2.13ghz, 4gb ram, 256gb ssd MBA 13 review

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by thisisawesome, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. thisisawesome, Nov 3, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010

    thisisawesome macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2010
    When I read the weblogs about Apple's announcement about the new MacBook Airs and wanted one immediately.

    I've always been a Windows guy. Except from 2002-to late 2006ish, technically. I bought the new dual core quicksilver power g4 mac when it came out in 02.

    I had my problems with the mac then. They released their first version of OSX and it could dual boot with OS 9.

    But I always kept a windows desktop handy just in case and back then not a lot of programs were compatible, I used it mainly for its photoshop/final cut prowess.

    I've been building my own computers since I tore one apart in my dads office when I was in..the 3rd grade.

    Anyways, prior to this I used to have a Sony Vaio but before that I bought the Adamo 13 when it first came out. I went through 7 Adamos because the logic board they custom made was pretty ****ed up. I still have one sitting in its box that I have to send to Dell so they can repair it but after 7 I kind of lost the heart to send in another, and thats why I bought the Vaio in March of this year.

    Here is a review if you would like to read but I just wanted to reiterate what most people have been saying that this is a beautiful computer that can handle its own share of programs. Especially the resolution on this computer makes it worth it than any other 13 inch computers.

    FYI, I use this machine mainly for Windows 7.
    When I first bought it I wrestled with reinstalling mac osx and windows 7 like over 10 times to get it right.

    Finally I settled on running Mac with only 15 gbs and using the rest for Windows. This avoids the long boot up into windows directly after completely deleting the Mac partition.

    I don't know if people were more successful than I am but I went through 5 usb sticks to make them bootable but the mac didnt read them so I used an SD card and made it bootable and it worked.

    The screen

    Is extremely bright compared to my Vaio and Adamo. The Adamo was bright but I believe this to be significantly brighter albeit the Vaio was a matte screen instead of a glossy one. The extra screen real estate is always welcomed, prior to this I was looking at the Envy but from what found out they removed the option of having a higher resolution screen so I stopped looking there. It's to the point where I can still use the computer on the lowest and I mean lowest like only one away from off and still use it and sometimes the screen is too bright for me. The whites make me squint my eyes. But the display is gorgeous overall.
    ALSO I love that they TOOK OUT the BLACK BEZEL. I would have gotten the macbook pro 15s maybe a year ago if they didnt have the black bezels but finally it is not black. I thought the black bezels were ugly as with the keys on a SILVER computer, would be find if the whole computer was dark but yeah. I can manage just black keys and the silver bezel.

    The keyboard

    is slightly disappointing because of the lack of backlight on the keys.
    Also since I am using it as a Windows computer the change in the keys are hard to get used to but I used SharpKeys to change the registry on the keys for options and alt and have added page up/down, home and delete keys by using the f8-f10 keys and have worked for me.

    People might flame me for buying a mac and installing windows but I am willing to make a compromise for a better built (in my opinion), thinner and cooler looking computer.

    So for the most part, the keyboard is ok but loses points on the backlight and I am not marking points off for the orientation because it was my decision to use Windows on it.

    The fan

    is loud, when youre running windows 7. But to be fair it is not as loud when youre running Mac. It's loud enough to hear and notice on windows boot. For the most part the computer doesnt get too hot or anywhere near as hot as the macbook pros I have used that my friends have. Not a big deal.

    The graphics

    seem to be ok. The bench marks are up there so you can read those. All I do is play Starcraft 2, pokerstars and watch movies.
    Most movies are fine but mine had trouble playing the mkv versions of 1080p movies. Anything below that runs well without a hiccup and you can do multiple things at once. The fan will kick in though.

    The speakers

    I love. On ultraportable computers the speakers literally suck @$$ and I know because I've used the Adamo and heard some others while shopping. While the BASS is not that great, the macbook air is EXTREMELY loud. For some reason though, the maximum seems louder on windows that in mac. And the most important of all it doesnt sound TINY. Its hard to explain this but its loud and decently full sounding. Most of the time I use my ultrasone or sennheiser headphones but when I get tired and just want to use the computer, its still adequate and fufillingly(?) loud. I never knew that the sound was coming out of the speakers. I think its truly genius.

    The touchpad

    works well in mac. Too well to the point I am jealous because on the Windows it's a bit stuttery. I do not know why because it is not a hardware issue. I guess its the windows drivers that Apple gives us. But thankfully there is a right click there. To be honest though it is too far to the right and too far on the bottom given the size of the trackpad. But I am still thankful there is a right click at the very least. I found it when I have to drag something using two fingers makes it work the best. If I wanted to drag an icon across the screen, I would click on the icon with my index finger and use my third finger to drag it and it works like a charm. The scrolling gestures work (using two fingers to scroll webpages etc). No problems there.


