MacBook Air 11 or 13 inch – which is better?

This article compares the current MacBook Air 11 vs 13 inch 2011 / 2012 models. Read on for facts and experience to help you choose between the MacBook Air 13 and 11 inch models.

Oh, and at the end of the article, you can save on a new MacBook Air.

MacBook Air 11 vs 13 inch – What’s the Same?

  • Both the 11″ and 13″ models are fast and responsive.
  • Both sizes come with Apple’s latest operating system, OS X Lion.
  • Both have high quality displays.
  • Both have an ultra thin design.
  • Both have fast flash storage (SSDs) instead of slow hard disks.
  • Both the 13 and 11 inch Air’s can have up to 256GB flash storage.
  • Both have stereo speakers and a FaceTime camera.
  • Both come with WiFi and Bluetooth.
  • Both include the new Thunderbolt port.
  • Both sizes can be purchased with 4GB of RAM.
  • Both the 11″ and 13″ can be bought with an upgrade to an i7 processor.

(Source: Apple’s MacBook Air Technical Specifications)

Mac Air 11 vs 13 – What’s Different?

  • The 11″ is smaller. Smaller is always easier to move around.
  • The 13″ has seven hours battery life, two hours more than the 11 inch.
  • The 11″ is about half a pound lighter (270g).
  • The 13″ has roughly a quarter more screen space and pixels.
  • The 13″ has an SD card slot. The 11″ does not.

MacBook Air 11 vs 13 inch – Case Heat

The new mid-2011 MacBook Air bottom case can get warm towards the back, particularly when the Air is under load.

Flash, the most common web technology for video and annoying animated ads, can use a lot of CPU. (This is probably why the new MacBook Air ships without Flash installed.) So Flash can cause your Mac to get hot.

The highest case temperature I’ve seen reported is 103 F / 39.5 C.

As the 13 inch Air has a larger vent to expel hot air, and has a larger aluminium case which heat can disperse over, it should get less hot than an 11 inch MBA.

The 11-inch MacBook Air already gets noticeably warmer than the 13″.
– Anand Lai Shimpi, AnandTech

If you intend to use the MacBook Air on your lap, and you don’t like warmth, you might enjoy the MacBook Air 13 inch more.

Buy the MacBook Air 11 or 13 Inch?

  • “The simple life” – If you are just doing basic tasks – web, Skype, playing music and word processing, the 11 inch screen is big enough.
  • “I love small” – If you want an ultraportable computer, get the 11 inch Air. I barely notice its weight in my backpack. It’s so unobtrusive and light, it’s easy to use anywhere – on the couch, in bed, playing DJ in the kitchen.
  • “Calling creatives & techies” – If you want to do a lot of activities that benefit from more screen space – spreadsheets, illustration, PhotoShop, page layout, music production, video editing, web design, CAD, get the 13 inch.
  • “Creatives & techies II” – If you’re happy to use an external screen for “serious work” then get the 11 inch, and stay ultra portable.
  • “For the photo mad” – If you really want a built in SD card reader – handy for digital cameras – get the 13 inch model. (You could always get a $25 USB SD card reader for the 11 inch.)

Conclusions

The MacBook Air is the best laptop in the history of the planet. I really mean that. Both the 11 inch or 13 inch model are exceptionally beautiful and well engineered. If you’re about to buy your first “MBA” – be excited!

I love my 11 inch MacBook Air. I’ve done most of the web development and writing for my personal web sites on it, without an external screen. It’s so small and light, it’s no hassle to take it anywhere. I’ve been very, very surprised that I usually don’t feel cramped by the small screen. Especially when I’m used to using three large screens at work!

The new MacBook Airs come with Apple’s latest operating system, OS X Lion. All of Apple’s apps – Safari, iPhoto, Mail and more – have been updated with a full screen mode and hiding scrollbars. These features give as much of the screen as possible to what’s important – the content you’re looking at. Lion makes the small screen on the 11 inch MBA even more usable.

