How do Airs age?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by navaira, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. navaira macrumors 68040

    navaira

    Joined:
    May 28, 2015
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    #1
    Hi all,

    I am thinking of buying a maxed out Air 11". I am worried Air will be removed from Apple's line-up in March, and I definitely don't want the rMB with its toy processor. My goal is to have a laptop which will still be with me in five years. While obviously nobody can tell me if the 2015 model will still work in 2020, what are your experiences with Airs? What tends to break (or not)? Is it realistic to hope that an Air will still work in five years?

    Thanks for any response!
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    Hardware wise, it's fine for 5 years. Only thing that might hurt to use/look at in the next few years is the non-Retina display, but that's down to your preference really. Personally I'm not a fan of the aspect ratio on the 11" LCD either, but again, personal preference.
     
  3. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Location:
    Land of Bongos and Beatniks
    #3
    I think it depends upon what you currently do with your devices and what you plan on doing in the future. If the MBA will be your only notebook/computer, then you might find the 11" a bit of a challenge to use without an additional monitor.

    I think that the primary feature to max out would be the onboard storage, followed by RAM. I have a 4GB/128GB 2014 11" MBA and even rendering video in iMovie this little device works smoothly. But because it doesn't have an SD card slot, expanding storage is a bit tricky. I ended up getting an ultra-small 64GB USB thumbdrive nub that I keep permanently installed to expand storage.


    I agree. I've owned my base model 11" MBA for a little over a year. Still going strong and smooth even running El Cap. I love the portability of the 11" but prefer a less widescreen AR.

    I'm still amazed at this little powerhouse that is only slightly bigger than my iPad Air 2.
     
  4. whodatrr, Nov 6, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015

    whodatrr macrumors 6502a

    whodatrr

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2004
    #4
    The woman's 2012 11" MBA took a dump, a couple months out of AppleCare. Keyboard died, which I guess I can fix with some patience and a C-note. Still, it was fairly slow and had a terrible display.

    Upgraded her to the 12" rMB, and she loves it.

    I dont worry so much about obsolescence with the 12" retina. It's got adequate storage and memory, and those mobile CPUs are becoming increasingly common. They're not speed demons, but not slouches either. While rated at 1.1ghz it's actually designed to live at or above 2, not just spike there. Look at the benchmarks for these little tykes and you'll see them performing in the ballpark of many "pro" machines, from just a couple years back. They're not toys.

    Still, I prefer something more powerful as my main machine. But I also bought myself a 12" rMB, as a great 2nd machine.

    But again, these mobile systems are become my more popular. So I think ISVs will be supporting such low power systems for a long time. If you look at why average users (not people on this site) are actually buying new laptops, it's rarely because their last one wasn't powerful enough. This was a problem at the depths of the recession - people held back on upgrades because their old systems were powerful enough. Nowadays, lots of people upgrading are doing so for something that's lighter and more portable.

    BTW, my base model rMB is every bit as powerful as the 2013 13" MBA that my work issues me, it actually feels more powerful. But the screen on that 11" MBA is a non-starter for me - just not enough pixels to do what I do. YMMV.
     
  5. navaira thread starter macrumors 68040

    navaira

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    May 28, 2015
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    #5
    I have a Chromebook 11", and the size is OK for me, although I prefer Air 13" screen ratio. My main computer is a 27" iMac, so I don't intend to do heavy editing of any sort on the Air. I'm going to use it for usual suspects – web browsing, music streaming, Office, etc., possibly install Photoshop on it but main work will always be done on the iMac. I never used a Retina screen so I'll be OK without it (I'm kinda avoiding them on purpose because something tells me that once I spend five minutes with a Retina screen I will want to dump all my devices and replace them ;) ).

    My main concern is durability, battery life, ability to handle OS 10.12 and 10.13 even with craziest transitions and transparencies Ive throws at them and future proofing – if I decide to start doing heavier stuff on the Air for some reasons, it should be able to handle it. Main thing I dislike about the 11" is the lack of SD slot. So I'm sort of trying to decide whether to go for 11" or 13", especially as the 13" also has the faster SSDs.

    I hate the one socket 12" Macbook and I am concerned with Airs disappearing early next year from Apple stores, so I'd like to get one before that happens. Also here in the Netherlands the 12" rMB base edition is more expensive than 8 GB, i7 13" Air with 128 GB SSD.
     
  6. whodatrr macrumors 6502a

    whodatrr

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2004
    #6
    If you're OK with the screens on the Air series, I wouldn't worry about performance. If anything, it seems like OS and app vendors are making their code more efficient, and not less. I think that Vista was a big wakeup call for the industry, in this area. also, with future OSs and apps having to work properly with system going back several years, as well as newer ones with reduced CPU, you should be OK there as well.

