Upgrade 2011 MBAir 11" or get new Mac?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ozone, May 21, 2018.

  1. ozone macrumors 6502

    ozone

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #1
    I have a mid-2011 MBAir 11". 4 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 1.8GHz i7. Loved it and used it a lot, but a few years ago, the battery was dismal, so I purchased a replacement battery from iFixit. I noticed the battery seemed a bit dusty and after I installed it, I was quite disappointed. I thought I would back close to my 5 or 6 hour run time, but it only lasts about 1.5 hours (maybe 2 hours) before the battery is depleted. I suspect I got an original battery that might have been sitting around for several years...

    So, for the last few years when I travel, I've been managing with either an older 13" MBPro (pre-USB-C) or else one of the newer 15" MBPro if lightweighting isn't a concern. However, I have a longer overseas conference coming up, and weight/bulk is going to be at a premium. I'd like to be able to do some serious work if needed (manuscript writing, editing documents, etc.) and backing up and even light editing for photos I'll be taking in-between conference activities (I'm a pretty serious photographer as well). My options are:

    1. Try to do everything with my 12.9 iPadPro. I will probably bring this along anyways for note taking, etc. Not sure if I can do everything I need with just it however. I prefer a notebook to do actual work (editing documents, etc.).
    2. Get a refurbished 12" MacBook. How would the new generation MB compare performance wise to my old MBAir? A lot faster, slower, about the same? I like the new 12" form factor, but I'm not keen on the new keyboards (I don't really like the one on my 15" MBPro), and the fact that there is only ONE port on the MB kind of terrifies me (hello Apple? redundancy?). And I'm rather tired of the whole dongle workaround...
    3. Get another battery from MacSales for my MBAir, put that in, and see how the power performance is. Given that a replacement battery is less than $100 US, this seems to be a low risk option, but I'm cognizant that I'm putting money into a 7 year old machine now. NOTE: I notice that the fan seems to kick on my MBAir sometimes, and unnecessarily so: I'm not sure if it needs some sort of calibration, etc. I tried calibrating it before but I don't think it made much difference.
    I'd even consider other options (such as getting a super small, underpowered Windows notebook or UMPC to handle things like file backups and transfers and access to a full OS, while getting by with my iPad Pro).

    Any advice appreciated.
     
  2. ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
  3. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2015
    #3
    I'm in a similar bind. My Air (also 11", a couple years newer) still has decent battery life. I have a "brand new" Newer Tech battery sitting in my closet that I haven't installed yet and am now wondering if I'm going to have a similar result to yours. CoconutBattery is telling me I've got 424 cycles and am at 85% of original capacity.

    A couple years ago I got seduced by the thinness of the 12" Retina MacBook and thought I'd replace my trusty Air with it. Boy, was I mistaken. The keyboard was truly terrible, and as a writer that made it an immediate non-starter for me. I gave it a full month and while I "got used to it", I never stopped hating it. The port situation was abysmal, the loss of Magsafe bothered me even more than I thought it would. The battery life was not great. It was slow. Basically, it had exactly two things going for it: a beautiful screen and a thin profile. I got rid of it and never looked back.

    The second-generation butterfly switch is a bit better to type on in my experience, but still feels pretty crappy. And we all know about the serious reliability issues that have come up.

    I'm not a huge fan of iOS and a touch-based interface for getting much work actually done, but I will admit that iPad Pro is a beautiful piece of hardware. If you could pair it with a decent bluetooth keyboard, could be nice to write on.

    I'm good with my Air for now since the battery is OK, but if I was in your shoes? I think I'd try to pick up a good, used MacBook Pro from before they hosed the keyboard. Some of those are still actively being serviced by Apple, so you'd have OEM battery replacement options if you need them. But then you're dealing with more weight and thickness.
     
  4. ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #4
    Thanks for your thoughts. I was in Best Buy today, furiously typing away on the MacBook on display. I find it okay - interestingly, a bit better than the now long-in-the-tooth 13" MBAir beside it. Maybe because the keyboard on the MBAir might have been beaten to death by now...

    The one port bothers me - I can just see something malfunctioning - or getting the bloody cord yanked. And then what do you do? I did pick up the Griffen breakway USB-C cord, but it's not the same. I'm an engineer, and nothing screams trouble than the lack of redundancy or the increased complexity of shoving everything into one port. Well, I suppose I could live with it...

    But I'm typing this on a PixelBook. I had no intentions of getting a Chromebook, but a few months back, I kept getting ads for it, and so I figured I might as well check it out. If it wasn't for the fact that I was so embedded in Apple, it's not a bad option. The keyboard is very nice, it has TWO USB-C ports, and the design is pretty spiffy - and it has an active tablet built in to boot! Other than you have to sell your soul to Google (I'm halfway there anyways)... it's not bad at all.

    I'm still trying to figure out if the PixelBook works in all situations - hence my back and forth on whether or not an MBAir will do what I need - but I really think the PixelBook represents what the next generation of Apple MBs should have been (at least hardware wise).
     
  5. sracer macrumors 604

    sracer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    #5
    I DON'T recommend taking the 12.9 Pro. I've done it, and it wasn't an enjoyable experience.

    I recommend finding the newest 11" MBA (2016 model) you can find from a reputable seller with the features you want. It'll be better (IMO) than any non-Air macbook of comparable age and/or price.
     
  6. robvas macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #6
    The 2013+ 11" was so much better with battery life. I never got much more than 4 hours with my 2010 or 2011 but my 2013 would last 7 easy.
     
