Macbook Air 2011 Advice Please!

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Macbookair2011, Jul 31, 2011.

  1. Macbookair2011 macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2011
    Hi everyone,

    Looking for some advice on whether to purchase the 11inch or 13inch Macbook Air 2011 refresh. I originally wanted the 2010 model but decided to wait it out for the newer version, seems like it was worth the wait. Now the choice must be made and I'm stuck.

    Background info: I am a 'light user' by the sounds of it. I ONLY want the Air for internet (around 3-6 browsers open at a time), word processing + excel, watching downloaded audio/video lectures from my university website, some youtube watching online also. I NEVER edit videos, edit photos, probably wont ever upload photos, perform any form of conversions or whatever programmers etc do. I will use the Air I buy as my primary and sole computer. It will be connected to power for a lot of the day at a desk, but will occasionally be on the couch/bed on my lap. Some days it will be portable and will be worked on in public places, at these times I am happy to reduce brightness/turn off bluetooth etc, to increase battery life.

    I have ruled out the top of the range 13inch model (don't need the SSD space) and the bottom 11inch model (I want to future proof my purchase with getting 4gb RAM, and the added SSD size to 128GB would be convenient). This leaves me with 11inch 128GB SSD 4GB RAM vs 13inch 128GB SSD 4GB RAM.

    So far I have the following thoughts:

    13inch: more screen realestate, more battery life, SD slot (I wont use this), slightly faster processor (I wont notice a difference, right?), heavier and bigger to move around

    11inch: smaller screen but denser pixels so will look good still, slightly slower processor (wont be noticed), portable and easier to move around, battery life is less. I have played with someones 2010 macbook air 11inch and I found the screen size quite easily manageable for my needs, plus full screen apps on lion will be nice for word processing and safari/firefox surfing.

    It really comes down to battery life in the end. Is the 11inch battery life sufficient for my needs? How many hours do people generally get on like 50% brightness, surfing the net and word processing etc? The processor speed I will never notice a difference will I (with my needs)? Is the trackpad/keyboard on the 11inch being slightly smaller annoying anyone? Is the extra size and weight of the 13inch putting anyone off wanting to take it everywhere as an ultraportable?

    Thanks for the advice, and sorry for the huge post.
  2. KylePowers, Jul 31, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011

    KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    I've been in the exact same debate since the new MBAs launched.

    I think it's kind of like comparing Macs to PCs... the second you get caught up in specs, is the second you make a wrong decision. Just because a PC may have better specs, doesn't mean it'll provide the best computing experience, ya' know?

    I think we just need to go for whatever feels better (in terms of eye sight, comfort, and ergonomics). Specs can't really tell us the whole story and other people's opinions can only help so much. So what I think it comes down to is simply getting some decent hands on time with the both of them.

    Now if that means buying both and testing them, so be it. Or perhaps testing both in the store for a certain amount of time could suffice. But all I know is I've read every thread and review comparing the 11" and 13" and I'm still stuck on the fence.

    I personally have a 27" iMac, so power isn't particularly any of my concern. I've also been spoiled by the iPad 2's battery life... so getting an MBA becomes a tradeoff in battery life for functionality (I'm selling the iPad). I really want to use the MBA laying in bed, on a couch, at friends' homes... basically take it everywhere with me (class, library). And from anecdotes I've read, some people prefer the 11" in these types of positions/situations... some people prefer the 13". So just like the best camera is the one you have with you, the best computer is the one you have with you... it becomes a vital decision.

    So in the end, I think we just have to go hands on =\

    EDIT: Though if it was my sole computer, I would instantly go 13"
  3. petvas macrumors 601


    Jul 20, 2006
    Mannheim, Germany
    Since this is going to be your own computer, I would get the 13" model in your place. I have the 11" Macbook Air and battery life is around 3-4 hours, depending on usage. Normally I have screen brightness to 50% with auto enabled, Wifi on and many apps open. My Safari has 8-10 open tabs most of the time and Mail has three Exchange accounts configured. iCal is also open all of the time.

    The 11" model is a great computer but I use it as my second device. I have a Mac Pro connected to a 27" display and I could never imagine having the 11" as my sole computer.
  4. FAsnakes macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2007
    Sounds like the 11" i5 best meets your needs.. get it from Best Buy so you can try it out for 2 weeks - before you make you final decision.. .
  5. CP1091 macrumors regular


    Aug 28, 2007
    Agreed. It sounds like if it is your sole computer, go for the 13". Portability wise, it is a bit larger, but in the long run, you'll be happier with a little more screen real estate.
  6. Macbookair2011 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2011
    thanks for the advice so far!

    I have also read hundreds of reviews + forum postings on macrumours about the 11inch vs 13inch debate.

    I am swinging towards the 11inch even though it is my only computer.

