How redundant is the current (as at April 22 2010) MacBook Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Stuntcar, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    #1
    I was hoping a new MBA would have been released with the MBP upgrades.

    I am buying a machine with view to 3 year life cycle. How redundant is the current 2.13Ghz 2Gb RAM MBA now, let alone by mid 2013?

    My current Vaio T series is kaput - I want to purchase a new machine by next Friday (4/30) to have it up and running for travel the week after.

    Not sure about being suckered into buying an already obsolete MBA or just go with the current Vaio (the current one has been great).

    Open to advice.

    SC
     
  2. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #2
    To me the greatest limitation of the current MBA is RAM, since it cannot be expanded. They should really bump it to 4GB, that would have more impact for most users than a bump in clock speed.
     
  3. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    #3
    I don't think the current MBA is 'obsolete' at all. Most people seem to have an obsession with specs, but unless you do a lot of videos or gaming, the current model has plenty of power for everyday use. I am using a top spec current MBA with SSD, and it feels much faster in everyday use than my top spec 13" MBP 2009 without SSD. The MBA is my system of choice by far. I have used Sony Vaio machines (Desktop and ultraportable), and have been very, very disappointed, whereas my MBA has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. If I needed a new machine today, especially for travel, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a current MBA whether they update it soon or not.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    Kingcodez

    Joined:
    May 13, 2009
    Location:
    China
    #4
    The MBA is great if you only use it for what it was intended for, Office Work, Internet, mobility.

    Yet when you start trying to use the MBA as a MBP that's when people start complaining.
     
  5. macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #5
    I agree with a couple of the thoughts expressed above. First the current MBA is not obsolete. Nevertheless, as noted by an other poster, its being limited to the 2Gb of RAM it ships with is a serious problem for some users. For example, I love the MBA and would have had one by now but for not being able to upgrade the RAM. Because of the software I need to run on any Mac, Fusion running Windows 7 in Unity mode being a couple of them, 2Gb of RAM won't cut it for me. Otherwise, though, the MBA is an impressive computer.

    The bottom line seems to be this: The OP needs to satisfy himself that 2Gb of RAM would be sufficient to allow him to use an MBA for his intended purposes for the next three years, keeping in mind that a lot can happen in three years. Alas, only he can answer this question.
     
  6. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #6
    One should NOT be buying a current MBA if they need to use the computer for three years. Right now, the MBA is stuck with 2 GB of RAM forever. That amount of RAM was acceptable eighteen months ago when the MBA was introduced in the v 2,1 update in October 2008. In June of last year, it badly needed an update. However, the $700 price drop made the lack of a RAM upgrade acceptable.

    Now, it's just too limited for the average user who plans to own this MBA for more than a year as their primary Mac. Now, if you want a secondary Mac, the MBA is fine. But to use it as most use a primary Mac, it's just too limited in two main points. One, the RAM. Two, the drive space. There is no way to upgrade the RAM, ever without access to Apple's plant and robotic soldering ARM. And the drive is so specific in size and has such a connector as to make it damn near proprietary.

    The drive uses an LIF cable, and Apple is the only company using LIF on a SATA-II drive controller. Furthermore, the drive is not only a 1.8" form factor, but it also is limited to a 5mm height clearance.

    The RAM is soldered to the board, and I asked a computer/electrical engineer about soldering larger capacity RAM chips on the MBA and was told it's NOT possible without access to original equipment/computer/robot that soldered the RAM on there in the first place. Or if one would be willing to pay the setup costs and production costs to have a computer production company (like Foxconn) make a custom batch of logic boards with larger capacity RAM chips soldered on. So, Steve Jobs could easily have the facility use larger capacity RAM chips soldered onto his own personal MBA giving it 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM, easily without any extra costs other than the additional cost of larger capacity RAM chips. You and I, cannot have it done without a robot specifically designed to solder RAM onto the MBA's logic board. Easy to do with the robot, impossible to do without the robot. So, unless we can get some MBA logic boards without the RAM chips soldered on, and we can pool together maybe $100k, and get SJ's permission to have Foxconn do it, it isn't going to happen.

