13 macbook air as primary laptop - power? suggestions/advice

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by cmm, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. cmm macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
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    Manhattan & Zürich
    #1
    Hi all--

    I have a 17 Macbook Pro which I use anytime I am not in my office (or to save time, I hook up to one of my 24" Dell Ultrasharp monitors and work from).

    The problem with my 17 MBP is it is too big and heavy. When my computer is in my nightstand and I'm in bed, if I want to get out the computer to look something up, I always reach for my wife's 13 MBP, because the 17 MBP is too heavy. I'm not a weak person, either -- it just can be difficult to pick up from certain situations.

    I am unimpressed with the 13 MBP screen (ever since I got the 17 MBP), and the 13 MBP screen resolution is too low (this was the selling point for me on the 17 MBP).


    However, the 13 MacBook Air has a much higher screen resolution, so I am very attracted to that. Add with the lighter weight and I am almost sold! I am concerned about power, however.

    I don't do a lot of processor intensive tasks on my computer (I have a computer at work I SSH into for anything that requires CPU). However, when I tried the MBA at the Apple Store while running top and ps aux in terminal, I saw huge spikes, sometimes at 100%, most of the time in the high 90 % when I watched youtube videos (irrelevant if the video was HTML5 or Flash -- I tried both).

    I didn't notice any noticeable bottlenecks and there was no pinwheel of death, but I am concerned that the 13 MacBook Air will not be fast enough and I'll start to regret the purchase (before I gave my wife my 13 MBP, I wanted to throw it out the window as every hour, I would experience bottlenecks where the computer would look up for 5 to 30 seconds. I had a 7200 RPM HDD in there, I've never put an SSD in my 13 MBP. My 17 MBP has an SSD and a 750GB 7200RPM HDD).

    I hope the SSD helps out some, but I am concerned because the MBA and 13 MBP shares the same processor and I really was not happy with my 13 MBP.........


    Advice please? Do you have any problems using your 13 MBA for general, multitasking? Does Word ever lock up on you (or do you use iWork)?
     
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Location:
    On the fence
    #2
    You might have been running into the slowdown issue due to lack of RAM, rather than CPU. If that's the case, I'd wait and see if they offer an 8GB option on the new one. Plus the new one should have a considerably beefier CPU.
     
  3. cmm thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Manhattan & Zürich
    #3
    When are the new MBA's due?
     
  4. Bomino macrumors member

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    Apr 22, 2011
    #4
    Rumors suggest this month or next month. Some people are thinking after the "back to school" promotion is over. No one really knows for certain
     
  5. vladgur macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    #5
    I mentioned in another thread that Im a power user(I do development in Ruby on Rails in RubyMine IDE and may do some Objective C dev in XCode), I have switched from 15" MacbookPro with 2.66 i7 and 8gb ram down to 11" MBA with 1.6ghz Core2Duo and 4gb ram and I havent noticed any debilitating slowdowns

    With exception of FLASH.....The problem is so many websites use flash ads here and there that when you have multiple tabs open, regardless of the fact that FLASH is gpu-accelerated, the cpu will spike up. My solution -- flash blocking plugins that will block the flash animation untill you explicitly click on it to play. All the cpu issues are gone..
    I would recommend buying your laptop from refurbished store since they look like brand new and carry full 1yr warranty.
     
  6. vladgur macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    #6
    p.s. the problems with your 13" macbook sound strange, if i were experiencing them i would look at few suspect such as Time Machine backups and Spotlight indexing and make sure they only index/backup things that they have to(exclude browser cache folders, download folders, anything that you think should remain transient). Find out what is being launched on startup and run in the background and if these problems persist, reinstall the OS afresh.
    Core 2 Duo macbooks should handle most if not all tasks you throw at them as long as you dont use heavy cpu utilizing apps such as Parallels, Vmware, photoshop, handbrake, etc
     
  7. Hankster macrumors 68020

    Hankster

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #7
    If you're not doing programming or any processing on the MBA the base model is 100% fine. It takes very little CPU to run iTunes, browsers, Office, apps, etc all at the same time. I have the 11" and have 3-5 applications open all the time. This includes being able to stream 1080 with very little buffering.
     
  8. cmm thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 30, 2006
    Location:
    Manhattan & Zürich
    #8
    What about running 8+ apps at a time?

    At any given time, I run Word, Google Chrome (15+ tabs), Mail, Skype, Adium, iTunes, iTerm2, iCal, Preview, Address Book, and Text Edit.

    I run multiple iTerm2 shells (hopefully the new terminal for Lion will be better and I won't have to use iTerm2) and rarely videochat via Skype, but I use Skype to IM people.


    Will the current MBA handle this? If so, it is safe to say waiting for the new one is a nice idea, but not necessary for my needs.
     
  9. cmm thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 30, 2006
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    Manhattan & Zürich
    #9
    I use the Chrome equivalent to Flashblock and I opt in to all HTML5 betas, if available.

    It does indeed help, and the only time I get the pinwheel these days is if I click on a 720p or 1080p mkv movie and Finder tries to load it in the preview pane of Finder (I use the Finder view option where I see things by Columns).
     
  10. torbjoern macrumors 65816

    torbjoern

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    #10
    It will, but you better get 4 gigs of RAM.
     
  11. cmm thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    I've been through it all, including fresh installs. It makes me irate, given my P4 FreeBSD box can handle 100+ tables in any web browser without choking.

    The best improvement was adding an SSD.

    Thanks for the tips, I hope they help someone else.
     
  12. cmm, Jun 14, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011

    cmm thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    I have 8GB in my 17 MBP and 4GB in my 13 MBP. I mainly use the 17 MBP. The difference was minimal when using 8GB in the 17 MBP. Nothing like upgrading from 2 to 4 GB in previous C2D MBPs.

    Why do you suggest the ram will greatly help the MBA along?

    Is installing ram in the MBA easy to do on one's own? I assume there is a huge upcharge for Apple installing it at purchase?


    EDIT: Edit: I just realized you said upgrade to 4?!? The current MBA does not come standard with 4GB? That will be a definite upgrade! I hope the new MBA's have an 8GB option -- so long as the user can easily install it! Any word on this yet?
     
  13. NeonEcko macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2011
    #13

    Unfortunately, ram cannot be upgraded by the end user and must be installed by Apple. Choose the amount of ram you want when purchasing, you can't upgrade it after.
     
  14. torbjoern macrumors 65816

    torbjoern

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    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
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    #14
    That's affirmative. Default is 2 GB, which was out of question not not "upgrade" when I bought my MBA. The RAM of the MBA is soldered onto the logic board - so once you have made your choice, you're stuck with it. You make that choice prior to purchase, and I advice anyone who's going to buy a MBA to max out the RAM which at the current point means paying $100 extra for 4 GB.
     

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