2010 versus 2012 11" macbook air - battery and heat - ML - best value?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Tfb, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. Tfb macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2012
    I've seen a couple of threads suggesting that the 2010 11" mba actually runs less hot and gets better battery life than later models. Is that true? Will that still be true with Mountain Lion?

    I'm trying to figure out the best value for me and I think that question might be the difference between going for a 2010 and a 2012. These are my thoughts and I'd love to hear your reflections:

    My use doesn't depend much on processor speed (I do mostly surfing and writing/office applications). I do keep the computer on my lap a lot and notice the heat, and longer battery life is very convenient. I use a lot of browser windows and apps at once so more RAM is definitely better, but I wonder whether 4gb would be sufficient.

    It seems like prices on ebay are quite good for the 2010 model (including 4gb ram and 128gb ssd), as low as $500-650. But presumably the battery life would be worse and it doesn't come with the one year warranty that would be included with the $789 refurb from the Apple store.

    A new 8gb ram 128gb ssd 11" from the education store, plus apple care, comes out to $300 more than the refurb 2010 plus applecare, and a $200 difference if I count the app gift card (because applecare is also discounted). Though if I bought the refurb, I might not buy the applecare until a year from now when the price difference wouldn't hurt so much, or not at all if I decided to sell it and upgrade. (Still, I guess the resale value might make be negligible in another year or so, considering where it is now). Is the newest version worth the difference in cost?

    Thank you! I realize I'm asking a lot of perhaps fairly repetitive questions but this is a pretty significant purchase for me (my last mac was an iBook G4) and I really appreciate this board's help and patience.
  2. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012

    Who knows.

    It will be plenty.

    No, not for your uses.

    It's a significant purchase for most people on this board.
  3. marioman38 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    Elk Grove, CA
    Get a 2011 or 2012! The C2D processors in the 2010 models are so old, they are something like 2008 processors, slow as molasses. 4GB will be plenty, but the i5 processor is absolutely a necessary upgrade and certainly worth the cost.

    If you purchase a computer so rarely, why buy one that is ALREADY 2-3 years old, it is just that much sooner for it to need to be replaced again!
  4. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    From a 2010 13 MBA owner, all I can say is, anything I do is not CPU limited, and if you want longer battery life, better graphics, and a cooler running machine, get the 2010. The C2D/Nvidia320M is a good combo.

    The only reason to get the 2011 is if you need Thunderbolt or back-lit keyboard, or if you're trying to do video encoding or numerical processing a few seconds faster.
  5. dmelgar, Jul 15, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012

    dmelgar macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005
    Yes its definitely true that the 2010 runs cooler. I'm trying to sell my 2010 11" MBA ultimate and am disapointed in how little they're fetching on eBay. Its an awesome machine.

    The Core 2 Duo is definitely a cooler running CPU. I've bought a 2012 MBA i5 and I've seen CPU temperatures as high as 107 degrees celcius (225 fahrenheit). The bottom of the 2012 can get too hot to be on your lap.
    However, this will only happen if you're taxing the machine. It you're only doing light browsing, the CPU can run reasonably cool.

    I can't comment yet about battery life. The battery is the same. Newer battery likely to have more life but all the MBA batteries are supposed to last 1000 cycles or about 5 years. Arguably, the newer CPU can do more without taxing itself so it might get as good or better battery life.

    On the other hand, I maxed out a 2012 MBA 11" ultimate and I was able to get it to draw 31 watts. Same test on my 2010 could only draw 20 watts. 50% more power drain made it report only 1hr battery life from full. This test was purposely maxing out the CPUs.

    BTW, I've run both on ML. I haven't noticed much difference in either case.
    4GB is plenty in normal use. 2010 machine is very responsive. Folks fixate on CPU speed, but drive speed tends to slow most machines down more. The SSD in the 2010 is as fast as in the 2011 and can read at 200MB/sec vs a typical hard drive may get 30-40MB/sec in practice. That makes the 2010 act very responsive.

    I'd tend to say no, not for the use described. The 2010 is a good performing machine, look, lightweight, comfortable. I've been trying to figure out why resale is so bad on the 2010 ultimate. I think upgrades don't pay in resale. I've seen 2010 base models sell for more than 2010 ultimate. It was a $400 upgrade when new. So if you buy something new, I'd buy a base model.

