MacBook AIR vs. PC ultrabook for Running Windows?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by phositadc, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. phositadc macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    For those who have significant experience running Windows on both an MBA and a native Windows PC, is the experience on your MBA significantly worse than it is on your Windows PC? Or does Windows via bootcamp or VMWare work essentially just as well and just as fast on your MBA as it does on your native Windows PC?

    One other question. I know the 256GB SSD has performance improvements over the 128GB SSD just because of its size for some reason. Do you lose that performance boost if you have to partition the 256GB SSD in order to run bootcamp?

  2. Theadamh123 macrumors member

    Dec 11, 2011
    If your only going to use windows, get a PC. It will be 10x better.
  3. JCSColin macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2014
    Chester and Fairfax Virginia
    My advice; when it comes to running Windows on your Mac if you are not planning on running Windows the majority of the time you can get by pretty well with Bootcamp and VMWare(which btw lately has become AMAZING and I have actually seen almost equal performance in VMWare with Bootcamp). However, if you are planning on running Windows the majority of the time I would have to recommend getting a PC as even when you run Windows natively(Bootcamp) and not virtualized(VMWare) Apple's Windows drivers used for the Mac aren't all that great and especially with energy performance Apple just doesn't tune their Windows drivers like they do on the Mac.

    Now with SSD performance the reason why larger SSDs gain a SLIGHT "speed" advantage as they get larger is because the memory cells in a SSD like to be pushed tight against each other and up to a certain point the tighter the memory cells are the "faster" they run. The main reason why this happens is because SSDs are kinda made in a one size fits all way and they just add more or fewer memory cells. They are made this way to cut cost so one factory could produce any storage size and so there doesn't have to be a separate 64GB factory, 128GB factory, etc. So in short the SSD is just faster because of how its made and formatting into partitions won't affect the speed of the SSD but it could affect the OS.
  4. phositadc thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    Thanks to both replies. Looks like I'll prob get a PC ultrabook then unfortunately. The thing that really bothers me is that they tend to be more expensive than Apple notebooks, even with exact same processor and ram!
  5. yosemit macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2013
    I run Windows VM from time to time on my Macbook Air i7 11". It is indeed very fast, almost like running on an actual machine. But battery life is reduced from ~10 hours to ~5 hours.

    However, quite some people reported good battery time with Windows 8 and bootcamp. Here is one:

  6. gadgetgirl85 macrumors 68040


    Mar 24, 2006
    I had a Sony Vaio for just over 2 months..I couldn't deal with the trackpad. It was buggy as well. After that I said I"d never buy a win ultra book again (at least not a win 8 one).
  7. chabig macrumors 603

    Sep 6, 2002
    I'd say it's essentially the same, except the Mac has a better trackpad.
  8. Kurso macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2013
    They may be more expensive because they offer more features beyond the CPU and RAM (which are the commodity features for sure).

    You may be paying for higher resolutions (much higher), touch screens, less weight, discrete graphics, etc...

    MBA vs Ultrabook is not a fair comparison for Apple or the PC manufacturers. MBA is a product (product line really) and Ultrabook is a product category that has hundreds of products and dozens of product lines in it.

    I suggest you determine what features you want/need then make your decision.
  9. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    What are your windows use cases? Do you need IE, Office and/or other windows-ware? Gaming?

    I have an 8 gig i7 mba and run my corporate windows 7 build in a VM to which I give 4 gig. Best of both worlds for me. OSX on a sweet laptop plus the required windows-ware when needed.

    If your use cases are somewhat "lightweight", a VM may well suit your need(s).
  10. phositadc thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    My use is accessing my work VPN, which I can only do from Windows, so on a Mac it would be VMWare or bootcamp to access the VPN. On my work VPN it's a remote desktop using things like MS Office.

    So... For that use, better off with a real Pc or would a Mac running bootcamp or VMWare be just as good?

    Guess I could just try both and return the one I like less....
  11. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    If your needs require you to run bootcamp or a VM then I'd highly recommend simply going with a Windows ultrabook. I only have need to run one or two Windows apps and so I wrapped them in a Wineskin Winery wrapper... an all-in-one executable which works extremely well on my 11" MBA.
  12. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    95% Win7 Pro on my new 13" Air. Apple's hardware is superior in my opinion.
  13. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Another vote for a windows machine, if you'll be running windows most of the time. Its a waste of money imo to spend so much just to run windows.