    Again, I think your main issue will be the screen. If your eyes tell you the screen is good enough, than nobody can tell you that it isn't. Regarding the 11, I'd advise you to play with it a bit. Open up a few windows to simulate the environment that you'll be working in. I worked with one for a couple years and found it pretty much useless, when it wasn't attached to an external display. It wasn't just the quality of the screen, but that 768pixel height that got me. It wouldn't appear to make a big difference, it did for my eyes. But the 13" MBA has a 900 pixel height and I run my 12" rMB scaled to 900, both of which allow me to actually view the docs I'm working on. But again, your eyes are the judge.

    Also do check out open box deals. We got two rMBs, both for under $1,000USD by getting refurbs. and there are also plenty open box Airs about, at least in the states. Just be sure to get 8GB RAM, and you should be good for the next several years. Good luck!

     
  7. navaira thread starter macrumors 68040

    navaira

    Joined:
    May 28, 2015
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    #7
    I'm going to visit an Apple Store and play with them a bit. Good idea indeed to check out the screens in use as I don't want to be forced to upgrade a year from now because I'm constantly irritated with the resolution. Thanks :)
     
  8. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

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    Jul 24, 2009
    #8
    I wouldn't buy an air any time soon. It will be updated to retina/sky lake soon.
     
  9. navaira thread starter macrumors 68040

    navaira

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    #9
    My bet unfortunately is that it will simply disappear (it makes no sense to have a Macbook that's thinner than Macbook Air) and I would like to grab one before it's gone.
     
  10. whodatrr, Nov 6, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015

    whodatrr macrumors 6502a

    whodatrr

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2004
    #10
    As long as you get 8GB of RAM, I think either of the Airs or the rMB will suit your need. So, it comes down to the screen and your need for portability. Consider storage as well. I know that some of the Airs start out at 128, and it'll be your 2nd system, but I still find 128 to constrained. But that's just me.

    Battery Life is another issue. the 13" MBA is Apple's raining champ, for that!

    regarding the single port on the rMB, it's not a big issue for me. I bought a couple adapters for under $10 each, on Amazon, and I'm good. I haven't bough a mini-display adapter with a pass through yet,m because I'm waiting on a cheaper option than Apple's overpriced solution. But once I get that, it's really the only thing I'll need. If you're not already locked into Apple's mag-safe adapters, USB-C is actually a good way to go. Nice that I can plug into USB power sources, though they won't charge as fast as Apple 29w one. But also nice that I can use portable batteries when in a pinch. I think this is the way of the future.

    One more thing, just to muddy the water, consider the 13" rMBP. Yeah, it's a bit more expensive and less portable, but it's also arguably the best bang for the buck in Apple's portable lineup, especially if you get an open box unit.

     
  11. danmart macrumors 6502

    danmart

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    Apr 24, 2015
    Location:
    Lancs, UK
    #11
    My wife has a 2011 13' MBA with 2GB of RAM. It is still going strong and the battery performs fine, too. It is currently running Yosemite fine and I'm planning to upgrade it to El Cap once the build settles down (it is broken on my 2013 15" rMBP).

    Apple seem to be keen to keep their hardware supported for at least 5 years at the moment, and I don't see why that would change. Whilst Macs cost more to buy than PCs their longevity makes their total cost of ownership the same or lower, and I'm sure Apple will want to maintain that position.
     
  12. eboakes macrumors newbie

    eboakes

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    East Coast
    #12
     
  13. navaira thread starter macrumors 68040

    navaira

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    May 28, 2015
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    #13
    Unfortunately it looks like the only things I can get refurbished in the Netherlands are iPods, iPads and accessories.

    I'm definitely going to a store to play with them, but for now my choice is 13" with 8 GB RAM. I'll probably keep the i5 processor. I can't see the Air becoming my main computer anytime soon, so I think i7 would be overkill. *sigh* If only the damn things were cheaper...
     
  14. eboakes macrumors newbie

    eboakes

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    Location:
    East Coast
    #14
    It will not age well. For a computer to age well, it will need to be considered overpowered when your purchase it. The more obviously overpowered when you purchase it, the longer it will last. The maximum amount of RAM available on the 11" Air is 8 GB. This is acceptable for 2015. (4 GB is pointless right now.) 8GB will be likely acceptable for another year or maybe more. But, no longer than that. If you're planning on keeping it for five years, don't consider anything less than 16 GB. The amount of RAM is perhaps the most important factor to consider when purchasing a computer that you expect to last for a few years. The processor isn't quite as important, but the more powerful, the longer it will last. Consider opting for the most disk storage, too. It's not as important as RAM, but a lack of it will bite you eventually. For example, Office 2011 requires 1.8 GB of disk space, whereas Office 2016 uses 8 GB of disk space. Almost every other program that you'll use follows this same trajectory. And, it isn't as though you'll have fewer photographs or fewer songs in your iTunes library as time passes!
     
