The best part of today's MBA update is... and the worst part is...

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Scottsdale, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    The best part of today's new MacBook Airs is definitely the new Thunderbolt Apple Cinema Display.

    For years I have been reading reviewers here state how they wish the MBA had a Gigabit Ethernet port, or at least an adapter. For years I have been reading reviewers say without a FireWire port they would "never" buy an MBA.

    As I suspected when Thunderbolt was announced, Apple has included FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet ports on the new Thunderbolt ACDs. This means business users, and those that require high-speed data transfer can get it with their MBA as long as they have a new Thunderbolt ACD too.

    I have been a big time supporter of using a 27" ACD with the MBAs, and the new ACD is exactly what I have wanted from Apple sans the built-in GPU. I feel like Thunderbolt 2.0 specs will be fully capable of having a GPU built into the ACD to make the less capable Mac notebooks more capable at least when at the desk. Hopefully by then Apple will adopt the USB 3.0 spec also. For all of the frustration I have had with Intel over the force out of Nvidia and a real GPU, the lack of USB 3.0 is nearly equally frustrating. Another anti-competitive move in my estimation (so it can have a year to push Thunderbolt). Thunderbolt is better, but why not have both???

    I feel there are a lot of negatives with the new MBAs, but I have to say for the business users, and those that don't require any graphics performance whatsoever, the new MBAs are a slightly better value. I can admit that, but I am HUGELY disappointed that the 13" MBAs have ULV CPUs. A 2.3 GHz Core i7 LV sounds a lot better in 2011 than a 1.7GHz ULV CPU - in my opinion it's a big step backwards from what could have been and what was. As all of the rumors mentioned these ULV CPUs, members here like Hellhammer said the rumor was talking about the 11" MBA and the 13" MBA would have the LV CPUs. I remember these discussions back months ago. I wasn't so sure, but I thought if Apple pulled that it would be to give it more battery life which would at least make sense. It turns out they had to do it to achieve almost the same battery life, and that makes the C2D Nvidia-based MBAs so much more incredible all this time later.

    I can understand BOTH arguments for buying a clearance Late 2010 MBA and buying a new Mid 2011 MBA. It all depends on what you need it for. I cannot wait to see some real world reviews from fellow forum members. Results on all different types of apps and uses.

    What are your opinions on the best parts and worst parts of today's MBA updates? I would like to know. Also, do you plan to buy a Thunderbolt ACD?
  2. PaulWog Suspended

    Jun 28, 2011
    Best Part: Price reduction, backlit keyboard, moving forward with internal parts, 4GB standard on any model above the base-line 11.6-inch

    Neutral Part: Thunderbolt (who cares?)

    Worst Part: i5 only boosts to 2.3GHz, and you can't get an i7 without special ordering
  3. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Best part: Available Core i7 on the 11" model. I wasn't expecting it at all, and certainly not the same processor that's on the 13" model.

    Worst part: The i7 is only available by order and I won't get it for nearly a week. Next worst part: the Intel HD 3000, but we knew that was going to happen anyway. Maybe someone will come out with an external GPU that uses the Thunderbolt port.
  4. Jaro65 macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    Best part: Sandy Bridge

    Worst part: no 8GB RAM or discrete GPU
  5. kamalds macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2010
    Best Part - Inherited all pros from previous generation; faster CPU; thunderbolt

    Worst part - No discrete GPU; expensive.
  6. AAPLaday Guest


    Aug 6, 2008
    Manchester UK
    Best - They come with 4GB ram standard. (Save the base 11")

    Worst - The base 11" killed the MacBook :(
  7. stevenpa macrumors 6502

    Jun 28, 2011
    Best: Nothing since it's all what people expected

    Worst: No 256SSD standard on 13 inch, no option for 8gb, no improvement in battery life even with ULV:mad:

    Neutral: No external GPU, but nothing anyone can do about that.
  8. MTD's Mac macrumors regular

    MTD's Mac

    Mar 18, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Best: Sandy Bridge

    Worst: FaceTime camera not HD...
  9. sparkie7 macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    Best part: Sandy Bridge, backlit keyboard (which  took away and only re-instated), 256 SSD

    Worst part: no 8GB RAM option, no second thunderbolt port.

