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macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 11, 2014
Gilbert AZ
I am going to be purchasing a gently used MacBook air. I can get them for $600 each. One is a 2011 i7, 256gb, 4gb ram. Other is a 2014 i5 128gb, 4gb ram.
Can you help me out and let me know which machine I should buy that is the better purchase?
I want something that will last me 5+ years.


Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I had a 2011 MBA like that, except it was an i5. Really liked it, but wouldn't consider it today, certainly not for $600. The 2014 has 802.11ac wifi that is 4 or 5 times faster, USB ports that are probably 10x faster and a battery that approaches twice the run time. Should also have a faster SSD. I doubt that you would notice a lot of difference between the i7 and i5, I currently have a 2013 i7 and it is maybe 20% faster than my 2011 MBA, but part of that is the newer generation chips. The i7 also drains the battery a little faster, but not a big deal. On the 13" MBA, the SD card slot is really slow compared to the newer models, it is connected to the slow USB 2.0 bus.

Of course the downside is the 256gb ssd on the 2011 vs the 128 on the 2014, so that might tip the scales. But if you want a machine to last 5 years, that 2011 would be 10 years old. IMO, that is unrealistic. I stopped using my 2008 MBP after about 5 years, just too slow, big and heavy to be appealing at that point. Am still completely happy with my 2013 MBA at three and a half years, but it won't last forever. I think 6 years is a more reasonable life (for a primary computer, at least) unless your needs are really modest and you don't want to keep updating software.

Also consider battery condition on the 2011, it may be near the end and that could cost somewhere around $120 to replace.
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Jun 22, 2007
If those are your only choices, buy the 2014.
Like the previous reply, the 2011 machine will have a really old battery.
Plus, a 2014 machine is post-haswell, and have a much better battery life overall.
Storage wise, you can easily use external drives, so shouldn't be a big deal.
My concern will be RAM. 4GB might be the bottleneck, especially years down the road. If you can get at least a 2013+ machine (thus using haswell or later) with 8GB RAM, that would be ideal.


macrumors regular
Apr 6, 2004
I have a 2011 MBA (11" with the i7 and 256GB SSD). It works just fine, but as mentioned by the other posters here this generation of MBA wasn't known for it's exceptional battery life, given the older i7 processors weren't as power efficient, and definitely worse now that the computer has a 5 year old battery.
I would go with the 2014 if you can live with 128GB of space. I think anything less than 256 would be tough for me, but if you could upload infrequently used files to the cloud thanks to Sierra it may be doable.
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macrumors 68000
Sep 17, 2008
The 2014 will also take advantage of Auto Unlock, continuity, etc.

You can also buy an upgraded SSD from MacSales if you are handy with a screwdriver.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 10, 2013
2014 will have much better battery life. Besides it will become obsolete/unsupported 3 year later.
Do check the refurbished section on apple's website.
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