the extreme portability for my use

KhonNan
Apr 22, 2013, 02:41 PM
MBA 256 i7 since release in mid 2012. HAD a windows desktop but gave it away, cos the mac fulfilled all my needs. Haven't had a situation where i needed the superdrive. I have a NAS for storage and streaming.

Mrbobb
Apr 22, 2013, 02:57 PM
Is that just outdated retoric echoing in my head?

That is EXACTLY it.

Human's genetic naturally want what's comfortable. BUT you already have a history of traveling wo having to resort to physical media, so it not such a big change when you look at your own history.

You will adapt to it. Guaranteed.

Psss... are you aware your new Mac can ONLY be recovered over the Internet? It did not come with install/recovery discs did it? Yes Kemosabe, when and if you encounter trouble and you need to re-install, God help your broadband better be working and Apple is not down that day! Hope I ddn't scare ya! :D

jmoore5196
Apr 22, 2013, 02:58 PM
I tried to make my 11" 2012 i7 and my TBD my main machine ... and gave up after a few hours.

Other posters are correct: The difference in processing power, particularly compared to older MacBook Pros, is negligible. Where I ran into problems was in CS6 apps (InDesign and Photoshop primarily) where I did notice substantial sluggishness. I went back to my 2011 QC i7 MBP with SSD ... the MBA continues to be my travel machine.

I'd say less-demanding users will have no problem.

AnorexicPig
Apr 22, 2013, 03:12 PM
MBA user since last september--it's a fabulous machine and feels really snappy. Just love it. And it 'feels' faster than MBP for regular tasks because of the SSD.

lezmace
Apr 22, 2013, 03:23 PM
MBA User since mid 2011. I only use this as my main computer and for ultra mobility my ipad. I own a pc for games, but i will sell it because for Games i use mainly my ps3.

stchman
Apr 22, 2013, 03:32 PM
If you REALLY need a DVD burner, get an external one. For the RARE instances I need a DVD burner, I just got the Apple external model.

Not having a DVD burner is what allows the MBA to be so thin and light.

As far as it being my ONLY machine, no, I like having a really powerful desktop to do heavy lifting when I need to.



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Psss... are you aware your new Mac can ONLY be recovered over the Internet? It did not come with install/recovery discs did it? Yes Kemosabe, when and if you encounter trouble and you need to re-install, God help your broadband better be working and Apple is not down that day! Hope I ddn't scare ya! :D

The OP can make a ML recovery USB is no time at all. This way he/she will not need to download the ML installer.

CapnJackGig
Apr 22, 2013, 03:55 PM
I love my MBA, but the lack of optical drive really does suck. I ignore any fool that says people dont need optical drives anymore. I get why they're removed from the Air (duhh, it's in the name of the machine). But the idiotic removal from the MBP and iMacs is just mind-numbingly stupid, made worse by Apple's own insistence that people no longer care about physical media (a similar excuse they used to make when they refused to include Bluray drives...and equally as stupid).

The current MBAs are definitely powerful enough to use as your only computer as long as you're not into heavy gaming etc. I loaded Windows 8 on mine, and now it's pretty much perfect (Sorry MacOS, but you're too slow).

Mrbobb
Apr 22, 2013, 04:00 PM
The OP can make a ML recovery USB is no time at all. This way he/she will not need to download the ML installer.

See OP, there are work-arounds! :)


ONLY COMPUTER: Here's a little soap opera if u bear with me.

1998, my first laptop, but I have always like THIN and light. THIN is my thing even before Apple made it fashionable. I struggled as OP is, all the things i have to give up with thin and light. I proceeded to think all the external "stuff" I needed to hook up to my cd-less VAIO laptop, but at the end that did not appealed to me. What' the point of a laptop if I have to plug all these things to it and have to unplug everything every time I have to move the dang thing?

Fortunately, WIFI to the rescue, at that time IBM had the very first WIFI hookup, it was a mere 1 (one) mbit but it was enough, so I can surf, get data from my desktop server (there was no big video contents at that time). Super portability and also have access to resources WITHOUT cable. Wow. I did had one USB cable to a hub for a wired mouse (wireless mouse unsuitable then), the USB printer etc.

So, I have not had a disc laptop since then, never looked back.

But a desktop server with unlimited, easily scalable, storage helps. That box can also be your DVR, spend time re-encoding your videos while ur away, holds your huge iTunes library without laptop storage worry blah-blah, very useful, doesn't need to be a screamer.

beysus
Apr 22, 2013, 04:47 PM
Got my Air in July 2012 and there was just one time where I needed an optical drive. Not a big fan of clouds but it does work for most occasions so I don't miss the CD drive at all.

