Is the Macbook Air what I want? And if so, which one?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Grimoire, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. Grimoire macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2011
    Hi all I am looking at coming over to the dark side and getting my first Macbook. I was looking at the Macbook Air because I need to be able to take my laptop with me to college every day, so I don't want a very heavy laptop. The MBP and the Macbook both seemed quite chunky in comparison to the Air.

    I have read some reviews that suggest the Air is not very powerful but I don't think I need a whole lot of power. I use my desktop for things like gaming/video editing and can't really see myself using my laptop for that, but then again I might want to occasionally play one of my casual Steam games, or check in on something in Runescape. How problematic would that be? I imagine 99% of my usage would just be schoolwork and web browsing, though.

    Storage not a concern, even the 64gb would be fine for me, I wouldn't have anything on it but a few applications and some documents. I won't be putting my itunes library on my laptop or anything since I have my ipod for media on the go...

    But which is better the 11" or the 13"? I have played with both of them and really hard to tell. I like the size of the 11" in terms of picking it up and handling it but I can imagine it maybe feeling a bit cramped when working on assignments for hours at a time.
    Edit: Also, I realise the battery on the 11" is less than the 13". What battery would I realistically get from the 11" just editing documents and reading web resources? I'd prefer not to take a power brick to school with me most days, and I'd probably need to use the laptop for about 4 hrs a day.

    And how much of a problem is the low RAM? I know it can be upgraded if you buy from apple but as I get 19.5% off RRP if I buy from a particular reseller, I would really prefer to buy a standard configuration.

    Thanks for advice all
  2. Vazkor macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2006
    No RAM upgrades for the Air. Also, a smaller screen could cause some eye strain after many hours of work. Go with the 13, better battery and screen size.
  3. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    The 13" MBA is an excellent machine - I have one and it has become my main computer (I sold my 15" MBP as I found I wasn't using it). The size and quality of the screen on the 13" are superb, and the battery, as pointed out already by Vazkor, is a lot better. Besides, it really is extremely portable - which was one of the main reasons I got it as I travel a lot and weight is an issue.

    While the size and portability of the 11" MBA makes it very attractive, - and I have friends who swear by it - you have to ask yourself whether that trade-off is worth the reduced battery and smaller screen. At the end of the day, it depends on what you really need from a computer.

    Cheers and good luck with whatever you choose
  4. applewins macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2011
    Aight, the MB and MBP are in my mind to heavy to carry them with you to college/school every day.

    As said before, the MBA will be perfect for you. For non-highperformance tasks it's just perfect and I've heard that you even get more battery life with word processing etc. So instead of 5 hours maybe 6? And instead of 7 you get 8?

    Either the 11'' and 13'' have full-sized keyboards and you can upgrade on both the SSD, processor and RAM (wait untill the refresh to see the difference).

    So I think the most important question for you is the screen, right? The picture-quality is on both just great, but I've heard that some didn't like the 11'' screen when they working for hours on it, others said that with the multitouch-trackpad there isn't any problem.

    So I think you just have to test, test and test again untill you feel confident that the 11''/13'' is the right one for you.
  5. TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    Just so the OP isn't confused. The only thing you can upgrade after purchase is the SSD.
  6. applewins macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2011
    I was talking about the upgrades before you buy :)

    and you can upgrade the ssd after buying? really? I thought that isn't possible (you can't open the MBA, but the MB and MBP)?

    Maybe I'm not right with that ^^
  7. palpatine, Jun 17, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011

    palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    I have the MBP 13" / 8GB RAM. I am quite pleased with it, I don't find it at all heavy when going to campus (40+ minutes of walking each day, depending on if I detour to the grocery store or the coffee shop).

    The MBA is noticeably lighter, and certainly any weight off your back is a plus. But, I don't carry my MBP every day, and I probably wouldn't carry an MBA every day either. I think you have to consider HOW you will be using your computer. In my case, I needed a main computer for home (occasionally carrying to campus or on trips), the MBA hadn't been updated yet, and I wanted the HDD memory. Here is my workflow. Basically, it is a combination of paper notetaking + iPad reading + computer afterwards:

    If the updated 13" MBA had been available, I might have gotten it instead, especially if RAM is expandable (because of Sandy Bridge). I don't know. Things have changed so quickly. Cloud services (icloud, dropbox, sugarsync, etc.) make the memory issue a little less important. And, you can always carry around an external drive if necessary.

    I have been using a netbook for a couple of years (10"), and if you are working on one thing at a time like a document, I don't think the screen size is such a big deal. I have never been bothered by it. I appreciate the 13", but realistically, larger text size doesn't get my papers written any faster or better. For your needs (a larger computer at home) it seems like the memory doesn't matter. I'd wait for the update and get the 11". With that and an iPad in a tiny mailbag (I prefer the Waterfield Vertigo), you'd be set.
  8. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    You can purchase SSD upgrades from OWC and they include the required tools. The physical replacement only takes about 10 minutes, although the backup, restore, and reindexing can add hours to that process.

    I put a 240gb SSD in my 11" Air which is not even an option from Apple. The OWC SSD is both bigger and significantly faster. Even larger sizes are available but none are cheap.
  9. applewins macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2011
    oh ok, nice to know :D thanks!
  10. FuNGi macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2010
    O.K. Wait. You should always have your media and files backed up in more than one location. Always. So if it is only on an ipod or a single external it is not backed up. Regardless of your decision, back up your backups okay. :)

    You would imagine correctly. Plus the 11" feels like a toy. My fiancee has one. I have the 13" and it is much better after a long day of work.

