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New Macbook Air released
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Jul 20, 2011, 10:04 AM
 
Short version: Sandy Bridge (of course), but the cheapest model is still stuck with 2 gig RAM (and 64 gig SSD). The 13" has an SD-card slot - did it use to have that? - and both models have the backlit keyboard again. This is tempting...

Oh, and the mini is updated to Sandy bridge as well, and the white Macbook is gone as everyone predicted.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jul 20, 2011, 10:25 AM
 
The 13" always had the SD slot. Some prices are cheaper now too. The 4GB/256GB 13" used to be $1799. Now it's $1599.
     
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Jul 20, 2011, 11:10 AM
 
I really thought they'd do away with the 2GB RAM and make 4GB standard. I still maintain it will shorten the useful lifespan by years.
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Jul 20, 2011, 11:38 AM
 
I looked through the specs, and hoping I missed that it has a backlit keyboard. My next portable will have to have this.
     
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Jul 20, 2011, 11:44 AM
 
It has a backlight keyboard.
     
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Jul 20, 2011, 12:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by RobOnTheCape View Post
I looked through the specs, and hoping I missed that it has a backlit keyboard. My next portable will have to have this.
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
It has a backlight keyboard.
Yes it does, it's one of the feature boxes on the main Macbook Air page - Apple - MacBook Air - The ultimate everyday notebook.

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Jul 20, 2011, 12:54 PM
 
So, the 11.6" got the i5, the backlit keyboard, and Thunderbolt, but has only a 64 GB SSD and 2 GB RAM for the entry level, and the battery life is still only 5 hours.

I guess I won't be buying this generation. I can wait, as I already have a 13" MacBook Pro C2D, and for increased portability I have an 11.6" Win 7 machine that lasts way longer than the 11.6" MacBook Air. (For business trips and vacations I tend to take the Win 7 with me these days, unless I absolutely need Keynote.)

The good news is that the Canadian pricing is finally the same numerically as US pricing... cuz the US$ sux so bad these days.
     
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Jul 20, 2011, 04:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
So, the 11.6" got the i5, the backlit keyboard, and Thunderbolt, but has only a 64 GB SSD and 2 GB RAM for the entry level, and the battery life is still only 5 hours.

I guess I won't be buying this generation. I can wait, as I already have a 13" MacBook Pro C2D, and for increased portability I have an 11.6" Win 7 machine that lasts way longer than the 11.6" MacBook Air. (For business trips and vacations I tend to take the Win 7 with me these days, unless I absolutely need Keynote.)

The good news is that the Canadian pricing is finally the same numerically as US pricing... cuz the US$ sux so bad these days.
I want the 1280 by 720 resolution hdmi port to connect to my and motel 720p hdtv as well as the firewire and usb.
Do the existing modules support it?
sam
     
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Jul 20, 2011, 06:39 PM
 
Both Firewire and HDMI adapters exist for Thunderbolt.

I wonder if they're daisychainable. I know Thunderbolt is daisychainable but do any of the current HDMI and Firewire adapters allow it? What would happen if you plugged in a Thunderbolt HDMI adapter into a 3rd party external Thunderbolt drive that has extra Thunderbolt ports? Would that work?

OTOH, the new Apple monitor coming out uses Thunderbolt to act as a docking station for USB, Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire, and even more Thunderbolt devices, too.
( Last edited by Eug; Jul 20, 2011 at 06:46 PM. )
     
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Jul 20, 2011, 07:17 PM
 
I wonder if the hub in the new display is built on a readily available chip. Hopefully someone will make that hub board as a standalone product. Maybe Belkin or someone.
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Jul 20, 2011, 07:37 PM
 
Early Benchmarks Reveal New MacBook Air Rivaling High-End 2010 MacBook Pro - Mac Rumors



Initial Geekbench tests rate it up there with the 2010 MBP i7 in terms of processor and memory speed. Graphics won't be so hot but it's looking good so far.

