2018 Macbook Air (my impressions)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by kreasonos, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. kreasonos, Jan 6, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019

    kreasonos macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2013
    #1
    This is just a quick overview of my experience with the new Macbook Air:

    In my testing with the 8/256 model, a virtual machine and two HD videos playing in Firefox tabs via YouTube and Netflix while also recording screen with quicktime, the machine was too taxed to be usable. The fan revved up high and stayed on, the system became very laggy. My three year old ThinkPad t460s with a dual core i5 and 8gb ram performs far better in Linux w/an even higher work load. In my opinion it’s not the specs holding the new MBA back, it’s probably the OS. It could also be that VirtualBox just sucks on Mac OS. I'll check the App store for another virtual machine program that might be better optimized. For example, maybe Parallels would run better. I would not recommend this machine if you plan to use Oracle VirtualBox.

    Other things I’ve noticed:

    The speakers are noticeably worse than the 12” MacBooks. They are louder but not as full and rich sounding. As for the keyboard, I like this keyboard less than the 12” MacBooks. It’s not as satisfying in my opinion. The battery life is very good, I would say it’s marginally better than the 12” MacBooks. I got about 6 -7 hours from 100% to turning off with 3/4 brightness, streaming movies and youtube, and a lot of apps open. It doesn’t feel as powerful as the 12” MacBook either even though it benchmarks quite a lot better.

    What surprised me was how small this machine is. I expected it to be bigger and lighter. For me personally, the 12” MacBook is more enjoyable as a portable Mac. This computer is in a weird niche for me. It’s not big enough to satisfy my wanting a bigger screen (than a 12") and it’s not small or light enough to satisfy my wanting for a small, lightweight, portable laptop. It's heavier than you expect.

    I did get some good silicone in mine though. Geekbench seems higher than average I've seen on the web. Here's mine: Single Core 4337 Multi Core 7901 which is actually higher than my desktop PC with an Intel g4600 which Geekbenches at: Single Core 3975 Multi Core 7598 and that computer does astonishing well running linux with virtual machines, rendering videos, recording videos, running multiple programs all at once without a single slow down. That's why I again want to reiterate I do not blame the Macbook Air's hardware. I think it has more to do with Mac OS.

    Another thing I was curious about is the fan. This new Macbook Air has a fan that does not blow onto a heat pipe like you'd see in the X1 Carbon for example. In fact this computer doesn't have a heat pipe at all. It uses a heat sink and one would assume the fan just helps to remove heat from the machine. I was really curious if this would actually work well. When I was stressing the machine and the fan ramped up to what sounded like full speed, I wanted to feel if the air it was blowing out was actually hot. It was warm but not hot. So, to my surprise, this actually works to cool the machine.

    As for the screen, I have no issue with it. My thinkpad screen has a rating of around 220 nits and I never had an issue with its brightness levels, even outdoors. The Macbook Air's screen is far brighter and far better quality so I have nothing to complain about with it.

    Having not used Mac OS in a few years there are a lot of things I really like about it. I like that it default saves everything into your iCloud Drive. With that sort of implementation I feel the 256 is plenty for local storage. You could really get away with less these days given how well the cloud is implemented. The scaling is way better than in Windows 10 and better than in Linux as well. I love the keyboard shortcuts in Mac OS. I'm not sure how I feel about the News App and the App store app that both feel like mobile app ports. It's weird, why not give us a full on desktop News app instead? Overall, the OS feels more polished than I remember it and the cloud implementation is the best I've seen.

    Finally, I love the trackpad. I have not used any Windows Precision drivers that even came close. The closest I've come to a driver this good is in Linux. Linux comes very close and is still fantastic but Apple simply does trackpads the best. Even going back to my first Mac laptop a 12" iBook which had a better trackpad fifteen years ago than even the newest windows laptops. Microsoft just cannot get trackpad drivers right. So, that's about all I have to say about this new Macbook Air. I didn't own the original Air but I did own the 12" iBook (when it was released), the titanium 15" powerbook, the Macbook Pro's before the touchbar models and those were all great. I'd say this Macbook Air is better than those computers were even though I liked the tibook the best, come on it had ports in the back and a transparent keyboard! : )
     
  2. lpolarityl macrumors 6502

    lpolarityl

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    #2
    Oracle Box is pretty terrible on MacOS. Definitely try Parallels.
     
  3. kreasonos thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2013
    #3
    Here are two 4k tests. The first one is using QuickTime screen recorder and as you can see in the video, it's a resource hog. The second video is the same 4k video w/o using QuickTime screen recorder and you can see the difference.

    Test 1:

    Test 2:
     
  4. - rob - macrumors 6502

    - rob -

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #4
    Glad to hear you are happy with CPU performance. This is the first I've heard MacOS being blamed for not realizing the CPU capability well enough. Presumably this would be due to what can only be "over" throttling by MacOS?

    Here's a link to the current geekbench on the 2018 air: https://browser.geekbench.com/macs/437
     
  5. 0014 macrumors 6502a

    0014

    Joined:
    May 23, 2016
    Location:
    Middle East
    #5
    That's a bit lower than what I get. Could be the beta OS though.

    Screenshot 2019-01-10 at 09.07.05.png
     
  6. - rob - macrumors 6502

    - rob -

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #6
    I believe that is the average in the link I posted above. Also, some people are running GB during the initial caching stage of the OS--or while surfing the web or other stuff that affects the test. So I would not be surprised by higher scores.
     
  7. kreasonos thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 4, 2013
    #7
    That's a really good point and should be noted when people remark on their scores.
     
  8. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #8
    I think the fan is primarily to provide thermal space for the Thunderbolt chipset and T2. On the MacBook forum, someone ran an extended Cinebench benchmark, and over extended runs, the MacBook Air is only 3% faster than the i5 MacBook, which suggests that the fan does not prevent CPU throttling.
     
  9. kreasonos thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2013
    #9
    UPDATE: Returned it. The bottom case flexed on the right side when picked up. It would make a popping sound when I picked it up and set it down from the cover flexing in and out. Left side didn't do it and the sides are the same underneath the case so I don't know why it was doing this. Regardless, I'm disappointed with the quality of the Air.
     
  10. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #10
    It sounds like you might have gotten a dud.
     
  11. Wags macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 5, 2006
    Location:
    Nebraska, USA
  12. auxbuss macrumors member

    auxbuss

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    No flexing here however I pick it up. I'm happy with the build quality; it's a solid machine.
     
  13. Cehape macrumors newbie

    Cehape

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Location:
    Germany
    #13
    +1
     
  14. dpgx81 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2017
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    #14
    . None here either. Very happy.
     
  15. kreasonos thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2013
    #15
    Hmm, ya maybe mine had a warped bottom plate.
     
  16. - rob - macrumors 6502

    - rob -

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #16
    All manufactures products have the occasional defect. While it is not fun to deal with a return loop, this is not demonstrative of the build quality of the 2018 Air.
     

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