MacBook Air 11"/13" as a Secondary Computer?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by rekhyt, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. macrumors 65816

    Jun 20, 2008
    Part of the old MR guard.
    Brief background about my situation. While I do not travel a lot, I stay in different locations throughout the year. (I have a MacBook Pro 15" Late 2008 unibody, in which the screen broke one week ago, unfortunately, right before the new MacBook Pro refresh comes out in April.)

    As a result, I use my MacBook Pro 15" for most of my work when I am stationery, but when I go on holidays / short journeys, I can't usually bring it because it is too cumbersome and heavy. I've thought about purchasing an iPad, but it doesn't really seem geared for work in my opinion (Regardless of whether you get a keyboard dock or not).

    I'm thinking about getting a MacBook Air 11" or 13" to act as a glorified typewriter / place for jotting down ideas, as well as for searching information. Even if the new MacBook Pros come out, it is likely that I will be getting a 15" to act as my main computer.

    What do you guys think about using a MacBook Air 11" or 13" as a secondary computer? I quite like the idea of the 11", but the aspect ratio is a bit off 16:9 rather than 16:10 for me, and the resolution is a bit too high for such a small display (I do not have good vision.)
  2. nexsta, Mar 22, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012

    macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2007
    I can't believe people still asking the same questions since the release. Just buy the computer and see for yourself, nobody can tell you what's good for you. But I can give you a summary of all the answers of this type of questions:

    blablabla good secondary computer blablabla buy it blablablab dont be afraid blablablabla its good for travel balbalbalblabal the resolution is fine blablablablablablablablabla
  3. macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2011
    MBA 11" is perfect for the usage you described, in fact i'm using it as my primary machine. however without an external monitor i find the screen size a bit too small to let me work comfortably for longer periods.

    A benefit of the 13" is you'll get about the same size trackpad you had on the MBP 15" along with better battery life & a little more processing power (compared to the 11").

    Try using both 11" & 13" at the apple store. The 11" is almost like having an iPad but the 13" will definitely be more comfortable if you're coming from a MBP 15".
  4. macrumors 6502

    Oct 19, 2011
    Go to the Apple store.

    Try both out.

    Buy one.
  5. macrumors demi-god


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I use a 27" iMac as my main machine and an 11" Air as my portable because I wanted something small but still a "full" computer, even though I mostly use it to surf the web, watch movies and work in Word.
  6. macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2007
    I use an i7 15" Macbook Pro for my main computer and its a bit big to lug around on a daily basis. I use it at home.

    I recently bought an 11" Macbook Air as my carry around computer. I take it with me when I go to work to do some of my side projects and I can carry it easily with me on trips.

    I'm really liking the combo myself. I also setup SugarSync to sync up my files between computers. If I modify files on one computer it automatically syncs them on my other computers. Makes working much easier.

    SugarSyncs Website
  7. macrumors 68000

    Mar 29, 2009
    The 11" is awesome to carry around and you can always plug it into a big monitor when you get back to the office.

    The only bad thing about it is the battery is only good for about 4 hours instead of 7 hours like the 13". 4 hours is a pretty long plane flight though.
  8. Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Sep 6, 2003
    I have the same set-up as CWallace though my MacBook Air is my work computer when I'm away from home. I "upgraded" from a 2008 13-inch MBA ultimate to the 2011 11-inch base model and I couldn't be happier. Though it might not seem like it on paper, the difference in portability between the two is enormous in reality and the *only* thing I really feel like I missed out on with the new 13-inch MBA is the better battery life, though I really have no complaints about my experience to date with the 11-incher. I feel like I get around 5 hours out of it at a stretch, which is far better than what I ever got with my old MBA.

    I think it depends on the frequency with which you'll use the secondary laptop. If it's only a for a few hours here and there when you're away from your MacBook Pro, I'd say go for the 11-inch - it will be fantastic to travel with. If you really expect to use the secondary computer a lot, the 13-inch may be better for you with the larger screen size and your vision.
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    So far I've had bad experiences hooking my MBA 13" to a 27" ACD. Maybe I need the power a Pro provides...
  10. macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    ^ same here. Both the 11 and 13" i5/i7's seem to be working pretty hard when attached to the TBD. Although others here will strongly disagree with this.

