Should I get a MBA 11 or 13 inch?

kalel1993

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 7, 2014
1
0
getting a mac for the first time, and have seen both. my main concern is that 11 inch might be too small for me, but when i saw it, it seemed fine, just after working a few hours on it might strain my eyes. i'm mainly going to be using it to watch movies, microsoft word, and surfing. also a little xcode (will screen get too crowded with 11 inch?). i won't have any other laptop/computer so this is going to be my main computer, and i'm a college student, but barely use laptop/computer for schoolwork, just mainly entertainment purposes, and a little programming. what do you think would be the best, 11 or 13 inch?

and how is the volume/sound quality on macbook air? like is it decent enough to watch movies?

also, how does the 11 inch work with websites and netflix due to it's non conventional resolution, like does everything look normal? thanks
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
1,365
534
Houston, Texas
getting a mac for the first time, and have seen both. my main concern is that 11 inch might be too small for me, but when i saw it, it seemed fine, just after working a few hours on it might strain my eyes. i'm mainly going to be using it to watch movies, microsoft word, and surfing. also a little xcode (will screen get too crowded with 11 inch?). i won't have any other laptop/computer so this is going to be my main computer, and i'm a college student, but barely use laptop/computer for schoolwork, just mainly entertainment purposes, and a little programming. what do you think would be the best, 11 or 13 inch?

and how is the volume/sound quality on macbook air? like is it decent enough to watch movies?

also, how does the 11 inch work with websites and netflix due to it's non conventional resolution, like does everything look normal? thanks
I have used both models and it really comes down to preference. I really like the portability of the 11 inch model. This is not to say the 13 isn't portable, but the 13 actually has a bigger footprint than the 13 inch retina Macbook Pro.

If your going to be watching a lot of videos and movies, the 16x9 aspect on the 11 inch is actually better in my opinion. If you did not feel cramped in playing around with the 11, you should be fine with it.

The 13 would give you longer battery life and an SD card slot. If those thing are important to you, it may be a better choice.

The 11 vs 13 is an age old question and it really depends on the user as to which is better for their needs.
 

Ronnoco

macrumors 68030
Oct 16, 2007
2,568
521
United States of America
Is portability a primary concern for you?
This is the question...IMO, the 11" is all about portability. I've had both and if you are carrying your computer everyday or traveling on airplanes or trains with limited room between rows, the 11" is the perfect solution. If the MBA will be your main computer and will be used between home and/or the office most of the time, the 13" is the better solution.
 

flowrider

macrumors 603
Nov 23, 2012
5,540
1,965
This subject has been talked to death many times on this forum. Answer is:

If the MBA is your only Macintosh than maybe the 13" is the right choice.

If the MBA is an adjunct to your main Macintosh and you use the machine as 2nd Mac for portability than the 11" should be your choice.

For me, my main machine is a souped Mac Pro and I only use the MBA when I travel or sometimes on the couch at home. So, for me, the 11" was the right choice.

Different strokes for different folks. That's why they make the MBA in two screen sizes. One size doe not fit all here.

Lou
 

HarryWarden

macrumors 6502a
Oct 27, 2012
589
32
People use and love the even smaller iPad (typing this on mine currently) so I don't see why there is this concern about the 11 being too small. I have the 11 and I like it; the 16:9 aspect ratio actually makes it better for movies than the 13, IMO. My previous Air was the 2012 13-inch and I prefer the smaller one. After using the 11, going back to the 13 makes it seem huge almost.
 

Serban

Suspended
Jan 8, 2013
5,160
920
Maybe he should wait if he doesn't need one now, 3 more month,maybe the 12" rumours will come to life
 

ZombiePete

macrumors 68020
Aug 6, 2008
2,221
934
San Antonio, TX
I carry my 13" MBA around with me all the time; I use it for school (online) and lots of other stuff. It's not my "main" Mac but I do use it quite often when I'm at work and stuff and I just prefer the bigger screen. The 11" may be more portable, but I wouldn't disregard the 13" as a portable computer if you have a backpack or bag you can slide it into; the beefier battery helps a lot in this regard as well.
 

Sythas

macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2009
625
63
Québec, Canada
If reading an email or watching a video on a ipod touch or any phone is not too small, then both would be good.
If you think your eyes would be too strain, don't forget that it's really easy to plug it on a tv or a computer screen...
 

Dweez

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2011
1,246
9
Down by the river
Another opinion here, and mine is that the 11 is too small. I spent time at an Apple store playing with both the 11 and the 13, and at the end of my side by side testing I purchased the 13 because the 11 just felt too small.

I suggest you also spend some time with both machines side by side to help make your decision.
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
8,355
8,712
Prescott Valley, AZ
Although it ultimately comes down to personal preference, I think there is value in those who own an MBA (11" or 13") sharing their expectations and experiences.

I have a 128GB 11" MBA. It isn't my main computer (I have an iMac) so the MBA is an extension to that. The free version of TeamViewer remote access software makes that connection even more functional.