    Mior gripe: No Firewire 800 for backwards compatibility
  10. Duke15 macrumors 6502


    May 18, 2011
    Best part: Price drop in Canada! BLK, 4gigs Ram std in 13"

    Worst Part: SSD sizes werent doubled, not LV in the 13" but seems like the ULV ones are decent

    From what ive read the HD3000 seems like its decent in the new MBAs, on par with the 320, but still waiting for real world tests and other reviews
  11. AAPLaday Guest


    Aug 6, 2008
    Manchester UK
    Something i should add. The reason im so happy with the MBAs getting 4GB ram is because i can buy it directly from Amazon when they get them. In the UK Amazon dont get anything but the standard options on Apple gear.
  12. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Thanks Scottsdale; a good, nice thoughtful post, as always, from you on the MBA.

    For me, the best part is the restoration of the backlit keyboard (although I have one on my Rev C MBA), the fact that 4 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD are mainstream.

    Worst part? I don't know enough about the altered specs to offer an informed opinion.

    No, I don't plan to buy a Thunderbolt ACD; when I change my MBA, I'll wait for the next update.

  13. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    best : processor
    worst : price

    i was expecting to be tempted to sell my mbp 13 for the air. i don't have any urge at the moment, though.

    it is a great refresh, and was certainly needed. i am not in any way saying there is a problem with it.

    but, dollar for dollar, i am getting a lot more out of my mbp, and i don't need ultra portability as much as i need power + memory.

    by the way, the thunderbolt port is just as useless on the air as it is on my mbp. i want to use it. i don't really see that happening anytime soon, though. there are no peripherals for me, i think the cable costs something like 50 dollars, and i don't really see the point in messing with it now.
  14. PaulWog Suspended

    Jun 28, 2011
    What are you talking about!

    They put 4GB standard and didn't increase the price. They even reduced the price by $50.

    How is the price bad?
  15. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Best: price drop

    Worst: SB/HD3000 combo. It says something that Apple had to use the ULV version, with lower clock cycle than C2D, and still has worse battery life. That's tells me SB version of TurboBoost is a battery hog, because TB kicks in when HD3000 duty cycle increases, such as just opening a new window, and will run constantly when gaming.
  16. xkmxkmxlmx macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2011
    Best: It is finally out!

    Worst: All the people that are unimpressed with the machine yet STILL purchase one like Apple has forced them to. :rolleyes:
  17. Abyssgh0st macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2009
    Best: i7 on the 11", and the great base 13".

    Neutral: Thunderbolt. Won't be upgrading my ACD.

    Bad: Seems like the 11" I want is sort of expensive, but I guess it's all relative. Also hope the battery life isn't actually any worse.
  18. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    Does anyone else love the new Thunderbolt ACD? I think it's what business users like myself have wanted for a long time. I have to have a larger display when sitting at my desk, and the backward connectivity now with both FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet will allow many business users to buy the new MBA. Many had reported in the past that they couldn't use an MBA because their employer strictly uses wired Ethernet and no WiFi was permitted for security concerns and etc.

    I suppose my favorite feature is therefore the Thunderbolt port itself. However, I see so many more uses in the future with it. But this is a great step in the right direction.

    I hadn't really thought about lack of 8GB RAM when posting the original post, but it is a concern as it could be an even bigger capability improving the performance of the MBA. I suspect that is a feature Apple will use to sell a ton of MBAs with next year's update. In addition, it gives Apple another reason to up-sell the MBPs.

    Also, I wanted to mention how while taking over three years, the MBA has completely redefined the Mac and computing. I was an early adopter, and I had bought the first four models. For the first three versions, people scoffed at the MBA. Talked about how it was incapable, how they needed optical disks, how it needed more drive space, how it needed RAM slots, how it needed (insert here). Now, it is the basis of the MacBook itself.

    For those of you who have been here in the MBA section of the forum, isn't it amazing how people's attitudes and perceptions on what a Mac should be are changing?

    I also liked how the Mac mini got a discrete GPU today in the upper version and how the server version got a quad-core CPU. And maybe most importantly, for the future of the Macs, they dropped the optical drives entirely from the lineup and reduced the price by $100. It shows another way of how the MBA has paved the way for acceptance of riddance of dying technologies. It also gives me hope that when the MBPs are updated next year they completely lose the optical drive. I think the BluRay discussion is dead, but why not provide the software support for an external BluRay? Surely the licensing could be tied to the external drives and maybe Mac Pros for the professionals who need them and not all Macs?

