MBA as Primary Machine?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by matt_on_a_mtn, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. matt_on_a_mtn Suspended

    Mar 25, 2016
    Anyone here using a MBA as their primary machine? I have a 34" LG 34UM95 headed my way, and have recently picked up an upper spec 15" MBP, but the total cost of that setup is in the $3000 range - meanwhile my 11" maxed MBA sits in a case waiting to be sold while return days tick away on the 15" MBP.

    It got me thinking though - could I make it work? My primary issue with the the MBA was the screen, but paired with the 34" monitor via thunderbolt that would be a solved problem.

    Is anyone here using a similar setup with their MBA as their primary machine? It's appealing to me, as it's basically my "cheap" option - but I'm also pretty curious about the limitations of such a setup. Is it viable for Xcode, Photoshop, and web design?
  2. izzyfanto macrumors regular


    Nov 22, 2011
    Check this thread out.

    I'm close to purchasing a i7 MBA since it now comes with 8 GB RAM. Hard to pass up that for the price
  3. Windowsrefugee macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2011
    Microsoft Land
    --- Post Merged, Apr 21, 2016 ---
    I have been using a top end 13" MBA since 2010. I also have an Apple TBD and currently using a mid 2013 MBA. I use MS office, Adobe Acrobat Pro, Safari, etc and it does everything I could possibly ask for. When I go out for a day of meetings, I never take a charger or anything but my MBA in my Sena folio case-- the battery simply lasts all day. YMMV, but if you use standard productivity programs and do not do heavy gaming, graphics, etc, it may be perfectly adequate as it is for me.
  4. asoksevil macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2010
    Taipei, Taiwan
    My 2010 MBA has been my war companion since throughout my entire college life and currently serving as my main PC when outside of work.
  5. Boyd01, Apr 21, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    The MBA has been my primary machine since 2012. Started with a 2011 13" i5/4gb/256gb MBA as a replacement for my 2008 15" core2duo MBP. The CPU on that MBA was about twice as fast as the 2008 MBP and the SSD made it feel quite a bit faster than that.

    In 2013 I upgraded to am 11" i7/8gb/512gb MBA and still love it. I used to do quite of bit of video and 3d modelling but retired in 2011 and only do that occasioinally now. But the MBA is still up to the task, and my 2013 i7 machine is probably 3x as fast as the 2008 MBP I used before.

    Just recently I managed to install my old 3d modelling software on the MBA (Strata 3d cx and Vue Infinite). These versions are about 8 years old now and I needed to jump through some hoops to install on the newer machine, but I'm very impressed with the performance on the MBA. I also run an older version of Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, VectorWorks, Photoshop, Filemaker Pro and other demanding software.

    They all run great, and the ability to have all this stuff in such a compact package is amazing. I use my old Apple 23" Cinema display with a displayport adapter, an AKAI EIE Pro USB audio interface, a USB control surface, external keyboard, mouse and a bunch of external disks at home.

    Works great for me. :)
  6. BenTrovato macrumors 68030


    Jun 29, 2012
    Any new Mac you buy is going to be relatively expensive. If you have the 3k MBP and you're already not blown away by it's performance by what you need it for, then yes go ahead and return it and make-do with the MBA until it's no longer good enough for you.
  7. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2010
    London, UK
    My 2013 i5 8gb MBA was until recently my primary machine and still does everything I could ask of it. I've only started using less because I managed to blag the office's old 2010 iMac, but the MBA is still a faster machine and use it on the go often.
  8. matt_on_a_mtn thread starter Suspended

    Mar 25, 2016
    That's basically my issue. The 15" is a great machine, and definitely has excellent performance. But it's not necessarily enough performance to make me say "this is well worth the price".

    My monitor arrives today or tomorrow, so I'll just have to try both and make a choice between them.
  9. blesscheese macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    Just echoing what others have said, if you aren't doing video editing or playing AAA games, then the MBA should work for your tasks. It is amazing how much computer power laptops have today (although some programs, like Office, keep trying to bloat their apps way beyond necessity0.
  10. niji macrumors 6502a


    Feb 9, 2003

    the current macbook air is absolutely your best bet.

    macbook air
    MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015)
    13.3-inch (1440 x 900)
    2.2 GHz Intel Core i7
    8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
    Intel HD Graphics 6000 1536 MB
    500 GB Flash Storage (SSD)

    its a dream machine.

    with ports
    with a great keyboard that feels good
  11. matt_on_a_mtn thread starter Suspended

    Mar 25, 2016
    How's the display on the 13" MacBook Air? I've currently got the 11", and while its serviceable, I feel like a display is a must - and I'd prefer that to not be the case. Is the 13" better, or still lacking in the display department?
  12. KiwiAdventure macrumors 6502a

    Dec 7, 2010
    New Zealand
    My 13" is good enough for all my office work. I did purchase an iPad Pro 12.9' which has an excellent screen.
  13. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I had a 13" and switched to the 11" which I like much better. The screen is bigger on the 13" but I don't think it's "better". The 11" MBA has a higher dot pitch, so when I switched from the 11", it took a little getting used to. I had to change to a larger default font size in a couple programs. In Apple Mail, for example, the default font looked really tiny so I used a larger one.

    And of course, the 13" is a 16:10 screen and the 11" is 16:9. Personally I prefer the 16:9 screen for watching movies, but the extra height on the 13" is nice for other things. For me, I just prefer the smaller size of the 11" MBA while travelling and am happy to accept any screen compromises for that. I use a big external monitor at home, so the screen size doesn't matter there.
  14. iSheep5S macrumors 6502a


    Jun 4, 2013
    Im not sure if this is any use but... I got a 2011 cMBP in 2013 to try the Mac experience, one VERY lightly used 2011 MBA in 2014 then a new 2014 rMBP at the start of 2015.

    Basically i had been a windows user all my computing days and over 3 years i left and returned the Mac gang. Pretty much always had an iPad, on and off iPhone but i prefer android.

    I recently got an iPad Pro 12.9" and it actually spurred my Mac interest... again. I sold my dad the 2011 lightly used MBA where he hardly used it (Windows user). Anyhoo i offered to buy it back. He practically let me steal it!

    So in answer yeah it works fine as a main machine. From an ex rMBP owner the MBA is no slouch IMO. From a daily iPad Pro user i am on both in the same day. The screen is great, not retina obviously but still better than most of the Windows offerings. Currently selling my Windows machine if its worth selling.

    Considering this Mac's light usage it will be upgraded way before it dies. I will get a new MBA when i get round to it. No rush at all. :)
  15. cincygolfgrrl macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2012
    Somewhere In Time
    I purchased a new 2011 MBA 11" at the beginning of 2012. It served as my only computer until late 2014, when I discovered the wherewithal to get an iMac. I still have the MBA and use it frequently outside the house for lots of things, like processing large batches of RAW photos. It works great for that and everything else I do with it.

    If you can get one with an i7 it will probably be as fast as any computer you've ever owned, but an i5 would be perfect for anything except heavy duty multicore processes. Enjoy your MBA 13".
  16. HeyKatie macrumors 6502

    Sep 7, 2012
    I am using my 13" 2015 MBA as my primary machine. I upgraded from a 2010 MBP and I absolutely love it.

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