    The computer itself is nicely built. It is sturdy and does not scratch that much yet. I am waiting for Speck to release a new case for the mba 13.
    The webcam works nicely, I use it mostly for GMAIL video chats and skype.
    The microphone is on the side, I dont know how well that works but friends on the other end can hear me well.
    The ports are slightly disappointing. Would have liked more usb ports, hdmi and such without the need for a display adapter from apple. I am looking to buy it cause I have the 21 inch studio display but wont fit the adapter display port.
    The hinge seems sturdy too. No problems there.



    I think this is a very portable cool laptop I have seen in awhile. It has enough oopmh to give you what you need if hardcore multimedia projects are not your thing.
    I know most people use it for light photoshop, web, mail, movies, music and other light things. Games seem to work on light settings. It's not so bad but it's getting there, depends on what you play.

    Also the battery is amazing. One of the more reasons that brought me over the edge was the battery. The screen resolution and battery were big +s. Never tested it running OSX but on the Windows 7 I went as far as 5 hours but I had some juice left over but always plugged it in. That is a big win for me. During those 6 hours I did a mix of video chat, watching movies while surfing the net, or a combination of those 3 and on the rare occasion a little poker added to it.

    You can get better spec'd computers for half the price I paid but sometimes plastic just sucks. The thing I loved about the Adamo was that it was metal. I still love the Adamo design but their logic board failed me too many times. Also my MBA does not have the logic board issues that other people are facing.

    Anyways, I hoped that gave you an insight into a person who uses the MBA 13 as a Windows 7 machine.
    Thanks for reading as this is my first and only post.

    I just felt it was necessary because it is a great machine and people who are able should know that they can buy a mac to run windows now. The experience is good enough to have as a primary machine or secondary.
  2. WildNZ macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2010
    Thanks for the feedback, great review.

    Two questions
    1) "When I first bought it I wrestled with reinstalling mac osx and windows 7 like over 10 times to get it right."

    What did you learn as I'm about to do this shortly?

    2) You mention the long boot up that only occurs if you delete OSX and have only a big windows partician , is that right?????

    Thanks again.
  3. thisisawesome thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2010
    Well the trouble I ran into was because I deleted the osx partition cause I wasnt going to use it. Its good to keep it as a dual booting machine and just let it boot straight into windows by choosing windows as the start up disk from bootcamp in windows.

    For me the usb didnt work because even if I made it into a bootable disk, the mac wouldnt read it so I tried the SD card and it worked.

    From what I have read so far, avoiding technical stuff, the mac uses efi or something other than a bios and it emulates the bios to run windows, if you delete the mac partition it seems to take longer for the machine to realize it has to do that. If you keep both of the machines, the computer will go straight into emulating a bios.

    Hope it helps.
  4. wakey macrumors member

    May 18, 2009
    Great review and very helpful :). I am also looking at buying this spec MBA with a view of using Win 7 on it (but not as the primary OS).

    Could you though put the experience rating up here I would be interested to see what is scores? I would be moving from a Dell XPS M1530 which has a score of 5.3 (the disk being the slowest the CPU is 6.0) and I would like to see how it compares?


  5. thisisawesome thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2010
    Processor 5.7
    RAM 5.9
    Graphics 5.4
    Gaming graphics 6.0
    Primary Hard disk 6.9
  6. wakey macrumors member

    May 18, 2009
  7. Scott6666 macrumors 65816


    Feb 2, 2008
    I'm surprised that you say the fan is loud, even somewhat loud under Mac OS. I thought these things were largely silent.
  8. hcho3 macrumors 68030

    May 13, 2010
    Touchpad is a joke in Pc laptops. They don't even compare to macbooks. I am not going back to PC ever again until they fix those god damn trackpads.
  9. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Kansas City
    These number compare to what sort of spec's in a "PC" computer? Sorry haven't used a windows box in years (other than XP at work).

