Should i buy a macbook air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Berius, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. Berius macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2011
    I'm starting college this winter. I currently have a nice desktop and a laptop. I will likely have my car paid off sometime in December. I am selling my old car for about 1.5-2k. I am considering spending this money on a 13 inch macbook air 128gb or 256gb depending on if i can get a refurb and how much cheaper they will be.

    My current laptop is more powerful in all aspects except the SSD. The reason I am thinking about replacing this is because it is BIG, Loud, and slow.

    It takes about a minute to turn on and the CD drive vibrates so much that I am certain if i started it up in class all eyes would be on me.

    Perhaps there are some other future college students who are tight on cash but still really want a mac that could help me decide whether or not this is a sound investment.
  2. weeseng macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2011
    My MBA 13" is the best laptop I've ever owned. Just enough screen estate, super quick, very quiet and light enough to carry around anywhere.

    If buying it doesn't put you in debt, I'll say go ahead!
  3. Berius thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2011
    Thanks for the input!

    Hopefully fafsa gives me some money for a laptop. I've heard that they have a computer budget for you but I haven't checked it out in depth.
  4. strwrsfrk macrumors regular

    Mar 1, 2011
    Arlington, VA, USA
    MacBook Air is Great

    My 13" i5 256GB MBA is my primary machine. It's awesome. I'm doing some iPhone development and I travel a lot, so the MBA was the way to go in my opinion.

    Some thoughts:
    * If you don't need the power of the i5/i7 or the backlit keyboard, go refurbished all the way.
    * If you plan on primarily using an external display, consider the 11". The form factor is excellent and it travels so well. The only thing you really sacrifice when all is said and done is the SDXC slot.
    * Speaking of the SDXC slot, a ~$60 64GB SDXC card (eBay price) is perfect for iTunes media, downloads, documents, etc. Cheap expansion.
    * I had a 2010 MBA with a Toshiba SSD (around 195mb/s reads) and a 2011 MBA with a Samsung SSD (about 260mb/s reads). To be totally honest, in day-to-day use I can not tell the difference.
    * xCode, photoshop, MS Office, etc all work great on either the 2010 or 2011 MBA. If that's your approximate workload, it will be perfect for you.
    * Serious gaming sucks either way. My desktop is for gaming, both MBA's saw very limited gaming use. Some Indie titles are great (Braid, Amnesia), but you probably don't want to limit yourself to the 2010 solely for the 320M since you already have your desktop.

    Good luck! The 2011 MBA is the best computer I've ever owned by far.
  5. joelseph7 macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2011
    Like you I have a powerful laptop already minus the ssd and its way too big and heavy to carry around, so I went and bought the MBA to lug around when I'm at school.

    I purchased the new MBA 13 inch 128gb model for school this year. I love it and glad I made the switch to mac and picked the MBA too. Taking notes in class is easy, fast and it doesn't take up much room in my backpack or the desks. Oh the boot time is under 15sec! I mainly just put it to sleep now instead of shutting it off, its much faster that way.

    I financed my MBA. I think its worth the investment as it will make school/ college life much easier. I know I could not stand to lug around my other laptop plus 7 other texts books everyday. And the SSD on the MBA just makes things so snappy! I have piece of mind that I bought a laptop that will last me till I graduate 2 years form now :) not saying Ill toss it and buy another in 2 years as I think its more than capable of that! ;)
  6. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    I have a current Mac Pro and an older C2D 13" MBP. My wife just bought the 13" base MBA to replace her old boat anchor HP laptop. Having read all of the crap on the internet about screens, etc, I was dubious that it would be something I would be happy with as a primary computer (setting aside my photography, which has higher demands than most folks who are pulling photos out of a point & shoot into iPhoto).

    After playing with it for a couple days, I could see using this as your only computer for "normal" internet and office automation uses. It is very responsive and the screen is actually far better than I expected (and it's the "supposedly" crappy LG one). Aside from being more susceptible to scratching (no glass), being a little less contrasty/vivid and not having quite as wide a critical viewing angle as the MBP screens, it is absolutely fine. The IQ and viewing angle is not an issue unless you are doing visual arts work on it IMHO.

