2011 13" Macbook Air vs 2011 Mac Mini (base models)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dlim, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. dlim, Jan 15, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012

    dlim macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2012
    Hi everyone. I currently own the 13" Macbook Air (mid 2011) model and love it, but I'm wondering if it's worth getting the i5 2.3ghz Mac Mini, too. I plan on eventually buying the 2012 iMac once it releases (I'd sell the mac mini by then, if I do buy it).

    Right now I use my MBA at school (on battery) ~4 hours a day, come home, plug it in to the power adapter and hook up a monitor, mouse, and keyboard to it to use at home, and repeat this Mon-Fri. On the weekends I just leave it plugged in on AC power.

    I'm considering buying a mac mini because I want to ideally preserve the life of my MBA battery as much as I can (I want it to last me until 2015 when I graduate). If I pick up a mini, I would use the air on battery one day at school, and use it while plugged in to the power cord the next day (which I feel like would make the most use out of the charge cycles and battery).

    The dilemma I'm having is whether or not it would be worth it to buy the mac mini. I'd buy the base model and upgrade it to 8gb memory on my own. I don't really need an optical drive but might pick up an external one if I find a good deal on one. Considering the biggest reason I want it, right now, is to not put my air through so many charge cycles, would it make a difference in helping preserve my battery over the next few months?

    I read up a few things on these new batteries and how they're supposed to work and last, but I guess I'm worried that if I continue to use the air daily as I do now until whenever iMac comes out, it'll take a toll on my battery.

    Also on a side note, I've been looking at benchmarks between the air and mini and it doesn't seem like there's much of a difference, but all of those were on the base mini with 2gb of ram. Will I notice a difference in the two after upgrading it to 8gb (1.7ghz, SSD, 4gb vs 2.3ghz, 5400rpm, and 8gb)? I'm usually running iChat, iTunes, chrome, MS word, MS powerpoint, and MPlayer OSX Extended.

    Thanks in advance guys!
  2. BlakeBrattina macrumors 6502a

    May 10, 2011
    Bay City, MI
    I'm somewhat in the same boat - however, I use my MBP daily at work as a second computer (mostly non-work related stuff) but also use it at home as my main device. This is going to kill my battery eventually and I'd like to get a new machine. I'm pretty sure I have narrowed it to an Imac just to have the stationary computer while I'm here so I don't have to open this bad boy up.

    Side note - May be getting an Ipad 2 when the 3 comes out also, unless they make those significant changes.

  3. dlim, Jan 15, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012

    dlim thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2012
    I used to only use my MBA at school. I had a desktop I built mid-2011 that I used as my main once I got home, so I never worried much about my battery. But in preparation for getting an iMac I sold the desktop (figured I could get more $$$ now then later, windows products depreciate fast!). So now I'm wondering if I should go ahead and get a mini to use as my main to save my MBA, or if doing that for the next 5 months or so wouldn't make a difference.
  4. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000


    Aug 7, 2011
    Liverpool, UK
    These things are built to last!! Unlike PC stuff. I don't think 6 months of hard use is going the wreck the battery. I wouldn't worry about it if I were, save yourself the dough and up-spec the iMac when you buy it.

    I have had a 2007 MacBook Pro and after 4 years of hard use, the battery was still fine. Tested it before I sold it a couple of weeks ago and there wasn't even a warning...
  5. Geekbabe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2011
    People buy laptops & notebooks because they are mobile solutions. I use my Air as I need it, sometimes running on battery, other times from AC power. You've purchased a premium device here, it's totally reasonable to expect your Air to last for 3 years, just go ahead and do what you need to do with it & enjoy it!
  6. dlim thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2012
    Thanks for the responses!

    I think I'm gonna pick up a base model 2011 mac mini for now and see how I like it. And around mid-2012 when the new iMacs and mac mini's come out decide if I'm either gonna keep what I have or see if it's worth upgrading.

    In the meantime, could I have some suggestions in how to best/efficiently utilize my MBA's battery?

    I have ~4-6 hours of lecture a day that I use my MBA for, and I used to just use it on battery at school and come home and charge it until the next day. By the time I come home it's at about 10-15% charge depending on how many hours of lecture I had.

    Would it be more...efficient(?) (I guess that's a good word) to use it on AC adapter while at school, and maybe allow it to drain to 50-70% (I read 50% in the post on batteries, but I've also read about users doing it to 70%) on battery every 2-3 days as I use it? Or would it be fine to just keep using it on battery at school and charging it at home as I have been?

    (Honestly I don't have applecare yet, but am planning on buying it soon. I'm also probably going to end up selling this one and buying the 2013 model. I have this habit of constantly upgrading my apple products so I like to keep them in as pristine condition as possible haha :x. I guess it's a guilty pleasure)
  7. macsmurf macrumors 65816


    Aug 3, 2007
    You worry too much about battery lifetime. Modern batteries are much less vulnerable. Just forget anything you've ever heard about taking care of the battery and use your computer as you want. It will last you 3 years no problem. My guess would be 90% capacity after 3 years.
  8. will waters macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Great Britain
    Dont bother

    1)Cheaper to get a new Battery instead of a mac mini

    2)Apple batteries are built to last: My macbook: The battery has done over 600 cycles, it is at 85% health, and i can still get 2-3 hours of it (depending on what i am doing! It is old (late 2008 model) and it still works fine (although i will be upgrading to the 2012 MBP/MBA)

    3) Wait for the new iMac to come out, i have this feeling it will only be a few months :)

    Hope this helps!
  9. dlim thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2012
    I do worry too much! Haha it's my hell :[ But after a lot of feedback and my own research on the forums regarding battery, I'm not gonna worry too much about it (or at least try to!)

    Battery preservation aside, I'm now thinking of two different set ups:

    1. Buying a TBD to use with my current 13" MBA (base model)
    2. Buying a base model 2011 mac mini and upgrading the memory myself to 8gb. (I currently have an apple wireless keyboard, logitech wireless mouse, and dual HP2311x monitors I would use with this set up)

    For my usage: 90% of the time I'm running ichat, chrome, itunes, ms word, and ms powerpoint. The other 10% of the time I'm running all of those while watching movies/tv shows on Mplayer OSX Extended or Netflix.

    Pretty much scratched the idea of an iMac b/c while I do love them (my brother has the current 27" one), I've never been a fan of AIO desktops. I've built customized windows desktops for myself and my friends for the past 10 years, so I like the option of swapping out defective parts or upgrading parts as I please. (I know the mini's hard drive isn't the easiest to access, but definitely better than removing the iMac's screen).

    Thanks for all the help so far everyone! I really appreciate it. I've been lurking the forums for a while now but never became a member. Glad I finally did!
  10. JPIndustrie macrumors 6502a


    Mar 12, 2008
    Queens, NY
    You got the money? Get the mac mini.

    I did the mobile/desktop docking thing in college w/ a 13" Powerbook. Hell.

    And yes, that type of stress COULD ruin the battery in 3 years.

    Once you have your Mac Mini setup on your desk @ home just the way you like it and you completely relegate the MBA to what it was designed for; you will be much much zen. :apple:
  11. randomhkkid macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2010
    There's no point of buying the Mac mini just because you want to preserve the MacBook airs battery life. Even if it does become very bad down the line you can just buy another with the money you saved not buying the Mac mini now.
  12. dlim thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2012
    It wasn't solely for preserving my battery. I was just contemplating about whether or not I wanted to use my MBA as a main computer, which I've decided to do for now though. Going to try to pick up a TBD, and maybe the 2012 mini when it comes out, depending on what they do to it.

    Thanks everyone!

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