MBA as Only Computer?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by DaDalle, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. DaDalle macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2011
    Hi there,

    I currently own a 27" iMac from 2009 with 3,06 GHz C2D. And now I'm thinking of buying a new Macbook Air 11" i7. I've read several reviews and also compared benchmarks of booth computers. And it seems like the MBA is outperforming my iMac.

    So I was wondering if I still need my iMac, since the MBA does better in performance. I would use the MBA along with a Display so the 11" would just work fine for me.

    What do you think? Is it advisable to use a MBA as only computer? Or should I keep my iMac?

    Cheers Dalle
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    There's no reason to advise against it, unless you have specific needs for a more powerful machine.
  3. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    I did what you are thinking to do.
    I don't game, so no need for a big GPU but what I do miss are :
    1. Fast file transfers. Moving DVD .iso files around a net is very slow on the MBA. Max data rates with a USB-Gigabit LAN adaptor are no better then 18MBps. Max WiFi rates are 12MBps. My previous Intel PCIe NIC used to achieve 90+MBps.
    2. DVD recoding. Converting formats is very slow on the MBA and IMO overtaxes the CPU.

    The MBA is brilliant as a laptop and more useable - better than the iPad that I also have. To fix the above problems I'm looking at getting a second MacBook (the new Pro possibly - if it has a Gb NIC) to act as a "mostly static desktop" unit. I thought about a TBD but it doesn't fix the CPU horsepower issue.
  4. DaDalle thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2011
    But is the CPU really that bad? I thought it'll boost up to 2.9 GHz if it needs to? That wouldn't be a huge difference between my iMac which hast 3,06 GHz.

    Wel yeah, the graphics might be a problem. But I don't game either so I could live with that. Who knows, maybe the next generation has better graphics.
  5. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    Depends entirely on what you want to do. For everyday work (spreadsheets, internet, email, photo fiddling) it's fine. To transcode a 40GB dvd file from .iso to .mkv would have taken 2 hours. Too long. Plus the fan was working at 4000+ rpm.

    The best thing is the SSD. If you have never used a SSD, then it's a game changer. All my PCs for the past 4 years have had SSDs for system drives - never go back.
  6. DollaTwentyFive macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2010
    Parts Unknown
    I did what you are considering. Had the 11" MBA and a mid 2010 21.5" iMac. I sold the iMac and bought a TBD. Loving that I just have one computer so I'm not always trying to synchronize files.

    I'm not a gamer and not a super power user. I just do basic stuff like surfing, email, scanning photos, documents and spreadsheets, etc... No photo or video editing. So far I have had zero problems.

    Depending on what your needs are, I say go for it.
  7. DaDalle thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2011
    Sounds great!

    Today I've found someone who offers me 900€ for my iMac. I can get the TBD for about 920€ due to student discount. This sounds just fine for me.

    I think I'll go for it.

    Thanks for the replies :)
  8. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I replaced my dying 2008 15" MBP (2.4ghz C2D) with a 13" MBA and am finding it faster at everything. I also used an iMac with specs the same as yours for a lot of video editing over a period of years and the MBA also feels faster than that.

    I'm surprised about the comment above regarding compressing files for DVD's, but he doesn't say what model Mac he's using for comparison. I did one quick test where I exported a 140MB XDCAM full HD clip to an 852x480 h.264 clip. It took my 4 year old MBP 72 seconds while the MBA did it in 42 sec. I did another quick test in Photoshop with a 12,000x12,000 pixel file and the Liquify filter took 104 seconds on the old MBP but only 26 seconds on the MBA.

    So the MBA is currently my only Mac, and after about three weeks I'm finding that it meets all my needs fine. I use an old 23" Apple Cinema Display as a monitor at home.

    Coming from the older iMac, I'm pretty sure you will find that everything is faster on the MBA, but things that involve disk access will be dramatically faster (like a factor of 4x or 5x).
  9. DenniZ macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2007
    Liverpool, UK
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9B179 Safari/7534.48.3)

    Why don't you keep your iMac as a backup and use its monitor as an external, I'm pretty sure you can use it as an external monitor as well?

    Instead of getting a tbd

    Ps I also use a 11 inch MacBook air as my main computer and it does most things fine day to day wise, plays half life 2 well too.
  10. wineandcarbs macrumors 6502a

    May 2, 2008
    I have a 13" MBP. I love it, but plan to get an 11" MBA as a secondary/work/travel computer. I get the feeling that I may end up loving it and using it just as much, if not more, than my MBP.

