How usable is a Late 2010 11' MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by JensenDK, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. JensenDK macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2013
    Aalborg, Denmark
    Looking at buying a Late 2010 11' Macbook Air but want to be sure it be compatible with what I want to use it for before I buy it.

    Has the following specs;
    1.4 GHz Core2Duo
    2GB RAM
    128 SSD

    Would mainly be using it for things such as web browsing, iTunes, Mail and watching a few movies from my NAS.
    My main concern is how well the Core2Duo and 2GB RAM will cope with Firefox with a few tabs/add ons, Mail and iTunes open?
    Also will 1080p playback (YouTube and MKV) be stable or will it stutter and lag?

    Also would I be better running 10.6 or 10.8 on it?

    Still has AppleCare until October and is in great condition so I hope it will be able to handle the above?

  2. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    That RAM is the issue....You might find it sluggish, but since it has an SSD you might get away with it...If it were me, I'd look for a refurb with more RAm and maybe the 256GB SSD.
  3. Steelseries macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2013
    I recommend the iPad to you, not sure if it would work with your NAS though. You can use the vlc app to play your mkv files.
  4. helix142 macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2013
    Still good

    I have a 13" 4g 128 2010 air that I just passed onto my wife. It's still a very good laptop. I really didn't see a big boost in performance going to the 2013 air. The 2 gig might get pokey if you have 20 tabs open in firefox. If my wife's old dell hadn't lost it's main board, I'd still be using the 2010 air today quite happily. Our typical usage is some pretty intense Firefox browsing, doing research. Itunes movies play just fine, never used it to stream from a nas.
  5. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009
    I didn't like the 2010 models as they didn't have a backlit keyboard which I like because I like to have it on my chest in bed in the dark and under those conditions the keyboard is invisible without backlight. Even though I can type without looking at the keys most of the time its nice to have the backlight anyway. Performance should be fine but the ram will be a bit of an issue. Mavericks is supposed to be more efficient with ram but I would try to find a 4gb ram model instead. Also I don't like the 11" because of the 16:9 screen aspect ratio but to each their own
  6. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...if you're getting it for a steal of a deal, it should be ok to use for some time...

    I have a 2009 C2D whitebook with 4 Gb RAM and a 128 Gb Crucial M4 SSD in it that I gave to a family member in 2012 when I got my current 2011 MBP and it still handles daily tasks fine (I had bought that NIB so I knew it was taken care of).

    If you're buying used and getting someone else's used machine; history of it may be an issue?
  7. squeeks macrumors 68040


    Jun 19, 2007
    im on an 11" 2011 with 2gb of ram and have 10 tabs open in safari and dont notice a slow down at all compared to my MBP with 16gb of ram...Also they are compatible with 2011 logic boards so you could easily swap in an i5 logic board if you find the core 2 duo too slow.
  8. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Should be fine but may not be as smooth as a newer.

    Used laptop u better ask the seller how many charge cycle on that battery, else u maybe looking for another $160 expense soon. Used laptop, screen also wears out, brightness has gone down, but there is no measurement for this number like the battery.
  9. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    That's interesting to hear. Either OS X is somehow doing everything possible to avoid page outs or there is clearly a significant advantage to having the swap file on an SSD.
  10. Ronnoco, Aug 24, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013

    Ronnoco macrumors 68030


    Oct 16, 2007
    United States of America
    I have a 2010 11" (upgraded to 1.6GHz 4GB RAM, 128SSD) MBA that I passed on to my Mom (who is 84). it is perfectly fine for web-surfing, email, Microsoft Office, messaging, FaceTime, NetFlix, YouTube and most other everyday tasks. The Core2Duo is pretty old tech compared to the later Sandy Bridge/Ivy Bridge/Haswell Core ix series. IMO the jump in 2011 to the Sandy Bridge processor was the largest in terms of power. The 2010 MBA is pretty far behind compared to the 2011 (and on) in terms of CPU (although from what I remember, the nVidia 320M GPU was pretty good). Of course the I/O ports are a little behind the times as well with USB 2 only and no Thunderbolt.
    Like I said, plenty good enough for every day stuff though (the fans will rev up if you are preforming CPU/GPU intensive tasks and can be quite loud).
  11. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    It will have issues with 1080p videos. You need something better.

