Again 11 vs 13 experience in the store, how do you decide?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Romulus, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. Romulus macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2006
    Bingo, they just became available at the Cambridge Galeria and I was excited to give them a shot. My current setup - 15in MBP 2.4Ghz 2008 model doing mainly science research which means 2011 Office Word, Power Point, Excel, often opened in parallel, Sente for referencing, 10 or so PDF documents, 5-10 browser windows either Safari or Firefox, and sometimes Photoshop CS 5 for editing that figure. Of course, once in a blue moon, I push the CPU with Photoshop assembling large panoramas or combining multiple images to HDR. I also have a quad core desktop that I build running Windows and is now acting as a media PC that can also play Blue Ray and hulu videos, but also act as a backup with 2TB plus storage (it's really a secondary machine under the TV)... So...

    I want to say that both the 11 and 13 in perform phenomenally: basic setup was about 10 browser windows, 10 PDF documents, 2-3 Word documents, Excel, Powerpoint, iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes in the background - both machines run that software without a glitch.

    Now, the 11 in does it with the processor pegged at 50-60% while the 13 does it with 10-25% average... Bursts are common, but that's expected either way. Question - how do the fans perform long term with processor pegged at 50% - I know my MBP would start screaming after a bit... Now I know that the 11 is an ULV vs the 13 is a LV meaning that perhaps the 13 makes as much heat at 25% as the 11 makes at 50%, but wanted to get input from people.

    Next, in terms of the screen... I was impressed... Practically, you loose very little work space - I did not feel that I had to do more scrolling or more work in general - you really loose only about 100 pixels vertically, which is solved by moving the Dock to the side... Things were about 5-10% smaller, but my eye did not really distinguish that difference, and only when I payed attention to the top bar, did I see that the fonts were just a bit smaller in the menues... Functionally, no difference...

    So, the screen for all intensive purposes is practically equivalent as a work space, processor wise it is fully functional for my daily work protocols... Now - will the 13 just be quieter long term and provide a more future proof investment or is the 11 sufficient for say next 3-4 years... I would like the 11 because it looks more impressive - portability wise, they are both equivalent to me. They will both fit in my briefcase and the 300 grams is basically the weight of a notebook, nothing compared to my MBP. But then I feel scared of having the processor constantly running at 50% (or perhaps I'm too used to seeing just blips on the MBP activity monitor). Money is not an issue as the 2-300 dollars will water down over 3 years or so...

    Perhaps, to make it short, what I'm asking is - will the 13 better suit me long term or should I get the 11 because I like it more now and it is way portable...
  2. treynolds macrumors regular


    Feb 17, 2010
    If I were you...

    I'd go with the 13.3" for the work you're doing and the apps you're using.

    I too have looked at both in the store and while I was VERY impressed with the 11.6, I just *KNOW* that the extra vertical pixels of the 13.3 will come in very handy. I want to be able to run Photoshop in the field and AutoCAD Lt under Parallels in a pinch. The screen res of the 13.3 equals that of my workhorse HP 17" that is nearing 4 years old.

    I see the 11.6 as something akin to an iPad with a keyboard, albeit with a full-blown OS as well and all the advantages that entails. I also see the 13.3 as really not being *that* much bigger and the payoff as far as features makes it an easy choice of the two *IF* I can justify the cost, 'cuz face it, these are premium ultralight notebooks.

    I think that 4 GB RAM is a must, as is at least a 128 GB SSD. You ad those two things to the 11.6 and you're pretty close to the price of the 13.3 with those same specs and you get the SD slot and extra pixels for *free*, which for me is compelling, for the penalty of what, half a pound?

    That said, what with having lugged the HP around for over three years and my work notebook being a Dell M90 workstation and BOTH systems topping 8 lbs, either of the MBA's would be light as a feather in comparison. Good luck in your choice!

  3. zero85ZEN macrumors regular

    Apr 8, 2009
    If I pull the trigger on an Air it will be the 13" model with 4GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and the faster processor. It's costly, but the specs are fairly decent and comparable to the MacBook, the SD slot and larger screen and multi-touch pad are huge factors to consider towards the usability of these machines for serious work/content creation.