  15. philstubbington macrumors member

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    Location:
    Henley On Thames, Oxfordshire, England
    #15
    My mid-2012 MBA is still going just fine - absolutely zero issues :)
     
  16. JonLa macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    #16
    Still using the Late 2010 C2D Air! I maxed the RAM to 4GB and it's fine for what i need it for. Will look at next year's Air/ retina line up and think about upgrading then
     
  17. maxsix Suspended

    maxsix

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    Jun 28, 2015
    Location:
    Western Hemisphere
    #17
    I have a Mid 2012 13" MBA that's seen tons of use since it was new. It's been 100% trouble free.

    Normally I would have upgraded to a new one but Apple has stubbornly ignored giving it a Retina display which is a huge priority since I put so much time on it when flying across continents.

    Only recently I did buy a 12" MB which does have retina. Yet a bit to my surprise I'm finding the transition less than satisfactory. Even though it doesn't sound like much, I really miss the 13" display size of the MBA.
     
  18. Coltaine macrumors regular

    Coltaine

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2012
    #18
    I have a 13" mid-2011 MacBook Air with an 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 4 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD.
    I've kept it in daily use for four years now and it's holding up exceptionally well, both speed and hardware wise.
    I use it for browsing the web, mail and calendar management, listening to music, light photo editing, messaging and writing research papers and preparing presentations as well as managing my PDF research library (with Papers 3 for Mac). It's been getting a little bit slow with Yosemite, but performance has increased tremendously with El Capitan. The battery capacity is currently at 87%. I am still a happy user and have no plans of retiring it anytime soon.
     
  19. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000

    MultiFinder17

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    Tampa, Florida
    #19
    I have a 2011 11" Air (1.6/2/256) as my primary laptop nowadays, and it runs El Captain quite well. I have a 2011 21" iMac (2.5/32/750 fusion) as my main machine, so I don't do a whole lot of intensive stuff on the Air, so it serves my needs just fine. That said, I'm still using a 12" PowerBook as my main computer at work (I'm a high school teacher), so my needs aren't super intense :p
     
  20. navaira thread starter macrumors 68040

    navaira

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  21. torana355 macrumors 68020

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    Sydney, Australia
    #21
    Using my 2011 MBA right now and it runs like a dream. The only downsides are bad battery life and the screen is low res by todays standards. The hardware seems like it will run for another couple of years no problems.
     
  22. navaira thread starter macrumors 68040

    navaira

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    #22
    @torana355, has the battery life decreased since you bought the laptop, or was it always dissatisfactory?
     
  23. batting1000 macrumors 604

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    Sep 4, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    #23
    False. I've been using 4GB of RAM in my Mac Mini since 2013 and now in my MacBook Air which I just bought over a week ago. Performance is flawless however I don't use it for intensive tasks. I've never run into an issue with 4 gigs of RAM.

    These days, things like Office have web browser counterparts which give you almost all of the functionality of the full program, and Apple even includes their suite for free and they don't take up much space at all. If you store lots of pictures an music, you may want an external hard drive or usb drive rather than letting them all sit on the computer wasting valuable space...and there's cloud storage options as well like Flickr which gives you a terabyte of storage, Box which gives you 10gb, and Google Drive which gives you 15gb plus unlimited photo storage.
     
  24. whodatrr macrumors 6502a

    whodatrr

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    Jan 12, 2004
    #24
    In the 90's and first part of the 00's, it seemed as if software developers continually wrote code that thirsted for more horsepower. In the last 10 or so years, however, there seems to be an increased emphasis on efficiency. Personally, I think that the inflection point was the release of Windows Vista, which seemed to bloat system requirements with very little improvement in the user experience. This inefficiency had a ripple effect throughout the industry. Since then, most users have had more power than they know what to do with.

    Yes, Gamers will always push the envelop. And there are some apps like advanced video editing that will always be at the far end of the scale. But the average user surfs the web, runs MS Office, and does a little Photoshop and such. Average systems from 5 or so years ago have more than enough horsepower to do all that. The biggest recent revolution has been the move from spinning disk to SSD, which was a bigger bump than any CPU improvement I've ever seen, for real world use.

    My thesis is that few of today's users actually need the horsepower they currently have. Most could probably make do with significantly less, which is why vendors are pushing things like thin & light to get them to upgrade. My take is that mobile CPU systems with finless designs are the future of laptops and hybrids.

    But memory is another issue. For a mobile system, my gut says 8GB will be fine for a few years. But that's for my mobile use, and I have a desktop to do the big stuff. My desktop, BTW, sports 32GB. I won't say I use all of that, but I'm routinely topping 20GB.

    If you're buying a do-it-all system, look at the rMBP with 16GB RAM. If you're looking for mobile 2nd system, the Airs and rMB will be fine, provided you get at least 8GB RAM. That's my take on it. Again, YMMV.
     
  25. batting1000 macrumors 604

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    Sep 4, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    #25
    I'm using a base model 13 inch Air as my main computer, however my main use for it is web browsing, YouTube, documents, etc. I don't edit photos or videos or do anything resource intensive so the Air works really well for me.
     

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