My personal perfect MacBook Air system is the 11 inch with a large-ish external monitor for serious creative work. That way I get the ultra portability and super lightness, but if I doing something that needs more screen space, I can just plug a monitor in. Monitors are cheap: I picked up a light and thin 23″ AOC full HD screen for $170, and it’s great! If you have the cash, Apple’s new ThunderBolt display is perfect.

If you are using the MacBook Air as your main computer, and you won’t be using an external screen, almost definitely get the 13 inch MacBook Air. The 11 inch screen is too small for most people to use for all their computer work. I’ve seen a comment from someone who bought the 11 inch, and wished they got the 13 inch.

Eleven inches is a small screen size. The 11 inch MacBook Air is a specialised ultra-portable machine for people who are prepared to compromise on screen size. Buyers of the 11 inch probably have another computer or laptop, or they will plug their MacBook Air into a big screen at work or home. I’ll quite happily work off the 11 inch for seven hours, and never want a larger screen. But then, I also get lots of time on big screen systems as well. If you buy the 11 inch MacBook Air, make sure you’re really happy to use a screen that size. Go in and try it! If it really suits you, you will love it.

If in any doubt, get the 13 inch MacBook Air. You don’t want to always be wishing you had a bigger screen. The 13 inch is a better size for general use.

Even with all the information above, there’s no substitute for actually physically trying out the different sizes to see which one feels right. I recommend going to an Apple store, and trying both the 11″ and 13″ models. Browse the web, close the lid, pick them up, heft them. Get a feel for them. (Just don’t juggle…) Which one feels right for you? Only you know.

Save on MacBook Air

Are you planning to buy a MacBook Air? It’s worth checking Amazon.com’s current MacBook Air prices. Follow these links to get the current MacBook Air prices at Amazon:

All the MacBook Airs above come with free shipping at the time of writing.

If you do choose to buy your MacBook Air from Amazon: (a) you may get your new MacBook Air a bit cheaper, and (b) Amazon will pay me a commission (if you go to Amazon through the links above). This supports me to keep writing good Mac articles – thanks!

A Couple of MacBook Air Tips

  1. really recommend buying a sleeve to protect your MacBook Air when you buy it. If you hit the case, the aluminium will dent.
  2. You may be wondering whether the $100 to $150 to upgrade the standard i5 processor to the i7 is worth it. If you are see this MacBook Air i5 vs i7 article.

Thanks!

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If you have comments or questions, please use the form below. Thanks for reading!

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70 Responses to MacBook Air 11 or 13 inch – which is better?

  1. charles says:

    Minor correction, but you CAN get the 256Gb SSD in the 11″ laptop.

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Thanks for the correction Charles!

      I’ve checked I can order an 11″ MacBook Air with a 256GB drive through Apple’s web store.
      I can, no problem.

      I’m updating the article now.

  2. Michael says:

    I’m wondering about the graphics performance on an external monitor, since the graphics is integrated in the chip?

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Hi Michael!

      Thanks for your question!

      I haven’t had a chance to try the current model with an external monitor. I’ll let you know when I’ve tried it.

      EDIT: I’ve tried it! Here’s the link: MacBook Air with External Monitor.

      Until I’ve tested for certain, I recommend you try the MacBook Air with an external monitor in store.

      Apple designed the MacBook Air to be able to drive the monster Apple Thunderbolt Display, which at 2560 by 1440 pixels and 27″ screen size. On such a large, high resolution screen, slow graphics updates will be very obvious. Apple doesn’t cut corners on its engineering. Given this, unless you’re doing games or 3D modelling, I expect the MacBook Air’s graphics performance will be fine for external monitors.

      Hope this helps Michael. :-)

      -Taz.

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Michael,

      I just tried a 27″ Apple Cinema Display with a MacBook Air 11 inch mid 2011 model. We tried web browsing, full screen HD 720p video as well as two 720p video streams at the same time.

      They Air drove the 2560 by 1440 pixel external display flawlessly as far as I could see.

