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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Competitors to the 11" MBA

Competitors to the 11" MBA
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Maflynn
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Nov 7, 2010, 07:40 PM
 
I'm curious to know what laptops are direct competitors to the 11" MacBook Air and how they stack up against the MBA.

In reading some threads, I know the Alienware M11x and perhaps Sony may have a model as well.
~Mike
     
mduell
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Nov 7, 2010, 09:43 PM
 
I like the Acer AS1830T, here's the differences I spot:

Strengths
Much faster CPU - 1.46Ghz i7 turbos to 2.13Ghz (dual core) / 2.53Ghz (single core)
4GB RAM, upgradable any time to 8GB
8hr battery
Normal hard drive, 500GB spinny platter
HDMI and VGA
SD card reader, gigabit ethernet, BlueTooth 3.0, 3 USB ports
Price - $850

Weaknesses
GMA HD graphics (30-40% of the performance of 320M)
3.1 lb (0.8lb heavier)
1-1.1" thick (twice the MBA)
No MagSafe
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, hackintosh probably wouldn't support everything

I'd swap in a 128GB SSD (OCZ or similar, way faster than what Apple offers) and stick the 500GB in an enclosure, leaving it only $300 cheaper than the 1.6Ghz C2D/4GB/128GB MBA.

There are also some slower configurations that get down toward the CPU performance of the MBA as cheap as $600.
( Last edited by mduell; Nov 7, 2010 at 10:49 PM. )
     
rubberwheels
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Nov 7, 2010, 11:33 PM
 
Weight wise? I think sony has some incredibly thin and light laptops but they're all expensive. As for the build quality, i believe apple has the best because of the unibody. i dont understand why other companies don't use the same build quality. i know it's expensive but it's all worth it.
     
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Nov 8, 2010, 07:57 AM
 
One issue with most 11" laptops is the quality of the trackpad. It's usually tiny, to be able to squeeze in both a keyboard and separate buttons. The MBA has an advantage here with the buttons integrated into the pad itself. Try before you buy.
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.
     
Maflynn  (op)
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Nov 8, 2010, 08:14 AM
 
I was comparing the Sony Vaio X and at the risk of being flamed, I'd say they really nailed the design. Same price point of the 11" MBA, thin, great looking. The only issue, its Achilles is the processor. A slow atom processor. Why spend nearly a grand for a machine that contains an atom processor. I mean if I wanted an atom based netbook, I'd get a dell/hp/whatever for a few hundred dollars and not a grand.

I also compared the alienware MX11 but its really aimed at a different market. the only thing they have in common is that both are 11" displays. The MX11 exceeds the MBA in specs, so its going to be faster, but its also heavy, 4 lbs heavy (the weight of a MacBook Pro), and thick. While this subjective, I'd also say its ugly as sin, but that's just me.

Not to sound like a fan boy, I'm not really seeing too many competitors of the MBA. The asus looks good. I've read complaints of its keyboard and trackpad. Not sure of that issue is well founded or not. So far it seems to be the best alternative (not the I'm looking, I'm just curious as to how the competition stacks up).
~Mike
     
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Nov 8, 2010, 11:50 AM
 
There is the LG P100, which is a tablet with a keyboard (the screen rotates). Core 2 1.33 GHz with GF 8400M, so that sounds like an older model. Sony also has other Vaios with better CPUs in the TX series, but I'm not sure they sell them anymore.
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.
     
mduell
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Nov 8, 2010, 01:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
While this subjective, I'd also say its ugly as sin, but that's just me.
I doubt anyone will disagree with you.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 8, 2010, 01:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
I was comparing the Sony Vaio X and at the risk of being flamed, I'd say they really nailed the design. Same price point of the 11" MBA, thin, great looking. The only issue, its Achilles is the processor. A slow atom processor.
When it was released, it cost 1,500 € (with 2 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD). Yes, it's lighter, but it has the same weaknesses as the Air. The cpu is considerably slower. Although I must say, it is a nice-looking machine.
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
While this subjective, I'd also say its ugly as sin, but that's just me.
You don't even like the one in red, ooooh!
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
Not to sound like a fan boy, I'm not really seeing too many competitors of the MBA.
Agreed. Although up until recently, it wasn't supposed to be a machine for the mass market. I think if Jobs is proven right and the Air really becomes the de facto standard computer if the average Joe wants to buy a Mac, then other manufacturers will follow suit. I then expect them to release a flurry of machines akin to the Acer: not really pretty, but not really ugly either. Not as sophisticated, but sturdy enough for many.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
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Nov 9, 2010, 07:54 AM
 