    As to whether to get an Air or the 13" MBP, it depends on if you need the horsepower and screen of the MBP and how sensitive you are to the weight. If all you are carrying is the laptop and the usual crap (glasses, phone, keys, etc), the weight difference is very noticeable. If you have it in a bag with books, water or other heavy stuff, the incremental added weight from the 13" MBP might not be as noticeable.

    Because I'm a photographer running Nikon NX2, PhotoMechanic & Photoshop CS5, the 4GB RAM limit and the viewing angle on the screen would keep me in the MBP camp.

    For taking notes on, using MS Office, surfing the web, email, casual photography via iPhoto or even tinkering with GarageBand, it would be pretty perfect. Probably be good for lightweight programming duty too, but the RAM limit would constrain you in doing certain things.

    Other things to consider are:
    • Will you always have WiFi available or do you need wired ethernet (dorm room)?
    • You are limited to USB2 for external drives for Time Machine, etc. Is that going to be fast enough for you?
    • While you won't need it often, you will likely need a DVD drive sooner or later - more money for a portable USB one unless you have another Mac that you can share the DVD drive from.
  7. Patriot24 macrumors 68030


    Dec 29, 2010
    I would have given my left leg for an MBA back when I was in college. The portability alone would've been killer for me (I rode my bike about 4-5 miles each way from my apartment to campus).

    If you can pull it off without risking financial security, there probably isn't a better machine for your purposes IMO.
  8. 3dflyboy1 macrumors 6502

    Jun 27, 2011
    California, USA
    All eyes will be on you when you start up a shiny MBA too. :D

    Yes, it's a good invesment.
  9. minnus macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2011


    Anyways - the SSD is really the main component nowadays that give the impression of speed. If you're on budget, consider just an SSD upgrade for your current laptop.

    There are also alternatives (despite what people on this forum will tell you). Depending on your needs, you may not need to buy a 1.3k machine that functions like a 500 non-apple equivalent. Sure, this 500 might be 1 LB heavier, but 1LB vs 800$ in price difference...hmmm. I am not as limited in budget, and thus, I actually have the Air, as well as a very good Air alternative that cost me $500.
  10. 3dflyboy1 macrumors 6502

    Jun 27, 2011
    California, USA
    For an air alternative, how 'bout a lenovo x120e? A brand new one with a 320GB 7200rpm HDD, 4GB RAM (upgradable to 8!) and a dual core AMD E-350 is about $452 with free shipping...or cheaper on ebay. ;)

    guess what I'm typing on. :D
  11. Michal11 macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2011
    if you have good eyes than yes if not you are going to have an eye strain from high resolution.
  12. Gregintosh macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2008
    If you gave your left leg, you wouldn't be able to ride the bike. :( jk

    But kidding aside, the Air is a good investment but you should create a plan for how you will pay for it. Along with your car sale money, I suspect you will have extra savings on gas, maintenance, and insurance.

    That's money you will save on top of the couple of grand you will get for the car, which means your financial situation may be a bit better than you expected (if you didn't take those things into account before, it will be a welcome surprise to see extra money on your account that normally would have gone to those things).

    I would recommend the base 13 inch air. Its big enough and powerful enough to be your only machine. 128GB is also plenty of space for most users.

    You will not gain much resale value by upgrading to higher specs, so only get those if YOU plan on taking advantage of them.

    I think 256GB SSD is a bit overkill for the premium you have to pay. You're better off getting a 1TB external portable hard drive for media for around $100 (or less) than pay $300 more for the higher capacity SSD.

    Heck, if you sell your old laptop for a hundred bucks or so that could pay for your external HD right there.
  13. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    The MBA is a good investment for a college student. The reduced weight will be very helpful when carrying all the books around campus along with a portable machine. 128GB SSD is good enough for college. Now you'll just have to decide which one to get, the 11" or 13".
  14. iJon macrumors 604


    Feb 7, 2002
    I just bought a 11" MBA and I've never enjoyed a laptop so much and I've owned alot of Macs. It's perfect in every way. I only have one piece of software that could use a little bit more screen real estate but that's it.

    Granted I have a big Mac Pro that I use more than anything but still doesn't make the MBA any different.
  15. dzigg macrumors member

    Feb 20, 2007
    I know 'experience' is a hated-buzz word, but that word sums up my feeling towards using the MBA.. The lightness, the power, the SSD speed, the battery life, the trackpad, build quality, etc.. all of it makes a pleasurable experience.
  16. hina2526 macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2011
    Im graduating from High School this year and im wondering if i should buy a Macbook air for taking notes.
  17. Kafka macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2011
    Eyes strain does not necessarily come from having poor vision.

