11 inch vs 13 inch MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mattdocs12345, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. mattdocs12345 macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2015
    Im split on which MBA should I purchase?
    What is really the difference between 13 and 11 inch Macbook Air? Besides the obvious one, screen size of course....
    Not sure if true or not but I read somewhere that 13 inch is faster than 11 inch... I don't understand how this possibly could be true since both come with the same processors.
    Also is Thunderbolt 1.0 even worth it on MBA 13inch? Or is it something so outdated that I might as well save $$ and stick with 11 inch?
  2. CausticSoda macrumors 6502


    Feb 14, 2014
    Abu Dhabi
    I have the 11" MBA, and it is wonderful. I can't compare the speed with the 13" (I have never used one), but it is more than capable for all of my needs. At home, I use a 30" monitor with it, and have no problems at all with that.

    In shops, I have picked up the 13" MBA to compare, and it seems very large in comparison - far more than one might imagine. So long as you have an external monitor, I would say go for the 11" every time. It is so small and light you can use it like an iPad. With an external monitor, keyboard and mouse it is like having a full-size computer. You get the best of all worlds.
  3. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    No, the 13" isn't faster. The guts are the same. The difference with the 13" is obviously size, and that it has an SD card slot, and a bigger battery that gives you a couple more hours of battery life. That's it.

    The 11" is an obvious choice to me because I value portability primarily in a laptop.
  4. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    I have an 11" MBA to supplement my iMac and iPad4, but if an MBA was going to be my primary machine, I'd spring for the 13". The SD card slot and better battery life would outweigh the insane portability of the 11". Did I mention how insanely portable the 11" MBA is? ;):D
  5. Aika macrumors regular


    Apr 7, 2006
    The 11" is noticeably smaller and lighter so that's what I prefer but

    I agree with this.
  6. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    For me the SD card slot was the biggest differentiator. It's a very nice thing to have. I use a 64GB SD card quite a bit just as scratch space.

    Of course if you don't see yourself bothering with SD cards or external media much, then the 11 inch is still in the running.

    From what I've seen of the rumored 12 inch MBA though, I'm definitely not getting one of those. A single USB C? No thanks.
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    I've had both, and both are excellent, in that they are fast,, powerful, reliable, and very portable computers.

    Obviously, the 13" is the bigger of the two.

    For starters, it comes with a larger screen, - which is noticeable - and the computer itself weighs a little more and takes ups bit more space (than the 11"). Moreover, the battery is bigger, hence a single charge will last a few hours longer. Indeed, should you decide to have only one computer, the 13" makes a superb machine.

    However, while both are exceedingly portable, for sheer portability, nothing beats the 11"; this is a stunning computer, fast, powerful and incredibly portable.

    If portability is your key need, I would recommend getting the 11"; for me, portability is hugely important, as I travel a lot. If you value portability, but also have other needs, perhaps the 13" is a better all round machine.
  8. mattdocs12345 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2015
    Hmmm but protability wise 13 inch will last me longer on a single charge....

    What is the difference in hinge strenght between 13 inch and 11 inch?
  9. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I got the fully loaded 13" and not even looking back. Having a SD slot, larger battery and larger screen was good for me. As far as portability the 13" is perfect out in the field.

    If you think the 13" is too big, just go pick up a MBPro.

    In the end it is personal preference no both the 11 and 13 inch model have their pluses. It is you who will have to live with them.
  10. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Hinge strength should basically be the same. Maybe a little weaker for the 13 inch model just because it's longer, but why do you ask? Kind of a strange question. Do you plan on banging up your MacBook so badly that the screen might come off?

    If you mean hinge resistance, both of them should be calibrated such that you can open the lid with one finger while it's resting on a desk.

    The 13 inch model does have longer battery life, but the 11 inch model still lasts for ~9 hours. It's been more than enough for any flight I've taken or any workday I've had to be mostly on battery power. There have been a few times where I've had a layover at an airport and was sitting right next to a power outlet but couldn't be bothered to plug in my laptop because I knew it would last for the remaining 4 (or whatever) hours.
  11. mattdocs12345 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2015
    I dropped entire brand of thinkpads over weak hinge resistance. It is a personal preferance but I simply cannot stand weak hinge resistence. A notebook screen should not move at all while on a train or bus and it should offer enough resistance so that it can't be open with one finger. Thinkpads used to be like that and then they started to slack off. I recently checked out MBA 11" and it offers much stronger hinge resistance than Lenovo. But I haven't had oportunity to check out 13.
  12. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Opening the MBA with one finger was a design goal for Apple. The machine is back-heavy, so instinctively the concern is that if the laptop is resting on a flat surface and you lift on the lip of the lid, the whole machine will just lift up and won't open. Then you'd have to open it with two hands which is awkward and looks stupid.

