Why I just ordered an 11" MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by avemestr, May 18, 2015.

  1. avemestr macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2012
    Hi folks

    There's a lot of threads going on about MBA vs. rMB these days. I found a number of compelling reasons for purchasing an "old-school" MBA:

    1) Price:
    With student discount and where I live, the MBA 11" with 1.6GHz, 8GB RAM (upgraded) and 128GB SSD costs 1224 USD.

    In comparison the rMB with 1.3GHz (upgraded), 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD the rMB costs 1900 USD.

    Now, is it a fair comparison? I would get twice as big SSD in the rMB, but the matter of fact is that I today have a MBA 13" with 256GB SSD - of which I use a whopping 35GB. iTunes Match, NAS and cloud services have more or less eliminated my need for local storage.

    Also, with the weak CPUs in the rMB, I think it's "mandatory" to purchase the CPU upgrade, whereas it's hard to think of situations where the CPU upgrade on the MBA makes sense (only for those often doing CPU intensive tasks, but they probably don't buy an MBA in the first place).

    2) Display:
    Yes, the rMB has a retina display. To be honest, I could not see the big difference in the shop, when comparing the MBA 11" to the rMB. But I'm sure it's there, because the MBA still uses a TN panel.

    One thing I noticed though, was the fact that the vertical screen estate is much bigger on the rMB. I would have loved that on the MBA 11". Guess I'll move the dock to the side. Often I'll use a desktop display anyways.

    3) Connectivity:
    The MBA is a true and tested device. USB-C is very new. Adapters expensive. I have a ton of "legacy" devices I want to hook-up on a regular basis (i.e. a LED Cinema Display without TB, USB cameras, USB Garmin devices).

    The MBA enables me to show up (almost) anywhere, and start working in a desktop-setting, using a large keyboard, mouse and monitor, while also enabling me to do work "on the run".

    Also, I see history repeating itself. When the MBA was introduced, it only had one USB port. A lot of Apple disciples accepted the narrative that it was sufficient for everybody (look back in this forum). What happened? Apple added another port to MacBookAir3,1.

    There's a lot of uncertainty still surrounding USB-C and Apple's implementation of it.

    4) Conservatism or avant-garde?
    When the original MBA was introduced, you had to swallow a lot of compromises for the thinness. I recall people not being able to run Flash-applications without stuttering. Flash is long dead and gone, but I wonder how the rMB will deal with 4K and similar today. Soon the number of compromises diminished on the MBA.

    If history is anything to go by, we will see speed bumps to the rMB within a year. We might see extra ports added. The resell value will plummet on the first gen.

    A first gen rMB might still be for you, if you earn street credit among your crowd for being a first mover. For me at least, it's more sensible to be conservative. At least I would not pay a 676 USD premium for a slightly better screen and the admiration of others.

    Just my 2 cents - and justification for buying an "old" style MBA in 2015!
  2. chrisrosemusic1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 31, 2012
    Northamptonshire, England
    Fair enough, first gen products are always just an experiment to see what demand there is and the second gen version is always infinitely better which is one of the many reasons I didn't pick one up today either :)
  3. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    There are a lot of MacBook Air vs Retina MacBook threads, but IMHO not enough of MacBook Air vs rMBP threads.

    You get better specs in every area with the 13" Retina MacBook Pro, and in my experience it's not really that heavy.
  4. gooser macrumors 6502a

    Jul 4, 2013
    since you asked. money seems to be important to you. keep using the air you have and upgrade when you're no longer a student.
  5. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    It's because there are two MBAs.

    The 11" MBA is fairly similar in size to the rMB, and the 13" MBA is similar in size to the 13" rMBP.

    The 13" rMBP is definitely much larger and heavier than an 11" MBA and I don't think they should be compared.


    The CPU upgrade only makes it a few percent faster. I can't imagine this is noticeable. It's just a money grab on Apple's part. Don't fall for it.
  6. JohnNg macrumors newbie

    Jul 6, 2011
    I also just got a macbook air 2015 11" 8GB ram & 128GB SSD with around 930 USD (education price). So far I used it mainly for my iOS app development (Xcode), some photo editing (using Photoshop CC 2014), and man, it run super smooth and flawlessly.
    Regarding the screen, it is not as fancy as the retina ones of-course but it's good and comfortable enough to work with.
    Considering the amount that you have to spend, MBA is a very good deal.
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Excellent post, and I agree with you.

    When anything revolutionary - or simply strikingly new - in the field of tech is first introduced, inevitable compromises are made, and glitches - or limitations - become clear with early use.

    Therefore, the second and subsequent generations are almost always, an awful lot better.

    Your points about the early MBA are absolutely spot on.

    Indeed, I longed for one when they first came out - I loved the form factor, but they were too light, underpowered and expensive for what they offered. So, I waited nearly two years for the appearance of the 'third generation' - the old Rev C, which was the first MBA I bought, and which met my needs, and which lasted me for three years before I gave to my brother, and replaced it with a maxed out CTO 13" MBA in 2013.

    Exactly. Well said and I fully agree with you.

    I daresay that the rMB will improve enormously, when lessons have been learned and teething problems addressed. My guess is that it may take two or three iterations for it to become a seriously impressive computer.

    However, the 11" MBA is an outstandingly good computer, fast, reliable, powerful and ultra portable. I have one and it goes everywhere with me when I am travelling.
  8. bubulol macrumors 6502a

    Mar 7, 2013
    I also choose MBA over rMB, 550 bucks, 4 gb and 128 gb of SSD
    I feel thight but its 3x cheaper than rMB
    The only benefit to rMB, its Retina display

    Design - i don't care about gold/sideral grey, they could add pink or whatever color they want, actually that silver alu of MBPR/MBA, looks simple and unique
    Gold/sideral grey looks as copy of iPhone/iPad

    Thickness - No thanks, MBA is thin enough, rMB actually feel fragile in your hands because its very thin

    Connectivity, specs, battery life - all comes to MBA

    I am very happy with my MBA, its the best investment i could make for sure
  9. SSD-GUY macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2012
    London, UK
    I'm still hoping for a MBA with retina. If Dell can do it with the XPS 2015, I don't see why Apple can't.
  10. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    I don't think it's so much that they couldn't do it. They most certainly could if they wanted to. However, (and this is pure speculation on my part) they decided that the tradeoffs weren't worth it.

    1) Battery life is a big one. Everything else being equal, a simple panel swap probably would have impacted the battery significantly. Probably much less than the current 9/12 we get.

    2) Cost to the user. Right now, Apple makes a good margin on the Airs, and they have not 1, but 2 models that start under $1k. That's pretty significant to a consumer. A retina Air would probably be sold close to the starting cost of the MacBook, and the cheapest model would be $1300.


    I have gadget lust right now for the new MacBook, but I seriously love my 2013 11" Air, and I wouldn't think of switching just yet (Unless someone just gave me one of the new MacBooks). I will say that when I'm in the market to replace the Air, though, I'll probably be looking at the MacBook.
  11. SSD-GUY macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2012
    London, UK
    I too would love to purchase rMB, however the keyboard is too much of a compromise. When I compared my MBA 11 KB to it, even though I typed slightly faster on the rMB, it wasn't an enjoyable experience at all.

    If the MBA is going to get scrapped, then hopefully with Skylake we'll see a rMBP redesign. If they can make it a few hundred grams lighter I'd be all over that.

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