What is the best bang-for-the-buck 11" Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by weezin, May 27, 2018.

  1. weezin macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    #1
    My Dad wants an 11" air to use for a few years and I was trying to theorize which version would be the best bang-for-the-buck in terms of cost vs performance.

    It seems to me that the 2013 is the sweet spot assuming you buy one with 4gb and 128 or more storage. If I understand correctly, this model got the great increase in battery life due to the efficiencies with the processor and subsequent 11"s didn't get much faster, correct? That makes the 2013 worth the premium over the 2012 to me.

    Any thoughts here?
     
  2. Audit13 macrumors 68000

    Audit13

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    #2
    I highly recommend getting the 8 GB version as 4 GB of ram may be very limiting with future OS upgrades.

    A 256 GB SSD would be more future-proof too.

    If the battery is an original, it may be time for a replacement
     
  3. bodonnell202 macrumors 6502a

    bodonnell202

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    #3
    Yes, go 2013 or newer. You probably won’t notice much of a difference with either the 2014 or 2015 model.
     
  4. weezin thread starter macrumors member

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    #4
    Yes, good call on that. They are a little harder to find on the used market, but I'll look for that. 256gb is a good idea too, but less crucial for my Dad.

    That's what I thought, thanks! Were there any other updates to the 2014 and 2015 models that are worth noting?
     
  5. Falhófnir macrumors 65832

    Falhófnir

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    #5
    Hmm, if he wants to keep it a long time I’d probably recommend going for the 2015 model if you can simply because it will have the longest period of OS support going forward. Obviously don’t pay massively over the odds for it, but you could also get a 2015 refurbed from Apple, which I don’t think is available for older models. Something to think about...
     
  6. Audit13 macrumors 68000

    Audit13

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    #6
    There isn't a lot of difference between the 2013 and 2015 as both models share the same internal and external components. Biggest difference is the cpu.
     
  7. bodonnell202 macrumors 6502a

    bodonnell202

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    #7
    Not really on the 11" model. 2013 & 2014 both have 4th gen core processors, with the 2014 getting a 100 Mhz boost and that's it. The 2015 model (which is the last 11" Air at this point) has a 5th gen core processor, but it isn't much faster than the 4th gen. As far as I remember there wasn't any other changes to the 11" Air during that period. As far as RAM goes, 8 GB is a nice upgrade and will certainly make it more future proof, but will probably be a lot harder to find. 4 GB is still perfectly usable and may be enough for years yet if your Dad is only doing basic computing with it.
     
  8. Audit13 macrumors 68000

    Audit13

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    #8
    Opening two Safari tabs, iTunes, and mail already used up 2.75 GB on my 8 GB air. Opening more apps or tabs can use up the remaining ram fairly quickly which is why I think 8 GB is better. For the ssd, it can be upgraded later but not the ram.
     

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  9. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #9
    I have an 11" 2013 i7/8gb/512gb MBA and it's been great, still my primary Mac (although I have a 2012 quad core Mini Server that I use for audio/video editing). My MBA is starting to show its age now though, trackpad is almost dead. Battery life still surprisingly good (~5 hours), but much less than when new (~10 hours). But it's just starting to look like an old battle-worn computer.

    A couple years ago I would have said 2013 was the most bang for the buck. If you could find one with "low mileage" maybe it still would be. But a 5 year old laptop that has seen regular use may have its best days behind it. So I'd look for the newest one I could find if you plan to keep it for awhile.

    But you are right, 2013 was the year they really improved the battery life. 2012 was when they introduced USB 3.0, so I wouldn't go back any farther than that. And I agree - get 8gb RAM.
     
  10. Macdctr macrumors 6502

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    Nov 25, 2009
    #10
    @Boyd01 you can pick up a used (verified fully functional) trackpad for your 11 inch from powerbook medic for $27.75

    Here's the link: https://www.powerbookmedic.com/MacBook-Air-11-Trackpad-p-17773.html

    Then you can take a look at ifixit for the actual step-by-step repair guide to follow and if you need tools (I highly recommend getting them thru ifixit) you can get a set from here as well...

    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Air+11-Inch+Mid+2013+Trackpad+Replacement/17001

    The ifixit guide will also list tools required to do the repairs...