      I shot some pictures and video of the working together. I’ll post them soon.

      -Taz.

  3. victor says:

    very good review. thanks.
    i would however add some more on the display comparison, namely the PPI.
    thus, even though the 11.6″ MBA display is of course (duh!) smaller than the 13.3″ one, in the 11.6″ model you get 135.09 PPI, compared to the 127.68 PPI in the 13.3″ model.
    though it’s really not that big of a deal, for me at least, you might add this bit of info in your comparison, as for some this might be important.

  4. Davran says:

    Another high-demanded article :) I would add one more reason to buy MacBook Air ’13 – if MacBook Air is going to be ones primary computer, like in my case.

  5. mark says:

    This may be too specific a question for this site, but if anybody would know, it’s you guys. I’m a grad student, and my professors use powerpoint slides a lot. My goal is to be able to both read the whole slide and add text to the notes section at the same time. I had a net book for a while, and I had to constantly scroll between the upper parts of the slide and the notes section to keep up. Will the 11″ fit a whole slide and the notes section without scrolling (or squinting), or is it safer to go with the 13″? Thanks.

    Mark

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Mark,

      Thanks for your question! :-)

      The slides and your notes probably won’t comfortably fit on the 11 inch MacBook Air’s screen.

      You are right – it is safer to go with the 13″ model.

      -Taz.

  6. chris says:

    Mr. Hayes, your articles are so easy to read I ALWAYS end up reading all of it without skimming. I like how you made key words in bold. This is the best review I’ve read so far regarding Macbooks.
    Thank you for your review and your opinion. After heavily contemplating on whether to get the 11 or the 13 in MBA, I’ve decided to buy the 11 inch with the i7 upgrade and use an external monitor for intensive stuff.

    If not too much, I’d love to read about some reviews on protective sleeve, covers or bag for the 11inch MBA.

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Chris,

      Thanks for your great feedback!

      For my MacBook Air 11 inch, I use the be.ez sleeve for MacBook Air like this one. It uses memory foam, and despite being very light and not a hard case, it’s been surprisingly protective.

      Hope this helps,
      -Taz.

  7. Zach says:

    As far as performance goes, is the extra space provided by the 256 gb storage a huge factor in anyones mind? It seems like a small price to pay in order to double the storage given. Or is the 128gb acceptable for most usage.

    FYI I would foresee me doing some 3d modelling, photoshopping, etc.

    So should I go with the 13″ with 128gb or the 13″ with 256gb?

    • Zach says:

      And in the same vein, Is the upgrade to an i7 a good idea for me?

      • Tasman Hayes says:

        Hi Zach!

        Thanks for your questions.

        I find the 128GB drive … squishy. I can’t keep all my photos, videos, music, applications and work on it at the same time.

        Even if you won’t use over 128GB now, it’s worth considering that you could use the MacBook Air for years.

        So the larger size – 256GB – is the much safer bet.

        If you were doing intensive 3D modelling and photoshopping, it might be worth upgrading to the i7, but probably not.

        See “MacBook Air i5 vs i7″ for more info.

        Hope this helps!
        -Taz.

  8. Cathy says:

    Great review! Thanks so much. Do you or anyone else with an 11″ experience any neck or shoulder pain from having to look farther down? I have a 27″ iMac so the 11″ will not be a primary machine. However, I do a lot of writing on the laptop at school, libraries, coffee shops – so am concerned about fatigue/pain.

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for your feedback and question.

      I have an 11 inch MacBook Air myself. I haven’t had any neck or shoulder pain from looking down to use it. I don’t fine myself looking down much more steeply than a larger laptop.

      One great plus of the Air is that it’s so small and light, I tend to move around with it. Desks, couches, coffee tables, beds, palm trees by the beach are all fair game! The moving around helps stop my body getting sore. In this respects, the Air is actually better for fatigue and pain than bigger laptops.

      I find I need to look down less sharply compared to reading a book or writing on paper.

