2015 11" Air as desktop?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Chrissybear, May 10, 2015.

  1. Chrissybear macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2015
    Solihull UK
    My needs are fairly simple. I currently use a 2010 Mini to run my business. It runs quite well these days with 16GB RAM and a 250GB SSD, though I could find other "media" uses for it these days. :)

    However, in thinking of replacing it, (it is 2015 after all!), how well would a 2015 11" Air perform?

    I would like a really easy way of using a computer in the home office (where I work for 90% of the time) but having the option to take it with me on holidays and away from the desk (e.g. while watching TV with the rest of the family, or for my hobby activities).

    I use an external 16:10 HDMI monitor while in the office and could connect to that. I would be looking at 8GB RAM for sure. I could go for the i7 processor too...

    Or are there better options?

    Your time and thoughts are appreciated.
  2. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    MBA is great for most 'normal stuff', but pass on the i7; spend more on AppleCare if anything.

    I'd go 13", but that's just a personal preference.
  3. Chrissybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2015
    Solihull UK
    Thanks Santa.

    I think if I went 13" I would go Pro rather than Air, but I do like the ultraportable nature of the 11" though I know it uses the slower 2-lane Memory access...

    Anyone else?
  4. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    I have the 11" 2014 base model MBA - and absolutely love it.

    I also have a 2012 quad core i7 mini (hooked up to an HDTV running Kodi/Navi-X/projectfreetv for ::cough cough:: legal streaming media ::cough cough::) and a 15" 2014 rMBP for music production, primarily just sitting on a desk.

    In all honesty - I've tested the 11" air in both applications (connected to an HDTV too) and the damn thing performed flawlessly.

    Even stock with i5/4GB RAM - it's very capable.

    Get the 11" air, skip the i7 upgrade, and you can probably skip the 8GB RAM upgrade unless you're using multiple Virtual Machines or have specific needs for it, or just have money to burn.
  5. Chrissybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2015
    Solihull UK
    Hi David.

    Thanks for the reply. Very useful to hear from someone who's "been there and done it" so to speak.

    Strangely, I also have an i7 2012 Mini which I am in the process of setting up as a dedicated recording studio. The 2010 Mini would then be Kodi-fied in a similar way to yours and hooked up to our main TV.

    So the new machine is effectively to run the office, do general tasks but also go "out and about" as I wish. For the sake of £80 the extra 4Gb seems a no-brainer, but I thought the i7 might be handy if I did some work with Logic Pro X or Mainstage if I get into using it for live performances?

    I also have half an eye on a New MacBook 12" but I think the Air may be better for my needs, maybe even better than the Pro, which is my other option...
  6. DisplacedMic macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2009
    i haven't played with the new airs, but i did want to say that was exactly the reason i purchased my 11" 2013.
    i was convinced i wanted a 13" air but once i went to the store and played with them, i didn't notice much of a difference in weight between the 13" MBP and the 13" MBA. i think there's something along the lines of slightly less than .5lb difference. the air actually has a slightly larger footprint as well.

    while the 13 MBA is awesome and many people i know love theirs - i felt the choice came down to ultraportable or ultrapowerful (13" rMBP)
    so when all things being equal, i always go with price when i can't decide.

    i use my 11' exclusively. i also purchased a thunderbolt display so i could use it for a desktop and i have to say i don't use the external monitor very often. it is perfectly adequate for what i do which isn't particularly resource-heavy.

    i do play red alert 2 on vmware from time to time, but otherwise no games. i am almost exclusively word suite, browsing, email with minimal coding.

    perfect computer for me. definitely go play with them in the store before choosing though. some people think the 11 is too small.

    butter-side down imbeciles that they are...:p:p:p
  7. Chrissybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2015
    Solihull UK
    Some great thoughts there, Displaced.

    It does seem that despite some "handicaps" (small screen, 16:9 res, TN screen) this little box of tricks is very highly thought of by its owners. I am still piecing together all the info to see where I end up. Air, Pro or new 12"...

    There even seem to be some docking stations available for the 11" too!

    Can anyone tell me how easy it is to use on one's lap? Does it feel cramped or too small in this use case? I had the chance to try a friends 13" Pro on my lap last week and that felt surprisingly comfy!
  8. helveta macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2012
    I started using a 13" MBA as a desktop and did that for a couple years before I went with an 11". I use a TB monitor, dual TB backup drives and a wired keyboard so I have the number keypad. 95% of the time I use it in the office and it works great for that. I went with the 11 a couple years ago for the 5% of the time I'm not in the office. I occasionally will use it briefly at home but the smaller size makes a big difference when traveling. Especially now when you try to fit everything in one carryon.

    The sometimes seems small, but so did the 13" and it is much easier to pack. If I were to replace it now I'd probably go with the 12" because I understand its about the same size, but I'd wait until I could get a docking station. I'm really waiting for a retina replacement for the TB display.
  9. Chrissybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2015
    Solihull UK
    Thanks Helveta. That's a similar scenario to myself as regards work versus portable.

    Good to hear it works well in the office.