    The better option is to wait for an MBA upgrade. It is very possible, I would say probable, that Apple will update the MBA before or at WWDC by late June or early July. If Apple takes a similar approach to the next MBA update as it did in October 2008, we can expect an MBA with a Core 2 Duo CPU, Nvidia 320m GPU/chipset, and probably more RAM and more drive space options (assuming Apple takes same strategy and doubles RAM and increases drive space - also assuming Apple realizes what we do that would be MBA buyers want more RAM and drive space to make the purchase). We can hope for other updates, like a glass trackpad, new display tech, or more advanced CPUs and dedicated graphics, but it seems unlikely if Apple uses the same strategy as it implemented in October 2008. Since then, Apple has used one chipset/GPU setup across five Macs (13" MBP, 13" MB, 13" MBA, Mac mini, and 20/21.5" iMac). Since the 13" MBP is Apple's best seller, and since the MBP hadn't been updated in far too long for a "pro" user, it is obvious Apple would use all capacity to manufacturing enough 13" MBPs first, then moving onto MBA, MB, Mm, and 21.5" iMac updates.

    I expect the MBA update will occur as a silent update but it could happen at WWDC if Apple has bigger plans for it, like say an IPS/OLED/3D display, or a completely different chipset and CPU strategy for the MBA. Some think maybe the MBA will wait for the next MBP update to get updated to beyond C2D CPUs and Nvidia GPUs/chipsets. I suppose that is one great possibility too, but I hope Apple gives a damn about the MBA/luxury buyers too. I hope Apple isn't so limited in scope that it has forgotten about the MBA, Mac Pro, larger ACDs, and other high-end products, while it focuses all of its energy on the iPad/iPhones.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    #7
    Anyone used MBA 2.13Ghz to run SPSS v18

    Hi,
    Further to making purchase decsion on a current MBA.

    Does anyone have any experience running SPSS v18 on the MBA 2.13Ghz? I'll be on the road for a month and will need to run it from the MBA as it would be my primary machine.

    When at home or in the office (not on the road) the MBA is not my primary machine.

    Any advice appreciated.

    SPSS OSX Spec sheet are:
    IBM SPSS Statistics 18 for MacOperating system: Apple® Mac 10.5x (Leopard™) and 10.6x (Snow Leopard™). (32-bit and 64-bit)
    Hardware:
    Intel processor
    Memory: 1GB RAM or more recommended
    Minimum free drive space: 800MB***
    DVD drive
    Super VGA (800x600) or higher-resolution monitor
    Web browser: Safari™
    Java™ Standard Edition 5.0 (J2SE 5.0)

    Just to be ugly also need to have Office and iWork 7 iTunes with about 3Gb library plus iLife (maybe not essential but iLike). will also be using MobleMe.


    /Sc
     
  8. macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #8
    I think you are right about this. Upon mature reflection, I agree that it is unlikely any computer limited to 2Gb of RAM, as is the current MBA, is going to be satisfactory to most users over the course of the next three years. The only laptops Apple currently ships with only 2Gb of Ram are the MBA ($1,500 to $1,800) and the humble white Macbook ($999). What's wrong with this picture?
     
  9. macrumors 68030

    BlizzardBomb

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2005
    Location:
    England
    #9
    I would stay away from the MBA for now given the RAM issue that's already been mentioned, as well as the fact that the 13" MBP now has double the battery life as the MBA. No-one knows when the new ones will be out, but the current models are poor value for money IMO.
     
  10. Guest

    InfoSecmgr

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Location:
    Ypsilanti, Michigan
    #10
    The user defines obsolete.

    If the computer still does what it was originally implemented to do, then it should not be considered obsolete.

    If you let the computer manufacturers tell you when something is "obsolete" you'd be buying a new $2,400 Mac Pro every 6 months.

    Yes, I would personally like 4GB of RAM myself in a MBA, but what of battery life? I'm no expert, but isn't the battery in the MBA smaller than say the other 13 inchers? If they put more RAM in it wouldn't battery life go down? I'm not sure by how much...I'm just wondering.
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    #11
    Redundant? I don't think that word means what you think it means.

    "1. Exceeding what is necessary or natural; superfluous."
     