Carouser
Apr 22, 2013, 05:50 PM
I love my MBA, but the lack of optical drive really does suck. I ignore any fool that says people dont need optical drives anymore. I get why they're removed from the Air (duhh, it's in the name of the machine). But the idiotic removal from the MBP and iMacs is just mind-numbingly stupid, made worse by Apple's own insistence that people no longer care about physical media (a similar excuse they used to make when they refused to include Bluray drives...and equally as stupid).

The current MBAs are definitely powerful enough to use as your only computer as long as you're not into heavy gaming etc. I loaded Windows 8 on mine, and now it's pretty much perfect (Sorry MacOS, but you're too slow).

You can get a SuperDrive or even a $15 external from Amazon. Problem solved. The rest is irrelevant.

And for the sake of being contrary, OS X is plenty fast.

Mrbobb
Apr 22, 2013, 06:26 PM
You can get a SuperDrive or even a $15 external from Amazon. Problem solved. The rest is irrelevant.

What if one day you are on the road without your superdrive and a bad guy has the code to disarm the nuclear weapon is on a disc and you are the only person around? :D

tacomahunter
Apr 22, 2013, 06:29 PM
Left my 2009 MBP in the dust when I went to my air 4 months ago. Have not looked back, dont need anymore space then what I get on the computer and of course dropbox. Have not even needed the drive! Don't worry and enjoy the new workhorse.

RoastingPig
Apr 22, 2013, 06:32 PM
my bro does it easily with a 256gb 8gb ram i7 macbook air 13

dbroncos78087
Apr 22, 2013, 07:08 PM
I think you would probably be fine if you match the profile of 99.99% of computer users. I could make due with just my MBA but I like having my MM and using it as my storage hub along with my 3TB external HD.

The MBA will do almost everything that you are likely to use. If you're missing the CD drive, I might suggest a MM with a Superdrive attached to it. You can use the Remote Disc feature to load the disc on your MBA. I believe you have to be on the same network though, but I've never used it.

DesertEagle
Apr 22, 2013, 07:11 PM
I use it as my main computer (and it's my only Mac).

Sith Vol
Apr 22, 2013, 10:01 PM
I got a 2011 13" base model for Christmas last year. It was my first Mac and its my only computer. Ditched the desktop. It works perfectly for me. I also bought the external SuperDrive, however I do wish I had one already integrated into the laptop. Thinking about getting a new Pro and just upgrading to the SSD. Cant decide between that or a new Air. Giving my current Air to the girlfriend.

AC Rempt
Apr 22, 2013, 10:21 PM
The only thing that freaks me out about my Air is the relative lack of storage. I try to keep my files in the cloud, and I don't have any music on it. Not the worst things to have to worry about, but they do limit how I use the Air. I love my it, but I could never have it as my only Mac.

stchman
Apr 22, 2013, 11:02 PM
I love my MBA, but the lack of optical drive really does suck. I ignore any fool that says people dont need optical drives anymore. I get why they're removed from the Air (duhh, it's in the name of the machine). But the idiotic removal from the MBP and iMacs is just mind-numbingly stupid, made worse by Apple's own insistence that people no longer care about physical media (a similar excuse they used to make when they refused to include Bluray drives...and equally as stupid).

The current MBAs are definitely powerful enough to use as your only computer as long as you're not into heavy gaming etc. I loaded Windows 8 on mine, and now it's pretty much perfect (Sorry MacOS, but you're too slow).

You can get the external DVD burner for the MBA you know.

----------

The only thing that freaks me out about my Air is the relative lack of storage. I try to keep my files in the cloud, and I don't have any music on it. Not the worst things to have to worry about, but they do limit how I use the Air. I love my it, but I could never have it as my only Mac.

The MBA comes with up to a 512GB SSD. I have a 256GB SSD and it MORE than plenty of storage. I don't need to have every file I've ever had on my MBA with me at all times though.

sparks9
Apr 23, 2013, 07:00 AM
I can be honest when I say I haven't owned a laptop with an optical drive for more than a decade. Come to think of it, even the first personal laptop I got 10 years ago was an ultrabook with no optical drive.

I have never missed it.

Putting an optical drive in a laptop nowadays would be a waste.

Drew017
Apr 23, 2013, 08:31 AM
I also use my MacBook Air as my main computer. The only thing I don't use it for is to play disks. When I have to do that I just use the shared disk drive in our desktop PC that's in our house. (Though I don't really need to use disks that often)

Just wish I had more storage in my MBA… I mean I can survive with 64 gigs, but it's kinda annoying having to put large files and folders on my external and having to plug that in when I want to access them.

ctdonath
Apr 23, 2013, 09:17 AM
I only use an ODD on a computer to rip DVDs into a convenient format, which 99% of the time I proceed to not watch ever. Streaming & downloads are more than enough to swamp my limited video-watching time.