    Are the scores in line with similarly spec'd machines etc...? Just curious how it compares to other laptops. Thanks.
  10. alias99 macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2010
    Im currently using a HP Dv5 1070 whilst i wait for my 13 inch Air. Specs are:

    Core 2 Duo 2.53
    4gb Ram
    500GB hd
    NVidia GeForce 9600 GT (512mb dedicated)

    and the scores are:

    Processor - 6.1
    Ram - 6.1
    Graphics - 4.9
    Gaming Graphics 6.2
    HD - 5.7
  11. jahman, Nov 4, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010

    jahman macrumors regular

    Feb 12, 2010
    Just checked the Windows Experience score on my XPS M1330 with 64GB SSD! which is just coming up for 3 years old:

    Processor Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T7500 @ 2.20GHz 5.1
    Memory (RAM) 3.50 GB 4.8
    Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS 4.0
    Gaming graphics 895 MB Total available graphics memory 4.6
    Primary hard disk 12GB Free (57GB Total) 5.4

    Overall 4.0 Determined by lowest subscore

    So, the MBA is essentially significantly faster than it in a much smaller package. Ok, if I get one of these the improvements aren't huge but the overall package should make it very much worth my while. Looking forward to it;).

    Just a question of Apple getting the ultimate edition into the UK Apple stores.


  12. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Kansas City
    Thanks for the comparison information. Rather surprising the MBA scores so high in graphics considering it's shared memory and only 256 at that. The rest aside from the obvious HDD numbers look about right.

    Thanks as well for posting some scores, good to see some comparisons. Thanks!
  13. gwsat macrumors 68000


    Apr 12, 2008
    The only reason I didn't buy a Rev. C MBA before the current model was released was its 2GB RAM limitation. I wanted an MBA that would run Windows 7 and a couple of Windows apps in VMware Fusion's Unity mode simultaneously with a half dozen OS X apps. I had learned from experience that my old MBP couldn't handle the load with only 2GB of RAM. After I upgraded the MBP's RAM to 6GB, which was the maximum this model of MBP could handle, all of those apps ran well.

    Despite its having only 4GB of RAM, I decided to take a chance that a loaded 13 inch MBA like the OP's could handle the load I would put on it. Thanks to the MBA's flash storage, that turned out to be the case. Unlike the MBP with its 6GB of RAM, the MBA with only 4GB does have a large swap file and some Page Outs. That hasn't caused a problem, though, because the flash storage is so fast.

    I should explain that Windows in a Boot Camp partition is not in the cards for me because I need to have access to Quicken for Windows frequently and often during the day. That means that having to reboot into Boot Camp before I could get into Quicken would not work for me.

    The bottom line is that I am delighted with my MBA's performance. It runs multiple Windows apps and multiple OS X apps with as much stability and almost as much speed as the MBP with its 6GB of RAM did.
  14. phil123 macrumors member


    Aug 17, 2009
    For the OP - How do you find Poker Stars on it? Smooth? And do you use Poker Tracker and if so, how has it and the HUD been running? Thanks for the in depth review. (fyi, I'm typing this on my 13" 4GB 1.86 and I love this puppy...the high res screen was what I was waiting for on a 13 inch but the battery life and sheer light weight of this computer are amazing).
  15. thisisawesome thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2010
    i dont use poker tracker but pokerstars is extremely smooth, even while playing a video and surfing the net and video chatting.

    the fan is pretty quiet running osx but i guess windows has a different management program for the fan so it runs a lot more of the time

    overall from such a compact machine, there is a lot of power to do a lot of what is thrown at it...

    the ssd makes such a big difference in speed of how much everything else runs
  16. RobNor macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2010
    Anyone have windows experience scores on MBA's with different specs?
  17. vm7118 macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2007
    NJ, USA
    kind of silly to go that route for dual booting.

    install rEFIt... instant usb boot capability and customization of boot screen.

    check out this tutorial on how to easily install win 7 via usb (again, requires rEFIt): http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/9136...with-boot-camp-without-an-external-dvd-drive/

    and customization of rEFIt: http://colinharrington.net/blog/2009/05/customizing-refit-an-efi-bootloader-intel-macs-slick/

    so i have win7 on my new air. i can say for a fact that it runs far better under os x. the drivers just aren't there for seamless integration in windows. the battery life is far better, the fan/temp management is better, the trackpad works better, the keyboard function work better. it boots up faster (with one partition or two), wakes from sleep faster. virtualization of windows under os x is easy, virtualization of os x under windows is almost impossible. finally, your main application (starcraft 2) runs well natively under os x. i think you made the wrong decision here.

    basically, i'd use boot camp only to partition, not to actually install. then install refit, then customize refit to make it nice and pretty, and install windows 7 via usb with a small partition as detailed in the above tutorial. and install parallels/fusion to virtualize the windows partition.

    and i actually did do all that. like i said, sc2 runs well in os x :)

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