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Jul 21, 2011, 05:55 AM
 
It's official: a 2011 MacBook Air would be an upgrade to my 2010 Core i5 MacBook Pro
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Jul 21, 2011, 11:14 PM
 
Agreed, Sandy Bridge CPUs have all been showing excellent Geekbench performance, however folks should use care not to use simple Geekbench test results as absolute performance forecasters for the real world. Some applications' performance (e.g. pro graphics apps) will also be GPU-dependent, and in general overall real-world operation of every app will improve when the boot drive is an SSD.

Relatively real-world 2011 graphics hardware test results on pro applications are reported below. Note that performance does NOT correlate with Geekbench results; the integrated-graphics 13" MBP performs poorly.

Comparative Final Cut Pro test results for the 2011 MBPs vs. others are up at barefeats.com:

Final Cut Pro X on three different Macs

Comparative Motion test results for the 2011 MBPs vs. others also are up at barefeats.com:

Apple Motion 5 - various GPUs

Comparative 2011 MBP Graphics test results at barefeats.com:

2011 MacBook Pro GPUs - weak vs strong

INSIGHTS from BareFeats.com:
"1. The 2011 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz MacBook Pro with Radeon 6750M graphics (1GB GDDR5) is a 'different animal' from the 2011 2.0GHz MacBook Pro with the Radeon 6490M graphics (256MB GDDR5). Is it worth $300 more (comparably equipped). Yes, when you consider you are getting a faster CPU and much faster GPU.
2. The 2011 2.7GHz MacBook Pro with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics does little or nothing to improve the 3D graphics performance compared to the GeForce 320M integrated graphics in the 2010 MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro."


-Allen Wicks
     
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Jul 22, 2011, 02:17 AM
 
There is one Thunderbolt port, through which you can connect a display (through an adapter with non-Thunderbolt displays).

Then you have only a usb 2.0 port left to connect an external hard drive. Or would there be a way to "split" the thunderbolt port to serve a display and an external hard drive at the same time?
     
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Jul 22, 2011, 02:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Agreed, Sandy Bridge CPUs have all been showing excellent Geekbench performance, however folks should use care not to use simple Geekbench test results as absolute performance forecasters for the real world. Some applications' performance (e.g. pro graphics apps) will also be GPU-dependent, and in general overall real-world operation of every app will improve when the boot drive is an SSD.

Relatively real-world 2011 graphics hardware test results on pro applications are reported below. Note that performance does NOT correlate with Geekbench results; the integrated-graphics 13" MBP performs poorly.

Comparative Final Cut Pro test results for the 2011 MBPs vs. others are up at barefeats.com:

Final Cut Pro X on three different Macs

Comparative Motion test results for the 2011 MBPs vs. others also are up at barefeats.com:

Apple Motion 5 - various GPUs

Comparative 2011 MBP Graphics test results at barefeats.com:

2011 MacBook Pro GPUs - weak vs strong

INSIGHTS from BareFeats.com:
"1. The 2011 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz MacBook Pro with Radeon 6750M graphics (1GB GDDR5) is a 'different animal' from the 2011 2.0GHz MacBook Pro with the Radeon 6490M graphics (256MB GDDR5). Is it worth $300 more (comparably equipped). Yes, when you consider you are getting a faster CPU and much faster GPU.
2. The 2011 2.7GHz MacBook Pro with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics does little or nothing to improve the 3D graphics performance compared to the GeForce 320M integrated graphics in the 2010 MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro."


-Allen Wicks
Interesting that the use of an SSD didn't have much influence on speed in FCP X.
     
