MacBook Air - OK to purchase 1st gen or avoid?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ewhite, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. ewhite macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2009
    Hi all,

    I am looking to purchase a used MacBook Air and was wondering if there are any specific versions or configurations to be avoided.

    I remember reading on this forum some time ago that the first generation had issues with overheating which subsequently throttled down the CPU speed, and wanted to know if this was also an issue with later versions of the Air in addition. Also is there any real speed increase in day-to-day apps from the basic 1.6 CPU to the higher 1.8 or the newer 2.13GHz series.

    Any information/responses appreciated.

  2. Ace134blue macrumors 6502a


    Sep 17, 2009
    NEVER get the first gen macbook air. IT is absolutely trash. Not a huge difference between the speeds. But i would skip all versions of mba. The mba could* be updated in a few months. If not i would skip it entirely unless you only do web browsing/mail etc. Simple tasks and such. I would get a macbook.
  3. theappleguy macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2005
    Rev B and C are fine for most usage, but I would avoid the Rev A. I used a Rev A myself and it works ok, but it is far from exceptional if you plan on doing anything multimedia related whatsoever. :)
  4. turugara macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2009
    I had a Gen A MBA that I bought the first day it was available. Back then Flash was still extremely CPU intensive and doing anything video related would cause the MBA to grind to a halt. I even regreased the CPU/GPU with Tuniq Thermal paste and the MBA was still incompetent. Avoid the Rev A.
  5. iSpoody 1243 macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2008
    if you are gonna buy a mba the only versions that are worth buying are the ones with both the 9400m and an ssd.
    they work well but are a bit restricted with only 2gb with 270mb going to the gpu.
    but if you can wait it seems like there is gonna be a major revision coming soon(or EOL) seeing how the mini got a makeover.
  6. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    If you cannot get the v 2,1, just buy a different Mac. The Nvidia GPU in the v 2,1 is an absolute necessity. In addition, it keeps getting better as Apple updates OS X, the drivers, and gives API access for h.264.

    First choice - Nvidia Only
    Second choice - 128 GB SSD
    Third choice - 2.13 or 1.86

    You don't want an MBA if it doesn't at least have the Nvidia GPU. If it's going to be your only computer, you want the SSD. If you're going to have it for three years, get the 2.13 GHz CPU.

    Anyways, this is the advice I give. If you cannot get these, buy the white unibody MB or al. 13" MBP. The white unibody MB is $729 when it's available in the refurbished section at It shows up there once or twice per week. The 13" MBP shows up for $200 discounts from new. They both have one-year warranties and are like new when refurbished.

    GOOD LUCK! Enjoy!
  7. Alkiera macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2008
    I still own a RevA MBA, purchased the first week they were out. I like the form factor, but the poor integrated graphics and wacky issues with flash and heat prevent me from really recommending it to anyone unless they just read normal text pages, email, etc. If you watch a lot of flash video, avoid it. If you do semi-serious CS3, 4, 5 work, avoid.

    I will likely give my MBA to my spouse, and replace most of what I do on it with the next generation of iPad. I got burned on being first gen on the MBA, not doing it again with iPad, despite the fact that I really want one; built-in 3G is too much of a win.

    Alternatively, I may end up with one of the larger format Android phone/tablets, or the new iPhone for portable web/mail/video/photo viewing, and a Mac mini desktop for actual development stuff. If they come out with an updated MBA with integrated cellular... that would be tempting, too. But a portable computer without cellular is lacking, for my usage, anymore.
  8. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    It's unfortunate Apple didn't do something for all of us original MBA buyers. It really gave us a "typical lackluster" first version Mac... it happens far too often, and I believe it's because they're so secret and don't thoroughly test their products before launch. I have to believe Steve didn't stand up there and brag about it knowing how worthless it actually was going to be.

    The worst part is there's no improving it like the 9400m version gets with nearly every update now. The v 2,1 MBA just keeps getting better and better.