      If you’re body’s already used to reading or writing with paper, if you keep your shoulders and neck relaxed and if you move around and take breaks before your body aches or gets tired, you should be fine!

      Hope this helps!
      -Taz.

  9. Noe says:

    Hi Taz,

    I would like the MacBook air to be my first Mac, but I am worried that it will not meet my needs. I am a college student I do lots of web serfing, YouTube/ Netflix watching, Microsoft word, PowerPoint. Is the MacBook air 11″ i7 a good computer for me?

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Hi Noe!

      The MacBook Air i7 11 inch would certainly handle all of those activities easily. You don’t really need the i7 for any of that work – you’d be fine using an i5. You might find the 11 inch screen a little cramped. I’d recommend you get the MacBook Air i5 13 inch for your needs, unless you’re sure you’re happy to work on an 11″ screen.

      Hope this helps!
      -Taz.

  10. David says:

    Hi, thanks for the awesome review.
    I’m considering getting the 13″ and I’d like to use it as my main computer.
    I don’t do much gaming but from time to time I like to play Modern Warfare 2.
    If I run Windows 7 in bootcamp and all settings on minimun do you think I could play call of duty?
    Btw my current laptop is a Toshiba Satellite:
    Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 2.00ghz
    4.00 GB ram
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650
    My main concern is the graphics card.
    Should I just wait for the new macbook pros?
    Thank you

  11. Justin Yuen says:

    Hi Tasman,

    Thanks for this great post. It was truly helpful when I was trying to figure out whether I should get the 11″ vs 13″ MacBook Air. I ended up getting the 11″ because of its amazing portability and wrote a blog post (that linked back to yours) for FMYI about my thoughts:

    http://www.fmyi.com/blog/single/the_perfect_laptop_macbook_air_11_vs_13/

    Best,
    -Justin

  12. Janice Schuett says:

    I got the 13″ and wish I would have gotten the 11″. I don’t ever expand to the whole screen on the 13″ so think the 11″ would have been great for the portability, even if it is only carrying it throughout the house.

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Janice,

      Thanks for sharing your experience – I think it will help inform other people’s choices.

      I love my 11 inch MacBook Air – and one of the reasons is how easy it is to take around the house.

      There is hope: You might be able to advertise on the web for someone who got the 11 inch model and want a 13 inch model. Somewhere there’s someone who wants the bigger screen, longer battery life and SD card reader…

      -Taz.

  13. Tazim says:

    I’m worried that my software won’t work on Lion. Do you have any information as to whether one has to buy Lion-compatible software?

    Thanks,
    Tazim

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Tazim,

      I’d check for your specific software.

      For example, if you have Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, I’d Google:

      microsoft office for mac 2011 lion compatible

      You’ll find, for example, for Office 2011, that it works, but there is a list of known issues.

      Hope this helps!

      -Taz.

  14. LisaNYC says:

    Hey Taz,

    Thanks for your informative article. I’m a writer thinking of getting the 11 inch MacBook Air as a secondary computer – but one quick question…..how hot does it get if you keep it in your lap? I would just be working on Word, for the most part. I’ve heard the MacBook Air stays much cooler than other laptops. Would I need to get some sort of heat protector, or is that unnecessary? Thanks in advance.

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Hi Lisa!

      The last model MacBook Air, specifically the “late-2010 MacBook Air” is the one that’s famous for being cool and quiet. It’s the sweet spot if cool, quiet and amazing battery life are your priority. It is probably close to the perfect writers laptop. I am in fact writing this reply on an 11 inch late-2010 MacBook Air. :-) Worth considering.

      The new MacBook Air 2011 can be up to three times faster than the last MacBook Air. It derives part of its speed from being much more excitable than the sweet, older, homely processors in the last model. That excitement can translate into more heat.

      How hot really depends on a lot of factors, like what’s running on the MacBook Air, what it’s sitting on, can it breathe and the ambient temperature. Webpages with lots of animation and video (i.e. “Flash”) can consume a lot of processor and make your new Air hot. There’s a choice of free and cheap software to keep Flash in your web browser from working your processor and making your MacBook Air hot.