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Jul 22, 2011, 02:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by Veltliner View Post
There is one Thunderbolt port, through which you can connect a display (through an adapter with non-Thunderbolt displays).
No, you don't need an adapter, any DisplayPort cable will just work.
Originally Posted by Veltliner View Post
Then you have only a usb 2.0 port left to connect an external hard drive. Or would there be a way to "split" the thunderbolt port to serve a display and an external hard drive at the same time?
Thunderbolt is like FireWire: it can be daisy chained. Even better, the video signal doesn't steal any bandwidth and you have the full 10 Gbit/s at your disposal. Since Thunderbolt provides a PCIe port, you can connect PCIe cards to your MacBook Air (or any other Mac with a Tunderbolt port).
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Jul 22, 2011, 04:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
No, you don't need an adapter, any DisplayPort cable will just work.

Thunderbolt is like FireWire: it can be daisy chained. Even better, the video signal doesn't steal any bandwidth and you have the full 10 Gbit/s at your disposal. Since Thunderbolt provides a PCIe port, you can connect PCIe cards to your MacBook Air (or any other Mac with a Tunderbolt port).
Sounds very good.

Just wondering how the MBA would deal with FCP X.
     
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Jul 22, 2011, 05:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by Veltliner View Post
Sounds very good.

Just wondering how the MBA would deal with FCP X.
I don't know, but for cpu-bound tasks, it will be faster than the fastest last-gen MacBook Pro. In my experience, the Barefeats benchmarks aren't actually that helpful because of their simplistic nature as benchmarks. (Think of deducing the speed of photoshop by only measuring the time it takes to apply a Gaußian blur.) From their FCP X benchmarks, for instance, you can't tell whether the 13" MacBook Pro is slower because it has the fewest cores (2) or because of its slower GPU. I reckon it's mostly because of the slower CPU, and with a properly designed benchmark, you should be able to tell. The only thing that may be a factor is the fact that the Air only has 4 GB RAM.

In any case, the fact that the MacBook Airs are clearly in MacBook Pro performance territory should tell you that you can clearly use FCP X on MacBook Airs. There are other factors, though, e. g. screen size, which can be a factor. Again, if you have a last-gen MacBook Pro and you're happy with the way Final Cut or any other piece of software performs, I see no reason why you shouldn't get a MacBook Air. Personally, my next Mac will be a 13" MacBook Air (or whatever screen size ships in two, three years).
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Jul 22, 2011, 05:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
... In my experience, the Barefeats benchmarks aren't actually that helpful because of their simplistic nature as benchmarks...

...the fact that the MacBook Airs are clearly in MacBook Pro performance territory should tell you that you can clearly use FCP X on MacBook Airs...
Agreed the MBAs are in 13" MBP territory. However the low end is way different from the high end. IMO the Barefeats testing is much closer to real than Geekbench is, and those tests do not show the MBAs in top-end MBP performance territory. Not even close! 13" boxes with integrated graphics (whether MBA or MBP) are relatively much weaker boxes when it comes to running apps like FCP, Aperture, Motion, etc.

We do agree that you can "use" apps like FCP, but integrated-graphics-only boxes remain poor choices for apps like FCP, Aperture, Motion, etc.

That said, I have been recommending MBAs to my friends who do not focus on heavy images apps if they add a matte external display and/or can tolerate the glossy display. The stock SSD makes a very good value. Add an external HD and a quality matte external display like a NEC 2490 or a ViewSonic VP2365 and the MBA is an iMac-killer that goes mobile.

-Allen
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jul 22, 2011 at 06:11 AM. )
     
