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View Full Version : I LOVE my 11.6 mba, 1.4ghz, 4gb, thoughts of performance for potential buyers




1rottenapple
Dec 11, 2010, 01:44 PM
Yeah I'm an apple fanboi LOL

Well just got my MBA on thursday, and based on the specs above i'm pretty happy so far. Battery life when not downloading seems much much better than advertised. Right now, brightness is at 60% and reporting 6.44hrs of battery life as I right this review with two browsers on chrome open. (click to flash on of course). This morning, I played two flash videos side by side with itunes open and mail, and my fan was at 1999 rpm. The palm rest was cool while the back area where the processor sits was warm but not hot. I'm interested in seeing how the newer version of flash optimized macs may perform on this machine.

I added a video playing from my external hd and one of the flash videos started to jitter a bit and was not smooth, but the other flash video playing on my screen was perfect, as well as the vlc video playing, (also perfect). Even when I had those three video's playing, I launched iphoto and itunes, separately of course and the programs launch with the beach ball popping up while loading for .5 second! pretty amazing stuff performance-wise!

I have to say that this is a PERFECT stand alone machine for me. Its not for extreme photo editors making their living on a mac or video wizzss (all of which I don't do) to use since the processor is slower to process said images, however I have to say that I LOVE THIS MACHINE!!! LOL I'm gonna rip a dvd later today or tomorrow and I know this will probably take longer than my macbook its replacing but for 99% of my task and what I use computers for, its perfect!

It replaced my 13in macbook 2.4 with the 10 hr battery life (that's going to my parents to replace their 2006 imac) so screen real estate seems the same but higher res of course. I can fit two internet browser screens with their width reducted. And since its widescreen it feels like I can fit more in my horizontal space.... I use my mac with the dock hidden for the past 3-4 years the 11.6 in screen works for me :)



bowlerman625
Dec 11, 2010, 08:15 PM
I like mine very much. I'm not a power user and my needs are met well!

viperGTS
Dec 11, 2010, 09:08 PM
how old are you? im wondering of this will be useful for me, im only 15 though. also i have a netbook and an 8GB ipod touch 4th gen; would this be all that useful for me?
or am i just setting myself up for a waste of $1100+ (including 4GB RAM)?

1rottenapple
Dec 11, 2010, 10:09 PM
28 years buddy. in the helping profession after finishing grad school, so I'm no programmer or anything so its basic video watching, emailing, webbrowsing, podcast downloading, some word processing person, iphoto, using, and light weight traveling for the macbook air.

So this air is more of a luxury treat for me to celebrate my hard work. Your 15 years so personally save your money any buy clothes or something till you have more disposable income LOL or save for a car.

fortunecookie
Dec 11, 2010, 10:13 PM
Nice simple review. I'm giving MBA a deep thought sine it crosses MBP price bounderies.

Omar Khafagy
Dec 12, 2010, 01:12 AM
I spent about 15 minutes writing on the keyboard of an 11" macbook air in a store. I, as best as possible, mimicked the sort of usage I'd actually put it through were I to own it. I'm a writer, so the most important factor for me is typing.

I went as far in my test as to download trial versions of my software of choice (Scrivener 2.0) onto the 11" macbook air, the 13.3" macbook air and a 13.3" Macbook Pro.

(Surprisingly Future Shop employees either don't care, or don't realize, when you steal their stool from a point of purchase in the audio department and tinker with their Apple computers.)

I looked for three primary things:

1. A keyboard bezel that is cool to the touch
2. Quick load on opening the screen
3. no interference from the touchpad while typing.

I also kept an eye out for considerations like how far the screen pushed back, how well my eyes handled the resolution of the screen, and how sharp the edge of the keyboard bezel was.

Here's what I found:

I quickly ruled out the MBA 11" because it could not meet criteria number 3. I can be a bit of a heavy typer, with my hand wresting directly on the bezel. My fingers are also relatively short, and so the palm of my hand tended to rest on the touchpad.

I found that when I would move my thumb to hit the space bar, or when I would reach out to hit one of the numbers above the keyboard with my forefinger, the part of my hand that rested on the touchpad would push in and actually physically CLICK the button. This caused an issue with writing that was unbearable for me.