    This really depends on how bright the screen is and how much flash and stuff your view. Being highly conservative with your usage you can get near 10 hours on the 13" and 6 on the 11". Normal to high usage will reduce that appreciably enough that 4 on the 11" might be cutting it a bit close.

    Just get the 4GB of RAM man. You don't want to regret it later do you?
  11. Q2Air2Pro Guest

    Since you have a desktop, I would go for the 11".
    The 11" won't feel cramped TYPING on it (fullsize keyboard).
    The vertical space will feel cramped, but then again: if you will work for HOURS on it, turn on your desktop OR get a external monitor (for the price you spend less on the 11" you can buy a HUGE monitor nowadays). Also, if you work on it 4 hrs a day, the 11" will easily do the job. BTW - power adapter for the 11" is tiny, it will fit in your pants.

    Buy the 11", return within 2 weeks for a 13" if you don't like it!
  12. Grimoire thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2011
    Okay, perhaps I should clarify. My media is in three locations: my desktop, my ipod, and my external hard drive. I spoke only of the ipod because I was trying to explain why I didn't need my media on the laptop in order to be able to access it while I am out and about.

    I need to be able to work on it for hours during times when I won't have access to a desktop computer. Let's just say that the computer facilities at my college are not great :p
  13. parapup macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2006
    Just picked up the 11" base model after playing with both 13 and 11". Hiding the Dock the screen size works perfect for me. The only thing of course is you want to avoid multitasking with 2 or more windows due to the size of screen - one can do it but then you start noticing the screen size (my main machine is a 17" MBP).

    I have already spent 4-5 hours at a stretch couple of times and haven't noticed unusual eye strain.

    Battery life seems good enough - showing 6:30 after around 45 minutes on battery browsing and reading Kindle app.

    It doesn't feel slow at all - for the weak Core 2 I was expecting it to bog down but no such thing.

    Keyboard feels little weird to the point I am a bit annoyed - too soft/mushy for my tastes.

    RAM - might be a constraint and I might end up returning it for 4GB model but that's not a given. So far no issues with 2GB - Word/Excel/PPT/Firefox/Adium etc all fit in at once.
  14. mac&cheesey macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2008
    Is this true?? I didn't know the brick for the 11" was smaller than the brick for the 13". That's great news; I'm waiting for the refresh to jump from my 13" to an 11". To find out I'll be carrying a smaller, lighter computer and a smaller, presumably lighter power brick is good news. Thanks for the info!

  15. Grimoire thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2011
    Hmmm I didn't feel anything weird about the keyboard when I played with them in store. Did you feel it in the store or just only after you had used it for a few hours? :S

    Glad to hear the RAM is ok for you. I would most likely just have word + firefox and maybe kindle open together at the same time. But then I have a crappy eeepc that I don't use anymore because it crashes if I try to open pdfs larger than a couple of pages. That has 1GB ram.
  16. parapup macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2006
    I didn't try the keyboard much in the store. Immediately after unboxing and setup I gathered that keyboard was weird. It kind of pushes up softly with more resistance than I like. Or something like that :confused: . Not like my 17" for sure.
  17. marrzie macrumors regular

    Mar 9, 2011
    The keys on my current 11" are most definitely firmer to push down and also springier on the way back up. I really like the 11" keyboard. It in my opinion is in no way too firm or springy for my tastes. I would say its the best laptop keyboard I have ever used with the 13" air coming in second.
    The 13" was just a little bit spongy feeling to me lacking slightly in the feedback that I much prefer.
  18. Grimoire thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2011
    Hmm. I might have to go back to the store and have another play around but focus more on the keyboard, since I didn't really notice anything about either of them before.
  19. parapup macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2006
    Yeah they are definitely less 'clicky'. It might just be a matter of getting used to it.
  20. s.hasan546 macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2011
    hmm thats interesting b.c im on a windows vista desktop at work that has 2 gb ram and i consistently have issues b.c of the ram. im always at 90+% memory usage. and the funny thing is i don't do anything that intensive. i have netflix + browser (10 tabs) + and quickbooks 2011, running at all times. I think im def gonna need 4 gb ram on the mba.
  21. jsgreen macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2007
    I work on my 11" all day - minimal eyestrain (I'm middle aged).

    I get between 5-6 hours battery life when unplugged; battery lasted on a flight from Boston to Seattle (bluetooth and wireless both off) , I was heavily using Power Point and MS Word.
  22. toddybody Guest


    May 13, 2010
    On Mars, thinking about my father...
    "Is the Macbook Air what I want?"

    Hmmm....sorry, it took a little longer to establish a psychic connection than I thought.

    Ok, Im good now....Yes, you do want a Macbook Air.
  23. ZombieZakk macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2011
    if you plan to keep it for over a year i would say no matter what model get the 4gb ram upgrade it is well worth it!
  24. Grimoire thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2011
    :rolleyes: Terribly sorry I dared to ask for advice from current users as to the suitability of a product for a particular usage pattern before dropping a grand on it.

    You could also just move along if the question offends you that much.

    Thanks to you awesome people who have responded helpfully.

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