[TemptingReviews] I was wrong, and I was right.

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by revelated, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. revelated macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    The machine: the 128GB base MacBook Air 11.6" with 2GB of RAM.

    Why I Was Wrong:
    You know, I've had all different flavors of MacBook Pro. I also have owned the older 13" MacBook Air. I consider myself a heavy user, working in IT as I do. My machine gets hammered rather frequently, and I needed a device that could keep up with me. Even the base 17" MBP was lacking until I threw an Intel X25M SSD in it. All other machines, Windows and Apple alike (except for the Mac Pro, obviously) seemed inferior in comparison, especially the Air. I read stories about people trying to run AutoCAD and Photoshop and all of these "heavy" apps on a machine clearly not designed to handle them. I stated numerous times that getting a stronger machine, even with the added weight, was the way to go.

    I was wrong. To understand why, you have to look at users in groups: the "power" users, like me; the "active" users, and the "passive" users.

    Having used the 11.6" Air for a while, it became clear to me that the machine was designed for active users; it has "just enough" power to handle 85% of what you throw at it. That's Microsoft Office, iWork, browsing, email, Screen Sharing, videos, music, even Boot Camp. It would work for passive users, but the price point IMO is too high for these folks who just need to surf the web and read an email every now and then. For them they might as well get an iPad or one of the hundreds of netbooks out in the wild. My initial judgment was predicated on one assumption: that people who buy computers buy them because they need power. That was a flawed assumption. Some people buy computers because quite frankly, they don't know what else they should buy that will meet their needs - which they barely know or understand.

    One thing that makes the 11.6" Air nice is the fact that it fits in most notebook portfolio pockets. That lends itself to less that one needs to carry.

    Why I Was Right
    I see stories from people all the time who claim to be running the world on their Air. And maybe they have the higher end models. Maybe they're running on the 13" rather than the 11". All I can say, is that the 11" is severely underpowered for the price. That's fine...but I had to understand it. The first thing I did was lay out some tests that I could run the Air through to see where it came up short compared to all of the other devices I have.

    First, boot time. Given it has the 1066MHz DDR3 RAM and a SSD, I expected nearly instant boot times. However, both my Eee Slate (which has the same hardware but a stronger processor) and my MacBook Pro (same thing...same hardware but a stronger processor) smoked the Air in boot tests by a wide margin. In fact, the Eee Slate booted to a usable Windows 7 desktop almost twice as fast as the Air. The only thing I can think of is either (A) the higher RAM amount in the Eee Slate and the MBP, or (B) the Core i5 processor. Either way, the Eee Slate was $1100, nearly the same price I paid for the Air, yet is substantially more powerful, if not as slim.

    Second, virtualization. I run VMWare daily on the MBP. It was slow with a 7200 RPM drive, but with the SSD it's near instant. Powering up VMs is usually a 10-15 second affair compared to the 30-60 second boot times under the 7200 RPM drive. I assumed that given the MBA had a SSD, it should also be reasonably fast. And it was...but there was a horrible lag to things. My guess is that the low dedicated memory of the video card was contributing to the problem, but I can't be sure. Mind, I gave 1GB of RAM to the VM and 1 processor core, which should not have slowed the machine down at all, yet it did. Further investigation revealed a significant amount of page outs which may be a symptom of the low RAM in the 11.6" holding it back from true greatness. I can't be sure of that though.

    I spoke about the ability to fit into portfolios. The one true negative, and it's really an Apple thing, is the fact that you cannot really max out the processor AND the RAM on the 11.6. That they force you to go to the 13" in order to get the better processor is a farce, quite honestly.

    In short...the MacBook Air, at least the base 11.6" version, is fine for "regular", "active" users. People who don't need to run heavy apps or perform any intensive duties. But it's just not sufficient for those that need raw power.
  2. SR71 macrumors 68000

    Jan 12, 2011
    Boston, MA
    You should've ran the tests with 4GB of RAM and not the base 2GB of RAM, I bet it would've made a world of a difference.
  3. miggitymac macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2009
    Ah...duh. You really needed to run tests to figure that out? The Air isn't aimed at those that need raw power...it's called an "Air" as in light.

    There are tons of threads on this forum that say the exact same thing in a more succinct and efficient way.
  4. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    +1 on review should be based on 4g model....

    im using a old mac mini ppc 1.25...tonight i upgraded from 512 to 1 gig ram (max....running tiger)

    had i written review of machine with 512 ram i would give it a fail rating...but with the 1 gig it's not to bad...

    thus your review is somewhat incomplete
  5. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009

    you were expecting instant boot times? that is unrealistic in the extreme. When I had an air 13" it would reboot from desktop to desktop in 15 seconds. That is near instant when you think most computers take 10 seconds just to get through the bios. The air really is no different the EFI takes a good 7 to 10 seconds of that boot time and can't be altered by an SSD
  6. MacRuler macrumors 6502

    Apr 16, 2010

    twice as fast as the air?!!? :eek: what is that 14 divided by 2? 7 second boot times?!?!:confused:
  7. Xeperu macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2010

    Well tuned systems can boot Windows 7 in under 10 seconds when using a good fast SSD. It's nothing crazy.
  8. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Can someone get this message across to IT departments, please? I wonder how much money big companies will spend on standard-issue Core i5 and Core i7 notebooks with 500GB-1TB hard drives (about 75%-90% of which will go unused), when they could get Core i3 or even Core 2 Duo-equipped notebooks with 256GB SSDs that end users will find more responsive.