    Your laptop is a very nice laptop and worth keeping fully functional in my opinion. The 2013 - 2015 11 inch MBAs were awesome laptops, especially the fully spec'd out versions. :)
     
  11. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #11
    Thanks for the info. Eventually it will need replacing or fixing, for now it's fine to use with a mouse which I prefer anyway - I have always hated trackpads. My MBA will have its 5th birthday on July 1, that is longer than I've used any laptop as a primary computer. At some point I will want to move on to something else, but not sure when or what and there is no rush.
     
  12. Macdctr, May 28, 2018
    Last edited: May 30, 2018

    Macdctr macrumors 6502

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    #12
    That's funny you say this because from my point of view... I just got my 2012 11 inch MBA and I did not realize just how much I would love this footprint. I have a 2015 i7 8GB 512GB M.2 NVMe 13 inch which I love using when on travel but when at home I find myself going to my 11 inch MBA. I really love how small this laptop is but still having that full size keyboard... I think if I do anything, it will be an i7 logic board upgrade for this little laptop :)
     
  13. sracer macrumors 604

    sracer

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    #13
    "bang for the buck" will heavily rely on the going prices for the different models. I don't buy used Apple products so I'm not familiar with the going prices for them, but when NEW, the 4GB to 8GB RAM upgrade was $200. Going from 128GB to 256GB another $200. If the $400 price difference when new is retained (or close to it) in the used market, I don't think that is a lot of bang for the buck. But if there's only a $100 price difference then definitely go for an 8GB/256GB model.
     
  14. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #14
    Excellent post. I'm in a somewhat similar situation in that my splendid 11" MBA is beginning to show its age.

    My 2014 11" MBA (8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, and Core i7) is still my my (and only) computer, and has quite literally travelled the world with me.

    But, yes: A battery which used to do eight hours easily now does between five and six. But, I love this computer and this form factor, and would replace it with a replica in a second if the option existed.

    However, to the OP, I'd recommend a minimum of 256GB (as others have recommended) and 8 GB; I would also recommend a computer from 2013 (because of the improved battery life tat occurred that year) or later.
     
  15. weezin thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 20, 2012
    #15
    Thanks to all who replied! I will be on the lookout for a reasonably priced 8gb / 256gb 2013 model...we'll see what I find. Of course, as used mac prices can vary somewhat significantly, there's the possibility that another (newer) spec will make more financial sense.
     
  16. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #16
    With a 2013 model, you should budget for a battery replacement, unless the previous owner has already done so.
     
  17. FineFuturity, May 31, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018

    FineFuturity macrumors member

    FineFuturity

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    #17
    EDIT: Realized I didn't even answer the question, haha. In my case, it happened to be the base model 11" Air from 2012. For anyone else thinking about buying an older model, I'd say any of the 2013 models are the best bang-for-buck machines -- simply for the battery life improvements the Haswell CPU brought.

    I actually used to have a 2011 11" MacBook Air and sold it due to it seeming unnecessary after the purchase of my MacBook Pro. After while though, I guess you could say I got a bit of remorse selling the thing. Because of that, I decided to pick up a 2012 11" MBA off of eBay. I probably could have sprung for a 2013 or later model, but considering the asking price for this particular one was lower than other listings, I didn't mind pulling the trigger on it.

    After spending most of today using it, I'm starting to remember why I loved this little thing so much: the small footprint. This isn't to say I dislike my MacBook Pro, obviously, but I've come to once again appreciate its portability. Having full access to macOS in a device that weighs as much as my iPad Pro is just wonderful. I imagine I'll find a way to integrate both the MBA and MBP into my workflow, but I'm in love with this thing all over again. :)
     
  18. bookemdano macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #18
    There are actually a couple of other changes in addition to the one you mentioned (2014 = Haswell architecture vs. 2015 = Broadwell). The 2014 has Thunderbolt while the 2015 has Thunderbolt 2. Also, the 2014 uses Intel 5000 graphics whereas the 2015 uses Intel 6000. Those two changes allow the 2015 Air to output 4K resolution at 60Hz on an external monitor. The 2014 and earlier can only do 4K resolution at 30Hz.

    Obviously those changes may not matter to you if you're not going to connect it to a 4K monitor, but for the sake of completeness I thought I would mention it, since that was a factor recently in my choosing the 2015 11" over the older models.
     

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