    I am still wondering if it sits ok on one's lap, for example while watching TV.
    Also do people struggle to get the right screen viewing angle when using that way, or does it "just work"?
  10. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    I use my full-spec 11" (late 2013) as a desktop quite a lot, docked to my TBD. In only a few cases can I discern any appreciable lag, almost always when using processor-intensive CC apps. Otherwise, it's indistinguishable from a MacBook Pro with respect to performance.

    I do find the 11" screen limiting in some ways when I'm using the MBA as a laptop, but particularly when docked to the TBD, it performs amazingly well.
  11. Chrissybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2015
    Solihull UK
    Thanks for those insights.

    I could afford the i7 if I go for it, I suppose there is less likelihood of lag with the faster processor?

    I am hoping we see a retina Thunderbolt 2 Display announced at WWDC!
  12. yansun macrumors regular

    Mar 26, 2010
    I'm using my mid 2013 13" MBA i5 with a 24" external monitor as a desktop replacement since I bought it 2 years ago. Serves me really well so far.
  13. helveta macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2012
    I've never noticed a problem with it on my lap, although I don't ofter use it that way. I've never had a problem with screen viewing angle.


    I've always chosen to max out memory and drive before processor, but if you can afford it max out everything. It'll last much longer that way.
  14. Chrissybear, May 11, 2015
    Last edited: May 11, 2015

    Chrissybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2015
    Solihull UK
    Brilliant. This is just the kind of feedback I was hoping for.
    Don't mind if it's negative or positive.

    This forum rocks!

    I wonder if there is anyone who has the new 12" and the 11" Air who can update us on whether the new one lags in comparison to the Air, or indeed if there are any other noticeable differences other than screen/Force Touch.

    I read that some are finding it almost too thin!

    Whatever, I've ordered an 11" Air! Many thanks to all for their advice and help.
  15. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    The i7 is not that much faster, maybe 10-20%. There will basically be no noticeable difference in interface "lag."

    The faster processor is really only useful if you're going to do a processing job that takes minutes or hours, then you can shave a (sometimes) useful amount of time off of those jobs.
  16. Zapdoc macrumors member

    Mar 4, 2012
    rMB 12 vs MBA 11

    No noticeable lag with new 12 inch 1.2 GHz
    Lighter weight more compact and easier carried
  17. Significant1 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2014
    The new MB 12" has ONE BIG advantage over air 11", its screen. The rest is negligible or worse.
  18. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    Using my 2014 11 Air as a desktop until the iMac Retina is updated again. I am hoping for 32 GB of memory since DDR4 should be out for it. 2 TB of Flash would be a bonus. I really want to jump on this Retina screen bandwagon by 2016. I prefer the desktops to laptops anyways.
  19. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I use a 2013 11" i7/8gb/512gb MBA as my primary computer. Am still really pleased with this machine and see no need to upgrade. Works great with an external big screen, USB keyboard and mouse, USB audio interface, control surface, disk drives and other peripherals. I would not want the rMB with its limited ports and slower performance. The retina screen doesn't interest me.

    I run some powerful software, like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, Vectorworks, etc. It's a powerful little machine. And it's perfect for travel with great battery life. The 2015 models should be even better. But if you are concerned about cost, see if Apple has any 2013 refurbs on their site. These are arguably the "best bang for the buck".
  20. nefan65 macrumors 65816


    Apr 15, 2009
    I had a 2013 11" MBA, I7, 8GB/128GB. Work issued, and gave it to a co-worker and got the 2015 11" MBA, I7, 8GB/256GB. Both were great machines and I used/use daily as a desktop. The 2015 screen is much better, and somewhat noticeable, so if you can swing a 2014 or 2015 you won't be disappointed.

    I use it for basic stuff; email, web, documents, spreadsheets, and light photo stuff. But it also handles VM's well. I use the latter with Windows [desktop/server for testing], Linux, and some FreeBSD UNIX. I can easily run a couple VM's, and do all that I mentioned above with no problem. I had an external monitor/kb/mouse, but I've been doing a lot of meetings, and travel between 2 company sites often, sometimes at a moment's notice. So now i just use this and nothing else. Love typing on it, and the trackpad is great.

    I'll keep an eye on the new MB's, but for now I like the power and portability of the MBA.
  21. Chrissybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2015
    Solihull UK
    What I find fascinating is just how many people are using these little 11" devices for such powerful applications. They really are little powerhouses it seems.

    I will probably run a VM on mine and maybe Logic Pro X too, but the flexibility coupled with a Thunderbolt 2 dock (ordered!) is going to be fantastic.

    Just need to make sure I use it to its best so the battery does not die an earlier death than it should! On that note, I guess I should probably use it down to 20% or less on battery before charging it up?
  22. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    No no no. Plug it in whenever it's convenient!

    Running it down to 20% was something people had to do with NiCad rechargeable batteries in the 80s. Now it's just bad for batteries.

    Enjoy your laptop!
  23. Chrissybear thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2015
    Solihull UK
    Thanks Motrek. Well that's even better then!

    Can't wait to get the Air. Need to save pennies for a Thunderbolt Retina display next when it comes out! Lol

Share This Page