MacBook Air: 11" vs 13"

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by L4Leonard, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. L4Leonard macrumors regular


    Oct 15, 2011
    So since my good old MacBook Pro has decided to crap out on me, I'm having a hard time deciding wether I should go with the 11 inch or the 13 inch MacBook Air. I'm a student, so the cheaper-->the better, but would you say that the 11" is too small? Or is a 11" display sufficient for my basic needs of browsing the web, writing essays and watching series?

    Any kind of input regarding which I should/shouldn't go with would be to a great help.
  2. TomBlack macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2014
    When choosing the right mac, you've got to keep in mind that changing it in a matter of time will cost you more. So choose wisely the stuff what you need.

    For me 11" is far more then I would've opted for. I have a 13" mbp and now I'm going for a 11". It's because I can always take it in my bag and carry all the time around not even noticing the weight. My laptop is my all day companion, but with the pro I'm a little over weighted, I mean it's not that heavy, but add some books, notebooks, lunch and my camera, so I feel a little exosted running with these.

    This is why I choosed the 11" over 13" - which isn't as that heavy at all but it's still big enought to irritate me.

    If you plan to use as your main computer In my opinion going for the 11" with a little better setup would be great. But that's my opinion. If it's a main computer and watching movies without connecting a external monitor is a concerne then look for a burgain 13" mba.

  3. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I went from 2008 15" MBP -> 2011 13" MBA -> 2013 11" MBA and am really happy. It is my primary computer. I have a big monitor and external keyboard at home and it works great.

    But as Tom said, the 11" MBA is terrific for travel. You can carry it around and forget that it's even there. I would disagree with him about watching movies however. The 11" machine is just about perfect for that, unless you are watching with a group of people and need to put it farther away. The 16:9 screen is great (the 13" MBA has a 16:10 screen).

    And I'm finding battery life terrific on the MBA when watching DVD's I have ripped. It reports something like 12-15 hours runtime - I have never come anywhere near wearing the battery down like this so I don't really know how long it would go. But I can watch for the better part of an hour and it still says 100% battery with the screen at reduced brightness (but as bright as I want in a darkened room). Same thing for web browsing.

    Text gets a little small for my 64 year old eyes in some programs, but there are generally fixes (like changing font preferences). Pinch/spread zooming comes in handy with Safari.

    The 13" MBA is also a great machine and I really enjoyed it. But this time it's love with the 11" MBA. :)
  4. Wahlstrm macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2013
    If you put the dock on the side..

    ..the 11" might work.

    If you keep the dock at the bottom there is almost no vertical space on the screen to show websites and documents.

    I would never buy the 11" and use it as my main computer.
    The screen size would kill my eyes and the low-res screen is quite useless for anything serious. That said, I would love to have one as my "on-the-go" computer, downloading photos from my camera when i´m out shooting and uploading them to clients and stuff like that.

    Performance wise it´s the same as the 13", so if you get a nice external monitor at home you get the best of both worlds.

    2 good things on the 13" is a few more hours of battery life and an SD-card slot so you can download photos or just use it as extra storage. A 32/64GB SD card costs almost nothing and can hold a lot of document, movies and stuff :)
  5. Orka macrumors regular

    Dec 24, 2012
    Moscow, Russia
    I have 2012 Macbook air 13" which i bought specifically in 13 size to replace my previous SZ vaio 13", because i thought that 11' will be too small.
    But ever since i got my iPad mini i don't use my MBA too often.

    I recently got 2013 11" for my wife, and now i think may be i should have gone with 11" too.

    Of course, this is all subjective.
  6. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    Cmd-Opt-D solves that problem.
  7. Robyr macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2010
    Heck I just autohide. The dock doesn't tell me any realtime data I need to know...
  8. w00d macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2010
    If you had the old MBP design with 1280x800 screen, and were happy with the screen real estate, the 11" MBA actually has more pixels. It might not be much of a problem as long as your eyes are good and don't mind the smaller text size.

    I never understood the appeal of having the dock on screen at all times. Auto hide should be the default IMO. Also I use Alfred for launching apps (and also as a Spotlight replacement). It's faster than mousing down to the dock.
  9. Laco macrumors 6502

    Apr 23, 2008
    Personally I would go with the 13 inch and I would also buy an external monitor. I think that is the best combination.
  10. michaelsviews macrumors 65816

    Sep 25, 2007
    New England
    Too Funny

    I have a 2008 MBP C2D that the screen went on it, and it turned out to come up on apples list of too old to fix, they suggested local apple repair places but there price's are too high along with once I fix that then what happens if something else goes down the line.

    Anyways, was looking at the maxed out 13" Air which was being carried at our local store, but seeing how I don't get a new computer ever couple of years , more like 5 plus or when it's not cost effective to repair it anymore, than I get a new one, anyways, I like the Retina so I stuck with a 15" MBP and these 55 yr old bifocal glassed eyes are happy too

    The air almost came home with me but something just said to go with the 15" MBPr and I have to say that I'm very happy, got 16gig of ram also.

    Now watch em come out with a 15" Retina Air this summer :mad: It is one gorgeous computer.

  11. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    Sorry, what? Got it eventually, after reading 3 times
  12. majkom macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    Had 21.5 inch imac - 13inch air - 13inch rMBpro (just few days) - now got 11 inch air and I am fine with it - dock on side and its perfect:)
  13. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    For any job that requires portability, the MBA 11" is just perfect. It weighs so little that it can be carried all day, more or less effortlessly, which - to my mind - would make it an excellent companion for a student. Actually, I wish that such a computer had been available when I was a student.