The Macbook Air 11 did meet the other two primary criteria remarkably well, but it also fell short in its range of screen tilt. It would not go back for enough for my tastes, which is particularly problematic considering the diminutive size of the device.

The Macbook Pro, though a very powerful machine in its own right and much more feature rich, failed to meet the portability I was looking for. Therefore its presence here was mostly for comparison. What I found was that, from a point of sleep, the Macbook Pro loaded as quickly as the MBA 13 and 11. Indeed the only time I could really notice a difference in how quickly it loaded was from a cold boot.

The bezel is also quite a bit warmer than I wanted, and the edge of the bezel was too sharp. Prolonged typing (I can find myself typing steadily for five hours cumulative over perhaps a 7 hour period) would eventually become painful.

The MBA 13 does get fairly warm, though not nearly to the extent that I have experienced with a Macbook Pro. The bottom also doesn't reach the lap-scalding temperatures of my current unibody MBP 17". Much easier to deal with.

Ultimately, I chose the 13.3" Macbook Air, and am waiting for its arrival. I qualify the review you read above by saying that what I was looking for (and hopefully have found) is the desktop experience on the go.

I thought I'd post this review here to offer those who are trying to make this decision (between 11 and 13) some extra food for thought.

Tools are made to fit your workflow, and it's easy to catch yourself trying to build your workflow around your tools. I've made this mistake, and this is why I'm trying to rectify it by selecting a tool more suited to my needs. If your needs match mine, I hope you find my review helpful :)

Omar

teski
Dec 12, 2010, 01:42 AM
[...]

Omar

Nice write-up! Like you said, it's based on your needs but provides great detail on your research experiences.

1rottenapple
Dec 12, 2010, 01:45 AM
Definitely. the 11.6 fits my needs, but its not for everyone...

Speaking of which I was walking with the air in one hand around the house doing laundry, working on the car, etc.. while streaming a fight online :)

thelookingglass
Dec 12, 2010, 02:32 AM
Definitely. the 11.6 fits my needs, but its not for everyone...

Speaking of which I was walking with the air in one hand around the house doing laundry, working on the car, etc.. while streaming a fight online :)

Wouldn't it have been easier to use your iPad for that?

1rottenapple
Dec 12, 2010, 02:33 AM
Wouldn't it have been easier to use your iPad for that?

FLASH!!!!!! Lol

thelookingglass
Dec 12, 2010, 02:48 AM
FLASH!!!!!! Lol

Good point. Another plus in favor of the MBA ...

Rob.G
Dec 12, 2010, 11:57 PM
I have the same issue when typing on my 11.6" MBA... I'm working on training my hand to not click the trackpad... so far so good. I type a LOT, and I average 120 wpm. I've found, aside from this one little issue, that the MBA keyboard actually has a better feel than my 17" MBP. At least I have til Jan 8th to return it if it comes down to that. But I love this thing for its size.

I'm currently debating if I should sell my 17" MBP or not. If I do, I will likely replace it with a 27" iMac, but it will be at least Feb or even March before that will be able to happen.

Rob

Dammit Cubs
Dec 13, 2010, 12:37 AM
yeah I totally love my 11.6 ultimate edition. I bring it everywhere. To work. To my living room. I even contemplated selling my mac mini since this guy can handle all my 1080p movies with plex.

Because of the macbook air. I sold my while macbook. Got a mac mini which sits in the living room connected to my tv. I have 4 TB of data and movies using plex to put together the perfect movie/TV interface. The best part, because i have the macbook air, it has open a billion possibilities. I occasionaly would stop a tv show or movie mid way on my mac mini and use my macbook air to finish watching it in my bedroom. Because Plex can be used as a media server, my macbook air had no issues finding all the movies files. I even upgraded my router to a dual band router to give me fast speeds everywhere. Because my internal wireless network is darn fast, I can control my mac mini from my macbook air without much lag. I can even watch a movie played on my mac mini but I remote desktoped in. So its like my macbook air is like my command center and my mac mini is my server. And whats the best part, even though i have 128 gigs of space because I get everything from a "cloud" i still have 95 gigs remaining. !!!!