      The maximum temperature I’ve seen quoted for the aluminium bottom of the MacBook Air 2011 is 105F / 41C. People’s response to heat differs. For one person, that temperature on their lap is no big deal. For another person, that temperature could be distressing. How do you respond to heat?

      Whether you’ll ever experience this temperature will depend on the factors above.

      If you’re just running Word and no other apps, your new MacBook Air should be lovely and cool on your lap and get good battery life – I’d expect 5 hours+ for writing in Word. For your needs, I’d get a base model, with a i5 processor, not the i7 upgrade. The i5 is less excitable (it has a maximum speed of 2.3 GHz versus 2.9 GHz for the i7), so perhaps a bit cooler and certainly cheaper.

      For more info, see my articles on MacBook Air heat and battery life for MacBook Air.

      Hope this helps Lisa!

      -Taz.

  15. LisaNYC says:

    Thanks very much, Taz!

  16. Brett Crotty says:

    Hi Taz,
    This article is awesome I’ve gotten a lot of good information. I have been to the mac store and best buy but you can’t try them on your lap and that’s the main place I use mine. How well does the 11 fit your lap compared to the 13. Thanks for your help!

  17. Pingback: 11” or 13”?

  18. Eddie says:

    Thanks for this article and all the comments (especially about students in coffee shops / libraries, wanting to edit PowerPoint documents etc.). These are real world use cases, not some fluffy blog articles or Amazon-line star ratings bogus stuff (where people are getting paid under the hood to write overly favorable opinions or to paid by the competition to overly dis the product)! That being said, a friend of mine who has the 11″ 2011 Air said that the screen real estate of the 11″ is very close to that of the 13″ (the 11″ has slightly less depth but more width). Also, my friend said that being able to open his 11″ Air in a coach set on an airplane is a huge deal. He also said that the 11″ Air’s screen has an aspect ratio of 16×9 which the 13″ does not so he said this makes the 11″ Air “perfect” for movies including HD movies. This is additional food for thought, Cheers!

  19. Eddie says:

    Also, I forgot to mention something else that might be useful. For both the 11″ and 13″ Air, it might be worth upgrading to the i7 processor because of the increasing importance of encryption. For example in OS X Lion there is an improved cryptography system for encrypting the entire storage system (in this case the built-in SSD), so if you have a full storage system (128 GB or 256 GB for example), it will logically take more CPU time to encrypt and decrypt the SSD dynamically. The i7 has AES-NI instruction sets (hardware accelerated cryptography) and I’m not sure if the i5 also has it (check first to be sure, its possible the i5 also has it). Also, I imagine (without having and data to back this up at the moment), that the i7 would handle video conferencing like Facetime or Skype or the new Google+ Huddle more efficiently (although the i5 is probably fine for that). But imagine also a future where you might want to encrypt / decrypt VoIP calls (audio only) while using your Air. Or imagine also how you might want to use your Air with a VPN (encrypted tunneling etc.). So with the world focusing more and more on security and privacy, and encryption playing a role, encrypting / decrypting will always benefit from better processors. Cheers!

    • Choua Xiong says:

      Okay I got to reply to this. I have use Window 7 Ultimate encryption… and it was freaking FRUSTRATING. Everything I put into my computer gets encrypted and then when I back it up to my external hard drive and reboot my computer, all my data becomes trash. Junk! I almost can’t even delete it. Giving that PC, you have to reboot once a year to get the optimal performance it was hellish. Now I am very careful about that encryption thing. So can I remove/disable that encryption ability?

  20. Rakesh Vij says:

    nice comparison but please compare the speed of i5 and i7 with the actual ssd shipped whether it is samsung or toshiba and also with latest owc ddr toggle swith type ssd with much higher speed. Thanks

  21. Rose says:

    I found this article very helpful. I am a PC user. Always have been. I got the first iPad; I now have the iPhone & love them both. I am now ready to get a MAC computer and plan to get a MacBook Air. I had figured out how I wanted it configured but was still on the fence re: 11″ vs. 13″. The info you provided gave me a few more things to consider (that I did not know about) before making my decision. Thanks so much.

