Is it bad if I use my macbook air as a desktop replacement?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by azure247, Aug 8, 2014.

  1. azure247 macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2008
    I just got my MBA 11 today and I LOVE IT. Esp. getting it for less than 700! I want to replace my giant heat producing, ear deafening tower by connecting my MBA to an external display at all times. But I worry if this sort of usage will destroy the battery in the MBA. I don't know if laptops were made to be used nearly 12 hours a day while plugged in?

    I love it soooo much because the MBA is virtually quiet and there is no heat blowing in my room so my room stays cool. I plan to buy the LG 34 inch monitor with ultra widescreen to enjoy it even more. But is this going to do harm?


    One more question. Is it better to leave it in sleep mode or shut down if I use it on a daily basis?
  2. Newtons Apple, Aug 8, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014

    Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Bad news when your desktop is overheating the room!

    You MBA will be fine. I would suggest you unplug your MBA every once in a while to let the battery run down some and not worry too much about it.

    You will get so many answers here that you will wonder why you asked.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Sure, I see no reason why you can't especially if you're happy with it.
  4. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    It will be fine. If you worry about the battery, consider disconnecting the laptop from its charger once a month and letting the battery run down close to zero before you plug it in again.

    In System Preferences / Energy Saver / Schedule you can tell your Mac to go to sleep every day at a certain time, and to wake up at a certain time.
  5. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    My MBA is my primary machine and when at home or office desk it's used like a desktop - plugged into an ACD with keyboard and mouse in clamshell mode - and it works great.

    If course, in between or in other locations I use it as a conventional laptop. If I was never going to use it as a laptop, I'd just make sure to unplug it and run the battery down until I got the recharge now warning at least once a month. Failing to do that the battery might age a bit faster but honestly if you never use it on battery would you really care about a slight battery capacity loss over time?

    So enjoy your Air however you like.
  6. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I used my last two Macbook Airs exactly like this and left them on 24/7 for weeks and never had a problem.

    Just read this info from Apple on the battery.

    I never shutdown. I always run in clamshell mode and just let it sleep.
  7. LxHunter macrumors 6502

    Nov 14, 2010
    Yep this is what I do no problems.
    Read the Apple advice on batteries in this link:

    PS - I sure don't miss the hot beige boxes with the leaf blower inside.
  8. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    While working in the home office my 13" MBA is in clamshell mode and powering a 23" external monitor. I use an Apple bluetooth keyboard plus Logitech Anywhere MX USB mouse.
  9. bobr1952 macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2008
    Melbourne, FL
    I hardly every take my MacBook Pro out of the house--just no need to bring it anywhere. But I love it as my main home computer. I leave it plugged in most of the time but usually run it on battery power once a week and let it run down to 40 or 50 percent. Works for me and is pretty much in line with the advice provided by others here as well as Apple.
  10. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    You WILL reduce the life of the battery if it's at 100% capacity all the time
  11. Alphabetize macrumors 6502


    Oct 6, 2013
    My MacBook Air is my only computer! You should be just fine running it as your desktop, it probably won't be as powerful for some tasks, but for everyday things, this machine flies!
  12. Ronnoco macrumors 68030


    Oct 16, 2007
    United States of America
    As of right now, my MBA is my only computer and I am perfectly satisfied with it. Connected at home to my ACD with Apple BT Keyboard and MagicTrackPad. I do take it remote a few times a month so the battery does get used at least monthly.
  13. ET iPhone Home macrumors 68040

    ET iPhone Home

    Oct 5, 2011
    Orange County, California USA
    My MBA has been my one and only laptop-computer for the past 3 years.
  14. Aniseedvan macrumors 65816

    May 14, 2012
    My 2 year old 11" MBA is mostly plugged in to a dell 24" monitor and seems to be fine. The fans only seem to come on when I'm messing about with iMovie. Given that one has turned into the family PC I'm almost at the point of getting another, or something "higher"
  15. Dweez, Aug 13, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
  16. applesith macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2007
    I've been doing pretty much that to my 15" MBP since 2011 and I still get very good battery life when I use it unplugged. I do use it once a week or so unplugged and it gets down to 5-10% before I plug in for a full charge.
  17. blesscheese macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    Wow! Everybody here agrees on something? I never thought I would see that! ;)

    I ran my MBA that way as well, before getting a desktop for other reasons. Just run your battery down once a week, and it should be fine (that's about how long it takes to lose enough charge to re-charge...the re-charging from 95% to 100% consistently is what kills the battery early).

    In Snow Leopard, you used to be able to shut the MBA, get the external display to run, and then open back up the MBA (keeping the MBA screen black) and use the MBA keyboard ... I love that keyboard.

    The last I heard, Mavericks did not let you do that.
  18. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

    Apr 11, 2014
    YES YES and YES.

    I use my MBPr as a desktop all of the time. I have it connected to a 24" Dell Ultra sharp monitor.

    I am a big fan of this setup for anyone because not only does it replace a desktop, it also replaces an iMac, as well as giving you a laptop.

    Basically it's an all in one- a laptop and a desktop.

    Absolutely love this setup. Must be even more sleek with the MBA. Get a TwelveSouth BookArc.

    Then it will even look like a desktop, just super cool and thin!
  19. Substitute79 macrumors newbie

    Sep 11, 2008
    I am seriously considering dumping my PC and buying a 11" air and using it with my 24". Just worried about a lack of processing and gfx power. Pro might be a better option but then I lose the amazing portability.

    I do a little bit of gaming but mainly Football Manager, I expect it will run okay....I hope.
  20. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Interestingly, Apple has updated their battery information and no longer has the recommendation about making sure to run occasionally on battery power.

    Maybe they decided this was putting unnecessary cycles on the battery and was not needed.

    Updated information at this link.
  21. Handle macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2013
    It seems like everyone runs their MBA in clamshell when using it on a desktop. I'm just curious why you don't keep it opened and use it like normal with the external display being a second screen?

    Or is that not a good idea?
  22. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    There is nothing wrong at all with doing that and it won't hurt anything. I tinkered with it at first and found I never early used the second (MacBook) screen at all, so just went with clamshell mode. Juset a personal pref. is all.
  23. Handle macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2013
    I see.

    Currently I have my iMac mounted to the wall in front of my desk and I use the small keyboard that came with it. My plan was to get a MacBook Air and use it on the desk with the built in keyboard and touchpad, and to mount an external monitor on the wall behind it like the iMac is mounted right now.

    In this configuration I would be using the MacBook Air as the main display but I would only have to look up a bit to see the big monitor. I would also make use of the nice keyboard and touchpad on the MacBook Air instead of having to purchase separate peripherals.
  24. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    Nothing wrong with that approach if it works for you. But it may depend on the size and resolution of the monitor and how good your eyesight is. I have a 27" HD resolution monitor that I use that way on my Mac Mini, but I could never use my 27" Apple ACD at full resolution at that distance (higher resolution, smaller display elements).
  25. Handle macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2013
    I know what you mean Jim. My iMac is the 24" model with a medium resolution so I can read text while it's on the wall. The newer 27" model and the ACD have such a high resolution that I wouldn't be able to read normal text with it on the wall.

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