My daughter bought a 13" MBA at the same time as I bought mine. Although there is "only" a 2" difference in screen size, the 13" is significantly larger.

I have found the 11" is fine for working in one app at a time. ie. not having windows from different apps working side-by-side. There's simply not enough screen real estate for more, IMO. That 13" doesn't suffer from that limitation.

I have supplemented the internal 128GB storage with a 64GB Sandisk nano usb drive. I call it a "nub" that sticks out a little over 1/8" from the USB port. Storage isn't a problem for me... my movies weigh in at around 1-1.3GB (DVDs ripped using Handbrake) and they're stored on the USB.

Since the OP wants to dabble in coding, I'll say that not even the 13" will be a sufficient screen size for that.

I'd recommend considering purchasing the entry level MBA (11" / 128GB) and with the money saved over buying a more expensive model, purchase an external monitor, dock/hub, USB harddrive. This combo will be more expensive than simply buying a larger more expensive MBA, but in the end you'll have a setup that offers more portability on the road AND more flexibility at the desk.
 

yosemit

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2013
167
0
Do you plan to purchase an external display (plus external mouse and keyboard) at home? If so, 11" is perfect. I have a 11" i7/8GB/256GB as my main computer and my travel computer. It's a powerful little machine.

You can carry 11" all day around campus without power adapter. It's lighter than a textbook. BTW 11" and 13" have identical performance.

If without an external display and as a main computer, then 13" is definitely the right choice, IMHO.

i won't have any other laptop/computer so this is going to be my main computer, and i'm a college student, but barely use laptop/computer for schoolwork, just mainly entertainment purposes, and a little programming. what do you think would be the best, 11 or 13 inch?
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
4,195
1,875
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I went from a 2011 13" to a 2013 11" MBA. Best thing I ever did. It's my primary computer; I use a big screen and extended keyboard at home when needed. But it's great for watching movies around the house all by itself. And the 11" is SO much better for travel.

I have the i7/8gb/512gb model which is powerful enough for my needs, including Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro.

But really… as you can see, there's no consensus as to what the "best" one is. You have figure that out for yourself.
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
1,365
534
Houston, Texas
OP if you are in the states you will get at least 14 days to make sure it's the one you want. I would start with the 11 inch and if it feels too small, exchange for the 13. Just a suggestion...
 

nixiemaiden

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2010
877
0
If you have the option to wait a bit, I would. I have a feeling that they are going to be giving the MBA a retina screen and that would come in really handy while coding. Apple has turned me into such a snob when it comes to screen resolution.

If not, I would probably opt for the 13 inch. Better battery life, more space to work in xcode or eclipse, sd card slot...

I mean sure you can always hook up an 11 inch to an external monitor but sometimes it isn't so convenient and you are stuck on the laptop screen for an extended amount of time.

I think 13 inches is a good compromise between portability and screen real estate.
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
1,365
534
Houston, Texas
If you have the option to wait a bit, I would. I have a feeling that they are going to be giving the MBA a retina screen
I am sure they will be giving the MBA a retina display but the chances of seeing it before at least Q2 2015 are slim now that Broadwell appears to be delayed even further. They have already updated the MBA with the Haswell refresh in late April, so that may be it for 2014.
 

octothorpe8

macrumors 6502
Feb 27, 2014
424
0
11 just seems too small
I've had two consecutive 11" models in a row. Even though it's not retina density, it's still 135dpi, so you get quite a bit of "space" in that small display.

It does *seem* a little small when you first start using it, but I found I adjusted quickly and never really feel hard-pressed for real-estate. It's actually pretty roomy horizontally, big enough to put two text docs side by side legibly if you need to.

And as others have said, it's pretty great to have a full-powered laptop in approximately the same physical space as an iPad.
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
8,355
8,712
Prescott Valley, AZ
If you have the option to wait a bit, I would. I have a feeling that they are going to be giving the MBA a retina screen and that would come in really handy while coding. Apple has turned me into such a snob when it comes to screen resolution.

If not, I would probably opt for the 13 inch. Better battery life, more space to work in xcode or eclipse, sd card slot...

I mean sure you can always hook up an 11 inch to an external monitor but sometimes it isn't so convenient and you are stuck on the laptop screen for an extended amount of time.

I think 13 inches is a good compromise between portability and screen real estate.
Eclipse on a 13" screen is brutal. I would not recommend it.
 

Christian 5G

macrumors 6502a
Jun 16, 2010
906
533
Orange County, CA
I am also a college student going to college.

I was the same as you in the middle to choose which one I wanted 11 inch or 13.

I chose 11 and I would say this is the greatest decision I ever made. This laptop is so thin and for me the screen is good but your eyes will take few days to adjust. The screen for watching movies and staff is just like a cinema just perfectly fits the screen. Also the color warmer on little air then on big one.

I don't know its your choice but thats just me and my opinion. Hope it helps.