    I feel for you... we all should have got what we paid for... at least a replacement v 2,1 MBA.
  9. halledise macrumors 65816

    May 7, 2009
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    Avoid. :D

    Rev B or Rev C only - big difference
  10. timsutcliffe macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2007
    It's not that bad

    As others have pointed out, the Rev B and C versions are a lot better than the Rev A.

    However, i've been using my Rev A 1.6/80 for over a year now, and it's fine. Sometimes it's not as fast as I would like, and sometimes it's not great for watching video. But it still works.

    So it's not a disaster, but the others are better.
  11. xerenthar macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2008
    agreed. i still have my rev A ******* as my laptop, and long for a rev D.
  12. darrellishere macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2007
    I have the 1.6 Revision B & it seems to handle everything I throw at it.
    Even before I got an Ssd for it. Now my only performace issue with it is, it can not play my blu-Ray rips smoothly anymore on my 32" tv:( Which is a hefty task anyway. It can play them on it's own screen fine, but then you have the lack luster battery in all models.

    U also have to use a utility called cool book to stop the MBA from clocking down it's CPU, if you want real performance vs longer battery life. Luckily you can configure either or both with this great little app, that I would recommend to any air owner! & install the gala version of Flash, so it offloads to the gpu.
    Using the HTML5 version of YouTube isn't a bad idea either.

    Most owners do love their babys! Mine never overheats, freezes, or slows on performance.
    But you have to mother it, tinker with the uttility & make sure the fans are never blocked when doing massive CPU tasks like exporting 100 jpg for example. It dose lack the raw power of a MacBook pro and feels more fragile so if it's really what you want then go for it! Their are some bargain revision B's to be had on eBay! (now almost around half the original retail price).
  13. scottness macrumors 65816


    Mar 18, 2009
    Room 101
    My rev a, ssd is a great machine as long as I don't do a lot of video. I mainly use it for Filemaker, light surfing and email. Doesn't overheat for what I use it for.
  14. innominato5090 macrumors 6502


    Sep 4, 2009
    rev A it's ok just for some browsing+chatting+mail reading+word processing
    if you want to do some serious work, look for a rev B or C with the SSD (or buy an SSD and mount it by yourself)
    Anyway, if you think that you're gonna use your MBA for the tasks that I've written above, you could consider to get an iPad. better battery, increased portability and it's a supported device, while MBAirs (and the x3100 computers) are being ignored by Apple
  15. GeekGuys macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2009
    All these responses and yet you haven't mentioned what you will use it for, and if it is your only Mac?

    I have a Rev A since day one and have been very happy with it. It is a HDD version as well (please Scottsdale, don't pass comment !!!!:))

    The only thing that bothers me with it have been slow (compared to other Mac's) with program startup and bootup times, and I can't watch HD video (or do video encryption/decrypion) without serious stuttering. But I don't need's only a 13" screen and all my video work is done on the main machine.

    I use it for travelling and it works great.
    Form factor is perfect for me. MBP 15" is just too bulky by comparison.
    I can watch a Standard Def DVD without any issues, BBC iPlayer TV without a single stutter or fault, presentations to 60" plasma/projectors....
    M$ Office 2008 is SLLLOOOOWWWW to startup which is frustrating but it is not much quicker on my new iMac 27". That is just M$ in my mind !!

    So, depending on what you do, you should not worry about the spec's so much and just worry if the product is right for your needs. There are too many people on these forums that concern themselves with having the latest version of this and that.... in 6 months time, it will be 'out of date' but does that make it a bad purchase/product? No it doesn't.

    I would say a Rev A would make a good 'cheap' travel laptop for general use.
    Video/graphic intensive work you should look at a MBP.
    If you need DVD a lot then a MBP

    Hope this helps
  16. ewhite thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2009
    Thanks for the replies

    To all who replied, thank you for the insight and detail on options.