    No doubt it depends on the tasks you're doing, the software running etc. Get doing some multitasking and the fans roar up and it gets a little laggy when attached to 27".

    For such small machines they do pretty good though. For my needs not good enough to be a full time desktop replacement. My 17" MBP is my all day work horse and my Air gets used as the mobile computer it's designed to be. I love my Air!
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    At least someone agrees with me? I think I'm going to sell my Air and pick up a 15" MBP and use my iPad as much as possible. I don't need two laptops but I think the MBP and iPad combo will be great. :D
  12. macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    It is! :D
  13. macrumors 68000

    Mar 29, 2009
    My iPad works great for games and surfing the web - but it's useless for programming or IRC, or long-winded replies on messageboards ;)
  14. Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    At the moment, and for most of the past year, my 13" MBA is my primary (and only) computer. As it happens, I travel a lot, and do a lot of writing, so it meets my needs perfectly.

    Re the question asked by the OP: Either MBA will more than adequately do duty as a secondary computer, and do it extremely well.
  15. macrumors newbie

    Feb 9, 2012
    So portable, instant on!


    I've been using my MacBook Air for the last year, and I'm so impressed by how it doesn't heat my seat or sound like it's going to take off from an aircraft carrier, like the fan in my old laptop did.

    This is the best traveling computer I've ever had. So portable, instant on.

    I'd recommend the 13" version because it's so lightweight, and you get the extra screen real estate.

  16. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    Hook it up to a Cinema Display and then you can hear the fans. LOL
  17. macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    For the record, I agree. I certainly noticed that the past day or so using it, and this is only the i5 model.
  18. macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    Yea, although its possible, I don't really think the little Airs are designed well to power the 27" unless you're doing light tasks. While they 'can' get the job done in most cases it's not ideal and the Air works hard to keep up.

    My 17" MBP on the other hand powers my TBD perfectly :D
  19. macrumors 65816

    May 7, 2009
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    classic :)
  20. macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2014
    Macbook pro retina or macbook air as secondary computer?

    I've a very powerful High end Pc at home.
    But now I need a secondary computer.
    I mainly need it for programming , coding ,develooing apps using xcode , web browsing and other stuff. I don't make videos.
    My question is which is better for me as I already have a powerful Pc at home.
    I only need the macbook when I go to classes in my college or working elsewhere.
    To be specific I'm a computer engineering Student.
    I'm not located in USA so once I buy the macbook I can't return it.
    So please help me decide between macbook pro retina or macbook air ?
    I already know the comparison and all techie stuff.
    Help me decide?
    And which configuration to get?
    Like if macbook air
    4gb Ram or 8gb Ram and 128 gb or 256 gb?
    Which is suitable ? What would you do ?
    And please keep in mind that I already have a powerful desktop. I can extend the budget but only if it's worth it.
    Thank you☺
  21. macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Programming is one of those tasks that require a lot of expertise but not necessarily a lot of compute power.

    Any current base-model MacBook will have WAY more than enough power for XCode. Compiling shouldn't be an issue. Any project made by one person (maybe ~50k lines of code max) should be able to compile in a few seconds. XCode will sometimes stutter on an older Mac when doing autocompletion and syntax highlighting as you edit code but on a Haswell that's no problem.
  22. macrumors regular


    Feb 14, 2014
    Abu Dhabi
    Really? I run a 30" Dell Ultra Sharp Display (which has many more pixels than the 27" Apple Display) from my 11" MBA base model. It never breaks into a sweat. I never even hear the fan come on.
  23. macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Indeed. The 2012 Mini did a fine job powering larger displays and it had a last-gen Intel HD 4k GPU. If you went to an Apple store, it was almost always a Mini driving a TB display to show it off. The current MBAs should do an even better job.
  24. macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2011
    Microsoft Land
    Just to confirm, my 2013 has no trouble driving TWO external displays, the 27" Apple TBD and s Sony HDMI display so I routinely use 3 screens. My 2010- 2012 had no problems with ACD or TBD.

    I use for documents in the office plus photography, not gaming. Not sure what all the fuss is about?
  25. macrumors regular

    Jul 27, 2011
    My 13" MBA is my main computer, and my travel computer, great for both!

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