    As far as the RAM and people not noticing when they run out of memory and start paging. I have a 4GB 13" 2010 and can easily notice when I'm paging out to the SSD.
  12. squeeks macrumors 68040


    Jun 19, 2007
    I might have said that a bit wrong, i don't notice slowdowns on my MBP if thats what you thought i meant. I meant compared to my MBP i don't really notice any performance drop having 14gb less ram.

    Sorry for the confusion
  13. Romf macrumors 6502


    Jun 11, 2011
    Paris, France
    I own a late 2010 11" MBA and was quite surprised to read your comment, so I went to check (because most of the time I'm watching 720p).
    So it's handling a 1080p mkv absolutely fine. Right now with safari and 3 open tabs and ical ans spotify (obviously not playing)open fullscreen, the 1080p video is smooth fullscreen.

    Seeing the usage you will have from this MBA, I can tell you that it's still a very good computer. I'm using it mainly for web browsing on the go, emails, music (spotify), lots of videos viewing (HD and SD) and it's all good.
    I just switched to safari recently from chrome because it was sluggish but i found that it's a common chrome problem - anyway safari is perfectly smooth

    So with this kind of usage, the only 2 things that could make me change is battery life - because i watch lots of videos on the go and it's draining quite quickly - i would say i can get between 2 and 3 hours in 720p, but it's a rough estimate - or the day they release a retina MBA :D

    Just to let you know, here are my specs:

    MBA 11" late 2010 running ML 10.8.4

    Processor 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    Memory 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
    Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256 M

    although with all this opened, I have 2.15GB of active ram (808MB wired). so maybe you would have to close safari while watching your movie, VLC is taking about 200MB.

    Anyway I think it's a great choice if you get a good price, as I told you I'm not thinking to change for now :)
  14. Verix macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2010
    It might drop some frames in HTML5/flash based 1080p streaming, but really should be fine when watching a file from your hard disk.
  15. JasonStonier macrumors newbie

    Jun 27, 2013
    I have a 2008 MBA with 2gg ram and the 1.2GHz core2duo. It is the best laptop I have owned. I was given it free as a repair job, and have just recently put in a 64gig SSD.

    On it I run everything you want to, and in addition I run openbox WinXP inside which I run CorelDraw X6 (pretty intensive graphically) and Excel with some very heavy weight macros. CorelDraw runs far far better in this manner than it did on my other laptop, which is a Pentium 4 3GHz with 1gig ram. I give the WinXP virtual machine 1gig of ram.

    With WinXP running full screen in one of my desktop spaces, I can switch back to another space to browse the web or check email quite happily.

    I have a few hundred movies on a NAS, mostly mp4, but some are ISOs, and the Air plays them without any issue.

    Basically, you're not going to be able to run hundreds of things at the same time because of the memory restriction, but, honestly, I love my Air and it does everything I could ever wish.
  16. 2IS, Aug 25, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013

    2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    Plenty of people complaining about 1080p playback with the model in question when it was new. I'm not sure why you're so surprised. It was a weak and underpowered machine even when it was brand new. Also, you're talking about a 1.6GHz CPU vs 1.4GHz the OP is referencing. While 200MHz may not seem like much, it's quite significant when you're only talking about 1.4GHz and you're right on the edge of being able to handle the content.

    Right, it depends on the source, nonetheless, my comment is a valid one since it is likely at some point you're going to watch streaming HD content, weather it's off youtube or Netflix you could run into less than perfect playback. Especially true since we are talking about a device with rather small storage capacity.