    I am coming from a PC, sony vaio 13inch from 2006. Got the 2ghz intel something and a MASSIVE 1GB of RAM haha. *%$#ing slow at everything, and it's not even mine. Definitely want to give it back to dad and get my own laptop for once haha. So even the 11inch will be a huge upgrade for me in terms of processor + RAM + SSD over HDD.

    I really hope the size of the screen doesnt get annoying when Im just sitting at my desk working (with the 11.6inch). I reckon I will go play with both in store for ages. Plus I think my sister will get the 13inch so I might use hers a bit and see if the 11 gets annoying in comparison. Got 14days to return with apple right?

    I absolutely love the novelty factor of the 11inch and hate admitting that it is a huge factor in this decision haha....but it is.

    Oh and on the sole computer thing, I do actually have a desktop at home (also PC tho) and would probably not use it much.
  7. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Well, if you're doing lightweight stuff, you probably won't tell a performance difference between the 2010 core 2 duo's and the 2011 i5 and i7's.

    You may be able to find a nice, nearly new 2010 air on craigslist for a nifty discount. Many of the ones I've seen on my local one have upgraded ram and ssd's. (Makes sense, as someone who spent the money on an all out one would probably be tempted by spec lust on the newer models.) Battery life on these are supposed to be a bit better than their newer sisters. Don't let the geek charts and graphs fool you, you probably won't tell a major performance difference browsing the web on the new ones. (An old, old in-joke here on the forums is posting "Safari feels snappier!" after any sort of a software or hardware upgrade.)

    Another tactic is to find an opened box 2010 return at best buy and see how far you can haggle them down. May require talking to a manager, but could be worth it.

    If you plan on keeping it for more than a year or two, or think you may eventually want to try a bit more demanding software, the 11's aren't a bad value at all. Either the $1099 11" with 4 gigs of ram and a 64 gig ssd or the base $1299 13" would be the way to go, depending on your druthers concerning battery life and screen size.
  8. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    You'll get between 3-4 hours of reliable use from the 11" MacBook Air (either the Core i5 or the Core i7). The 13" would provide you an extra 1.5-2 hours of battery life in "regular" usage.

    The $1199 11" model is a good value. It has plenty of processing power, decent storage, and would serve you well. So would the $1299 13" model.
  9. 3bs macrumors 603


    May 20, 2011
    Dublin, Ireland
    I have a 2010 11" ultimate and I use it basically the same way you intend to and I have had no troubles whatsoever. It is my main and sole computer. Yes the 13" has a bigger screen and more battery life but I actually don't mind the size of the 11" screen and I pick portability over battery life since I carry it around with me a lot to college and lectures.
  10. Macbookair2011 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2011
    Yeah I agree performance on the 2010s will be similar to 2011s for me. However I want my purchase future proofed a bit. Plus backlit keyboard is nice. Plus plus, If my girlfriend is really lucky she might get to download photoshop on my new air and use it for some of her projects...would be faster than her white macbook with core2duo and 2GB RAM I assume? Definitely not considering the upgrade to i7s as I hear it sucks battery and also generates extra heat...two things I dont want, and the only benefit would not be noticed by me :)
  11. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Either one would be faster. Your girlfriend would have to cram the ram and stick in an SSD or at least a hybrid drive for it to have a chance of catching up.

    Consider the 2010's if you can find one for 30% or more off of the list price. I've seen them going at 60% on CL, but you have to be pretty effing quick to catch them at that bargain price.

    Otherwise, and of the 11's that suit your fancy and price point would work.

    If you were working with photoshop doing some intensive stuff all the time, or wanting to do a lot of video encoding, or virtualization, I'd advise to skip the core 2's. But either should work just about as well for you.
  12. Macbookair2011 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2011
    Yeah thought that comp is pretty slow in comparison. Price isn't really an issue, within reason. By that I mean under 1500ish Aussie dollars (my birthday present is a new laptop of my choice: awesome). I don't know how to encode video, or virtualise anything haha. Also don't know photoshop at all. I couldnt live with the older Airs seeing as I have waited since the start of May for this upgrade (being told every week that it would come NEXT week). Backlit was a key feature for me, playing with one of the old ones in the dark was a bit difficult (not saying I need to look at the keys when I type, but it is surprising how often you forget where certain function keys are etc).
  13. ratzzo macrumors 6502a


    Apr 20, 2011
    A base 13" would be great. You don't need an i7, and you get more battery life than on the 11".
  14. accessoriesguy macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2011
    Advice from A College Student:

    I would recommend to you the base 13in, it has a 7 hour battery life, the 11 only has 5. Real world is typically less, you need the battery life, that way you don't carry around your charger for class, study groups, etc.

    You will not truly enjoy your shows on an 11in. 15in is perfect for enjoying a movie in epic view. 13 is a great size for enjoying tv shows on your off time. plus more room to multitask on your screen.

    I believe the 13in has slightly more performance, because of the extra room (?)

    Size matters, i would invest in a more enjoyable screen size, netboks are perfect for notes, but since this will also work as your main computer, you will want the bigger screen!

    my 2 cents :apple:

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