  12. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #12
    No.

    The problem with people wanting more battery life is the fact that they're not considering how the 13" MBPs get such great battery life... they use a battery that's nearly half the weight of the MBA. That battery takes up a great deal of space too. If people want an MBA that is super thin and lightweight, they have to accept the battery life.

    I have never had a problem with my MBA's battery capabilities. I would prefer to drop a half pound from the current MBA vs. doubling the battery life. Even if Apple went to an ultra low voltage CPU, there is no space for a battery that gives the MBA 10 hours between charges. I really hope Apple can give us a true 5-hour battery by using the new tech used in the MBPs/MBs. However, I don't want anything that adds weight or thickness to the MBA. I will gladly accept the current 4-hour battery over something that ruins the MBA experience.
     
  13. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    #13
    I hadn't picked up a MBA in awhile when I did so again today and I just marveled (again) at how light and thin and sleek it is.

    I do think 4gb would future proof it a bit more although I only have 2gb in my Imac and am mostly fine. I do notice some paging if I open all my tabs in a bookmark folder and do a little too much at the same time on my 2009 iMac.

    Still for the most part no slowdowns. IT's just opening 25 pages at a time or running a virtual machine or having iMovie open with some of this other stuff where it can get into paging mode.

    Plus an SSD though would alleviate much of that pain should it arise.

    My main beef though is I wouldn't buy an Apple product this far into the lifecycle 2gb or 4gb of RAM.
     
  14. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #14
    I agree. 4GB minimum, but I'd also like to say that I'd really like it if the high-end model had 6 (or even 8). That'd be 2+4, which is slightly more affordable than the 4+4 required for 8.
     
  15. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #15
    Of course we all want 8 GB of RAM possible. The problem is Apple would have put two RAM slots in the MBA to begin with if it was possible. I doubt Apple would offer an MBA with 8 GB of RAM soldered to the logicboard. I suspect that it's more costly to make two logicboards - one with 2 GB of RAM and one with 4 GB of RAM. Therefore, I suspect 4 GB of RAM in all versions of the next MBA.

    If Apple could put one RAM slot there would they do it? I don't think so. Apple wouldn't really benefit from the costs and space of changing it to one RAM slot. So, if there's one RAM slot is Apple going to put 2 GB RAM into one and 4 GB RAM into one model? I don't think so because that would cost Apple a lot of money for one DIMM of 4 GB of RAM. Seriously, this only leaves soldering 4 GB of RAM to the board.

    In addition, Apple doesn't want people to open the MBA up. Apple has used a damn near proprietary drive/connector for the MBA and it's most likely due not to space but to costs and margins. Apple wants to make as much as possible, and allowing users to upgrade their own SSD leaves Apple probably out $200 vs. selling it to us in a high-end model.

    I think we get double the capacity RAM chips soldered to the board giving us all 4 GB of RAM with the next MBA. I see two different SSDs being used in the next MBA. I suspect Apple to maintain the LIF proprietary connector. Apple only has Runcore competing with it and at a high-cost aftermarket option.

    I will guess that Apple differentiates the high and low-end MBAs by drive space and maybe something else, like an HD IPS display in the high-end.

    MBA $1599
    2.13 GHz CPU
    Nvidia 320m GPU
    4 GB RAM
    128 GB SSD
    LED backlit 1280x800 display

    MBA $1999
    2.13 GHz CPU
    Nvidia 320m GPU
    4 GB RAM
    192 or 256 GB SSD
    LED backlit 1440x900 IPS display

    There you have my two MBA predictions. I also say glass trackpad, no USB 3.0, no dedicated graphics, no Arrandale CPUs, limited battery change due to using slightly denser flat cells vs. cylindrical cells, and nothing else different. I say update before or at WWDC. I say new iMac, Mac Mini, and MB at the same time. I say new 27" and 32" LED ACDs at WWDC, newly designed Mac Pro, new 7" iPad at $349, and of course the new iPhone HD.

    Anyone else care to make predictions? I expect to be completely wrong, as my timing is usually completely wrong. However, I expect the MBA C2D, GPU, RAM, and SSD capacity to be completely right, unless it doesn't get updated at all until late 2010 or early 2011. Please GOD, make SJ update the MBA for us before or at WWDC 2010!
     
