MacBook Air as a desktop machine instead of a Mac Mini?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by dmk1974, Oct 31, 2015.

  1. dmk1974 macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    I have a 2012 Mac Mini with an SSD and RAM upgrade and even as a 3-year old machine with an i5 processor, it's extremely fast for my use.

    I was looking at getting a machine for my in-laws so they could upgrade from their old PC. They are getting used to the iPhone and iPad and with "some" tutoring, I think the Mac would be better.

    Initially I was looking at Mac Mini options for them and I'm not a big fan of the current gen that doesn't allow for replacing the hard drive or upgrading the RAM (aside from initial purchase). Since their use is much lighter, I thought, what about getting them a 11" MacBook Air with the base 4GB RAM and 128 GB SSD? Should be faster than the Mac Mini (mainly due to the drive). I'd just set it up so it would be running in clamshell format basically as a desktop machine (the only time to open the lid is to hit the power button).

    Is there any drawback to doing this? If anything, gives more flexibility for when they go to Arizona in the winter and can take the laptop with them if they want. From what I had read, the MacBook in clamshell will sleep ok and wake from a mouse or keyboard just fine. Curious if any real concern about overheating. Thanks!
  2. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    OK, so you aren't a fan of the mac mini as it isn't user upgradeable other then at purchase.
    fixit guides show you how to replace the HDD with an SSD, so you can if you want too.

    Yet you are quite happy with the same lack of upgradeability in the macbook air?

    Shouldn't be any drawbacks to doing this at all.
  3. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Taking the Mac Mini would be easy too. If you use the Air with an external screen (TV or monitor) and speakers, either way it is going to take about the same amount of time to disconnect and connect everything.

    I regard my Mini as transportable. I don't want a portable, but I do take my Mini with me to use in class (with an LED projector) or elsewhere from time to time. Disconnecting and connecting only takes a minute. It is easy to carry in bag, on my bicycle or motorcycle.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "Initially I was looking at Mac Mini options for them and I'm not a big fan of the current gen that doesn't allow for replacing the hard drive or upgrading the RAM"

    I doubt that your inlaws are going to be as concerned about the "upgradeability" of the new Mac as you are.

    Get them the mid-range Mini with a fusion drive, and be done with it.
    I sense that they will be VERY happy with it!

    Also (unless they already have a display) -- choose the display carefully.
    Are they getting older? How's their vision?
  5. dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2008
    Thanks, yeah, they are not spec driven like I am. :) They just want it to work and I want to minimize my "service calls" to them. In that respect, the Mac Mini of any config will be easier.

    A few months ago I replaced their 19" LCD with a 24" LCD...they raved how much bigger it was and easier to see! I'd plan to use that 24" with the Mac.
  6. batting1000 macrumors 604

    Sep 4, 2011
    Just sold my 2012 mini almost two weeks ago and got a 13 inch base model Air to use as my everyday computer at school and at home. It works great and I love it so far.
  7. toddzrx macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
    I know this isn't a direct comparison, but I ran my old, 1st gen 17" MBP in clamshell mode, with a monitor sitting on top of it, for a couple of years with zero problems. As long as the computer is on a flat, hard surface that doesn't insulate the bottom of the computer, which helps it keep cool (and reduces fan use), it'll be fine. Also, if you go the Air route, you might consider a Henge dock:
  8. whodatrr macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2004
    Will likely also be using a 2012 11.6 MBA as a terminal, pretty soon. Reason being the keyboard died, and I'm sick of putzing with it. replacement cost is more hassle than it's worth. And I already upgrade the woman to a 2015 rMB, which she loves. So, I plan to grab one of the monitors and keyboards we're not using, and use the old MBA as a desktop for visitors and the kids.

    That old MBA was my personal laptop, a few years ago. When it's plugged into a display with a keyboard and mouse/trackpad, it's not bad. You can do MS Office, iLife, Web, etc. Pretty much most stuff other than gaming or heavy duty video editing. Good enough...

    I bet that, if you look around, you can find plenty of MBAs or MBPs with broken screens or keyboards, which you can probably buy for a song. Easier to just buy a Mac Mini, but this is another option.

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