    I have found in using bootcamp with my MBP, is odd issues that can crop up, when updating it. That is, I've never had problems with windows machines but for some reason I run into driver problems from time to time with my MBP. This is not a new phenomenon, its been going on since apple embraced the intel chipset.

    Just look at the various threads about people looking for older or different drivers for their wifi, or sound card. I too had issues with my wifi and I cannot use my TB ethernet dongle in windows as that prevents the windows system from sleeping.

    I'm not against running windows on apple hardware, but its not as seamless as many people make it out to be, imo.
  14. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    On an MBA part of of the performance boost with the larger SSD comes from the fact that many of the 256GB drives are from Samsung, which produces some of the best SSDs on the market.
  15. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I have two iMac 27 units, one at house and one at office (networked) running nothing but Win7 Pro and not had any problems with any of the drivers or updates. They have been pretty well flawless and the screens are about the best pver any other hardware I have ever used. They also run Win 7 Pro VERY fast via BootCamp.

    Only had the new 13" Air for a few weeks, sold the 15" MacBook Pro Retina as Windows text was just too small in some apps. The 13" Air is perfect.

    Not telling everyone who runs WIndows to jump on Apple hardware, but it has been very good for me!:)
  16. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    This is what I do, as our VPN is a windows-only client, and that leaves the MBA on my local network so I can still do things like print (from the mac). If that's your only windows requirement I'd test drive a VM on the MBA if you've got access to a corporate image or have a pal in IT who can offer some guidance. Boot camp would work fine as well, but a VM is so much easier.

    I had a windows 7 bootcamp partition on my MBA for a few months but found that I never (literally) used it as everything I needed to do can be done in a VM, so it was removed and I recovered that disk space.

    As far as "just as good", that's something you as the end user need to determine. In my case the VM is good enough to perform all of the windows-only tasks I need to do.
  17. ha1o2surfer macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2013
    This is a good reply, I like it. I agree.
  18. happyslayer macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2008
    Glendale, AZ
    Get an MBA and BootCamp it to run windows. There is no good Windows ultrabook out there. I have helped setup many different Ultrabooks for customers and they ALL have inferior trackpads and keyboards. You will not regret running Windows on bootcamp. I have been using bootcamp off and on for years (since my first 2008 Air) and have had no real issues other than having to use a different program than time machine to back it up.

    Definitely buy the MBA, not some knock-off Ultrabook. MBA's were the first and still are the best ultrabooks.

    my opinion, obvioulsy
  19. phositadc thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    Thanks again to all for the replies. Sounds like I'm better off testing both options out, if possible.
  20. nexus4life macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2014
    Absolutely not. Not even 2x.

    Trackpads on most windows laptops royally suck. The macbook has a fantastic trackpad, a much faster SSD than most, if not all ultrabooks, etc.

    Also - you say you'll use windows mostly, but who knows? Maybe you'll really fall in love with Mac OS and at least with this you'll have that option.

    Also - are you 100% sure you can't access your work's VPN through Mac OS?
  21. phositadc thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    My wife has a Mac so I already know i love OSX, but yeah, unfortunately I'm certain my work VPN requires Windows... otherwise it would be an MBA for me, no question (and maybe I'll still get one).
  22. Isamilis macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2012
    Agree with trackpad. Plus aluminum body, which is much sturdy compared to plastic on some ultra books without adding too much weight. In my case where I have to commute every day with full of people in train, I feel more safe with MBA.
  23. AQ1225 macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2013
    since your work is allowing you to VPN from home, what about getting a macbook air and using windows remote desktop connection application to log into your windows machine at work?

    this way you get the best of both worlds - full OSX without any partitioning and you can let your work computer deal with the windows portion of it.
  24. phositadc thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    Good idea, but I have to travel frequently! :(
  25. nexus4life macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2014
    What does travelling have to do with it? You should be able to access it anywhere there is internet.

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