    The 11" model has more of the "cool factor" going for it, but the 13" seems like the most practical/useful of the two as an actual productivity tool.
  4. SamTheeGeek macrumors 6502


    Jan 12, 2010
    United Kingdom
    I Would recommend the Macbook Air 13.3" Due its faster in CPU Spec and you get a little bit larger screen than the 11" MBA.
  5. Hellishness macrumors 65816


    Jan 27, 2010
    Bay Area, CA
    My process was pretty close to yours. 128GB is a must, so that puts me at $100 less for the 11" versus the 13". They felt very similar to me in terms of weight and size (yes I could obviously tell the difference, but it wasn't like the 13" would be much less portable), but the screen size of the 13" seemed monstrous compared to the 11". So for $100 I get a bigger screen, better battery, better processor (not that I'd ever know the difference...), and a weight/size difference that seems insignificant, IMO. 13" it is.
  6. Romulus thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2006
    I just ordered the 13/1.8/4/128 from Macmall to save on taxes... will see, kind of anxious... and my MBP is going by-by possibly tonight courtesy of Craigslist...
  7. EarthDawn macrumors 6502a


    Feb 18, 2008
    Long-eye Land, NY
    They charge tax to nys residents... Boo

    Did they give you a delivery date ???
  8. bugout macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008
    is everything!
    jeez, just order from apple online with the EDU discount.. they don't check :) Saves you the taxes.
  9. AppleGoddess macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2010
  10. nfl46 macrumors 604

    Oct 5, 2008
  11. ditosou macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2010

    A great reason for the success of apple is the ability to mix work and pleasure in its computer models :) ... I will go to the 11" MBA... why? it is a game changer... and a pleasure to be with.
  12. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Jun 20, 2007
    Battery Life...11" not good enough, plus I like the added resolution of the 13".
  13. Romulus thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2006
    I actually have a university ID as faculty... but Macmall gives you like a $50 discount plus no tax... beats the Apple $60 discount plus tax...

    Delivery should be in like 2 weeks though (1 week for the BTO and 3-5 days delivery with free shipping)... boo... Patience is a virtue...

    I agree that the 11 is a game changer, but I wish they would have included the 13" screen in the current 11" packaging (instead of the huge bezel - but than it would be a marketing disaster - the lines between different offerings are already quite volatile, and the 1.4 processor is too small for a true 13" power offering)...

    I just think that if I got the 11" I would have regretted it in time - the main consideration for portability, to me, is weight (I had a macbook initially, but switch to a MBP because the 1lbs difference is not big enough to justify the performance difference)... and the .7 lbs is a small difference for the extra power (did not get it really for the bigger screen, but the bezel on the 13 looks smaller when considered proportionally).

    Will update when I get it...
  14. wirelessmacuser macrumors 68000


    Dec 20, 2009
    That holds true for both my newly delivered MBA _and_ my new VAIO X.

    Apple is just one choice these days. As a multi-platformist, I enjoy both.
  15. Romulus thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2006
    That's funny... I'm actually setting the macbook as a work (research) horse... My entertainment is carried by a 3Ghz Quad Core 2TB PC hooked to the TV... for both HULU, DIVX, and Blue Ray (which Mac is still lacking)...
  16. nfl46 macrumors 604

    Oct 5, 2008
    Well, change of plans, I am going to get the 13" model. So, I'll be paying an extra $300. GOSH. Lol. So, thats $1,400 with taxes.
  17. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Kansas City
    I won't pretend to know what another person likes or needs, but I can share how my 11" vs 13" in the store and at home went.

    Initially at Best Buy they had the 11" model out. I was not only impressed by the speed and ability of this little sucker, it was crazy how small and lightweight it was. 10 years ago when I traveled by air most of the time I would have killed to have the 11" MBA. I thought I would try it out and as I have 45 days to return with no restocking as a Silver BB member I went for it. No real issues with overall power for what I now use a laptop for but a few things bothered me about the 11" model. The first, which is very specific to the software I run for work is the very small "F" keys on the 11" MBA, simply not usable for me to be productive. The battery life was doable, getting 4 or 5 hours fairly easy with the email, web and VPN work I need. I did find the screen a bit odd as my last several years worth of laptops have been MBP's, a bit funky ratio but not a huge deal. After 2 days I figured if I keep an 11" it's going to be a max unit with 4gigs/128 and may as well get the 1.6 as whichever I ended up with I was in for a few years possibly.

    Pricing out the 11" vs 13" all began to blend together, the Max'd 11" now crossing into 13" territory... and for the additional 2 hours of battery, 50% more CPU power, double the storage, larger screen and SD card I couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger on the max'd 11". (damn my rational) lol

    So after the 3rd day I swapped it to the 1.8/2gig/256 13" MBA (currently using) and have been very pleased with the screen size and the added storage as I am able to dump my entire music collection, photo and some movies to carry while keeping the wireless external at the ready to move movies and video around. I have been using the 13" now for 4 solid days at work and very impressed with the battery compared to my previous Rev B MBA a year or so ago. I'm able to start it up at 7am and go till 3:30 or 4pm with web, email and VPN software running before I need to plug in. I am getting a pretty consistent 7+ hours with the screen around 70% at the office.

