I needed a small and portable laptop so I compared the 2018 MBA to the Thinkpad T480s

TomOSeven

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 4, 2017
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Like many, I was extremely hopeful (naive) about the new Macbook Air.

The old one, I had the 2012 version, was my favourite computer of all time, so I was hoping the 2018 would be pretty much the same, except for a better screen.

When the new Air was announced, I made a comparison to what was to me the most attractive Windows alternative, the T480s:

Student price: 1440 € vs. 1250 €, T480s wins
Display: 1600p, glossy, 300 nits, 13,3" vs. 1440p, matte, 350 nits, 14", T480s wins
Weight: 1,25 kg vs 1,32 kg, Macbook Air wins (by a hair)
Storage: 256g vs 512 GB expandable, T480s wins
RAM: 8 GB vs. 16 GB expandable, T480s wins
Warranty: 1 year vs. 3 years, T480s wins
Trackpad: not even going into it, Macbook Air wins
CPU: Dual Core y-series vs. Quad Core i5, T480s wins
Keyboard: low traffic, error prone butterfly vs. user replaceable Thinkpad keyboard. T480s wins
Ports: USB-C-TB3 (2x) + headphone jack vs. USB-C Thunderbolt, USB-C (no TB), USB-A (2x), Ethernet, SD-card, HDMI, headphone jack. T480s wins, by a country mile.
Speakers: T480s speakers are pretty bad, so Macbook Air wins
OS: MacOS vs. Windows, Macbook Air wins
Extras: T480s has a WWAN module, T480s wins

Final score: 9 vs 3.5


I really wish the score had been closer, I love MacOS but it's very hard to justify paying more for a much flimsier device that has far fewer features and much, much worse specs. It's not even that much lighter and smaller, considering the screen sizes, and it's a far worse travel companion.
 

Queen6

macrumors 604
Like many, I was extremely hopeful (naive) about the new Macbook Air.

The old one, I had the 2012 version, was my favourite computer of all time, so I was hoping the 2018 would be pretty much the same, except for a better screen.

When the new Air was announced, I made a comparison to what was to me the most attractive Windows alternative, the T480s:

Student price: 1440 € vs. 1250 €, T480s wins
Display: 1600p, glossy, 300 nits, 13,3" vs. 1440p, matte, 350 nits, 14", T480s wins
Weight: 1,25 kg vs 1,32 kg, Macbook Air wins (by a hair)
Storage: 256g vs 512 GB expandable, T480s wins
RAM: 8 GB vs. 16 GB expandable, T480s wins
Warranty: 1 year vs. 3 years, T480s wins
Trackpad: not even going into it, Macbook Air wins
CPU: Dual Core y-series vs. Quad Core i5, T480s wins
Keyboard: low traffic, error prone butterfly vs. user replaceable Thinkpad keyboard. T480s wins
Ports: USB-C-TB3 (2x) + headphone jack vs. USB-C Thunderbolt, USB-C (no TB), USB-A (2x), Ethernet, SD-card, HDMI, headphone jack. T480s wins, by a country mile.
Speakers: T480s speakers are pretty bad, so Macbook Air wins
OS: MacOS vs. Windows, Macbook Air wins
Extras: T480s has a WWAN module, T480s wins

Final score: 9 vs 3.5


I really wish the score had been closer, I love MacOS but it's very hard to justify paying more for a much flimsier device that has far fewer features and much, much worse specs. It's not even that much lighter and smaller, considering the screen sizes, and it's a far worse travel companion.
Sadly par for the course these days with Apple...:(

Q-6
 

Queen6

macrumors 604
Pretty much. Apple could have done so much for a 10th anniversary edition of the MacBook Air, but instead delivered a device that was underpowered and underwhelming.

Surface Laptop 2 has been in a few of these shootouts with the new Air and has won as well...

Tragic what Apple chose to do with the Air; The Air's universal attraction was it usability, performance and price point, yet it still remained to be premium (to a point). 2019 just no, Apple opted to trade on the Air's name little else, couldn't get their math right and spat out an underperforming notebook with zero CPU options and a known unreliable keyboard...

As they say "don't fix what isn't broken"...:rolleyes:

Q-6
 

SDColorado

Contributor
Nov 6, 2011
4,274
4,222
Highlands Ranch, CO
Tragic what Apple chose to do with the Air; The Air's universal attraction was it usability, performance and price point, yet it still remained to be premium (to a point). 2019 just no, Apple opted to trade on the Air's name little else, couldn't get their math right and spat out an underperforming notebook with zero CPU options and a known unreliable keyboard...

As they say "don't fix what isn't broken"...:rolleyes:

Q-6
The first MBA was revolutionary for it's time. I was stunned the first time I saw it being removed from a manilla envelope. At the time, it was a computer only Apple could make.

Competition has caught up (or surpassed Apple) but still I really believed Apple would use the same thinking they did with the iPhone X, heck even call it MacBook AirX if they wanted to, and make it a top of the line computer on the leading edge. But instead it is an overpriced and underperforming computer living off the legacy of those who loved the Air.