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Jul 22, 2011, 06:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Agreed the MBAs are in 13" MBP territory. However the low end is way different from the high end.
I was very specific: in cpu-bound and disk-bound tests, the new Air will be faster than any other last-gen MacBook Pro.
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
IMO the Barefeats testing is much closer to real than Geekbench is, and those tests do not show the MBAs in top-end MBP performance territory.
… and Geekbench itself is not a very good benchmark IMO.
The recommendation by barefeats to get a machine with a discrete GPU is not backed up with benchmarks to support this assertion. Designing good and consistent benchmarks is hard if you want to know the relative performance in the different subsystems (memory, IO, CPU fp and integer, GPU). It would be very, very easy to show the difference between discrete and integrated GPU in benchmarks (see below, all you need to do is download a tool).
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
We do agree that you can "use" apps like FCP, but integrated-graphics-only boxes remain poor choices for apps like FCP, Aperture, Motion, etc.
Again, this common wisdom hasn't been accurate for a long time, but it's not necessarily accurate anymore. The benchmarks I've posted, for instance, show that the integrated graphics core of Sandy Bridge CPUs is actually faster than the graphics card that was included in Mac Pros not too long ago. Apps like Aperture and Lightroom benefit much, much more in most circumstances from the Air's fast SSD than from a faster GPU (that's because of the nature of the workload, loading a lot of large files into memory is an io-bound task).

I would find it a lot more useful if anyone could show me benchmarks how much I benefit from a discrete GPU. It would be rather simple (and if you can, feel free to forward this request since I remember you mentioning you know the owner of barefeats): download gfxCardStatus and run the benchmark twice: once using only the integrated GPU, the other time using the discrete GPU. And don't just run test that showcase GPU performance, but rather FCP X tests, Aperture and Lightroom benchmarks. And any other benchmark you would like to see. Then compare the numbers. This would go a long way to justify spending extra money for a discrete GPU -- or not.
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Jul 22, 2011, 07:15 AM
 
No reason you couldn't add PCIe GPU via Thunderbolt in theory.

Can you add a DisplayPort/Thunderbolt to DVI/VGA/HDMI adaptor to the end of a Thunderbolt daisy chain?
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Jul 22, 2011, 08:32 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
No reason you couldn't add PCIe GPU via Thunderbolt in theory.
Sure you can. The problem is bandwidth: modern graphics cards use 16 PCIe lanes while Thunderbolt provides enough bandwidth for a single v3 PCIe lanes or two-and-a-half v2 PCIe lanes. Hence, it's technically possible, but you will not get the full performance of the graphics card. In principle, you could use it to add more displays, though.

In principle, it's one less reason to buy a Mac Pro, I'm afraid to say: you can add more storage at native speeds, graphics cards for more screen estate, etc.
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Can you add a DisplayPort/Thunderbolt to DVI/VGA/HDMI adaptor to the end of a Thunderbolt daisy chain?
You don't need an adapter, a regular DisplayPort cable will do. The only limitation is that the display needs to be the last device in the chain.
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Jul 22, 2011, 09:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Agreed the MBAs are in 13" MBP territory. However the low end is way different from the high end. IMO the Barefeats testing is much closer to real than Geekbench is, and those tests do not show the MBAs in top-end MBP performance territory. Not even close! 13" boxes with integrated graphics (whether MBA or MBP) are relatively much weaker boxes when it comes to running apps like FCP, Aperture, Motion, etc.
Also, don't forget that the low end Airs only come with 2 GB RAM, which is not user upgradable.
     
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Jul 22, 2011, 11:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
You don't need an adapter, a regular DisplayPort cable will do. The only limitation is that the display needs to be the last device in the chain.
I'm 100% sure that DVI, VGA and HDMI connectors are much bigger than mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt and no amount of forcing or crimping is going to make them fit let alone work.



DisplayPort based displays must go at the end of the chain, it seems fair to assume that you could add a DVI display to the end of the chain via an Apple DisplayPort to DVI adaptor (Or perhaps there is a new Thunderbolt to DVI which is slightly different?) but you would certainly need an adaptor in order to add a DVI/VGA/HDMI display. I was just curious if anyone knew for sure it could be done or not.
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Jul 22, 2011, 12:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I'm 100% sure that DVI, VGA and HDMI connectors are much bigger than mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt and no amount of forcing or crimping is going to make them fit let alone work.
That's why I wrote a `regular DisplayPort cable will do.' DisplayPort-DVI/VGA adapters will also still work I like Apple's stance here: they have nickeled and dimed me once (paying 29 € for a DisplayPort-DVI adapter), I'm glad they don't do it again

Plus, I prefer plugs that you can't insert the wrong way: since USB plugs are symmetrical in shape, I still have to think which way to insert them.
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Jul 23, 2011, 02:57 AM
 
The barefeats article notes that an SSD does not improve their test results.

