Macbook Air First Impressions + vs. 15 inch MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Burnsey, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. Burnsey macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2007
    I spent good half hour at the Apple store checking out both the 13" and 11.6" Macbook Airs. I am considering getting the 13" to replace my aging MBP and was wondering how the performance was relative to it and the newer more powerful MBPs in the store.

    Whoever complains about "outdated hardware" in these things doesn't know how irrelevant that is. I opened every single application simultaneously (including office, iLife and Aperture) at once on the 13" Air, and while that was happening, opened a whole bunch of tabs in Safari. Not a single beach ball, the thing coasted through it no problem. I played a 720P HD YouTube video (Iron Man trailer) on the 11.6" and it played through smoothly, even with the magsafe out.

    They had a top of the line 15" MBP on display as well, and I performed the same application test on it and the thing choked almost instantly. Beach balls, graphic glitches, you name it. The Air truly is the future of notebooks.

    Battery Life
    Light web browsing on the 13" had the battery meter read ~5:30, while watching the 720P Youtube Iron Man trailer on the 11.6" yielded a 2:30 reading. I was a little disappointed with this (expected ~7 hours with the 13") but for a notebook of this size it is impressive none the less.

    Both Airs have great displays, evenly lit and high resolution. The 11.6" though was too small for my tastes, I found myself squinting at times to see things, and the 16:9 ratio did not help. The 13" had me increasing the size of web pages because of the high pixel density, but otherwise was much more comfortable.

    What disappointed me about the display(s) was that they were glossy. I have a matte MBP (and the one in the store was matte too) and I much prefer it. Looking at a high res photo or HD video on a matte display is like looking at it in real life, while a glossy display is like looking at it through glass. the WOW factor greatly diminishes for me with the glossy display. Not a deal breaker, but a let down nonetheless.

    Size and Form Factor
    both notebooks are insanely thin, the 11.6" is very small and portable, definitely great for those who need portability. The 13" though I found was the perfect size, and still very very portable. The MBP in comparison was huge, and noticeably heavier.

    Will I get one to replace my MBP? Well despite being a few years old, my MBP is still very capable, though a tad hefty. I will very likely get a new Air to replace it, but not immediately. I have decided to wait until Christmas or thereabouts in case Apple updates it or drops the price for the holiday season. Is it worth it for the price though? Definitely. Superb performance, tons of features, sexy design and ultra portable form factor. This is the perfect notebook
  2. yahoodlums macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2008
    Good review.

    Early benchmarks would suggest the new MBA is a very capable machine indeed.

    What was the screen resolution like on the little one? Do you think it would be okay for some light photoshop work, or is it just too small?
  3. GLS macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2010

    Had the MBP on display had a SDD in it, I'd say you would have seen very similar performance. You can't compare a SSD Core2Duo with a Core i5 or 7 with what may have been a 5400 RPM drive. In "feel" tests like you performed, the SSD equipped computer will win every time.

    I'm not being an apologist here; I do have a Core i7 MBP 15. But it has a 7200 RPM drive in it. I'll pick up my Macbook Air 11.6 tomorrow. And I'll enjoy it for what it is---a complimentary computer for my needs. If I need to rip a DVD or something else CPU intensive, I'll use my MBP.
  4. Burnsey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2007
    I found the 11 way too small, I wouldn't do any serious PS work on it, at least not without an external monitor. Pixel density was good though, but I would like more vertical pixels on both. The lack of it is particularly noticeable on the smaller one. Overall, unless you travel A LOT, the 13" is a much better choice than the 11.6", it's still very light and small but the extra real estate is noticeable.

    I would imagine an SSD MBP would end up quite expensive, the one I was comparing it too was already close to $2k. CPU power is not much of a big thing for me personally, though I use photoshop heavily and do the odd video conversion, I've still managed to cripple my 2.33GHz machine to 1GHz and noticed no noticeable speed losses in my day to day work flow. The heat reduction was definitely worth it. It seems the Flash drive would more noticeably improve performance than an upgrade to a Core i5 for my use (which I assume mirrors that of most people).

    The way I see it the air is better than my MBP in every way, but at half the size, thickness and weight and twice the battery life. Plus no more hard drive grinding noises :) :)

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