Thinking to buy the 11.6'', is it enough for my needs?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by cili0, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. cili0 macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2010
    HI all,

    i'm seriously thinking of buying a MBA 11.6''. My concerns are about the choose of the MBA as a viable option for my daily workflow. I was thinking about the MBA 1.4Ghz with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of hard-disk. I searched with MRoogle but i can't find an other user with my same needs.

    1. I need to use word 2011 a lot! I daily manage documents up to 100/120 pages, with a lot of comments, images, equations, several sections, tables and so on and even on my desktop hackintosh word is quite slow and sometimes it's really a pain to use with respect to the windows counterpart. Does the limited amount of power (1.4Ghz) impact on the actual usability of Word in the way i need to use it?

    2. I need to use MATLAB for coding. In particular for image processing (frequency and spatial filtering). I already used it on my hackintoshed netbook and the user experience was not so bad. Has someone tried to use it on the MBA?

    3. I need to code in Eclipse/Java. In particular servlets/EJB/JSTL. So apart of Eclipse i need to run tomcat. The resolution of the 11.6 it's quite high (one of my university collegues has a VAIO with the same resolution on a i3 15''). This is the most important task, because in the next semester i'll start to work on my master thesis in computer engineering.

    4. I need to use virtual machine. In particular I need to use at least once a week Windows XP for my job. My usage of Windows it's limited to light office tasks (in particular Office 2003). I can't use Office for mac, it's mandatory to work inside Windows.

    5. I need to use XCode both for my C/C++ projects and also because I want to start to learn iToys programming.

    6. I need to use google docs: in particular the writer. I need to visualize both the sheet,the comment column and the chat window without scrolling horizontally. Does the MBA have enough resolution?

    7. Consumer use: Light browsing, Youtube, iTunes, Adium, iCal, iPhoto and so on. But i bet it wouldn't be a problem (otherwise why people buy it :p)

    I DON'T play videogames, but i demand the flash video to be without any framedrop (both from youtube and megavideo).
    In the end do you think the MBA will meet my requirements?

    thanks for the help and sorry for the long post.
  2. neteng101 macrumors 65816

    Jan 7, 2009
    I'd go with the 13.3" 1.86 with 4GB and 128GB SSD as the minimum.

    Screen real estate will be useful from the higher resolution and less eye strain. Plus you'll likely need the storage space given all your different uses.
  3. Mhkobe macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2009
    I use Xcode and Cinema 4D, and the 2.13Ghz 4Gb RAM one works really well, I would not go without 4Gb of RAM, and if you are saving massive word documents, and images, I would go for a fully loaded 13" (2.13Ghz, 4Gb RAM).
  4. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    I'm finding the 11.6/1.6/4/128 surprisingly capable. I do most of the things you mention and feel this machine has a reasonable amount of headroom for the tasks. It really surprised me.

    But I'd go for the 1.6/128 if I were you - the 64gb doesent offer much capacity left for things like virtual machines
  5. King t. macrumors regular

    Oct 31, 2007
    I'd said wait for the next MBA it'll have a stronger processor the 11 inch is just to weak... I think... If u want portable and power get the maxed 13 inch air. Other than that I can only recommend getting a MBP...
  6. Durious macrumors 6502

    Apr 11, 2008
    Calgary, Alberta
    11.6/1.6/4/128 will run most of that fine except I don't have any idea on item #3. To further elaborate to the office question I utilize in "Unity" mode in VMware office 2010 products in a Win 7 environment with perfect performance, I also do outside of the normal suite "visio" 2010 and still experience no performance issues.
  7. iNotion macrumors regular


    Jun 5, 2008
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8B117 Safari/6531.22.7)

    Yesterday, I was at the apple store, comparing both 13" with the 11". Overall feel, I like the compact 11" MBA, remind me a of the 12" PowerBook days. But for speed And the usability, I have to choose the 13" over the 11".
  8. cili0 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2010
    Buying the 13'' means buy a "real notebook", i mean:
    • if you buy the 11.6'' you can say "wow, a 11.6 notebook with a C2D, alluminum unibody, glass trackpad, etc, etc.. for 1000€".
    • On the other and with the 13'' it's like: "uhmm…a 13'' notebook with just a C2D, 4GB ram, etc…for 1600€, i'll take a MBP i5".

    I have a netbook with a mechanical 160GB HD. I use OSX with a 60GB partition and Windows 7 With 60GB partition. In W7 i still have 45GB free, and in OSX i have 15GB free, but i have a data partition of ~40GB with the iTunes Library and iPhoto Library.

    My current VM with Windows XP is 10GB. So i admit i may need more space.

