Review after one month

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Kalahan, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. Kalahan macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2011

    I'm writing this for all of you that are still deciding weather or not to get a MacBook Air or are wondering what model to take. So here is my honest review of my MBA. Hopefully some of you will find it helpful.

    I own a 2011 MacBook Air for about a month now. The 13" model with 128GB of storage and the standard i5 processor.

    Performance wise the machine is everything I wished for. The SSD makes everything feel really snappy. Apps launch fast and during heavy multitasking it all keeps running smoothly. Photo editing was also more than fast enough for my taste.

    The MacBook Air seems also very capable for gaming. I played Insomnia, EVE online, Minecraft, Starcraft 2 and Team Fortress 2. Always in native resolution. For some games the settings hat to be tweaked to something between "medium" and "good" graphics setting but the result was always a 30+ frames per second, which is very playable. I'm not saying you're going to play all the latest games on this machine but there are plenty of options to keep you entertained.

    I use the MBA as my main computer. Therefor I decided to go for the 13" model. Not an easy decision. I was doubting between models for months before the new model was announced. I wanted something that could very well be my main Mac and something that was compact and light enough to carry around, replacing also my iPad.
    After I got my MBA I was still not 100% sure on my decision to get the larger version. However, the more you use it, the more you appreciate the comfort of the model. This is truly a machine where you can work on for half a day without feeling cramped. The trackpad and the wrist area are great and the screen feels never cramped even when doing a dozen tasks at a time.

    Mobility was not my main concern but the machine still feels incredibly compact. Place a 13" next to a 11" MacBook Air and it looks big. Place it next to any other laptop and it looks tiny.
    Mobility is a great thing but a larger trackpad, a bigger display with more screen realestate and a larger battery are huge advantages as well.

    So another reason why I choose the 13" model was the longer battery life. 7 instead of 5 hours is a pretty big difference. For me it's the difference between leaving your charger at home or having to carry it around with you and finding a place to charge your Mac while on the road.
    7 hours seems the average of what I'm get from my MBA battery in real life scenarios. Except when I'm playing games or watching flash video. When doing those tasks he battery life is cut in half.

    I have a 24" LED display at home that I planned to be using a lot to get that extra screen real estate. However, after one month of heavy use I plugged in my MBA exactly one time. To watch a HD movie at home.

    The resolution of the display is the main reason for that. At times you're forgetting you work an a 13" laptop. When you're close and personal with your laptop it feel like you got a full desktop experience. Using Photoshop, playing games, doing finances, watching movies, general multitasking... it all feels just great. The new Lion features like Mission Control and full screen apps also help to get the most out of that display.

    For those that are maybe doubting between the MBA and the 13" MBP, please consider the higher resolution of the MPA as an important factor. Although, I'm sure future MBPs will get a resolution bump as well. Now is not the ideal time to buy a MBP anyway.

    Build quality
    The display hinge is firm and the overall body feels sturdy. Only on the very front of the MBA I hear occasionally a small cracking sound when working on a non stable surface but I'm nitpicking here. When you hold it, you don't feel a thing. Nothing moves what shouldn't be moving.

    The speaker can go so loud it's impressive for such a small machine. However, if you put your speaker volume to above 80% things start to sound a bit weird. Most of the time I listen to music or watch movies at 60 tot 70% which is more than enough in almost

    My one real complaint I have about the MBA is that that If you put the volume to the max, my right speaker (or so I thought) was making a cracking sound on certain tones. Again, not something you would easily notice. After reading some forums it became clear that it was not the speaker that was cracking but the return key that is located above the speaker that was vibrating too hard. I'm not sure if this is the case with all MBA models or if this is a malfunction on my model. My solution was to adjust the speaker balance slightly to the left side. No more rattling keys and the experience is just the same. It still sounds like the volume is evenly balanced between speakers. I use an international keyboard with the return key oriented vertically.

    After you decided what size MBA you want you have to answer the next difficult question to yourself. What SSD size? I went for the standard 128GB. I have currently 30GB free storage left, but I had to make some sacrifices. I don't have Bootcamp installed, I don't keep games installed on my Mac, I keep old project files on an external HDD and I don't keep movies and TV shows on my Mac.

    If I where to buy a new MBA I would reconsider buying the 256GB SSD. You have to swap files less between your Mac and a NAS drive. But still, $300 is a lot for 128GB of extra storage. Especially just to make your life a teeny, tiny bit easier.

    It's a personal issue and only you can answer it. However, a NAS drive or TimeCapsule can solve many problems.