Love it

louden
Jan 4, 2011, 09:35 PM
Nice write-up! Like you said, it's based on your needs but provides great detail on your research experiences.

Try a BT keyboard and mouse. I do that while working pairs (pair programming) on a laptop screen.

Of course, an external monitor works best for this..

jetblk328i
Jan 4, 2011, 10:08 PM
Good review! I am looking at a 11 inch MBA, but still debating over the smaller screen size.

MacBook08
Jan 4, 2011, 10:22 PM
It replaced my 13in macbook 2.4 with the 10 hr battery life (that's going to my parents to replace their 2006 imac) so screen real estate seems the same but higher res of course. I can fit two internet browser screens with their width reducted. And since its widescreen it feels like I can fit more in my horizontal space.... I use my mac with the dock hidden for the past 3-4 years the 11.6 in screen works for me :)

Great post. I'm going to do the exact same thing. Buy the 11.6" base model upgraded to 4 GB and hand my 13" Aluminum MacBook 2.0 GHz over to my parents. I'm glad I'm not the only one doing this. I know the 11.6" will fit my needs better than my current MacBook but there is always a specs-pusher out there who will try to reason with me that such a switch is a downgrade. Apparently, that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Jayomat
Jan 5, 2011, 01:19 AM
have you tested the performance with parallels/VMFursion running Windows (7)?

nomad01
Jan 5, 2011, 01:46 AM
Great post. I'm going to do the exact same thing. Buy the 11.6" base model upgraded to 4 GB and hand my 13" Aluminum MacBook 2.0 GHz over to my parents.

Just an extra opinion... I bought the base 11 inch... No upgrades.

I currently use this all the time. My I7 MBP sits in a case under the sofa and I barely use it. In fact I only use it when I need iTunes as my whole library is on there.

The 11" MBA has changed my life! lol Never expected it to be this good.

Mars478
Jan 5, 2011, 06:32 AM
Bought the low end 999$ Air until the new Sandy Bridge pros come out, I'm 15, use it everyday, it's perfect. Pretty awesome computer. I have a 20" iMac at home which I use while I'm home and sync my files with drop box.

louden
Jan 6, 2011, 12:13 PM
Just got my 11" MBA - and am thinking this is great! I love the resolution and portability while out on the road. It's incredibly portable to carry around with you.

I'm a big fan of spaces on this size screen - It makes it easy to use corners or a trackpad hack (better touch tool) to easily switch between spaces and not lose your cursor.

I know I'll be jealous when a sandy bridge version of this comes out - but for now - this is great!

Rob.G
Jan 6, 2011, 12:51 PM
What's the corners / trackpad hack about? I've been using F1 to switch spaces when I don't have my Magic Mouse hooked up (and then bind middle-click to it).

I did a bunch of traveling with this thing over the holidays, and it's GREAT. I do love having the bigger display of my 17" MBP at home, but when out and about, this is awesome.

I just ordered a sleeve for it from eBags so I can stuff it in the topcase of my motorcycle for traveling.

Rob

peapody
Jan 6, 2011, 01:15 PM
I'd have to say that the base mba with a 4gb upgrade is a great secondary computer for those people who have main machines. 64gb of hdd space is a bit tight, but one can use effective space management and decrease the amount of baggage and data if the MBA contains only necessary files and programs, and cloud storage options are employed

I am very glad I exercised self restraint and went for the 1.4ghz. 4gb, 64gb configuration as it has been exactly what I needed. I got the machine with a superdrive for a great deal at $900. No regrets yet! Has handled everything I have thrown at it!

size100
Jan 6, 2011, 01:53 PM
can i see a screenshot of your activity monitor in the ram tab during your normal use. Just to see how much ram is used and in standby(forgot what osx calls their categories) and what is using how much.

aCondor
Jan 6, 2011, 01:54 PM
I've been thinking about it but the 11" screen seems too small. How do you feel about the ease of reading and typing on it?

peapody
Jan 6, 2011, 01:58 PM
I've been thinking about it but the 11" screen seems too small. How do you feel about the ease of reading and typing on it?