    I've done some research since the MBA 13" didn't feel right at all to my eyes, and I read about all kinds of different situations: some people get eye strain from glossy screens, some from the LED technology, some like you said from small text because of higher resolutions combined with poor eyesight, etc...
    I don't know what my problem was but I know that screen didn't feel right. I'm much better with my MBP 13", and it's probably not an eyesight thing since I use my glasses when I need to.
  18. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Refurbished units usually are 15% less than the retail price on Apple's website. So the 13" 128GB unit would likely sell for $1105 plus tax when it is available. I wouldn't be surprised to see some refurbished units make it to Apple's website by next month (the October 2010 version made it to the refurb store the day after Christmas), but supplies will likely be tight until it has been out longer.
  19. ryan.apham macrumors member

    May 6, 2011
    Go with the 128 GB SSD one if you are tight on budget. Save your $300 to buy an external HD, it will be a lot better than buying a 256 SSD MBA alone.

    If you want to use it as your primary computer, the 13" model is surely a must. 7 hour of battery, larger screen and better internal speakers.

    As to whether the MBA is suitable for a college student - why not, except from the fact that it is more expensive than portable laptops from other brands. The design is beautiful, the battery life is wonderful, and it is very light.
  20. dman2011 macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2011
    im also debating whether to buy an air or a pro i can afford both but still money saved is money earned.

    i am really only looking at getting a macbook as something to use on the go and to surf the net and play the odd game on
    ( i use my pc to run most games on high) so the odd game i do play wont be anything special just things to pass the time or when i am lazy in bed i just want to know if the air will be able to cope with those things? considering i can get the best air for about $300 less then the pro.
    and unless the pro justifies the $300 for how little i plan to use it i will get it but i just need some opinions.

    a freind of mine has an air and it runs WoW flawlessly
  21. LordVic macrumors 601

    Sep 7, 2011
    I don't know if the Air is the right one for you. only you can really judge that.

    Performance wise, it's an i5. you know what you're getting. and thats basically a midrange performance CPU. your typical "office" performance, which is pretty good for such a small device.

    from my experience, when i was a university student. The smaller laptops are a godsend.

    I started uni using a big, 15.4" behemoth. 7lbs. 2 core AMD CPU. monstrously big power brick. It wasn't loud, and it was a great machin while it worked, but it doesn't fit the "university" life very well.

    University lecture halls tend to have ridiculously small desk spaces. If you're in a typical one, most only have a fold out 1/2 table tray. My 15.4" was only 1/2 supported on it, and the other on my knees. I had even dropped it during lectures a few times (which might have led to it's demise).

    You're going to be lugging aruond textbooks. Lots of them. 20-30lbs of them. Throw in a large notebook into your backpack, and pretty soon you start grumbling your back is sore. A nice lightweight notebook is nice.

    Library work: you're going to spend an exorbitant amount of time in the uni's library. researching, and plugging away with materials you can't take out. Sometimes, if you're stuck sharing a tabletop with others, you dont have a lot of room for a big laptop, especially if everyone else insists on using their behemoths on the table too. A nice small out of the way laptop saves desktop space, since you're going to have dozens of papers and texts open.

    they're easy to move with. I know i didnt like getting up without my laptop. and frequently having to get up to get new books, have a smoke, use the washroom in mammoth 10 hour study sessions, it was nice to have a small laptop that i could close the lid of, and just pick up and walk with, instead of leaving it on the desk.

    Is the Air the right one for you? thats only what you can decide, But I can't stress enough the bonus of having a small laptop for school.
  22. dman2011 macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2011
    i think i might wait until the asus ux series is released in the next month or 2 before i make my decision im hearing great things about the ux31 model
  23. Lara F macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2005
    Montreal, Quebec
    I have a similarly spec'd Vaio and agree a Fusion laptop is a reasonable budget alternative. Is it *as* thin/light as an Air, no - but still extremely portable and small. And you get all the ports that aren't to be found on the 11" MBA. At half the price it's pretty decent value IMO. The real sacrifices are speed (though I'm not convinced SSD is worth going down from 500 to 64GB in the base MBA) and the trackpad.
  24. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011

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