    The screen doesn't move around when on a train, bus, plane, etc.

    If you pick up the laptop quickly, the screen does have a tendency to open more. This annoys some people but I think not most.
  13. rittchard macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007
    I really really loved the portability of the 11 inch. As mentioned above you wouldn't think half a pound made that much difference but it really does if you are constantly bringing it from place to place. In terms of general capability vs. size/weight, I think the 11 is outstanding.

    But... the screen size and resolution left a little to be desired; I actually ran into a couple of cases (custom software) where the resolution of the 11 inch wasn't supported correctly, so that was kind of a bummer. So between that, the extra battery life and the SD port, I was willing to take the extra size/weight.

    Bottom line: if portability is not your prime concern, I'd stick with the 13.
  14. bonbmdxman macrumors newbie

    Nov 29, 2012
    I would have to agree with everyone who said the main draw of the 11" is portability. I have a 13" retina and I recently just bought an 11" air for portability (and to see if I could make it my one and only machine). Much to my surprise, I'm very pleased with the 11" air! It's so light and an absolute joy to use on my lap. When at home I connect it to my 27" Thunderbolt Display. If I were buying a single laptop and didn't have the thunderbolt display I would make the determination solely on where it would be used most (i.e. on a desk at home or out and about). If at home more, then the bigger screen will be nice (13"). If out and about more, nothing beats the portability of the 11". That being said, I think the BEST setup is an 11" air with a Thunderbolt Display - you, in essence, get a 27" "desktop" while still having ultimate portability (all in a laptop that doesn't sacrifice performance for daily tasks).
  15. feflower macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2009
    I was also torn between the two (you will also find other posts here addressing this issue).

    I went with the 13" and I am glad that I did. I do a lot of database development on the run, and there is no way I would have been able to conveniently do this on a 11". At home I still hook up to an external monitor to give me more workspace.

    In the end you have judge how you will be using your laptop and then decide.

    To tell you the truth I wanted to get the 11" for its novelty factor (I think fewer people have it...?)
  16. Isamilis macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2012
    It would be great of Apple make 11" form factor but with keeping 13" inch. I think, 12" is also too small.
  17. mattdocs12345 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2015
    I think both 11 and 13 inch are great form factors.
    11 for those whose mobility is priority while still remains fairly good on the eyes
    13 for those who need mobility with something much better on the eyes

    12 inch just doesn't cut either way, not mobile enough and not big enough.
  18. chabig macrumors 601

    Sep 6, 2002
    I doubt that a 12 inch Air would be any larger than the current 11 inch model.
  19. tmarks11 macrumors 6502a

    May 3, 2010
    I love the size of the MBA11. Very convenient to take with you when traveling. The size has made it so convenient that I stopped using an iPad.

    I use one of those nearly-flush USB flash drives (SanDisk Cruzer Fit) that barely extends out of the socket as "scratch space". It is hardly noticeable.


    The rumor is that it is about the same size as the MBA11, since it has a thin bezel. That would be awesome.
  20. yosemit macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2013
    Well, a retina 12" display will make the difference! :D

  21. mattdocs12345 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2015
    Yeah but making it even an inch smaller than current model would make it super portable.
  22. tmarks11 macrumors 6502a

    May 3, 2010
    true, I think I could go for that as well.

    I had a Dell 10 netbook (before the MBA), and liked the small size... although the keyboard was a bit cramped. A MBA11 that is an inch smaller in all dimensions would be awesome.

    Of course, the MBA11 has an 11.6" screen. So if the rumored MBA12 had a 11.88" or 12.2" screen, you are not talking about a significant increase in size.
  23. Gee1 macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2010
    I have a base 11" 2014, one thing I will say, and perhaps I should have paid more attention to this myself - the screen resolution on the 11" is not great. I did not fully understand what this meant untill I saw my first HD image online.

    If you can, go to an Apple store and visit your most used sites and see how they look on the 11" and 13"
  24. bubulol macrumors 6502a

    Mar 7, 2013
    I think 13 inch is a bastard compromise
    11 toward mobility, sightly larger than an iPad
    People who own 13 inch, claim its better to work on it due to its bigger size
    Neither 11 nor 13 inch are supposed to be good as daily workstation
    15 inch sounds me as the minimal scree size
    that why i believe 11 is perfect as mobile laptop
    If you need to work at home, plug onto an external screen
    If you need to work at office, maybe Macbook Pro 15 would be a better choice

    + smaller
    + mobility
    + lighter
    + cheaper

    - less powerfull
    - less battery life
  25. tmarks11 macrumors 6502a

    May 3, 2010
    Just a note: Apple should release the 2015 MBA in a couple of months. I would recommend waiting for the new release.

    It should get an upgrade to Broadwell CPU, offering cooler operation/longer battery life.

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