It is a little restrictive and if you have bad eye sight, I would advise against it. Sitting on the couch, the computer is so small that I have to hunch over to view the screen, and that causes neck and back pains. That is the most annoying thing I think about the small screen. I love using my 15" on the couch as it is a lot easier to read and enjoy.

louden
Jan 6, 2011, 02:40 PM
What's the corners / trackpad hack about? I've been using F1 to switch spaces when I don't have my Magic Mouse hooked up (and then bind middle-click to it).

Rob

I use three finger up and down swipes for expose and spaces, respectively. For that you need a hack tool like BetterTouchTool.

I have the three finger swipes on in the trackpad - but that only goes back and forth. That then allows me to add hooks into three fingers up and down... I think it's great! It's especially useful when only using a single screen - as you never lose your mouse pointer, and it makes it very easy to switch apps or screens. I was a big fan of doing this on my hackintosh....

Rob.G
Jan 6, 2011, 02:41 PM
The screen size is okay for me. And that's coming from 1920x1200 on my 17" MBP. I've had much less trouble coding (using Eclipse) than I thought, due to the smaller size.

I LOVE the keyboard. I think it has a better feel than my MBP. The only "issue" is that you have to be very careful to not put pressure on the kb with your right thumb when typing, or you'll "click" the touchpad and make the cursor jump and/or lose focus. I've trained my hand to not do that anymore so it's rarely an issue.

As for space, I have 128 gig and it's tight. 256 would let me keep all the files with me that I want. For now I have a 1TB external for that, but it's not convenient to use unless I'm at a desk and plugged into power since it uses computer power, and would suck the battery down even more. Likewise, on battery, I don't often use my Verizon USB 3G modem; instead I turn on the WiFi hotspot on my Droid X phone, since it preserves the MBA's battery.

Memory-wise, with 4 gig, it also does surprisingly well. Right now as I type this, I have seven copies of Chrome running, one copy of Firefox, one Terminal, Eclipse, the new Mac App Store, Forklift, VirtualBox with a running Windows XP guest session (which I gave 768 meg of RAM), which is running MSSQL. I also have ColdFusion 9 server running, Skype, TweekDeck, and TextEdit. I'm only 225 meg into swap, I have 1 gig inactive, 2 gig active, and 1.07 gig wired (whatever that means).

Rob

size100
Jan 6, 2011, 02:44 PM
Memory-wise, with 4 gig, it also does surprisingly well. Right now as I type this, I have seven copies of Chrome running, one copy of Firefox, one Terminal, Eclipse, the new Mac App Store, Forklift, VirtualBox with a running Windows XP guest session (which I gave 768 meg of RAM), which is running MSSQL. I also have ColdFusion 9 server running, Skype, TweekDeck, and TextEdit. I'm only 225 meg into swap, I have 1 gig inactive, 2 gig active, and 1.07 gig wired (whatever that means).

Rob

wired would be the osx and the virtual box. inactive is stuff left in the memory but basically 'free'. So you're still way under the choke point. What are your page-outs and what is your uptime?

jamesryanbell
Jan 6, 2011, 03:32 PM
I'm posting this reply from an 11.6" MBA Air at the Apple Store in Houston. I LOVE that it has a full size keyboard. Great move. I think I'm destined to own one of these. I think I'd want to sell either my iPad 3G 64GB or my late '08 MBP to make it happen though. I'd have to get the Ultimate.

This is an IMPRESSIVE machine all the way around.

Rob.G
Jan 6, 2011, 03:44 PM
wired would be the osx and the virtual box. inactive is stuff left in the memory but basically 'free'. So you're still way under the choke point. What are your page-outs and what is your uptime?

Current pageouts are 78.3 meg. Uptime is not much... I did the 10.6.6 update this morning around 9 AM and of course that required a reboot. BUT, prior to that it had been up for something like a week or ten days and was doing fine. Uptime reports as 4:13.

Rob

Sounds Good
Jan 6, 2011, 05:45 PM
Guys, what would the 11" version NOT be powerful enough for? What things would require the 13" version instead?