  7. ozone, May 22, 2018
    Last edited: May 22, 2018

    ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #7
    As a test, I tried to edit and compose a letter on my iPadPro that required my signature and letterhead this morning. It was... doable. But yeah... not overly enjoyable.
     
  8. robvas macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #8
    The 12" MacBook is great. The screen is amazing. However the one port will limit you. You can't plug into power or a screen, AND a USB 3.0 device at the same time. Very annoying!
     
  9. someoldguy macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Location:
    usa
    #9
    Think I'd go for the NewerTech battery . I put one in my 2011 13" MBA a while back and so far it's working well , got the old battery life back . It's your cheapest way out save for just taking the tablet , plus you end up with a machine you're familiar with , so no surprises as you sometimes get with new gear . Might be worth seeing if the fans/heatsink have schmutz disturbing airflow while you have it open . iFixit probably has a teardown you could check out to see if that's something you want to mess with .
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #10
    IMO a 2011 MBA is just too old to sink any money into. I used to have a 2011 MBA and am still using a 2013 maxxed out 11" MBA now. But the battery life was always pretty bad on the 2011 MBA (although 6 hours seemed amazing, coming from a 2008 15" MBP back then :) ). But the 2011 MBA also only has slow USB 2.0 and, even worse, 4gb was the maximum RAM you could purchase in 2011.

    For me, I don't think the iPad would be a good replacement since I use a variety of peripherals and Mac software. It might be fine for basic stuff like e-mail and the web however. I'll admit, I was looking at an iPad Mini in a rugged keyboard case and thought it was pretty cool for travel. Not what I would want to use all-around though, and frankly, I just don't like iOS.

    I'm approaching a decision on my 2013 11" MBA myself. Battery still gets a reasonable amount of run time - maybe 5 hours (was more like 10 hours when it was new). But the trackpad has gotten so bad that I only use it with a mouse. Have not been doing any travel recently, so it's mainly used with a mouse and external screen at home and that's fine.

    It's a tougher call with my 2013 MBA however, since it's the i7/8gb/512gb model, which is almost as fast as the current MBA. But my sense is that I will replace it with some kind of new laptop - either a MacBook or MacBook Pro. Hopefully the keyboards will be updated again on these, in light of all the lawsuits and complaints.
     
  11. ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #11
    Well.. I guess you're kind of confirming what the logical side of me keeping repeating... why are you putting money into something that is on it's way out. Admittedly, USB 3.0 would be nice, but my 2011 MBAir doesn't have it, and the keyboard is getting mushy, and the screen isn't quite what it used to be.

    That kind of leaves me in no-man's land because like many others, I rather not spring for the current MB to serve me on only one or two trips if Apple is readying a new product for later this year.

    Since my last reply, I've managed to get more functionality out of my PixelBook. It's not in the Apple ecosystem, but I think it might just hold its own well enough for this upcoming trip.

    ... maybe...
     
  12. sracer macrumors 604

    sracer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    #12
    A PixelBook?! I missed that part of your post. I'm a big fan of chromebooks. For me they fit in between the functionality of the iPad and a notebook with a traditional desktop OS. What I found interesting in my experiences with chromebooks is that, while trying to get my 12.9 iPad Pro to do more notebook-y things, I had to "think different" (getting to the root of WHAT I need to get done and not HOW to do it). Using that same approach with chromebooks made it easier for me to get closer to what I needed/wanted to get done than on the iPP.

    But that kind of experimentation and investigation takes time. If you don't think chromebooks are going to be a primary/secondary device for you, it might not be worth the effort to do that.

    I rely heavily on the iWork suite of apps (as well as MS Office). Using the web version of iCloud and iWork, I was able to do everything on a chromebook that I could do on my iPad. The added benefit is the web version of MS Office on chromebooks is far and away much better than the iOS (or Android) versions.

    There are two reasons that prevent me from ditching all of my mobile devices and switching to a chromebook + iMac... first is the lack of integration between the Android subsystem and ChromeOS. The file systems are sandboxed from each other with only the "download" folder commonly accessible. (Google has been slowly addressing those issues). The 2nd reason is that a key piece of software that I rely on (Bible software) is not available for ChromeOS and only partially available for Android.
     
  13. Suzatlarge, May 23, 2018
    Last edited: May 23, 2018

    Suzatlarge macrumors member

    Suzatlarge

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    #13
    So am I. I bought one of the first ever Chromebooks (Samsung, I think it was), really loved the battery life, and the keyboard which was just like the Macbook Air. I used the Chromebook a lot at home. I also took it out around town and on trips often, instead of the late 2013 11" MBA I'm typing this on. The Chromebook was just as light, and TBH it seemed more "expendable." If it got lost/damaged/stolen, it was less expensive to replace. Last year I finally gave it away, to someone who really needed it . It was mostly sitting on a shelf around here. I'd finally quit worrying and started taking the MBA around with me, and now I'm doing more Photoshop on the road.

    ^^Good to know.

    I'll get all the life I can out of this little jewel of an MBA, and see where Apple goes with its product lines. If there's nothing as nice as the Airs when it's time to shop, I could go Chromebook again for a portable.
     
  14. sracer, May 23, 2018
    Last edited: May 23, 2018

    sracer macrumors 604

    sracer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    #14
    Ha! That's what I did with my Acer R11 chromebook (gave it away to someone who really needed it). I originally bought it to test the waters of a 2-in-1 chromebook before deciding whether or not to commit to the more expensive Samsung Chromebook Plus. The current state of Android/ChromeOS caused me to hold off for this next cycle.
     

Share This Page