    I will be using this laptop primarily for business work in the field - which is light office work (MS Office) and mostly remote desktop to another computer entirely which means CPU usage/needs on this device is somewhat low. I will be using the web, listening to Pandora, and maybe some iTunes - but no video or photo work besides the odd Picasa session.

    Will also plan to install Windows 7 on a boot camp partition for light business use.

    With the above in mind... I came across a local seller with a 64GB SSD Rev A unit for sale. Has AppleCare active and the price is around $800, probably a little less if negotiation is possible. Laptop is in excellent condition and actually had the battery replaced under AppleCare a short time ago.

    So is this Rev A a good deal? Or should I just bite the bullet for a refurb MacBook Pro 13" that is 1.5Lbs heavier and maybe $200-$300 more?
  17. ewhite thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2009
    Found a good deal

    Well searching and keeping on track for what you want really pays off, especially on eBay. Found a late 2009 2.13GHz 128GB SSD Model w/Superdrive and super-low "use" hours for about $1270. Seemed like a steal, and to my suprise I did not have much competition on the auction.

    Now - since this is eligible for AppleCare, are the AppleCare items I see on eBay for a large discount actually legit? It seems a bit suspicious.

    Anyone with experience on this please reply and let me know, thanks!
  18. ewhite thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2009
    Update after use

    Update: The MacBook Air is simply *amazing*. I installed a fresh copy of Mac OS X 10.6.3 in RECORD time over the weekend via the superdrive over USB. This thing boots super-fast and overall programs/activity is much faster than my MacBook Pro.

    *Question* - are the AppleCare contracts on eBay that go for well off Apple List *Legit*????

    Thanks to everyone for advice, "2,1" is the revision to get and SSD is the WAY to go.
  19. peterb69 macrumors member

    Oct 14, 2008
    ewhite - remote desktop?

    ewhite, congrats on your new MacBook Air. Have you setup remote desktop on it yet? I am very interested on the performance.

    I want to bootcamp into Windows, then remote desktop to windows pc at work. Just wondering what performance would be like.

  20. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    If you find a reputable seller on eBay, you shouldn't have any problems. If you're still a little worried, you can always check out LA Computer. They're pretty highly recommended on MacRumors and you can score a decent discount on AppleCare.
  21. BrokerDon macrumors newbie

    Sep 6, 2006
    I've purchased SEVERAL AppleCare warranties for our Mac Pro, MacBook Pros, iPhones and iPods and registered them and got them honored by Apple with NO problem...
    And if you have a problem with an eBay purchase made via PayPal based on our experience they'll refund your money so GO FOR IT and you'll save a bundle over Apple and even L.A. Computer or Small Dog Electronics discount AppleCare prices!
  22. mangrove macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2010
    FL, USA
    Ok, maybe a dumb question, but--

    1. Is Rev A a 1.80 w/64Gb SSD? Or is that Rev A #2?

    2. What is Rev 2,1 compared to the above? Is it a larger SSD faster CPU or what?

    3. Was there a Rev zero. To me Rev means there was a model before a "Rev".

    Kindly enlighten me. It's probably in another thread, but could not find one explaining all the different MBA's that have been available from the git go.:confused:
  23. Mr. Savage macrumors regular

    Mr. Savage

    Jun 11, 2010
    Macbook Air timeline

    Here's an MBA timeline...

    Attached Files:

  24. Pixellated macrumors 65816

    Apr 1, 2008
    A Rev. A is the first MBA -
    I.E. 1.6GHz/1.8GHz with 80GB HDD or 64GB SSD = Rev. A
    1.6/1.8 with 120GB HDD or 128GB SSD = Rev. B
    1.8/2.13GHz with 120GB HDD or 128GB SSD = Rev. C

    There was no Rev. Zero, but your logic does make sense.

    Hope it helps :)

    EDIT: Your table beat me to it, Mr. Savage :)
  25. mangrove macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2010
    FL, USA

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