  22. Sergio Torige says:

    Hi, the keyboard are same size in both of models? And have much difference between Macbook Pro and Air? Some one said that Air need more force to type?
    Thanks

  23. Sergio Torige says:

    Hello Taz
    I’m still in doubt about which model to get. I have an iMac 21.5 “and I want a Macbook Air I work a lot with large spreadsheets. Portability but I would love to think of two things, battery life and screen who do not know if I get tired looking at the vision for a small screen long time. He would not be a primary computer. For moments on the road. in store, looking at the screen 11, do not know if I adapt the format of the screen that is larger. Sao doubts that every day I’m more indecisive. I’m reading your materials and still not decided.
    Do you have any opinion to help me?

  24. Sergio Torige says:

    Hi Taz
    I would like your opinion. Do you think that the Macbook Air 11 “a netbook? I think you can not even compare. What’s yours?

  25. Ken says:

    First off, I find your article is extremely informative, yet easy to digest. I particularly like how you talked about what you would go with, and your justifications, as I feel this makes your writing much more personalised. It is like I am talking to you in person as I read this website.

    You would think that with only 2 sizes, deciding on what MBA to get should be relatively straightforward, compared to sifting through a dozen different brands of Windows laptops. But no, for the past few weeks, I have been agonizing over whether to spring for the 11′ or 13′ model.

    Thanks to your earlier article, I have already decided that i7 is not worth the extra topup. I like the sleekness of the 11′ model, but would appreciate the 13’s longer battery life. I purchased a 27′ Imac earlier in July, and after reading your article, I ultimately believe that the 11′ would suit my needs better.

    By the way, what do you think about Applecare? I realised it is not cheap either. Is it worth picking up? Is there some cost vs benefit analysis you could direct me to? Thanks in advance! :)

  26. Irina says:

    Hi Taz,

    Great article!
    I have a MBP 15inch, but I do need a MBA 11inch when I’m traveling.
    Do you think MBA 11inch can handle iMovie n iPhoto?
    Tq

  27. Archie Wah-wah says:

    I have the 11″ and the reason I wish I had gone with 13″ is not included in the reasons mentioned in the article. Basically it’s ergonomics. use the machine in my lap and oftentimes my knees wind up just far enough apart that I’m worried about dropping the computer!

  28. J S says:

    Apple McBook Air 11″ OR iPAD2?
    Please help me decide.
    With an iPad 2 I can have a keyboard stashed in a nook in my bag and use it when I really need it.
    With iP2, I can have longer hours of battery life.
    The screen size is just about 20% less.
    Its ultra ultra portable.
    Has a 3G so I do not have to handle a 3G dongle. Can access my emails and view attachments without a fuss and almost anywhere including while on a metro train ; standing or sitting.
    Have a camera, can connect to TV.
    Have iWorks and can do general word processing and with a key board even design some good brochures and do some spread-sheet. Nice on contacts and general calender schedules. Can use my google business account as well mails and calender etc.
    Go to websites … much lighter etc.

    On a McBookair 11″ I get the Lion, and almost everything I get on iP2, except for the real touch.
    MBA is more capable.

    iP2 with 32 GB and 3G is about $ 740 + $ 100 in a keyboard. May be a 100 more in cable , cover etc. that is $ 950 approx.
    MBA air 11″ starter is $999

    Which one should I buy?