    Aside the price overlap, if the 11" actually had the exact keyboard the 13" had, it would have been a coin toss for me. The screen I could have gotten used to, the tiny F keys simply wasn't an option for as many times as I use then during a day.

    So close.... yet so far on the 11" for me. Great little machine so I'll keep hope alive it gets some tweaks in the next Rev. If Best Buy had the max'd 13" I would already own it and be done, but as they don't offer that model I will probably end up returning this (BB losing the sale) and buying a BTO or as my local Apple store did in fact have some max'd out MBA's pick one up there if I catch one in stock.
  18. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I looked at the 13" and it looked just like a MacBook from the top except it's thinner, so that immediately didn't work for me. I wanted a computer that was not only small, but looked small. The 11" offered that to me. It's also quite fast and that's a plus. The resolution isn't bad either.
  19. Romulus thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2006
    I don't understand people's obsession with small laptop... It's a great idea in a phone that you carry in your pocket, but in the laptop - I would think no matter what the bag is standard... so I care more about weight and the max size and performance I can get for least weight... Unless you guys change the bags...
  20. snorkelman macrumors 6502a


    Oct 25, 2010
    If I was sticking it in a bag Id have no problem with the 1.4 kilo 13" versus the 1 kilo 11", but you're assuming it goes in a bag, I prefer to hand carry.

    Doing that the sweet spot weight wise for me from past experience is 1 kilo and as small a form factor as practical, by time its at 1.4 or 1.5 kilo I'm either cursing the fact Ive a bag to lug around or find myself leaving it at home more often than I should.
  21. stockscalper macrumors 6502a


    Aug 1, 2003
    Area 51
  22. CommanderData macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2007
    I don't understand people's obsession with big laptops... is 95% of the population so myopic, sausage fingered, and ham fisted that they need huge screens and keyboards to get work done? :p

    Really though, I'm a big guy who prefers a small laptop. Been running a successful business for several years off a Fujitsu P1620 (Only a 1.2Ghz Core2Duo, 8.9" screen at 1280x768, and 64GB SSD). I love it because it can be used on cramped flights, in odd places within factories, or even balanced on one hand and worked with the other if nothing else is available to set it on (believe it or not this happens a lot in my travels).

    For me, it's not the weight or thickness, but the size that matters. Smaller is better. The 11.6" MBA is actually larger than my current setup but I feel it'll still be small enough to allow me to switch to Mac for traveling and consulting finally. All the other specs of the 11.6" meet or exceed my P1620, and I won't have to hackintosh it to run OSX on a second partition like I have right now.

    Looks like an all-round winner to me. Only thing that would make it better is to have the 256GB SSD option and 1440x900 on an 11.6" screen. Yes, that high res! I have a 12" Toshiba laptop here (Portege M200) with 1400x1050 resolution that is fantastic, but it's a bit too large and old for my daily use :)
  23. Romulus thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2006
    That's a very good point - size is a matter of use... For me it's mainly the weight on the shoulder, otherwise I typically would use on at a desk or on my knees...

    If you hand carry - sure, the 13" is a bit unbalanced in the hand... If you use it on flights, small spaces - 11 is great... I was gonna get the 11 first, loved the size, and screen wise, if you compare side by side, you only loose about 10% subjectively, which when you look at it, from a use perspective made no difference to me... But I hate the huge bezel - I wish they would fit the 13" screen in there - then Apple would have true innovation on their hands... I think it would be the next step - 13" MBP in a small form factor...
  24. snorkelman macrumors 6502a


    Oct 25, 2010
    Aye though the 13.3 panel in the 11.6" was probably pushing the boundaries of the upper case construction (ie would have ended up with too little bezel rather than the over-generous bezel it has just now)

    likewise reducing the 11.6" models bezel any further (in line with amount of bezel used on 13.3") then leaves the 11.6" with a smaller form factor and creates a similar issue when it comes to trying to retain its existing 'full size keys' keyboard
  25. g808 macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Get both. ;)

    I ordered the 13" BTO online, and in a moment of weakness got the 11" BTO from the local Apple Store last night. The 13" gets delivered on Weds, and so far this 11" is much better than expected. Screen resolution makes it seem bigger than it is. The full size keyboard is a must. So far very snappy launching apps, including Office 2011, as expected with the flash drive. Going to add Win 7 via VMWare and put it through real world tests over the weekend to see how far this 11" can take me in usage. So far I'm pleased, but it's still the honeymoon, so we'll see. It's not like I'm expecting this to replace my main 15" MBP. Although my 13 "Alu MacBook with SSD will be on the selling block.

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