Buying advice 13" 2013-2015

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by samcraig, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    So my use cases are this as this is really an extra computer to complement my 5K iMac:

    Surfing the web
    Photoshop - doing some light editing of raw images
    Final Cut X - light editing of videos shot on my phone. Nothing intensive
    Microsoft Office

    Looking for the most economical solution without having to bang my head on the desk while using ;)

    Given the above, how much of a difference will I see between a 2014 and 2015 MB Air? The 2013 vs 2015?

    I'm not opposed to carrying an external USB drive or using some cloud storage.
    Would 128gig be ok? I just cleaned up my apps/etc and did a clean install on my new iMac and right now am only using 350gb (200gb alone is my Aperture library)

    I know 8gb is optimal and that can't be upgraded (like the SSD) - but how "bad" would the 4gb be? I had a 2009 iMac with 4GB before the new iMac and towards the end, it seemed like it really dogged. But that could have been many factors since when it was new it didn't have 1/2 the slowness it had when I got rid of it.

    Thanks for input! I know bigger/more is always better. Just looking for real use cases from those that might have older and/or less specced out machines. Thanks!
  2. kevindosi macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2006
    I'm in a similar situation, but I'm looking at a 2012 model with 1.7ghz i5 and 4gb of RAM. Wondering if it's worth spending around $550 on. I can't really afford to get a new computer, unfortunately.
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I would avoid the 2012, battery life on the 2013 and newer is substantially longer, approaching twice the run time due to a more power efficient chipset. It is also missing the fast 802.11ac wifi, but that may not matter unless you are working with big files on a LAN. The 2013 models are probably the sweet spot of cost vs performance. The improvements in 2014 and 2015 are fairly minor.

    I have a 2013 i7/8gb/512gb and no plans to upgrade any time soon. I'm sure you can run FCPX on the base machine, I tried it on my 2012 2.5ghz base model Mini with 4gb and it seemed to be fine (although I only tried with SD footage). But I wouldn't find 128gb acceptable for any machine that I wanted to use for video. I have about 75gb used just for my system and software, that doesn't leave much on a 128gb machine. And you are not supposed to fill a SSD too close to the limit from what I've read.

    Of course, only you will know how much space you actually need.
  4. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2012
    Somewhere In Time
    I have a 5-year old 11" MBA used for Lightroom to manipulate RAW images when away from my iMac. Normally I'll process not more than a 32GB SD cardworth of photos. When I get home I move everything over to the main system. If that's something like you plan to use it, 128GB should be fine.
  5. samcraig thread starter macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    Thanks you too. Yeah... I'm not planning on doing a ton of video editing that I couldn't use an external and/or move it to an external if needed. More concerned over 4gb and 8gb... but if it comes down to saving some $, I might go with 4
  6. pika2000 macrumors 601

    Jun 22, 2007
    Get 8GB of RAM. You can always buy a USB3 external SSD for extra storage.
    I have a 2012 13" Macbook Air, and I use it from Lightroom to Final Cut on the go using a USB3 external SSD.
  7. Scepticalscribe, Nov 29, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Mine is a maximum spec'ed machine, but my sense is that there was little difference beyond minor boosts between the 2013 and later models.

    The big change is between the 2012 and the 2013 model. Thus, with the fantastic battery boost, the 2013 model because the computer the MBA always had the potential to become, a portable, reliable, powerful workhorse. To my mind, the best computer Apple ever made.

    Get the 2013 model; it is light years better than the 2012 model, better specs, more power, astonishing battery, utter reliability. It is well worth the difference in price. After 2013, it doesn't matter all that much, as the boosts were more tweaks,
  8. Left4DeadBoy macrumors regular


    Sep 20, 2015
    hi How do you know that bigger/more is always better? Im wondering since Apple makes it market gains on its trademark "Air" laptop . Apple desktops have more computing speed.. if you were looking for that whilst you do your work on your Mac computer .
  9. samcraig thread starter macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    Well what I meant is that long term 4gb is better than 8gb - esp since you can't upgrade the memory. As for HD, more space is more space. Never a bad thing. But for me, less important since I'm ok using external. As for other specs (i5 of i7) - not as important to me.
  10. kiwipeso1 Suspended


    Sep 17, 2001
    Wellington, New Zealand
    I had the 2011 11" 2GB ram, 64GB SSD MBA. You will notice the speed increase with more ram.
    My current MBA (see sig) has enough grunt for all but programming in Android Studio (scientific apps specifically),
    so I am looking at the 2016 MBP 15" with everything and the kitchen sink upgrades.

    For what you want to do, the MBA 2013/2014 i7 will be perfect with 8GB ram. I would suggest that you get a 512GB model, then you can run everything you currently have on the go. (Plus have 150GB spare for future use and virtual memory)
  11. Mainsail macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2010
    During Black Friday, BB had the latest 13in MBA (8gb RAM and 128 GB storage) on sale for $800....not bad. Not sure if there are similar deals currently online.

    One thing to keep in mind about buying an older/used model: Apple tends to discontinue OS updates after ~5-7 years (let's say 6 years). So, you might want to divide the purchase price by remaining years of viable updates to determine the annual average cost of use. Of course, the computer can still be used with a dated OS, but the clock is ticking on software compatibility for certain applications etc..
  12. risk235 macrumors member

    Oct 17, 2011
    I have been looking for a used MacBook and I think y'all have helped me decide to get a 2013 Air
  13. ipsychedelic macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2012
    For video editing more RAM is always desirable, so in your case 8GB is the safe answer. I'm building a PC for someone, a $150 machine that is actually better than any MacBook Air and I was only able to stack 4GB on it to save some money, but this is going to be a "dummy" PC (only web browsing, movie watching, spreadsheets, word processor, nothing fancy) so 4GB is enough and will be for a bit. But if this was to be used for gaming or video editing, then 4GB is cutting it.
    Leaving asides the fact MacOS may be better at handling memory (but this depends as well on apps, things like Chrome will always be memory hungry), 8GB TBH is what I'd recommend. Plus you cannot upgrade down the road so that's crucial.
  14. samcraig thread starter macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009

    Thanks. I wound up finding a good deal on ebay for a new 8gb 128 i5 macbook air...
  15. risk235 macrumors member

    Oct 17, 2011
    I ended up getting a 2013 Air with 128GB and 4 GB RAM on Amazon for $450. Should be here Monday. I read that you can't upgrade the RAM which is a bummer. Any recommendation on replacing the battery?

Share This Page