  29. Stenow says:

    I have been speculating over MB Air 11.6 versus 13.3 all summer, and which to buy is now an rapidly approaching situation. Thanks first of all Taz for an awsome fine review. I know we all have our personal reasons, and here is mine. Bluntly and honestly: I must once in my life have the experience, I must try to own and use this 11.6 inch beauty and if it ends up that I should have gone for 13.3 inch, I must sell and buy such one.
    So my choise will be the 11.6 inch, i5 / 128 GB combined with a portable hard disc e.g. Iomega. Not that the latter will travel with me on a daily basis, but I will have the option to do so some times. Photos and alike through 10 years will be there and only more recent stuff on the MBA, in which case 128 GB will be plenty for me.

    • Vinita says:

      U said it Stenow ! I am no techie, no Apple cult follower, but I simply fell for the sleek MBA air and when I saw the 11″ one , I went Oooooohh ! I have been agonising over the 13 Vs 11 debate. I will not have another machine hence I will do everything on the MBA I finally buy not sure if I can look at a 11 size for a couple of hours and after Archie Wah wah’s comment about `knee ergonomics’ I have been leaning towards 13″
      But I TOTALLY feel / agree with you that ‘…. I must once in my life have the experience…’ 11′ it is …… for now !
      Thank u Tasman, a very helpful article !

  30. Stéphane says:

    11 vs. 13, what a difficult choice! I looked at, tested several times in an apple store and I still can not decide. Yet I have read several articles on this cruel dilemma.
    Information on the use of Excel 2007
    11:
    columns A to T
    lines 1 to 34
    13:
    columns A to U
    lines 1 to 44
    One other point, spend time typing and see how your hands are positioned. I found on the 11 inches that supports hands too much on the edge of the MBA is a bit painful in the long run, but I have to redo the experiment.

    • Brett Bell says:

      I have a Mac Book Air 11, and both the surface, to the left and right of the mouse pad, and the edges on the three sides of the computer hurt my hands when I use it. If I had known this beforehand, I wouldn’t have bought it!

    • FY says:

      Using Excel to illustrate the screen real estate is genius! Thank you! I compare this against my 12″ Windows notebook. The Windows notebook gives col A-S and row 1-32. Looks like MBA 11″ is a winner to me. But because it is smaller, I think the font would be really small and I wonder if it will cause eye strain over prolonged use? Does Mac OS has DPI like Windows so I can make bigger font system wide?

  31. Nick says:

    Thanks for your great articles! They are very helpful. I am excited to get my first Mac, and I am going to go with the MBA 13. I am in law school and will be using this laptop a great deal for class notes and homework. I am unfamiliar with Apple programs as I have always used PCs with Word, OneNote, and Excel – any note taking and/or word processing programs that you would recommend for my MBA? Thanks!
    Nick

  32. Dinka Pignon says:

    Hi, this is wonderful! Thanks so much for all the info! I want to get Mac Book Air 11 and use it for editing video in Final Cut Pro, among other things. Is this too crazy? I mean, how well would it handle editing in HD? I could use an external monitor for visibility. I’d appreciate anything you can tell me about this. Many thanks!
    dinka

  33. Sushi says:

    Hi there. Just wondering. A really popular comparison thats not on this website is the Apple macbook pro vs Air. How come you didn’t do that? Im dieing to see your opinion!
    Also, whats your take on the Q1 rumors of the new 11 and 13″ upgrades of the Airs as well as the 15″ Air rumor for Q1 release this year???

    Im switching to apple for my last year of college and want to know Pro or Air
    Ive read 10s of reviews and watched enough youtube videos to know the bells and whistles in differnces but I want to know YOUR view please since your other Air articles are nothing short of excellent..

    Much appreciated
    Sushi
    (Not spam btw Lol real person)

  34. Joe Carter says:

    Hey Taz, greta post.

    Great article for anyone buying there first mac.

    Personally, I commute a lot and like the more compact and smaller mac. It goes everywhere with me.

  35. harshita says:

    hi,

    I plan to buy a macbook, my first ever, I’d be getting into a masters programme soon and would need a notebook to serve the purpose of reading a number of books in the form of pdf files, and also have a lot of notes too… so i’d like to know if an 11″ basic model of 2GB RAM and 64GB flash storage macbook air would do for me?

    please guide, :)

    harshita

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Hi Harshita,

      The base MacBook Air model (2GB RAM, 64GB flash storage) would be fine for this. :-)

      It’s hard to imagine you’d have more than a few gigabytes (GB) of PDF files and notes.

