MBA 11 v 13 for Law School

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by MiamiLaw, Jul 12, 2014.

  1. MiamiLaw macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2014
    Hi all,

    I have a fully maxed MBP 15 from 2009 (8GB ram, 3 GHz Core 2 Duo, 500 GB Storage). It has started to show some signs of its age. Not only does the battery need to be replaced, the screen randomly goes black (does not go to sleep, just goes black) and takes a minute or so to turn back on. Also, all the applications randomly freeze to the point that I need to restart the computer. It is also running a little slower than it used to. The above issues, however, only occur maybe once every other week or so. Other than this, it works perfectly fine.

    That said, I don't want to fully replace my computer until I really have to, but I am starting law school in the fall. I don't want to be in the middle of studying for finals and my computer fail. So I am looking to buy a relatively cheaper backup computer "just in case" that is really portable and light to use in class for taking notes.

    So... I am torn between the MBA 11 or 13. I will more than likely use the MBP 15 in my room and most of the time I am in the library. I would be using this new computer primarily in class and occasionally in the library.

    What do you guys recommend? Is the extra cash for the 13 really worth it for me or should I just get the cheapest option possible?

  2. myrtlebee macrumors 68020


    Jul 9, 2011
    Baltimore-Washington Metro Area
    Go for the 11" model for your uses. You can make apps like Safari fullscreen when you need to.
  3. outlawarth macrumors regular

    Mar 20, 2011
  4. ldburroughs macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2005
    Virginia Beach, VA
    The 11.6 inch model should work just fine for your needs. The only downside may be screen real estate and a missing sd card slot. The screen real estate is likely to boil down to preference, but other than research and a little writing, both sizes will work for most people. The sd card slot isn't really much of an issue either as there are adapters and jump drives available and cloud storage is both plentiful and cheap. The price and portability of the 11.6 inch MacBook Air outweigh the cons in my opinion. Also, consider buying a 2013 refurbished model or a newer one with the education discount, if available.

    Good luck with law school.
  5. Saturn1217, Jul 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2014

    Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2008
    Maybe this is just me but both the 11 and 13inch MBA are a lot of computer to buy just to get by while still relying on your 2009 MBP. If it was me I would either invest in a replacement (the MBA would be a wonderful replacement computer) or get something much cheaper if you really don't intend for it to be your primary computer (think chromebook or ipad + bluetooth keyboard cheap). If you try to get the cheapest possible MBA as a stop gap solution I guarantee the difference in performance between the MBA and the 2009 MBP will have you effectively using it as a replacement but it won't last as long as it should if you cheap out on screen real estate (if that matters to you) or more importantly ram and storage space.

    Basically my advice with computer purchases is usually go big or go home. It feels much worse to spend a lot on a computer and come to regret your purchase vs spending a bit more and being satisfied (I speak from experience).

    EDIT: I didn't mean to suggest the 11-inch isn't a good choice. Just that you should prepare yourself to be using whichever MBA you get full time because both models really are that awesome (especially in comparison to your current computer).
  6. drewster macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2008
    Get the 11 and spend for an external monitor. Nice to have docs and articles / Westlaw etc open side by side.
  7. Windowsrefugee macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2011
    Microsoft Land
    As Saturn1217 said, "MBA would be a wonderful replacement computer". KISS-- I have used a 13" fully loaded MBA for business for past 3-4 years-- it is really a desk top replacement for my needs . It is amazing- light, fast and fully capable of doing what you need. Trade in your old MBP and buy an external monitor if you like, but the 13" MBA should give you plenty of real estate for most things. Then you don't have to worry about which documents are on which computer or if you uploaded them to the cloud. I don't think you would regret making the MBA your one and only machine.
  8. psik macrumors 6502

    Aug 21, 2007
    For law school I would get the 13 for medicine the 11 should suffice
  9. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    I would get the 13" retina and use it as my only computer.
    In any case, it's likely you'll lose interest in using your 2009 machine once you appreciate the speed of a new air or pro.
  10. capathy21 macrumors 65816


    Jun 16, 2014
    Houston, Texas
    As others have stated, the overall speed of the Air will make you want to never turn on your old MBP again. I would say if your MBP is 15, the 13 inch Air would be your best bet. It's still large enough to work on for hours while still being small enough to transport to class with ease. The 13 also offers you an additional 3 to 4 hours of battery life which would definitely come in handy in school.

    If we are all wrong and you still prefer your MBP when in your room, the 13 Air would still be great for a second machine, and would still be portable enough to fit your needs.