For the very little time I actually watch movies on physical media, it's Bluray (which :apple: won't support with an internal drive anyway even if they did keep internal ODDs) on a >40" display (obviously not fitting a subnotebook), where the point is to maximize image quality and size; since I have such a home theater setup I'll use it, but if I didn't I'd not miss it much.

AuPhalanx
Apr 23, 2013, 10:59 AM
I use my MBA, a 13" mid-2011 model, as my main machine. I bought it primarily as a go-between machine as my iMac was afflicted with the graphics card failing and I was awaiting the new iMacs to be announced/released.

But, since using this wee beastie, I never bought the new iMac when it was released. Why? Well, for one I was a tad underwhelmed with the iMac. Second, this little MBA rocks! I use Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and PhotoShop everyday. It hasn't let me down. True, getting used to the sparse storage is a change, but I've been managing. iCloud helps, as does network storage.

As I plan my next machine, I plan on another MBA. I bought this one refurbed and it has 4-GB RAM and a 128-GB HD. The next one will be maxed out.

In all, I think the MBA is the FINEST computer I've ever owned.

T.

stchman
Apr 23, 2013, 01:06 PM
I also use my MacBook Air as my main computer. The only thing I don't use it for is to play disks. When I have to do that I just use the shared disk drive in our desktop PC that's in our house. (Though I don't really need to use disks that often)

Just wish I had more storage in my MBA… I mean I can survive with 64 gigs, but it's kinda annoying having to put large files and folders on my external and having to plug that in when I want to access them.

You can upgrade the SSD in the 2011 MBAs. OWC has them in stock.

Drew017
Apr 23, 2013, 01:34 PM
You can upgrade the SSD in the 2011 MBAs. OWC has them in stock.

That's good because I'm not sure how long I can stay under 64gb :p

jojoba
Apr 23, 2013, 01:36 PM
My 13" Air is my only computer, only complemented by my iPad 3gen. I'm perfectly happy with it. It does everything I need it to do, and it does it well. At the same time I get great mobility with it.

dbroncos78087
Apr 23, 2013, 06:36 PM
That's good because I'm not sure how long I can stay under 64gb :p

If you use Pandora or save your own music on another computer, then its not too hard to do. I have the 128GB but am far below even 64GB.

Drew017
Apr 23, 2013, 07:06 PM
If you use Pandora or save your own music on another computer, then its not too hard to do. I have the 128GB but am far below even 64GB.

I usually need to keep my music on my MBA because I sync my iPod up with it. If I had more space on my external I'd move it over, but I don't.

WillPwr
Apr 23, 2013, 07:09 PM
Some may have reservations of it, but I use a 64gb Micro-SD card that I leave in my MBA as the source for my itunes library which is about 40gb in size. Since itunes doesnt really need that much speed for read/write, its a nice way to free up SSD space. I would still back up your itunes library elsewhere just in case though.

dbroncos78087
Apr 23, 2013, 08:33 PM
I usually need to keep my music on my MBA because I sync my iPod up with it. If I had more space on my external I'd move it over, but I don't.

I mean its your computer so if you need the space go for it but it would suit me just fine. Perhaps putting it on a specific external and mapping iTunes to that drive.

thadoggfather
Apr 23, 2013, 08:52 PM
My 2011 13" base is going strong.

External is necessary though

superstarmc
Apr 23, 2013, 09:05 PM
I've been using a 2011 11" MacBook Air for almost 2 years with a 27" samsung. Still fast as it ever was.

Acronyc
Apr 23, 2013, 10:51 PM
I used a 2010 11" MBA as my main computer for two years and it was my only computer for one of those years. It was fantastic and I never had any problems. Hooked it up to an external 23" monitor, 1TB drive, and wireless mouse and keyboard for a desktop setup at home and work.

My workflow and personal needs have since changed (less travel and require a discrete GPU), so I upgraded to a 15" rMBP in December and have no regrets. But MBAs are fantastic machines and if you don't need to do anything too graphics intensive, I think they are really awesome as a primary computer.

iLuvMyMacToo
Nov 9, 2013, 09:17 PM
Recently went form a MBP mid 2012 to an Air 2013 i7 and I'm happy with that. I keep my iTunes on an external HDD and sync it to my iPhone because I figure if I'm listening to music or watching a video outside of my home/office then I'd be using headphones anyway.

As all my media is digital I don't need a superdrive, but I'll get myself the Apple external one in a few weeks just in case I ever do.

My iPad got the flick because I wouldn't carry both of them around with me anyway.

kage207
Nov 9, 2013, 09:31 PM
I only use my MBA as my machine.

I mean I have a Ubuntu Server / Desktop but it mainly is my testing server (for web development).