      I’d go in and try reading a PDF file on the 11 inch MacBook Air at a store, to check the display is big enough for you.
      PDFs are different in how much information the cram in, and the detail in pictures and diagrams.
      You want to make sure you won’t be messing around having to zoom in and out all the time (which is a real pain).
      I would ask your masters course for a sample PDF, so you check with the kinds of PDFs they provide.

      If you’re just reading (and not writing much), you could also consider an iPad 3.
      It’s very convenient for reading, and the high resolution Retina display will show PDFs very crisply.
      Again, I try viewing a PDF from your course to see that it is big enough.
      (Yes, you can zoom, but do you want to do this with every page.)

      Hope this helps Harshita.

      Cheers,
      -Tas.

      • harshita says:

        Hello Tas,

        Thank you for helping me out with this, I’d sure look into that, as of now I’m told we’ll have to read a book with about 60 pages on an average every two days and we’ll have to give in a summary about the same… so that should mean I’d have to write a bit( concise )

        as to the zooming bit i’ll have to maybe reconsider!!
        Thank you so much for your time and advice!!

        regards,
        Harshita.

  36. peter says:

    Hey tas,
    I m computer science student and I have decided to get MacBook air. The only problem is that which size should I get. Can u help ne to decide?

    • Tasman Hayes says:

      Peter,

      I studied Computer Science too!

      When you’re programming, it’s really useful to have a wider screen. However, there’s not much difference between the 11 inch and 13 inch MacBook Air’s screen width in pixels. The 11 inch MBA’s screen is 1366 pixels wide, and the 13 inch MBA’s screen in 1440 pixels wide.

      Given that, I’d get the 11 inch MacBook Air for it’s fantastic portability. You’ll be able to program anywhere! I wrote most of the articles and custom PHP, HTML & CSS for this site on an 11 inch MacBook Air.

      It’s really useful when you’re doing long hours on a computer to be able to pick the computer up and have a change of scene. I find it helps keep me fresh. With the small size and light weight of the 11 inch, you’ll find little resistance to moving round.

      For “serious work” it’s great to have a bigger high resolution screen. Lines of code can be very long, database tables can have lots of columns, and it’s great to put windows side by side (e.g. an HTML editor on one side, and a browser showing the page as displayed on the other side). A new MacBook Air can drive monster screens with it’s Thunderbolt port. I program using a 24 inch full high definition monitor (1920 x 1080 pixels). I find a 24 inch monitor is a good size for me. More details at: MacBook Air & Pro External Displays – Tips for Buying & Using. I’ve run bigger screens, but have found them “too much”.

      Hope that helps Peter!

      -Tas.

  37. Pingback: こんにちは、Mac。 | Waviaei

  38. Richard Wilson says:

    I found your solution noisy fans using an SMC reset very helpful. Thank you. Hopefully it will solve the battery life problem too.

    Do you have a solution for the really slow Mail program on MacBook Air? It can take 10 minutes or longer to check for mail on an exchange server and sometimes it seems to freeze. Other times it works ok then goes back to its lazy slow habit of keeping me waiting. I do not have the same problem with my trusty dinosaur iPad, with which I can use Mail to access the same exchange server account instantly.
    Richard

  39. Himraj says:

    Macbook 11″ is the best laptop ever created in this world. I was also confused a lot as to which one to go for , MBA 11″ or 13″, and you know what I went for 13″. But after using it for 1 day, I found that it is just tooooooo big for me and is body measurement is almost equivalent to any other 14″ laptop. So the very next day I immediately went to store and exchanged it for 11″. There was no doubt in my mind that which one I should go now for …. and ofcourse the answer is MBA 11″ . Seriously you will fall in love with this laptop. MBA 11″ is the best !!

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