    Bottom line, if you're getting a machine to watch HD content, you should get one that won't have a problem with HD content, regardless of the source. A 2010 11" MBA with a 1.4GHz C2D isn't such a machine.
  17. Romf macrumors 6502


    Jun 11, 2011
    Paris, France
    I was surprised because I have no problem with it and I remember asking on forums before buying if it would handle HD files properly and was said it would.
    It's true I didn't think about streaming, youtube 1080p... when writing my answer, but for 1080p avi's i never had problems - but then as you say it may be the 1.6vs1.4 Also for a machine "on the edge" i think it does pretty well with other stuff opened
  18. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    Why stream 1080p when you only have a 1366x768 screen?

    The 2010 11" is still a very usable machine. But even when it was new, it wasn't a good choice for heavy Photoshop use, editing video, etc. It makes a great platform for email, web surfing, etc. The 2GB models can stutter a little bit but for $400 used it's very nice. Even the 2GB i5 can get pokey with a bunch of stuff open.
  19. Mr Rabbit macrumors 6502a

    Mr Rabbit

    May 13, 2013
    I have a mid-2010 with 4GB and have 0 complaints. When I travel I stream movies/TV to it from home using Plex, which does the transcoding before sending, and it handles that with no issues. Aside from that I only really use iPhoto, Safari, Xcode and Spotify, all with no issues.

    The 2GB thing would make me think about it a bit but I would still probably pick it up for my wife if it was a decent deal.
  20. SRLMJ23 macrumors 68000


    Jul 11, 2008
    New York
    I have a 2010 MBA, with a 1.4ghz, 2gb RAM, with a 128 SSD and a JetDrive, plus other external drives.

    I can tell you from personal experience only that this machine is quite capable. I can do all the normal things, web browsing, iTunes, etc...even Aperture without any problem.

    Now, when I want to watch an HD movie (720p) through iTunes, I usually close down everything else except Safari, maybe with Facebook open to keep in touch with friends on.

    I also use the sudo purge command, AND then restart my Mac and everything runs great. I also use smcFanControl in case the computer gets hot (which it rarely does,) but when it does, I crank of the fan and can get the temp. from about 140f back down to about 98-100 degrees. Like I said in another post, I did buy a very nice cooling board with 4 fans, and one almost like "suction" area that goes around where the fan outlets are.

    I also mentioned I have brand new Central Air in my house and when it is cranked up, with the fan on default, and no cooling board I can keep my Mac around 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Heat is the worst enemy to Mac's (or any PC really) among smaller other things but if you are Mac is running hot, it will not run right at all.

    Also before I do anything like HD video watching I use the sudo purge command, and then sometimes restart my computer and it never fails. Memory consumption is low and everything rungs great.

    I know I will get flamed probably saying, "Well not everyone has nice Central Air, etc..etc...) but most people can go buy a nice cooling board and smcFanControl is free. So use those tools. It has never let me down.

    PS: I must say my MBA has the nVidia 320m GPU and I do not really know how well that helps out (or not,) if someone could point that out to me, I would be gracious! Thank You so much everyone.
  21. SRLMJ23 macrumors 68000


    Jul 11, 2008
    New York

    Why not watch 720p video? You do realize that on ANY TV or Monitor under 42" you CANNOT tell the difference between 720 and 1080p. Go ahead look it up. So especially on a 11-13" screen you WILL NOT NOTICE the difference, and imagine all the resources that saves you!

    I am not trying to be rude or anything, but people always think 1080p is so amazing (which it is, when it used right) but like I said, on a 11-13" screen you will notice no difference.

    When you watch it on your HDTV through Apple TV, well that has nothing to with your Mac unless you are using AirPlay.
  22. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    1) This thread is nearly a year old, you're a bit late and I doubt the OP is still debating this topic.
    2) There is a difference between 720 and 1080. I can "look up" people claiming the human eye can perceive anything above 30fps. That doesn't mean it isn't BS just because its on the Internet.
    3) Read the OP. He specifically mentions he intends to playback 1080p content.
    4) 2010 MBA's don't support AirPlay

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