Zacate/Ontario looks like it will be a good MBA competitor. 18W TDP is comparable with Arrandale ULV setups, with a much better GPU, slower CPU and likely way lower platform costs.
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.
     
mduell
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Nov 10, 2010, 12:07 AM
 
I went to see the AS1830T in person at MicroCenter last night. Like the MacBook Air the balance is poor (all the weight is toward the hinge) when you're trying to hold it open in a hand, but I liked the keyboard and the trackpad was ok.

They only had the i5, so I bought the i7 and a 240GB SSD (OCZ Vertex 2) at Newegg today.
     
Maflynn  (op)
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Nov 10, 2010, 10:04 AM
 
Looks like sony just released a Vaio Y 11.6 laptop
endgadget Looks like an i3 based processor and while engadget doesn't show a price, the laptop certainly appears thicker then the vaio x model.


mduell, let me know how the asus works out for you. I may try to make a trip to my local microcenter to see how the asus looks/feels first hand. Personally, I'd probably go with an i5, as I don't really need the i7. At least on the MBPs the i7 generated a lot of heat, consumer more power then the i5 and didn't really provide a large enough boost in performance to justify the cost/heat/battery imo

Will you be running windows or plan on making it a hackintosh? Now that I've done this a number of times, I'm less inclined to go that path again. My desktop was relatively easy and generally can handle updates without any problems. The dell mini 10v is much more picky and finicky so I stay away from updating that little guy. so if I get an 11" laptop, it will run what it was designed to run. MBA - OSX, other - Windows.
~Mike
     
mduell
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Nov 10, 2010, 01:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
mduell, let me know how the asus works out for you. I may try to make a trip to my local microcenter to see how the asus looks/feels first hand. Personally, I'd probably go with an i5, as I don't really need the i7. At least on the MBPs the i7 generated a lot of heat, consumer more power then the i5 and didn't really provide a large enough boost in performance to justify the cost/heat/battery imo
The logic in getting the i7 is that it's substanitally faster with turbo (1.46/1.73 i5 vs 2.13/2.53 i7) and the CPU is non upgradable and will become the most limiting part (4GB+240GB SSD now, 8GB DDR3 + 2.5" SSD options in the future). The TDP is the same, so I'm not too worried about heat/battery.

Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
Will you be running windows or plan on making it a hackintosh? Now that I've done this a number of times, I'm less inclined to go that path again. My desktop was relatively easy and generally can handle updates without any problems. The dell mini 10v is much more picky and finicky so I stay away from updating that little guy. so if I get an 11" laptop, it will run what it was designed to run. MBA - OSX, other - Windows.
Probably not; I have Win7 on another computer at home and I don't have any preference for OS X over Win7.
I hackintoshed a Dell Mini 9 (before I returned it because the keyboard was too small) and despite being like the easiest laptop ever to hackintosh it was kind of a hassle plus the ongoing update issues.
     
Maflynn  (op)
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Nov 10, 2010, 02:54 PM
 
I like win7, MS has done a good job. One frustrating aspect is the inability of my core-i7 to enter into sleep mode. It works well enough in OSX, but not in windows. If I had that working, I'd probably use win7 more since I prefer to keep my machine sleeping.
~Mike
     
mduell
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Nov 15, 2010, 06:09 PM
 
AS1830T 1.47Ghz i7
Cinebench 11.5
1.37 CPU multicore
0.72 CPU single threaded
1.22 fps OpenGL

BGR says 11" MBA gets 1.04 on the multicore benchmark.
Anandtech says 11" MBA gets 0.42/0.48 (1.4/1.6Ghz) on the single threaded.

So 30-50% faster on this fp heavy benchmark... I'll find something int next.
     
   
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