This may change with larger clips, when scratch space is addressed.
     
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Jul 27, 2011, 08:00 PM
 
I'm in the market for a MacBook Air after selling my MacBook Black, a few questions:

How do people who own the 11 inch model find the trackpad? I noticed that it's smaller, is it noticeably smaller? I can imagine I'd find this annoying…

Otherwise, I'm stuck between the 11 inch higher end model and the lower end 13 inch model, I'm thinking 13 inch for size… as the extra screen real estate (I imagine) will still be worth the extra cost). This is to accompany my 17 inch MacBook Pro (2011), so I wouldn't be doing any high end tasks with it, but I think the extra RAM is a must… which then leads to an £80 difference between the 11 inch and 13 inch… Apple never makes it easy.
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MacBook Air 13" 1.7 GHz dual-core Intel i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB Flash Storage, Intel HD Graphics 3000, Mid 2011
iPhone 4 32 GB, Mid 2010
     
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Jul 27, 2011, 08:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
That's why I wrote a `regular DisplayPort cable will do.' DisplayPort-DVI/VGA adapters will also still work I like Apple's stance here: they have nickeled and dimed me once (paying 29 € for a DisplayPort-DVI adapter), I'm glad they don't do it again

Plus, I prefer plugs that you can't insert the wrong way: since USB plugs are symmetrical in shape, I still have to think which way to insert them.
Couldn't you have just written 'yes'?

With you on one-way plugs though.
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Aug 7, 2011, 09:24 AM
 
Just bought the MacBook Air 13" replacing my 2008 MacBook Black, have to say the lightness and thinness to the backlit keyboard is really refreshing. I have just recently bought the 17" MacBook Pro and was hoping the MacBook Black would tie me over for a year or two as a machine based around work (PPT's, iTunes, QuickTime and Word), however the battery died and so I got rid... so glad I did now, it's fast and will now serve as more of my favourite machine in ways... whilst the 17" is for my work at home as well as video and photo editing.

Nice machine, just thought I'd weigh in on the thread.
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Aug 7, 2011, 04:45 PM
 
I just got a MacBook Air 11 inch i5 128hdd.
I was waiting for this new revision with the i5's and i7's. I was amazed with the recent Air redesign in regard to the performance and sturdiness.
This machine replaces my MacBook Pro 17 inch i7 from about 2 years ago that was just for my trip to school once a week.
The Air is very impressive in regard to speed. The i5 is getting the same speed that my i7 was getting in geek bench.
This more than serves the purpose for school. The weight difference is great going from the 17 to the 11 Air.
Great machine, worth every penny.
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Aug 8, 2011, 06:49 AM
 
The Air is stunning. The omission of an optical drive is the right decision for a laptop. You can always buy an external drive for a few extra bucks. I only burn/rip at home anyway, not on the road.
     
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Aug 16, 2011, 03:56 PM
 
I found out I am no Pundit at all! After a long break I am pulling in the station...: By the way, is Lion compatible with Boot Camp or Parallels to run Windows? Actually, I don´t need any Windows. But who knows? Répondez s'il vous plaît. Thanks, Jorge
     
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Aug 16, 2011, 05:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by solofx7 View Post
I just got a MacBook Air 11 inch i5 128hdd.
I was waiting for this new revision with the i5's and i7's. I was amazed with the recent Air redesign in regard to the performance and sturdiness.
This machine replaces my MacBook Pro 17 inch i7 from about 2 years ago that was just for my trip to school once a week.
The Air is very impressive in regard to speed. The i5 is getting the same speed that my i7 was getting in geek bench.
This more than serves the purpose for school. The weight difference is great going from the 17 to the 11 Air.
Great machine, worth every penny.
What about the battery life? That's the one annoyance I have with it. Not a deal killer, but a bit of a disappointment that they didn't improve it this revision.
     