    I've found Windows 7 and OS X boot times fairly comparable on my MacBook Air, with perhaps a slight edge to OS X.
  9. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    RTFA, peeps.

    The review is about the 11.6" MBA with 2GB RAM for a reason. I see thread after thread claiming this model can do all of these magical tasks. The review debunks these claims handily, in addition to various boot tests performed. I see claims that "the MacBook Air is faster than a MacBook Pro with a SSD!!!!" Malarkey. My 17" with the Intel SSD can cold boot in 13 seconds. The Air is about 20 seconds. May not be long compared to platter drives, but I don't have any platter machines left besides the iMac, which doesn't need to be any faster than it is since I don't use the drive for anything.

    I don't expect "instant" boot times. I expect that the machine, given it has no moving internals, is capable of at least handling VMWare without lagging. I also am quite disappointed that Apple refuses to allow one to make a stronger 11.6" for those that like the form factor and would be willing to pay the premium. That's not to say it's a bad machine, it's not. As I indicated, for "active" users it'll do just fine. For people like me who would like to run a VM every now and then, it feels like archaic technology. A Pentium IV convertible tablet we have at work can run VMWare Workstation without lagging, so it's mind boggling that this "state of the art" machine struggles with VMWare Fusion.
  10. wyatt23 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2006
    Forest Hills, NY
    It struggles because the machine just isn't that good. Its a fine daily browser. It may be fine to open some photoshop projects you're working on. It MAY be abl to do some autocad work on a 2nd moniter.

    It will not run 2 os's simultaneously.

    The new air is a fin personal computer but a powerhouse it is not. Forget running a virtual machine of a modern os.

    Sent from my SPH-D700 using Tapatalk
  11. SR71 macrumors 68000

    Jan 12, 2011
    Boston, MA
    The other day I was using my cousins 13.3" 4GB 1.86GHz MBA and was running VMWare with no issues. I allocated 2GB of RAM to Windows and it ran perfectly fine for me.

    Like I said, if you had done these "tests" on a MBA that had 4GB of RAM (Hell, it you really use VMWare a lot, why would you not go for the faster 13.3" MBA), I bet your VMWare would have been lag free.
  12. hamean macrumors member

    Dec 16, 2010
    the 11" only has a 800mhz bus; the 13" has 1066mhz bus.
  13. miggitymac macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2009
    Can you please link me to the reviews that claim that the 11"/2GB MBA can do any of this with ease?

    Are you sure you weren't reading threads about the 13" ultimate (or at least the 11" ultimate)?
  14. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
  15. blazinz macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    pwned :D

    I do think you hit on some good points op, this is one of the reasons i'll be getting a base air for the light stuff i do. Kinda just to BS with, any heavier usage and i'd be looking towards mbp/ssd or mp. The air is great for what it is but for raw power look elsewhere to sum it up which is what most people know anyway/or/ should know.:confused:
  16. akdj macrumors 65816


    Mar 10, 2008

    I just wonder what fellas like you did BEFORE the Core2Duo came to life??? What in the world were you doing when the 286/386/486/Pentium 2/3/4 march was on? Is it only just today that you've been able to complete your computing tasks in an efficient manner?? With your current 17" 2010 i7/SSD (I've got the same machine BTW, and boot times are almost exactly the same between it and my 11.6" air...albeit, mine has the 4gigs of RAM and 128SSd, so perhaps that's the difference. My MBP boots in 14 seconds, My Air in 13-14 seconds...too close to call)...I'm just curious and not trying to be a dick, but what in the world did you expect? Seriously, you figured you could run a V/M using AutoCad on an Air because you read a thread or two that mentioned folks were able to use PS, edit video or run a V/M with Windows?

    You are embellishing fact here friend. The two links you provide just mention that it will run fine! It doesn't say or mention anything about running the types of programs or heavy V/M you're discussing...not at all.

    Gotta tell ya, your review is lame! and IMHO, couldn't be further from the truth. The Air is sooooo much more that your EeeSlate can ever HOPE to be! And I really don't have to run any tests to prove that it'll never, ever run OSX. IMO...it's the "System", not the platform....and you've got to consider the OS into the system. And I'm curious...how's that AutoCad working out on the Slate?


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