How fast is the MBA's 4200 RPM drive?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by csnplt, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. csnplt macrumors 6502


    Aug 29, 2008
    Chicago Area
    My dad really needs a new laptop, and I wanted to get him either an MBP or MBA. I'd like to keep the price beneath $1500, and lower is better. He is by no means a power user, but travels a lot, so weight is a concern. Right now, he literally has a 10 year old, 600 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 4 GB HDD, 2'' thick Dell. Yeah, it's bad.

    I think the MBA would be plenty fast for his needs, but my only concern is with the slower, 4200 RPM drive. How slow is it? I have a netbook with a 5400 RPM 160 GB HDD, so it's probably slower than that, right? By a lot?

    An SSD would be nice (from Runcore or another 3rd party), but that would add another $300 to the price, and even if I got a refurbished Rev B, the price would probably be more than I'd like to spend.

    Any comparison numbers for the 4200 RPM drive? Thanks.
  2. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    While I don't have any xbench results from my MBA RevA 1.6/2/80, I can say I went to that machine from a 2.2ghz 15" MBP and was quite happy with its performance for the most part.

    I used the RevA MBA as my primary machine for about a year and was ok with it. Routine email, Office, Surfing, and business apps work just great.

    I ran XSLIMMER on my apps which saved space and made them load much faster. I used the SMARTSLEEP preference pane to speed up sleep/wake, and very occasionally I used iDefrag to optimize the drive (the full version not the free one does much more than just defrag).

    After tuning it the only time I had issues with the HDD was when copying large files or doing backups - during such operations the machine would be pretty unusable for other things. The RevB/C revisions may have improved this with the SATA interface but the drives are still a very slow 4200rpm so not sure by how much.

    Just remember whatever you get your Dad just has to be faster than what he's using now to seem better to him, it does not have to be the fastest thing in today's market. The Air may be a modest performer (with HDD at least) but it completely rocks where mobility is concerned.
  3. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2008
    Tampa, Florida
    It's really not that horribly slow. The first-gen Air was indeed slow, but the second and third revisions have gotten better. The drive in my Rev.C Air is about on par with the drive in my Mac mini. The only thing he'll ever notice is that maybe apps take an extra bounce or two to launch.
  4. dsevo macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2009
    I absolutely love my Rev A, and its the only computer I own now. That being said, for your situation I don't think you will do any better than a refurbished standard Macbook Aluminum for $899. My MBA was "refurbished" which actually means they just made too many. Anyways, you can get a lot of computer under your $1500 budget. Good luck
  5. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Yeah the hard drive will be slower than the one in your netbook because of both the density and the spin speed. I've only owned two MacBook Airs, a 1.6GHz 80GB Rev A and a 2.13GHz 128GB Rev C. I only had the Rev A for a short while since I got it cheap and wanted to sell it to make a profit. While the SSDs in the MacBook Airs aren't the fastest (i.e. not as fast as Runcores), they are a hell of a lot faster than the 4200rpm HDDs.

    I'd really recommend keeping an eye on the refurb store. They have a 2.13GHz Rev C with 128GB HDD on there for $1549 right now. I'd stay clear of the Rev As if you're buying a refurb though simply because of their heat problems and the inferior graphics. However, if you do want to save the pennies, they do have a Rev A 1.6GHz 120GB HDD for $1099 and a Rev A 1.8GHz 64GB SSD for []$1199[/url].

    Another point you may want to consider is that the lack of 4GB RAM will be less of an issue with an SSD since the SSD's speed can make up for it somewhat.

    Alternatively, some people think the MBA will get refreshed soon - in which case the Rev C SSDs will be even cheaper. Apple is also pushing down the MBA's price as much as possible these days to open it up to the wider consumer market since the business traveller is just too small a market share. Personally I don't expect an update any time soon though since the chips they'd want to use aren't going to be available for quite some time.
  6. drcollosus macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2009
    hong kong
    hi, i just recently got a rev c 1.86 with the 120gb hdd. i was going to purchase one of those runcore drives at the same time and decided to wait and see how it performs. im glad i did. you will be surprised, its really not that bad and i notice no real glaring difference from my macbook unibody that i had before. wait for the price of those ssds to drop and do an upgrade yourself later on. unless of course you find the 120gb unbearable. but just try it out first, they are not all doom and gloom as many on this website are predicting. 500 bucks is still a bit too much i think. those ssds will start dropping in price.

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