    I have used it as a main computer, and loved it, because my work requires me to be exceedingly mobile; however, I tend to use it mainly for text based exercises, rather than viewing movies on the screen. So, to answer the question asked, can you use it as a main computer, the answer is 'yes' even if your eyesight is a lot less than perfect, as mine is.

    The battery life in the 2013 models is also a bonus; it means that you shouldn't need the cables etc for an entire day.

    However, the 13" is also a superb computer (I have one) - a screen which seems enormous after the 11", along with astounding battery life and is also an exceptionally portable computer. Either device will more than adequately meet your needs.

    Moreover, whichever one you buy, I recommend - strongly - that you get as much RAM as you can afford, and then, invest in as large a hard disk as you can afford. This will future proof the computer to some extent.
  14. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    Visit an Apple retailer and test drive both models & use that data to make a decision. Personally I found the 11" too small so I bought a 13" model.
  15. WilliamLondon macrumors 68000


    Dec 8, 2006
    That's my solution as well - the number of times you actually need the dock are few, and the extra screen space is quite useful.

    I've got an 11" (which I love!) - if portability is your thing (as it is with me), then there's nothing better than an 11" MBA, it's so small and lightweight, but still rather powerful (it's my main machine, much faster than my older iMac). At home I hook it up to an external monitor and keyboard/mouse - the Henge Dock works excellently.
  16. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I have the dock on the right side of the screen on my 11" MBA. I agree about it taking up a lot of space if you put it on the bottom, but I've always had it on the right side of the screen on all my previous computers too.

    Actually I just setup the launchpad (I think that's what it's called - the screen that mimics an iPad) with all the programs I normally use. At first I didn't like the idea - seemed like another way to dumb down a laptop. But I think I can learn to like it, and it's easy to call up and dismiss with the dedicated function key.
  17. petvas macrumors 601


    Jul 20, 2006
    Mannheim, Germany
    If this is going to be your only computer then go for the 13". If mobility is more important to you then get the 11" and get a Cinema Display for home..
  18. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I understood it. It's not the best sentence structure, but he said he has a 2008 MBP and the screen went dead, but it's too old and out of warranty to consider repairing due to the cost and the risk of something else failing later.

    Anyway, I went down this road too and ended up in decision paralysis. The 11" Air would be perfect for portability but it lacks an SD slot which is a no-go for me (I am constantly annoyed by the lack of one in my current 2007 MacBook Pro, and I have broken so many of the cheap adapters). The 13" Air seems really nice but for a tiny bit more weight and money the 13" MacBook Pro offers that retina display and much more power. Then again, that 15" MacBook Pro with the quad core i7 would be incredible for video editing and would last forever before it felt too slow.

    If I was rich I would buy the 15" MBP with an 11" Air for travel. Since I am not, I chose to split everything down the middle and I bought the 13" MacBook Pro. I may yet add an iPad mini to complement it.
  19. halledise macrumors 65816

    May 7, 2009
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    +1 - fully agree.
    and it's perfectly fine as a primary Mac, imho

    auto-hide the dock - as someone has suggested - is the answer here

    the screen resolution on the 11.6" Air is just fine for most eyes.
    coming off a 15" retinaMBPro it took like a couple of hours to adjust.
    next day it was not noticeable.
    we adapt very easily, I find.
    mind you, my Air has the AU Optronics panel which is far better than the LG and Slamsung offerings
  20. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Wanted a 13" for the longest time, but I eventually went with the 11", and I have no regrets. The biggest things you give up are a little bit of extra screen real estate and an SD card slot.

    Yes, the 13" battery lasts a bit longer on paper, but workflows vary so much that it becomes hard to measure. Apple has done a great job bringing the 11" performance to the level of the 13" Air.

    My uses include web browsing, movies, home stuff (budgeting & bills), photo editing, CAD work & 3D modeling. Occasionally, I wish I had more screen real estate, especially when working, but I just hook up an external monitor. In those same situations, I know I'd still feel cramped on the 13", so I don't hold that against the 11".

    OS X Full Screen mode was made for the 11"
  21. tinnyms3 macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2013
    I went from 2010 11" MBA to 2012 13" MBA to 2013 15" rMBP.

    Although 11" was extremely portable, barely bigger than an iPad, I found the screen real estate and resolution to be tad too small for browsing and other tasks. So I was much happier with the 13", and with all-day battery life of Haswell, I'd say go for 13".
  22. bubulol macrumors 6502a

    Mar 7, 2013
    i dont get the purpose about 13''
    yes its still bigger than 11'' thus more powerful, more battery life...
    it also more comfortable.
    getting Macbook Air means getting an ultra mobile laptop right?
    if i really need to use it as main computer, i would go for 15'' at least
    without external monitor and exclusively for home use, neither one nor the other would substitute 15-17'' laptop
    i would advice for those people who are still unable to decide between 11 or 13 either:

    - get 11 if you have external monitor and another 15+ laptop / computer

    - get 13 if you haven't any of them
  23. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    I don't think this applies anymore, not ever since MBA has moved from the original $2k category to the current 1k, and became the cheapest Macbook you can buy.

    You don't really need to make any sacrifices when it comes to choosing an "ultraportable" MBA over other MBs these days. It has become the default choice, because it is such a good machine with high value for the money.
  24. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    I agree 100%. It's just the natural progression of technology. It used to be that laptops weren't anywhere close to the performance of desktops. Large laptops got faster, then mid-size ones. Now even the small ones have similar performance. It's amazing to see how far we've come in just a few years.
  25. bubulol macrumors 6502a

    Mar 7, 2013
    sorry you misunderstood me
    i was referring about the mobility of MBA
    what is its main function?
    being mobile
    dont get me wrong, ''ultrabooks'' seem to be powerful enough nowaydays
    power and mobility can match together

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