Considering a 2011 13" MBA - Opinions?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ndriver182, Jun 29, 2013.

  1. ndriver182 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2007
    I had a 2011 11" MBA I sold about a month before WWDC. I was anticipating the new 2013 models. To make a long story short, I ended up going with an iPad Mini. I use my 2012 Mac Mini as my main machine, but even though I like my iPad Mini and use it every day, there are a couple things I would like to be able to do on a standard notebook. I don't plan on getting rid of the iPad, but I'm considering an Air now for that inbetween device.

    Although I usually like the latest thing, I have reservations about the '13 MBA because I'm not too concerned about the extended battery benefits from Haswell, could care less about dual mics, and speed seems to pretty much be the same as the 2012 unit. In addition, it seems like the 2011 13" (base config) isn't a whole lot different from the 2012 unit for your day-in/day-out basic tasks. The faster memory and slightly faster CPU don't seem to enter into things much unless you're encoding video or other intensive tasks. So that brings me to why I'm considering a mid-2011 unit instead of a 2012 or 2013 model. Not to mention, for a base config, it seems like you can get one at $650-700 used in good shape and sometimes with AppleCare.

    Did I miss anything? Also, I know that Mavericks is supposed to enhance the 2013 Air experience even more, but any chance there will be performance enhancements for older Airs as well?
  2. thadoggfather macrumors G4


    Oct 1, 2007
    I love my Samsung screen and SSD 2011 13" Air.

    I also prefer L-shaped Magsafe 1 to T-shaped Magsafe 2.

    Speed wise it's in a similar league to 2012 and 2013, though 2013 obviously has beneficial power efficiencies.

    Only thing I really wish I had, but can totally deal, is USB 3.0. And 2012 onward, the option to get an 8GB BTO.

    I'll bet you can snag a great deal on one and it's certainly in a similar league imo.

    Otherwise it's a fine machine and I intend on continuing to use it for a long time.

    I even hook it up to a 24" monitor and treat it as a lovely faux desktop with a 3TB external.
  3. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Coming from a 2011 13" MBA, I wouldn't go back. It was a fine laptop for 2011, but here's why I upgraded:

    1. 8GB of RAM. This is crucial in my opinion (especially what I do with VM's)
    2. Battery life. So nice to go forever without having to worry about charging my laptop
    3. USB 3.0. Cheap FAST storage. Thunderbolt can be faster, but not this cheap and portable.
    4. HD5000 (and even the HD4000) kills the HD3000. It was hard to call the HD3000 even respectable. These new GPU's are so much better.
    5. Flash memory speed. Now I had the sad Toshiba SSD. While most of the time it wasn't a big deal, it is nice to have screaming fast (like 4x faster) storage in my 2013. Even the 2012's had 2x the speed of my 2011.

    Some nice to haves of the 2013:
    1. 802.11ac. Granted my network is still all N, but it is really nice to have the next gen WIFI when I'm ready to spend $600 to upgrade (currently have 3 Apple Extreme's throughout my house so that's an expensive switch out).
    2. Dual mics. Again, a nice to have. Certainly not worth upgrading solely for.

    Anyway. The first 5 are enough to make me only consider a 2012 or better (okay battery life wasn't improved with the 2012, but either way). If none of those things concern you, then get the 2011. Mine was a great machine, by 2011 standards. Just not by 2013 IMO.
  4. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    I'm not a huge fan of the 2011's.

    CPU performance is pretty close to 2012 and 2013 but its GPU is rather weak (worse than 2010 by a small margin) and batter life is worse than 2012 and much worse than 2013. In fact, in many usage scenarios it was worse than the 2010.
  5. ndriver182 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2007
    Yes I understand that there is a battery concession with the 2011 vs 2013. For my purposes I don't expect this to be an issue since I more or less managed win the battery on my old 11" 2011 MBA. The 13" 2011 will be better than that.

    I'm not concerned about storage space or USB 3.0 since I have no plans to connect external storage for regular use. I barely even used any space on my 11" air. If this were my main machine, yes I'd be concerned.

    I know about the hd3000 gpu. I won't be playing any games or running a large external display or running vm software so I don't think that's an issue either for basic use.

    I never use FaceTime or anything else that uses mics on a regular basis so that's not a real issue for me.

    I'm not concerned about the wifi update either right now.

    I'm primarily considering this until a 2014 refresh or possible retina air update in the next couple of years.
  6. thadoggfather macrumors G4


    Oct 1, 2007
    I'd say do it :D

    Hd3000 is fine for outputting its display and up to 2560x1440 or whatever it is.

    It's not like hd4000 on a retina 13 on that rMBP.

    And 320m is definitely better than hd3000, but 2011 whoops the c2d 2010 by quite a bit more performance wise (ivy bridge vs c2d duh) than any air 2010-2013 year to year upgrade, graphics aside. And for casual use, hd3000 is fine (even photoshop, video watching, etc)
  7. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    3. It runs cooler than anything I've ever owned. The first laptop that's perfectly comfortable on your lap!
  8. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    2011 is Sandy Bridge. Still way more powerful than C2D but just wanted to clarify that.
  9. thadoggfather macrumors G4


    Oct 1, 2007
    Good catch, sandy bridge is what I meant

    Too many bridges
  10. Yggbert macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2011
    Battery on the 2011 MacBook 13" lasted an hour longer than the 2012 model on The Verge's review. To be honest they already had 'all-day' battery life on the 13" model, as long as you aren't web browsing for 6 hours straight your battery isn't going to die. When I let my 2011 sit idle for a minute or two the battery life pretty much doubles, I never sit down and browse the web non-stop for 5-7 hours so it's not worth me upgrading just yet. I'm hoping the 2014 model will bring further battery life improvements and an updated display, maybe even a slightly different body.

    The battery still sucks on the 2011, 12 and 13 models when doing gaming or heavy workload, I hope they can alleviate that a little next year, especially the freaking heat, even the 2013 gets uber hot and the fans ramp up.
  11. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    That just means not to trust their review since that's pretty much impossible. They're essentially identical machines except the 2012 has a more efficient processor, so there's really no way the 2011 can have better battery life if they were both properly tested and neither had a defective battery.
  12. Yggbert macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2011
    It's not the first website I've seen where the 2011 came out slightly in front though, I don't really know what the deal is. Either way the difference between them isn't big, the only real outlier is from The Verge. Both of them are still excellent machines!
  13. neteng101 macrumors 65816

    Jan 7, 2009
    I don't know - it seems you really don't need 2 Macs... I'd actually say it might be time to retire the Mini and just get a nice MBA and run with it all the time. I'd go with a 2012/2013 then since a USB 3.0 drive would be useful given the limited storage on the air itself.

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