Basic Mac Application Use on the Air, your experiences with speed and performance/

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Lordillingworth, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. Lordillingworth macrumors regular

    Nov 8, 2007
    Shropshire, UK
    So then none of us expect to get our macbook airs to render 12 hour long HD movies in final cut pro while we are working with CS3 is running in a different space!
    But a lot of us do like to use iLife!
    I will be buying a macbook air in the next few weeks at the latest and am wondering what sort of performance to expect from the basic applications, iWeb and Garageband are what i mainly use to run a website and create a podcast series with episodes around !5 minutes long, normally i have itunes open in space 3 and iCal open in space 2 whenever the computer is on, i was just interested to know if i am likely to notice any slower responses or lower performance, longer load times than i do now, i have been using a 2Ghz core 2 Mac mini and a 20 inch imac up until now.
    It would also be good to hear of any none youtube or flash video performance issues or indeed the most apps you have run without seeing any slow down etc.

    Thanks to anyone who replies, i look forward to being able to join in the fun when my unit arrives!
  2. iPave macrumors member


    Mar 15, 2008
    Tampere, Finland
    You won't even notice a difference even if you compared it to macbook pro.
  3. Lordillingworth thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 8, 2007
    Shropshire, UK
    That's good to hear! All this overheating and talk of jittery cursors on youtube was getting to me!
  4. Insulin Junkie macrumors 65816

    Insulin Junkie

    May 5, 2008
    Mainland Europe
    EDIT: To my experience I haven't heard of any non flash related video issues on the MBA. That's more in the territory of MBP with its NVIDIA graphics card glitch that seems to be causing glitches / video skips sometimes, among other things.
  5. glitch44 macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2006
    i don't really agree with this statement. if he gets the HDD version it's a 1.8" 4200 RPM drive. without a doubt at least load times will be longer than a MBP.
  6. kalex macrumors 65816

    Oct 1, 2007
    yes SSD will get u faser loading of apps. but its barely noticable in everyday use. besides if u just hibernate or sleep ur macbook air there is no need to quit and relaunch applications. i had macbook air for 6 months and never felt it was slow. i used it for browsing, itunes, movies, email.
  7. Lordillingworth thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 8, 2007
    Shropshire, UK
    Well, i couldn't hold on any longer and my air arrived today (got a refurb rather than new, the £200 discount will count as compensation if they release the new ones tomorrow!)
    So far it is running perfectly, i would say maybe a little slower in launching apps the first time, but that might be all in my mind... which demonstrates just how small the margin is if any!

    Love it, it is now following me everywhere.
  8. jdos2 macrumors newbie

    Sep 11, 2008
    <raises hand>

    I use my MacBook Air every day in a Production Support environment.
    At this very moment, I have Excel open (multipage spreadsheet with IP addresses/servers listed), Activity Monitor (for disbelief), Terminal (for Real Work) Firefox (Flashblock on), Entourage (sync enabled with the local datastore for address book contacts and scheduling), and MSN Messenger connecting to our Corporate Chat solution. I have a second monitor, USB internet connection, and Microsoft Wireless Keyboard (USB transceiver). My home folder is encrypted.

    Free RAM is still around .75GB, and the machine has 20 GB free when running at normal load during the middle of the day.

    Turn on the machine in the morning, and start up all the above listed applications. About 15 minutes later, the machine running near idle, the fan kicks on (and I roll my eyes knowing what state the machine is in)

    Please know that it is better than it used to be- the fan used to kick on during boot or shortly thereafter. I attribute the improvement to careful cleaning and re-application of the caked thermal paste.

    Basically, the machine, just running at idle, is uncomfortably close to thermal limits. "Who's" thermal limits changes on the various updates, but suffice it to say that a small amount (1/2 minute) of 100%CPU time on EITHER of the cores is enough to push the machine over the edge, into "130% CPU for System process" in Activity Monitor.

    Bring up Opera? System goes into "130% System Process" and the mouse jumps around in typical "CPU Overheat mode"
    Edit a large e-mail? Bring up a good sized Word document? Start up X? Sometimes, any of those tasks is enough to provoke the laptop into the annoying "overheat" mode.