    I think it depends on your uses. Many people I know use an MBA 13" as their only laptop and are very happy with it.
  11. buddybd macrumors 6502

    Jul 28, 2011
    What you MIGHT regret is the screen space. Going from 27" to all the way down to 11" is going to be a huge change for you.

    I personally won't be able to manage that's why I have a desktop PC as well, but other than that the MBA is powerful enough for everyday tasks.
  12. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I had to use my MBA as my primary computer for a week while my Mac Pro was bring repaired. I plugged it into my monitor, plugged in my keyboard and mouse and closed the display. Honestly, I didn't really notice a difference at all.
  13. kulimer macrumors 6502

    Aug 30, 2011
    I've researched half a year before buying my MBA 13". It is my ONLY computer, no problem at all. I spent about 12 hours with my MBA, no kidding. I do research, programming, emails...

    I do not recommend the 11" to anyone unless you are traveling to a different place daily. Even then.

    Bigger screen size is easier to the eyes. Some on this forum also complained about the poor battery life in 11".

    The MBA is the most portable laptop out there (as of the time I am typing), Having a 13" instead of 11" of the most portable really shouldn't be a complaint for you.

    Whether you get the 11" or 13", I do not make a penny, but I do want you to get the best one.
  14. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have the 11" and use it for 10 hours a day every day. I would recommend it to anyone!
  15. kulimer macrumors 6502

    Aug 30, 2011
    Now what do you use it for? watching movies?
  16. HstephenG macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2012
    I agree with the above! Even if you cannot use the iMac as an external, it should be going fine for a good while yet if your uses are modest. Sounds like you will not really be saving money by selling either unless you go with a cheaper display option.
  17. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I use it for everything. I have even used it on a commercial. Plugged into a 24" display.
  18. kulimer macrumors 6502

    Aug 30, 2011
    There's no such thing as everything. Maybe you can tell us an example of your usage on a daily basis.
  19. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    On a regular daily basis I have Safari, Skype, Messages, XBMC, Mail, and Calendar open at all times. I also take notes in meetings, and on my break occasionally play games.

    A few months ago the studio I was working with didn't have a piece of software I needed....I own it and had it on my MBA...I was able to work with full 2k plates in real time and MANY layers of vectors with no slowdown at 1920x1200 on a 24" display. I also did some 3D camera tracking with no problem.

    All of these are things I do on my Mac Pro.
  20. froa macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2011
    If you are feeling good with unplugging & plugging the cables couple of times a day, Macbook Air + External Drives + External Monitor just fits most of your needs.
    Otherwise, get a iMac +Air group.
  21. JHUFrank macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2010
    MBA is my only personal computer. I do have a workstation at my job. Most of the time when I need to use it I RDP or VNC to the thing from my MBA. When I am in my office, I plug my MBA into a 24' Samsung monitor and use a decent logitech wireless kb and mouse.
  22. DaDalle, Mar 12, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012

    DaDalle thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2011
    I think I'll do this then.
    Is there any way to access the USB Ports of my iMac, while I'm in Target Display Mode? (from the MBA)
  23. Medic278 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2012
    New York
    The MBA can feasibly replace you desktop, it is a very capable machine. I recommend you get the larger SSD so you'll have more storage space onboard, or get an external hard drive. Pick up an optical drive if needed and bang your in business. The current MBA will be leaps and bounds better than your C2D iMac, its very fast and very very powerful and will serve you very well. Since getting my MBP and MBA I rarely use my 2011 iMac, which is a shame but a side effect of getting an Apple notebook. Happy shopping!
  24. Moccasin macrumors 6502a


    Mar 21, 2011
    Newcastle, UK
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9B176 Safari/7534.48.3)

    I've had the 11" MBA as my main computer for a year and it suits me fine. I am however looking at a desktop solution for editing photos and stuff like that.

    Aim not sure yet whether to get a mac mini and display or an iMac. Being a 2010 MBA, it doesn't have Thunderbolt so that is discouraging me from a TB display which allows me to get a mac mini if I need more power
  25. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    This statement suggests you're unfamiliar with modern cpus. Turbo boost has limitations. It's not just 2.9ghz for a sustained period of time at will. The imac is obviously clocked higher but with an older architecture. You can't just pick out whichever is larger.

    I'm surprised you want to go from a 27" display to an 11". Have you spent much time with a small laptop display? Did you require portability? Personally I'd suggest the 13" especially as it bumps you to 4GB of ram which is the least i'd suggest specifically under Lion. I know I'll get comments that the ssd negates this, but ram is still superior, and the 13" display is much easier to look at for extended periods of time in my opinion.

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