Rob.G
Jan 6, 2011, 06:17 PM
Guys, what would the 11" version NOT be powerful enough for? What things would require the 13" version instead?

Heavy-duty gaming, or maybe anything that uses a LOT of CPU power, like, say, AutoCad. But even then, the MBA13 might not be the best choice either.

The only time I've taxed mine so far was when I was installing MacPorts. Since it does a lot of compiling, it ran the CPU pretty hard. The unit got quite hot, the fan was screaming, and battery power (I was on the couch at the time) was reading barely over an hour (I started with a full charge). But once it finished, everything returned to normal and I was seeing 4+ hours on the battery life.

Rob

firewood
Jan 6, 2011, 06:37 PM
Guys, what would the 11" version NOT be powerful enough for? What things would require the 13" version instead?

My guess is that anyone with a usage for which a MBA 11 clearly wasn't powerful enough, would need to step up to something with a Core i7, and/or a high end graphics card, to get speedy results.

louden
Jan 6, 2011, 11:48 PM
I can't even hear the fans on this thing unless I put my head next to the keyboard.

I'd be willing to bet that the next generation will go Sandy Bridge - and will consume so much less power that Apple can opt for passive cooling on an air - which would mean no moving parts.

As it stands, this is the future of computing...

jace88
Jan 7, 2011, 01:52 AM
I'm very happy with performance of my 11" MBA with 128gb SSD. It's perfect for casual computing. I don't do photo editing or video editing. I just surf the net, talk to friends, and do a bit of Word/Excel every now and then when I'm outside the office and not in reach of my Lenovo work laptop.

thelookingglass
Jan 7, 2011, 05:10 AM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

I can't even hear the fans on this thing unless I put my head next to the keyboard.

I'd be willing to bet that the next generation will go Sandy Bridge - and will consume so much less power that Apple can opt for passive cooling on an air - which would mean no moving parts.

As it stands, this is the future of computing...

Have you seen anything to suggest that Sandy Bridge laptops would consume significantly less power? I thought I saw news about a PC laptop that was recently discovered to have the Sandy Bridge chipset. Battery life was better, but not significantly so.

Tjnlv
Jan 7, 2011, 06:27 AM
Hello. I've read the forum for a few years but have decided to participate. I traded MacBook Pro 13 2.26 320 GB Drive for the new MacBook Air 11 inch ultimate specs. First it was not my plan to buy ultimate, it is what they had in stock in store in November. So I sucked it up and went for it. I'm very very glad I did. 4gb ram, 128gb storage, and the small processor bump make this machine fast fast fast and a joy. It's January and I have no regrets. The aspect ratio of the screen truly does give the illusion if nothing else of a larger screen. I love the absolute portability but have been stunned by how quick this machine is!! OK it's not for intense movie or photo editing, but certainly capable with if you give it time. But if I was a serious movie editor, graphic, artist, etc.......I would be doing those things on a 27 Inch maxed out iMac or Mac Pro. That seems obvious, and a very hollow argument that I see on here too much. That is why they have a full range of the best machines around to match to your needs.

So let me tell you why it suits me......I am a school teacher and the portability and the instant on capability, make it very efficient to use at a student's desk to assist them without any spool up wait. Believe me, thank you apple for those precious few seconds back, you have no idea in today's classroom what can happen in 3 seconds. It's not heavy. The 13 inch pro now feels like carrying a child and the 15 feels like I might sprain my wrist, even though they are terrific machines.

I use this as my main computer and synch an iPhone and 2 iPads to it. Airplay to apple tv, multitask with aplomb. It's outstanding. I would consider the 13 inch for even more screen real esate. I think they really hit a bulleseye with these two new Airs. And I hope to see the revisions include lighted keyboard, even though I hardly miss it, the new processors, and more more of all that is good. I find I tale it everywhere with me now. I picked up a 64gb touch at the x-mas sales and use that in conjunction and for extra media storage. Battery Life for me has been better than advertised and of course dependent on your usage activity. That's just my thoughts and I believe the pro line when it refreshes will probably incorporate many of these features that work so well. It is probably a safe bet that the spinning hard drive is in it's last years. And laptops are gonna get back to being just that portable powerful little scream machines.