    I've been to Apple. They tell me it's acting... Well, one of the Geniuses said "it is what it is," and believes mine is "better than some he's seen."

    I do NOT recommend the MacBook Air for Production Support to the level described above. 8 hours a day of office work is NOT within the realm of usability without having to suffer some of the drawbacks of the platform, and those drawbacks are severe.

    I'm not trying to watch videos. I just want to work with a nice little system that I can take home in something smaller than a full sized work laptop bag, but sadly, this computer, though it works for much of what I want it to do, doesn't fail gracefully when at its limit, and makes things like presentations impossible.

    That's another thing that'll push things into overheat, and won't happen again. The last time I tried a PowerPoint Presentation our team got a much better understanding of Apple's commitment to usability and functionality.

    I've reinstalled the OS, reformatted the drive (80 GB), and got things working as best I can. I don't have CoolBook, and await an Apple solution after having reset the system PRAM, and trying the various "fixes" from them.

    The only things I like about the system these days are they keyboard (better than my MacBook Pro- I can't catch my fingers on the edges of the keys when typing quickly, so can't rip keys off), and the strength of the laptop itself- the curved bottom lends a rigidity that the MacBook Pro can't emulate.

    If one just wants to use the MacBook Air with Kermit and as a terminal, it's PERFECT and mine has recovered several Solaris/AIX boxes.

    Otherwise, it's useful, until it's suddenly, without warning, not. On top of that, it can take a long time for the system to recover from a heat "event."

    Some additional applications I use:
    Apache Directory Studio (doesn't cause problems)
    SoapUI (Java Webstart Application- if the heat hits on startup, this takes a LONG time to open, but is well behaved once open)
    Smcclient (Java Webstart Application for Stonesoft firewall Admin- if the heat hits during startup, can take a long, long time to load, but does behave well after opening.)
  9. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    In reply to ^^, my MBA is used every day for 8+ hours a day for things such as Entourage, Office and VMWare fusion (XP VM) and I've never seen the cursor go jittery nor does it overheat. Mine is the SSD version so don't know if that makes a difference.
  10. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    high performance

    The macbook air is all about high perfomance. But remember, high performance for on the travel. But i'm sure it's more than strong enough to render some movies. especially for videos. These use a lot of ram, and as there is plenty of (for a mobile computer) it wont be a problem. I render my fcp video's on only 2 gb's.
  11. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    I am used to a 24" iMac Core 2 Duo 2.33 with NVidia 7600/256 GPU.

    I got an Air 1.8 early this year, just for travel, but something odd has happened....

    I find that since getting the Air, I hardly ever touch the iMac for anything but games and TV/movies! My iMac is sitting right next to me--powered on, running Folding@Home... but here I am working on my Air. I just really like being able to grab what I'm working on without transferring from one machine to another.

    Performance is no problem at all to me, and apparently (thanks to Exposé) the screen size isn't enough of a burden to drive me back to the iMac.

    And I am a VERY heavy user. This Air is not a light-duty machine for me. I use it ~8 hours a day for work and then I use it for hobby/recreation/time wasting too.

    No overheating/failures/core shutdowns (it gets hot with video and gaming, but not intolerably and I never have to reboot; some games will slow down from the heat though).

    The main apps I run on it:

    Safari and Mail and iChat
    iPhoto, GarageBand and iTunes
    Google Earth
    VMWare Fusion running Windows XP
    Regular TV viewing via Hulu
    And yes, even some games: Halo and World of Padman in particular

    I can tell I'm on the Air if I go back and forth and pay attention to the comparison, but not enough for it to feel slow or be a problem. The Air's dual cores are still very fast.

    The main thing I notice is HD access being slower. I'd love SSD next time around.

    And for the record, I never got the Superdrive and never missed it. I did get the Ethernet and used it once or twice.