  6. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    OP - If you buy something new, buy something that meets your current and needs over the time period you plan on keeping it. Buying something now based on what it might sell for in a few years is a fool's errand.
  7. cedwhatev macrumors 6502


    Oct 22, 2011
    Don't listen to the ones that say the C2D processors are slow as "molasses". The 2010's are quick, man. Really quick. Yes, the newer ones are obviously going to be faster, but not really noticeable unless you're a running a spaceship. People just for some reason, need to have the latest version of something no matter what. It's silly. For instance, the iPhone 4 and 4S. Besides the camera, what's the huge difference? Nothing. But people gotta have them. Same with the MacBook Airs.. no different.

    *Dips in the spoon and stirs the pot..* :cool:
  8. dmelgar macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005

    I just did some temperature comparisons between my 2010 MBA with a 1.6ghz Core 2 Duo and a 2012 MBA with a 1.8ghz i5.

    Test1: Max out both CPUs keeping all cores busy, GPU and anything else.
    i5: 214 degrees fahrenheit. Bottom has an area thats uncomfortably hot.
    Core 2 Duo: 180 degrees fahrenheit. Bottom is notably warm/hot, but not uncomfortable.

    Test2: Idle or very close to it. Neither machine doing anything for a while. Display is on. Steady state.
    i5: 133
    Core 2 Duo: 109

    Using "temperature monitor" for readings.
  9. Mac32 Suspended

    Nov 20, 2010
    You forget to add CoolBookController, which a lot of C2D cpu-mac owners use. I use it on my MBA 11'', and the CoolBookController further lowers the CPU temps with several (in some cases quite many!) degrees celsius. ..And obviously gives you more battery life too.
    I like my 2010 MBA 11'' a lot, it's still a great machine! :)
  10. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    Yes the core2 does run cooler. But the i5 smokes it. HUGE improvement, but they run warm (what do you expect?).

    I would imagine the ivy to run warm also, but less so as it's a smaller die (that's assuming the same ram and speed of cpu).

    I was actually worried when I upgraded to the i5 from the core2 because of the heat which I noticed immediately.

    You get used to it. It's progress. It has pitfalls. Live with it. :)
  11. Tfb thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2012
    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts - and even live temperature comparisons!

    I decided to go with the Apple refurb 2010. I don't think I'll know what I'm missing when it comes to speed, and I feel like the price is a decent compromise between saving money off of a new one and getting a year of applecare (and a year to decide whether to extend it) - especially in case something irresistible comes out in the next couple of years.

    Now I can't wait for it to arrive!
  12. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006
    Good choice. I have now a 13" C2D 2010 MBA, 2011 i5 11" MBA, and a 2011 17" Macbook pro quad i7. I also used to have a 11" 2010 C2D MBA. Except for video editing, the MBAs feel about the same to me for every day tasks. Folks that say the C2Ds are slow are fooling themselves. For the average user, the 2010 MBAs are blazing fast with the SSDs. On my 2010 MBA I have LR4, CS6 photoshop, etc.
  13. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Read over these tests from Anandtech new review of the MBA. Heat is not much different, but battery life is much better than 2010.
  14. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Nope. The 2010 13 MBA was 41% better than the 2011 version in light use. There's no direct comparision of the 13's in this test, as there was in the previous Anand test (pic below).

    Attached Files:

  15. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    However, this year, with his new suite of tests, there are 2010, 2011, and 2012 models of the 11" for which data is available. The 2012 tops both the 2011 and the 2010.

  16. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Not so fast my friend.... Looks like Anand's tests aren't reliable. This test shows the 2011 > 2010 by 20% in light-use. His former test showed the 2010 > 2011 by 41%. A whopping 61% swing! However, the former test was on 13", the later the 11". I tend to believe the former test looking at the power drain figures.
  17. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Maybe he re-did the tests because the old ones weren't reliable.
  18. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    All this proves is that one or both are unreliable, NOT the former is unreliable.
  19. Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    The big deal here is not the fact that the architectures are different - it's the fact that the chipsets are different.

    Intel upgrades its processors every year, but only offers a new chipset once every 4-6 years. The Platform Control Hubs (PCHs) present in the iX series chips floor the Northbridge-based C2Ds. It's the reason why they have different marketing titles.

    tl;dr - get the 2012
  20. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    OP wanted a comparison between 2010 and 2012 models, so I don't see the relevance of your post.
  21. jksu macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2009
    great bang for the buck! you'll love it! 11" mba rocks -- i love my 2010. cool, silent, awesome performer.

    considered a 2012..even bought it and played with it for a week. returned it. for day to day use (no hardcore video editing for me, esp on a 11" monitor) no major advantage.

    if i did do a lot of hardcore video, a 2012 11" attached to an external 24+" ips display would rock and yet be a great traveler too.

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