    So virtualization problem solved :)

    I prepared a Stress.dmg with Eclipse (+1 project), Handbrake, some heavy word docs and keynote presentations. In the next days i'll try it on a MBA at media market or in a apple retail shop.
    thanks to all for the response!

  9. michael83 macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2010

    if that can help you, I purchased 2 days ago that very macbook air, with the 4gb ram upgrade. It is a good performer in every day routine, that includes MS-Office work. You will definitely feel the 1.4 Ghz processor speed when working on matlab, as a quick example, I had a 2.53Ghz Macbook pro and performing a Monte Carlo simulation of 100 000 trajectories with it was taking it around 3 seconds! My new macbook air did it today in 137 secs! It will do the job for you, but not at the same speed indeed. Otherwise, while it was "matlab busy" in those 2 minutes, performing at the same time other tasks didn't seem slower at all.

    You may want to go with the 2.13 Ghz MBA that I heard is similar in performance to the macbook pro.


  10. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I love the small formfactor of the 11" MBA, but when I visit my local apple store to compare them. I find the screen at times to be too small for my needs.

    For instance, one of my requirements is to use the laptop for connecting to my office workstation. I use either vnc or gotomypc. I tried that at the apple store (gotomypc) and found the text display too small to be used without really straining my eyes.

    I move over to the 13" MBA and its much better. At that point, I have to question the purchase the MBA because I can get (both stock) the 13" MBP for less $$ and I get more more computer, literally in size/weight but also capability.

    I'm waiting now to see what black friday will bring at my local microcenter and/or waiting to till 2011, for an update.
  11. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    Which is the point really. The MacBook Air is for people who value the portability. I know for myself, dragging along my alu MacBook was getting to be a pain on the motorcycle, with it and my gym (so can the Gym comments, I do workout) clothes (including my sneakers) in my backpack.

    The new Air makes the backpack much lighter and I didn't really sacrifice any performance for it, plus I gained the new higher res screen (which will probably show up on the MBP 13" refresh), an SSD and upgraded the GPU.
  12. maflynn, Nov 15, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010

    maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Agreed, I'm using a 10" netbook right now and love the small form factor, but for me, I'm finding the resolution too small to be effective. As I posted, I also started to find the screen resolution too small for some specific needs that I have

    The only thing I'm concerned about the 13" MBA aside from the slightly higher price (vs. the 13" MBP) is that I've been reading it does not have as wide of a gamut. One of my needs is to hold photos that I take while traveling. While it won't be used to do any final processing, I do want an accurate representation of what the pictures look like.

    I'm not sure what the 13" MBP refresh have, hopefully sandy bridge but to be honest, I'm not so sure. Apple seems intent on not using intel's integrated GPUs and nvidia is blocked due to any lack of cross licensing (and they're suing each other). So that brings me to the point do I wait or do I get one now. I'm waiting for a good deal, AND whether I need to use one in 2010. With only 1.5 months left in 2010, and one trip planned next month, I may be able to defer the purchase.
  13. iRun26.2 macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2010
    Something about your test does not add up. I plan to use MATLAB on my 11.6" 'ultimate' and if it was really that slow... I think I'd return it.

    Everything seems to be 'snappy' on mine. I don't see why MATLAB would be any different.
  14. michael83 macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2010
    Because using Matlab or coding C++ is way more demanding on a processor than surfing the web, watching movies or using Ms-office. That is probably why so far you didn't notice and difference. Wait and see!

  15. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    Get the 13.3" for the bigger screen. Unless you are doing something extremely intensive, the internal hardware will be fine, but for coding you generally want the highest resolution possible, and the 13" display not only has more real estate, it is also easier to read.
  16. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    Something doesn't make sense. While I would expect the MBP to smoke the 11", you've got over 45x faster! That just doesn't make sense unless I'm missing something.
  17. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    He probably screwed somehting up, BUT, this result is possible if you are running out of ram. If you have 8GB on the MBP and 2GB on the MBA, it can result in a huge performance difference like this.
  18. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    I think it comes close enough. Not for editing, not for processing, but for making sure the exposure and sharpness and all that is correct, it should be just fine. You can't change color gamut anyway, so there is nothing that the MBP will show you that the MBA won't. Also, it is brighter and as a higher contrast ratio with less glare, so if you are in the field, it is actually probably better.
  19. loslosbaby, Nov 15, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010

    loslosbaby macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2008
    This usage pattern is surprisingly like mine, so I'll comment on each piece as I go, but, I bought a 13" ultimate and that's the perspective I'll comment from:

    I don't use word or any part of office 2011, but I'm using the iWork a lot, and its amazing...single bounce or half a bounce and its up. This part not too comparable.