    I'm going to TRY to move some of my computing habits back to the iMac so it doesn't go to waste. No promises :)

    I don't doubt that some people have experienced heat failures. I have not, happily, so it's not a universal problem. Sounds like a likely sign of a defective unit, in fact. I'm glad I haven't faced that.
  12. Heavenkittykat macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2008
    macbook air is a great machine. I can't honestly compare it with other macs since this is my first mac. But I can compare it with my old laptop which was 120 GB 1.8 GHZ 2 GB RAM sony vaio laptop with windows and oh boy this MBA beats that crap computer out of the water. Although the specs with my old laptop is noticeably higher, the performance definitely is not.
  13. mattniles007 macrumors 6502


    Dec 4, 2005
    All this is encouraging since my MBA should arrive tomorrow, I'll update when it arrives.
  14. iCries macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2008
    please do. :) I'd like to hear more about it.

    I got a question, I've heard people with setups like this but I'm just wondering to be sure;

    if I'd go for an air I'd like to use spaces a lot with many windows open for working simultaneously on word documents, running vmware for xp, browsing the net, listening to music etc, having a lot of windows open for facts, writing, assignments, folders etc and sometimes connect it to my 24" screen, will it be able to handle this flawlessly without overheating? I don't intend to game on it. If it wont be able to handle this do you think the new rumored models with better processors will do the job? I'm also wondering if you think the new ones will get the chance to have 4gb of ram instead of the 2gb?
  15. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Multiple windows (and apps) is not a heat issue, and 2GB is plenty for a lot of apps. I run a lot of apps on both my Air and my iMac, and both have 2GB. It depends on the app, but I for one seldom approach using the full 2GB. OS X manages RAM and CPU time between multiple apps quite well. (But depending on your settings in VMWare, it can hog CPU power away from other apps and slow them down. Easily adjusted though.)

    I personally prefer Exposé and option-clicking (option-click when switching--by any method--from one app to another and the previous app gets hidden) instead of Spaces, for managing lots of windows I do have one extra space below the main one, where I stash iTunes and things I won't work on for a while.

    I doubt 4GB will come yet. Someday, but for now I predict it would still be too expensive to fit in, and it's rarely needed, despite what spec-sheet aficionados would have you believe. It would help with heavy use of Windows and OS X simultaneously, but I bet you'll find you don't do as much of that as you may think. The other uses you mention are not big memory users. (Photoshop on huge docs, complex audio/video work, or 3D rendering might need more. But for the latter two, I get by on 2GB just fine anyway. My Photoshop work is seldom on really big files.)

    Still, I'd wait for the new ones: SOMETHING will improved!
  16. MacTheKnife macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    Overall thumbs up for Macbook Air

    About one month ago I purchased a Macbook Air to replace my 15" Macbook Pro. Here is a summary of the good and bad.


    -MBA is much lighter and portable than the MBP. I can slide the MBA into a thin cover and put it in my backpack very easily, and the small power adapter is also a plus.
    -Much quieter and generates far less heat. Even when the fan is turned on, I can barely hear it. The heat generated on the bottom of the laptop only gets to "warm" whereas the MBP would get to near "scalding" if I left it on my lap too long. The fan of the MBP was also quite loud and annoying (to me).
    -For what I do on a laptop (web surfing, word processing, email, some iphoto), the performance is more than adequate. It's perhaps slightly less snappy than the MBP for the above demands, but hardly noticeable.


    -Machine has hung up on occasion, although I'm not sure if this is due to the machine or software (Entourage). I've noticed recently that if I force quit Entourage, the machine goes back to running smoothly, so it may just be a software issue.


    If I had to do it over again, for my purposes, I would definitely buy the MBA again. It's a great complement to the Mac Pro I have at home. Overall a 9 out of 10 for me after one month's use.
  17. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    That reminds me of a BIG deal compared to my former 15" PowerBook: I can pick the Air up with one hand. (Due to the light weight but also the curved back/side edges that you can slip your fingers under one-handed.)

    That makes an amazingly big difference in practice. I can be carrying something else (like the charger or mouse), talking on the phone, opening doors/cabinets, whatever, and still be able to grab my laptop as well.

    You can CARRY any laptop in one hand, but very few can actually be picked UP without using two hands to get started.

    I also like the 90-degree power connector. I expect the rest of Apple's lineup will mimic that soon.
  18. iCries macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2008
    thank you man for taking your time to answer my questions, I appreciate it a lot. :)

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