Considering MacBook Air ( must not have butterfly keyboard )

I’m looking for a Macbook Air for my daily commute by train to replace my iPad Pro so that I can work on personal tech stuff like write/run Python scripts, run ZSH, run Docker , etc. The reason I chose the Air is because I remember it was small(11.6" screen) and lightweight. It also didn’t have the butterfly keyboard.


  • Small - The train is pretty cramped, 11.6" screen would be great. I tried a 13" Macbook Pro for a bit and trouble with having room for it on my lap while competing for seat space with other commuters.
  • Cellular signal fades in an out during my commute. I can’t depend on an Internet connection.
  • Light - I carry a lot in my work backpack, it probably weighs as much as I do, lol. Anything to cut weight is a plus.
  • Scissor keyboard - I use a 2017 Macbook Pro for work, and I can’t even type name on that keyboard, much less get any work done. I always use an external keyboard with it.
  • Memory and Storage - I think 8gb / 256 gb will do.
  • CPU - not as important. I won’t be transcoding video or anything CPU intensive.

Which Macbook Air model was the last one made that did not have the butterfly keyboard? So far the tech specs for them just says “keyboard, x keys” but doesn’t specify the type. I would had to purchase an MBA to discover that it had butterfly keys.

I’d appreciate any advice on selecting the right year/model MBA to do computer work during my commute.

The last MacBook Air that didn’t have the butterfly keyboard was the 13-inch 2017 model. The last 11-inch was the early 2015.

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And the next one will apparently be the $3000 16" MBP coming out in two months.

The butterfly keyboards are definitely not great, but I’m not sure they’re so bad (especially on the 2019 machines) that it’s worth buying a notebook as old as the pre-Retina Air just to avoid them, especially with the development tasks you mentioned. That last old-style Air was updated in 2017, but the CPU was just clocked higher; it’s CPU is far older than it appears based on the model name.

Apple is covering the keyboards for 4 years, even for people without AppleCare, and from most accounts, the repairs are faster than ever. I’ve not seen much (if anything) in the way of complaints that the 2019 keyboards are failing. They could be problematic over time, but I think the 2019 Air is worth looking at.


I know three people who bought Macbook Pros in the last two years. No problems with the keyboard at all, although one of the units has gone back to Apple for repair twice, and is one visit away from getting swapped a new one.

Yes, and that’s for machines going back a couple of years as well as all new, currently sold models.

Although I’m not a fan of any Apple keyboards made - desktop or notebook - I don’t think any current models are worth avoiding because of fears of keyboard problems.

For a current model, I’d get an Air. If size/weigh/price is a major determinant I still like those just-discontinued little 2-lb 12" Macbooks, even if today they’re a skosh underpowered; you can grab one starting at $1100

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No way I’d recommend that machine for development work. That CPU is pretty wimpy. The 2019 Air or entry-level MBP will outpace it easily.


One thing to keep in mind is that the most recent 12” MacBook uses the 2nd generation butterfly keyboard, while the Air uses the improved 3rd generation one. I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a dealbreaker if the 12” is the right laptop for you in terms of size/weight/power/ports, but if you’re concerned about the keyboard it is something to be aware of.


Given what you want to use this laptop for does it have to be a Mac?

I’ve learned to live with using a silicon keyboard cover for my MBP 13". I slowly acclimated to it and it doesn’t bother me as much nowadays.

I’d rather put the keyboard cover on instead of dreading the day my keyboard sticks and it needs servicing.


My keyboard concern was that I have an 2017 Macbook Pro for work and cannot stand the keyboard. I’ll only use it with an external keyboard.

The 2015 15" Macbook Pro has an amazing scissor keyboard that’s a joy to type on. I bought mine last year, luckily before they were discontinued. I’m hoping that Apple gets a better keyboard before I need to upgrade. did now the 2015 is plenty powerful for my needs.

it’s too big for my laptop bag since I already carry a laptop for work. I can’t use that for personal work for many reasons, that would take another paragraph to explain.

it looks like I either get a 12" Macbook that I can’t type on, and older 2015 MBA that I can type on, or just wait and see what comes out this fall.

I appreciate all the input!

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I have a 2015 12" MacBook, a 2017 MacBook Pro, and a 2019 MacBook Air and I have to say that the 2019 Air’s keyboard is much improved over the 2017 Pro. It still doesn’t have any more travel but the typing feel is much nicer. Of the three, I find the 2017 Pro to have the worst keyboard.

I’ve done development work on the 12" MacBook, and while I wouldn’t want to use it for Xcode, it’s perfectly fine for writing python code and such.

Unrelated: I’ve had the Air for 2 days and I think it’s going to have to go back; the battery drains when it’s turned off (not sleeping, but off) and that’s not acceptable. I assume it’s defective and not something endemic to the model.

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My mid-2012 Macbook Air (8Gb Ram + 256 SSD) needs retiring.

I’m using my iPad more and more. So the MBA became more of a family computer for basic stuff (browsing, office, hazel, skype).

I’m looking at the 2019 MBA, 8Gb Ram and 126Gb SSD.

Would you recommend it? Would you recommend any upgrade to the RAM, or will this one cope well for the next few years?

Thanks!! :grinning:

The #1 upgrade on that machine would be a bigger hard drive. 256gb minimum, but consider 512gb depending on your budget and how much of the HD space in your 2012 MacBook Air. After that, bump the RAM if you can afford it. Going to 16gb isn’t absolutely vital for the sorts of uses you’re describing, but it will be a nice quality of life improvement.

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Thanks @ChrisUpchurch.

The reason why I’m considering 128Gb is because I’m using a lot my NAS & icloud/gdrive to store files. For eg my current MBA has 256Gb and I’m only using 80Gb.

I’m wondering though whether there’s a slow down if using 80Gb out of 128Gb (as opposed to using 80Gb out of 256Gb)

I don’t think there would be any slowdown with 80gb on a 128gb drive, but less than 50gb is not a lot of spare space if there are any changes to your usage. For your usage 512gb may be overkill, but I’d at least upgrade to 256gb.


@ChrisUpchurch that’s an excellent point. Will go with 256Gb. What about the 8Gb. Enough for basic use?



What he said! :slight_smile:

I would suggest that you check your RAM needs on your 2012 MacBook Air. You wrote that you have a 8 GB model. Launch activity monitor and start all your apps that are running on a regular basis. Is there still memory available? Are you running into slowdowns because of you are running out of memory? If yes, definitely go for 16 GB. If not, you might be fine with 8 GB.

But 8 GB in 2026… That does not sound right…

So, if you plan to use your new device for as long as you have been using your old one, go for 16 GB! Apple is limiting its devices to 16 GB because some of those Intel chips are not able to work with more than 16 GB. So, the “high end” is 16 GB and they need a “low end”: 8 GB is the low end. I am quite confident that 16 GB will be the low end eventually, when better CPUs will be built into new Macs in the future. So, I would not go for 8 GB, if I planned to use a Mac for more than 4 years.


You guys cost me money because of your great points :rofl: I don’t use it a lot so I want a macbook air that lasts forever.

Got the 16Gb RAM / 256Gb SSD version and expect it to last another 6 years!! :grinning:

Thanks y’all!


That’s what I got last week! (And left at an authorized service shop this morning :laughing:)

Oh no. Didn’t like it or for repair?