MacBook Air 11" vs 13" Computer Engineering Student

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Savior, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. Savior, Jul 8, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013

    macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    #1
    I plan on buying a new Macbook Air as my second computer because I will have a desktop setup with dual 24" monitors as my main workstation. I'm a computer engineering student so I wanted portability to take notes/programming but don't need too much power since it'll be used as a secondary computer.

    I'm stuck between the 11" and 13"
    Anticipated specs: i5, 256gb, 8 gb ram (any tips on these would be helpful too)

    Uses:
    • Taking notes/programming in class (on those tiny lecture hall desks)
    • Second computer while at dorms/school
    • Main computer while back at home
    • Programming (Xcode, eclipse)
    • Gaming (MW3 via Boot Camp)

    UPDATE Just got my Air 11"!
    My Conclusions so Far:

    I have to say I really love the portability. I almost prefer it to my Windows 7 dual monitor machine because Mac OS is so much easier to use with the multiple desktops and other user friendly gestures.
    The screen is quite small, but over longer periods I think my eyes and brain are getting accustomed to it. I don't know why that happens but I just completely forget about the small screen and get zoned into whatever I'm doing.

    Gaming:
    I just loaded boot camp and parallels to try out some gaming. I got BF3 to work at around 30 FPS at low settings and MW3 to work at 60 FPS at low settings. The screen is terribly too small to game but it does its job as a portable second computer I suppose. The fans blaze extremely loud yet I feel no air going in/out. Temps are around 80-90C. Is this dangerous for the lifespan of my air?

    Programming:
    I just installed eclipse and xcode and they seem to load quickly and I don't see any lag so far. The vertical height of the screen is somewhat of a problem but nothing moving a few toolbars around can't solve.

    I'll update more as I use it more. But so far so good.
     
  2. macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    #2
    11"

    Unless u can make do with the iPad.

    I personally would want the highest resolution possible, but someone here mentions he does this task with a 11" just fine, so I dunno.

    But everybody shopping for retina would wait for the Haswell release.
     
  3. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    #3
    I'd go with the MBA 13". I think 11" is just too small.

    Be sure to go to your local Apple store and play with both though.
     
  4. macrumors 68000

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #4
    I personally have found the 11" MBA near enough unusable due to its screen size, and as you get a lot more power and 12 hour battery life with the 13" model, I'd suggest you go for that. However this is just my two cents and I know there are many satisfied 11" MBA users out there; I just know I wouldn't/couldn't be one of them.

    However it's completely down to personal preference. Go to an Apple Store, try each one out. See which one you'd find easier to use day-to-day.

    And needless to say, I wouldn't consider getting a rMBP 13" until they update it to Haswell.
     
  5. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2013
    #5
    I've been using the 11" for Xcode and some Eclipse quite a lot lately, and I love it. You do wind up using keyboard shortcuts a lot to hide/show different panels in the IDE, but for me this isn't a big deal at all.

    Plus, when you're at your desk you can plug it into a monitor and it's like using a desktop.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    #6
    Thanks for the thoughtful replies!

    Honestly I wouldn't mind a smaller screen since I always carry my iPad around to use as a second screen. I mostly use the iPad only for handwriting notes since I HATE the onscreen keyboard. The screen on the iPad isn't too bad either but it is also retina so I don't know how that would compare to the air.

    I guess I could always take advantage of Apple's great return policy if the 11" really does turn out to be too small of a screen.

    I'll order the 11" thanks!
     
  7. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2013
    #7
    Don't know if this is what you were referring to re: using ipad as a second screen, or if you meant just using it with something like safari open, but I've used this app and it works great: http://avatron.com/apps/air-display
     
  8. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    #8
    That's exactly what I meant. Since I usually carry my iPad around I thought that app would be a good investment. I think its like $20 now even though it was $10 before.
     
  9. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    #9
    You can also get an external monitor for cheap (probably ~$150 for decent 24") that you can hook up to for extra screen real estate.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    ohbrilliance

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #10
    The hall desks are perfect for a notepad. You'll take more in too if not distracted with a laptop.

    Having said that, I think you'll find the 11" screen too small for programming work.
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
    Location:
    France
    #11
    I program in 2x24" =P, I have a hard time in my 15"
     
  12. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    #12
    My Conclusions so Far:

    I got my new Air 11"! I have to say I really love the portability. I almost prefer it to my Windows 7 dual monitor machine because Mac OS is so much easier to use with the multiple desktops and other user friendly gestures.
    The screen is quite small, but over longer periods I think my eyes and brain are getting accustomed to it. I don't know why that happens but I just completely forget about the small screen and get zoned into whatever I'm doing.

    Gaming:
    I just loaded boot camp and parallels to try out some gaming. I got BF3 to work at around 30 FPS at low settings and MW3 to work at 60 FPS at low settings. The screen is terribly too small to game but it does its job as a portable second computer I suppose. The fans blaze extremely loud yet I feel no air going in/out. Temps are around 80-90C. Is this dangerous for the lifespan of my air?

    Programming:
    I just installed eclipse and xcode and they seem to load quickly and I don't see any lag so far. The vertical height of the screen is somewhat of a problem but nothing moving a few toolbars around can't solve.

    I'll update more as I use it more. But so far so good.
     
  13. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2013
    #13
    Yup, learning keyboard shortcuts for showing/hiding things is a must with the 11". But once you get in the habit of doing that, it really isn't bad at all - and the size/portability of the laptop more than makes up for that minor inconvenience. :)

    I really wouldn't worry about gaming on it if I were you, in terms of temperatures. If your laptop can't cope with the CPU being pegged for sustained periods of time, then something is wrong. They are built to handle it.
     
  14. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #14
    For the same money as a 13, I would rather have an MBA 11 + an inexpensive large external monitor for when needed. Especially given this year's 11's decent battery life.
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

    GekkePrutser

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #15
    For the extra 200 grams I'd go 13".

    I've had the 11" before and I found the screen size simply too small for Xcode. For actual coding it was fine, but for the storyboard (dragging between screens) it's pushing it, it's just so clumsy to constantly having to hide/show the sidebars. Xcode is a space hog. I actually prefer the rMBP 13" I have now because you can set the resolution even higher when you need it. And the retina preview of mobile devices is super handy.

    Of course YMMV :) Just adding my two cents. I had an 11" for coding after hours at work but I always connected my work screen to it, getting frustrated after a few minutes.

    Edit: Oops, I should read the whole thread, not just the startpost before I reply.. I see you bought one already. I'm glad you like your 11"! There is no answer that suits everyone otherwise Apple would only have to make 1 model :)
     

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