    There are definitely a lot of pros for today's MBA updates, but the biggest factor is the direction Apple is taking with its entire Mac lineup toward the future. The MBA shows where Apple is going, and we can see with many Apple products thats features began in the MBA. Large trackpads, SSDs, slim factor, lack of optical drives, and etc. I just hope the Intel IGP gets better with Ivy Bridge and we can count on updates to the MBA every six to eight months or so...
  19. fyrefly macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2004
    Guys, there are no ULV Sandy Bridge processors. The chips in the 2011 MBAs are LV versions.

    The Chips Scottsdale was talking about in the OP are REGULAR versions - the same ones in the 13" MBP.

    In C2D there were 10W ULV, 17W LV, 25-35W Regular versions.

    In Sandy Bridge there are 17W LV and 25-45W Regular Versions.

    Back on topic - Best Part, IMHO is the Backlit Keyboard coming back. And to all those who said it wouldn't fit, etc... the truth is coming out. As expected, Apple just removed it so they could fit under the $999 ceiling last time. And so they could prominently "feature" it this time. Just like the headphone jack in the Original iPhone and the FW port in the late-2008 Unibody MacBooks.
  20. onthecouchagain macrumors 604


    Mar 29, 2011
    There are many things to like about the new MBA but the most disappointing thing to me is easily the lack of standard SSD storage bump. Really wish the base 13" got 256 GB storage The lack of an improved battery is a not-to-distant second disappointment, but at least its the same.

    I am torned between the 128 Gb or 256 Gb 13. Not exactly thrilled about the price different e in those two, especially since that's the only upgrade you'd get for throwing in an additional $300.
  21. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    The new display is fantastic - but I've got an 'old' 27", and simply cannot justify getting a new one, particularly as a new one won't work with my Mac Pro. If my sole computer was an MBA then I'd be on one like a shot.

    Upgrading the ACD beyond just offering USB was a masterstroke. Gigabit ethernet and FireWire 800? Flipping amazing, and definitely worthy of a 'dock' moniker.

    The Mini upgrade was interesting as well - discrete GPU? Slightly disappointed that you can't get the server with discrete GPU though. Also signposts Apple's intentions towards optical drives in consumer machines in the future - i.e.: get rid of them!

    For me;
    BEST - Sandy Bridge, Price drop, Backlit Keyboard, Thunderbolt
    MEH - GPU, wish it had the Mini's 6630, but HD3000 will suffice
    UGH - Lack of FaceTime HD camera

    SSDs are very expensive. Expecting a 256GB SSD in the base 13" is ridiculous.
  22. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    The fact that Intel did not include USB 3 in the SB chipset has nothing to do with wanting to have a year to push their technology. It's because USB 3 specification came out too late for it to be included.

    The 27" TB ACD is an interesting prospect, but I already have a 24" ACD and it's the biggest rip-off product if you're in the UK. It's a bit better now since it's dropped to £899 and it used to be £999 for the old model (versus $999) , which is highway robbery. It's difficult to justify this over something like the 27" Dell IPS display, which also has the advantage of being a matte display. already have a 24" ACD
  23. fyrefly macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2004
    You do realize that the Thunderbolt ACD will only work with the Thunderbolt MBA. Not the 320m MacBook Air. And I agree, the Gigabit Ethernet and FW800 will make excellent additions to a "home docking station".

    I'm also sincerely impressed that you're pumped for a setup involving the MBA attached Thunderbolt 27" Display despite you saying in the past that LV Sandy Bridge chips wouldn't be used 'cause they couldn't even push the 1440x900 resolution of the 13" MBA screen, and saying the Intel HD 3000 limited the resolution of the 13" 2011 MBP.

    Hopefully the Intel HD 3000 will prove it's not as crummy as many on these forums thought it was... (except for 3D gaming - I'm sure it'll be bunk at 3D gaming).
  24. Cheerwino macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2011
    :) They're officially announced. Larger SSD & now Thunderbolt makes Air more future proof

    :( Not actually in stores today where I can get one. No optical out in the headphone, unsure about real-world graphics performance. Will not grind espresso or cut curly fries.

    :apple: Bottom line: Trying to talk my wife into getting one so I can have her MBP 13".
  25. KillerTree macrumors regular

    Jul 27, 2008
    Best part: Thin and light without sacrifices. It still has a great screen with a full sized keyboard and trackpad.

    Worst part: Bad GPU. Early reviews has some horrible OpenGL scores. Even a lot worse than the previous MBA. Hopefully Intel/Apple releases software updates to help with this.

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