MBA Review for Scientific Computing at a University

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mliu7, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. mliu7 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    #1
    Hi everyone. About 9 months ago I used the information I read from this forum to go ahead and decide to get a macbook air rev. C for my university research. First, I'd like to say thanks everyone for all the great information you've provided here! Next, I'd like to give a brief review in case this helps someone else out there who needs to make a similar decision.

    The key factors in my decision were:
    • I wanted a laptop that I could carry to work every day so I could use the same computer from home
    • Price was not an issue because my department would pay for whatever I chose
    • My previous laptop was too heavy and I'd often decide to not bring it places because of the weight
    • I would need a computer that could easily hook into a 24 inch monitor so I can code more efficiently
    • Speed was mildly important (I needed to do things like run Matlab), but for big jobs, I could send them to some powerful servers and check on the results in the morning

    With those in mind, I decided I didn't need a ton of processing power and that the Macbook Air could function as my sole computer. Further, I decided the weight would encourage me to take it everywhere, which would be useful for the huge number of meetings and random places I end up having to do my work.

    Now that I've owned it for 9 months, I can safely say I am very happy with this decision. As a person who writes a ton of code using lots of very lightweight applications, the SSD makes this computer feel ridiculously snappy and responsive. It runs some more computationally intensive applications really quickly too. Further, the weight of this thing is so much better than I could have ever imagined! It comes everywhere with me, wakes up in 1-2 seconds, and I'm back to working on stuff. The battery life is better than I expected too. I once forgot to charge it before a 1.5 hour class, and I only had 20% battery life to begin the class. I was able to squeeze an hour and 20 minutes of life out of it by turning the screen brightness way down, turning off wifi, and letting it sleep for a minute here and there, so that was a nice surprise.

    The biggest downside of it is its fairly poor ability to play streaming video. I have had a lot of problems with streaming high def video on this thing. Even if the video has buffered plenty, it still occasionally comes out too choppy to watch. It has no problems whatsoever playing high def video from a file using VLC or Plex, though. But for streaming decent resolution video (say... a full screen movie on netflix.com), I have resorted to using my old (circa 2005) windows machine that has similar specs to my MBA.

    So in a nutshell, that is my experience of using a rev. C MBA for 9 months. I hope this helps someone!
     
  2. Airforcekid macrumors 65816

    Airforcekid

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Location:
    United States of America
    #2
    Are you using the Gala beta that should fix any streaming issues. Nice review.
     
  3. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    #3
    Oops.. I read this wrong and thought it was something to do with a Masters degree :eek:
     
  4. cleric macrumors 6502a

    cleric

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    #4
    Yarr welcome to flash video on a mac.
     
  5. mliu7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    #5
    Cool, I just downloaded that and it appears to stream MUCH better. I wish I had known about this during the world cup :rolleyes:

    Thanks!
     
  6. manhattanboy macrumors 6502a

    manhattanboy

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Location:
    In ur GF's bed, Oh no he didn't!
    #6

    No disc for the stu ver of matlab sucks balz
     

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