  16. macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #16
    A 6 or 8Gb MBA would be my dream machine, which I would buy on Day One. Alas, I agree with the conventional wisdom that if the MBA is refreshed, it will probably be offered with only 4Gb of RAM at most.
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    #17
    I say new iPhone at WWDC. That's it.
     
  18. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #18
    Not much of a day for Apple fans then... assuming we already got our iPhone HD reveal last weekend.

    Anything different about the iPhone? Or did we see the exact release model?
     
  19. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #19
    I agree that it may cost more than it's worth for Apple to maintain stock of 2 separate logic boards for a (comparatively) low volume product like the Air. Therefore, I also think that the new models still will have soldered-on RAM, which means we will be stuck with whatever Apple gives us.

    That aside, I don't think the RAM is as big a deal as you are making it. Currently, there are 16x1gigabit chips making up the RAM in the Air which appears in System profiler as 2x1GB. So there are already 2 "slots" in the Air. See this post.

    To get to 4 GB, Apple will likely use 16x2gigabit chips for cost reasons (or 2x2GB sticks). Going to 6GB only requires that Apple uses 8x2gigabit and 8x4gigabit chips, which is essentially 1x2GB and 1x4GB.

    Least likely is going to 8GB, which requires a full 16x2GB chips, but will probably not see daylight as it would be much more expensive.

    I know how badly we all want more RAM in the Air, and we'd all love to have 4GB. But going higher than 4GB is not an engineering or space issue, it's cost vs. returns for Apple.

    Also, we might see something at WWDC, but I think that Apple has started to shy away from product reveals at conferences and likes the media attention of their special events.
     
  20. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #20
    I thought that once until I measured it. It is just barely space enough for one full RAM DIMM when including the slot and soldering to the board.

    I wish Apple could fit two RAM slots in there, but I just don't think it's possible. I thought about one on top of the other but there is no space available in the depth either.

    I really think Apple will just solder 4 GB of RAM to the board.
     
  21. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #21
    I don't think it's possible either, but that's not what I'm talking about. The RAM currently occupies the same space on both sides of the logic board, as clearly seen in the iFixit teardown photos. All I'm saying is that it's possible for Apple to replace half of them (8, or one side) with 2 gigabit chips and the other half with 4 gigabit chips.

    Now, if we were talking about a single DIMM, this likely wouldn't work because there's probably some rule about not mixing chip sizes or something, but it's cool in this case because it already appears as 2 separate DIMMS.

    So when I said "slots" I didn't mean physical RAM slots, but logical ones.
     
  22. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    #22
    John Gruber on WWDC:

     
  23. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    #23
    Then it's probably OK to purchase a MBA with its 2 GB RAM limitation because it looks like we're not going to see 10.7 for at least two years.

    I'm not an MBA fan, but if you want one, get the latest gen refurb unit with SSD and use that with 10.6. Should be perfectly fine for Internet, Office and light to medium duty work without a lot of peripherals.
     
  24. macrumors newbie

    swanie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Location:
    colorado
    #24
    Battery life, RAM, processor speeds at a MINIMUM have to go up ... otherwise, no point in promoting a new MBA ...

    - 7 or 10 hours
    - 4 GB
    - 2.25+ GHz

    If they come out with this, I'll get an MBA in a heart beat ... I'm eying the new MBP 13" right now, but a MBA with the above upgrades would be the deciding factor for me ... SSD for sure

    I'm indifferent about the trackpad ...

    I would like to see an anti-glare screen option like they have for the 15 and 17" MBPs ... I can't stand the high-gloss screen ... I'd have to buy anti-glare screen otherwise

    higher screen resolution wouldn't be bad either ... i can handle small icons and text ... prefer more room for editing software (adobe)
     
  25. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #25
    Based on the 13" MBP, I think there's little chance of there being a faster processor available in the new Air. I'm inclined to believe that we will see the same processor with an nVidia 320. However, we should see an increase in battery life if that's the case as the 320 uses less power than the 9400. So it's a push.
     

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