    This is not to say the 11 would be bad. It is the absolute best for a true portable machine. If you had an external monitor in your room for when you have to have more real estate, the 11 would be great too. if an external monitor is of no interest to you, go 13.
  11. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    Either one. 13" if you want more screen real estate and SD card capability.
  12. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    Excellent advice.

    I suggest that whatever MBA you get that it replace your MBP.

    My daughter in college just replaced her MBP 15 (that I handed down to her) with an MBA 13. She thought going to 11 was too much of a change. Something to consider.

    If you want to save some money, get the lower storage option (128GB) and spend a few bucks for special microSD adapter than inserts into the SD Card slot and fits flush with the body of the MBA. You can then purchase 64GB or 128GB microSD cards for additional storage. There are of course USB harddrive and wireless drive options as well.

    At the same time, I bought an MBA 11. I absolutely love the portability... to have a full macbook experience in something slightly larger than my iPad 4 and Surface 2, is amazing. Since it has no SD card slot, I purchased a 64GB Sandisk nano USB "nub". It sticks out less than 1/4" and works very well. (also have a microSD USB nub that accepts microSD cards and inserts into a USB port... again, about 1/4" extends)
  13. AppleFanatic10 macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2010
    Encino, CA
    I would say get the 13" MBA. I know it's no real comparison, but I have a 10.1' netbook and I find the screen a little too small, 11' isn't too far off from that and I've played with the 11' MBA in-store and I just couldn't find myself liking something that small as my daily computer. But get what you like, YMMV. :D
  14. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    If the MBA is solely for notes, then yes, go for the 11". You won't be missing much from the 13".

    However, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're going to love the MBA, and end up using it more! I'd seriously consider going for a 13" MBA (or even rMBP if budget allows) and use it as your only computer. Both of them are incredibly lightweight, and more powerful than your 2009 MBP. If storage is an issue, perhaps for media, you could have an external drive that stays in your room.

    The idea of a secondary computer may sound tempting at first, but I found using two computers ended up being a real pain. A file would never be on the computer I was using, an app I'd need would only be installed on one, etc.

    Anyway, I'm sure any current Mac would be a great upgrade from a C2D and standard HD. Enjoy whatever you buy.
  15. Cartaphilus macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2007
    As someone who just went from an '09 MBP to a MBA, let me chime in with those who suggest you retire the MBP. Law school is more than taking notes in class. Doing legal research and especially preparing for mock trial and moot court presentations and briefs will take advantage of the noticeably faster response time of the MBA. I'd suggest you opt for the larger storage and higher RAM capacity. The post suggesting a larger outboard display is one I'd echo, but if the budget is an issue, you can always add one later.

    You'll be doing a lot of case and other legal reading, especially as a 1L, so be sure you get a screen that's comfortable for hours...and hours. Some people find e-ink easier on their eyes for marathons, so you might experiment, and since I hear Miami has sunshine, that's another reason to consider adding a Kindle for when all you need to do is read.

    The next year will likely determine the sort of life you'll have. It's worth having optimal tools while you're killing yourself.

    Best of luck to you!
  16. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    I always appreciate the input from those with a firsthand insight into issues being discussed.
  17. Papa Shank macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2005
    I'm going from my heavy, noisy, and hot HP Envy 17 down to a MBA 11" soon for going to law school. My plan is to have the MBA as a laptop for going anywhere and then I can use my HP as a backup/desktop option (although if all goes well I can see me just using the MBA + ultrawide monitor).
  18. Martin81 macrumors regular


    Oct 14, 2013
    I would go for the MBA 13. It just cost's 100$ more, but you get a bigger screen and an 42% increase in battery power. That makes a plus of 3h.
    If you are a listed student and buy via AoC it would probably be only 80$.
    On the other hand: the MBA 11 ist charged up in under an hour.

    Both are very compact and I would favor a slightly lager screen.
  19. lls4f macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2012
    United States
    The correct answer is the 13 inch.

    I'm a rising 3L in law school. You will not want to cart your MBP around. Your casebooks that you will be using are huge and heavy. Saving a couple pounds on a computer will be huge for you. Your day will consist of going to class and going to the library whenever you are not in class. You will want your light computer with awesome battery life for this. Unlike undergrad, in law school, you will more often than not go to the library and work during the day. Law school is much more like a job than college. Work 9-5 or 9-6, then go home and do nothing related to law school (your brain will need this mental break daily).

    Also, obligated to throw in as someone in law school, DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL (unless you're going T14 or you're on a full ride to a regional school in the area that you want to practice).

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