    I use Google Earth a lot, with complex overlays (some image, some stats) and this is comparable. With 4Gig and firefox (15 tabs) and e-mail, itunes, textmate, its still just going along, very snappy!

    I use Eclipse daily, a lot, often, all the time. I don't have a Tomcat type configuration, but I have two in the same profile: 1) Android 2) Hibernate / Velocity / Resin and that's hyoooge. This is the full web developer pile of plug-ins. This works really well, snappy, quick compiles, no swapping. See below ***

    I use VMWare Fusion (latest). Its awesome but you are limited by RAM of course...swapping is quick but not magic, and eventually you'd kill your SSD anyways (swapping is the cheapest kind of writes you can avoid). I run word and office in windows as well as photoshop and while its not "magically" fast, its really responsive. NOTE: VMWare will eat your battery, so, its plug-in only.

    I am using XCode constantly, and not only that, I can use XCode and Eclipse at the ***SAME TIME without swapping! The secret: Turn Off Flash. I find that with Flash turned off (I used a plug-in so I can click to activate when I need it) my browser doesn't swell up and eat my memory. I can use Firefox/Safari at the same time now all day without restarting them!

    NO idea. Doesn't apply to me (I don't use gdocs--too flakey for me).

    Again, on the 13", its just amazing. This is the fastest, crispest, most responsive GUI user experience bar none that I've ever had.

    I watch movies on this all the time now...since its SSD I can carry it around and use it more "casually" than my MBP17 previously...and so, its turned into my own gigantic ipod :)

    I also played Day of Defeat for 20mins on 1280x rez and was getting 45-65 FPS on it, which is impressive given all other factors.

    Hope this is helpful! I find that its an awesome machine. I went to this from a pre-unibody 2.5GHz MBP17 and I find this machine to be a no-doubt hands-down faster machine, let alone more convenient to carry! Its the coolest computer I've ever owned. (Now: what I wouldn't give for one FW800 and backlit keyboard,...but its cool, since its a stepping stone to a whole new generation of macs that are like the Airs)

    One more thing: with my dev tools installed, no photoshop, 40Gb bootcamp, I have 105Gb left on the 256 (220)Gb SSD, if that's any help. This with XCode (one, I don't need the beta) and Eclipse as mentioned above, very cool!

  20. Dammit Cubs macrumors 68000

    Dammit Cubs

    Jul 31, 2007

    This coming from a fellow engineer. But if I had to choose, for some of your needs i think having the 13 inch will do wonders. I would seriously recommend the 13, just for the screen real estate, when i was in college running my projects, i was using a 1600 x 1200 screen so i had alot of space unless you are expecting to use an external monitor.

    If you go with the 11.6, you will need the ultimate. but compilation code can be done on any platform, its just the faster the computer, the faster the computation time.
  21. iRun26.2 macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2010
    But you still must consider the portability issue. The 11.6" unit takes up much less space and is noticeably lighter. It doesn't get talked about much but it also appears to generate a lot less heat. That is important if you truly use it on your lap.

    But I'm biased...I love the power of MATLAB in such a beautifully small little package! :)
  22. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    Yes, I was thinking it sounds like it was swapping but he said he had a 4GB MBA. In any case 45x is way too much for the CPU difference.
  23. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    The 11.6" doesn't generate less heat, it is just slower. You're still going to get the same amount of heat generated overall with either system, except the 11" will just take longer to do it.

    It certainly isn't a bad option to go with the 11, I just think the 13 is overall a better system.

    Also, I generally find that there is nowhere that I used to use my netbook that I now can't use my 13" air. If anything, I use it in more places because it is quite a bit more capable.

    The smaller 11" size is nice, but it doesn't actually make it significantly more portable. The 13" is light enough that you can just use it in all sorts of awkward positions where a 5 pound laptop would be painful or uncomfortable.
  24. michael83 macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2010

    You should run some matlab codes or the like (stuff that the guy said he would do like coding) on your imac and then on your macbook air and then come back to us with with results you have actually checked. As for asking me if I did a mistake.. I doubt it, I'm a PH.d in Mathematics and running basic codes won't confuse me.

  25. dmelgar macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005
    What makes you say it doesn't generate less heat?

    It has a slower processor specifically because it requires less power and therefore generates less heat. That's how it can have a much smaller capacity battery and still get excellent battery life.

    I disagree on portability as well. The size and weight difference makes is easier to carry around all the time. I keep my 11 on a kitchen counter where the 13 looks unwieldy. It's easy to open up the 11 on a whim, use it a little and put it back.

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