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Aug 17, 2011, 05:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by carmos1 View Post
I found out I am no Pundit at all! After a long break I am pulling in the station...: By the way, is Lion compatible with Boot Camp or Parallels to run Windows? Actually, I don´t need any Windows. But who knows? Répondez s'il vous plaît. Thanks, Jorge
Lion includes Boot Camp 4.0, which removes support for Win XP but is otherwise just as usual.

The latest version of Parallels Desktop works fine, but no previous version.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Aug 17, 2011, 05:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
What about the battery life? That's the one annoyance I have with it. Not a deal killer, but a bit of a disappointment that they didn't improve it this revision.
Most likely performance at load is better, as the CPU is so much faster that it can run at full for a short time and then be done. Performance at idle should be more or less the same, since the display seems to be the same.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Aug 17, 2011, 10:59 AM
 
I'm considering just adding an SSD to my Core 2 Duo 13 MacBook Pro (mid-2009) instead now, since it's supposed to be very easy to do, and it allows me to keep Firewire support. (I haven't seen a Thunderbolt Firewire adapter yet, and even if there was one, I don't want to pay $100 for it.) I currently have a 160 GB 5400 rpm drive, but I don't really need that size. I'm thinking 90 GB would be fine, although it seems a lot of the cheap deals for 90 GB are for older generation SSDs with sub "300" MB/s speeds, whereas similarly priced 60 GB drives are claimed to be 50% faster. I'm thinking the older gen SSDs would be sufficient, since much if not most of the benefit is the decreased seek time not the raw sustained transfer rate.

The other issue is my 2 GB RAM (which is also an issue with the entry-level AIr), but to my surprise, 4 GB of Crucial DDR3-1067 RAM is only $27 locally now. Wowsers.
     
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Aug 17, 2011, 05:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
What about the battery life? That's the one annoyance I have with it. Not a deal killer, but a bit of a disappointment that they didn't improve it this revision.
Thank for the reminder. As I was moving from a 17 to and 11, there is a battery life difference.
I am not disappointed at all, but it is lower than I would like, but I am fully aware that I am giving up all day battery life to shed some weight.
Long story short, I am getting around 4 to 4.5 hours of useful battery life.
To be honest I am a bit surprised to get that. The Air is incredibly thin and super powerful with the i5 coupled with the SSD.
Now your usage may vary, but I multitask regularly, meaning I have open anywhere from 5 to 10 programs at once. No hiccups or issues. And yes that is with wi-fi on all of the time. The most important parts to me are speed, multitasking and making it through my 3.5 to 4 hour class every week.
I am on crutches now and not having to "plug-in" is a great feeling for me
iMac 27inch 3.4 i7 16gb ram, MacBook Air 11 inch i5 128gb, iMac 27inch 2.8 i7 8gb ram, MacBook Pro 17 inch 2.66 i7, 4gb ram 500gb HDD Seagate XT,
iPhone 4 - Time Capsule 2tb, Apple TV - iPad 2 64gb
     
Eug
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Caught in a web of deceit.
Status: Offline
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Aug 18, 2011, 10:08 PM
 
So instead of getting an Air, I just stuck a 64 GB SSD in my MacBook Pro. It now boots in 13 seconds (as compared to 52 s before). Then I enabled TRIM too with a simple kext patch, even though it's not an Apple drive. Not a bad upgrade for $82. My next upgrade is to stick 4 GB into the MacBook Pro, for $27.

Total cost of upgrade, $109 plus tax.

Maybe I'll get an 11" Air when the battery gets better, and then entry level one comes with 128 GB SSD and 4 GB RAM.
     
   
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