13" MacBook Air + Cinema Display to replace 27" iMac

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by dmw16, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. macrumors regular

    May 14, 2011
    Currently I have a 27" mid-2011 iMac (2.7Ghz i5, 20GB RAM, 256GB SSD) and I find myself sometimes wishing I was more mobile. I have an iPad but that is more a toy to me and I am going to be selling it. It's worth mentioning that for storage I have a 4GB LaCie 2Big enclosure.

    So I've been thinking of getting rid of my iMac and replacing it with a 13" MBA w/ 8GB RAM (and probably just the 128GB SSD).

    I mostly use my computer for web surfing, music, and doing some light to moderate photo editing (18MP RAWs) in Aperture.

    Has anyone else made a similar switch? Thoughts?

    My other option is to sell my iPad and get a 11" refurb 2011 Air for mobile and couch surfing duties.

  2. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2012
    would like some insite on this as well, but unlike you OP i have a 13 air and was considering purchasing the 27imac.

    btw i use the air for web design/ minor photo editing in cs6 / web and its great for them all.
  3. macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2007
    Having just upgraded from a 2011 Air to a 2012 version I have to say RAM and processor are crucial for comfort in editing photos in Lightroom — I suppose it's the same in Aperture.

    I maxed out RAM and processor this time around and the difference is much more than noticeable.
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    Why not just get the MBA and keep the iMac and use it as a display for the MBA when you need? I have to figure that it will be a wash in terms of cost for you to sell the iMac and then buy an MBA + ATD and you'll have two fully functioning machines. Just a thought.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    I have all the various combinations you mentioned. Like you, I have an iPad and is more of a toy as well. Whatever combination you pick will work. My requirements is to always have a laptop and it should be fine plugging into a monitor or an iMac.
  6. macrumors regular


    Feb 25, 2011
    Dresden, Germany
    Good morning,

    I had that thought, too. Currently, I own an 27" iMac. In addition, I got a 13" Air. Most of the time, I don't use the 27" as a display. That's just pointless for me when I could just use the iMac as a computer instead. I don't know how your behavior in this case may be.

    Personally, I'd trade my iMac in for a thunderbolt display - but I'm waiting for a new one with the new iMac form factor. It's just annoying to have to machines.

    I use my Macs for websurfing, university stuff and watching movies/series. No editing.
  7. thread starter macrumors regular

    May 14, 2011
    Thanks for the responses.

    I didn't know I could use my iMac as a display. I don't see myself really doing that though. If there is something I need to do that requires the screen save I'd just as soon do it on the iMac I would think.

    I will see how having 2 computers goes. I ended up buying a base 2011 11" Air since Apple was running a refurb special. I'll see how having 2 machines goes and then I can always sell everything and get a 13" maxed out Air and a Cinema display with minimal loss thanks to Apple's great resale value :)
  8. macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I have a 24" LED Cinema Display (based on iMacs from 2 generations ago) that I use as a hub for my 2011 13" Air. It's a great setup, especially with the Magic Trackpad and Apple Wireless Keyboard and some USB speakers. I only wish that the monitor and notebook could display the same resolution, as they are both 16:10 aspect ratios. My next notebook may be a 15" rMBP, which I would use at 1920 x 1200 for a more seamless experience of going back and forth between home (desktop) and work (notebook) setups. Other than that, not much room for improvement.
  9. zen
    macrumors 65816

    Jun 26, 2003
    I've been using my 11" MBA with a Thunderbolt display as my only computer for a year. It's great, and the MBA sits in a TwelveSouth book arc. Plenty of power and the screen is great.

    However, I've just ordered a Mac mini, as I want to have more flexibility. Plugging and unplugging the MBA gets a little old, as Apple doesn't have any kind of dock solution so it's the two cables. Which doesn't sound like much, but I've also got external drives plugged into the display, which need to be ejected before I take out the MBA.

    The Mac mini will eliminate all this.

    However, power and performance-wise, you'll be fine.
  10. macrumors 6502


    Nov 28, 2010
    I have the 13" Ultimate 2012 256/8/2.0i7 with the TBD, love it for sitting down and working, plus easy on the go with the 13. I've tried an 11", just too small for me personally. Love my setup at home with a few external HDD's plugged in to access all my movies not stored on my internal ssd.
  11. macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2007
    Shouldn't it be called "penultimate"? ;) What is the 512GB version called then?… ;)
  12. macrumors member


    Aug 29, 2010
    Very similar setup as mine. I am also very happy with it and I could never own an iMac instead of a laptop since I am often on the move. :D
  13. thread starter macrumors regular

    May 14, 2011
    Thanks for the comments back. I may end up getting an 11" w/ the i7 and 8GB of RAM. Since I'd be using the cinema display pretty much exclusively when at my desk I can live without the 13" display I think.
  14. macrumors 6502


    May 19, 2009
    I have a 2009-vintage QCi7 iMac which is absolutely stock except for added RAM. I have it in one office and have a 27" TBD in another. I use either my 11" 2012 MBA or a 2011 QCi7 MBP with the TBD.

    The limitation in using the 11" MBA lies in the cabling. I can echo the comments a previous poster made about plugging and unplugging the MBA ... the split cabling issue gets old in a hurry.

    I honestly prefer the 15" MBP mated to the TBD. I'm not sure I'd be happy with the 13" MBA. The split cables may sound like a minor quibble, but they mean you spend more time plugging and unplugging the machine, whereas the 15" is far more straightforward.
  15. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    You may have it docked all the time; however, the key question to ask yourself is...
    - Will I be able to be productive on an 11 inch screen while away from desk?
    - Will I notice the decrease in battery life between 11 and 13 models?
  16. thread starter macrumors regular

    May 14, 2011
    I think the biggest sticking point, as silly as it may sound, is that the 11" doesn't have an SD card slot and one of my main uses is digital photography.
  17. macrumors newbie

    May 9, 2007
    I'm having the same thoughts.

    Initially I thought that I'll be the new 27" imac. However, since I already own a 2012 MBA, I think that I'll just get a 27" cinema display. If I'll see that i need another desktop, I can always buy a mini.

    Now it simply a question whether it makes sense to wait for a new cinema display. I like the less glare (and design) of the new one. It also comes with USB 3.0.

    The only thing that I hate about the cinema display is that it is either thunderbolt or mini display. My wife is using my old macbook air (pre thunderbolt), and it would have been great if she could have connected it to the monitor.

    I guess that I can buy the even older version of the cinema display, but then it is not as convenient with the new MBA (and future hardware).
  18. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    That's a reasonable justification. I've had both 11 and 13 inch over the course the a year. I found myself always going to the 13 even though I liked the form factor of the 11. I typically carry a SD card reader via USB for the 11 so that's an option as well.

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