    I have owned 2 Macs before. A White MacBook of 2007 and a MacBook Pro of 2009. I enjoyed both machines but there is something extra special about the MacBook Air.
    It feels incredible fast thanks to the SSD, the display is a pleasure to work on and the light design makes you want to carry the thing everywhere. There is more of a wow-factor to the whole thing.

    This is a Mac I see myself using for quite some time and I can honestly say I'm very satisfied with my purchase. If you want a Mac and you don't usually do the most high demanding tasks like video editing, than this is the time to get one.

    Hope this helps.
  2. bandofbrothers macrumors 601


    Oct 14, 2007
    Thanks for the really good heads up.

    I've just bought the MBA 11" 128gb machine and I'm loving it.
  3. scarred macrumors 6502a

    Jul 24, 2011
    One thing I would add to build quality...

    I want to use my MBA, and not worry about it degrading physically if I don't baby it. I've found that it is holding up extremely well. The only noticeable wear and tear is on the keyboard. Keys are starting to get a little shiny (and that is with me washing my hands before I use it). The rest of the computer still looks just like it did when it came out of the box. I've ordered a moshi keyboard protector so I can stop worrying about the keyboard.

    fyi. Excellent review, and I agree with all of it.
  4. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    Thanks for the review. This is my first Mac and at the 1 month mark I am lovin it.
  5. honggil macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
    First of all, thanks for the great review.
    I've got a question about the gaming. I play games like HoN and Dota (expecting to play Dota2) and it's obvious that playing games will make the Air run much hotter. But, how much sound do the fans produce, or, how much do the fans kick in?
  6. entatlrg macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    Great review, sensible points - MacBook Air's ROCK :apple:
  7. karlth macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2010
    Been using mine for 3 weeks now.

    It has fulfilled every expectation and then some.
  8. macdemon macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2011
    ageed on all accounts

    thanks for a wondeful review
    my sentiments exactly
  9. Pipper99 macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2010
    Fort Worth, TX
    Nice review. Perhaps you would consider posting it on Amazon? You'd probably shoot to the top of the Most Helpful list. :)
  10. 3dflyboy1 macrumors 6502

    Jun 27, 2011
    California, USA
    Thanks for the review. :) Yes, post it on amazon!!
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Very good review and thanks for posting it. I also have a MBA (not the most recent model), love it, and use it as my main computer.

    I agree with those who have suggested that you post this on Amazon, too; I expect that others would also find it extremely helpful.

  12. mwhities macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2011
    Great review, as others have stated.

    This maybe what put the nail in the coffin for myself.

    I've considered purchasing the 17" MBP and get it fully loaded but, I've heard about the size and weight of it with people carrying it around. I carry my current laptop around with me everyday. It's either on my shoulder or it's setup on my desk(s).

    I've been reading reviews about the MBAs and at first I really didn't like the idea of no optical drive and the "smallness" of them. Now I'm really starting to lean toward the 13" MBA over any of the MBPs I've REALLY wanted for the last year or so.

    After reading your review, I REALLY want to try out the 13" MBA. You really hit points that I too feel the need for. I guess now I'll need to "test" out the 13" MBA at the Apple Store and see if it might be a "fit" for myself.

  13. csjcsj macrumors regular


    Feb 15, 2011
    Sarasota FL
    When my i7 15" MBP died (cat dumped ice tea in it) I decided to go cheaper with the 13" Air. Also i7, but half the memory and slower processor. I like the MBA better.

    Yes post review on Amazon.
  14. Sniv macrumors member


    Feb 21, 2011
    Almost the same as me...and I concur! :)

    Thanks for the review. It's nice to know what other people think about their machine after they bought it.

    I went with 256 GB and I've not regretted it.
  15. dennya macrumors regular


    Jun 15, 2009
    You really gotta get those cats off the caffeine. Makes 'em jittery.
  16. phyzics101 macrumors regular


    Jul 13, 2009
    Great Review!!!


    I agree 100%
  17. iphonsteve4ajob macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2011
    I couldn't agree more. There is definitely more of a "wow-factor" to the Air and it does make me want to carry it everywhere. Great review!:)
  18. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    Love my 11" MBA i7. It's nearly faster than my '06 quad Mac Pro! I have no intention of ever going back to a bulky, heavy laptop again.
  19. alecgold macrumors 65816


    Oct 11, 2007
    Tnx, very nice review.
    I'm also really happy with the 11".
  20. Kalahan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2011
    Thanks for all the positive feedback.

    Feel free to post this review on Amazon.
    I have never bought an item at Amazon so I'm not able to write a customer review on an item apparently. :)

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