Three best things about the new 2018 MBA

1) Excellent trackpad
2) Good battery life (unfortunately at the expense of perfomance
3) A nifty fruit logo. (on a more serious note MscOS/Mac Eco if those are important)
 
Last edited:

Falhófnir

macrumors 68040
Aug 19, 2017
3,799
4,146
The Air is quite a bizarre model in that they started with a nTB Pro, took away the brighter P3 screen, took away the full 15W U series chip, but only gave back £50 off the price and Touch ID (and the price difference is totally lost with price matching retailers often having both for £50-100 off). So even within the Mac lineup the Air is a pretty awkward option next to the pro, which they have seemingly had to leave out of date (soon to be discontinued?) to try and carve a niche for the Air to occupy. I'm sure the Air is a decent enough option for those with office/ internet as their primary usage, but Apple really haven't done it a lot of favours pricing it above the £1,000 mark. Heck, if they'd started it at £1,199 but for 256GB of storage that would have been a material deciding factor in it's favour...
 
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SDColorado

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Nov 6, 2011
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The Air is quite a bizarre model in that they started with a nTB Pro, took away the brighter P3 screen, took away the full 15W U series chip, but only gave back £50 off the price and Touch ID (and the price difference is totally lost with price matching retailers often having both for £50-100 off). So even within the Mac lineup the Air is a pretty awkward option next to the pro, which they have seemingly had to leave out of date (soon to be discontinued?) to try and carve a niche for the Air to occupy. I'm sure the Air is a decent enough option for those with office/ internet as their primary usage, but Apple really haven't done it a lot of favours pricing it above the £1,000 mark. Heck, if they'd started it at £1,199 but for 256GB of storage that would have been a material deciding factor in it's favour...
Agreed. IF they weren't going to wow folks with another revolutionary release, they should have at least brought it in at a budget of under $1000. But instead they pretty much cannibalized existing product to find a niche, both in terms of price and performance for this odd compromise of a machine.

It is almost like a netbook that they decided to load MacOS on. I almost think they would have been better served putting into that market, with IOS and Apples first ever touch screen and get over themselves with that. Dunno :)
 
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Queen6

macrumors 604
The Air is quite a bizarre model in that they started with a nTB Pro, took away the brighter P3 screen, took away the full 15W U series chip, but only gave back £50 off the price and Touch ID (and the price difference is totally lost with price matching retailers often having both for £50-100 off). So even within the Mac lineup the Air is a pretty awkward option next to the pro, which they have seemingly had to leave out of date (soon to be discontinued?) to try and carve a niche for the Air to occupy. I'm sure the Air is a decent enough option for those with office/ internet as their primary usage, but Apple really haven't done it a lot of favours pricing it above the £1,000 mark. Heck, if they'd started it at £1,199 but for 256GB of storage that would have been a material deciding factor in it's favour...
Margins, margins, margins what else. Apple just saw the Air as another cash cow and couldn't resist as vast majority of it's users are not well informed. The 13" non TouchBar is by far a better product and even has extended coverage for the piss poor Butterfly keyboard...

Q-6
[doublepost=1552501811][/doublepost]
Agreed. IF they weren't going to wow folks with another revolutionary release, they should have at least brought it in at a budget of under $1000. But instead they pretty much cannibalized existing product to find a niche, both in terms of price and performance for this odd compromise of a machine.

It is almost like a netbook that they decided to load MacOS on. I almost think they would have been better served putting into that market, with IOS and Apples first ever touch screen and get over themselves with that. Dunno :)
If you ask me Apple just wanted a level of product differentiation and this was the easiest route. I've a $650 2in1 that will literally piss on the new Air's performance all day long...

Just what are we paying for now with Apple these days, premium to me doesn't mean premium margin. It means you design the vey best you can and you implement it into being a solid consumer product, not the current garbage...:mad:

Q-6
 

SDColorado

Contributor
Nov 6, 2011
4,274
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Highlands Ranch, CO
Margins, margins, margins what else. Apple just saw the Air as another cash cow and couldn't resist as vast majority of it's users are not well informed. The 13" non TouchBar is by far a better product and even has extended coverage for the piss poor Butterfly keyboard...

Q-6
[doublepost=1552501811][/doublepost]

If you ask me Apple just wanted a level of product differentiation and this was the easiest route. I've a $650 2in1 that will literally piss on the new Air's performance all day long...

Just what are we paying for now with Apple these days, premium to me doesn't mean premium margin. It means you design the vey best you can and you implement it into being a solid consumer product, not the current garbage...:mad:

Q-6
No doubt. Am I wrong in thinking that the MacBook Air's 7W Amber Lake CPU is better suited for a "Net Book" class computer though? I mean it gets by and Apple can claim 10+ hours run time on battery as a result, but is *really* what current MacBook Air Fans wanted for a 10th Anniversary update?
 

Queen6

macrumors 604
No doubt. Am I wrong in thinking that the MacBook Air's 7W Amber Lake CPU is better suited for a "Net Book" class computer though? I mean it gets by and Apple can claim 10+ hours run time on battery as a result, but is *really* what current MacBook Air Fans wanted for a 10th Anniversary update?
IMHO, no not really, by a long chalk...

Q-6
 
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556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
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I'm happy with my T480 (non "S"). If you compare it with other non ThinkPad laptops, it wins easily for me. But it's probably a step back or two from earlier ThinkPads except in processor performance. The Kaby Lake-R 15 watt quad core CPUs are real gems.